Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Origin of the Wraith

Yesterday I posted a video my friend made for his new character. Well enjoy the origin story he wrote for Wraith. Tomorrow I'll post the character's stats.

So about six months ago, I became a superhero. I was in this accident while undergoing this new treatment I had invented. You see I was a student at the city’s university studying Medicine and Criminal Justice. I was always a big fan of CSI, and decided early on that that’s what I wanted to do. And don’t ask me which one either. As far as I’m concerned there’s only one. And it’s definitely not the one with the Johnny Cash wannabe who likes to take his sunglasses off and put them back on while saying ironic, clever lines like he’s so much better than everybody else. That guy’s a douchebag. Where was I? Oh right Superhero. Let me back up to the very beginning.

My parents were great people. My dad was a doctor, and my mom was a soldier. Dad was always big on teaching me about medical terminology and great remedies for just about anything. He loved to talk about how to assess a situation and deduce the answer to the problem. Mom insisted that I learn self-defense and self-discipline. They were always so proud of me, their only child, Nick Masters. They also loved working for the Peace Corps when they could, and tried to teach me about what it means to help others. They were part of the wealthy upper class, just a few billion short of rivaling the Wayne and Queen families. Michael and Mary Masters were some of this city’s… no, this world’s greatest philanthropists.

Unfortunately, when I was about 13, I was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. My parents, as great as they were, didn’t know how to react. Neither did I really. I started acting out. Picking fights, stealing things. After a couple of years, I started breaking and entering, just to see if I could. I loved the thrill of sneaking into places I wasn’t supposed to be. My parents thought I would be dead by the age of 18, so they never really said anything to me. They also started taking more jobs with the Peace Corps. I think they just couldn’t stand to actually look me in the eye and know that despite all they had ever done, and all that they were capable of doing, there was nothing that they could do for me. Unfortunately, I never got to discuss it with them.

When I was 18, they were both caught up in a firefight between two rival extremist groups. They were on another of their Peace Corps missions, delivering and administering a vaccine to a village in Rwanda. The radicals both wanted the vaccine for themselves, and neither was willing to sit down and negotiate. Go figure. When the bullets stopped flying that day, there were 257 dead; only 23 of them were the radicals. Two of them were my parents. I became determined to carry on their legacy somehow, and help bring monsters like the ones that cut them down to justice, but the tumor growing in my brain stood in direct opposition to that. To add even more survivors guilt, a friend of mine agreed to drive me home one night afterI had had a bit too much. Even though I was being responsible, someone else wasn't. We were ironically hit by a drunk driver. I made it out, but my friend didn't. Here I was dying, and he, who was perfectly healthy, was taken away. It had to mean something...

When I hit college, I devoted my studies to Criminal Justice and Biochemistry. I spent long nights in the labs, sometimes alone except for the rats and the custodians, sometimes spending “study time” with the super hot TA (hey, I wanted to be a hero, not a saint). I concocted a new serum designed to help break down and separate the tumor in my brain. In my senior year, I finally perfected the drug. I started taking my Magic Milkshake twice a day (maybe a bit much, but I could feel my time drawing closer by that point), and after a month’s worth of self-medication, I decided to see how it was working. I set up an appointment for an MRI. While I was in the machine, something happened that would change my life (cliché I know, but what do you want me do? It’s what happened). Somehow a bolt of lightning struck the power generator, sending a massive surge of power to the machine, overloading it. The magnetic force being put out by the MRI had an unforeseen reaction to the chemical that was now coursing through my body. The concoction worked exactly as I had intended, but it applied itself to my entire body. My molecules broke down and separated, but somehow maintained a connection. I passed out from the intense energy, and woke up three days later. The MRI had actually exploded, but I had remained unharmed.

I tried to look at myself to see if I had been hurt, but I couldn’t see myself. Neither could any of the cleanup crew. I staggered out of the room by way of the only remaining wall… and went right through it. I was seriously freaking out now, and so were the people who heard me screaming, but couldn’t see me. After a few moments, I calmed down and gathered my wits. I realized that what I thought was walking was actually floating. I wasn’t actually making contact with the floor. I could just will myself in any direction. And since I wasn’t bound by gravity or solid objects anymore, I flew up and out of the hospital. It was an incredible sensation. I actually found myself laughing and enjoying this new freedom. I also realized that I could still see into the hospital below me. It was like the roof was flickering in and out of existence. I focused on it for several moments and suddenly the entire thing vanished, and I was looking at a bunch of skeletons walking around. I relaxed my vision and everything went back to normal. I had X-Ray vision, how cool was that! As I was starting to contemplate the usefulness of this at the next Phi Kappa Gamma mixer, it dawned on me that it might be all for not. Was I dead? And if not, was this state permanent?

I found an old abandoned building, some sort of old brick storefront with a basement. I glided down and into the building’s basement where I wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone. The flying was slow going, but I got the feeling that the more I worked at it, the faster I would be able to will myself to move. I concentrated on pulling myself together. The more I concentrated the faster I could feel my body coalescing back into its natural form. In a few minutes I was back to normal… except all I had on was my hospital gown. While it probably wouldn’t be the first time that the cheeks had made a public appearance (ok definitely not the first time), I figured that I should find a change of clothes, and until I did it might be better to stay invisible. That and of course, I wanted to see if my transformation was a one time deal or not. It took me a little while, but eventually I learned how to throw it in reverse and I watched as my body dissipated like fog on a summer morning. I decided to exercise my other new found ability, and x-rayed the surrounding area. I found an old set of clothes in the dumpster behind the shop. I floated up through the street and into the dumpster. On a whim, I tried to see if I could phase the clothes like I had my body. I found that when my molecules were in contact with the other material, I could actually sense how they were connected. I was pretty sure that if I took the time to understand how they were connected, I could figure out how to separate them. It took me a while, but eventually I managed to make it work. The clothes weren't too terribly dirty, and I managed to get them cleaned up enough to not look like a bum. About this time, I realized that I hadn't gotten an answer to the question that had started this whole ordeal. What was the status on expiration date? After some scrounging in my newfound hideout, I found a reflective surface, and tried x-raying my head. It made me a little dizzy, but it worked. And that wasn't the only thing that had worked. The tumor was gone. Completely cured. I had been given a new lease on life. Well, kind of. I found a newspaper that reported on the accident. Much to my surprise, I had been declared dead. It just figures, I finally had a clean bill of health, and now I was legally dead.

Three days and no body had been found. They thought that the explosion had vaporized me along with the majority of an entire wing of the hospital. At first I was ready to march into police headquarters and demand a retraction, but the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea for Nick Masters to be dead after all. I had been given a second chance. Not just a second chance, but also a great gift, and up until then, I hadn’t exactly been someone that my parents could be proud of. Maybe it was better to let Nick Masters die, so that a true hero could be reborn from his ashes.

My next step was to check on my accounts. As sole heir to my parents’ fortune, I could easily have set myself up as whatever I wanted, but I had to make sure it was still there first. My standard accounts, which had the bulk of the fortune, were frozen, but the off shore accounts which couldn’t be traced back to my name still had millions available. I pulled what I needed to get myself set up with a new identity, and I decided to buy the old building that had been the site of my rebirth. I remodeled it and turned into the Emerald Isle Pub, a great place to pick up information from people just by keeping your ears open. I sealed off a section of the basement and turned it into my own personal hideout. I equipped it with gym equipment to keep up on the training my mother had started me on, and state of the art forensic computers.

Next, I set about creating a new life for myself. I started by solidifying my new identity. I cut off my shaggy hair, and shaved off my stylish beard fully immersing myself in my new role of Eric Leroux (a name adopted and adapted from one of my favorite books). Then I turned my attention to my hero persona. The ghostly way I phased in and out led me to choose a phantasmal look to my uniform (which I also layered with Kevlar just in case, after all I’m just as vulnerable as anyone else when I’m solid). It didn’t take long before my exploits picked up public notice, and my designing efforts weren’t lost on the tabloid journalists who took to calling me The Wraith. I liked it. I liked it a lot. So much so that I decided to run with it and dubbed my hidden headquarters The Crypt. But I wasn’t about to go overboard. No Ghostmobile, or Ghostplane. I mean come on who am I? Green Arrow? Please. I’m at least a little original. Besides, after the whole car accident thing, vehicles made me a little nervous. And who needs to ride when you can fly? Unfortunately, running a business and busting baddies was getting complicated. I needed people I could trust to make sure the Emerald Isle wouldn’t turn into a money pit. I had a decent waiting staff, but I needed managerial material. I found two people that I could feel completely safe entrusting.

First was Kat Jordan. She had me from the moment she walked into my office. She was beautiful, and had one of those no nonsense attitudes that’s so contrasting with my own attitude, that I knew she would drive me nuts. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was in love at first sight. She blew me away even more when I found out she was a single mother. Her gem of a boyfriend knocked her up when she was eighteen, and then went and got himself arrested for dabbling in the drug trade leaving Katie and Tommy, her now 4 year old son, on their own. For a moment, I questioned her ability to make decisions based on prior experience, but I saw someone who needed a chance to prove herself. Not to me, not to her son, not to her parents, but to herself. Someone just like me. I hired her on the spot.

Next was my head bartender. Jerome Collins had been in and out of juvie since he was kid. He grew up the true definition of a street rat. Not a bad kid, just always in the wrong place because he had nowhere else to be. One night, that place just happened to be my pub. Jerome had broken in because he needed a quick hit to pay off some people who were threatening his brother. Just in case any of you find yourselves in a similar situation, you might want to make sure the place you decide to rob isn't a superhero's hideout. Needless to say, Jerome got busted. He told me his story. A B&E job gone bad had landed himself and his little brother in hot water. He was looking to turn things around so that he could be the kind of role model his little brother Jamal deserved, but he co couldn't until he got these thugs off his back. Once again, I saw something in him that put me in the mind of what I was trying to accomplish. So Eric Leroux took care of Jerome by giving him a legitimate job, and The Wraith paid a little anonymous visit to these thugs, and made sure they got put away for a long time. Jerome was so grateful for the opportunity, and so eager to prove himself that he even stayed after closing to do inventory one night a few days after he was hired… without telling me. I wasn’t entirely in the full swing of the hero mode, and didn’t think to scan the basement where we keep our supplies before leaving The Crypt. And besides there wasn’t supposed to be anyone down there anyway. But regardless, I walked right through the wall and found myself face to face with my new bartender. Once he recovered from his initial shock, he enthusiastically offered his services as my side-kick. While I’m not all that into having a younger guy running around in tights in my basement, I did decided it could be useful to have an assistant who was in on the gag for emergency situations. I haven’t regretted that decision at all. Jerome has been great at covering for me when I have to make a quick exit to do my ghost thing.

So I’m a sucker for a sob story. But how can I turn away those looking for redemption if I ever hope to find it for myself. I prowl the streets now, watching for my chance to help those who can’t help themselves. I am the ghost of this city. I haunt its streets like the black shadow of its darker half, a constant reminder to those who would do harm to others that no one can escape the wrath of The Wraith.Does this make me a hero? I don't know... but I'm going to keep doing it. And who knows… maybe someday I just might earn redemption for what I’ve done.

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