By Hawkshade 47 Comments
Ivana paced the cave like a tiger inside a cage.
Arrachtach placed the Space Lavaliere into a metallic aperture constructed from a superconducting alloy and linked to the Oculus by dozens of fiber optic cables. Richard stood beside him, double checking the blue furred mutants progress against a digital tablet filled with schematics.
The Lavaliere fell into place with a click.
"There." Arrachtach dusted his claws off on his stained labcoat. "Instillation completed and it has been a resounding success, if I do say so myself."
Richard, or what had once been Richard, crossed his arms across his broad chest and inspected the device with his calculating gaze.
Ivana turned, the light from the harsh halogen bulbs overhead casting her face and tattoos in stark relief. She raised an hand.
"I will use Occulus."
"Why? I have used it before. I built it. I know how it works."
"Because. I know him best. And you, you still have old Richard. He still alive. In there." Ivana walked to her son and tapped him on the forehead with her index finger. "Give him chance, he cause much trouble."
"Ah." A scowl and he batted her hand away. "Don't trust me."
The Seventh Secret Master made her way to the Oculus and set. "No. You I trust. But you not only person in your head."
A muscle in Richard's jaw flexed but he fell silent as he helped Arrachtach set the chrome headpiece upon her head. The machine hummed to life. They walked out to a wall of computer monitors Arrachtach had installed and watched the array of graphs, code readouts and other instrumentation play across the cold glass.
One of the screens was a digital map of the globe. A light appeared over the west coast. LA.
The machine whirred to a halt and Ivana walked out, joining the two.
"We saw." Richard said, tapping the screen. "LA."
"Da. But look." She pointed at another screen upon which coordinates glowed.
"Indeed. Not merely Los Angeles but Avalon."
Richard was already in motion. "I'll have the jet fueled on our way to the airport."
Ivana tucked the Soul Lavaliere in her pocket on the way out of the cave.
Hours later the trio descended into the basement levels of Avalon tower. Two in black and Arrachtach in his white labcoat. Many barricaded doors, traps and other barriers bared their passage and it took all of their combined skill, powers and gadgetry to penetrate the lowest floors until Arrachtach's GPS pinged; they stopped.
"It sees we have arrived at last. Yet I must point out the obvious; he is not here. As a point of fact--" Arrachtach waved a hand around the spacious, and entirely empty, basement level. "--no one is."
"The Oculus was calibrated correctly. You made a mistake." Richard scowled as he looked to his mother. She ignored him.
Arrachtach took a device out of his pocket and wave to Ivana for the Lavaliere. The tattooed Strigidae tossed it too him. He inserted it into the back of the hand held scanner and pressed a button. It projected a green light and Arrachtach played it back and forth across the room until the device beeped.
"Huh." He narrowed his furry eyebrows at the handheld gadgets small display screen.
"What it is?" Richard peered over his shoulder.
"It seems to be some sort of spacetime anomaly. Quite the unique phenomenon; I have only seen the like a few times. The last time I saw this was-"
Ivana met his eyes from across the room. "-the hidden fortress. Ah. All is revealed."
Richard snatched the device from his hand and peered at the screen. Arrachtach blinked, then shrugged and continued. "You see long ago the Arcani developed a method to interact with the fabric of spacetime and create what you might term, for lack of a superior term, a pocket in reality and-"
"-And this is one of them. I can read." Richard snapped, tapping the numbers streaming across the screen with a black gloved finger and tossing the gadget into Arrachtach's chest. The mutant fumbled to catch it.
"How do we open it?" Richard said as he paced a circle on the floor, scanning the room in multiple frequencies with his cowl. "You said you had encountered this sort of thing before?"
"Quite so, quite so. It can be a challenge at the best of times but given that this pocket in spacetime was no doubt devised to lock away the most wanted mutant on earth for all time it seems reasonable to presume certain precautions have been taken."
"Traps, you mean?"
"Indeed my avian themed comrade." Ivana took the device from his hands as Arrachtach spoke. "I recognize that Avalon was before your time but they were an assortment of most clever characters with a profound ability to predict and prepare for the behavior of their adversaries."
"We'll have to find something they overlooked. Didn't prepare for." Richard said. In the background Ivana pulled the Lavaliere from the device.
"Perchance we could utilize the resources of your company to devise a method to establish a network of quantum tunneling tachyon particles-"
Richard caught on quickly. "-and bypass the initial layer of spacetime interference by syncing with the harmonic of a subatomic particle resonator." He nodded. "Yes, I see where you are going with this. What about-"
"-a micro particle collider! Most ingenious, I agree wholeheartedly and should we combine it with-" In the background Ivana clutched the Lavaliere in her fist and closed her eyes.
Richard noticed. "Hey! Stop! STOP! You don't know what you're doing, that's dangero-"
Reality split open like a wound in the universe. A cut, blacker than midnight, appeared in the center of the room. It widened. It didn't take away space in the room, it expanded it, stretching the room like a rubber ball that had a spike driven into it.
Arrachtach tried to shout but suddenly there were no sounds and absolute silence descended upon a perfect circle 87.45 meters in every direction. Not just sound. There were no vibrations period.
Then something came through. What it was, none could say. It didn't have a shape or a form. It didn't have a color. Yet it could be seen. It was real. But incomprehensible by the human mind.
IT charged Ivana.
She lifted a hand and suddenly the distance between herself and IT became infinity. Neither Richard nor Attachtach could say how they knew this nor even how such a thing could be possible for they both clearly perceived both Ivana and the thing in the same room. Yet they both knew it was so and the thing charged and charged at dizzying speeds yet could never reach Ivana no mater how fast it moved.
The thing so vanquished Ivana stepped into the gaping hole in reality and was immediately within a maze. The three of them could see the maze from every angle simultaneously while also simultaneously perceiving the whole of the maze in their minds.
They could all see that the maze had a center and they knew, as if coming to a sudden and inexplicable revaluation in a dream, that the only way to solve the maze was to reach the center. At the same time they could also sense that the maze was of infinite length and depth and width in every direction and thus it was impossible to reach the center because regardless of the time spent in the maze and the speed at which once moved through the maze it would take a literal eternity to reach the center.
Ivana closed her eyes once more and the Lavaliere glowed in her hand. One moment she was at the outer rim of the maze. The next she stood at the center.
Outside in the ordinary world Arrachtach bent over and vomited, his visual cortex overloaded by the perception of an infinite and impossible series of inputs.
Every instinct in Richard's body screamed for him to look away from the tear in reality. But he didn't. Wouldn't.
Ivana passed through the center of the maze and there he was. Over seven feet tall. Bound by adamantine chains bolted into the walls of a pocket universe barely large enough for him to stand. There was no oxygen. No light. Emaciated by years of starvation yet alive; trapped in eternal torment by his own x-gene-- immortality.
Ivana lifted a hand. The chains fell away. The immortal dropped to his knees. His eyes were bloodshot with a lack of oxygen for he had not drawn breath in years. The Seventh Secret Master waved a hand and they were back within the world. IT was drawn back inside and the portal closed.
Arrachtach knelt. Richard lowered his head. Ivana tossed the former prisoner a ration bar from her belt. He fumbled, weak from years of torment, and tore chunks free with his teeth, eating with ravenous hunger.
Atrophied muscles begin to heal before their eyes. Color returned to his bronzed skin as he gulped the water from Ivana's canteen.
Finally, he stood. White hair fell about his shoulders and his violet eyes swept the trio until they fell upon the Lavaliere in Ivana's grasp.
He didn't need to ask questions. He already knew what it was. What it could do.
Ivana held up the stone. "Time has come. Time to end it. End human race. End human universe."
Violet eyes met hers. "Agreed." Said Amaranth.