Arcade is currently putting the finishing touches on a house of cards; his head in one hand, eyes half-closed and averted with disinterest as he places yet another card upon the structure.
Scattered about Arcade’s desk are similar relics of solo play: a finished game of Solitaire, a wooden paddleball with which he racked up 1,217 hits before growing bored, a ball and cup game that he’s never failed…
Then a klaxon alarm rings–surprising him and crumbling his house of cards. No matter. The main event is here!
A wicked smile creases his face. No more mindless and boring games. This is the showdown Arcade has been waiting for.
Arcade’s Murderworld: Taskmaster vs. Shang-Chi
It’s been awhile since I’ve been the big bad; the guy out front. Yet here I am…where ever this is and however I got here. Ain’t no training exercise today. Won’t be beating up the scrubs while I try to whip ’em into shape for the highest bidder. Might well be the punching bag, as a matter of fact. Gonna take all I’ve got to keep that from being so.
The Taskmaster’s mind races as he sizes up the situation.
No gear. No clue. Just Shang-Chi. Why did it have to be Shang-Chi?
That Shang-Chi is the greatest martial artist to have ever lived is no secret. Taskmaster actually owes a lot of his own skill to hours spent watching this master at work; making Shang-Chi’s moves his own. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Shang-Chi oughta be downright smitten by Taskmaster.
Along with several dozen other heroes and villains of repute.
His blows hit like a truck and find their target like a sniper. Bad combo. Well –he cocks his head to crack his neck – there’s nothing else to do, so might as well get to it. Maybe today the student will become the tea-
Shang-Chi is suddenly upon him–his knee rising to strike Taskmaster’s sciatic nerve. Taskmaster blocks the blow with a downward thrust of both his hands and leans into Shang-Chi, angling for a surprise head butt. The Punisher.
Shang-Chi angles his head backwards and up to avoid the blow. Just what Taskmaster wanted. Shang-Chi’s field of vision is too high to see Taskmaster’s left foot go for the sweep. Karate Kid. (Not all of his moves come from superheroes, you know?)
Shang-Chi falls to his back but immediately vaults backwards; sending his feet over his head until they find the ground again. Taskmaster has seen this before, and pounces. Sabretooth.
Shang-Chi widens his stance a bit and greets Taskmaster’s skeletal chin with an upward palm strike. As he begins to wheel backwards through the air, Taskmaster channels that momentum into a kick that catches his opponent off-guard. Spider-man.
Taskmaster lands on all fours and leaps into the air–twisting to land on Shang-Chi’s shoulders, locking his legs, and twisting once more to send him spinning to the ground. Black Widow.
Shang-Chi is back on his feet almost before he hits the ground, but in the time it takes for him to face his attacker after the disorienting tumble, Taskmaster has closed the gap and sees his opening.
While not technically superhuman, he discovered that watching kung-fu movies in fast forward allowed him to mimic the moves twice as fast. It’s taxing, but it’s all he’s got. So he gives it.
Fists fly. Boots blur. A flurry of blows he learned from watching Shang-Chi himself. How poetic!
Only none of the blows land. Shang-Chi smiles as Taskmaster tries to catch his breath. Exhausted. Shocked.
“You’re wondering how I managed to react to such speed at such close range. You think I don’t recognize my own style? My own attack sequences? That is the difference between you and I, Taskmaster. You have something borrowed. I have something earned.
“There is a vast difference between having an ability…and knowing how best to apply it. You believe your eyes have given you everything. But they do not give you actual experience.”
Arcade gasped! Then he giggled. “That was fun,” he thought. And it was much more amusing than Solitaire. Arcade rolls the footage and replays other times he entertained himself…