[MISC] Crucible City MUX: Myrmidon Special #1

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Tue Mar 9 19:51:55 PST 2004

//^^\\  //^^\\  ||\\ //||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
||      ||      || \V/ ||  --X---------------------------------------------
||      ||      ||     ||   '|`           MYRMIDON SPECIAL #1
\\__//  \\__//  ||     ||                  "Family Matters"      
    CRUCIBLE CITY MUX             Copyright 2004 by Dave Van Domelen

     [cover shows Sam Parsons standing in front of the door of a
      suburban ranch-style home, hand poised over the doorbell, but
      paused in indecision.  The shadows suggest it's not long after 
      dawn...all but one shadow.  In the lower left corner, the
      shadow of a hand can be seen, but no hand is there to cast it.]

Author's Note for those reading this on rec.arts.comics.creative:

     The setting for this story is that off Crucible City MUX, a Mutants &
Masterminds superhero online game set in a renamed Chicago a few years after
a Big Event that radically reduced superhuman population levels.  See
http://www.ascendancy.net/CrucibleCity for more information.

     Sam Parsons, aka Myrmidon, is my character at Crucible City.  Everything
else should come out in the story itself.

               *              *              *              *

[Beloit, Wisconsin - 7:30 AM CST, March 13, 2004]

     "I'll call when I'm ready for a pick-up, Katie," Sam said as he got out
of the beat up old Ford Escort.  "You should at least have enough time for
breakfast, but...um, if it looks like this is gonna blow up really badly in
my face, I'll call and let you know."
     Katie nodded, the elaborate silver and copper jewelry on her ears and
neck jingling.  "Remember, you don't get a ride back to Chi...Crucible if you
don't help with at least some of the storm damage."
     "Yeah, yeah," Sam waved as he closed the door and got out of the twisty
suburban street.  The Bristol RenFaire wasn't due to open until July, but
some of the permanent structures had been hit hard by a storm recently, and
relying on volunteers for repair promised to stretch the work out over a lot
of weekends.  He liked Bristol, and the fact that putting in a little sweat
equity would save him bus fare didn't hurt.
     This was something he needed to do in person.  Phoning it in would have
been the coward's way out.
     Sam looked at the house.  Once it had been his whole world.  Now it
seemed so damned small.  Like a trap he had escaped a couple years ago.  A
bland suburban existence with little room for wonder or amazement, with
parents who embraced that sort of life and looked with quiet disapproval on
the sort of life Sam had made for himself.
     "No sense putting it off," Sam muttered to himself.  "They're both up by
now, one of 'em's gonna look out a window eventually."
     He walked up the well-kept driveway, along the curved concrete path
flanked by neatly trimmed short juniper bushes, and up to the white-painted
screen door flanked by white siding and blue-trimmed windows.  The screen
door's glass pane was in place and the storm door closed behind it against
the morning chill...a chill Sam hadn't felt since November, when Aeolus
answered his prayers for protection from the biting winter winds.
     Sam pressed the doorbell, which hadn't finished its slightly buzzing
ring before the storm door flew open to reveal his mother's pleasantly
surprised face.
     "Sam!  To what do we owe this unannounced pleasure?" her smile tilted
into a smirk at the end, and her accent strengthened, both signs that she was
a little annoyed.  When she was downright angry, Sam had trouble
understanding her, which had always made discipline...interesting.
     "Is dad up?" Sam asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to avoid
answering his mom's question for the moment.
     Doctor Arifa al-Rawi-Parsons narrowed her eyes slightly, giving Sam her
best "Mom knows when you're stalling" look.  Maybe she was a little gray now,
and had gone from athletic to slightly plump, but that look took Sam back to
childhood for a moment, back to the mom he knew then.
     "This is serious, mom.  I wanna tell you both at the same time."
     She sighed.  "Fine.  Come on in, Samuel, he's in the den."  She held the
door open for Sam to follow, then led the way to what had been his bedroom
until he moved out a couple years ago and made it clear he didn't plan on
moving back.
     When they got there, John Parsons was already leaning back in his desk
chair and watching the doorway expectantly.  Age hadn't dimmed dad's hearing,
Sam noted.
     "So, my son is serious," John said without preamble.  "About time.  But
about what?"
     "Mom, you might want to sit down.  And no, this isn't about any
potential grandkids," Sam added, forestalling the inevitable question.  "I
know you haven't approved of my choice of faith..."
     "Damn straight.  You shouldn't be worshipping what amounts to just
extremely powerful Powers," John snorted.  "Yes, I know people like Zeus and
Athena really existed, but they're no more deserving of worship than, say,
     "Look, I don't want to have that argument again, dad," Sam interrupted.
"But, well...look."
     Sam raised his right hand and slowly curled it into a fist.  As he did
so, a shaft of brilliant green light emerged from his hand and took the shape
of a sword.
     "The gods have granted me powers and told me to go forth and be a hero.
I haven't been in the news much yet, but that's probably going to change
soon, and I wanted to tell you now, rather than let you figure it out from
the evening news."
     There was a brief moment of stunned silence.
     "Son," John started.  "We...well, I think your mother and I..."
     "What he's trying to stutter out, Samuel, is that we don't think you got
those powers from any gods.  You got them from us," Arifa said, and now it
was Sam's turn to be stunned.
     "Wait.  You two are Powers?  And you never told me?" Sam blurted out,
gesturing with the sword for a moment before remembering it and dousing the
verdant energy.
     "We were," his father nodded.  "But haven't been for a long time.  We
lost our powers a couple years before you were born.  And we didn't tell you,
didn't tell anyone, because we weren't exactly what you'd call superheroes."
     "We were spies," Sam's mother interjected.  "On opposite sides of the
Iron Curtain...which didn't stop us from getting to like each other...."

               *              *              *              *

[20 miles south of Dayr as Zawr, Syria - 0302 Zulu Time, July 2, 1980]

     Sergeant Parsons felt his way through the ancient subterranean tunnels,
unwilling to use a flashlight that might be seen by others.  His electrical
senses told him he was heading in the right direction, towards Doctor
Ahriman's hidden laboratory, but he'd already hit three dead ends and been
forced to backtrack.
     Intel was fuzzy on this one.  Strictly speaking, Doc A was a Soviet
problem, since Syria was essentially in Moscow's pocket.  But he'd finished
his last job early, was in the area, and Langley thought Ahriman was probably
on the verge of becoming a global threat...best to nip him in the bud before
either side had to deal with him.  World-beaters were a threat to both the
East and West, and had an annoying tendency to hate both sides equally.
     Something was moving nearby.  He froze, willing his breath still.
     "So, John...as they say in America, fancy meeting you here," whispered a
feminine voice with a strong Urdu accent.
     John knew better than to lash out, the acoustics of the tunnel were
horrible, and the voice could have been coming from anywhere within ten
meters or so.  "Agent al-Rawi, we meet again," he countered with another
cliche, also whispered.  He knew from painful experience that she could sense
nearby life well enough to overcome the darkness, and she'd apparently turned
off anything electrical that he could have homed in on.
     "What brings you to sunny Syria?"
     "A little pro bono work, Arifa, cleaning out the nest before the rats
become a problem."  All part of the dance.  He worked for the U.S., so did
she...if you added an S.R. to the end of that.  But more often than not they
didn't end up in direct opposition, settling for counting coup and trying to
outdo each other.  They'd even ended up in bed together once or twice, but it
had ended awkwardly each time.
     "Well, the rats are running the asylum," she replied, making John wince
with what he knew was a deliberately mixed metaphor.  "Our HumInt boys have
one over yours here, and it looks like Doctor Ahriman is ready to put some
sort of Nefarious Plan into action."  He could hear the capitalization in her
words, and suppressed a groan.
     "So, you and me against the good Doctor, for all the marbles?"
     He felt a gentle hand on his upper arm.  "Yes.  Now follow me, quickly!"

               *              *              *              *

[0324 Zulu time]

     "How symbolic!" Doctor Ahriman crowed as he lorded over his fallen
opponents.  "First I defeat agents of the two Superpowers, and now I shall
destroy those Superpowers themselves!"
     Ahriman was no longer, strictly speaking, human.  He was a roughly
humanoid mass of swirling darkness and red lightnings, his body converted
into what he had called Dark-Life.  Both Parsons and al-Rawi lay stunned
before him, still smoking where he had struck them.
     "But...should I slay you now?  You are the first worthy witnesses to my
apotheosis," Ahriman mused.  "I could free you to act as heralds...no.  That
would be foolish.  I may be a god now, but even gods may be slain.  No sense
in giving the world any warning of my impending rule.  Perhaps I will just
leave you here, imprisoned, to watch the world fall under my heel?
     Sergeant Parsons suddenly leapt to his feet and unleashed a torrent of
electrical bolts at the transformed villain.  "Perhaps you talk too much!"
     To John's credit, Ahriman seemed slightly staggered by the onslaught,
but only slightly.  Arifa was also up, having used her own biokinetic powers
to recover quickly from the attack that had felled her.  But she was dancing
back, trying to stay away from Ahriman.
     "John, I can't strike him without his Dark-Life knocking me out again.
And bullets didn't work before..." she trailed off, dodging a bolt of black
lightning from Ahriman.
     "Then boost me and stay back!" John shouted, straining his powers to
their utmost.  Pure offense was one of his weak spots, he was better at using
his powers to manipulate electronics or sense electricity, and using them on
attack was wearing him out quickly.  But Arifa's power to alter metabolic
processes could help him stay in the fight.  For a while.  Then he'd just
burn out and drop.
     The dance continued for a few harrowing minutes, the two Powered agents
narrowly staying ahead of Ahriman's blasts.  The former human was not trained
in combat, but he was starting to get the hang of it.  Once he figured out
how to properly lead a target, they'd both be toast.
     "John, I have an idea," he heard echoing in his ear.  Arifa was directly
controlling his eardrum, one of her better spy-type tricks.  "I'm going to
have to stop boosting you...but you can't stop attacking."
     Whatever this idea was had better work, or the fight would be over REAL
fast, John thought.  He nodded, and instantly felt the exertion of the fight
start to catch up to him.  But he'd been trained by the best, he could last a
little longer.  The only way he'd stop would be when he keeled over from
sheer exhaustion.
     Then Ahriman stopped attacking, instead writhing in pain.  "What are you
doing?  This isn't supposed to happen!"  His shadowy form was starting to
turn gray, the red lightnings within flashing more feebly and then ending
completely when John forced himself to launch one more attack.
     A bright flare of white was the last thing John saw for quite some time,
and the entire world went black.

               *              *              *              *

[0612 Zulu time]

     "Ow.  Could you breathe a little more quietly?" John whispered, wincing
at the sound of his own voice.  His head throbbed and all his senses felt
numbed...except his sense of pain.  Of course.  Nature loves irony.
     "Thank God you're alive," Arifa gasped.  One of the little secrets she'd
shared at an earlier meeting was that she wasn't an adherent to the State-
mandated atheism, but she must have been really rattled to let something like
"thank God" slip out, even in private.  "I thought you were dead, I couldn't
sense anything from you!"
     John pried his eyes open and levered himself up on one elbow.  Not that
his view improved, it was pitch black.  "What, exactly, did you do to
     Panic seemed to be receding from her voice as she replied, "I realized
that his 'Dark-Life' was actually a sort of anti-life, anti-energy.  Every
time you hit him, he seemed less *hurt* and more *diminished*.  So I gave him
all the life-boosting power I could throw at him, in hopes of negating him.
Then, um, he exploded.  I woke up just a little before you did."
     John reached for his flashlight and turned it on.  The beam was weak,
but steady...and he couldn't feel the electricity flowing.  "I think, and
this is just a theory, that Ahriman burst like a balloon and we got hit with
his remains.  I can't sense ANY power...can you feel my biosigns?"
     Arifa shook her head slowly.
     "I think we negated him, but he negated us.  Only difference being,
we're still human under all the powers, while he had turned himself into pure
anti-power," John surmised.  "I think we both just retired from the super-spy
business, Arifa."
     "Well, if that's true, I have just one question," she countered.
     "Your place or mine?" she grinned weakly. 

               *              *              *              *
[Beloit, Wisconsin - 8:20 AM CST, March 13, 2004]

     "Obviously, we decided we'd get a better retirement plan in the West,"
Sam's mother added.  "I took my latest cover identity and had it firmed up by
your father's people, and we moved to Rammstein for a few years.  Once it was
definite our powers weren't coming back, your father officially left the
Service and we moved here," she thumped the desk.  "So, yeah, I'm not really
Syrian either.  Pakistani, actually."
     "We always wondered if you might become a Power as well, son," his
father added.  "But your mother and I both manifested around puberty, so when
you weren't tossing lightning bolts or jumping over houses in high school, we
just figured the Dark-Life blast had removed even the potential for it.  I
guess we were wrong."
     Sam sank into one of the spare chairs in the room.  "Damn.  No wonder I
could never put anything over on either of you.  Spy training."
     "No, all mothers can do that," Arifa smiled.  "Mine certainly could."
     "Were you really where you said you were during the Nazi invasion?" Sam
asked, referring to an extradimensional incursion that had happened a few
months ago.  "Or did you get reactivated?"
     John shook his head.  "No, we were where we told you we were.  I got a
few calls from old colleagues for advice and information, but I've been out
of the Game for way too long to be much use in the whole Powered thing.  And
your mother's a much better doctor than spy now."
     "But you...you were in the middle of that.  You told us you were just
hiding a lot.  But you weren't, were you?" Arifa cast a look of concern at
her son.
     Sam shrugged.  "I'd show you the scars, but they're all gone.  I guess
maybe I got that bit from you and not Aesclepius, mom.  I was in the thick of
it, yeah.  Mostly protecting the Harvey hospital complex, although I did go
on one field mission that was something of an anticlimax.  Made enough in
bounties hunting down leftover Neoraptors to afford to enroll in UCC,
although some of that was odd job rebuilding work like I told you."
     "I know you don't want to back to this argument," John said hesitantly,
"but I think now you can see why we really don't approve of your religion.
We nearly got killed by someone calling himself a god.  Only God should wield
that kind of power...too much and it just corrupts us.  And you don't owe
Zeus or whoever anything.  It's just paragenetics."
     Sam paused, remembering what Seth had said the week before about not
seeing any mystic aura around him.  "Maybe.  I've got a lot to think about,
anyway.  Damn...and here I thought *you guys* would come out of this shocked
and stunned, not *me*."

               *              *              *              *

[9:23 AM CST]

     John and Arifa watched their son get into the battered white Escort and
head off for Bristol, then closed the door and went back inside.
     "John, shouldn't we have told him the rest of the story?"
     He shook his head.  "If we're all lucky, he'll never need to know.  And
if not, he's a smart boy...no, a smart *man*.  He'll figure it out."
     And a cloud passed before the Sun....


End Notes:

     Back when I applied for Myrmidon, I wanted him to be empowered by the
Greek gods.  Most of his powers would be due to Mutation (one of the power
sources in Mustants & Masterminds), but a couple would be Mystic in origin.
But, at the time, there was a glut of mystic origins, and I was asked to pick
something else.  I decided that Myrmidon would still THINK he had gotten his
powers from the gods, but would slowly discover he hadn't, possibly after
interaction with a character in the game who *was* a Greek goddess.  Some of
this has slowly come about in roleplay (the bit with Seth alluded to, among
other scenes), but I decided a good way to really push it forward would also
let Sam finally reveal his powers to his parents...and find out that they
were former Powers as well.

     Pictures of Myrmidon can be found at:
     http://www.protoformproject.com/dvd/drawings/myrmidon2.JPG (drawing)
     http://www.protoformproject.com/dvd/kitbash/mk/myrmidonhc.JPG (clix)

     Oh, and "Zulu time" is military designation for Greenwich Mean Time,
"HumInt" is Human Intelligence, or informants/spies (as opposed to SigInt,
signal intelligence from codebreaking or satellite pictures).

     Will there be a #2?  Maybe.  It's generally better to do the interactive
stuff as actual online roleplaying, but if I come up with any other stuff
that wouldn't work well for group play, I might type it up as another
Myrmidon Special.

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