The structure was unremarkable, appearing as a simple rounded tower made of sandstone bricks. Fifty feet tall and smoothly rounded, it’s most unusual features at first glance were its location, a random spot along a state highway, and the fact that it just appeared out of nowhere one day.
No one had been around to see it appear. One afternoon, there was an empty stretch of grass next to the road. The next morning, a small brick tower was there. It was odd, certainly, but most people driving past simply wondered, “Oh, when did that get built?” and “I wonder what that’s for?”
People busy with their own lives and concerns didn’t generally have time to stop and ponder over such a mundane mystery. But by noon of the first day, eventually word got around, and someone with an excess of time on their hands decided to pull over and check it out.
A series of eye witnesses driving by would later report that they’d seen him walk around the tower and take a few pictures, before entering the single, rectangular doorway in the front. No one saw the exact moment he disappeared.
No one would ever see him again.
Many would follow him. First were the innocently curious, then the galvanized conspiracy seekers, then the scientists and soldiers conducting research. Dozens entered and none returned, and it was decided that whatever this strange phenomenon was, it had to be destroyed for the public safety.
For three days, they battered it with construction vehicles, dynamite, and artillery fire, but no matter what they threw at it, the tower was not so much as scratched. Finally, they planned to build a wall around it and seal the whole thing in a giant block of concrete.
Just before they could get started, however, someone finally came back out.
He’d been one of the last volunteers sent in by the research team, just three days prior. Before, he had been dressed in street clothes and had cameras and sensors strapped to his body, but now, he was garbed in tan wizard’s robes with a green sash, carrying a gnarled wooden staff. He looked around, blinking in surprise, confusion on his face.
He then held out his hand and swept it through air, and lightning trailed along his fingers. Immediately, the stunned personnel swarmed around him, asking a thousand questions, insisting that he come with them for extensive testing.
But the man named James McLeod, who would become known to the world as the Earth Mage, was not prepared to become a lab rat. With a burst of wind beneath his feet, he shot into the sky and flew past the horizon. Hundreds of cameras managed to capture that moment, and seconds later, the entire world bore witness to the miracle of the world’s first Superhuman.
If they’d only known what would follow in his wake, they wouldn’t have celebrated. If they’d proceeded to seal the tower as planned, instead of attempt to profit from it, then maybe this all could have been avoided.
Maybe their world wouldn’t have to die.