SHATTERSTAR: Page 3 of 4


Several months later, after Operation: Zero Tolerance had seized the X-Mansion and very nearly declared open war on mutantkind, Cable insisted that X-Force go underground with assumed identities for their own protection. Instead, the team refused to follow his plan for them, and went their own way. Rictor, who had returned earlier to help Shatterstar through his identity crisis, decided to return to Mexico and permanently dismantle his family's gun-running business. [X-Force (1st series) #70]

This time 'Star chose to go with him and the two of them began waging a private war against the weapons trade in Mexico. On one of their raids in Oaxaca, Shatterstar and Rictor were captured by Arcade. Rictor was held hostage, forcing Shatterstar to compete in a fighting tournament for Etienne Rousseau, a crimelord who hired Arcade to emcee his search for a personal bodyguard. Shatterstar was forced to face his former colleague Domino in combat on an oil tanker out in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the handicap of having recently lost her powers, Domino managed to steal one of 'Star's swords and ultimately defeated him. Arcade got away clean, but Rictor was released unharmed and Rousseau was taken into custody by Domino. [X-Force (1st series) #76]

Shatterstar and Rictor returned to their mission in Mexico, but they ran into another diversion in Pochutia. While breaking up his cousins' gun shipment, Ric and 'Star were approached by the buyer, a representative of Verschlagen Industries. He was impressed by their fighting abilities and wished to hire the pair as training competitors for the company's biochemically enhanced test subjects. The two young mutants accepted his offer of payment, but really intended to observe the Verschlagen operation and make sure the "test subjects" weren't being used against their will. Their match with subject V-2 was interrupted in mid-fight by the arrival of V-1, a rogue experiment calling himself Hanransha. Shatterstar and Rictor learned that Hanransha was one of eight mutant operatives produced in a selective breeding program, and the only one to date who had escaped the company's brainwashing. With V-2 dead in the mêlée, the three mutants fled the Verschlagen compound to search for the other subjects, and soon encountered X-Force's old nemesis, Martin Henry Strong, and X-Force themselves, who had also been dragged into the situation. Together, they travelled to Neustrelitz, Germany, to confront Hanna Verschlagen, owner of Verschlagen Industries and the shared mother of all eight V subjects. It seemed Verschlagen's entire plan was to cultivate mutations in her children in order to turn around and artificially absorb all that power back into herself, catalyzing her latent mutant gene. She recaptured Hanransha and her other children, and then plugged them into her absorption machines, including Shatterstar and Rictor in the process for good measure. However, Shatterstar managed to pull himself free and, hearing Hanransha's final pleas on behalf of his brothers and sisters, severed all of the conduit lines with his blades, causing the energy feedback to destroy Hanna and her children. [X-Force Annual '99]

Eventually, for reasons yet to be explained, Shatterstar and Rictor drifted apart, and 'Star found himself searching for a purpose in life. He ended up in Madripoor, pit-fighting for cash beneath the Lotus Cafe in Lowtown. One night, a mysterious woman approached Shatterstar in the cafe, asking him to kill a dangerous terrorist known as "the destroyer." Before he could make a decision, 'Star was attacked later that night by the so-called destroyer: Dominicus Pierce and his Red Ninjas. Pierce attempted to convince Shatterstar that he was being played for a fool and it was in fact the woman who wished to unleash destruction, specifically the cannibalistic entity known as the Skornn. Pierce was the possessor of the sole weapon capable of ending the threat of the Skornn, a blade known as the Five Fingers of Annihilation.

At Pierce's request, Shatterstar joined the Red Ninjas in assaulting the woman in her own abode, before the Skornn could be released. Pierce's eagerness led them into a trap, however, as the woman was revealed as Spiral, who manipulated dimensional space around Shatterstar and his allies the moment they entered her home, trapping them in an endless limbo. Pierce passed on the sacred blade to Shatterstar for protection before being cast into the void by Spiral, to fall forever without dying. Spiral then snatched the blade from Shatterstar and escaped through a dimensional portal, with 'Star following quickly behind her. However, the temporal distortion in that limbo dimension was so great that, while mere moments passed for Shatterstar before he fell into the portal after Spiral, she had three years to establish her domain in the parallel Earth they landed on. Indeed, the evils she worked on that world's people led to her being dubbed "the Apocalypse." After Shatterstar materialized on that Earth, he joined forces with a resistance led by Cable and alternate versions of his old X-Force comrades. They stormed Spiral's floating fortress in an attempt to retrieve the Five Fingers of Annihilation and end her reign of terror. Miraculously, they were successful. Shatterstar defeated both Spiral and a corrupted Dominicus Pierce in single combat, and took possession of the Annihilation blade again. [X-Force: Shatterstar #1-4]

Tired of living a life of nothing but battle, Shatterstar attempted to find inner peace and enlightenment at a monastery atop Mount Xixabangma in Tibet. He failed, miserably, and was unable to internalize the monks' teachings. As Shatterstar was being exiled from the sanctum, Cable arrived searching for the Five Fingers of Annihilation, which Shatterstar had brought to the monks for safe-keeping. It seemed the Helix, a human purity group from Cable's time, had taken up Spiral's mission to unleash the Skornn, and so the Annihilation blade needed to fulfill its destiny. X-Force was reformed to stop the Helix and the Skornn, and Shatterstar rejoined his former comrades to quench his battle lust. Their efforts led to conflicts with Jon Specter and the Watchtower before confronting the Skornn itself. The creature was defeated by Cable using the ritual for the Five Fingers of Annihilation, although it temporarily cost him his life. [X-Force (2nd series) #1-6]

The old X-Force might have stayed together after that, if not for M-Day and the Decimation. As mutantkind all over the world suddenly lost their powers, Shatterstar's teammates scattered, each going to where they felt they might do the most good. Some months later, however, Shatterstar and Domino made contact with their former teammate Caliban who, like many mutants after M-Day, had begun living in a small reservation on the grounds of the Xavier Institute. Unfortunately, the U.S. government had taken an interest in protecting the remaining few hundred mutants and had assigned Sentinel Squad O*N*E to detain and monitor the mutants at Xavier's... for their own protection. Caliban and others were sick of being imprisoned in the place they had expected to be a sanctuary, and so he arranged a "jailbreak" with Shatterstar and Domino. Under the cover of a riot, the reunited X-Force trio fought through the Sentinel Squad and made off with nearly half of the 198 in a hovership. Through Captain America and his Secret Avengers they also made contact with Nick Fury and arranged to appropriate an abandoned SHIELD bunker in the Nevada desert as a new hideaway for the 198. However, one of the 198 who stayed behind sold out to the military and used his powers to locate X-Force and the 198 in Nevada. This led both O*N*E and the original X-Men into a fight right at their new doorstep. Shatterstar and Domino joined the battle, and Shatterstar stabbed the British liaison agent Micromax in the gut, severely wounding him.

All hostilities ceased, though, when the O*N*E's crazed General Lazer activated a series of experimental weapons inside the bunker, trapping the 198 inside with the oncoming explosion. With lives on the line, the various factions put aside their differences long enough to break open the blast doors and get everyone to safety. In light of these events, the president reviewed O*N*E protocols and determined that mutant civil rights were being abused. He declared the "reservation" at the Xavier Institute to be voluntary, not compulsory, allowing mutants to come and go as they pleased. With the 198 no longer prisoners, Shatterstar and Domino apparently ended their temporary X-Force alliance. [Civil War: X-Men #1-4]

For a time, Shatterstar returned to his home dimension. He changed during his time there, developing a new appreciation for the emotional relations he first experienced on Earth. Using a newfound teleportation ability, 'Star planned to return to Earth and renew his relationship with his old friend, Rictor. During his transition between dimensions, however, Shatterstar was snared by another traveler named Cortex. A lost and horribly-altered duplicate of Jamie Madrox, Cortex was a techno-organic assassin sent back in time several decades from a Sentinel-controlled future to eliminate the mutant leaders of the Summers Rebellion before they were even born. A chronal variance inhibitor known as a "Doomlock" enabled Cortex to make actual changes to history, circumventing the universal rule that altering the past only created an alternate timeline. The Doomlock had limitations, however, and Cortex found it worked best to attack his targets indirectly, using mind-controlled avatars which were native to the present era, like Shatterstar. After subverting Shatterstar's will, Cortex directed him to kill Rictor, who was on his list of targets. [X-Factor (3rd series) #43]

'Star located Rictor and Strong Guy in Vermont, at the residence of another one of Madrox's wayward dupes, the Reverend John Maddox. During the fight that followed, Shatterstar's extra-dimensional nature began to resist Cortex's influence and he tried to push Rictor into striking him down before he caused anyone serious harm. When Cortex's handler Anthony Falcone disciplined his agent at a crucial moment, it gave Shatterstar enough leeway to force Cortex out of his mind and free himself from the assassin's control. Caught up in the moment and thrilled that each other were unharmed, Shatterstar and Rictor kissed in a passionate embrace. [X-Factor (3rd series) #45]

After their reunion, Shatterstar joined Rictor and Guido in returning to XF Investigations in Detroit, a trip made virtually instantaneous as Shatterstar opened a portal to their destination using Ric's mind as his anchor. They found Cortex in the midst of another assassination attempt, but the villain was dispatched back to the future he came from before 'Star could claim vengeance for being manipulated into attacking Rictor. [X-Factor (3rd series) #48-50]

Shatterstar chose to stay with X-Factor Investigations after that and the group returned to their old stomping grounds in New York City, operating out of an old funeral home. He and Rictor also began a full relationship, although the fine details of that status occasionally escaped Shatterstar. 'Star wanted to revel in his new embrace of emotions, having sexual adventures with as many partners as possible and sharing the experience with Rictor. Ric had a less adventurous, albeit more traditional, view on a committed relationship, and they struggled to find the right common ground. There were also some strained feelings between 'Star and Guido, who initially had difficulty accepting Shatterstar and Rictor's relationship. Shatterstar demonstrated a strong loyalty to Guido nonetheless. On one of their first cases back in New York, Strong Guy provoked a fight with Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four as a distraction, but found himself outclassed in raw power. Shatterstar stepped in on behalf of his teammate and delivered a phenomenal beating to the Thing before tossing him out of a 50 story building. [X-Factor (1st series) #200]

Shatterstar and the Thing soon ended up joining forces to raid Doctor Doom's castle in Latveria as part of the same case. Doom's involvement in the case was relatively benign and he allowed X-Factor to depart Latveria unmolested. As 'Star was teleporting everyone home, however, he was distracted by Doom's recent advisor, Layla Miller, and let the portal collapse before passing through it himself. [X-Factor (1st series) #201-202] Without an emotionally-connected anchor to focus his transport ability, Shatterstar found himself stuck in Latveria for some time. He managed to "connect" with Layla while they were guests of Doom, though, in a manner Rictor likely wouldn't have approved of. They returned to New York during the Mutant Response Division's attack on X-Factor for Bastion. [X-Factor (1st series) #206]

Shatterstar's "free-spirited" ways continued to get on Rictor's nerves when they visited the X-Men on Utopia and 'Star hit on everyone from Northstar to Iceman to their old teammate, Boom-Boom. [X-Factor: Nation X #1]