XvX Round 19: Shatterstar v Rictor

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What forces can bring two lovers against one another?  In association with the X-Men Comics group on Facebook, we find out just how Mojo and Arcade are manipulating everybody so effectively!


“Good afternoon, Doctor,” Mojo smarmed as he entered a cold, clinical room.  Seated at a neatly-organised desk was a tired-looking old man with a grey moustache; he looked like anybody’s favourite grandpa, especially when he gave the overweight alien a twinkly smile, as though energised by his presence.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Mojo,” he replied happily.  “How go the games?”

Mojo’s face split into a broad grin and he clapped his hands with glee.  “Couldn’t go better, Doctor!  And your help has been invaluable!

“Excellent,” the doctor replied, picking up a couple of papers and checking them.  “Have any of the heroes refused to fight yet?”

“Not a one,” crowed Mojo.  “I have to say, Doctor, you have been worth your fee!”

“Naturally,” twinkled the good doctor in response.  “And I have to say, your little game has given me excellent opportunity to practice my art.”

Mojo chuckled.  “Not to say fill your wallet, eh?”

“Naturally,” the doctor repeated with a gentle smile.  “Now, I believe you’re wanting an update on my own little project.  I’m aware it’s due to land today.”

Looking somewhat relieved, Mojo nodded.  “Yes, I was getting a little concerned about the schedule…”

The doctor interrupted him with a wave of his hands.  “Not to worry, not to worry!  Take a look…”

He tapped on the desk, and holographic images – two of them – shimmered into the air.  Both of them showed scenes of battle.

In the first one, a human warrior was practically dancing across the scene, seemingly ignorant of the psychedelic lights around him.  His red hair was flailing behind him in a pony-tail as he swept through an army of black-clad ninjas, and a strange sword was tearing his enemies apart.  In the other, a more casually-dressed male was stood in a similar environment, manipulating the ground into tearing similar ninjas apart.

“As you can see,” the doctor explained, lapsing into a lecturer’s style, “Shatterstar and Rictor are both now channelling aggression without any conscious thought.  Their speed of response is excellent.  What’s more, neither of them are aware of the subliminals.”

Mojo frowned.  “I’m sorry.”

The doctor gave him a cheerful smile.  “The human mind is a fragile thing, and very open to a process that I call reconditioning.  In this case, the sounds and lights are designed to manipulate the primary subliminal input mode – the eyes – and cause maximum vulnerability to subliminal messages.  Over the past three days, both have been systematically exposed to threat after threat, and have been entirely unaware that, immediately preceding every attack, subliminal images of their lovers were being projected.  What I have been waiting for…” He tapped a button, and the images changed.  “This is from two hours ago.”

Both images showed the warriors at rest, obviously exhausted but unable to sleep.  Then, on the one image, Shatterstar leaped to his feet; on the other, Rictor tensed and clenched his fists.

A moment later, silvery robots shimmered into appearance and began to attack.

Mojo frowned.  “How did they know–?”

The doctor chuckled pleasantly.  “Their minds are now attuned to the images I am projecting,” he explained.  “They associate the likeness of their lover with an attack.”

Suddenly Mojo began to get it, and he did a little dance of excitement.  “So when they see one another…”

The doctor nodded.  “It won’t even enter their minds to question that they’re facing another threat.  Yes, Mr. Mojo, I am confident that I have been successful.”

Mojo grinned broadly.  “It’s time?”

Again the doctor nodded.  “It’s time,” he agreed.  “I shall watch them battle, and then, perhaps, assist you with another pair?”

“My dear doctor,” Mojo replied, “That would be excellent.”

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