Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SVI #4: 'Mirror Mirror on the Wall'

Chapter 4: ‘Mirror Mirror on the Wall’ [link]

“I mean, really, how many of you jokers are running around with the same cheesy moniker?”

Even if the poor sap tried to reply to her I couldn’t make it out, as my Lady Mastermind opened fire from her twin handguns, the noise from the exploding carousel rides drowning out any further witty repartee.

My Lady was in a playful mood. We had chased the ‘famous Mysterio’ into a derelict amusement park. The snow had covered most of the abandoned rides, with only a few dirty faded dwarf replicas, broken-down roller-coasters and rose-red giant tea-cups still visible over the white. I was still unsure why he had dared my mistress into this cat-and-mouse chase, and even more confused with why an illusionist super-villain would dress up in such a gaudy green unitard and put on a fishbowl for a helmet. I felt more at home in my chains and leather gear, but then again, I had grown comfortable into my role as Lady Mastermind’s pet-slash-henchman. And this chase through the twin rollercoaster ruins proves a welcome distraction, just when my Lady Regan was beginning to descent into another reminisce trip over dearly departed ‘daddy’, the original villain Mastermind.

“Mysterio darling, you do realise all this fake mist and cheesy light effects may confuse my pet Dirt here, but they don’t really work on a real telepath illusionist. I can see you clear as day. These high-heels weren’t made for running around in the muck. Stand still and let mommy Regan make you some air holes through that stuffy bowl!”

“Leave me alone you crazy broad! I’m new at this!” Mysterio panicked as he tried to break through the jammed double doors of the House of Mirrors for shelter.

“That’ right, little fish, you only inherited the costume from your father, brother or something equally mundane?” Lady Mastermind had solved her wardrobe problems, now riding me piggy-back, chasing after him, her whip lashing on my back.

“No, no, not like that. I k-k-killed my brother and then I bought—“

“Ah, say no more! Now, siblicide is something I can really get behind! Bravo, fish-lens, you give a merry chase! Faster, pet!”

With my Lady clapping wildly, Mysterio finally pushed through into the condemned mirror-maze. As we followed inside, Lady Mastermind illuminated the way with a floating lantern. The mirrors on the walls were reflecting the light into a long shining chain leading deeper into the maze. Reaching the centre of the maze, we entered a circular mirror room, the doors sliding closed behind us, and the floor fading away to nothingness. There I was, floating in the inside of a giant disco ball dressed like one of the Village People. My Lady didn’t seem as phased, addressing Mysterio – his form more confident now, reflected on the multitude of mirrors lining the inside of the sphere.

“This is more impressive, shine. Even with my mind-powers, I can’t spot the strings here. Still disappointed you wouldn’t come out to play in person, instead of hiding behind your mirrors! Be a man, Klum!”

Mysterio gave off a loud roaring cackle, distorted from his helmet, as he stepped out of one of the mirrors, followed by another and another, seven villains all speaking in unison:

“Whoever said I was Klum. Whoever even said I – excuse me – who ever said ah was even a man... sugah?”

As their helmets were lifted, The Mysterios’ voice became more feminine and familiar, and their accent changed into a distinctive southern drawl. The white fringe on her hair couldn’t have been mistaken; standing before us was Rogue of the X-Men, tearing out of the Mysterio FX suit, with even more of her stepping out of the mirrors. I could feel Lady Mastermind’s anger resonating through the room. Of all the X-Men, she hated this one the most-- to the point of having an illusionary doppelganger of her to belittle and ridicule in her mansion home, the muted maid ‘Jenny Sugah’. I never heard the full story, but I knew Rogue was one of the X-Men responsible for putting her in a coma in her first mission against them.

“Surprised, Regan? Ah still retained some of your powers and memories from the last time ah wiped the floor with you. Ah still owe ya for the way you betrayed me, even after all the trust ah showed you, taking you into my team.”

“Trust? You only used me for as long as it suited you, girl. I was a weapon in your arsenal and more fodder for your little power play against Cyclops.

I remember bits and pieces from talking to the facsimile Jenny in the mansion. Lady M had woken from the coma in the X-Men’s home and Rogue had invited her into the strike force. My Lady stuck around for a few weeks before turning coat and betraying the team to the opposition. She was never big on quiet goodbyes.

“Ah made you an X-man, you ungrateful witch.”

“Oh please, ‘belle’. You told me yourself I was only wearing the X on loan. Can you blame a girl for wanting a more permanent outfit?”

“You could never even keep a steady haircut for more than 2 weeks, Wyngarde. Ah did give you an honest chance.”

“Your boys set that dog on me, clawing my insides out! I didn’t notice your lover boy getting the same treatment. Wasn’t he on the same turncoat team with me and mummy bluest?”

“Ah reckon that’s enough chit chat, Wyngarde.”

“Bring it on, white-locks!”

As Lady Mastermind opened fire to the seven Rogues around her, I could feel myself losing footing, falling into the void, my screams covered by the sound of battle around me.

When I opened my eyes again, I had landed into a clearing. I was... outside? Surveying my surroundings, I recognised the locale: the illusionary Garden of Eden. This is where my Lady had first converted me to her cause. Was this all happening in her mind then? Was there no Mysterio? No Rogue? That southern colloquialism did seem awfully like comic relief. I walked around for what felt like an hour, but couldn’t spot my Lady anywhere. Had she lost? Was that hick coming after me next?

Spotting a familiar path, I walked up to the apple tree. The single fruit was still resting on its branches, untouched. Its sweet smell and taste had burned a hole in my memory. Clouds covered the sky and the light dimmed, while I heard a rustling in the tree branches.

A woman slid down the tree husk, looking so familiar. Mistaking her for my Lady Regan, I moved to touch my head to her feet in subordination. She pushed me away, her voice sounding more reserved and serious:

“I don’t like being touched.”

I could make her out clearly now. She looked a lot like my Lady, but for her hair and her attire. She had long straight auburn hair, dressed in a full-body black military uniform. She carried herself with an air of refrained elegance and cold superiority. She looked as seductive as my Lady, but somehow more effortlessly.

“My Lady Wyngarde?” I whimpered.

“I’m a Wyngarde, alright... but I prefer to carry my father’s legacy from before he sold to corporate greed... My name is Martinique Jason. They call me Mastermind.”

“I-I don’t understand. Where am I? Why do you--?”

“We are in your mind. I saw an opening when my annoying half-sister charged at Rogue. She had left this scenery intact after she was last here. I thought it a fitting analogy as well. Are you familiar with the myth of Lilith?”

“I-I, no. Did you say half-sister?”

“Has Regan never mentioned me then? Does she fancy herself the only Wyngarde daughter? Very appropriate. You see... Lilith as the original woman in the Garden of Eden. She was the first daughter of God... created side by side with Adam... not from his sides, but from the ground. Some even say she was created a whole day earlier. Hence, she fancied herself Adam’s equal... she wouldn’t have any of this subservience nonsense. She was no one’s inferior... and she didn’t like to dominate anyone either. She just wanted to realise her ideals. The first feminist, huh. She chose to run away from the Garden than submit to Daddy’s intentions. There was a chase... the Angels caught up... it’s a story for another time. After Lilith was out of the picture, God erased her from his Bible... he created a new woman from Adam’s side. Eve. She was created to be Adam’s servant and companion. We all know how well that ended up... and who ended up serving whom.

Now... there are a lot of interpretations of Lilith’s story. In a few of them she isn’t Adam’s companion... she’s created to be Samael’s half. And Samael of course is Lucifer... or the snake in the garden. In a lot more stories, she is the snake herself... swooping in to mess up Eve’s cosy arrangement with Adam. Reassert herself as the other daughter of God. Am I being too vague here? Are you following the story?”

“I, yes, I do, sir—Madame.”

“That won’t be necessary. I believe in equal partnership. Mutual exchange. I’m out to reclaim Adam... so to speak.”

“Cooperation with me? I – I don’t even know you. I’m Lady Mastermind’s possession. I’m Dirt.”

“That novelty should have started to wear out by now. I’m called Mastermind... out of respect for my father’s early career. Jason Wyngarde was a revolutionary. A mutant activist... some fools would say ‘terrorist’... He was the first in Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants. Before he became infatuated with that ladybird my sister envies so much and left his cause for his personal indulgences. I’ve remained true to his roots. I’m a soldier. I joined the Brotherhood to serve the cause in his place. As an equal this time. While my sister became the Hellfire Club’s lapdog. And then, Mystique’s lowly mole in the team... acting as little more than cannon fodder. At least I was Mystique’s equal. I played her mole in the X-Men and I manipulated them to serve my own purposes. At least I live up to the name Mastermind.”

“You really hate her. But how can she not—“

“We haven’t been formally introduced yet. I’ve advanced my powers in ways she never fathomed. Our father’s legacy is more than mere illusions. I controlled that clumsy Klum, ‘Mysterio’, to lure her in my Murder World with you. Rogue was easy enough to coax... change her behaviour... manipulate her into attacking Regan. Use my illusionary powers to disguise my presence and stack the odds against her. Effectively distract Regan so I could talk to you... undetected. ”

“You did all this... to bring me here?”

“As I said... I have an offer. When you tire of the taste of her leather boots... when you’re done role-playing... I have a position of real power by my side. If you help me get rid of this disgrace to the Mastermind’s legacy.”

With that, she urged the tree branch to come down, and picked the apple from the branch. She offered it to me. Dreadful déjà vu.


“Don’t answer yet. Chew on this for a while. I’ll be back.”

With that, she disappeared into the ground. The Garden vaporised around me like steam, and I found myself lying amidst a sea of broken glass. Lady Mastermind was standing over me, bruised but smiling. I could spot Rogue’s body further down, cut up pretty badly, unconscious.

“Well, pet, that went rather well! She has seven more years of bad luck to look forward to. I even got this souvenir for your collar.” She quipped, showing me a long tuft of white hair, blood stains covering the roots. “What do you say that, Dirt?”

I bow and kiss her boots. I feel my lips open up from the glass shards. I swallow the blood.

“Thank you my Lady...

I- I love you.”

Round Topic:

Round 4: Nemesis


Hank: Why do you hate our dad so much anyway?!
The Monarch: I, well... he's my nemesis. That's my

All villains have a goal. Something that in their minds justifies dressing in costume and using their particular gifts for the side of evil. For some, its all about the money. Others have more ambitious goals in mind.

Occassionally, some opposing force will act to hinder this goal. Superheroes are fond of this, as are the more idealistic members of law enforcement and the military. However, one of these groups or individuals will ultimately stand out as the greatest single obstacle to your character's success in implementing his villainous schemes. This force is more than just a thorn in your character's side. This is your character's arch-nemesis.

The power of an Arch is not to be taken lightly. Sure, he may be a fool whom you might crush easily under ideal circumstances, but Arches always have a nasty habbit of winning in the end. The psychological effect upon a villain can be catastrophic. Otherwise brilliant villains with the power to level entire cities might foolishly focus the entirety of their careers upon taking down their Arch, oftentimes leading to personal and financial ruin in the process.

In this round, describe your character's arch-nemesis. You can choose to approach this topic from a number of different angles. Perhaps your character is obsessed, or maybe its the other way around? Does your character view your Arch with contempt, or respect? Does your character see it as a game, or is his Arch just an annoyance that keeps getting in the way of his grand scheme? Is your character's Arch another super-powered individual, a team, or something entirely unexpected?

Keep in mind that your Arch will likely make repeat appearances in later rounds, so it is not advisable at all to kill him in this round. Nor is it particularly advisable to argue that your villain lacks an Arch. It may be possible to invent an entirely new character to fill this role, but it will probably be easier to dig one out from canon instead.

Judging remains the same as before, for this round and the next. Once we are down to ten competitors, we will begin voting off only one player at a time. Until then, judges please nominate two entries for elimination, and we will vote two players off this round.

Round begins: Friday, April 11th, 12 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Round ends: Monday, April 14th, 12 PM, EST

Judges' comments:

coming soon

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