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Location: Uknown

The winds raged outside of the complex in the heart of an icy wasteland.

Inside, a scientist paces its metal corridors. He strides purposefully towards a door at the end of those corridors. On his face is a satisfied and triumphant look.

As he reaches his destination, he slows and pauses outside the door.

Years spent on this project: his greatest invention ever. And it was going to bring him fame and fortune. Not necessarily right away, he had been informed, but he could wait; after all, he had spent the last fifteen years of his life just waiting for this opportunity. Now his life's goal would be attained. The worst part of it would be over within the week. He did not look forward to the deed, but what would come afterward was compensation enough.

He turned the knob of the door and entered the chamber beyond.

He gazed at his invention, almost with fatherly pride. After all, it was going to make its creator rich, famous, and very proud. The monstrosity spanned almost the entire width of the room, rising from the floor to the ceiling.

The scientist looked over it carefully, checking and re-checking it. Best not to have it go wrong at the last moment. But he steered clear of one section of it, giving it no more than a glance. It consisted of a single chamber and a separate headpiece attached to a computer console.

He did not want to have to look at that section too often.

Doing so would give him problems. Lots of problems. He had seen enough of it during its creation. Until its use, he swore not to touch or look at it.

But enough time had been wasted already. The machine was ready. It was time to let his superior know so. He walked to the opposite side of the chamber and activated the screen. Almost immediately, the face of another man appeared on it. The screen occupied the top half of the wall, and the image was so big, it almost frightened him.

But he composed himself.

" The machine is ready, sir."

The man's face on the screen contorted in what seemed like a smile, but without the joy. Instead, it seemed to embody the very essence of evil.

The scientist shivered.

" Well done." The image's eyes narrowed in scrutiny of the giant behind the scientist.

" Will it be ready for use by tomorrow?"

The scientist started in surprise and swallowed: hard. " So soon, sir?"

The man's face hardened. " Do you have a problem with that?"

The scientist quickly shook his head.

" Very well. Have it ready by then, and nothing must go wrong," and as the scientist turned to go, he added as an afterthought: " Oh, and I want no last minute backing out. You have chosen your path, and there is no turning back."

The man's eyes bored accusingly into the scientist's, and he gulped before cutting transmission.

The man was right.

There was no turning back.

End Prologue

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