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A New Power Rising

Pure and beautiful silence.

For months there had never been a moment's silence in the hell hole Nikolai had thrown him into. If it was not the sound of his students working on their art, it was the persistent hum of the White-Cloaks' machines, forever working to find an answer to the one question everyone wanted to know.

What manner of power did he wield?

Michael had not been a good subject. Some of the others like Im Seung Jun, the meticulous former surgeon and Karim al'Shadis provided them with much better answers. They wondered at their power, they wanted to know how and why.

Michael cared little for such things. He was a bonfire in a storm that could snuff him out at any moment. It was enough.

His eight students stood in a line like soldiers. Perfectly still and blessedly silent. Michael himself stood across from them in the main training room, scanning the line.

They had come far in the preceding months. Very far. Some were even talented. All were dangerous.

And now the time had come to unleash the beasts he had created.

Some would stay, men like Sanjay Ramanujan, men who would do well at teaching other prospective ascendants. The others... he would take them to the surface.

Petrovic and Taichechski in particular. Those two were dangerous. They hated him. He could see it in their eyes. So he would keep them close, and if the day came when they mustered their courage to defy him, he would be ready.

he began in a soft, cool voice. "Today you are no longer students. Today you become more than infants. You have done well to survive, and now you will be rewarded for it."

Michael hardly saw what was to come as a reward, but they didn't know what they were getting into. They did not know Nikolai, the man who sought to play God.

"Stand proud. Today, the Ascendancy will welcome you as brothers."

As slaves...
Michael completed the task assigned to him as promised. Yet an unease stalked Nikolai whenever he thought of the man, as though he might betray him any day. It never happened. Instead, Michael presented a group of probably the best trained men in the world to be his agents of change across the CCD. Unfortunately, only a couple were suited to go on and train others.

Also unfortunately, he was unable to attend in person today. It had been one of his top priorities- to cultivate the loyalty of these men by praising their efforts and success in person. However, only one other thing could have taken precedence and it happened to unfold today.

he spoke through the Holo screen that projected his life-sized image before them.

"You are truly an exceptional group. Your talents and bravery are remarkable, and I commend you for your endurance. I understand this training was demanding and fast paced, however I did it for the good of the world. In the coming days I will spend time with each of you, but today I ask you to begin your service by taking a presence among the crowd in the Red Square. Commander Vellas will continue to serve as your main contact in the government."

His image looked from man to man, weighing and measuring each. They learned in months what took him years. It really was remarkable. Of course if it hadn't been for Nikolai, none of them would be here now.

"To practical matters. Working in my service is lucrative. To the government you are classified as my employees, and will draw a healthy salary and lifestyle. However, we all know the deeper truth. You are like my children. And I love you for it."

He looked briefly at Michael before taking his farewell.

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