In a half-darkened prison cell, Rictor sits alone. His solitude is disturbed by a voice, which calls him “Victor” and orders him on his feet again. Is he ready to rumble? “Rictor,” he corrects. His name’s Rictor, not Victor. Like anyone gives a crap, the jailer rejoins, tossing a long, curved blade at his feet. Picking it up, Rictor sarcastically thanks his jailer, adding that he didn’t get him anything.
Now on his feet and examining his weapon, Rictor thinks to himself that he should be dead. He knows it. When Mephisto hit him with his… he doesn’t know, his power blast… that’s what he thought was about to happen. And now, every day, he’s trotted out to entertain the masses. The masses and their leader… MOJO.
In short order, Rictor finds himself in a giant arena stadium. However, instead of the spectator stands being filled with the masses, they are filled with rows upon rows of glowing screens, showing the faces of the spectators watching from far away. At the far side from his entrance, Rictor sees a gargantuan, circular screen on which is displayed the bulbous form of Mojo.
Welcome, Mojo calls to “his friends,” to the show that never ends! He, their fearless leader, is pleased, thrilled, delighted to be with anything that is them! At a time when rebels continue to rattle their gates, it is comforting to know that there are still some who value their pleasures above anything else! And there are few people more devoted to it than the human creature calling itself Rictor! He is always available to put on the very best of shows for their amusement!
Watching in silence, Rictor sarcastically notes to himself that of course he is. He’s surrounded by guards 24/7. If he tries to leave or if he fights back, they open fire on him. He fights for time. He fights in the hope that if he delays long enough, somehow he’ll find his way out of there. Regarding the faces he sees on the monitors, Rictor can’t help but pity the creatures who live in the Mojoverse, who sit and stare mindlessly at whatever Mojo decides to serve them. He hears talk of rebels. There is always talk of rebels, but none have yet to show and so he sits and stews… and, when necessary, he fights against the random people they put up against him. Which beats getting killed, he supposes. At least he’s managed not to kill anyone so far. So that’s a plus.
Suddenly, Rictor is joined in the arena by a lone warrior, who steps out of an entrance. Clad in armor running up his shin and over his forearm and shoulders, his face is obscured by a full helm. A white half cape waves behind him. Not bothering to draw a weapon, the warrior begins sprinting toward Rictor. At first, Rictor worries of the speed of his latest opponent, but suddenly the realization of recognition crosses his face.
Before Rictor can voice his suspicion, the warrior is upon him, a blade in each hand drawn from seemingly nowhere. Rictor ducks his first slash and then counter-attacks by turning his powers to the arena’s ground. As he does so, Rictor takes a moment to remark to himself that he could be completely wrong about this, but the way his opponent moves… so smoothly, so confidently… Is there any way he could be…?
The familiar warrior quickly recovers from the ground shake and moves to the attack, forcing Rictor to change tactics. Though he hates using his powers directly on people, fearing that he may shake someone to death someday, Rictor feels he has no choice and unleashes his vibratory powers on the warrior, who reels at the assault. Rictor quickly relents his attack, but stands in shock as he sees the warrior’s face, now revealed by his dropped helmet. Shatterstar! yells to his old teammate. It’s him! It’s Rictor!
High above the two, the gigantic face of Mojo laughs from the more gigantic monitor. Well, well! Mojo proclaims. It seems that Rictor actually knows his opponent! What sort of impact is that going to have on their fight? He, for one, cannot wait to see how all this turns out…
Mojo’s words stop mid-sentence, as his monitor explodes. Down in the arena below, Quark, an armed grey-skinned humanoid with ram’s horns, holds the smoking rifle which destroyed the monitor. Scowling slightly, Quark remarks that he didn’t realize how much joy one can get from shutting up Mojo. Turning to his fellow rebels, Quark orders the rest of them to move quickly before Mojo’s soldiers get there.
A short distance away, Rictor takes only a moment to notice the rebels he’s heard so much about, worried more about his own problems. Despite his attention, however, Rictor finds that he’s no match for Shatterstar, who quickly kicks him to the ground. He has only a moment to shout NO! before Shatterstar’s blade comes down on him. Luckily for Rictor, before the blow is felled, Shatterstar is wracked with pain as massive amounts of electricity rip through him. From behind Shatterstar’s now collapsed form stands Longshot, holding an energy rifle and asking if Rictor is okay.
Still processing what he’s seeing, rather than what he’s been asked, Rictor swears aloud, forcing Longshot to reiterate his question. Can he move? Dumbfounded, Rictor reminds Longshot who he is, but Longshot apologies that he has no idea who Rictor is. Rictor tries to explain, but Longshot interrupts. He can stand there and ask stupid questions, but they have a mission to accomplish. And standing their yakking with him is not going to get it done. Gesturing to Shatterstar, Longshot explains that they’re there for him. If Rictor wants to come along, great. If he wants to stay there, also fine. But he should make up his mind right now.
Suddenly, Quark interjects that they have company. Into the arena and accompanied by the cloud of dust they generate, heavily armored knights, wielding swords and shields, address the rebels, ordering them to throw their weapons down and surrender. Moving between the advancing troops and the rebels, Rictor smirks coyly and suggests You first. With that, he spreads wide his arms and generates vibrations into the arena floor, creating giant clouds of dust which envelope the soldiers. When the dust clears, a gigantic rift spanning the width of the separates both groups.
Noting his handiwork, Rictor muses that it wasn’t that hard, really. The only thing that kept him from doing it earlier was that he had nowhere else to go. What he doesn’t understand is why the hell no one knows him. Longshot was his teammate… and Shatterstar is his lover. So why the lack of recognition? As he accompanies the rebels to the nearest exit, dodging energy blasts from Mojo’s troops from across the rift, Rictor hopes that, with any luck, one of them will be able to explain it to him.
Sometime later, in the dead of night, the group arrives at a small building, heavily damaged and seemingly barely standing. Incredulous, Rictor asks if this is where they’re heading. His skepticism immediately turns to slack-jawed astonishment, however, when he enters and finds himself in a highly sophisticated and enormous lab. Asked by Longshot if there’s a problem, Rictor retorts that he’s just having a Doctor Who moment. He means, they do realize the place is bigger on the inside than the outside, right? Yes, Longshot replies, that has been brought to his attention.
From across the lab, a tall man with long, red hair, dropping halfway down his back and with a beard of equal length on the front, sees the rebels have brought in Shatterstar. Declaring it excellent, he instructs them where to put the unconscious gladiator. Asked by Rictor who he is, the scientist explains that his name is Arize. He is a creator. A creator of what, Rictor asks, carefully studying the scientist who towers over him at nearly half again his own height. Why, everything he sees around him, Arize explains. Everything… and everyone. Glancing down at Shatterstar, who now lies unconscious in a capsule, Arize corrects himself. Everyone, that is, except him.
Continuing, Arize explains that the man simply dropped out of the sky one day, a long time ago. He found him to be most interesting. He has never seen anything quite like him. So naturally he did what anyone in his position would do. “Help him?” Rictor asks. Of course not, Arize retorts, glancing over some screens. He cloned him. When the incredulous Rictor repeats his words, Arize confirms. He’s a scientist, you see. It is his responsibility to experiment with anything placed in front of him. So when his friend dropped into his lap, naturally, he decided to exploit his potential. Asked by Rictor if he asked his permission, Arize quips that “ask” is such an unpleasant term.
Growing emotional, Rictor summarizes that Arize just took what he needed? Is that what he’s telling him? Growing incredulous himself, Arize notes that Rictor really needs to step back and stop yelling. He has no idea of the world in which they live. Mojo runs everything. Everything. They live to fulfill his vision of endless entertainment, but there are some who rise in rebellion. And he is helping to supply their numbers. And here’s the worst thing of it all: Mojo knows. He knows everything Arize has done… and likely will do. And he doesn’t care. So how about he cuts him a little slack while he tries to get his brain back on-line!
Perhaps a little shocked at the scientist’s outburst, Rictor does as requested and tries a different tact. How did his brain get off-line, anyway, he asks about Shatterstar. Regarding his monitors as he replies, Arize explains that he decided to try and take on Mojo directly. He warned him it would not end well. He was right, of course.
Joining the two, Longshot suggests to Rictor that they let Arize get his work done. He’s very brilliant, you know. Yeah, a visibly dejected Rictor agrees, noting that Arize made that pretty clear. Referring to Longshot, Rictor muses that maybe he should work on him next. Asked what he means, Rictor asks Longshot why the hell doesn’t he know who he is. Why should he? Longshot rejoins. He’s never seen him before, and his name’s isn’t Longshot.
Joining the two, Quark interjects that he doesn’t know… he actually kind of likes it. Turning to Rictor and gesturing to Longshot, Quark remarks that he doesn’t know who he thinks he is, but he’s way too fresh off the line to have the faintest idea of who Rictor is. He’s right about that. He’s only been fully operational for a few days. When the obviously confused Rictor repeats the phrase “fully operational,” Quark confirms. He’s a clone. Of who? Rictor asks. Of that guy, Quark answers, pointing to the capsule-enclosed Shatterstar. As if in punctuation, electrical arcs pass through his body, causing Shattestar to writhe in pain.
Watching this in growing disbelief, Rictor asks if he’s telling him that Longshot was cloned from Shatterstar? Not cloned exactly, Arize counters. Otherwise they’d be identical. But he extracted the mechanics of what makes his friend tic, he tells Rictor, performed modifications and improvements. To put it another way… Shatterstar is “Longshot’s” father.
As the experiment concludes and the electrical shocks subside, Rictor calls out to “Star…!” and presses his hands against the capsule. Arize tells him to stay back. Assuming his techniques were effective, it could take some time for his memories to… “Rictor…?” Shatterstar weakly voices. “You look like hell…” A few moments later, the clamshell top of the capsule opens and Shatterstar sits up. Asked if he’s okay, Shatterstar weakly tells Rictor that he’s felt better. On the other hand, it beats being in Mojo’s clutches.
Suddenly, a giant explosion shatters a wall, through which Mojo himself spider-walks into the lab, surrounded by his armored soldiers. And so they are all there together again, Mojo proclaims, gesticulating wildly. Arize, he continues, addressing the scientist, a pleasure as always. He is so very fortunate that he is so enamored of the things he comes up with trying to stop him. That’s really the only thing that saved his life so far. He could never permanently dispose of someone who brings so much joy to his viewers. On the other hand, he has once again created a variety of toys for him to play with. He’s sure he won’t mind if he takes them off of his hands.
Before Arize can respond, the rebels launch themselves at the soldiers, Longshot yelling for them to take Mojo. Hearing this, Shatterstar proclaims that Mojo is his, but finds his legs give out from under him when he leaps out of the capsule.
At the vanguard of the rebel assault, Longshot swings his sword, killing multiple soldiers with every slice. As he does so, he yells to Mojo that he’s coming for him. However safe he thinks he is, he’s about to learn otherwise. Still grinning with an inhumanly wide mouth, Mojo asks if he is indeed. By all means, he continues, feel free to enlighten him. Oh, by the way, he has someone he would like him to meet. Someone new to his employ. Her name is Spiral. Spiral, my dear, he calls, Show him what she’s capable of, if she would be so kind. Appearing on cue, the four-armed sorceress leaps at Longshot, casting blue spells of blue smoke at him.
Watching from a distance, the weak Shatterstar leaning on his shoulder, a confused Rictor repeats “new to his employ.” Doesn’t he understand? Shatterstar asks. Isn’t it obvious? Mephisto threw them back in time. This Longshot… it’s before he came to their world. They’re not when they’re supposed to be.
They’ll get this sorted out later, Rictor replies. Letting go of Shattestar, he instructs him stay down. He’ll take care of these guys. No, he won’t, Shatterstar counters. They’ll win, because Mojo always wins. He’s trying to protect him, he tells Rictor, and that’s sweet, but it’s not going to work. But since Rictor’s there now, he has an option available to him that wasn’t before. With that, Shatterstar tells Rictor to hold on and unsheathes his two sets of twin blades, crossing them before him like an X.
Recognizing Shatterstar’s method of portal generation, Rictor yells for him to wait, but it’s too late. A gigantic, X-shaped portal made of fire opens before them and the two quickly step through. A moment later, the portal collapses, leaving only the defeated rebels, Mojo’s soldiers and Mojo himself. Through his artificial smile, Mojo proclaims that that’s something you don’t see every day.
On the other side of the portal, Rictor and Shatterstar find themselves still in the lab, which is shambles and long abandoned. The crisis passed, Shatterstar mutters that that’s better. Asked where’d they all go, Shattestar corrects. Not the others, the two of them. They jumped through time but not space. It’s all he has the strength for. He needs to rest up to… Interrupting, Rictor asks Shatterstar if he hears that... a woman screaming. He’s going to check it out. Stay there. Literally unable to stand, Shatterstar remarks that it’s a good plan.
As he makes his way through the ruins of the lab, Rictor tries to process everything and finds himself failing utterly. Why did Mephisto send them there? Whim? A joke? With a definite purpose that would do not one any good? Perhaps he’ll never know for sure. All he knows is that right now there’s some girl in pain just over the ridge and… Rictor stops in both mid-step and mid-thought as he recognizes the woman lying on the ground before him. He doesn’t believe it, he mutters. Alison?
In disbelief herself, Alison Blaire, the mutant known as Dazzler, recognizes Rictor and asks what he’s doing there. The hell with that, Rictor rejoins, how did she get pregnant?! From her husband of course, Dazzler replies. Her husband?! he asks. Longshot, she clarifies. As he kneels next to her, helping her up, Dazzler haltingly explains. There was a battle with Mojo’s forces. They got separated… Baby’s not due… for a few weeks… but he’s coming now… Lifting her up to her feet and taking her back to the lab, Rictor thinks to himself that this is insane. Longshot and Dazzler were married… but they’ve split up since. And they never had a child. Star took them forward in time, but not far enough. This is during the period when Longshot and Allison were in Mojo’s world, fighting against him.
Entering the lab, Rictor yells to Shatterstar that if he can get up to help, now’s the time. Seeing the very pregnant Dazzler with him, Shatterstar curses aloud, to which Rictor agrees that he’d say so too. As they place Dazzler on a table, Rictor asks if he’s wrong, or does Shatterstar not sound too surprised. He has to understand something, Shatterstar replies to Rictor. He’s a time traveler. There are things he knows, events he’s been waiting for. He doesn’t know when they’ll happen, but he does know they do. Digesting this, Rictor asks if he wants to tell him what’s happening now. Alison’s giving birth, obviously, Shatterstar replies. Yeah, he gets that, Rictor rejoins, but to who? “To me,” Shatterstar replies.
Sometime later, Rictor finds himself sitting with the infant Shatterstar in his arms, remarking to himself how amazing it is how quickly he was born. As if he had an appointment or something. With Alison now asleep, Rictor asks the adult Shatterstar what happens now. He means, Longshot and Dazzler didn’t raise him. Yes, he knows, Shatterstar replies, as he examines some of the remaining technology in the lab. And it’s vital they keep it that way. Here’s what will happen. This machinery still seems to be working. So they’re going to fix it up and use it. Asked for what, Shatterstar says to rewrite Alison’s brain, of course. And then they find Longshot and do the same thing to him. They eliminate any recollection that she was ever pregnant.
Cursing slightly, Rictor asks why. Because, Shatterstar continues, after they’ve done that, they’re going to take this child 100 years in the future of the Mojoverse and drop him off with the people who raised him. Incredulous, Rictor announces that that’s insane! On the contrary, Shatterstar counters, it’s the only way to make sure that history plays out the way it’s supposed it.
So let him see if he understands this, Rictor summarizes. He’s Longshot’s father and he’s his. Sounds like a Heinlein story. If he says so, Shatterstar remarks.
Looking down at the infant Shatterstar, his dark star-shaped birthmark already covering his left eye, Rictor informs him that he’s got one weird life ahead of him.