by Tim Francovich
Author's Note: This story takes place sometime before X-Force #43 and before Jeph Loeb started retconning Shatterstar into something other than what all the evidence points to (if that IS what he's doing...). I am going along with all the evidence that has been presented before now, especially events in New Mutants #100, the Shattershot Annuals a few years ago, and X-Force #29-30.
Disclaimer: All Marvel characters featured in this story are trademarks of Marvel Comics Group. This is an unauthorized work and no profit is being made on this work. This story is copyright Tim Frankovich 1995.
The dozen or so monitors in the room were suddenly muted. "How long has he been exiled?" a voice demanded.
"Eight months, three weeks, two days, and..." a second voice replied, eminently clinical.
"I get the idea. Has it been long enough, do you think?"
"That depends on what your intentions toward him are." The sound of a sword being drawn punctuated the sentence.
"Ha! My dear, you need have no questions regarding my intentions. They are, as they always have been... and as my ancestors' were before me."
"Great. More reruns."
"Perish the thought! No, I believe it is time to show our little plaything that we haven't forgotten about him. Be a dear and bring him back, will you?"
"What if I refuse? I have danced the dance until I am weary of it."
"Refuse me? Not likely. I am you as you are me as we are all together," came the reply in a singsong tone. "You must do what I say. I OWN you, time dancer. Now. Bring Shatterstar to me. It is time for him to play my games again."
"As you wish, Mojo."
"Mojo V!" the bloated creature insisted.
"As you wish, Mojo V." Spiral's voice was filled with sarcasm as she began her dance...
"Jimmy! Look out!" With an extra burst of speed, Samuel Guthrie just barely managed to knock his friend out of the way of a strafing laser burst.
Both were a little dazed from the impact, but the two young men managed to scramble out of the way of a massive steel ball that sped past them. Sam shot into the air, protected by his kinetic blast field, a mutant ability that enabled him to fly, among other things, earning him the code name Cannonball.
James Proudstar, known as Warpath, used his enhanced strength to leap high against the wall and rip the laser cannon apart. Around them, the other members of X-Force --Siryn, Boomer, Rictor and Shatterstar-- were dealing with a vast array of dangerous (as well as silly) weapons that seemed to spring almost magically from the walls and floor.
"Cable!" Cannonball shouted. "Ya did program some safeguards into this thing, didn't ya?"
From behind the observation booth high on the wall, X-Force's leader, the man called Cable, smiled faintly. "Never assume anything, Sam," he said into the microphone. His voice boomed throughout the room where X-Force was fighting.
"Swell," Sam muttered, dodging a missile with a pair of sunglasses painted on the front. "Ah knew hangin' out in Murderworld was going to be a mistake." A high-pitched sonic scream from his teammate Siryn, Theresa O'Rourke, detonated the missile harmlessly.
"Fekt!" snarled Shatterstar, the sword-wielding mutant from another dimension. "A true warrior does not fear injury during training!" To illustrate his point, Shatterstar dove almost headfirst at an opening panel, expecting another weapon system. Instead, a cardboard cutout of Arcade, the assassin-for-hire who built Murderworld, popped into place, grinning widely. Shatterstar slashed through the cutout with both swords and spun around, wary of the next threat.
"Ah ain't afraid, Star," Sam responded. "It's just that... aw, forget it." Concentrating intently, Sam expanded his blast field and detonated a whole flock of aerial mines.
Julio Richter, code-named Rictor, unleashed a vibratory blast that deflected the rolling steel ball away from him. "Sam, you and Star are about as far apart in thinking as..." Rictor was forced to leave his sentence unfinished as an unnoticed smaller ball suddenly exploded, throwing him to the ground. Warpath bent to help him up.
At that moment, an orb of sparkling energy suddenly appeared in the far corner of the training arena. "Cool special effects, Cable," observed Tabitha Smith, otherwise known as Boomer. "What's that thing supposed to do? Sparkle us to death?"
Inside the booth, Cable bolted from his chair and grabbed the nearest gun. Whatever that orb was, it was not something he'd programmed into the training session. "Be careful, team!" he called into the intercom as he rapidly shut down the program.
"It is a teleportation effect," Shatterstar pointed out, running towards the orb. "Someone is invading our base!"
In the midst of the orb appeared a strange-looking white-haired woman with six arms, each holding a blade of some kind. "Spiral!" Shatterstar exclaimed, slowing his run momentarily.
In the booth, Cable had reached the same conclusion. Deciding the stairs would take too long, he leveled his gun and blew the observation booth's window apart. Before the smoke could clear, he leaped through the hole, using a burst of telekinesis to slow his 30 foot fall.
"Shatterstar!" exclaimed Spiral in delight. "I look for you and find you running to me! Come, it is time to dance with death!"
"I know you, time dancer!" Star growled. "For what you have done in my homeworld, I should kill you here and now!" He launched himself at the floating woman with a cry of rage.
"Star, no!" shouted Rictor.
"Fool! You think your two swords will be a match for my six?" Spiral taunted as Shatterstar closed the distance between them. She began to dance again, her blades spinning dangerously.
"'Course he does," Cannonball muttered under his breath. "Terry!" he called to Siryn. "Follow me in!" Sam roared after Shatterstar, even as Spiral's sparkling orb began to materialize again.
Shatterstar's mid-air lunge was met and deflected by Spiral, who looked gleefully into his eyes. A pair of hands suddenly locked onto Star's wrists. "Come, arena warrior! It's time to entertain the masses again!" she cried. Her orb coalesced into translucence, surrounding both her and Shatterstar.
Cannonball narrowed his eyes, focused his blast field in front of him and smashed into the orb... just as it disappeared in a burst of energy.
Cable and the other mutants stopped in their tracks. Spiral was gone, and with her, Shatterstar and Cannonball.
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