Hi, all! Basically, I think I've been reading too many comic books lately (Booster Gold, Runaways, Ghostbusters: The Other Side, Buffy Season Eight, old JLI/Superbuddies stuff – how I miss those good old times!) and so I decided I wanted to try my hand at creating my own comic book universe – thus, the idea for The Society of Heroes was born. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure where to put it as there's no comic book/superhero genre (which I really wish there was because it would kind of be cool to read other people's comic book universes outside of Marvel and DC) and it has a mix of Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Action elements; I just hope I'm putting it in the right place!
The story focuses mainly on three relatively new superheroes, an alien and technopath named Ro-wan, a small town girl named Sarah Jones who becomes the Scarlet Wonder, a hero with the power over a mysterious transmutable energy, and Thomas, also known as Gambler, whose powers are reliant on whatever card he draws from a magic deck of cards. Likewise, the story deals with the mystery behind the disbandment of a legendary group of heroes known as the Freedom Brigade and led by the now retired Captain Justice, which is set up in the first story, entitled The Dawn of Man.
The Dawn of Man primarily focuses on introducing the three heroes mentioned above, such as their origin stories, as well as the formation of the Society of Heroes, and is broken up into six parts. I am currently planning for six stories in all, roughly fifty-sixty pages each (the first one has already been completed). The story is basically supposed to be fun and fast-paced; I could have probably worked more on the prose as it's heavy on the dialogue at the moment, but this is kind of just a fun diversion for me – hopefully it doesn't feel too rushed! It's kind of my way of paying homage to the superhero genre so hopefully all you comic book fans out there enjoy!
The Society of Heroes: The Dawn of Man
The Planet Raan – 112 Years Ago
What was it again…"the truth must dazzle gradually…it should shed all my sight to look on them?" No, that's not it…maybe it was, "and also they shine here so bright…or every man be blind…?" Ugh, that doesn't even make any sense…
The fourteen year old Ro-wan inhaled the hot air deeply, wiping the sweat that dripped off his forehead with his arm. He stared down at the dry earth that he had been plowing, his dark skin still glistening with sweat and the heat of the sun. Wait…I think it went something like…
"Ro-wan! Quit your daydreaming and get back to work!" one of the overseers barked.
Ro-wan flinched and muttered, "Sorry, sir…just thinking…" He hastily began raking the ground again, one of many working the dry fields that morning. The planet's sun scorched the sky until it was red and beat down on the inhabitants of Raan with little mercy. The ground remained blistered and dry, burning hot sand that rarely produced anything for the poor, primitive planet.
The overseer scoffed and walked over with a smug smirk. "Just thinking, eh? What about this time, Ro-wan? Something that crazy hermit told you?"
"His name is Bartholomew…" Ro-wan answered acidly, refusing to look up at the overseer. "And he's not crazy."
"I think he's crazy – talking about some made-up la-la land – what was it called…Earth?" The overseer cackled. "What a load of bull."
"You don't know that," Ro-wan mumbled, continuing to till the ground. "You should see all the books he has – "
"You mean all that nonsense; I've seen it – it's all just gibberish to me. Made-up gibberish."
"It's called English; Bartholomew says it's a language they speak on Earth. He's even taught it to me – "
"So he's teaching you made-up gibberish now; how productive. Maybe you should put as much effort into your work here as you do learning made-up gibberish. The master might feed you more." The overseer chuckled at his own callous joke while Ro-wan scowled and bit his tongue. The overseer's expression then became grim as he said sternly, "There's nothing in this world but Raan. Now work before I have to beat that message into you."
Ro-wan frowned worriedly, lowering his head further as the overseer stomped away. The sun grew hotter and brighter; Ro-wan glanced up at it, feeling the heat pounding on his back and neck, and muttered in disgust, "However it went, that sun's sure to make anyone go blind after awhile." He then dug his hoe into the ground with an indignant grimace.
Ro-wan eyes fluttered suddenly, his anger flooding out of him as a new sense emerged. He stopped his work again and raised his eyes upward toward the sun. He squinted his eyes and could not see anything, but yet he could feel it – something was calling to him. It was a feeling he had never felt before, and yet felt perfectly natural and familiar; it calmed him and yet riled his spirit with curiosity and excitement. And his eyes widened despite the flashing sunlight, unafraid and eager, his sight waiting to see what his heart and mind already saw vividly.
"Ro-wan!" the overseer shouted, much more brutal than before. "What are you doing? I said work – "
"Something's coming," Ro-wan replied quietly, unaffected by the fierceness in his overseer's tone. Instead, his eyes were looking beyond the bright, burning sun.
The overseer frowned, puzzled by Ro-wan's reaction, and looked up at the sky himself as did the other peasant workers; and yet they all could not see or sense anything.
Somewhere in upstate, New York (50 miles outside of Eastway City) – Six months ago
"This is Guardian Zakzy Norfos…my satellites detected an unidentified and unauthorized object has crashed into Earth, sector 2137…I have tried sending a radio signal, but have received no contact, but my sensors detect a life-form has landed. Uncertain if it is hostile…proceeding with caution."
Zakzy Norfos ended his broadcast as he came to his destination. He could see smoke from the impact as he flew in the skies above New York, using the technology given to him when he became the Guardian of Earth, as awarded to him by the Council of Ergon and the Universal Guard. He landed carefully, scanning the area before proceeding forward toward the impact sight. As the smoke cleared, he could make out a strange metal pod; no movement or sound came from inside or outside the pod. Zakzy pressed his hand against the pod, brushing the soot and dust from the crash off to reveal the old and dented metal capsule, including a painted on seal, that of the Council of Ergon and the same one which he wore on his uniform.
"The Council of Ergon?" he asked aloud in surprise with a gasp and hastily proceeded to wipe away the rest of the dirt to at last reveal a glass window to reveal the pod's containments: a young soldier wearing an old Universal Guard uniform and fast asleep.
The sheets felt cool. That was Ro-wan's first reaction as he slowly awoke. After a moment hovering between consciousness and peaceful slumber, Ro-wan jerked himself awake in a sudden state of panic. He glanced around at his surroundings to see he was lying in a bedroom – a messy bedroom filled with toys and clothes scattered about. Ro-wan frowned, surprised to see that he was lying in what appeared to be an ordinary child's bedroom. He also frowned to see that his uniform was gone, to be replaced by unfamiliar pajamas. He examined the clothes for a moment before standing up and glancing out the window. To his dismay, he saw what appeared to be fields of crops, barns, and domesticated form animals, namely cows. Ro-wan groaned and fell back on the bed, exclaiming, "Not another farm…"
It was then that his eyes caught onto a television sitting on the dresser. He perked up a bit, sitting up again, and grinned.
Zakzy Norfos entered the bedroom to see the lights flickering on and off as a buzz of energy and electricity sounded throughout the room. "What in the…?" he muttered until seeing Ro-wan sitting on the floor, manipulating what he assumed had been his son's television into some strange sort of robotic contraption. A technopath…?
Ro-wan, meanwhile, smiled in satisfaction at his newfound creation as it proceeded to crawl up the wall. However, he soon became sullen again as he slouched and mumbled, "Well, at least it's something…even if I am still on a farm…"
"So you're awake; and you know English," an unfamiliar voice spoke from the doorway and Ro-wan quickly sat up straight in embarrassment. He saw a man dressed in a Universal Guard uniform standing by the door with his arms crossed in disapproval as he eyed the strange invention crawling on the ceiling. "That's strange, because according to the report from your escape pod, you've been in hypersleep for the last 108 years – fifty-eight years before Earth was even discovered by the Universal Guard and the Council of Ergon." The man then laughed and added, "And I apologize for the mess – my son's never been good at cleaning his room…"
"I'm on Earth?" Ro-wan asked in surprise before becoming giddy. "I made it! I can't believe it!" He then frowned as he looked back out the window at the fields. "Although I was thinking it would be kind of different, seeing how Bartholomew described it…"
"Bartholomew?" the man asked.
"Bartholomew was the one who told me about Earth – he taught me English, too. And when the Universal Guard's fleet first came to Raan when I was fourteen…"
Ro-wan became very stiff now, standing up and raising his chin high as he proudly and properly introduced himself, "Yes, my name is Lieutenant Ro-wan of Raan, the Universal Guard's first Guardian of Raan, special coordinator and ambassador for the Earth One mission, and Knight, first-class, of the Council of Ergon."
"The Earth One mission – that really was 108 years ago," the man said, startled. He then cleared his throat and introduced himself, "My name is Captain Zakzy Norfos of Thryorath, fifth Guardian of Earth."
"The fifth Guardian of Earth? That means…we did find it?"
Zakzy frowned now. "Not exactly; the Earth One mission was a failure for unknown causes…it had been suspected that all those present in the mission had been killed. Apparently, though, you managed to survive, albeit sleeping in outer-space for the last 108 years."
"I don't really remember much that happened…it's sort of like a blur in my memory," Ro-wan said uneasily and with an uncomfortable frown as he glanced at the floor.
Zakzy, however, continued, "Fifty-eight years later a second mission, Earth Retry, was successful and Earth was adopted by the Universal Guard as one of the planets to be protected from universal and otherworldly threats; it is currently still awaiting admission into the Council of Ergon for a third-tier planetary seat, similar to Raan, which makes me surprised that a citizen of Raan received a title of Guardian, let alone Knight, first-class. I suppose they were impressed by your knowledge of Earth – it was during the Council of Ergon's height of exploration, as it were, and any new planet was an important discovery for universal unity. Although, how a boy from a primitive place like Raan knew anything about Earth is also surprising…"
"I'm not a boy; I'm eighteen," Rowan remarked indignantly, folding his arms. "And I told you; Bartholomew told me about it – he was a wanderer from Earth."
"But that's even more surprising – 100 years ago Earth didn't have the technology for space exploration, especially traveling to a place like Raan, which is in an entirely different solar system. How did this Bartholomew guy get to Raan?"
"I don't know…I never really asked," Ro-wan answered honestly. "Besides, he seemed like he knew a lot about technology – much more than any of us from Raan knew." Ro-wan frowned and then muttered, "Not like that's saying much…"
"Still, to become a Knight at such a young age is strange."
"It's not strange; I was top of my class at the Universal Guard's military academy and received numerous accolades and medals. I also mastered my abilities quite skillfully and quickly, might I add, especially considering I hadn't been able to use them for the first fourteen years of my life."
Zakzy smirked now. "Pretty cocky for a kid, aren't you?"
Ro-wan frowned sheepishly. "Do I really sound that pompous?"
"A tad – although I am curious about these abilities of yours; I'm guessing that's how you got your position – technopathy and metal manipulation isn't exactly a common trait in Raanites." Zakzy glanced up at the ceiling, where Ro-wan's new contraption continued to crawl about.
"I'll change it back into a television, if you want me to," Ro-wan grumbled, blushing with some embarrassment.
"I think my son would appreciate that," Zakzy noted with a playful smile.
Ro-wan became more solemn as his contraption crawled back down onto the dresser and transformed back into an innocuous television. "You know, I was just thinking…if it's been 108 years…that means the whole reason why I wanted to come to Earth is gone."
Zakzy smiled sympathetically. "What was that?"
"It probably sounds stupid now…but Bartholomew told me this story…about heroes; people with special powers who helped others here on Earth – and I wanted to join them."
Zakzy narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Who were these…heroes?"
"They were called the Freedom Brigade and they were lead by the greatest hero of all, Captain Justice."
And Zakzy's eyes widened as if with a startling revelation.
Smithtown, Nebraska (40 miles outside of Heartland City) – Present
"And now presenting…the Scarlet Wonder!" the announcer boomed over the loudspeakers at the Fourth of July Main Street Parade. Out flew from the sky a blond girl with a red mask, hooded red cape, red spandex top and tights and yellow belt and boots. She grinned and waved to all those who came out to see the parade and her. The crowds cheered excitedly, applauding and whistling as she laughed and did a few circles in the air. "Happy Fourth of July, Smithtown!" she called out to them warmly before landing on the dais where the mayor and other town officials stood. The cheering continued and the Scarlet Wonder continued smiling and waving to her fans.
"Happy Fourth of July, Scarlet Wonder," the Mayor said into the microphone, approaching her and extending his hand over the loud applause of the crowd.
The Scarlet Wonder smiled politely back and took his hand to shake, "Thank you, Mr. Mayor, sir."
The Mayor of Smithtown then turned to the large crowd to address them. "People of Smithtown, please join me in giving a warm welcome to the Scarlet Wonder! Over these last six months since she first arrived in our humble, small town, she has truly been a ray of hope in a time that appeared to be bleak. It has been five long years since the Freedom Brigade dismantled and Captain Justice left Heartland City – but, six months ago, the Scarlet Wonder appeared and has cleaned up the streets of Smithtown of crime, made it a place that tourists are excited to visit, and made our little town an international sensation. Yes, after five long years, I believe Nebraska – and the world - finally has a hero again!"
The crowd roared at this and cameras flashed while the Scarlet Wonder smiled sweetly, but her eyes glistened earnestly.
Smithtown, Nebraska – Six Months Ago
The seventeen year old Sarah Jones frowned as mass drew to a close, seeing the half dozen scattered people sitting at the evening mass, solemn-faced and rigid. She had held out hope that more would show up, but as the mass came to its end, this optimism soon faded. Well, six people are better than none at all…
The mass ended and the six people left, plodding out into the cold January evening. Sarah remained behind to speak to the middle-aged Reverend Taylor, who tried to hide the disappointment in his countenance at the low attendance for that evening's Sunday mass.
"Hello, Reverend Taylor," she greeted him.
He smiled. "Ah, I see you came."
"Well, you had mentioned that attendance hasn't been too high at the Sunday evening mass over these last few months…so I thought I'd try to help lift the numbers a bit."
"Thank you, Sarah; your effort is very much appreciated," the Reverend said graciously. "Still, there is not much that can be done; not many want to come out in the evenings anymore, especially after dark, with those young hoodlums running about…"
Sarah shuddered a bit. The Scabs. She had heard plenty of stories about the so-called Scab gang, especially throughout her high school – stories about muggings, carjacks, and violent assaults - but had been thankful not to have run into any of them. Still, over the last couple of years, she had noticed the streets around town had gotten dirtier, darker, and seedier – and graffiti covered most ever corner, lamppost, and wall. Sarah, however, forced a smile and said, "Well, I'm sure people are just exaggerating; it's not so dangerous around here. Besides, if anything really terrible were to happen, I'm sure Captain Justice would show up again and help out."
Reverend Taylor chuckled somberly. "I haven't heard that name in quite awhile. I didn't know he still had any fans left."
"Of course he has fans left!" Sarah exclaimed. "Captain Justice is just the best; I've been a fan of his ever since I was a little girl – posters, action figures, the works! Sure, he might have disbanded the Freedom Brigade and retired from the hero-business, but I'm sure he's going to come back some day. I bet it's all part of some special secret mission…or maybe he's gone into hiding for some reason…whatever the reason, though, I'm sure he's going to come back. The colors red and gold will rise again, you'll see."
"Red and gold?"
"Those are his colors – Captain Justice's colors, that is - red and gold…well, it's really red and yellow, but the yellow represents gold…at least, I'm pretty sure it represents gold." She paused to ponder this for a moment before concluding, "Anyway, I still believe in Captain Justice." Noticing the distant, melancholic gaze of Reverend Taylor, Sarah forced a smile and offered, "Um…Reverend Taylor? If you want, I can help you clean up and stuff…"
"No, that's all right, Sarah…you should get home…it's getting late."
"Don't worry about it," Sarah, however, insisted with an assuring smile and a giggle.
An hour passed and Sarah finished up the sweeping of the church when a loud bang came from the church door. Startled, Sarah turned about to see the door swing open and a group of five scowling teens enter the church. Sarah grew nervous, holding the broom she had been sweeping with tightly to her chest. "Um…I'm sorry…the church is closed now…" she stammered shakily.
The leader of the five teens looked at her with a snide smirk. "Hey, I didn't expect to see a cute girlie here. Want to help us out a bit?" The five snickered lewdly and stepped forward while Sarah took a step back.
"I…um…the church is closed…" she repeated desperately.
"What are you five doing here?" Reverend Taylor's voice spoke more forcefully as he appeared from the back, stepping onto the altar. "This church is closed. Please leave and come back in the morning."
The leader grinned. "Hey, Rev – you've got a poor box, right? The Scabs here are looking for some extra pocket change." The others continued with their hyena laughter.
"You can't take that – that money is for charity," Sarah spoke up now, her voice still shaky.
"What could be more charitable than giving to the Scabs?" the leader joked before pulling out and opening a switchblade. "Besides, girlie, we're the Scabs – we take what we want."
The color drained from Sarah's face as she eyed the switchblade in fear. The five moved toward the altar like a pack of ravenous animals as the Reverend firmly stood his ground, although terror was swirling in his eyes. "This ground is sacred; you're in the House of God."
"Too bad for you we don't have any god," the leader spoke, giving the Reverend a solid punch in the gut. The Reverend groaned and fell to the ground as two of the others proceeded to kick him.
Sarah's eyes, once fearful, grew vengeful as she watched the two attack the Reverend. "Hey, leave him alone!" she cried out and ran toward them, raising the broomstick like a bat. She hit one of them hard in the side of the jaw.
The one she hit spit out some blood and growled ferociously, "You little bitch." Sarah gasped and went to swing again, but he grabbed the handle as it went toward him this time and yanked it from her hands. He then punched her hard in the face, causing her to fall down hard on the altar steps, her head hitting the top step.
"Pathetic," one of the other Scabs muttered, kicking her in the stomach, while the rest snickered.
"Come on; let's just loot the place," the leader ordered and the five began to ransack the area, not only finding the poor box, but bagging the gold crosses that hung along with candlesticks and the goblets used for communion. And Sarah watched, her hand holding her stomach in pain as her lip and forehead bled, while her vision faded in and out – completely helpless to stop them.
Author's Note: For those curious, in the beginning of the story Ro-wan is quoting – or attempting to quote – both Emily Dickinson and Chaucer, although he is getting the two quotes mixed up. The first is the last two lines from Emily Dickinson's poem "Tell all the truth but tell it slant --- " and actually goes "The truth must dazzle gradually / or every man be blind." The second is from the second book of Chaucer's poem The House of Fame and, when translated into modern English, basically goes like, "And also they [the stars] shine here so bright / it should shed all my sight / to look on them."