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Avenger Assembled

Placement Tests -- Phalanx

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Mike got the message about his Placement Test from his RA, the vociferously hard-charging (if oddly-spoken) Magni Thorson. "Greetings, Michael!" boomed Magni as soon as Mike opened the door at his knock one Saturday morning, the big, beefy teenager with the lineman's build and heavy-metal-guitarist's hair length looking uncommonly cheerful today. "Come with me and we shall grapple together for the benefit of Mr. Archer! Aye, he aims to take your measure this very morning, and has sent me to fetch you for a test of strength most...profound!"

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Mike blinked in surprise at the vigorous greeting not to mention the actual content of the message. He had grown somewhat familiar with his RA's rather boisterous behaviors and odd speach patterns however in this case he was uncertain if the older students' grappling comment had been literal or figurative. None the less it was expected. After the results of the testing the previous day he had known it wouldn't be long before they wanted a more precise measure of his abilities.

Mike nodded to Magni and grabbed his coat from behind the door. "Well nows as good as anytime I suppose." He said as he stepped out of the room. As Magni turned and began to reminisce about his own testing Mike made appropriate noises as he follwed the RA to the Administrative building. He wasn't too surprised as the testing facilities below the building were one of the worst kept secrets of the campus.

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"Aye, we have a special test in mind for you," said Magni, throwing his arm over Phalanx's shoulder like a Viking warrior with his blood brother. Magni really was very strong, and probably a bit better at using his Strength than Mike was. "Never before have I been invited to take part in the exercises of my handfastmen...er, students. The honor for both of us is truly magnificent. We shall have a magnificent battle together." They headed down four levels in the elevator, coming down somewhere entirely different. The subbasement, or at least level four, turned out to be very different from the organic, old-fashioned school upstairs. The walls were polished steel and the floors bright white linoleum, with frosted glass panels put over every door that they walked by. "Welcome to the greatest training ground for warriors in the universe," boomed Magni as they started their walk down the corridor, "I know well that you shall keep the secrets of the school, as you have sworn."

They passed by a huge gymnasium as they went, the half-open swinging doors big enough to show a space as big as the entire gym upstairs all squirreled away down below. The hallway brightened as they approached and dimmed as they left, leaving student and teacher walking in a bubble of light in an otherwise dimmed corridor. Eventually they reached their destination, a big set of sliding doors marked with "D-R" on each one. "Welcome to the DOOM ROOM!" exclaimed Magni, giving Mike a look. "Need you water? The refresher? Enjoy them now; you will find neither within those doors!"

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Mike grew more nervous as Magni spoke. Training was one thing but battle? The large teen peered from side to side as they walked down the oddly lit corridor and sighed. He had signed up for this when he joined the school he supposed. Magni at least wasn't in real danger from him so that wasn't a worry at least but the situation made him uncomfortable. Despite his reservations however he resolved that he'd do what was needed by the time they reached the large doors to the Doom Room.

'Wait' thought Mike 'Doom Room? Seriously?' It might not be exactly what he expected but it really did seem too late to turn back, and a small part of him wanted to test himself against a powerhouse like Magni. In the end he did balk for a moment but then with a determined breath he spoke his assent to Magni "No I'm good. No time like the present right?" and with that Mike stepped up to the doors though he paused uncertain if he should push or if they would open on their own.

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"Asgard!" boomed Magni at the door, making it slide obediently open for them. Inside the two young men walked onto the grid-patterned room, the seemingly-innocuous room practically humming with power. Once inside, Magni clapped Mike on the shoulder and said, "Michael, our first test shall be one of valor. You must face a fiend most foul in personal combat and not turn away, whatever sights you see. Are you prepared?"

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Mike closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath slowly exhaling. As the last of the breath left his mouth stood straight and nodded to Magni. He squared his shoulders with a hard look to the room and spoke "Ready as I'll ever be." He just hoped he was ready for what they might throw his way.

Mike didn't know how much the researchers from ASTRO labs had shared but they certainly had known how to exploit his every fear as a child though he had eventually forced himself to not give them the pleasure of reacting it was never pleasant. He washed those thoughts from his mind as he focused on the matter at hand.

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When Mike indicated he was ready, Magni took a few steps back and started the test. The floor beneath Phalanx resolved itself into an icy plain, the "sky" above a deep black speckled with stars. As he watched, a massive humanoid came lumbering over the horizon, a monstrous ogre wielding a massive, perfectly reflective shield.

"BEHOLD, PUNY MORTAL! THE SHIELD OF A THOUSAND HORRORS!" He slammed the shield to Earth before Mike, the polished metal reflecting the teen hero's surprised face before the reflection itself began to warp and change. He saw first his own death, torn to pieces by silver-toothed wolves, but stood his ground, staring into the reflection as it changed into a vision of a burning building, the people inside screaming in terror as they burned. Things were harder when he saw Alex passionately kissing Sonic, but finally the last vision of Alex's broken, bleeding body reflected in the ogre's terrible mirror was enough to make him flinch.

And then the world faded away, replaced by the walls of the Doom Room. "Well-matched, young Mike!" called Magni. "You have shown a warrior's heart. Are you prepared for the test of speed?"

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Mike cast a dark look at his boisterous companion, that had been a low blow but really had he been expecting less? These kind of mind games had never sat well with Mike when the docs had been testing him and this would be no better apparently. The things adults decided were 'for our own good' baffled Mike but he had agreed to this testing and he would see it through regardless of how twisted they might be.

As Magni spoke again Mike tried to refocus on the matter at hand and wash the images from his mind and was largely succesful. Hearing it was to be a tes of speed mike was more comfortable. Speed that couldn't be too bad worse case he gets banged up a bit or does poorly on their stupid test. Mike nodded at Magni and with grim determination told the older boy "Lets do this." and stood lightly on the balls of his feet ready to move.

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Magni waved his hand and the situation changed all around Phalanx, the ground around him changing into a racetrack. Next to him was an odd, strangely familiar man who looked like a cross between a tornado and Johnny Rocket; a strange fusion of man and whirlwind. "I am Zhanni," came the thing's voice, the strangely musical tones neither male nor female. "Are you ready?" When Phalanx signaled that he was indeed ready, the test began, hero and djinn chasing each other over the simulated dirt track beneath their feet. But every time, no matter how fast Mike ran or flew, the strange air-spirit by his side outraced him!

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Mike frowned as he took note of the creatures' antics. 'More mind games, great.' He thought 'This is a simulation they could just have him legitimately beat me but no they want to play tricks marvelous.'

Many ideas to solve the situation came to mind but none of them really fit, mike tired to concieve of what they were truely testing 'If they wanted to see if I woudl stand in the face of defeat they woudl just have him beat me. If they wanted to see if I could notice his cheating it woudl be more varied sometimes harder to detect. So what is it they think they can find out from this?' He continued to run or fly and watch the creature carefully for a sign of some sort in his methods.

He finally turned to Magni soemwhat disgusted by the whole process at this point. "So it cheats, is there more to this? It kind of seems to be a waste of our time right now." Mike turned and stood glowering, "I could wrestle him to the ground to beat him or clothsline him or whatever maybe even follow genie myth and trick him with riddles or something but I don't really see the point of this stupid test frankly."

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"Very good!" called Magni as the simulation faded. "Your mind proved swifter than his body, as should always be the case with a true warrior. You have passed your test well." If Magni was put off by Alex's defiant response to the test, it was hard to tell; in fact, he seemed remarkably pleased with how things were going. "We have but one more test before the grand event. Tell me, Michael, your answer to this. You have beaten your enemy and have him at your mercy. He is a monster, a terrible threat to all of humanity, who may well escape from confinement and kill all he can. His life is between your hands." He held up his own big mitts. "What do you do?

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Mike was shocked at the straight forward question after the afternoon of what he considered mind games but his answer left his mouth almost of its own volition. "See him imprisoned securely and remain vigilent to stop him should he escape. If I stopped him once I will stop him again."

Mike looked to Magni as his own words echoed through the room. 'Not that I relish the thought of havign a mans life in my hands in the first place.' Mike thought but decided not to try and ammend his answer regardless. It was the first thing that came to mind and he'd stand by it

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"Good, young Michael. Very good. Now we can begin our final trial. The trial...by combat!" Magni raised his mighty fists and shouted: "Computer! Give us the battlefield of Stamford Bridge!" At his words, the two young heroes were suddenly surrounded by a grim barbaric battlefield, a place where men in leather and metal armor roared defiance and hacked at each other with spears and swords. Mike stood before a rapidly rushing river, one that looked too deep and fast for a normal man to swim across, battle raging on both sides of him.

For his part, Magni was standing on the only visible bridge in the middle of the battlefield, two glowing hammers in both hands, his back straight and true. "THOU WOULDST CROSS THIS BRIDGE!?" he shouted. "FIRST THOU MUST KNOCK ASIDE THE CHAMPION OF THE NORTH!" Behind Mike, his "supporters" began cheering his name, calling for him to go forth and do battle in the name of freedom and right.

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Mike stood non-plussed looking at the simulated carnage around him. He looked to Magni with concern, 'I thought this was supposed to be simulated combat, not the real thing.' He glanced to his phantom supporters and with a resigned sigh stepped onto the bridge and focused on Magni "We don't have to do it this way." Mike shouted against the roar of hte battle around them. He voiced his concerns "Someone could get hurt." Mike really was more worried about the other boy, despite that he knew Magni to be strong and tough, perhaps more so than himself he did not like the idea of laying his hands on a living breathing foe no matter how solidly built.

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Magni raised his hammers high, lightning bolts crackling between Surtur and Ymir in an arc over his head. "IF THOU WOULDST CROSS THIS BRIDGE, YOU MUST MOVE ME!" he called. "CHOOSE YOUR WAY AND DO BATTLE FOR THINE CAUSE! LET THE FIRST AMONGST US WHO FALLS OWE THE OTHER A COKE!" He fired a bolt of lightning at Mike, the blast hard enough to shock him but not enough to actually hurt. "REMEMBER, MICHAEL," he called, stamping on the bridge and making the ancient wood creak beneath them. "A WARRIOR'S GREATEST WEAPONS ARE HIS MIND! AND HIS MIGHTY THEWS!"

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Mike's eyes flick accross the expanse of the bridge and meet Magnis for a moment. He eyes the older boy briefly than mumbles "Fine."

With that Mike set his feet and put his shoulder to the nearest bridge support pushing with all his might. Set to pitch the whole thign into the turbulent waters below.

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The bridge collapsed beneath Magni's feet, the startled Viking godling shouting in surprise as he fell into the cold water below. As the river swept Magni away, the crowd of warriors behind Mike began to cheer his victory and his prowess in combat. As he watched Magni disappear down the river, the simulation faded around them entirely, leaving Mike and Magni alone in the empty Doom Room. "Michael!" Magni rose to his feet and crossed the room, clapping Phalanx on the shoulder with a boisterous grin on his face. "Congratulations! You have passed your trials with flying colors! Come, let us celebrate in the cafeteria!"

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Mike managed a rare smile at the praise and nodded, despite himself Mike found the older boys gregarious attitude infections "Sure," He said "and I think you owe me a coke." he added with a grin.

Mike waited for Magni to open the door as he was unfamiliar with both the operation of the Doom Room and its Etiquette.

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The two teenagers walked out of the Doom Room practically arm-in-arm, happily celebrating what had evidently been an extremely successful test. The sun outside was bright and shining with the promise of a new day, the two young men having bonded in the way only young men can. "Come, Michael! To the cafeteria!" Magni shot Michael a look and asked, as they got out of earshot, "Have you considered a warrior's name for yourself, Michael? If so, might I recommend...Viking?" He laughed, happy as a clam.

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