A knock on the door sounded in Hugo Strange’s penthouse and the Professor opened the door with a smile. He had been expecting Mr. Kent for a couple of hours now. The fact that he lasted this long without a visit spoke highly of the alien’s resistance to his control. He was right to take this process as slow as possible so keep his prey from suspecting anything.
“I’m sorry for coming unannounced, Hugo,” Clark said apologetically. “I really needed to talk to someone and you were the first person to come to mind.”
Strange wanted to sneer at the unsuspecting hero, but instead he used his most soothing smile. “It is no problem, Clark. Please do come in.” He said inviting his patient into his temporary home.
The psychiatrist watched intently behind his soft understanding grey eyes as Kent came into the room. If he were not paying attention, he would have missed the small sigh that the muscle man gave as he entered.
“Don’t forget to take off your shoes,” Strange commanded gently as he walked to his office. When perfecting his mind control techniques, he had learned that small commands that were easily followed by his prey would cement his hold over his patient’s mind.
He held the door open to his office as he ushered the unsuspecting hero into the room. Strange gestured for his guest to sit as he walked over to the bar. “Would you like something to drink?” He asked as Kent settled himself on one of the chair in front of the fireplace.
“That would be great!” Clark said with a happy smile as he watched the flames dance before his eyes.
Strange smiled as he poured the ginger ale into the glass. It looked, smelled, and tasted like ginger ale, but it was laced with drugs that helped put his victim in a state where his suggestions would be placed firmly into his mind. When he got this assignment, he studied as much about Superman that he could. Unfortunately, not much was known about the mental capacity of Kryptonians. The normal technique he used on humans might not work on this rare alien species. His careful preparations involved months of learning every type of mind control technique.
Hugo brought Clark his drink and sat sipping his own tea while watching his prey gulp down the liquid. He smiled at the unsuspecting hero drinking not knowing that he would soon be addicted to the substance. He left nothing to chance when dealing with such a powerful alien.
“What can I do for you, Clark?” The Professor said with a small smile.
The hero nervously adjusted his glasses. “I have been having to deal with a great deal of stress and all of my stress relief techniques have not been working. I know we have just become friends, but I wanted to talk with you and see if we can figure out what the problem is.”
“There is no reason to be nervous about this Clark,” Hugo said in his most soothing voice. “We all go through times of stress and talking about it with a close friend or a professional is often the best course of action to take. I myself have talked with a couple of close colleagues during stressful times of my life.”
Kent looked at the floor as he struggled to speak. “The stress I have been feeling as become so intense that I have been unable to concentrate on doing my work.”
“What do you think is cause of your stress?” Hugo asked intently. He made sure his tone was soft to not pressure the alien to freak out and leave. The illusion of trust was the cornerstone of his breakdown of the alien’s defences.
“There is always a lot of stress at work as you can well imagine.” Clark said as he struggled to talk.
Hugo looked critically at his patient while looking comforting at the same time. The alien obviously struggled to keep his greatest secret. Any normal human would have been broken by now. His combined techniques that he learned from Mad Hatter and Poison Ivy had been assaulting the hero since he came into the room. The room was filled with a subtle version of Ivy’s pheromones and he used the lighting and fire to gently hypnotise Kent into trusting him. All this combined with the drugs his patient was ingesting should have broken this super-man.
The Professor stood to his feet and stuck his hand into his pocket that was filled with ground red kryptonite. It was the same sample that he used last night at the party to break through Kent’s alien defences. He placed his slightly covered hand on his prey’s broad shoulder and squeezed softly. “I do not think that this is stress caused by work. You have been working for the Daily Planet for five years and if the stress is just starting to surface, it is most likely something new in your life.”
Clark’s eyes started to lose focus as the combined assault against his mind was starting to break through his superhuman defenses. “There is another cause of stress in my life, but I need to make sure you can keep this a secret. Too many lives are at stake if this information gets out.”
“Patient confidentiality is the foundation of my practice, Clark.” Hugo said soothingly. “You can trust me with any secret.”
Hugo watched the naked emotions play across his victims face as his blue eyes looked into his own. He was very close to completing the next step of his plan.
Clark stood up and faced the man who manufactured his trust. His hands shook as he unbuttoned his shirt and revealed the ‘S’ shield underneath. “I am Superman,” He said simply.
The Professor resisted the urge to gloat as his patient’s greatest secret was revealed to him. Although he had already figured out that Clark Kent and Superman were the same person having the alien admit it to him gave him a lot of control to mold the hero into what his client wanted him to be.
Kent buttoned his shirt back up and sat back down staring at the dancing flames. “I thought you would be shocked. Do you not believe me?”
“I am your friend, Clark.” Strange said reassuringly as he placed his contaminated hand back on his patient’s shoulder. “There is no reason that you would lie to me. You don’t have any signs of any mental disorders and this might explain why you are feeling overburdened with your stress.”
The unsuspecting hero smiled as he took another drink from his glass. “You’re the first person to find out and not ask for proof. You don’t know how much that means to me.”
“Friends don’t need to ask for proof. I trust you Clark and the fact that you trust me enough to reveal this secret to me shows how much you trust me. I would never betray that trust, Clark.” Hugo said with a smile while lying through his teeth. By the time he was done with this alien, Superman would be completely broken.
“Let’s see what we can do to get you relaxed,” Hugo said softly as he prepared for the next step of the destruction of Superman. “Watch the flames and take a deep breath in.”
Clark did as he was told as Hugo watched his eyes follow the movements of the flames.
“Now slowly let the breath out and then take another deep breath in just as slowly. Let go off all of your thoughts and empty your mind as you take slow deep breaths in and out.”
The pheromones circulating the room would be more effective as the mentally vulnerable hero followed his instructions.
After a couple of minutes, Strange watched as Kent returned to that state of relaxation that would allow him to plant suggestions into his mind.
“Are you relaxed?” Hugo asked his patient.
“Yes,” a soft reply answered.
“Since I am a trusted friend, you will come back here tomorrow night to talk about how to relieve your stress. This time you will come as Superman and not Clark Kent. When you do this exercise, you will not feel stressed out for an hour, however after that the stress will come back even worse than before. You will feel the need to come and talk to your friend, Hugo Strange, to figure out the source of the stress, but you must come back as Superman. Do you understand?”
“Now take a deep breath in and slowly come back to your original state of mind. Let that breath go as the flames fade from your mind. Breath in, and out.”
Strange watched as Clark’s eyes start to focus once again. “How do you feel Clark?”
Kent looked at him with relaxation written all over his face. “Wow,” He said softly. “I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.”
“If you ever get to the point where your stress is too much for you to handle, you should do this exercise. It will help you deal with your stress until we can get to the cause of the stress.”
The unsuspecting hero nodded slowly as he looked gratefully at his new trusted friend. Hugo was sure that Kent never felt as close to anyone as he felt towards him. “Thanks for all your help, Hugo.”
“Now if you excuse me, I have a patient coming here at any moment.” Strange said as he escorted Clark to his front door. “Feel free to come visit anytime that you need more or if you need to talk. My door is always open to you, Clark.”
The reporter shook his friend’s hand and walked out the door with a smile on his face. As Strange closed the door, he could not help but to shake his head. He walked over to the phone and dialed a number. “He just left,” he said to his client. “Everything is going to plan.”
As he hung up the phone, Professor Strange walked back into his office. The next step of the destruction of Superman was complete and the poor fool didn’t even have a clue.