by Adrian Tullberg.
Mind control? It's all quite easy, you know. Once you know how.
Yes, any moron with enough psychic power and determination can mentally overpower someone and turn them into their marionette, and they will predictably loose control once the strings slacken even for a split second.
Would you rather be a thug, or an artist?
The real challenge - the real art, the craftsmanship lies in the subtle manipulations.
I often find that variations of Pavlovian Responses are best. For example; monitor a person's thoughts. Then, when they think of something or someone, like Superman, you project Fear.
Not too much - don't want them turning into a cowering wreck around the water cooler, do we? Just a sudden stab of unease, or an ice-cold shiver down the spine.
Now slowly increase the Fear whenever they think of Superman. And depending on your ultimate aim, add Suspicion, or Hate, or whatever is closest to the base emotion you are projecting.
Don't worry about them wondering why they've suddenly associated someone or something in a whole new way; that wonderful process called Rationalisation will kick in. If you've done it correctly.
By associating an idea or person to a particular emotion, you have generated a classic Conditional Response.
Without causing suspicion by sudden changes of behaviour, without scanning their mind and suddenly finding one of those damned migraine inducing psi screens erected around their place of work, you have slowly but surely caused the subject to Fear And Suspect Superman, all by themselves.
And if it's someone like a newspaper columnist, a TV Journalist, a Media Baron ... well, let the dominoes fall where they may...
If you want the dominoes to fall in a certain pattern, that takes patience and preparation.
Oh, and time. But I've had plenty of time.
The human mind is a wonderfully complex instrument.
And in it's complexity, so easy to sabotage.
One of my recent projects - a divorcee who suddenly wanted to re-establish her relationship with her grateful ex-husband. He was sickeningly desperate to get back together with her.
Converting an idle fantasy of reconciliation and return to domestic bliss with a more than willing partner into a near homicidally reckless desperate quest to get her man back was tricky.
But successful. And the results were quite gratifying; three heroes emotionally scarred, and a scandal emerging within the 'hero community' that threatens to tear deep divides among the formerly united front of costumed superhumans.
Nothing like a good old fashioned moral dilemma to cause the kind of fractures in formerly rock-solid alliances that I'm looking for.
The lady in question was institutionalised; untreatable paranoid schizophrenia developed due to my work. Shame that some of my craftsmanship disappeared underneath that particular house of cards. I've never found a way to preserve my true masterpieces.
I understand, however, that she's become one of the latest supervillians to blight the world. Will I read the newspaper, or watch CNN, and feel that proprietary sense of pride as I see her latest atrocity? How much of myself will I observe in her acts of chaos?
Still, much has been done, and much to do.
Exacerbating an existing character trait is another one of my methods. Paranoia, for instance, is by far one of the most tricky, and delicate states of mind to manipulate. Because by its very nature, it is a heightened state of awareness, any adjustments, no matter how small, stand a far greater probability of being detected.
Nothing, however, is impossible.
This man's paranoia was heightened by a recent - or recently rediscovered - attack. Or insult. With small, gentle nudges, in the right direction - my directions - this man created something that would become very useful to the right person.
His dedication helped. He never questioned why he could build something so advanced in so short a time. Yes, his access to certain resources and notes would allow him a greater chance to create something like this as opposed to someone else, but normally ...
While this man was busy, I was also adjusting someone else. Rationalisation is a useful tool. And if you have enough of a delicate touch, you can guide it in the right directions.
Making a man rationalise that his actions in a certain field were not due to near criminal ineptitude, but careful Machiavellian cunning is a salve to a long-battered ego.
It also makes him useful to you. If you place him into a sufficiently powerful position.
The paranoid man was suddenly relieved of his creation, which was now controlled by the now-powerful man, who had developed quite the case of paranoia of his own.
I suppose I could have made the paranoid man use this wonderful new device in the way I wanted. But he still has a role to play in this little drama.
I wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of finding a cut-rate gangster from his city, having said criminal suitably augmented, then cause as much trouble for this paranoid man as possible if I had a villain's role available for him to play, would I?
Oh yes, there's all the villains. Suddenly deciding that there's strength in numbers. All of a sudden, putting aside deep-rooted self-interest and old vendettas and organising into a fearsome force in their own right. No suspicions along those lines yet.
I am cutting it rather fine, I must admit. All these events starting at roughly the same time.
However, the timing is crucial. All these new alliances and factions and players must advance to their positions on the board at roughly the same time.
None too overwhelmingly powerful, none too easy to defeat.
And when they all finally clash - none left standing.
A series of skirmishes, leading to one vast, all-consuming battle, leaving the board clear.
Free and clear for me.
Free when I emerge safely from my federal penitentiary, full of guards and inmates who have been treated with none of my artistic charms - there are times for art, and there are times for smashing those rejects from the shallow end of the gene pool into complete submission and obedience.
Free into a world where there will be no - or too weak and few superheroes to oppose me. No supervillians to covet my power.
Free for Hector Hammond.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do.