LAST EDITED ON Jan-01-06 AT 03:10 PM (EST)
This is actually not new; I wrote it back in May as a submission for the City of Heroes comic. They were apparently not interested in it, though, so, what the hell, here it is.
The apartment door swung open to admit a sandy-haired young man in a costume that would have been considered strange in most places. He was of average height, and his stocky build was accentuated by the high-tech-looking metallic armor he wore on his upper body. From the belt down his clothes were more normal – a pair of black cargo pants with a broad blue stripe down both sides – until his boots, which were chunky and metallic with a pattern of horizontal slats like his breastplate and gauntlets.
He switched on the lights, shut the door behind him, then took off his gauntlets and a pair of round goggles and dropped them on the couch. Without bothering to take off the rest of the armor, he sat down at a small desk near the high-rise apartment's floor-to-ceiling window. It had a great view of Freedom Corps Headquarters and the giant statue of Galaxy Girl, but he paid no attention. Instead he booted up his personal computer, sighed glumly, and started to compose a letter.
1737 Sagan Ave., Apt. 1221
Paragon City, RI 02879
August 4, 2005
Sorry I haven't written for a while. I've been... well...
I've been trying to decide whether I should stay here.
I know, I know – coming to Paragon City was all I ever wanted when we were kids, practically all I could ever talk about in high school, especially senior year. But I've been here for a little over a month, and it's just not what I expected.
There are so many heroes here. You read about them in the papers, you see them on TV, but nothing can prepare you for actually seeing them – running around the streets, flying in the sky, leaping tall buildings, the whole thing. They're everywhere. A cop told me the other day that there were 158 heroes then out on patrol just in the zone I was in.
It's tough going from being the only superhero in the county to being one among thousands – and a lot of them are so much more powerful than me... well, I have to wonder how much good I'm doing. You know I hate being a third wheel. Well, here in Paragon I feel like somewhere around a twenty-thousand-and-third wheel.
The bad guys are a lot worse around here, too. The other day I was just minding my own business over in Kings Row when a bunch of guys in red outfits just appeared out of nowhere – ran around a corner and BAM. Next thing I know I'm in the hospital. I didn't even get off a shot.
(Don't panic, I'm OK. You wouldn't believe the medical technology they've got in this town. I got out of the hospital the same day. And for God's sake don't tell Mom.)
With things like that, and the superpowered crackheads, and those giant eyeball things, I seriously have to wonder how much use I am to Paragon City. Maybe I should come home. Go back to being Nollesemic's lone protector against the nefarious forces of taggers and car thieves. I don't know if I've got what it takes to fight killer robot zombies and gang members with superpowers. What am I doing here?
Captain Photon suddenly seemed to notice that he was still wearing his armor. He stopped typing and looked down at it, then sighed and reached to unlatch it.
As he did, his ears caught faint sounds from outside. There was the unmistakable crack of a gunshot, then a low, muffled WHUMP, almost like a small explosion. A moment later there came another familiar noise, the hollow KLONK of a baseball bat hitting a head.
Some other hero's gotten into a fight right in front of my building, thought Photon. Well, good luck to him.
He tried to go back to his typing, but something about the sounds of battle bothered him. After a few moments he realized what it was: Except for those odd muffled explosion sounds, all he was hearing was gunfire and the improvised weapons favored by low-ranked members of the Hellions gang. There was only one hero down there, and whoever he was, he was badly outnumbered.
Not my problem, Photon thought. Anyway, if he gets beaten, his Medicom will...
Except they didn't always work, did they?
Yeah, that's real heroic, Dan, he told himself sardonically. Then he bolted up from his chair, grabbed his goggles and gloves, and was putting them on with quick, practiced motions even as he slid his apartment window open and stepped out into the night.
He'd only just mastered the trick of neutralizing the effects of gravity with his energy-emission powers, which meant he could fly, but very slowly. He let Newton do the work for most of the way down, then kicked out some antigravitons at the last second to stop himself from hitting the pavement. It was a trick that took some practice. The first time he tried it, coming down from the globe in Atlas Park, he'd messed it up and nearly broken his legs.
At street level, Photon saw that he'd been right. There was just one hero down here, and he – she! – wasn't doing very well. Four Hellions were sprawled in various attitudes of unconsciousness around the figure of the heroine, who was dressed up in a heavy-looking white suit like the kind reactor technicians wore on TV, but there were still as many left. Worse, one of them was a Fallen, a middle-ranking gang member, packing a shotgun.
One of the Hellions swung his sledgehammer and caught the girl in the radsuit square in the sternum with a painful-sounding CRUNCH. The impact flung her up and over backward, sending her sprawling to the sidewalk on her back.
Captain Photon gathered his power within him and aimed his hands. The emitter ports in his gloves snapped open, and an instant later a blaze of blue-white energy streaked out and smashed the Slammer to the ground. He tumbled end-for-end and didn't offer to get up.
"You OK?" Photon asked as the radsuited heroine got to her feet.
She was too busy ducking away from the swing of another Hellion's axe to answer. As she slipped away from the strike, she swung a heavy-gauntleted fist for the Chopper's head. When the blow struck home, there was a flash of reddish-white light, and another of those small explosions sent the Hellion reeling.
Photon took a web grenade from his utility belt and immobilized a Hellion armed with a hunting knife. Then he concentrated his fire on the shotgunner while his impromptu teammate brought down the webbed Slicer with a withering one-two punch from her grenadelike fists.
In a few more seconds, it was all over.
"Phew!" said the white-suited heroine. "Thanks a ton. You just saved my bacon."
He turned and gave her a smile. "No problem. I'm Captain Photon."
She nodded. Her body language said she might have been smiling, though it was impossible to tell through the opaque visor of her helmet.
"They call me Detonator Girl," she said. Then she tilted her head and said, "Your DSA bio says you're a mutant. What's with all that techie-looking gear?"
Photon blinked – she must have a mobile weblink in her helmet, sweet! – and then explained, "I started my career in a little town up north – not mutant-friendly. Built my Battle Harness so people would think I was a Tech hero."
"Clever!" Detonator Girl said, sounding impressed. "Well, hey... thanks again. I dunno what I would've done without you."
"No problem," Photon said again. There was an awkward pause. "Well, uh... see you around, I guess," he said, and made to levitate back up to his apartment.
"Hey, uh... " said Detonator Girl.
He paused in midair. "Yeah?"
"I, uh... friend of mine wants me to check out this warehouse where the Skulls might be making 'Dyne. I checked it out earlier tonight, but it's crawling with the creeps. If you're not too busy... I could use a hand?"
Photon hesitated, then grinned.
"Sure. Just let me lock up my place and I'll be right down."
Detonator Girl clapped her gauntleted hands. "Awright! Thanks!"
Captain Photon returned to his apartment, took off his gloves again so he could type, and thought for a second before appending to his letter,
Never mind what I just said. Something interesting just happened, and I think I'll have more to report in a couple of hours.
For now, stay cool, and don't worry. I think I was just reminded of what I'm doing here.
And there it is, a short adventure of Dan Hudson, the courageous Captain Photon (though he hadn't earned his title yet at the time). Cap has gone on to become my highest-level character, although I have such a bad case of altitis that that isn't saying any too much; he's level 28 (out of 50).
Players of City of Heroes will notice at least one inconsistency with the actual game here (besides the fact that Cap has an apartment). In the game, his "rescue" of Detonator Girl would probably lead to her reporting him to the GMs for kill stealing and generally being a buttinsky.
Here's Dan in costume:
Here's Dan in action:
In Second Thoughts he didn't have a cape yet.