SIR WILLIAM MARKHAM stepped
out of a plush Mercedes limousine,
barely fifty feet away from the
largest pyramid in Giza. The
setting of the sun offered a small
respite from the scorching heat. He
ordered the driver to wait and
Sir Markham peered up at the ancient
construction, dwarfing him and
making a harsh contrast to the
luxury of his technological world.
The horizon offered a myriad of
colors, reds and yellows swirling
atop the apex of the ancient
pyramid. Reflective of his mood, the
ominous sky warned of a coming
He strode with an arrogance born
from generations of training. Most
recent in the line of Markham's, he
was a Master in the Society
responsible for the affairs of
England, groomed to rule with
heartless brutality. He feared no
man − no man except Helop.
Helop had summoned him to a meeting
in the Society's underground temple,
the first such meeting in over two
years. Why the urgency? Sir
Markham was genuinely concerned, a
striking difference from his usually
staid demeanor. Why pull me away
from the interrogation of the Gifted
Sir Markham entered the great
pyramid and approached a smooth wall
of intricately carved marble
towering twenty feet above his head;
its lateral expanse disappeared into
the dimly lit shadows. He was alone
in muffled silence.
Reaching forward, he touched four
symbols in order; the outline of a
door appeared in the marble wall. He
gently pushed and a large, two-foot
thick panel pivoted on its center,
revealing an entrance to a tunnel
wide enough for five men to walk
abreast. He stepped inside and
closed the door − the door silently
melded into the wall behind.
Recessed lighting selectively
activated as he moved down the
gently sloping tunnel, then faded
after he passed. The sophisticated
motion-sensitive lighting surrounded
him with an eerie glow, seemingly
alive and following his every
His solitude slipped away with the
sight of human activity up ahead,
the guard post. He approached four
armed men with faces set in grim
determination. No smiles, no
indication he was expected, they
stood barring his progress.
They'd slaughter me and then sit
down to eat; Sir Markham
paradoxically smiled at the thought.
Well trained and a fitting choice to
guard the Society's inner sanctum.
With silent gestures, the guards let
him pass, and Sir Markham walked
deeper into the tunnels. His steps
slowed; he sensed an evil presence,
malice beyond his comprehension. A
wave of panic washed over him,
unusual for a man who had often
watched, and even enjoyed, the
torturing of his fellow man.
In deathly quiet, Sir
Markham reached another massive
door; this one allowed him entrance
into the Society's underground
temple. He touched a set of ancient
symbols and the door slid open.
Inured to wealth from a life of
luxury incomprehensible by the
common man − still, he stood in awe.
Gemstones of every color accented
the simplest of items. Statues of
the finest workmanship dotted his
view. Fountains of gently flowing
water beside intricately carved
marble benches were prevalent as far
as the eye could see. His
trepidation about the presence was
He saw Helop seated far off in the
distance at the center of the vast
expanse. Sir Markham set out, making
his way down steps periodically
embedded in circular terraces. His
foreboding increased, yet he knew it
was not Helop alone that he feared.
Someone or some thing was
"Master," Sir Markham announced
himself deferentially as he drew
Helop answered with a quiet resolve.
"Sit down Sir Markham. Tell me what
has transpired with Dr. Malone."
"As you know, we have invited
him to visit us at our chalet in
Switzerland; he of course accepted."
Sir Markham smiled, knowing Helop
had already been informed about the
kidnapping. "He is there now," Sir
Markham continued, though sensing a
rather odd reaction from Helop. "We
gave him a full MRI and it seems we
were correct in our assumption; Dr.
Malone has the thin skull structure
and enlarged right-sided brain
characteristic of a Gifted One.
Unfortunately, he had neither the
scepter nor the orb in his
A guttural growl ripped through the
soul of Sir Markham, yet no sound
was heard. Dark images flashed
through his mind: fear, a man
bound and naked, another approaching
with unspeakable intent; tears, a
child alone and in darkness, mommy,
why did you leave me? ...pain,
sorrow, futility. The hair on his
arms stood up and he fought the
temptation to run away screaming, to
flee the temple and escape from the
presence. With difficulty, he
maintained a semblance of control.
Sir Markham could see no such
reaction from Helop; his calm
demeanor gave no indication that he
was sharing the dark thoughts.
Instead, Helop threw him a lifeline
by the simple act of speaking. "Dr.
Malone has been rescued from the
chalet by a special operations team
sent by the President of the United
Sir Markham struggled to break free
from the morass of agonizing images,
struggled to comprehend what Helop
had said. Dr. Malone has been
freed. How is this possible?
Helop stared at Sir Markham; he had
seen this reaction before, and so he
vaguely knew what Sir Markham was
experiencing. The Mutant has
proven useful, and may soon prove
even more so.