Title: For Mature Audiences (1/4)
Email: Takes place prior to X-Men #10-11
Feedback: Certainly. I'm dealing with a part of the X-universe that I'm not entirely familiar with.
Summary: Storm isn't happy when she finds herself the prisoner of Mojo, and the star of his most daring television program yet. Neither is her costar - Spiral. A response to the Storm challenge at the xmenfemslash Yahoogroup.
"Storm, baby!" Mojo shrieked, spreading his arms wide. "You're looking great! Can I get you something? An espresso maybe?"
Storm just folded her arms and looked at him coldly. He seemed unchanged, except for the massive pair of sunglasses on his face.
"Spiral, honey, help her find her seat."
She was rudely pushed down into the chair behind her when she felt several hands on her shoulders and arms. And they all belonged to the one person responsible from abducting her in midair and teleporting her to this godforsaken place - Mojo's pet sorceress Spiral. Storm craned her head up to look at her. "You can get your hands off me now," she said, her voice as wintry as the arctic winds she was capable of summoning.
Normally capable, anyway. Spiral could be blamed for that too, it seemed.
Spiral just smiled back at her as she let go of Storm. "You must be tired," she replied. "Most people don't react well to my teleportation spell."
"If I were most people, your deranged employer wouldn't have had you bring me here."
"She's gotcha there, Spiral," Mojo pointed out. "But that's neither here nor there. Storm, I'm going to make you an offer that - "
"Death of an X-Man, Part Seven, Mojo?" Storm asked sardonically. "Isn't that script getting a little tired, even for you?"
"I agree one hundred percent," he said, raising a finger in the air. "Actually, I've got a new project,
something I whipped up myself in my lonely writer's garret - well, okay, so I stole it from your American airwaves. But all the changes are mine!"
"Marvelous," Storm murmured. "What humiliation then? Professional wrestling? Turning letters on Wheel of Fortune, perhaps?"
"Stormy, baby," Mojo said smoothly, "you're selling yourself way too short. Spiral tells me you're a woman of depth and class, and I believe her. If I just wanted someone to turn letters, I'd have abducted Jubilee."
"Your 'compliment' is not appreciated."
"Aw, come on! Life here doesn't have to be so bad, Storm! One thing I can promise you," he said, his lips pulling back and baring a wide grin. "No one here cares about Forge withdrawing his marriage proposal. So no more unwanted sympathy or prying questions, right?"
That succeeded in breaking through her stoic exterior. She stared at him, dumbfounded. "How did you - "
"Oh, please, Spiral told me everything. She's been watching you X-Men all week! I mean, it's not like I told Spiral, 'Bring me Storm!' I just said I wanted an X-Man. She recommended you, and after watching that little soap opera between you, Forge, Bishop, and Mystique, I had to agree! You, my dear, know your drama!"
Storm looked up at Spiral again, her gaze wrathful. "It's not enough that you bring me here and use magic to stop me from using my powers? You've been violating my privacy all week as well, you loathsome spider?"
Spiral scowled. "Don't blame me if Forge decided he liked the other one better," she retorted.
"That is NOT why he left," Storm shot back, rising to her feet. She didn't have her powers, but her fist clenched, and part of her wanted to throw Spiral to the floor and throttle her!
"Ladies, ladies!" Mojo said, machines moving his bulk forward as he put a hand on Storm's shoulder. "This is great stuff I'm seeing, but save it for the cameras!"
Storm's skin crawled, even though Mojo wasn't actually touching her skin. Feeling his hand there was enough, and her anger shifted back toward Mojo. "Are you going to tell me what you expect me to do for your cameras, or are you just going to kill me and get it over with?" she asked Mojo.
"Storm, you've got me all wrong! I'm not going to kill you! Well, unless the ratings are lousy, but I'm an optimist at heart," Mojo told her. "You're going to be a star. You're going to knock them dead!"
"I can think of people I'd like to do that too," Storm replied, staring pointedly at his hand, still clutching her shoulder.
He got the message, letting go. "This role is so perfect for you," he said, unruffled by her attitude.
She sighed. "What is it?"
"Picture this," he said, waving his arm through the air. "You're a supermodel. But you're retired, and your accountant runs off with all your money! Just about the only thing you have left is a rundown private detective agency - "
"Wait a minute," Storm said, stopping him. "This sounds awfully familiar."
"I told you I swiped it from your home world."
"But you can't possibly want me to star in your own version of Moonlighting," she said, bewildered.
"See, there you go, diminishing your own talents again," he said, shaking his head.
"No," Storm told him. "I mean - isn't it a little subtle for your audience? No explosions? No excessive body counts?"
"Hey, it's a private detective agency! There's bound to be plenty of murders!"
"You do realize that the woman in that show doesn't die at the end, right?"
He looked puzzled. "Are you under the impression that I WANT you to die? Baby, if you're dead, I ain't got no show! I think this could run for years!"
Storm was stunned. He wanted her for her - acting skills?
Worse yet, she'd heard enough about the show to know that the two leads eventually developed a romantic relationship. Who knew what kind of hideous creature Mojo had cast opposite her?
"And best of all," Mojo went on, "Spiral here is going to be your costar!"
Spiral's eyes grew wide. "WHAT!"
"I'll call it - Moonlightning! And Storm, you can MAKE lightning, so it's a pun. Perfect!"
The X-Men couldn't save her fast enough.
The swords were in her hands so quickly, swords that simply could not have all been on her body a moment ago, it could have been magic. In fact, it probably was magic. Spiral threw her defenseless target down onto the floor and stabbed, stabbed over and over until she let loose a bloody cry of frustration.
"You know, you're not going to be able to memorize that script if you keep hacking it to pieces," Storm observed sourly.
Spiral shot her a look. "I shouldn't HAVE to in the first place! Years of service for what? So I can be marked for death on a show with YOU?"
"He told you you were in no danger. Unlike, say, ME."
"And you expect me to take him at his WORD? He could change his mind any time! He could realize tomorrow what a stupid idea this is! Nobody's going to be watching!"
"Then why is he doing it?" Storm asked.
"Don't you know?" Spiral said, disgusted. "He's an auteur. He thinks he can get by on the bare minimum of physical violence because of his writing."
Storm folded her arms. "I realize you're angry with your employer, but you know he's probably listening. Watching, too."
"No, he isn't. Magic," Storm said indifferently.
"At any rate," Storm went on, "the fact remains that whether or not Mojo changes his mind about your future, mine is in little doubt. Until the X-Men arrive, I have more incentive than you for this show to succeed. Mojo certainly won't allow ME to live. For now, I have little option except to begin reading my script." She held up her own thick sheaf of papers. Unlike Spiral's, it wasn't filled with holes.
"You seem remarkably calm about this," Spiral grumbled.
"You WERE watching me," Storm retorted. "You shouldn't be surprised. Besides, the likeliest scenario is that the X-Men will be here shortly."
"You doubt them?"
"Oh, I don't doubt that the X-Men know how to make things happen. But I don't think they'll be looking for you yet. Maybe ever." Spiral's mood shifted, as her anger was replaced by a spiteful pleasure in knowing what Storm didn't, and the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.
Storm froze. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Spiral smiled. "What was happening back on Earth when you arrived here in Mojoverse, vomiting from the effects of my teleportation spell? It made you quite vulnerable to my next spell, by the way. A useful side effect from my perspective."
Storm swallowed her anger, wary of what Spiral was bursting to tell her. "A rogue Sentinel. No one knew where it had come from, but it was creating havoc off Long Island. My team was sent to deal with it while Cyclops' team and Ghost Rider were taking care of a Brood outbreak." She stopped. "You're not saying - "
"That they're dead? No, they're just fine. The Sentinel was scrapped. It's at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean now. Very bad for the environment," Spiral sighed.
"I was above the clouds so the Sentinel couldn't see me," Storm went on, ignoring her. "Neither could the other X-Men though, and that was when you surprised me."
"Not before you dropped that lightning bolt on the Sentinel's head," Spiral said admiringly. "I was impressed. If you'd managed to destroy it right there, you would have seriously compromised my plans."
"What plans? You still captured me."
"Yes, but I needed the Sentinel to fake your death."
"Fake my - you did what? YOU were the one responsible for the Sentinel?"
Spiral laughed. "That composure of yours hasn't been the same since you got here, has it? Oh, don't worry, no lives were lost. Except yours - officially."
"You faked my DEATH?"
"The Sentinel fired into the clouds after your light show nearly shorted it out. The X-Men saw your body fall from the sky, your chest blown apart. Iceman caught you in midair, but you 'died' in his arms. Then the Sentinel shattered the ice out from under Iceman's feet, and your body fell into the ocean, where it was later buried by the wreckage of the Sentinel, destroyed thanks to the heroic efforts of the grief-stricken X-Men." Spiral paused. "I must admit, I picked up a flair for the melodrama from Mojo."
Storm moved towards Spiral, almost shaking with rage. "You cause my teammates that kind of pain, and then you make light of it!"
"Hey, you want to get into a fistfight, that's fine with me," Spiral shot back, putting her swords away. "Although I do believe I have you outnumbered." She raised her six fists before her like a turn-of-the-century boxer, grinning.
"My body - something you crafted in your 'shoppe', I assume?" Storm asked, not coming closer. Hand-to-hand combat with the multi-armed Spiral wasn't going to get her anywhere, not when she needed information.
"Something better. Something that could breathe a few last words to Iceman in your own voice before your death," Spiral replied. Her grin seemed positively wicked. "I thought the irony of my plan was particularly inspired. I hired someone to act out your death scene."
"SomeONE? Who?" Then Storm realized. The irony wasn't in Mojo's minion hiring an actor, but rather in the identity of the most likely candidate to 'play' her. "Mystique," she said.
"Guess they didn't make you team leader for nothing."
"It doesn't make sense," Storm blurted.
"Oh, come on, don't tell me you fell for that crap she was giving Forge, did you?" Spiral sneered. "She's not insane - well, actually she probably is, but she's certainly not delusional. She WANTS something from Forge, and with you dead, she can exploit his grief to get it. You X-Men can be such suckers, I swear."
"Forge," Storm whispered. Now, more than ever, she had to get back to the X-Men, had to warn him!
"Don't blow a gasket," Spiral said, waving a couple hands. "I don't know what she wants, but I don't think it involves killing him. So try to forget about it, because you can't do anything about it. Certainly not without your powers. Speaking of which," Spiral added, "it's time I explained how it's going to work between us."
"Excuse me?" Storm asked. Her loathing of this heartless creature was now complete.
"The spell," Spiral explained, as if she were dealing with a five-year-old. "The one that prevents you from summoning your powers. I decide when and how you get to use them again. You want to listen, or you want to worry about your precious would-be fiancée?"
Storm drew herself up and gave Spiral a icy glare. "Go on," she said.
"First of all, it's more of a damping field than anything else. If you can get more than a hundred yards away from me, you get your powers back. Before you get TOO excited," Spiral said quickly, "all I need to do is catch up with you, and the spell takes effect once more. Which, for a teleporter, isn't so difficult."
"Not if you're unconscious," Storm pointed out.
"True," Spiral admitted. "Which is why I placed a marker on your, for lack of a better word, aura. Think of it as a scent that someone with the right nose can track. And I have that nose. Of course, you could always KILL me, not that I think you could."
"X-Men do not - "
"Kill, yeah, I know. I was observing when you gave Bishop the speech in New York. Still," Spiral said, "it'll be interesting to see how far you're willing to go when the show tanks, and your powers might be the only thing that'll keep you alive." Spiral's good mood suddenly vanished. "Not that I'm looking forward to cancellation either."
"You can teleport anywhere in the galaxy. Why should you be afraid?"
"I'm not afraid!" Spiral snarled.
Storm blinked. "The lady doth protest too much," she murmured.
"Yeah, well, let's just say that Mojo knows my scent just like I know yours," Spiral said, "and I'm not the only one who can teleport."
"So - " Storm paused as yet another unpleasant thought struck her. "One hundred yards? Does that mean you're going to be hovering over me constantly?"
"We'll be sharing living arrangements, actually," Spiral said. Her expression suggested she wasn't any happier about it than Storm. "This is a lot nicer than what you'd be staying in normally, because I have to live here too. I made sure it was spacious too. I don't want to have to listen to a woman become hysterical because of an attack of claustrophobia."
Something else Spiral presumed to know. "I can function perfectly well in close quarters," Storm said, irritated. "It only surfaces in the most extreme cases."
"So you wouldn't mind sharing a bedroom?"
Storm's expression was all the answer needed. "Yeah, I wouldn't enjoy that either," Spiral added.
There was a knock at the door, and both women looked at each other. "You're the prisoner," Spiral said.
Storm picked up her script again. "I'm busy."
Spiral muttered something vile as she went to answer the door.
One of Mojo's troops was there with a large crate. "From Mojo himself," he told Spiral, shoving it past her before leaving again.
"What is it?" Storm asked.
"Probably the method of our destruction," Spiral grumbled as she opened the top. Looking inside at the contents, Spiral snarled wordlessly.
Curious, Storm came over and looked inside. It contained stacks of scripts. On top was a note saying, "Very important you memorize your lines in thirty-six hours. I made you seventy-five extra copies in case you lose your script. Break a leg!"
Storm surprised herself, and Spiral, by chuckling as she reached in, took one, and offered it to the sorceress.
"What's so funny?" Spiral asked.
"As you said, the method of our destruction," Storm replied coolly. "We'll have to memorize these together."
Spiral grunted. "Remind me to burn these extras when we're finished," she said, grabbing the script. "Ready to become 'Sandra Moon'?"
"I've tackled much worse, 'Devon Light'. And believe me, this show could be much worse."
"In the original version of this show, the two main characters eventually become lovers."
Spiral stared at her. "Tell me you're kidding."
"No, I'm quite serious."
"What makes you think that's not going to happen in MOJO'S version?"
" . . . But we're both women."
"And your point is?"
Storm was aghast. Maybe early cancellation wasn't so bad after all.
To be continued . . .