He had always been fascinated by the concept that a physiological event could trigger biological manipulations even down to the genetic level. He had hypothesized that the common awakening of mutant powers at adolescence was attributed to the changes in the human form. He had also surmised that those rare mutants who were born with their abilities already active was triggered due to the traumatic physiological transformation that occurs at birth when a newborn starts to breathe air for the first time and is separated from it's mother. Likewise it would be only a small leap to consider that death, the most traumatic of all physiological transformations could in itself either trigger a latent mutant gene in a individual or perhaps even set off abilities that were already in existence, such as his former dimension traveling powers that the other-dimensional being known as Odin stole from him in the dimension of the Asgardians. Thus perhaps his powers were re-awakened when he was crushed by the KGBeast.
Victor surmised that even if his body had been left behind on Earth, then either through astral travel or the wholesale reconstruction of a new body from his own mind was inevitably possible. Similar circumstances must have occurred to these other beings he had met, unless they were in fact creations of his own advanced mind or brought here by another being such as himself.
All the beings he met were able to speak to him, yet their was apparently no need to breathe or perhaps no air at all that could send those sound waves to him and his to them in turn. But some sort of fog like substance did exist and flowed about as if it was affected by a weather-like pattern. Perhaps it is energy on a spectrum that he was not familiar with that made them move as they did. The communication that they shared was perhaps done through the mind as well.
Also this steed and the weapon the knight carried along with the armor were all very interesting and effective against the Collectors. Victor studied both in order to possibly create them later with his own mind if he were able.
For now Victor would ride with this one and allow his mind to drive the scenario to see where it takes him, but he set a trigger in the back of his sub consciousness that would allow him to break free from this fantasy if necessary.
It is impossible to judge how long or how far the pair travel, but eventually the journey comes to a close. Victor, riding behind the knight, sees the silver mist clear away to almost nothing, leaving an oddly colored sky all around. Ahead is an impossible structure. A gigantic cube of what appears to be volcanic rock rotates slowly along an axis that runs through one pointed corner to the its opposite. On each face of the cube sits an identical castle of greenish stone, complete with towers, battlements, and a drawbridge across a moat of metallic fog. The horse dives and swoops through an open drawbridge. In the courtyard, Victor sees several creatures that resemble the Collectors, but these of a more jade hue, milling about. A few move to raise the drawbridge. The horse lands in a trot and then reins to a halt.
"You'll be safe here, Victor von Doom," the knight announces. "Not even my brother is rash enough to assault the fastness of Kang."
Doom leaps off the horse and looks up at Kang. "Thank you for saving my...existence Kang. I'm most curious about this dimension that we are in. Perhaps you or someone else could provide me with answers that I seek?" Doom wondered who this Kang was and if he created this giant cubed castle with his mind. If so, then this man might be the closest that Doom has come to finding one who is near to his equal in this universe. If that is the case, then this man might have the resources to allow Victor to return to his own dimension.
"There is little about Limbo that I do not know," Kang claims as he drops from his mount. He hands his lance and the reins to one of his Collectors. "And I imagine there is a great deal that you wish to know, not the least fact being whether or not I can assist you in returning to your own dimension."
"You are correct good knight," Victor replied. "I do seek to get back home, though while I am here in Limbo, I wish to learn as much as possible."
The knight starts to walk towards one of the towers within the walls of his amazing castle.
"Come, Doom," he says without looking back. "We will talk in more comfortable surroundings."
Victor paused a moment to take in the view once more before entering. Then he looked at the horse to see if it would disappear as the knight entered his keep. It does not. The mechanical steed is led off by a Collector.
Kang leads the way up a short, wide flight of steps. The portal to the tower swings open at his approach and remains open until Victor passes through as well. Immediately inside the door is a large, circular chamber, at least sixty feet in diameter with a twenty foot high ceiling. A spiral staircase leads up to the second story. The chamber is elegantly appointed with furnishings from a wide variety of times and places. Victor recognizes Ming dynasty vases, ancient Egyptian stelae, what appears to be Michaelangelo's Moses, chairs and sofas from the Elizabethan period, medieval tapestries depicting various heroes including the Bohemian martyr Jan Hus.
"Be seated," Kang says, turning about to drop into a 5th century Irish throne. As he does, his armor dissolves into regal finery, predominantly green in color.
Kang shakes his head. "No, Doom. They are authentic." He catches Victor's sideways glance at Moses. "Yes, even the Michelangelo. Before I was stranded in this dimension, I was a bit of a traveler and collector, albeit one of most unconventional nature."
"And now do desire an alliance of necessity in order for us both to escape this place?" Victor asked in a straightforward manner.
Kang chuckles in what seems a rather patronizing manner.
"No, Doom. I have no need of allies, nor am I a prisoner here," Kang says. "In fact, the opposite is much more accurate for, you see, I am more akin to the jailer than the inmate. Of course, it is a small prison population I am concerned with, limited to just two people, my brothers Immortus and Rama-Tut, both of whom I have trapped in this dimension. Still, you're supposition isn't entirely inaccurate. One of us does need to leave this place."
"Well then, if that is me, then I would be more than happy to be along my way if you could perhaps point me in the correct direction so to speak," Victor said to his host.
"And there's the rub," Kang replies. "For there isn'tstrictly speakingany correct direction. There are any number of destinations, all of which would suit my purpose of removing you from my dimension. From your point of view, however, a large number of those destinations would be...unpleasant. Now, unless I miss my guess, and I seldom do, you wish to be returned to your own dimension. That can be done, but it does present you an interesting difficulty since, after all, you are dead. Or, more precisely, your corporeal body and your soul have been sundered, and it is beyond my power to rejoin them. So, if I return you to your native realm, you will not have a body. Your current form, composed of aether, will not be sensible. You will not be able to be heard, seen, felt, except for, perhaps, certain animals or young children. You will be unable to interact with your environment in any way."
"I'm quite resourceful. I will find a way. Unless you have an idea on how I could go about regaining my body or a body?" He asked.
Kang looks thoughtful for a moment. "I have heard that disembodied spirits can sometimes possess the living, but somehow I doubt you are the sort to play tyrant within someone else's body." He pauses for bit, and then stands. "Very well, Doom. I have some affairs to attend to here before we can set out again. Once I am ready, we will find a door leading back to your world. Satisfactory?"
"Quite. While you are gone, is their someone who will see to my needs to do I not have boundaries within your keep?" Doom asked.
Kang walks away as he answers the question. "You're dead. You have no needs," he calls back. "And the boundaries will become self-evident."
Kang walks by the Michaelangelo through an archway and turns the corner, vanishing from sight. Then, the archway and other exits also vanish from sight, the stone twisting and running like wax and then solidifying again, leaving Victor sealed in the large gallery.
Victor examines his situation. The situation that I find myself in is certainly a puzzle. Kang offers to help, yet he locks me away to do who know what. In this dimension, walls are not supposed to me anything, yet here they are, solid to the touch. This must be approached from an entirely different angle then.
Victor sits down on the floor and decides to test his powerful mind's ability to manipulate this aether. He concentrates first on sensing this aether. Attempting to feel it or perceive it in some manner. For if one can manipulate, then one can perceive.
There is something there. Superimposed over the apparent solidity of things is a sort of faint, transparent sensation of movement, as if everything is both solid and insubstantial, fixed and flowing.
Now he attempts to control his own body through the manipulation of the aether. First he attempts to levitate his own body into the air.
There is a distinct feeling of lightness, followed, slowly, by a snail-like ascent. The degree of concentration required is enormous. So much so, in fact, that the distraction caused by Victor's success in levitating drops him back to the floor after rising only a few inches.
After attempting the previous feats, Victor now thinks deeper into the situation. If location and direction have no meaning, then one should surmise that one would not actually be trapped within this castle and that if I chose so, I would not be here anymore. It isn't so much a matter of escaping as just not being here anymore. But, escape, at least from this place, it not my desire. But escape from this reality is. So Victor sits there placing all of his will towards making one of those dimensional doors appear before him in the castle.
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© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al