You've Come A Long Way, Baby Prologue

By Imrahil

“Who are you?”

He wanted to scream those words, to let out his pent-up rage, but he kept his icy composure. He had always been well known for his ability to hide his true emotions. In fact, most believed him to be truly devoid of feelings. Magus himself had always believed this opinion to be not far from the truth.

Unfortunately, there were always days which tested his well-disciplined emotions.

“You obviously do not have the thinking capacity required to answer such a simple question.” Magus paused for a moment and turned away, then quickly turned back to his opponent. “Idiots bore me.”

Magus’ eyes flared and his cloak began to whip about his legs as he extended his arms toward his silent foe’s back. Dark energy pulsed around his leather gloves and soon streamed from his eyes as he began to build up an enormous amount of magic in his body.

The large fellow slowly turned around to face the dark wizard. Magus had not been able to get a good look at him before. The oaf looked like something out of a time which Magus had only seen briefly when traveling to the future ages ago. The man adorned an amazing suit of armor; one which reminded him of a long-forgotten ally’s robotic armor. Metal plating covered the being; each plate fit together for maximum defense and flexibility. The suit seemed to hum with power from within, yet Magus sensed no magic involved. He also felt life within the suit of armor, so Magus knew this was not a robot like the one he knew of. A strange helmet was arrayed upon the fellow’s head, one with eyes of its own. Large, yellow, unblinking eyes which caused even the master magician to pause. Not a single instance of flesh or hint of vulnerability could be seen on the steel behemoth, but Magus knew that even the strongest of alloys would part before deadly dark matter.

“I will not offer to ask the question again. Tell me who you are! NOW!”

Unable to restrain himself any longer, Magus felt the swirling dark energy blast forth from his body toward the man. At impossible speeds the giant’s fingers darted to its waste toward a keypad. Three buttons were pushed and the black energy dissipated a foot in front of the armored figure. Magus stopped in surprise. His arrogant expression changed to one of bewilderment. He had not anticipated this scenario. The man’s fingers once again shot toward the keypad. Magus’ mind reeled as he was immediately thrown to his knees by an invisible force.

 “No! My hands!” Magus’ hands were forced behind him as if he were being prepared for shackles. His head began to descend to the ground until he was bowing before the armored figure.

“I…will not….be….subdued!” Magus slowly began to raise his head. His arms gradually started to come out from behind him. Pain shot through his limbs and back as he tried to move. He gritted his teeth and started to rise from the floor, until a heavy boot came down on his head.

Magus’ face crashed against the rock floor of the cave. He heard a crackle and a strange sound.

“Good boy, stay down,” the armored man spoke with a chuckle. “Sarge, do you copy?” A brief pause followed. “Sarge, do you copy, over.”

The man’s voice sounded mechanical, yet not entirely. Magus could not find the strength to raise his head to see whom the creature was talking to, so he began to concentrate on removing the spell holding him down. But Magus couldn’t feel anything. It was as if there was no magic involved with his imprisonment at all.

Magus asked himself, “Could this being be powerful enough to mask its own magic? And even if this was possible, how could he mask it from one such as himself: the great Magus, unrivaled dark mage?” For once in his life, Magus’ mind was drawing a blank.

Magus’ thoughts were interrupted by another voice. This one had the same mechanical crackling sound, but seemed further away.

“G-12, I copy, over.”

The creature responded. “Sarge, I have located and disabled target. Requesting rally point coordinates.”

“That will not be necessary, G-12. Units Valleho and Enhar have locked on to your position and are approaching your location at this moment. Do you need any more backup, over.”

“Negative, Sarge, I have everything under control here.” The man looked down upon Magus’ broken form with a quiet laugh. “As long as Valleho gets here with the gate key soon, I’ll be fine. This weather isn’t very kind to the suit, y’know, over.”

“Remember, we’ve been told he’s a smart one. Be very cautious, over and out.” The crackling stopped with a click.

“Shut up, you moron.” The armored figure shook its head. “I can’t believe that baby got sergeant.” The man was obviously upset and he hit Magus’ cave wall with a resounding force.

Magus took this brief moment of distraction to cast the simplest spell he knew; one which didn’t require the use of his hands; only a quick sentence which couldn’t be heard over the echo of the creature’s punch.

The armored man looked down at his now-tarnished gauntlet, muttering a few curses. He turned back to Magus.

“Alright, let’s get you ready, you piece of – what!? Where’d he go?”

Magus still couldn’t move without feeling intense pain, but he was completely invisible. He managed to lift his head a little above the ground, and he saw the armored figure searching all around the small cave in the same manner he had been earlier that morning before Magus had awoken.

“Jeez, this is impossible. There’s no place in here to hide.” The armored man looked as if he was about to hit the wall again, but stopped. “He had to have run outside. The Sarge is going to kill me. Or maybe I’ll kill him.” The armored fellow chuckled as he jogged toward the cave entrance. “WHERE ARE YOU!….” His voice trailed away.

The metal giant had disappeared through the cave opening into the blizzard outside. Almost at once the spell holding Magus gave way. Magus collapsed to the ground, falling out of his own invisibility spell. He lay coughing and sputtering blood on the floor. After a few moments, he crawled to his scythe and pulled himself up with it. The creature’s spell had caused him incredible pain when he had almost broken free of it; he felt as if his blood was on fire ever since. Magus had been hurt much worse than he had thought.

His body trembled with the pain visited upon him. His mind felt strange; Magus found it very hard to concentrate on one thing at a time. He looked over at his sole piece of furniture: a single bookshelf. The cretin had been looking through it for something before he had woken up. What could it have been? Several books lay about him on the ground. One title caught his eye. “Answers”.

Magus thought back to when he acquired that tome. A stone imp had kicked a small rock at Magus when he was returning home one evening, and Magus had been hit squarely on the backside. The imp laughed at first, but quickly ceased giggling when the mage had turned around. Magus had raised one hand, about to summon lightning from the clouds, when the imp yelled something about a book of infinite wisdom. Magus had paused for a moment, and the imp, seeing its chance to remain alive, ran up to Magus with the “Answers” tome and a smile on its face. Magus had taken one look at the volume, and then he had pretended to burn it before the imp’s eyes, when in truth he had teleported it home. The imp transformed from gray to white and began to sweat. Magus had thought for a moment, and then, without a word, he had materialized some balloons and tied them to the imp. The imp floated away with the cold breeze, screaming. It wasn’t his usual style, but he figured doing this would afford him a few much-needed laughs in the future. And sure enough, Magus has been able to catch a few glances every once in a while of the poor imp flying high above the land, squawking for mercy.

A freezing gale blew through the cave opening and brought the smiling Magus back to reality. The tome he was staring at blew open to a chapter entitled “So You Want to Go See the Future”.

Magus’ eyes widened. The tome read:

“Getting the feeling something bad is going to happen and you don’t know what? Well then why don’t you go forward a few years and find out! Yes, with just a few simple directions you could be seeing your future self in no time. Ah, time travel, the Lost Art. First practiced by the great mage Freldpeck in…”

Magus skimmed through the meaningless babble until he reached some directions:

“How to Build a TimeGate Generator”

Magus knew he didn’t have time for that. He gritted his teeth and almost slammed the book shut when he spotted an asterisk at the bottom of the next page.

“* Or, if time travel is not new to you and you have a piece of the future, so to speak, or anything from the time period you wish to visit, simply hold that object close to you and pronounce these simple phrases (hopefully you have some practice in the magic arts as well. If not, turn to page 344, ‘So You Want to Learn Magic’).”

Half a page of incantations followed. “A piece of the future?” Magus thought to himself.

A mewing from behind a stalagmite interrupted his thinking. “Oh, little Marle must be hungry,” he thought absent-mindedly.

Magus was referring to, of course, his cat. Magus had always had a soft spot for felines, and long ago when he had finally left the company of some former allies in another time, this cat had appeared out of the timegate which Magus had come through in order to return to his own time. Ever since, the mage and the feline, named Marle by Magus, had formed a partnership. Magus would occasionally provide food for the cat, and the cat would hunt and kill cave rats which infested the tiny holes inside the cave.

Magus’ eyes opened wide. He picked up the small cat and the book and began to read the incantations. He had no idea what era the cat had come from, but she looked like his last hope. Marle began to screech and hiss midway through the spell, and she made it very difficult for Magus to continue reading. To make matters worse, Magus heard voices outside. For the first time in ages, a sweat broke out on Magus’ forehead.

“He’s not out here Rico,” a light male voice said mockingly.

“Do I have to say ‘shut up’ again, Enhar? And call me G-12. We’re on a job here.” This voice obviously belonged to the oaf Magus had already met.

“Wow, I bet you never see your rank again. You’ll be demoted for sure! I see you as…the company’s mascot, or something,” the light voice continued.

“Yeah, you could cheer us on and boost our morale on these missions in a giant Nu suit. Now wouldn't that be amusing?” A new voice; definitely female.

“SHUT UP! Both of you! We WILL find him!”

Magus had no time to finish. He quickly read the rest, jumbling the last few lines of the incantation. Magus waited, gritting his teeth. The metallic footsteps in the cave were right behind him. The crackling mechanical voices followed.

“I bet he was hiding behind a chair or something.”

“Shut up. I checked everywhere. Plus, this guy has no furniture. There wasn’t any place to hide.”

Without warning, a red timegate opened on the ceiling of Magus’ cave. Magus wasted no time. He grabbed his scythe, the DoomSickle, and flew up into the portal with Marle and the book, right before his enemies entered. He disappeared into the portal and the timegate closed after him.

The three similarly-clad figures sauntered into Magus’ room. Two looked very much alike, while another had a variation in armor – it was obviously a woman.

“Well, ‘G-12’, you’ve done it again. He’s not here,” she said over her intercom speaker.

“Hey, I heard something,” G-12 said.

“Yeah, your rank flying away on the wind,” the other man said.

“No, seriously.”

“You want serious? Check out your intercom. You turned it off. Sarge has probably been trying to call you about the delay for a long time,” the woman stated dryly.

“Ouch,” the other armored man said, showing genuine sympathy.

For a long time G-12 stood looking down at the intercom switch, unable to talk.

“So, can we call you Rico, now?” the woman asked.


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