|My Name Is...|
My name is...
Oh God, I HATE my superhero name.
Sigh. Better start from the beginning.
I'd always been the odd one. Everybody else was fleeing the US, frantically reading the on-line guide to superherodom and striding to avoid ANYTHING that could transform them. I was different. You see, I always WANTED to be a superhero.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
But it's true. I dreamed about flying through the air; about blowing up alien flying saucers with my radiation vision; about swimming through the deep seas and calling cetaceans to aid me against the foul evil of US oil companies; about fighting with the forces granted to me by mother nature in protection of virgin woodlands; and all that other superhero type stuff. So, as soon as I graduated I applied for and accepted a senior I.T. position at a Major Metropolitan Newspaper, and due to the extreme shortage of actual workers (as opposed to superbeings) got the job easily as I was the only one who even applied. After all, EVERY superbeing moves to the US!
At work the lunchroom talk was interesting, all about what NOT to do. There was even a bulletin board about the newest origins and how the poor victim had failed to avoid their fate. Like the rest I took notes, but I took the notes so I'd know what to do.
And I tried, by Heavens Fire I tried! Whenever I heard anything I always ran to be the first to help but someone ALWAYS beat me. Then I would run up claiming to be the sidekick but someone else would fly down, or drive up, and the sidekick position would be filled. I subscribed to the Bob's Superhero Warehouse newsletter and ordered every special promotional 'guaranteed to cause a radiation/magical/alien/technological/biological accident' device but it was always lost in shipping, or delivered to the wrong address, and then a new superhero would be created. I went through 'The Normal Innocent Bystanders Survival Guide' and broke every rule that offered a chance to become a superhero -- #22 (If you are a security guard for a vast, powerful corporation, try to get assigned to the Marketing or Personnel departments, rather than R&D) -- although I became an I.T. person there -- but unfortunately a Major Metropolitan Newspaper doesn't have anything useful in their R&D department; #47 (Stay away from all buildings or natural features of the landscape that resemble skulls, fists, fanged mouths, etc.) but the massive weight of carved gargoyles on the Major Metropolitan Newspaper office were simply carved stone. I even tried the notorious #42 (If your corporation conducts research, do not volunteer to work after hours. That's when the experiments go awry.) but no matter what arcane algorithms I tried on the Major Metropolitan Newspaper's hardware, I never succeeded in translocating a disembodied intellect from the Nyrond Dimension into my brain.
It seemed that everybody, *E*V*E*R*Y*B*O*D*Y*, was getting into the act but me!
I even tried supervillainhood, but even that failed when my attempted bank robbery went wrong as The Foxbat suddenly roared in just as I was walking up to the teller to draw my gun and order her to give me the money. And, before I could even turn, somebody else had tackled The Foxbat and The Incredible Black Bat was born, and his sidekick The Flying Rodent suddenly appeared right beside me instead of the man who'd been standing there.
I even tried suicide by diving into a vat that contained a mixture of sulphuric acid, zinc-oxide, and red dye #6 when The Wren swooped down and pushed me aside and took the liquid away to stop the evil plot of the wicked Poison Swamp Frog!
At that point I just gave up, but I still dreamed. It seemed that I was fated to eventually be the only mortal within the continental United States.
A couple of years passed and my life stayed the same. Soon I was the employee with the most seniority, orders of magnitude greater than anybody else's, as everybody ELSE kept having origins. I just sighed, collected my bigger and bigger paycheck, read about them. and dreamed the dreams.
But, finally, it happened. Maybe it was fated to happen at that point, who knows. If only it could have happened earlier I'd have had a GOOD name, but no...
It was a Saturday and I'd gone out to visit the Statue of Liberty and was making my way back when IT happened. Everybody looked up and saw a fireball appear in the sky and fall towards the harbour, followed by the sounds of tortured air being blasted out of the way by immense forces. Everybody ELSE immediately dove for the shelters on the ferry but I just watched.
It was my chance.
Nobody else was around.
I grabbed a safety flashlight and shone it into the murky depths of the water. No mass gathering of cetaceans, no mysterious wakes, no haunting singing as an aerial beauty arrived to save the day, no sudden fog to herald the arrival of a weather controller.
I grabbed a convenient underwater acetylene torch and breathing mask, put the mask on, and dove in towards what I KNEW was the impact point. Swimming was easy, the water warm and inviting, even the dead fish from the pollution couldn't dampen my mood. I dove down to where I knew I had to be in spite of the positive buoyancy of my body and was there when the fireball impacted.
It was, of course, the Novacore shuttle, damaged after near total destruction from the drive exhaust of a retreating alien invasion fleet, that crashed into the harbour. On board was that famous group of genetically engineered heroes, the Y-Men. The shuttle landed right on top of where I was floating and the engine core and remaining fuel cells sank until they halted, floating with sudden neutral buoyancy, completely surrounding me. Only when all were in position did they suddenly all detonate.
The explosion spread, covering me in waves of heat and vapourized water, and then the acetylene torch I'd carried with me exploded and I felt my body being incinerated.
But it wasn't painful, it was glorious, a rebirth. Something came from the shuttle and entered me, a lifeforce from beyond the earth that fed on the spirits of the never-born. A spirit of fire, of life, of glory, of emotion. It filled me and I felt my body warping, changing shape, drawing new flesh out of the fire around me.
The liquid around me was cold, too cold, and I thrust against the universe and burst out of the water until I was hovering above the harbour, lighting the bobbing forms of the Y-Men with my blue-white flame as I shouted out those fateful words.
Yea, the ones you heard. The really SILLY ones. Unfortunately I had no choice -- all the good names were taken. You know, Firebird, Fireboy, SuperNova, Starfire, Firehope...
Above the harbour, repeated endlessly on national television because it was so flamboyant, I uttered those fateful cursed words.
Sigh. Not only had I gained new powers, I'd absorbed new flesh, and changed sex and race. Now I was a female horsemorph. With a Star Forsaken Name From Hell!
Just my luck for the aliens to be invaders from the Horsehead nebula.
So, Ms. Silver Vixen, ignoring my stupid name, do the facts that I have no secret identity because I always look like this, can consume stars, can transport myself instantly thousands of light years through space and time, am invulnerable to almost everything, and, as far as I know, am more powerful than virtually every other being on the planet, suit me for joining your Crusaders?
Copyright 2002-2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org