by Quentin "Cubist" Long
Seriously, it isn't as bad as you've heard. Sure, those origins are ludicrously conspicuous events, but they just aren't as common as you'd believe from reading the headlines. Honestly, the chance of getting hit by an origin is not much higher than that of getting struck by lightning!
Which doesn't really help when *you're* the one who gets hit, of course...
I could have moved, but why? I liked California's climate, okay? And I liked the San Francisco Bay Area. Cost of living's a bit high, sure, but pay is too, so it all comes out in the wash. Anyway, yes I had an origin, and no damn thanks to the Seismaster.
I was driving north on Highway 280 when that geophysical miscreant fired his Stratagitator Ray directly into the San Andreas Fault, which just happens to run more-or-less parallel to 280. Unfortunately, Seismaster happened to be in SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, at the time -- and yes, I do think it's amusing that SLAC (spelled "the straightest two-mile-long object on Earth") intersects the most notorious earthquake fault known --
Way ahead of me, I see. Yes, the quake triggered by Seismaster's S-Ray interfered with an experiment; yes, SLAC also intersects Highway 280; yes, I was directly above the beamline at *just* the wrong moment; yes, the massive energy field interacted weirdly with my car's electrical system, detonating the fuel tank and turning my Ford Escort into a ball of plasma; yes, my human body was instantly incinerated. Nothing left, and I do mean "no *thing*"...
Waking up wasn't a surprise.
Maybe it should have been, but it went by so *fast* -- by the time I would have had a chance to register the pain and so on, it was long since over! I didn't even know that my body had been reduced to free-floating atoms, not until later anyway. As far as I was concerned, one instant I was driving, the next instant I was a disembodied viewpoint floating over the puddle of slowly-cooling slag that used to be my car...
Hold on a second.
It *had been* my car. I *knew* this. But all I had to work with was an unrecognizeable puddle of congealing metal, so *how* did I know?
Stupid question. I'd just had an origin, so that mysterious knowledge was obviously a manifestation of one of my powers. Just wonderful. I really hadn't wanted to be a supertype, because while the powers and abilities are kind of neat, the price tag is just too high. See, all supertypes -- *all* of them -- exhibit unusual behavior patterns. They don't react as a sane, rational human being would; instead, their responses fit into one of a relatively small number of profiles ("archetypes", as they're known) which govern various aspects of their behavior in various situations. And that's the problem: When you get superpowers, you give up some of your free will.
But then again, if you've got a world groveling at your feet, who cares about free... will...
Oh, hell. It's already started; I'm already getting pulled towards one or another of the available archetypes. This one's probably the Mad Conqueror, the archetype best suited for wisely ruling over... the undeserving... no!
I'm *not* going to go *there*, damnit! I'd sooner see the entire world... burning... rivers of blood...
Oh, joyous and peachy. No, not Pure Evil, either. Got that? Maybe I have to spend the rest of my life as a supertype, but I'm *not* going to waste all my time trashing everything in sight! If it came to that, I'd much prefer to focus on constructive pastimes. Like a gleaming 400-story skyscraper studded with clean, efficient monorail... no, not the Cosmic Architect either!
I glared up into the sky -- a neat trick when you're disembodied, but that's what it *felt* like, okay? -- and waited for Whoever to quit playing games with my head. I already knew which archetype I wanted to run with, thanks very much for asking, and it sure wasn't the Thrillseeker, the Spandexed Boy Scout, any flavor of Anti-Hero, the Misguided Idealist...
Get it over with!
Like I said, I knew which archetype I preferred: the Harbinger. That archetype's reason for existence was to gather heroic supertypes whenever dire cosmic hazards threatened the Earth. As such, a Harbinger wielded vast power (always a plus), spent almost all its time out of the spotlight (unlike, say, the Boy Scout), and best of all, had the distinct pleasure of telling those annoyingly smug hero-types "I told you so" on a regular basis.
Yeah. Harbinger... drat. Looked like there actually *was* a cosmic hazard in the offing! Just my luck to get into the "super biz" at a bad moment... oh, well. Not for a while yet, however, so I had time to explore my new powers, get accustomed to my new life, and generally prep myself for whatever the future held for me.
So: The powers. If I can "read" molecular structures (which I obviously could, that being how I recognized my car in its current form), it's a good bet I could manipulate them, too. Okay, let's see about restoring my car to its pre-"zap" condition. Just a matter of visualizing the desired end result, and -- whoa! Not only did it work, but *I /was/ the car*! I see; I had to "inhabit" a physical object if I wanted to shuffle its molecules around. And... well, well, well. The object's molecules stay the way I put them, even after I "abandon" it! Sweet! Okay, I got back on board and yes, I *could* animate the car.
I twiddled the radio from the inside, and music by the Talking Heads filled the air as I drove myself on down the highway.
"We're on the road to nowhere
"Come on inside..."
Copyright 2002-2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments to him at email@example.com