One month ago
While reviewing the progress of the Ultimates, his forces found something... odd. An electronic signal in a section of multiversal space that was completely uncharted. Cosmic radiation, too dangerous for anyone to survive, prevented approach. But, the Maker was curious. Something wanted to be found out there. The drones searched the area for weeks and found only devastation... and one survivor.
Location: WHISPER Labs: Genetics Division, Turkey
"Is he ready?"
The Maker, reviewing the latest report, walked through the paper white hallway to his research department. He needed to make sure his efforts were worth it, but his subject wouldn't speak until now. His researchers ushered him into the laboratory, scared of the fact that this man was not as catatonic as they thought. This is because of the only word that he since they found him: Doom.
His workers opened the testing capsule, revealing this man's broken form. This sight would give most people pause. His bones were brittle. His muscles were near nonexistent. Numerous holes were covering his arms and legs. Boils covered so much of his skin that even those closest to him would have trouble identifying who he was. This man's form was so mutilated, even his healing factor had burnt itself out just to mitigate the pain. However, that wasn't why he ceased speaking. He simply refused to.
In spite of this, the Maker needed information, so he decided to push a particular button.
"En Sabah Nur. Also known as Apocalypse. Since you weren't talking, I decided to bone up on your exploits. Your cult following that lasted for thousands of years, your battles with the X-men, and even your disappearance. Honestly, I feel like a need to say this. That was the most pitiful thing I ever read."
"You seem to have an issue with falling to literally everyone beneath you! The X-men kept throwing in mutants that you, on paper, could have murdered. From Wolverine to Iceman, who never have any way of hurting you, and you still find a way to lose!"
"But, the sad part. You had at least 2000 years before EVERYONE. You were a god to the primitives, and yet a joke to the modern! You continue to speak of survival of the fittest, yet you died more than anyone under your thumb! No wonder Ozymandias is in charge more often than you."
"SILENCE!!!" Apocalypse's eyes faintly burned red, but he was powerless to do anything. Coughing up blood, he fell to floor in a heap trying to lunge at the Maker.
Kneeling before this broken man, the Maker could only chuckle. "Well... that sucked."
Apocalypse, a who live by a code of strength, couldn't even stand on his own anymore. He could only curse his failure.
As the Maker ordered his men to put Apocalypse back in the capsule, he continued. "Since I now have your attention, I want you to know something: I'm one of the last survivors of my universe. My home-world is gone. By your standards, I'm strong, right? That means that when I talk, you should listen."
Apocalypse had nothing to say, yet his look of disappointment spoke louder than any words.
"You were out there in space for years when the Celestials took you. Why did you say the word 'Doom'?"
Apocalypse's face became cold and angry when he answered. "The Beyonders."
The Maker instantly realized the significance of those words. Apocalypse was there when the multiverse ended. And he, somehow, remembers it. He pulled up a chair and told everyone else to leave. He did not need any distractions. "Tell me everything you can recall."
Apocalypse collected himself after a few moments and began to speak. "I was an experimented on by the Celestials since the moment they took me. They wanted to examine the effects of their technology on my body. They tore me to pieces and put me back together more times than I could count. But... they were the strongest. They would not let me die for years. All I could do was resign myself to my fate. But then... the Beyonders came."
Out of Apocalypse's sight, the Maker turned on a recorder. This was the part that concerned him the most.
"They announced themselves and their intentions, then they attacked without mercy. I watched as the Celestials were discarded like toys beneath them. A battle unlike any I had witnessed before, yet it lasted a mere 5 minutes. Then, as they left, one remained for me. It only said one word to me: insignificant. It left me alone in that place. To this strange being, I was too pathetic to kill."
"And what of Doom?" said the Maker.
"After weeks of solitude, others had come. Among them was the thunder god, Thor. However, they too were killed. The Beyonders were unstoppable, tearing through entities that I could only assume were even greater gods than the Celestial Host. But he, Victor Von Doom, had arrived to challenge them. I thought he would die quicker than any other, but he launched... some sort of object at them. He, a mortal, defeated the undefeatable and stole their power. Light enveloped everything as I was overwhelmed by energy released. What I next remember was floating in space. I attempted to make contact with anyone who could arrive, but your drone was my only salvation."
The Maker was deep in thought with this new knowledge. Considering his options, he made a decision.
"I thank you for that information, Apocalypse. Now, the truth. There's a reason why I brought you back. The Celestials are gone, but their technology remained. I wished to consult with you on their functions, but you wouldn't do it for free. So, I'm going to fix you."
Apocalypse turned away in defeat. "What was done to me cannot be undone. I already sense that my clan has moved to replace me. Doom, who is so much lower than the Beyonders, defeated them before my eyes. The strongest died and died again! My entire life's beliefs were shattered before me! There is no recovery from that!"
The Maker broke into laughter. "Did you really think that you could have kept going with your out of date logic? If only the fittest survived, there would only be one person left in a kingdom of nothing, you simpleton!"
"Don't... mock... me!" Apocalypse said.
"Or what? You'll try to kill me with boredom? Mutants that most people don't even remember survived you. Face it, little man; You need me! There's going to be a war beyond anything the world has seen before. The heroes of the world have failed to protect the world time and again, so we will take it from them and push it in the right direction. Do you want to be there or not?"
Apocalypse thought of his entire life. He thought of his father, Sinister, Stryfe, Kang, and the X-men. He thought of every person who used to worship or fear him, but his memories kept drifted back to Doom's victory. Doom, who won through cunning, instead of strength.
"Very well, Maker. Heal me," Apocalypse said with renewed fire in his eyes.
"I never said 'heal.' I said 'fix.'" As he said this, he pulled two levers on a nearby console. Apocalypse watched as two more capsules descended from the ceiling. When the doors opened, Apocalypse could not believe what he saw.
Stepping between all three of them, the Maker smiled at the looks on all their faces. "Allow me to introduce you all. This is the Apocalypse from the current universe. We'll call him '616.' Now, this Apocalypse is from MY universe and he happens to be the most powerful one. "We'll call him 'Ultimate." Finally, we have this Apocalypse who was on the world Doom created with the Beyonders' power. We'll call him '295.'"
Of all three, the 616 Apocalypse was the only one who didn't have to be restrained or have his mouth bound shut. The Ultimate Apocalypse was eerily calm, but glaring at the Maker. The 295 Apocalypse, however, was continuously thrashing against his bonds and yelling muffled screams of rage.
"Now that we're all here, watch this." The Maker pressed a button the showed a hologram of the world eater, Galactus. But, he had creatures swarming around him and his form was clearly different. Another hologram showed two tiger-like beings colliding together to form a larger one. "These are two examples of abstract, god-tier beings who, without warning or provocation, merged together to create a greater creature."
616 looked at the footage, but was confused. "My body is useless. You could have moved forward with these other two. Why am I necessary?"
Walking past 295 and Ultimate, he replied. "As you can see, the others are hilariously unreasonable. That union would have been more trouble than I need. But you, 616, are someone that I can work with."
All three Apocalypses looked at each other. They didn't vocalize it, but could feel that slight tug pulling them all towards each other.
"Now, here's the thing," the Maker continued. "Ultimate is a body-hopping super monster and you, 616, have a body that we shouldn't use. So we're going to send both of your essences into 295's body and see what shakes!"
They all were rendered silent that part.
"By the way, it's a gamble if this kills you all or not. And since none of you are true abstract beings, this might not work at all." Readying his machines, the Maker laughed in excitement. "Okay then, gentlemen. Let's have some fun!"
One week later
Akkaba Metropolis, North Pole
Within the main temple meant to house the fittest of the clan, Ozymandias looked on as another disappointing display resolved before him. Yet another group of fools fighting over who would lead the Clan Akkaba in the changing times. The problem was that the warriors fighting were barely more of a threat than a baseline human.
"It's like they're trying to depress me." Ozymandias sipped his wine and continued his research on the clone of Apocalypse, Evan Sabahnur. While he could be made into a suitable replacement, they had no one who could capture him. In fact, literally every plan he could think of was a fail due to the fact that they were weak. "If actions are not taken soon, it could be the end of us all. 3000 years for nothing."
But, as he said this, ripples formed in the wine. Then, the vibrations of what felt like footsteps. With each one, the shaking grew worse. The people of the Akkaba could be heard outside either screaming in fear or cheering in celebration. Ozymandias watched as a mammoth figure walked into the room. Everyone else present froze in shock and bowed to this man. This monstrous form stopped a foot apart from where Ozymandias stood.
"M-Master... You've returned." Ozymandias knelt before him, but Apocalypse merely ignored his words. Ozymandias watched as he looked at the information regarding his clone.
Apocalypse knew he would need to look into this boy eventually, but there was work to be done. Looking upon his scribe, he placed a hand on his shoulder as one would do for a friend.
"Your service is no longer required."
Ozymandias's stone body began to slowly crumble in on itself. Panicking, he began screaming as his life was coming to an end. "WHY, APOCALYPSE!? WHAT DID I DO WRONG!?" He tried to speak more, but his jaw broke and turned to dust on the floor. The rest of his body soon followed.
Apocalypse turned to his other followers. They were all stunned by what they witnessed. Ozymandias was part of the clan since its beginning and Apocalypse just murdered him.
"Ozymandias was a weakling and a betrayer. You will not mourn for him."
They all understood and obeyed his command.
"Now, listen to me, my children. My return to this world led me to have a revelation. Our edict has always been survival of the fittest and yet we fall time and again to our lessers. However, just as often, we tore each other down. We could have achieved victory ages ago had we united, yet we allowed archaic laws determine our future. We are now free of the Celestial menace and stand on the beginning of the greatest conflict the world has ever witnessed! On this day, I proclaim a new law: what doesn't kill us will make us stronger!!!"
Apocalypse opened holes in his arms and his own blood poured onto the floor. The clan had all heard the legends his blood and its properties. He ushered them forth to drink it.
"I know what happened. The cursed Scarlet Witch and her M-Day. The Inhumans and their death cloud. Even those you followed in my absence who led you to destruction. And yet, you all survived. Take my blood, recover your power, heal your wounds, and join me as we lead the Earth down the path of true strength!"
His followers began to erupt in a frenzy. Those who lost their powers felt them return. Those infected with M-Pox saw themselves cured. The Clan Akkaba hadn't been this strong in years.
"As you all go forth to spread my message and test the people, I will find the man who made himself into a god so that I may realize my own full potential. I will hunt down the most dangerous man this world has spawned so that I may take my rightful place! I will rebuild my empire on the broken body of Victor Von Doom!!!"