3 hours until battle.....
Alone in his room, a deceptively middle aged man with silver and blue eyes sat alone in his abode, idly dissembling and reassembling one of the handguns he was given. His thoughts were elsewhere, delicately processing the information he had spent all night looking up and reviewing (He wasn't entirely honest with himself here; on this strange station he couldn't tell whether it was night or day).
The room around him resembled contained much of the comforts Magneto fancied, for which he was grateful. In acknowledging his greatness the Portal Master had included a makeshift throne in the center of the room, which in turn were surrounded by more humble living areas that included a kitchen and a bedroom which contained a magnificent bed. On the far left of the complex was a door that led to the Danger Room.
Magneto, or the man known as the "Master of Magnetism", quietly reassembled his gun for the final time and reached towards his terminal, activating it without having to touch it via his mastery of the metal keyboard. The screen popped up, revealing a woman with a mottled green carapace, bone wings, and a smirk on her face: Sarah Kerrigan.
His latest woman certainly possessed some formidable powers, that much was undeniable. Regeneration, Psychic attack, that Psionic maelstrom.... all were quite impressive; she was a formidable mutant to be sure. However Magneto was fairly confident in himself. After all, he thought to himself as he held his prized helmet aloft, who is better then I at dealing with psychics?
However only a fool would completely discount his opponent based on first glances, and Magneto knew that there was more to Sarah then immediately meets the eye. Her psionic storm would still be an issue even with his helmet. He would be able to survive longer in it then most due to the protection of his brain, but inflammation of the brain was only one effect of the storm; eventually the others would take their toll.
Another point to consider; her servant Abathur. That creature, for lack of better word, was a nuisance, and presented a headache for his plans. Magneto was aware of its capabilities but not its intentions, and had no idea what Sarah planned to do with it. Removing iron from her blood was a certainty, strengthening the nerves a liklyhood, but what else? If what Magneto understood about the creature was correct, he'd have time for further mutations.
Abathur was a very impressive creature, and something that Magneto looked forward to having on his side when he defeated the creature's mistress....
Speaking of the Queen of Blades; though he knew she was highly unlikely to accept, Magneto resolved to offer her one chance to surrender . Whatever else she was Sarah was still a mutant, and not an insect like some of the others in the tournament (the man dressed up as a ridiculous bat came to mind, as well as that ashen faced Greek soldier). If she was gracious enough to surrender, Magneto resolved to be gracious enough to try and help her in her goals after he fulfilled his own. Should she be stubborn, the Queen of the Bugs would be crushed beneath his Metallic heel!
He stood up and walked to the nearby door, his steps full of purpose as his mind weighed in dozens of considerations.
Magneto knew that it would be beneficial to assume the worst case scenario, and plan for such. To begin with he'd need to send a substantial amount of iron underground to flush her out of her burrow when she dug underground, possibly using Astral Projection to personally control the metal. Or if he could catch her he'd be able to utilize his metal to forcibly encase and crush her before she went underground. But what would her response be? Magneto knew and loved the game of chess, knew that it would be foolish to not consider opponent's counters to your counters. This was something to gradually work on if he were to perfect a plan to dictate the events of the coming battle, something he desperately needed to do. For he was well aware that in a prolonged battle she had the advantage, which is why he desperately wanted to avoid one!
He would need to drain her energy quickly and efficiently, then finish her off with a powerful attack. Close quarters combat was to be avoided at all costs, while his magnetic shield would have to be in place throughout the fight. Defeating the Queen would be daunting task for most mutants (and a impossible one for the race of insects beneath them) but Magnus was confident in the inevitable outcome of this fight.
Magneto's hand reached for the door beside him, the door handle rushing forward to meet his hand. Taking a deep breath and reflecting somewhat on the irony of being given a replica of a training room that had belonged to his greatest enemies, he entered the Danger Room.
Meanwhile in a secluded hallway, two extremely powerful men to discuss the most peculiar situation they had found themselves in.
"Has Thou discovered where we currently reside? Whatever odd dimension we are in?"
"My Eye of Aggamoto sees nothing! My ability to leave to the Astral plane has been blocked and my foray into the Inner Sanctum has revealed nothing! This Portal Master has obviously taken great pains to prevent even me from discerning our location! Thor I am afraid I am of no use. "
"Thou has tried at least, and if the Portal "Master" is indeed powerful enough to kidnap so many many powerful champions without resistance then he would be mighty enough to block even you from sensing where we are. "
They started pacing down the hall towards the cafeteria, engrossed in conversation and blissful of the shadow that doth follow the pair.
"Well if we can't find out more about where we are or the master of this land, then its guests would be a good place to start. Have you been able to find out more of some of the other..."contestants"?"
" I have! My information is lacking, but know of the the one who styles himself Superman. This mortal is of a powerful race called the Kryptonians, and is a proud and dedicated warrior who ceaselessly protects his realm! A worthy man and a worthy foe to any- if only the same could be said about the villains thy had the misfortune of meeting! A twisted and wretched old man calls himself "Emperor" over the realm he rules- though his galaxy knows him as "tyrant". The serpent calls himself Alduin, a being matched only in malice by his arrogance! Like Jörmungandr he cares nothing for the lives of others, and indeed the foul snake desires consumption of the souls of all! I long for combat with them both!"
"Justice will come to them, Thor, that I promise you. However in doing so other avenues, paths to victory and freedom need to be considered. "
"What does thou mean?"
"Thor, would you consider the possibility of forging common cause with this "Superman" and his friends?"
" The thought has struck me, however the time has not come;they are just as suspicious as we are of each other. Time must pass fist."
" Hmm, perhaps caution would be advisable. Rogue, however, should be brought to the fold; she is much more cooperative then Bruce or Magneto, the latter of whom is busy preparing for battle with that alien queen. "
"Thy plan has merits, Doctor ."
" I just wish I could have been of more assistance then this, my friend. The eye has failed me in the hour of our need, I should have been able to -"
The God of Thunder put a comforting hand on his friend shoulder, stopping him from carrying on.
"Strange! Though thou and I be Godlings born, we can see the Future no more clearly than do the other Mortals who reside within this prison! Nevertheless this slight on us and whatever other worthy beings reside within these halls shall not go unpunished; we will find a way to end this jest, Strange!"
His friend smiled as the shadow looked on, obscured in darkness, every step and every breath being carefully calculated to avoid detection from these two powerful superheroes. In truth the shadow was rather tepid at the idea of allying with Mon-Keigh or their gods made flesh,even if it was for mutual benefit. Nevertheless the shadow knew that in order to secure the best possible future for his people, sacrifices must be made. Though he had never had an issue with sacrificing Mon-Keigh to save his race before; working with them was something he deeply disdained and found nearly as perilous as traversing the great warp itself.
Sacrifices must be made, for when there is no other way, the perilous path is the only road to salvation.
Elsewhere on the station, a female with both alien and human characteristics brooded over her next battle.
"Blood Transfusion nearing completion. Iron level have been reduced by 80 percent-"
"Not good enough Abathur; I want a 100 percent."
" As you wish, my queen."
Sarah turned away from Abathur to her other adviser, Izsha and asked authoritatively.
" What have you found regarding Magneto's further use of his "biological manipulations"?
Izsha immediately animated from her position in the corner of the complex where her eyes had formerly been vacant; Kerrigan had ordered her to scan through the Library of Babel again while she was hooked up to Abathur, who was in the process of removing all traces of iron in her blood and replacing it with a specially crafted organic (iron-free ) substance. Abathur was the best at what he did, and without her the Swarm would be a hell of a lot weaker.
"Magneto appears to be able to use his ability to manipulate the electromagnetic pulses to induce severe pain or certain emotions, as well as minor telepathy. "
" I don't think even you, Abathur, can remove electromagnetic pulses from cells completely. "
"It is possible but not advisable. Alteration is possible however. I can strengthen the nerves, or make the pulses harder to detect. "
"Do Both then."
"Yes my Queen."
Kerrigan didn't like her choice of a first opponent, but she supposed that was the Portal Master's intent. To give her someone that nullified her single most effective power, to stop her from simply blowing up his brain when she got bored. Still she could see a positive, as this "Magneto" was probably just as uncomfortable as her, as he faced a foe who did not possess a metallic arsenal (though her prized C-10 stood on a stand nearby, she wisely decided against bringing it into battle).
The room around her...was a perfect recreation of the inside of a Zerg Hive. Living creep blanketed the ground, obscuring the steel underneath. A hazy fog served to further block the floor, obscuring even the creep, though the organic substance made its presence known nonetheless. A couple Zerglings and Hydralisk milled about to give the Hive some familiarity, though Kerrigan had been told in no uncertain terms that she could not bring any hatched Zerg into battle ( a peculiar terminology; would a nest full of unhatched broodlings count towards it?).
Currently she sat in Abathur's evolutionary chamber, where he and Izsha took turns giving their Queen advice...not that she really needed it, but it was still useful to have Izsha look valuable intelligence up from the Library of Babel while she was currently stationary, for Abathur's tentacles were inserted into her arm, siphoning off what iron remained. Unfortunately that was just the beginning, as he now needed to find a way to strengthen her nerves as well as dull the impulses. Kerrigan figured that she would be here for a while....
Which gave her all the more opportunity to plan, as her hive mind processed a thousand bits of information at once. Her telepathy was out; that much was certain. So she wouldn't be able to torture him with visions of his parents dying, or detect him telepathically. Well direct detection...the area which that blasted helmet covers is probably going to be a dead zone to her, where her mind could not feel anything, and thus would stick out like a medic in a marine squad. Though she possessed excellent telekinesis and had better control of non-metaloids then he did, with metal Magnus reigned supreme. Though her telekinesis should still be effective at slowing projectiles down to where her armor and regeneration could take care of the rest.
Sarah had always been a fan of close quarters combat, even before infestation, and thus was a little irked that her opponent possessed a perfect counter to her tendency to close in for the kill; the nuclear shockwave. This concussive blast would tear her apart if it caught her in bone wing range, which is why she needed to be VERY cautious when she attempted a close quarters tussle. Of course she could take away the need to do so by eliminating the helmet, but that was easier said then done. Magneto was more then smart enough to realize that keeping that helmet on was essential , and would doubtless implement further safeguards to make sure the helmet stays on.
She planned to utilize Abathur to upgrade herself further, she would use him up until l the very moment that the battle commenced! She had already spent the last few hours draining the iron from her blood, and before that had the adrenal cortex upgrade for zerglings implemented into her, allowing her faster movement and reflexes. But what else? After her nerves had been dulled, what then? She supposed it would be beneficial for her to increase her energy, and maybe take the genome from her roaches to make it so she can regenerate to an even greater extent underground, but what else? Then the though struck her; it seemed so obvious, why hadn't she thought of it in the beginning?
A smile crept across her face; Magneto would be in for quite a surprise when they fought, oh yes he would!
"Izsha, tell me of some of the new improvements Mengsk has made on his ghosts...."
Three hours later
Galen Marek was exhausted but satisfied nonetheless. For the last day he had been testing his limits, pushing past what he had gone before. Marek knew that this battle would not just be a victory or defeat for him but the entire galaxy, and both entities would emerge much stronger from this fight. For the last day he had alternated non-stop between meditation and training with Proxy, working endlessly to perfect a victory plan.
He heavily suspected that perfection in this case would be impossible, and that this battle would require a great deal of improvisation. Marek also sensed through the visions he was able to view in his meditations that Azula had done just as much if not more in her preparation. This did not surprise Galen too much, but it still irked him a bit. However he felt vindicated in the knowledge that his own preparations hadn't been in vain.
Azula's firebending would still be an issue given the excessive heat it put off, which would drain him of his stamina if he didn't work quickly to disperse it. The smoke too would pose an issue, but that could be more easily dispersed. The flames themselves he would meet head on with the force, either negating or blowing it back in that bitch's face.
His lightsaber went deep into Proxy-Azula's chest, for the sixteenth time in the last two days (and thats not counting the times he had finished off the holo-program utilizing the force).
"Well Done Master! That is the 42nd time you have successfully defeated this hologram, out of 55. " The droid then looked at a clock, and his tone registered disappointment. " The battle will commence soon, Master, you must leave now-
Suddenly his droid shook violently, and Galen knew that someone was trying to pass a message. But who....?
The tall, red figure of the Portal Master appeared before him; this time he came in robes. The alien of an unknown race smiled at him...as he always seemed to do.
" I see you have trained, and trained well, Galen Marek. This droid is a formidable asset, and will surely serve its owner well in the many battles to be had. Truly a remarkable synthetic, a wonderful addition to any inventory . "
Marek didn't like the way the Portal Master phrased that- it made it sound like his best friend and companion was nothing more then a material possession to be had, a prize to be won. Unbeknownst to him that was exactly what the Portal Master saw him as.
"You have spent the last 2 days preparing for this moment, but alas time is up. Your destiny is upon you, and though you may have pierced the veil of the future, grasped visions of the unknown arena you are to which you are about to set forth. Yet know this; even the best psychics can be surprised, even masters of foreseeing can encounter the unforeseen. Where you go down now is a place of equal advantage to both you and your opponent, the cunning Azula of the Fire Nation, with surprises at every corner. Go now to your fate, whether it be victory or defeat!"
With that the Portal Master's control over the droid vanished, leaving Proxy to nearly collapse to the floor. Galen helped lift his oldest friend up as he noticed a door to the rear of the building, one which had previously not existed. Its purpose was clear.
"Proxy" Galen reluctantly shifted his gaze over to the droid, "whatever happens, I want you to know that you have been the greatest friend I ever had, even when you were trying to kill me! If I don't get back....take care of Juno for me, okay?"
"Master!" The droid proceeded to give Galen a hug, which felt rather uncomfortable. "It has always been an honor to serve you Master! And I hope I have provided you with the necessary training to overcome your adversary! "
He smiled at the droid kindly but awkwardly
"Yea I am sure you did great, Proxy. Just make sure to look after Juno, okay?"
"As you wish Master, I'd be happy to!" Proxy's tone changed here, to one much more sly "Master...is she your chosen vessel?"
" Why the chosen vessel with which you intend to fulfill your primary reproductive programming of course!"
Galen sputtered for a second, before briefly regaining composure.
"Proxy, its nothing like that. Look I just want you to-to-..." Galen sighed here, expressing his feelings in a way that did not involve mass destruction was as yet an unsolved mystery to him "Look just take care of her okay? Otherwise I'll see you after the battle, Proxy."
And with that Galen fled from the room, though the force felt...odd as he did so. Just as he shut the door he turned his head instinctively back, only to find....nothing. The door was gone, unable to be detected via the force.
Did I walk through a portal or did the door seal itself behind me?
No, it couldn't have been the latter; Galen's force senses would still be able to pick up that there was a door there. Instead the Force registered nothing, like the door was never there at all...
Galen felt a tingling sensation, that of a sunlight. Turning around he glimpsed a long, almost featureless hallway with light emanating from the end of it. The former Sith assassin didn't need the force to ascertain where he needed to go.
As he walked he reflected on the last two days; mostly his training and overall efforts to prepare.
The last two days had been constant rotations of training and meditation, with a few hours of research thrown in for variation.
The bouts with Proxy occupied the vast majority of his time, and they were hard, grueling battles. From the tools around his simple abode he had managed to build a flamethrower to replicate her fire, and then attach it to Proxy for him to combine with his own repulsors and tractor beams.
The benefits of the training with Proxy had been obvious, giving Galen a great deal of knowledge regarding his foe's firebending, as well as a little info on her psych profile. The simulated training had done him wonders, and he felt confident he could handle her fire.
Midway now, the light near the end of tunnel was becoming ever visible.
Admittedly he had not yet mastered farsight, and only glimpses had been available to him. The former Sith assassin did note some key features to the battleground he was going to be teleported into, as well as got a preview of some of Azula's attacks.
Azula was like him a bit; both pawns of greater powers, both servants of greater evils. He had reflected on this before of course but now it seemed to hit him harder then before. The similarities; both he and her highly capable and dedicated pawns, both prodigies at their chosen art , both type A personalities. Whoever this Portal Master was he had obviously put a great deal of time and effort into researching and matching them up but why? What could he possibly have to gain?
The light increased in intensity forcing Galen to cover his eyes. Nevertheless he carried on, determined and vigilant, which turned out to be wise.
"- the hour of battle has come."
"Yes, yes I am aware Li and Lo."
The twins looked at each other in confusion, for she had called out their names in the wrong order.
" My Princess surely you mean Lo and Li-"
A glare was sent their way, silencing whoever had just spoken; she really couldn't care less if she got their names wrong. Azula wouldn't have cared even if she didn't have bigger things to worry about.
Like the fact that the fight was due to start in seven minutes. The moment she had spent the last two days obsessively training for was here. Suddenly and without warning there was a loud beep to the right side of the complex and she instinctively whirled around, fire blades at the ready. Nothing rose to attack her, and instead her eyes narrowed suspiciously in a mysterious door that seemed to have manifested out of nowhere. She could guess what its purpose was though, guess where it led.
Azula had made herself into a warrior out of never hesitating, and she didn't intend to now. Hesitation was for the weak, and those that did were crushed beneath their betters.
So it was with high confidence that she strode out of her residence, ignoring the parting well-wishes of Li and Lo. Azula didn't need their "luck"; she was born lucky as daddy always said ! This was in comparison to Zuko, who he said was lucky to be born (a quote that she always loved using to taunt him).
A long hallway greeted her as she exited the door; long and narrow, this hallway seemed to have no features other then the light at the end.
Azula's eyebrows raised slightly; the Portal Master did not seem like a man with tastes so bland. Still she shook that thought off, preferring instead to focus on the task at hand.
Even she was forced to admit that Galen had a formidable arsenal. With his ability to directly bend whatever he puts his mind to, spider-like web like lightning and of course, that cursed blade....
Though no full-proof plan was possible in this situation, Azula had spent the last day and a half developing ones that she thought...adequate. His "direct bending" or telekinesis would be a hassle, but she had spent up until the last thirty minutes developing counter after counter, all of which she'd probably be forced to employ in battle.
Blocking his line of sight was crucial and a necessary first step. It would also be the easiest too, as fire naturally evoked smoke. She'd make sure to set fire to the terrain around them, covering the battlefield in smoke and ash .However that was no guarantee that he couldn't grip her with the force, and she knew that she'd have to prepare some direct counters to that. Propulsion could be used to fight the control while she prepared a fire wall to block the sight, or a fire shield to do that and more.
She yawned at the thought of one of the other applications of this "direct bending"; that of Galen throwing objects at her. After all that was the main style of fighting for the Earthbenders, and her fire had proven time and again that it was capable of blasting through hard rocks and boulders, and she had no reason to think that things would be different with what he threw at her. As for the rest of his powers....
The Fire Princess had mastered lightning redirection after an additional hour of training, and was reasonably confident that she could redirect his forked lightning right back at him! His foresight was another easy obstacle for he was not proficient in the power. Azula had always prided herself on her ability to adapt to unforseen circumstances in battle, and reasoned that if the power became a problem she could always make sudden and radical alterations to her plans to throw him off. The lightsaber on the other hand.....
Was a problem. In her world there didn't exist a weapon like it; a blade strong enough to slice through the hardest rock even if it were wielded by a small child.Oh how she wanted that blade.....
But as for now, Azula knew it would be best to simply avoid any close quarters confrontation with Marek, for such a weapon made such a fight a gaurented loss for her....even if she had a better weapon then the incredibly mundane shuriken knives.She shook her head at the thought; there was a better chance that she and Zuko would become the friendliest of siblings then there was of a successful kill with one of those knives.
Light briefly blinded her but Azula kept on; Hesitation was her enemy, now and forever. When her pupils readjusted they immediately took in the sight of the tall red figure of the Portal Master, who (predictably) smiled at her. He was standing inside some sort of ring and beckoned her to him. Azula felt her temper rise slightly at the prospect of being ordered around but she reluctantly complied; she was fully aware of the power this figure possessed.
"Welcome Princess Azula, Heiress of the Fire Nation and Conqueror of Ba Sing Se! I am glad that you were the first to arrive, for I must congratulate you on your excellent use of the Library of Babel! Your mental abilities, rather then physical, are what got you into this tournament, and may bring you all the way to glory everlasting ! "
At this Azula had a welcome vision of herself leading the fire nation, queen of the world. The vision ended as the Portal Master continued. She opened her mouth to offer a retort (and to berate the figure for giving her two useless old ladies while Marek got a droid that could replicate her fighting style), only for the Portal Master to cut her off.
"If you truly wish to achieve your dreams you must face many trials, the failure of any one of them leading to utter defeat. Yet it is your inner fire, your overwhelming desire to succeed no matter the cost and the cunning to do so that has earned you numerous past victories- and I see that same fire is alight within you now, as it always has been. Will you allow a former Sith apprentice to extinguish that flame? That remains to be seen. Now put away all other thoughts, for the enemy awaits!"
The alien made a dramatic hand gesture to the entrance opposite of where she entered, and it was from there that Marek predictably entered onto the stage. He stepped onto the stage, before suddenly noticing Azula.
From across the ring the Princess and the Assassin glared at each other, eyes locked. Surprisingly it was Marek that was the first to speak
" You should surrender and save yourself the pain. Nothing you have fought has come close to what I have beaten, and I am aware of all your tricks."
Azula chuckled here at the insinuation that what he had fought matched the Avatar, or even the conquest of the Earth Kingdom.
"Hah! Don't make me laugh Marek! You are nothing more then a raven eagle sent out to do its master's dirty work in return for a couple of crumbs. While you win a few hardpressed fights I conquer nations single-handily; I KILLED the Avatar. I have accomplished far more then you could ever dream of doing. "
Galen's eyebrows raised slightly at the mention of the Raven Eagle before realizing that her world had different fauna then his universe. Nevertheless he got the reference, and returned with one of his own
" You really think your any different then I, you are as much a Raven Eagle as I am! Ozai holds you in as high regard as Vader did me!"
Azula was on the verge of vehemently retorting when the Portal Master interrupted them, clearly amused.
"Well, well, it seems the fight has already begun! However I did not come here to see your tongues clash, rather you have been brought here so that lightsaber and the Force can cross with fire and lightning bending. The arena has been crafted with advantage to you both, now may the best prodigy win!"
And with that the two warriors were teleported to another dimension as the Portal Master looked on in glee.
Hello all! First of all I would like to apologize for the delay; finals were biting at me. Well now my finals have finished, and it pleases me to say that I can continue the story as intended.
Now to address some something I missed: Why Magneto and Kerrigan were chosen (which a couple of you have asked about).
Sarah Kerrigan is the top psionic of the Starcraft Universe, a powerful figure who telepathically rules a race of billions. Her psionic powers are matched by very few in this tournament, and she further augments them with the biological powers/traits of the Zerg. Her servant Abathur allows the Queen to make significant gains after each battle (meaning new powers, changes in x-factors ect), and her hive mind is capable of processing a vast variety of information simultaneously .
A less controversial choice, Magneto's mastery of Magnetsism allows him to manipulate a vast variety of material, including his famous metal. His mastery over metal is such that he can manipulate the very cells within the human body, inducing severe pain or even ripping the iron right out of him. Add to that his proven track record of taking on formidable foes and Magneto is quite a contender.
Also to answer a comment I am sure to get; yes, the Azula vs. Galen battle will be my next update, and I hope to write up the battle in a way that is fair to both warriors and fans of both.
In order to keep this from effecting my writing I have not and will not add up the votes until the very last hour, though my own edges will be done long before that. Though I will have my own pick the warrior with the highest number of votes will win; and my vote only counts as one. To the fans of the loser (for I know there will be many, regardless of who wins) I will include a alternate ending pack after every three rounds, which will include the alternate ending for the battle, an alternate conversation with the Portal Master after the battle (where he allocates what each gets for winning), and a different score sheet.
I may also do some battles between miscellaneous TOM fighters (meaning that these characters do not actually fight each other in the tournament) later on, though this will be after I finish the overall thing and upon request.
With that said the voting for Azula vs. Marek or Kerrigan vs. Magneto is still open, so please keep submitting votes. And be patient with the fight; some take longer then others to do.