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Origin Story

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Aug. 18, 2013
I can't talk to anyone about what happened, and it's driving me nuts. So I'll try writing it down instead.

I was out hiking, by myself. I've done this many times before. I don't know what went wrong this time, but somehow I slipped on a loose rock or patch of mud or something, and went right over the edge of the trail and down the slope to where it levels out again. When I tried to get up, my leg hurt so much I couldn't. I could tell it wasn't broken completely, but it might as well have been. My vidwatch couldn't get a signal.

It wasn't a busy weekend on the trail. I waited for someone else to come by, to shout for help, but nobody came. Or perhaps someone did come past and I didn't hear them - there were times when my leg hurt so much that I nearly passed out. It started getting dark, and I was scared. I had a jacket in my backpack, and a flashlight, and I got them out. There was dried blood from where I'd skinned my leg on the way down, and I knew that would draw predators.

It felt like I'd been there forever, but my watch said it was a little before midnight when the first predator showed up. I wasn't going to give up without a fight. I got the bulb of the flashlight into my right hand the way Dad told me, so it would work like a club. The predator - a large coyote or small wolf, I couldn't tell which - circled closer. I could almost hear it thinking about the best way to kill me. And then it was close enough to my left hand for me to lunge, with some crazy idea of holding it still while I beat it over the head with the flashlight.

That's when things got strange. The minute I got my hand into its fur, I felt this weird energy surge - and then the predator fell over, and all of a sudden my leg felt way better and my head was a lot clearer. I took a closer look at the predator. It was dead. I looked at the skinned patches on my leg. They were completely healed over. I tried to get up. My leg still hurt - not nearly as much, but enough to be a problem.

I waited. After a while, some scavengers showed up to check out the predator corpse. I managed to grab one, and there was that weird energy surge again, and then my leg felt normal. I was able to climb back up to the trail and walk out without anyone seeing me. I sat in the car and just shook for a while, and then I drove home very carefully. I was starving, and not just from having gone without food for most of the day.

I know what's happened to me - I have a superpower. I can heal myself with energy that I drain from another living thing. I don't dare talk to anyone about it; if word got back to my parents, they'd kick me out for good and stop paying my tuition. At least it's not a showy power or anything, so I should be able to hide it at least until I'm out of school. After that... I don't know what I'm going to do.

Aug. 28, 2013
I've been experimenting with my power a little - like cutting a finger and trying to heal it. Plants don't work. Insects do, but it takes a bunch of ants to heal even a little cut. And there's like a baseline; if I don't have any "extra" energy, I can't heal myself at all. But everything I can find out about energy-draining powers points to it being a supervillain thing. That scares me. Bad enough to have a power that I have to hide - I don't want to be a supervillain!

Sept. 9, 2013
Ohshitohshitohshit. The door didn't latch when I went to take out the garbage, and Tiberius got out. There's been this nasty aggressive stray dog hanging around the neighborhood, and he tried to kill Tiberius! I couldn't think of anything to do except grab his tail and drain him before he could bite me - and it worked. Tiberius had a badly-bitten leg. I tried to calm him down by stroking his back, and then it was like I could feel energy flowing from me to him, and his leg healed. I got him back inside, and dragged the dog's body out to the curb where it would look like he got hit by a car or something.

This changes everything. I have to think.

Sept. 18, 2013
There's a line from a book I read that keeps echoing through my head: "With great power comes great responsibility." I don't know if this is great power or not, but it's definitely power - and power that can help people. Doesn't that mean it's my responsibility to figure out how to use it? The problem is that any energy I want to use to help other people has to come from someone else, and that's going to hurt them. I don't know how to reconcile that. I'm starting to understand why this is considered to be a supervillain power.

Oct. 16, 2013
Well, one thing this power is good for is pest control! Tiberius likes to play with roaches, but he doesn't usually kill them, and I hate having to dispose of them after he's done. But it's easier if I drain them first, and that also gives me more practice in controlling my power. It looks like I can store up a fair amount of "extra" energy for quite a while, like an electrical capacitor. That's useful, because it means I can keep energy in reserve and not have to go looking for a source when a need comes up.

*snerk* If I didn't have to have contact to drain, I could become an exterminator, and that would solve my ethical problem. I should be so lucky.

Oct. 28, 2013
Okay, this is freaky as shit. When I checked my e-mail last night, there was a message with the header "SPOON doesn't have what you need". I almost deleted it unopened, but then I thought, what if it really is something that will help me? I've been poking around the SPOON resource links for a couple of months now, and dammit, they really don't have what I need.

So I opened it up. It was a bunch of links with names like "Between the White and the Black Cape" and "FAQs for Non-Hero Soups" and "Alternatives: Crickets, Blue Plates, and Vigilantes" and "About the BlackSheep Forum". That first one sounded good, so I clicked on it. Wow! SPOON pretty much doesn't recognize anything between superheroes and supervillains, but this had descriptions of all kinds of options that fall into the gap between those two. I stayed up way too late chasing links. It felt like a dam breaking.

Maybe I should be paranoid about how whoever sent that message tracked me down (I'm guessing they monitor access to SPOON's resources) and what their intentions are, but what they sent me has been so much help that I think I'm going to let it slide for now. If they try to contact me again, I'll worry then.

Nov. 1, 2013
Ouch. That was what my old biology teacher would have called "a learning experience".

One of the links from that e-mail gave instructions about how to tell how much energy you're draining from someone - and suggested that people who enjoy harming other people, or assholes in general, are appropriate energy sources. And it was Halloween, when there are often assholes out hunting for black cats (like Tiberius! Which is why he stays inside.) to torture and kill. So I put on black jeans and a black T-shirt and went out to prowl around.

Sure enough, I found a group of four teenagers in the park, with a black cat they were trying to hang up on a tree branch. The cat was doing pretty well for himself! He almost got loose twice while I was watching, but then one of the kids hit him on the head with a rock and he went limp. At that point I joined the fray, grabbing the one who seemed to be the ringleader. I let go as soon as he lost consciousness, but then the other three ganged up on me, and the best I could do was keep my draining on full force so that every time they'd hit me they would lose energy. That sort of worked, but I took a bunch of damage in the process before they started acting woozy.

And at that, I was lucky. By the time they were too drained to keep attacking me and I had healed the poor cat (who immediately ran off), I barely had time to fade into the bushes before the cops showed up! I made my way back out of the park very carefully, went home, and healed as many of my injuries as I had energy for. There are still a few bruises left, but not in places anyone will see.

What I learned:
1) I need some self-defense skills.
2) Four against one is bad news when I don't want to kill anyone.
3) I should also see if I can get lessons on being stealthy. I was terrified that the cops were going to hear me while I was getting away! That would not have ended well.
4) This experiment was almost a disaster because I was so excited about the idea of actually doing something with my power that didn't think it through well enough. No more half-assed planning or impulse missions.

Dec. 15, 2013
Okay, I think I have a plan now.

First off, I've found a martial arts dojo where I can learn techniques that will help if I end up in a fight again.

Second, I've decided on a path. "Vigilante" subtype "Robin Hood" seems to be the best option for me - working outside the law, but in pursuit of justice. The thing I will need to be very, very careful about is the temptation of "power corrupts"; I must never forget that when I drain energy from people it actually shortens their lives, and therefore I have to be really choosy about my targets, and not let myself slide into draining people who just annoy me personally. I've identified two good source pools: (1) the kind of guy who harasses women at clubs or concerts or parties, who won't take no for an answer, and who is likely to try to drug a woman or get her drunk in order to rape her; (2) fork groups, which are made up of people who want to deprive soups (like me!) of their civil rights. Mingling with the latter will be risky, and I don't want to try until I've gotten really top-notch control over my power, but I think in the long run the risk is worth it.

Third, I'm changing my major. Instead of a business degree with a concentration on non-profits, I'm going into actual social work. That will put me in contact with the kind of people I want to be able to help - the ones who need the kind of help that my power can give them. My parents aren't completely thrilled by the change, but it's still "respectable" enough for them.

Fourth, I've been doing some networking on the BlackSheep Forum. I got a referral to someone who is teaching me stealth tactics, and another one to a clothing & makeup specialist who is showing me how to subtly change my appearance, either to stand out from the crowd or to blend into it and not be noticed. Who would have thought that being nearsighted was lucky? I can wear contacts when I'm "hunting" and glasses in my everyday life. Somebody on the forum also got me a better-quality false ID than I'd have been able to get through the black market at school. It gives my name as "Rose Marie Jackson" - the first name similar enough to my own that I won't fail to respond to it, the last name common enough to be hard to trace without screaming "alias" the way something like "Smith" would.

Technically, I guess this does make me a supervillain. But thanks to whoever sent that mystery e-mail, I've found a way to wear that identification without losing track of me in the process.

Jan. 1, 2014
It's the start of a new year, which is a good time to think about new beginnings. And for me, that means my new beginning as an active soup. I have a cape name now, even though most people will never be aware of it. I'm The Capacitor, because of my ability to store "extra" energy.

Last night I went seriously hunting for the first time. I put on my contacts and fancy makeup and a clingy dress and went club-hopping among all the New Year's Eve celebrations, using my fake ID. I didn't want to get drunk, so I stuck to drinking grenadine & soda - it tastes good and looks like a frou-frou girly drink, and a lot of places won't even charge for it because they assume you're a designated driver. (I still tip, though!)

And there's always some dude who tries to hit on me and won't take no for an answer. I used to find that super annoying, but now it represents an opportunity. If he doesn't back off after two active rejections, I drop into "not encouraging" mode and wait for him to touch me... and then I drain just enough to make him feel kind of sick, so he'll go away and leave me alone and maybe even call it a night and go home. The first one I overdid it a little, and he actually did get sick all over the table, yuck! But I didn't get any of it on me. After that I was more careful; I'm getting better at judging when it's time to stop.

One guy put something in my drink! But I wasn't as distracted as he thought I was, and I saw him do it. That one I drained pretty heavily so that he wouldn't leave, and then got the waitress to send the manager over. The last I saw of him, he was being walked out of the bar in handcuffs. The cops said I wouldn't even have to testify - between the pills in his pocket and my drink to be analyzed, it was an open-and-shut case. Go me!

Jan. 6, 2014
Someone on BlackSheep had an idea about my running out of stored energy while I still had self-healing to do. They suggested keeping a tank of some fast-breeding invertebrate like crickets or mealworms, that I could tap in case of emergency. I don't want crickets, because I just know that every time I opened the lid, one would jump out and then I'd have to chase it down - or wait for Tiberius to do it! Mealworms look easier to handle, and I can control the number of adults available to breed the next generation by draining extra pupae. I think I'm going to do that.

Jan. 20, 2014
I'm really enjoying the lessons in clothing and makeup. The coolest part is that I can actually change the apparent shape of my face with foundation and contouring powder! To go "standout", I use a foundation just a little darker than my actual skin tone, then apply contouring to emphasize my cheekbones and make my chin look a bit more pointed, plus dramatic eye makeup and dark-red lipstick. To go "overlooked" is almost exactly the opposite - a lighter foundation that makes me look a bit sallow, contouring to make my face look rounder and widen my nose a little, unobtrusive eye makeup, and lipstick in a shade fairly close to my natural lip color. I've thought about getting colored contacts as well, but to get them in prescription form is really pricey, so that's going to have to wait.

Choosing a costume required some thought. Obviously I won't be wearing one when I'm hunting, because the object there is not to be recognized! But for when I'm on a healing mission, I want an outfit that the people I'm trying to help will learn to recognize, but also something that won't draw a lot of attention. Eventually I settled on charcoal-grey exercise clothing - close-fitting, but stretchy and comfortable - with a midnight-blue cape that has an attached zentai hood to completely cover my face. Since I'll be doing most of my healing missions at night, this will also help me to be stealthy in the shadows, and with the hood off it doesn't even look all that soup-ish; I could just be wearing a cloak, which enough people do that nobody really notices it.

March 18, 2014
So I've been making use of the other side of my superpower. A day or two after I go hunting, I go down to the poor neighborhoods and the areas where homeless people hang out, looking for those who are sick or injured and healing them. It's such a rush! I wish I could do more of it, but I don't want to be predictable. I'm also pretty sure that I've got a "100% charged" level somewhere, but I haven't run up against it yet.

In the process of dealing with the people I want to help, I've begun picking up tag-ends of several other languages. Last night I heard someone whisper, "Es el Ángel de la Vida" - which I know enough Spanish to understand as "It's the Angel of Life". Wow! So now I guess I have two separate cape names, the one I use for myself and the one people call me. That's pretty cool.

Wow, I've gone through a lot of changes in just 7 months. Maybe I'm still technically a supervillain... but damned if I don't feel like a superhero.