StarFall: Silver Arrow #4: "The Difference Made"

Phantasm phantom_belcher at
Sun Dec 12 15:55:27 PST 2010

StarFall Comics
A Division of Pullemouttayerhat Productions
A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of StarFall Innovations
Proudly Presents:

#4: The Difference Made

Cover: A three-way split, in a "Y-split" pattern.  The upper section,
just under the logo, shows Silver Arrow suiting up.  The lower left
section shows Jade, opening a closet, total blackness from within.
The lower right shows a young man sitting at a barred window, looking
down at a female form in a two-tone purple bodysuit as she walks away.

   Los Angeles. See it at night, and it shines. People come here for
all sorts of reasons.  My reason?  No surprise there.  It's because of
a girl.
   Not just *any* girl, mind you.  My twin sister, Francine.  We were
born north of here, in the Frisco Bay area.  Mom and dad ... well, we
never knew them.  They'd died when we were very young.  We'd grown up
in an orphanage - "family home" is what the state called it - one run
by uncaring bureaucrats and jaded civil servants.  All that changed on
our twelfth birthday.
   Like every kid there, we knew that birthdays were just another tick
before you're thrown out, cast off, unwanted, at age eighteen.  By the
age of twelve, we knew we weren't wanted.  So, when our powers
manifested, we split.
   Me?  I can control time.  Well, not really.  What I really do is
affect how others *perceive* the flow of time.  I can't make it seem
as though it's flowing backwards, but I can make it seem as though
it's speeding up or slowing down.  Fran can open gates to anywhere up
to ten miles away.  So, mainly using her gates, we made our way to
   It wasn't easy.  We had to steal to survive.  Even in sunny L.A.,
we weren't wanted.  Thanks to our powers, though, we never got
caught.  Over time, we went from stealing to survive to stealing to
make a living.  No real difference, right?
   All we had was each other.  We knew no other way.  I would have
died for her.  I *have* killed for her.  Our fourteenth birthday, we
gave each other our virginities, and our pledge to never be separated.
   That pledge held until last year, not long after we turned
   We'd been hired by some upstart wannabe criminal mastermind, some
redheaded floozy with a gemstone for a name - Garnet or Ruby,
something like that.  She wanted us to steal some artifact from the
Native American exhibit at the Natural History Museum.  A Chumash
ceremonial knife, I was told.  We weren't really told *why* she wanted
it, nor did we really care.  'Port in, grab it, 'port back out.
Simple, right?
   Except that as we were 'porting in, we were met by Silver Arrow,
L.A.'s resident "superhero".  I don't know how he knew, but he was
ready for us.  Fortunately, flint Chumash knives are sharper than they
look.  While Fran gated his fancy trick arrows around us so we
wouldn't be hit, I grabbed the knife.  I had to stab a security guard
who'd stumbled onto the fight to distract the hero while we escaped.
   Two days later, I saw this guy talking with Fran, but he left long
before I could get there.  She told me it was a new contact, but
something in her voice - something I should have noticed then - said
otherwise.  She was quiet after he lett, so I took to see one of those
sappy romantic chick flicks she likes to try and cheer her up.  She
barely said two words to me the whole time.
   When we made love that night, I knew things were different between
us.  Somehow, I *knew* that other guy was responsible, and that he was
Silver Arrow.  I swore then to kill him.  He would not come between me
and my sister.
   I never got the chance.  The next morning, I woke up in a jail
cell, and some uniform read me my rights.  Fran was tehre, too - and
making a statement to another officer about the heist and the guard
I'd stabbed.
   "Goodbye, Frank," was all she said to me, as she was led off to
another cell.  At our trials, she testified against me.  She even went
so far as to say that I had *made* her do things she'd readily agreed
to.  I got twenty years... and all she got was probation.  Somehow,
Silver Arrow had turned her against me.  For that, he will die.
   Yesterday, some cabbage-brained super-thug broke out of prison,
taking a bit of the wall with him.  So, I used that hole to escape.
Now, I need to wait for the Squelch the prison had me on to wear off,
so my powers work again, find and kill the hero, find Fran, and make
her love me again.
   And if I have to kill anyone who gets between us, so be it.
   What is it about a person that can cause another to change?  Am I
the one changing, or have I finally stopped trying to change?
   Growing up, the three of us were pretty much inseparable.  Hugh,
Jeff, and I were the Terrible Trio.  As kids, we pretended we were
Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.  As teens we sparred in dad's dojo,
learning how to defend ourselves and each other.
   Two years ago, Hugh became Silver Arrow.  It wasn't pretend to him;
he was serious.  I guess that incident where some super who showed up
during the reality quake saved his life as a kid had an effect on
him.  He always did have pretty superior aim with a bow.  Still,
something about his decision struck a chord inside me; I wanted in.  I
didn't know why, though.  I still don't know why, but I'm glad I did.
I decided to help by infiltrating one fo the criminal cartels here in
the city.  Being half-Chinese, I was able to join the Xiang Li Tong.
   Hugh was concerned about me, of course.  But then, he's concerned
about everyone.  That's why he does what he does.  Rising through the
ranks of the Tong meant I had to be ruthless.  Heartless.  Cold.  I
had to learn to act as though nothing fazed me.  Soon, nothing did.  I
witnessed torture, forced drug overdoses, pre-teen girls forced into
stripping and prostitution, and executions of those who'd displeased
the Tong.  As I rose through the ranks, the closer I got to Sun Li,
the leader of the Tong, and the more I was able to tell Hugh.  I also
found that the Tong life agreed with me.  Sun Li had a presense about
her.  She had taken over the Tong by killing her father, and never
regretted it.  I started to admire her, and then emulate her.  I found
myself forced to smile around Hugh and Jeff, to pretend to care.
   Last week, I finally killed a man myself.  It was easy.  I pulled
the trigger, and he died.  Sun Li prmoted me to one of her
lieutenants.  I can now tell Hugh everything.  I feel, however, that I
*belong* at Sun Li's side.  Am I in too deep?  Should I get out?
*Can* I?  Do I even want to at this point?
   No.  I'm too far gone for that.  I can't get out, even if I wanted
   Hugh must never suspect.  I know him.  He's an idealist, seeing the
good in everybody.  He finds out what I've done, what I plan to do,
and he'll try and save me from myself.  The truth is much darker than
he'd ever suspect.
   I'm sorry, Hugh.  The Jade Wong you grew up with - the one who
played Batgirl to your Batman - died when she crossed the line and
took a life.  Don't worry, your secret identity is safe with me; I
won't tell Sun Li.  I am still your friend, but I stopped being your
ally that day.  Now, I am your enemy.
   Every hero needs a nemesis, someone to help define him; the hero
also helps define the nemesis.  You taught me that.  Batman has his
Joker.  Spider-Man has his Green Goblin.  Silver Arrow... now has
White Crane.
   I just have to make one phone call, and you'll fall right into the
trap I've laid.  I know Sun Li won't approve of my new identity - she
doesn't like the capes and cloaks that have appeared the last few
years - but she'll forgive me once I... once I kill you.
   Thank you, Hugh, for letting me discover my *true* self.
   Why do I do this?  What makes someone put on a colorful outfit to
risk his life fighting crime?  "Why not just join the police and fight
crime that way?" I'm often asked.
   I admit, part of my inspiration comes from reading comics as a
kid.  There's also that time during the Reality Quake ten years ago,
when an unknown super saved my life.  Not long after that, the first
"indiginous" super appeared, the first Sentinel.  Seeing him in action
as a teen inspired me to go my own route.  They say he retired a few
years back, and aided in training his replacement.
   Still, why make myself a target by dressing like a circus performer
and using a bow and arrow?  I do that to keep my enemies from
targeting those I love.  My friends and family know who I am and what
I do.  Dad rags on me a lot, but I get the feeling that he's envious
of not being able to join me.  This is just the thing he would have
done if given the opportunity back in college.  Still, there's
something different in the world since the Quake.  What would have had
people sending for the men in white coats is now considered
commonplace, even acceptable.
   I find it freeing, in a way.
   Yes, I admit, I get a thrill from doing what I do.  Who wouldn't?
They say adrenaline is an addiction.  Maybe that's true.  If so, it's
one I wouldn't trade.  I make a difference in peoples' lives, and for
the better.  Knowing that the baby I saved from the fire will live to
grow up strong, or that the streets are safer due to the latest
arrests... those are the reason I do what I do.
   Is there escalation?  Perhaps.  One of the gangs, a local outfit
called the River Cats, has been getting more supers of their own
signing on.  I suspect I'll see more of them in the future.  Also, the
Tong has been stockpiling a drug known to "short out" a super's
powers; Sizzle, it's called.  The two are gearing up for a war, and
I'm sure the Mafia and Yakuza factions in town aren't going to sit
idle while those two duke it out for supremacy.
   I guess I'm lucky.  If they try to use the Sizzle on me, it won't
work.  I'm called a "superhero" by the press, like the Sentimel, but I
don't have powers.  It's all skill.
   Jade just called with a lead.  She's my insider person with the
Tong, and she gave me the address of the warehouse producing and
stockpiling the Sizzle.  She sounded off, though.  After tonight's
action, I'll talk to her about getting out.  I worry about her.  I
don't want to lose her.
   Do I love her?  Yes, I do.  We've been friends since we were six.
I can't say that I haven't had my fantasies about what it would be
like if we were more, but I can't focus on that.  Not until she's out.
   Time to make a difference....

Next: Silver Arrow ... SIZZLED!

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