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9 hours ago, Quackhell said:

Okay, what's his story?

silver bullet.jpg

He is the golden age superhero Silver Bullet. He was a simple policeman who found an enchanted suit which is lined with magic and silver. It enhances his strength and speed when he wears it. And because of the silver in stratistic locations, it protects him from supernatural evil and allows his unarmed punches to destroy werewolves and vampires.


He spent the early golden age fighting gangsters and supernatural evil. Later, Natzies, gangsters,  supernatural evil, and fifth colomest. 

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3 hours ago, Quackhell said:

Okay, what's his story?

silver bullet.jpg

The Bullet


His costume says it all. He hates anyone using firearms and will attack them. He has not said why and his speed makes it difficult to get a mental lock on him which has made mental blasts, mind control and mental illusions ineffectual. He does not stick around for interviews or to answer questions. He appears, takes on gun users and leaves. Either the speed he is going at or his costume gives him resistance to damage but as he don't stay still it is hard to say which

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Can anyone provide an artist credit?  That is _really_ good!  I mean _really_ good, to the point I'd like to pay a few bucks to get permission to bleach it and use a re-colored version for speedster in my villain files.    Thanks if you can!


Former sidekick to the military-created speedster Captain Peter "Pepper"  Ford, Ben Davies grew up.  He grew up faster than he wanted to: when Captain Ford found him living on the streets, he took him in, made sure he went to school, made sure he had a good home, and Ben had even come to think of the Fords as parents more than guardians.  When he accidentally discovered that the former air force pilot was in fact the superhero "Captain Pepper," he was ecstatic: orphans, like any other children, dream of a life larger and more spectacular than their own.   Sometimes, when there was naught but a few regular patrols, Ford would let Ben dress up in a costume of his own devising, and carry him through the city, bellowing enthusiastically "well, young sidekick, it seems that the villains haven't the courage to show themselves to our combine might!" or similar nonsense, and Ben would eat it up.


When Ben joined the air force, he wanted nothing more than to follow in Ford's footsteps.  He wanted to be not only an accomplished and capable officer, but perhaps the next candidate to become a super-powered soldier.  Learning that the super soldier project had been abandoned just four years earlier disappointed him, but still, he was happy in his career, and determined to make Ford proud of the man he was becoming.  When he received word that the Fords had been killed during a simple home invasion, he was devastated.   He also began a search.


It wasn't too difficult for him to track down two of the lead scientists on the super soldier project, nor to find the equipment.  Even when he learned that the project had been abandoned because of the unpredictability of the results, he pressed forward, and managed to keep the assistance of one man willing to run him through the process, if only because he, too, wished to see the project furthered.


A few agonizing weeks later, and Ben Davies had super powers.  There had never been any doubt in his mind that he, too, would become a fleet-footed warrior for justice, racing through the streets tracking down the killers of his foster parents.  That certainty was likely why reality was such a shock.  He was faster, certainly, but he was no speedster.  Still, he donned Captain Pepper's old costume with the goofy flaming fastball logo on the chest.  He'd have to do something about that.  It just wouldn't work for a non-speedster.  Might as well get used to the gloves, anyway.  He was likely going to be wearing them the rest of his life.


Upon stabilization of his cells, he learned that his mere touch began to induce rapid corrosion in metals-- extremely rapid.  The rails on the edge of his hospital bed nearly exploded peelings of chrome as the steel underneath shot through with crawling streaks of reds, oranges, and browns, then crumbled under their own weight.  He could dissolve a ten-pound steel weight in seconds.  The worst part, though, was that it didn't stop there.  His touch burned, drying and flaking away human skin nearly instantaneously.  The one scientist faithful to the program swore to him to work together for a cure, or at least a means by which he could control this power.  For now, though-- best for him to wear nothing made of cotton, wool, or leather.  It seems that when applied to biological matter, his touch releases an electrical charge that ionizes biological tissue while his skin oils release enzymes to accelerate a process that reduced both biological tissue and most metals to their component materials. He will never forget the nightmare-- or the screams-- when he tried to shake the hand of the one man willing to help him undergo the super soldier procedure as the older scientists hand dissolved and fell away into crystals on the floor.


Once all the tests had confirmed that he had finished mutating and changing, he was ready to set off on his mission of vengeance and justice.  He stared at the flaming fastball logo on Ford's old costume.  Then, for the first time since the invasion and murders, he laughed-- not much, but with definite joy.  Oh, he would love it.  It's too bad he would have to wait until they were rejoined in Valhalla to share it with him, but he would absolutely love it.  Carefully, he removed the old patch and began to sew on his new one.  He took his time, both to prevent mistakes and to protect the sewing machine he was using.  He briefly wondered if the murderers would understand, or if they would even put it together.  It didn't matter, because tonight, the city would have a new protector, and Salt would not let them down.



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Bullet Train


James Tally, age 45, enjoyed his job working in the train industry. He'd been fascinated with trains since his youth so it was only natural that he decided to get a job in that area. Being outdoors, checking on tracks, repairing trains, he loved it all. However, being outdoors at night is not always kind to people. On one particular evening, James saw - and felt - a meteor strike nearby. This was a once in a lifetime chance to see a meteor, and maybe get his photo in the paper. He went to the edge of the strike and took a look. The meteor was much smaller than he thought it'd be: perhaps a meter across at most with the strangest, light-blue glow to it. He understood the glow could be radiation and tried to leave. Unfortunately, he'd already been exposed and couldn't move. Moments later, he felt weak and within a minute, fell unconscious into the small crater on top of the meteor.


After waking up in the hospital and staying a few days, James was ready to get back to work. He felt fabulous and better than he had in over a decade. That was when he discovered his powers: he ran to work the ten miles distance in a little over a minute before he knew how to regain control. He'd read the stories about superheroes and their powers; the realization that he'd gotten powers was incredible! After he got home, he took a month's leave of absence and tested himself: he had to know what his powers were or he could devastate something, or someone. He was superhumanly strong, strong enough to lift over ten tons but his ability to run dwarfed even that. With the help of Dr. Helena Amory, the superhuman power expert, he was able to find he could run approximately 500mph.


He decided to take up the mantle of becoming a superhero, to help people in need in the fastest of ways, as Bullet Train.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On the plus side, I got off a couple hours early tonight (yay!  Only a twelve-hour day!), so I got to this sooner than I thought.


On the negative side, I fell in love with this image, in spite of telling myself I wasn't going to do something like this.  Yes; there were many more extremely-well-done, traditional-type images. Something in the composition and the set of his features made me accept that _this_ was the image I wanted to use.  I am sorry about the watermark, but try to look around it. ;)




Who _is_ he?



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32 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:





He is Norman Smith, once the superhero known as Captain Crusader who retired after nearly a quarter of a century fighting crime. Retirement did not suit him however as he grew old and fat while his superpowers deteriorated. Ten years into his retirement and the birth of his fourth child, a full scaled invasion by the alien Skorrans was launched and almost all of Earth's superheroes as well as its villains were killed along with nearly a billion humans. Thus large parts of the planet fell before the alien invaders.


Save for Captain Crusader who was at first reluctant to join in the fray but finally flew into the skies when the atrocities caused by the aliens grew too much to ignore and in the meantime occasionally fighting against bouts of survivor's guilt.


At one time the sight of an overweight man in outdated long johns was a cause for great amusement among the superhuman community.


Now with the virtual annihilation of said community, no one including the Skorrans and the human traitors who serve them was laughing at Captain Crusader anymore.

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9 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

On the plus side, I got off a couple hours early tonight (yay!  Only a twelve-hour day!), so I got to this sooner than I thought.


On the negative side, I fell in love with this image, in spite of telling myself I wasn't going to do something like this.  Yes; there were many more extremely-well-done, traditional-type images. Something in the composition and the set of his features made me accept that _this_ was the image I wanted to use.  I am sorry about the watermark, but try to look around it. ;)




Who _is_ he?




Major League Eating was holding it's biggest event bringing back it's top champions in a huge showdown of competitive eating. Unfortunately someone in marketing came up with the idea of naming the winner the Greatest Eater in the Universe. This garnered the attention of the Bloatarian known as Garlbulbank The Gluttonus who teleported into the event from his orbiting warship and forced his way into the contest. He easily bested Kobyashi, Chestnut and Stonie and was all set to claim his prize, and destroy the planet as a consequence of daring to not invite him, when HE arrived. Wearing a simple mask and a red cape he strolled up and sat at the table and pulled a plate of food forward. Garlbulbank balked at this challenge, but allowed it. 11 hours of intense eating later and Garlbulbank admitted defeat when one of his twelve stomachs burst. He teleported away filled with shame and in intense pain. The masked man burped lightly and began to walk away. The press called after him asking who he was. He raised his mask as a timely gust of wind sent his cape billowing majestically "Oh you can just call me....Dave."

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"Why do heroes need to be good looking or have slick costumes? Not me! I don't need any fancy fire-powers or being able to read minds. Yea, sure, some of those heroes like to get all sneaky-like or show off there super-ultra power and wow the crowd. I say 'Big deal!'.  I say you just need to get the job done and the people will call you a superhero. With my powers of super-belching, I can blow away just about anything I see. So says Captain Uncouth!"



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  • 2 weeks later...

  All right, looks like three entries is all there is going to be for this one.  Again, I am _sort of_ sorry about picking the image, but look at the composition!  The set of the jaw and the sadness in the eyes-- it's all just....  It's a great picture.  :)


Cold Steel is our winner, though-- and I mean this with all sincerity-- it really was a hard choice.  the belching commonality of Captain Uncouth got a chuckle from me, and the idea of the fate of the world resting on one eating contest brought back shades of Uresei Yatsura that made me all warm and nostalgic during this particularly cold week--


But I've got to go with Steel Cold, on a technicality:  They were all good, but his had the little edge of working with the entire image: the strange skies, the city that seems almost stagnant in the background...



Your turn, SC!  Have fun with it.




And now that a winner has been chosen, this was the story that popped to my mind when I first saw the image:



     Any minute now.  He glanced off over his shoulder to be sure the plane was leaving.  He caught it rising into the sky, and was surprised by just how fast it shrank it away and disappeared.  He wanted to cry-- not for himself, but for them. He knew they loved him; he knew what was going to happen to them when they found out, and that they wouldn't understand, and his eyes watered, wishing he could be there for them, wishing they didn't have to experience it until they were older, more prepared.  The tears were fat on the edges of his eyelids, distracting to his vision. It tore him apart that the pain they had coming was necessary, and that there was nothing he could do to comfort them. Just so long as they remembered; just so long as Joan kept her promise. She had to! It wasn't for him, after all; it was for _them_, and surely even that cold witch could understand that they needed to know....

     Joan.  Man, that had been a disaster.  Sure, it was great at first-- he was young and cockstrong and had the world by the ass, what with that union job _and_ a fat inheritance he had never expected.  Money was rolling in, and the most fun he ever had was spending it with Joan. They got married just about the time he had gained enough seniority to get in on that new reactor.  Not that he doubted he would. He was one of the best, after all. That's what got him the job. I mean, _nobody_ really knew a damned thing about building a fusion reactor, so it's not like there was an expert that could bump him.  Best part was that he swung that cushy department head of maintenance job as soon as the plant went live. Why wouldn't they hire him? He was the default most experienced man in his field by then. No more travel, no more twelve hour days.  Just him and Joan and a little house in the burbs and a fat nest egg in the bank. Just ride out his cushy, seriously-over-paid job for the next twenty years-- Hell! They'd still be young enough to really enjoy everything they ever wanted to do.  Why wait until you’re decrepit to retire?


     The accident changed things.  He didn't understand what happened; he was blacked out for most of it.  He had come to with that nine-foot lavender gorilla-- Doctor-what's-his-name; the one that argued with himself, all the time.  Out loud. The one that designed the reactor. Yeah. You know, when he was a kid, you just didn't have giant super-intelligent synthetic monkeys with seven brains.  You just didn't. Today.... Damn it's a weird world. That thought called him out of his memories for a moment and he stared skyward. No sign yet, but he knew it was coming.  There was something strange about this one: he could ... almost.. _almost_, mind you.... _feel_ it. It was coming. That's okay. He didn't need it to hurry. The longer it took, the further away they would get; the better the odds for them, if he should-- he put the thought out of his mind.  No. I won't fail. I'm not sure I _can_ fail. 

     At least, he / it /they had told him he couldn't.  Maybe. It was so damned hard to understand Doc even when he was talking about things that were actual _real_ science, like fire and light bulbs and such.  But then he'd get cranked up on fusion and metagenomes and gravitorks or something, and blah---- it didn't make sense, and the arguing didn't help. Now that he thought about it, it seems the last coherent thing he had ever heard from the Doc was that  there had been an accident and that he had been involved.  


     "Yes; I am afraid so.  Do you have any idea what you've been doing the past few days?"

     "Few days?"

     "Yes.  The accident was nearly two weeks ago."

     "Two weeks?"

     "Dear _GOD_, why are you wasting time talking to him?  Clearly his head isn't right! I disagree, Sir. I suspect he is merely addled.  Well of course he's addled; he's got a kidney where an actual _brain_ should be! Would you all just shut up, please?!  Forgive the curtness of it all, but clearly he has not sensed the passage of time during his coma and--"


     "You see?!  He seems to be stuck on 'parrot.'  I think we should revisit the brain-damage angle of this again, just to tick off a few boxes, at least.  Fine, yes; but you know good and well that this is just a mild disorienta-- I know no such thing, Sir, and I will thank you not to put words in my mouth again!  I say the man is brain damaged. Possibly irreparably so, "

     "Irreparable brain damage?"!  there as a rising edge of terror in his voice.

     "You see?  You see that?  Brain damage! The man is nothing more than a fleshy dictaphone!  Experiment over; We lose; everyone go home; don't forget to burn the corpse before you lea--"

     "Burn the corpse?!"  The terror was quite clear, and increasingly sincere.

     "I know; his arguments are _terrible_, but you can't deny the evidence supporting his hypothesis....  Silence! Silence, all of you! This man has been traumatized and needs our help! He needs a sympathetic euthanising, you dolt!  I say; how dare you! We are discussing what can be learned from this very sad but practically fortuito-- STOP! I need to speak to him, and we all need to listen, and we need to help him!  Oh, fine, you damnable humanitarian. What happened to "science in its purest," you sell-out?"

     "What's ...   are you okay?"

     "I'm sorry; what?  Oh, yes; of course.  Yes, I am fine, as am I and me and the rest of us.  We're here to help you."

     "Are you sure?  Because I think I might not be the worst case here...."

     "I don't follow.  The others are... They're families have made the arrangements; many ceremonies have been concluded."

     "Are you sure you're okay?"

     "We are _certain_!  We cannot just be so casually (dropping to a surfer's drawl) 'sheeeuurrrr' like some common cretin!  We are in excellent condition, excellent health, and prepared to share with you all the reasons you are not!"

     "uhm...  That's good, I guess...."

     "Oh, _gooOOoody_...   it guesses things....   Ooh! I saw a chicken that could guess things once when I was at a fair as a child..."


     The conversation had been slow, and a more painful ordeal he could not remember.  The gist of it was that Doctor Solomon Abraham was a collection of seven super-genius super-scientists from across several dimensions whose minds were all stuck inside the synthetic gorilla thing that anyone could recognize at a glance.  He eventually learned that when he was tired of listening to the crazed conversations, he could toss out a political topic and distract them for hours on end. That was a really useful thing to learn. 

     He also learned he had superpowers.  Like _real_ ones. Oh sure: flying and running fast or being superstrong-- those were seriously decent.  But apparently they couldn't hold a candle to what he could do. He was a multiplier. At least that was what he took away from the days of painful conversation with Doc.  He could absorb energy. All of it. _Any_ of it, too. Everything from the kinetic impact of a bullet to the noise of someone else's heartbeat to the illumination of a flashlight-- any energy that came into contact with him was absorbed.  And stored. And he could release it any time he cared to. Controlled bursts seemed best, but he could release massive amounts of power, too. In fact, it seemed he _had_ to release at least a bit of it periodically, because in addition to absorbing and storing it, he could somehow _multiply_ it, something that the months of tests showed "just happened" when he released it.  

     "You are effectively invulnerable, Simon" Doc had told him once.  There doesn't seem to be any amount of energy that can overwhelm you.  And of course, you will always release far more than what you store. If I were to direct the force of one ton of TNT directly at you, you could, in a matter of seconds, return to me the force of a megaton.  You may well be the most powerful man that ever lived, with proper care and training." In retrospect, he probably should have looked more into that "proper care and training" thing. It couldn't have hurt to have had that under his belt right about now.  Well, too late to ask now; he was pretty sure the Doc had been out there with the supers, fighting in vain...,.



     He looked out over the empty city.  He could, on the very edges of his hearing, detect panicked honks and the occasional scream, as more people than the city streets could handle at once all fled under the evacuation order.  "Why?" he wondered. Why bother? They must know it's too late. From what he'd been hearing on the news, there was just no way to get far enough by car. He tried very, very hard to just listen.  Just hear what was going on. He didn't want to take his gaze from the heavens; he must remain vigilant. Mostly, he didn't want to see the bodies. Not just the suicides, or the people who were trampled or run over in the blind panic, but those who had come to help.  Emergency workers, police officers. And the supers. Oh dear God, the supers. Their bodies were out there, just laying in the streets. It was like that, he supposed, everywhere. The silent war had come to a sudden and instant head, and the combined might of the military and earth's most powerful defenders had been for nothing.  Dead. All dead. As far as he knew, he was the last one. The only one. Most of all, he was acutely aware of what he wanted to do, what he had to do, how completely opposite the two where, and how much the whole thing sucked. if there was to be a last chance for humanity, then it should be ... well, _anyone_! Anyone who wasn't _him_!  Simon Belkar was _not_ the right guy for the job. Simon Belkar didn't _want_ the job! Simon Belkar wanted his life back, and--- 

     'Do I?'  He thought some more about his life.  At first, he didn't really know what to do with the idea that he had powers.  It had been a fun little gag to share with Joan, of course. But then, _Joan_ was the thinker, really.  He loved her, and he was pretty certain that she loved him. But she could really think; she could think long-term.  It had been with her help that his inheritance had been invested toward their future; it was her pushing and coaxing that kept him working and saving and framing his life.  


     It was her idea that his powers could get them everything she ever wanted.  It was quite the shock, really. He had no clue they were broke. He really believed that all his money and all his work was going to their future, but it had been going to Joan's appetite for expensive things, and her passion for high-stakes gambling.  Joan _loved_ high stakes gambling. She wasn't an addict; she didn't even _like_ the gambling part. It was the part where she plunked down large chunks of money as if it meant nothing. The part where she could win and treat it like an everyday occasion, and the part where she could lose and maintain an air of ambivalence, as if six pounds of wrapped bills was but a pittance, and she was bored with the game already. 

     He had no idea just how much Joan owed, how much she owned (he found out after the divorce that there were at least four houses-- including a penthouse apartment-- he had unknowingly paid for), and finally he had to admit he didn't really know a damned thing about her at all.

     Back when things were good, though....  She had the plan. She even managed to wrangle a costume together.  He operated as the super-criminal Megaton, a small-time manipulator of energy. Joan had insisted he keep it small scale, and that he not vary too much in the way he used it, lest Doc Abraham get wise and foul up the whole thing for them.  He really hadn’t wanted to do it. He couldn't even psyche himself up to it. Not until she had come clean, she had told him they were always one paycheck away from poverty. Even then he didn't want to do it, clever, meticulous Joan found a way to pull his strings.  It was the anger that did it. The rage. The sense of betrayal, and the pain of the whole situation. That drove him to do it. Just so long as no one got hurt, he supposed. Just until they had enough to be safe...

     It took him longer than it should have to realize that there was never enough and that there probably never could be enough.  Blinded by the love of the woman he knew, he fought himself to keep from seeing her as the woman she had become. At one point, Joan had bragged to him that she had been laundering _millions_ in loot from his various heists.  He wanted to stop; they had more than they would ever need, and they fought over her insistence that he keep going. The anger, the rage, the pain, the-- the absolute _humilliation_ of knowing he was being used, his heart was being twisted to keep him doing this completely against his will, and that he was devotedly in love to a horrible, horrible person who quite likely married him just for the money he was worth at the time-- all the emotion...  It was then, while he was deciding to put his foot down and to force her to accept that Megaton was _over_, that he realized that even the pain in his soul-- his emotions-- they were an energy, too. They appeared to be the thing inside him that multiplied the power he absorbed. He also noted that the more unbearable it all became, the more difficult it was to use his powers carefully, without hurting anyone.


     Then the girls came.  First Tabby, then two years later, a little sister.  It was natural, he supposed. He was still in love with Joan-- or at least, with the memories of her that he managed to project onto the woman she was now.  And every time he had a successful haul, .... well, everyone has an aphrodisiac, he supposed. Turns out Joan's was money, and the power it could buy. But the girls-- instantly, they were the center of his life.  They were so beautiful. His life, he decided, from that moment on, was to be nothing but devoted to his daughters, nothing but the best example of a human being that he knew how to be. When little Beth turned two, he told Joan he was done.  They had, by her admission, been making money faster than she could clean it. There were millions upon millions stored in offshore accounts and invested in everything from tech stocks to mushroom farms. Megaton was becoming more and more dangerous, and harder and harder to control, and there was no way they could ever want for money again. 

     Two days later, he came home to an empty house.  Joan was gone; the girls were gone, and the only thing she had left was a mirror in the hallway with an envelope taped to it.  He had to admit, he hadn't been surprised to find it stuffed full of divorce papers, most citing irreconcilable differences. The final insult was the claim that her hard work and investing skills had been carrying the entire family while he had become more and more lax about his job until he eventually lost it-- he had forgotten that.  Joan's constant pushing and arranging for Megaton's moonlighting career had cost him his job. Even the union can only protect you for so long, and they won't protect you long at all when your wife simply stops sending them their dues.

     He had nothing.  The pain was overwhelming, and it took everything within him to hold it in.  He had felt the tremors. He knew that even screaming his frustration would have leveled half the city before he could get it out.  More than anything-- more than Joan, whose lost he was surprised to find brought him a sense of almost-relief-- more than the money, more than the beautiful things they had owned, he missed his girls.  Through all the craziness, those two sweet creatures had become the anchor for his troubled soul, and the center around which he had decided to rebuild his life. He loved them, and he wasn’t sure that Joan ever could.  It wouldn’t surprise him to find that she had taken them only because he loved them.


     He started from scratch, determined to get his girls.  His sister helped him a lot. He went to court, over and over and over and finally won a small stipend to be paid monthly from Joan.  The insult of that-- and of her fighting against it, no less!-- was enough to trigger a spiral of depression. Depression was almost interesting.  It blurred his days into an almost-unnoticed background noise; that had been nice. But the depression itself... it just amplified everything. Depression was its own kind of emotion, in a way.  And of course, he couldn't turn off his ability to absorb. It was running every moment, adding to what he had to keep bottled up inside. There were a few close calls, here and there. The depression made that problem, like all the others, distant and almost unreal.  It was so easy to decide that there was no priority there and just let it out-- it's not like he would really have to _do_ anything to let it out, right? His sister had been a godsend then, too. She helped him through his depression. She helped him get his life on track, get back in good with the Union, and get him to hearing after hearing until he finally got custody of his daughters.  He cried not just for joy, but the pain of knowing that Joan had only given up fighting because she had either lost interest in the children or decided to cut him out of her life completely and forever. Finally he realized that she was no longer willing to spend even that small amount of money to keep them. That hurt him, the realization that his children had spent all this time in a loveless home, and the final understanding that Joan was incapable of loving someone.  It's just too damned hard to let go of a dream.

     But he had his girls.  Depression hadn't been good for his health, and particularly not his physique, and as he had started lapping the southern shores of middle age, there was probably nothing he could do about it now.  The next few years, though-- they were a dream. Him and his girls. He was happier than he had ever been, even in the early days when it was just him and Joan and no superpowers and he didn't know any of her secrets.  The girls were his life. They still are, at least for now. Now-- damn it; I've got to pay attention!


     He _could_ feel them!  They were out there, and they were getting closer.  He had learned that trick from Joan, actually: “if you can absorb energy,” she would complain, “then you should be able to sense it somehow, dammit!  Look for the most powerful source, and absorb that first: just in case you get full, you want to get full of the good stuff!”

     Doc had told him several times that it wasn't possible for him to get full.  The last few years had taught him that, too. He still had it. He had every bit of it, saved for the past nine years, every single wave of ultraviolet light; every single click of blinking eyelids, every stray bit of heat from the toaster, every noisy footfall from the girls upstairs, every car horn, every erg of energy that had made contact with him in the past nine years was still there, waiting to be multiplied and released.  It was.... it was too bad. It was going to be glorious. Something to brag about. Something they would make _movies_ about! Something people would talk about for fifty years! Damn this sucked. But the girls-- they would be okay. His sister-- and her girlfriend; he made sure of that-- they would all be okay, no matter what. Even if this didn't work-- he shut down those thoughts immediately. Stacey would make sure they knew, even if Joan didn't.  Maybe he shouldn't have told Joan after all: it's not like she'd put a favorable spin on it or anything. _All_ the details-- at least, all the worst ones-- would come out if it were up to Joan. Stacey wouldn't do him like that.


     He forced himself back the current situation and to look back at the sky.  It wouldn't do for them to slip by. Damn them. Damn the minds of the people that created them.  Damn everything that led to such incredible stupidity! He thought back to the silent war. He really couldn't remember much about it; it had been so low-key, so under-the-radar.  He remembered that, like everything else wrong with the world, it started with politics and political parties and trying to force people to agree to things and goddamn it, politics was just _stupid_, never solved anything, and was the problem with the whole damned modern world, really.  Computers. Something about AIs and military secrets. All he really remembered for certain was that there was another dimension, and some kind of inter dimensional warp gate thingy, and agents among us and an invasion. Earth would simply be removed. Wiped out. Then the rest of our universe was up for grabs.  He wished he had paid more attention. Honestly, when alien parasite warriors began popping up and wiping out entire armies just a few days ago, he was pretty sure that _everyone_ had wished they had paid more attention. He had just-- well, he had been so damned _distracted_....



     "Mr. Belkar, this is positively amazing!"  For once, the giant ape had little to say. The air in the room was electric, every silver-tipped lavender hair on Abraham's synthetic body stood erect as if on goosebumps.

     "So it's not cancer?"

     "No, Mr. Belkar.  It's not cancer. It's ... well, I'll have to talk to me, consult with a couple of me, but it seems to be...  well, for one, you really _can't_ get full! You've absorbed every bit of energy that's ever struck you since we first met.  Apparently, you've not discharged any of it. I believe I told you that you should have considered, if not becoming a costumed lunatic crime fighter, something in the energy-production field.  After all, there was really no way of knowing what would happen if you never vented the energy you were multiplying. And now...."

     "And now..  _what_, Doc?"

     "And now, Mr. Belkar, I don't know if you _can_."

     "What do you mean?"

     "Mr. Belkar, I don't think it's possible for you to live long enough to _release_ all this energy, even at maximum output."

     "I thought you said I had no limits to what I could absorb!"

     "That is still completely true, Sir, but..  you _do_ have .... limits..."

     "Like what?  I've played with this a bit, when you first told me I had powers.  I wanted to learn what they were, and how they worked. One time I discharged _everything_, all at once.  I damned near fell unconscious! I barely made it home, and when Joan dragged me into the bed I slept for two days straight."  He felt it best not to discuss just how that situation had come to be.

     "I have no doubt, Mr. Belkar, that you were, at that time, capable of such a feat.  Today, however, I don't think you can release any energy at all, at least not safely.  _Certainly_ not safely in any populated area! There is so much energy stored up inside you that if I didn't know better I'd say that belly of yours contained an entire sun!"

     "Uh, Yeah-- that's cortisol, I think.  And stress. And stress eating. And you know, my metabolism is slowin---"

     "Yes, Mr. Belkar.  I understand human aging quite well."

     "And stress, Doc.  I've been through some stuff....."  he trailed off.

     "I am sorry to hear that, Mr. Belkar, and I do not wish to devalue the milestones of your life, be they good or ill, but the fact is that I believe, with all my heart, that at this point, an attempt to release _any_ energy would result in a chain-reaction that would dump everything you contain, and multiplied via whatever that mechanism may be--"


     "Beg pardon?"

     "Pain, Doc.  Loss. Humiliation.  Depression. Emotion, I think.  That seems to be the multiplier."

     "Not particularly scientific.  At the end of the day, those are just random chemical actions on-- "

     "Like I said, Doc.  I've been through some stuff."  he cut, flatly.

     "As you say, Mr. Belkar.  This multiplying mechanism-- _whatever it may be_-- would make the release of the energy you contain positively catastrophic."

     "What do you mean by "catastrophic," Doc?  Take out a building? A block? A neighborhood?"

     "Well, I don't like to use the word "Biblical" as an adjective, but in this case...."  Abraham trailed off, and let the thought remain heavy, unfinished.

     Simon sat quietly, taking it all in.  Fourteen minutes passed without either talking.  "I see. And me, Doc? What about my limits? Is it something I can do okay?"

     It was Abraham's turn to sit quietly, a pained compassion playing in his too-human eyes.

     "I...  I see." Simon choked.  "So the pain?"

     "Is something you will have to live with, Sir.  I may be able to arrange prescriptions-- perhaps even find a way to drain off some of that energy.  But for now, I'm afraid you are going to have to live with it."

     "No problem, Doc.  I'm got pretty good at being miserable."



     The next few months were a blur-- a joyous one, as he went out of his way to savor the lives of his children, to insert them into his every moment.  The war wasn't silent anymore, and the alien parasites were everywhere. Armies were leveled, missiles flew through the air all hours of the day, then the supers themselves joined in, and within a week, it was clear that they could not win.  Simon's sister had told Simon what was on the news reports: the aliens had withdrawn their parasite warriors through the gate, confident in our inability to defend ourselves against a missile barrage that would continue until the entire planet was an airless cinder. "I've got some money, Sis.  You and Kenna come get the girls. Take the money. Get a plane--"

     "I don't think money's any good anymore, Simon."

     "Never underestimate human greed, Sis" his mind flashed to Joan: he had called her, begged her: ‘Come get the girls,’ he said.  The world is ending, but they can live. Everyone can live. I’ve got more power than ever! Megaton can end this, but I don’t want anyone within five-hundred miles of me at the least.  You have to get them out of here, and you have to tell them I love them, that I did it for them. I… I’m not going to come back from this one-- too much power to control….” She had simply sighed and hung up on him.

     He shut her out and focused on the situation at hand.   His sister would come; she would do what he asked. "...and never doubt that there is always someone out there who hopes and believes that he will get through this, and that things will be okay.   Get the money. Get a suitcase full of it! Get the girls, and get the fastest damned plane you can out of here."


     He hung up his phone and turned to his girls.  "Girls, I have _great_ news! Aunt Stacy and Kenna are going on a trip, and they want to take you with them!"

     "A trip?  Dad! There's supposed to be a war going on!"

     He kept up the excitement, for them "_Yes_, but they are tired of the war, so they are going somewhere that there isn't one, and they want you to come with them!"

     "But what about you, Daddy?"

     "Oh, Daddy has things to do!"

     "Like what?"

     "Well, it doesn't matter."  He made a point of dancing happily out of the room, then he headed straight for the attic access in the garage.  In the attic, he found the boxes of Christmas decorations, and pushed them carelessly aside until he found the one he sought.  Closing the attic access, he headed to his bedroom and opened it. He pulled the dusty orangey-red spandex suit out, held it in front of him and inspected it, frowning.


     "That's not going to fit you, Dad...."  startled, he spun around, the shock raising a panicked tingle as the energy inside him burned to release itself in self-defense.  Painfully, he fought the urge, holding it in, sweating from the exertion, forcing himself to not grunt in pain. His daughters were standing behind him.  He stared at them, unsure of how to spin his situation.

     "Dad....?"  Tabby started.

     "Are you..   are you a superhero?" asked Beth, incredulous, but an edge of doubt ringing through her voice. 

     "Well...   "

     "Dad, don't be silly.  You can't be a superhero.  We've known you our whole lives.  We'd have noticed." Fourteen going on forty, with the wry arrogance of a teenager dropped Tabby’s left eyebrow into an almost-mocking frown.

     "Daddy, you can't be a superhero!  They're all dead! The aliens are killing the superheroes! Don't be a superhero, please!" begged Beth, eyes wide and wet with a fear she could feel but not understand.  She lunged for him, wrapped her arms around his waist as best she could-- "Please, Daddy! Don't be a superhero!"

     Simon felt a shuddering pang of pain, of love for his children, of sympathy for what Beth was going through, and that, more than anything else could have, drove the reality of the situation into Tabby's mind and tore through her heart like a dagger of ice.  "Dad...." she asked, her voice a quiet tremble, her knees weak and her stomach turning. "What.... what are you going.... what are you going to do....?"

     "I'm going to stop them” he said, not quite able to sound as casual and carefree as he had intended.  He was flat, his understanding that this would be his final decision almost showing. He reached out to her narrow chin and raised her eyes to his and managed a small smile.  “You guys are going to be okay. I'm going to save the world."

     "Daddy, NOOOooo!" wailed Beth, her grip tightening, teardrops coming so fast and furious as to be rivulets of anguish pouring down her pale angelic cheeks.  "Noo!" Tabby's eyes had closed, crushed shut, but it was no use. She, too, was crying, but trying so hard to fight it. She understood that there was something she should be doing, but wasn't yet mature enough to get her mind around it....

     "It's okay, Bethie.  I'm not like the others.  I'm invincible."

     "No you're not!  Don't go!" she shrieked.

     "Yeah, he _is_." Tabby finally said, her voice warbling.  She was beginning to understand what she had to do. “He's super-invincible.  That's his power."

     "Really?"  The tears hadn't stopped, but curiosity had gotten the better of her mind.

     "Yeah, really."

     "You don't know that!"

     "Of course I do!  He will tell you all about it on your birthday."

     "My birthday?"

     "You have to be twelve before you can know who the superheroes are."

     "You're lying!"

     "Whatever, Beth, but howcum _I_ know and _you_ don't?"

     "But I'm almost twelve!"

     "Yes you _are_, Sweetie," Simon said, bending over and picking her up, wrapping her in his arms and kissing her tear-soaked cheeks.  "And in three weeks, I can tell you everything about it! And you know what, Aunt Stacy can tell you all about it, too, while you are on vacation with her!"

     "But you can tell me when we get back, right?"

Simon's chest went hollow for a moment and he felt his lower lip spasm into a stretch that spread to the corners or his jaws for the briefest of seconds, he felt his chin disappear completely.  "Well _of course_ I can....!" But you have to let me do my job, Bethie. You have to let me save the world!"  

     Tabby's checks were now running with tears, but her face held firm, and her voice barely betrayed her.  "Well you can't do it in that suit, Dad. That's for like, some really buff guy. I don't even know where you go it."

     "That used to fit, you know!"

     "Yeah; I'm sure."

     Beth perked up.  "We can help you, Daddy!  I know how super heroes should look!"  She pulled open the drawers of his dresser until she found his boxers.  "Here! Put these on!"

     "Uhm, Bethie, Daddy already has his underwear."

     "No, Dad," she said, with all the patience of a parent correcting a toddler.  "These are your _outside_ ones!"

     "My outside--?  Oh, yes! of course!  Thank you, Sweetie! I don't know what I was thinking!"

     "Here," drawled Tabby, tossing him his cheap plastic mask.  "_This_ probably still fits."

     "Gee, thanks!"  

     A knock at the door interrupted them; Stacy and Kenna let themselves in.  Bethie screamed her greeting: "Guess what, Aunt Stacy?! Daddy's a SUPERHERO!"

     "He's a _what_?!" Stacy said, her jaw dropping as she followed the noise to the master bedroom.

     "He's a superhero!"  Beth beamed proudly, "But his costume doesn't fit because he got kind of fat, and so I have to help him make a new one."

     "_OH_!" Stacy relaxed, understanding what was going on.  "I see--"

     "No;" Simon said," It's okay.  I told them."

     "Everything?!" she shot back, horrified.

     "_Enough_.  I told them that I was a superhero, and that they need to go with you so I can save the world."

     "Wait-- what are you...  Are you doing-- do you think that you --?"

     "Stacey, please.  You and Kenna take the girls-- take them _anywhere_!  Keep them safe, just for a few hours, please; that's all I need.  But you have to get just as far away from here just as fast as you can.  I've made some calls. There's a plane waiting for you, and both of those old gym bags in my closet are full of cash Joan had stashed in the attic and forgot about."

     "As bad as you needed money after the divorce--"

     "I wasn't gonna touch that money; not _that_ money, not where it came from!"

     Stacy picked up a gym bag and handed it to Kenna, shouldering the other one herself.

     “I can't....  I can't believe...  Simon, are you sure about this?  Are you sure you can--?"

     "I can do this.  I _have_ to do this.  I promise you, Stacy, I _will_ stop them.  I will destroy the weapons, the Gate, and every parasite anywhere near it on the other side."

     "I know what's wrong!"  Beth yelled, then ran out of the room.  She came back with Simon's red windbreaker, previously stored in the hall closet.  She jumped up onto the bed and tied its sleeves around his neck. "superheroes have _capes_, Dad!  There! Now you can save the world."

     "Why, Simon?  Are you crazy?  Why do you think you can do this?"

     "I have to save the world, Stacy."

     "Why?! " she began to cry.  "Why do you think you can do it? The Army still has _something_ left; we have to wait--"

     "Not an option."

     "There have to be other supers who--"

     "There is one super left.  You are looking at him."

     "Why, Simon?  Why you?"

     "Because I'm the last super-- the last chance for anything at all-- and as crazy as it sounds, I have enough power to do it."

     "And when it's over?  Where do you want us to meet you?"

     He very subtly, almost imperceptibly, shook his head, his eyes cast at the floor.

"Oh God!" she butted, instantly in a blubber.  She fought for composure, for the girls, and tried to speak again.  "Simon....?" Stacy began to shake.

     "There's no choice, Sis.  I _will_ save the world. I _have_ to!"


     He slowly, longingly took in the four faces in front of him.  "Because you guys are in it." He winked. "it wouldn't be worth doing, otherwise."  He flashed a smile, his eyes pouring the love he felt for those around him. He kissed them all, and chased them to Kenna’s car.  He climbed into his own car and drove to the old water tower on the hills outside of town- easily the highest vantage point for miles.  The mandatory evacuation order had been given for every major city on the coast; he caught it on the radio before he got out of the car and began puffing his way to the top of the water tower.  The ability to fly suddenly seemed more important than it ever had before.



     He stood attentive now.  He could feel the gate, obscured by the lead-and-ash colored sky, colored by the fires and explosions of the last few days of the war.  He didn't have to see it. He could locate it just by the energy it radiated. He could feel the first wave of missiles coming, and he realized that fate had placed him at precisely the right spot.  The first two would hit nearly on top of him. Doc had told him that there was no limit to what he could absorb, and he knew he could send it all back a hundred-fold, ten thousand-fold, if he could find the right mulitplier.  In his mind, he could see more and more missiles exploding as they hit the wave of his own energy, and he would in turn absorb, multiply, and reflect that, causing more detonations, that he would absorb---- in his mind, he saw what must happen.  He hoped he could multiply it enough. He hoped he could hold himself together long enough.... He sought it now. The missiles were close, and he sought the memories and the pain Joan had caused him, depression had caused him, humiliation and subjugation had caused him, and he felt waves of searing pain and agony as the energy already inside him grew and tore at his very being, desperate for release after so many years-- it wasn't enough!  It was enough to destroy half the state and it wasn't enough! He searched his feelings, his memories, and even used the physical agony he was in, and it grew and grew and still wasn't enough and he began to silently beg his absent family for forgiveness for failing them.  He addressed each in his mind and as he saw their faces, looking to him with pained understanding his love poured-- tore its way out of his soul and to them, and the power within him exploded a thousand fold. He thought of his sister and her girlfriend, and his flesh expanded and glowed, then he pictured the beautiful innocent Beth and sarcastic teenaged Tabby and the power folded again and again and again and as the missiles tore through the sky toward him there was no smoke and ash or haze or deafening explosions or quaking earth-- 


Instantaneously, soundlessly-- to every horizon and beyond-- Filling the sky, burning through the earth itself-- there was light, 



Copyright  2020 D.E. "Duke" Oliver



I have, in the past, been told it's difficult to believe that things like this occur as an actual, single, instantaneous thought.  In truth, I suppose only people who enjoy writing, who take inspiration from outside sources, really understand that it's the absolute truth.  That story did not form, it did not grow.  That story, to me, _is_ the story that photograph tells.  That is precisely the story it told me the moment I saw it-- that entire story, from beginning to uncertain end.  It told that story so clearly that immediately after posting the picture here, I wrote it down.  What you see here is a copy-past from my G-drive.  I didn't write this story: the person who took the picture wrote that story.  


The figure of the man, though clearly wearing an exaggerated belly suit, is a man pushing middle age, with what could be a jacket, a towel, or a tablecloth wrapped around his neck.  He is overlooking a city-- a gloomy city, with a sky that smacks more of destruction than pollution, and yet his gaze is cast over his shoulder.  His jaw is set with resolve, yet his eyes are pained, regretful, in spite of his commitment.  And when those elements hit me all at once, this story appeared: the story, the characters, the dialogue-- all at once, complete.  "A picture is worth a thousand words" is _easily_ the most understated idea in all of human history.  I tell you this not to humble brag or goad or whatever the hell the cool kids are calling it now, but to ask this question:  knowing this, is there anyone here who cannot understand my absolute, agonizing jealousy of those who can draw?  Of those who can compose pictures?  Of those who can sculpt?  Those who can craft one single image, and in an instant of pure magic, tell a story as beautiful as this?  No matter how many words I use, no matter how many phrases or thoughts I craft, I will never be able to tell this story as perfectly as someone once did with single image.   There are _no_ words for just how painful that is.


Perhaps there's a picture.


Anyway, as I said at the get-go:


Steel Cold:  You're up.


Fire away!




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Has anyone heard from Steel Cold?  


Tell you what:   Since the winner was picked Sunday, we'll give him a full week.  One of two things will happen Monday:  Either I will flip a grickle to decide between you guys, or someone else will offer an entry and we have to judge all over again.  :lol:




_Better_ idea!


No; still: you guys were patient with my dereliction; I'd like to give the same accommodation to the next guy.  If we haven't heard from him Monday; I've got a plan.   :D




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7 hours ago, wcw43921 said:

All Right---I'm going to throw this one out for everyone, because honestly, I really like it---


Since we are doing multiples, I'll comment on this one. She is ×+@or, a artificial being original designed to infiltrate a group of teenage superheroes,  then lead them to their doom. Growing to like them, she betrayed her maker, and was triggered to explode.  She was later rebuilt and improved upon, and renamed Xtra-Girl.


(Inspired by Tomorrow Woman.)

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On February 3, 2020 at 1:24 PM, wcw43921 said:

All Right---I'm going to throw this one out for everyone, because honestly, I really like it---





Olivia Combs was celebrating her 96th birthday at home alone when she heard a faint knock on her door. When she opened it no one was there, but a small white box was on the welcome mat. She brought it into her sitting room and opened it to reveal a golden necklace with a letter V pendant covered in odd markings. She felt an irrestible compulsion to put on the necklace and when she did she was instantly transformed into a younger woman wearing a costume. Her mind was suddenly full of vague broken memories but the name Vita kept coming up again and again. She felt vibrant and powerful and as she rose form her chair she ended up leaping up and through her roof and landing hundreds of feet away. She soon discovered she had vast strength and could resist a great deal of damage to her body. She also seemed to have a vitality force that she could generate that could heal herself and others through touch. She has begun acting as a superhero while attempting to piece together mystery of the origin of the necklace and what exactly the nature of her transformation is.

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On February 3, 2020 at 7:23 PM, steriaca said:

This is my character thingies. Who is he, and/or the cat.



Debaculous Fiasco


He is a member of the Chaos Clowder also known as the Grim Glaring, a group of cats who possess superior intelligence and can wield bad luck magic that can cause all manner of calamity. They are countered by the Power Paws a collection of good luck cats who try to prevent the disasters and schemes initiated by the Clowder. His human familiar, Lucian Somerset, carries out mundane tasks and provides Fiasco with tasty yum yums and chin tickles.


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