Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stories of the Cape and Cowl: Origins: Part 2

The Major waited for his next beer, as the Urchin spun back and forth on the barstool. Lloyd deposited the fresh Guinness and took away the empty glass, as the Major took a sip.

“Kid,” said the Major. “That was the single worst, most convoluted origin story I’ve ever heard. What’d you do? Take the top ten origins and mash them together?”

“But . . . no! It’s totally true!”

“C’mon? You were raised by hyper-intelligent sea urchins? Both your parents were amazingly athletic research scientists? A rogue government agency?”

“Yes!” the Street Urchin half-rose. “It’s all completely . . . “ He looked at the Major, who was shaking his head. “Completely made up.” The Urchin sat back down with an audible thump.

“It’s okay, kid. Everybody lies about their origin. The trick is to lie just enough.” The Major patted the young man on the shoulder. “Look, what’s my origin?”

“Uh, you developed your amazing mental power at puberty and then traveled to Tibet, where you were trained by an obscure sect of ninja-monks.”

“I stuck a fork in a plugged-in toaster when I was 12 while holding a Speak-and-Spell.”

The Urchin’s mouth dropped open. “No way!”

“I did go to Tibet, though.”

“Did you train with ninja-priests?”

“Well, I was on a tour and saw some priests, but no, not really.” The Major shrugged. “I did see a movie about some ninja-priests once though.”

“Was that American Ninja-Priest in Paris? That movie totally rocked!”

“Uh, yeah, I think so. But that’s not the point. You need to tone down your origin a bit. What really happened?”

“When I was nineteen, I had some bad sushi and a couple beers. Well, fourteen-odd beers. And some shots. And a couple pieces of week-old pizza. And then I passed out. In a swamp.”

The Major nodded. “Yeah, that’ll do it.” He thought for a moment. “How about this? Your parents were research scientists working on irradiated sea urchins. You fell into the tank, got stung, and presto, instant powers.” The Major paused. “So, what are your powers anyway?”

“I can project spikes out of every part of my body.”

“Well, that explains the outfit.”

“Yeah. I don’t actually like dressing like this, but when you shred your clothes once a week, you gotta make do.” Urchin made a face. “I don’t know about that origin. It’s kinda . . . dull.”

“But it’s easy to remember and it’ll keep nutjobs from trying to help you find your parents.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “You see Madame Mystery over there?” The young man nodded. “She made up a bit about her parents being murdered and she’s got no fewer than three crazed fans trying to find the killers. Trust me, you don’t want the headache.”

“Huh.” Urchin took a sip of beer. “So, does everyone lie?”

“Pretty much. I mean, how many people are hit with omega rays, were raised by aliens, or witnessed their parents deaths at the hands of a crazed rodeo clown? Not everyone gets a dramatic story, kid.”

The door banged open both of them glanced over. An almost skeletal man with a distinctive green tinge to his skin, a lot of old stitches, and what looked like robot parts bolted to his body shuffled in, hanging up his coat and hat with an immense robotic arm that would have looked more at home in a car plant.

“Hey, Bill.” Said the Major, as he passed. “How’re the kids?”

GOOD. AND HOW IS MARGE?” He replied, in a deep, mechanical voice.

“She’s great.”


The Major nodded. “Funny.”

Street Urchin stared at the man as he moved away, mouth agape. “That was Zombot!” he finally stammered.


“But . . .you two are mortal enemies!”

“This is the Cape and Cowl, kid. Neutral ground. No fighting or powers inside. Besides, you battle someone long enough, you get to know them. Hell, our kids had play-dates.”

“Wow.” The Urchin turned back. “So, I never did hear what his origin was.”

“Zombot? Oh, he was the result of a horrible experiment where a necromancer and a mad scientist tried to create the perfect killing machine. The scrounged together a bunch of body parts and machinery, put them together and reanimated the whole thing. Thing is, the process drove ol’ Zombo mad and he butchered them both before embarking on a reign of terror.”

“Ah. So what’s his real origin?”

“That is his real origin. That’s exactly what happened.”


“Yep.” The Major sighed. “Man, I’d kill for an origin that good.”


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