by Dan Swanson
Excerpt from The SuperYou Player’s Handbook:
Breakneck, the Speed Freak
Breakneck used to be an ordinary man named Jack Flash, who had a job as a garbage collector, driving a garbage truck in Buffalo, New York. Unfortunately, he often drank on the job, and one day he lost control of his truck and ended up crashing into a power station. Tons of garbage spilled out of the truck, burying Jack within seconds. At the same time, the garbage pile was electrified by the mangled transformers. Somehow, the freak combination of high voltage and the unknown chemicals in the garbage heap miraculously granted Jack super-speed.
Calling himself Breakneck, Jack used his super-speed to become a highly successful thief. Eventually he encountered Mainline, a lady with similar powers to his own, though he never did find out her origin. Unfortunately for both of them, Adamant was recruiting an army of super-powered villains to take over the world, and he wanted them in this army. They refused, thinking that they could simply run away, but they quickly learned that Adamant was as fast as they were, and much stronger. Adamant imprisoned Mainline and gave Breakneck a choice: join the Jailbirds and Legbreakers Assembly, or watch his girlfriend die. Breakneck joined the super-villain team without any further hesitation.
Default Powers: Ultra-Speed (3 points).
Additional Power Points: Pick any combination of powers from the restricted Super-Speed powers table that add up to 4 points.
Additional Powers This Game: Vibrational Control: passing through solid materials (2 points); Defying Gravity: running up walls and on top of water (2 points).
Breakneck must eat a lot and needs an hour of sleep for every two hours of super-speed. In addition to his normal sleep requirements, Breakneck also believes that Adamant holds his girlfriend Mainline captive, and will kill her if he doesn’t follow orders.
His fellow super-villains had just about ignored the Ghast’s incredible announcement regarding their reality. Within seconds, they had forgotten it, and they quickly came up with a plan to take over the world.
On their own Earth (Which never existed! he shouted in his thoughts) their Happy Harbor headquarters had been much too cramped. On this, their new world, Adamant the Abhorrent Android and Aquon the Terror of the Seas would create a new continent from which they would rule. Vanquish the Deadly Domina and F’ant O’mah the Lunarian Lawbreaker would capture the rulers of America, and Balefire the Pale Pukard, Breakneck the Speed Freak, and the Ghast the Ghostly Avenger would capture the leaders of all the world’s other countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. With all the world leaders under their control, the world would be theirs.
“There are heroes in this world…” the Ghast began, but Adamant cut him off.
“We destroyed the heroes in our own world; we will destroy the heroes in this world as well.”
“No! We didn’t!” But the Ghast didn’t get a chance to say it, as Adamant was talking again.
“Before accomplishing your missions, draw as many heroes to you as possible, and destroy them all!”
In their world, F’ant O’mah had become a super-villain because humanity had destroyed her homeworld of Luna, along with her entire race, in the Earth-Moon War, and she had vowed to take revenge on the human race. Aquon’s people had allied with the Lunarians and had likewise been destroyed in that same war. The Ghast himself had seen his parents gunned down by a policeman, and had devoted his entire life to revenge. Balefire and Breakneck had similar stories. But none of the things that caused them to hate and seek revenge had ever really happened.
Adamant was an android with no purpose other than destruction, and Vanquish a golem created to hate humans, so their behavior seemed reasonable. But for the others to continue their villainous behavior without even any thought to the alternative suggested that their motivation was due to the magic spell that had created them. So why was he different? Perhaps it was because of his innate sensitivity to magic; whatever the reason, he was determined that he would make his own decisions in this life, if he ever had a chance. Right now, he was being swept along by events that were out of his control.
Balefire’s magic flame flared brightly, and the Ghast and Breakneck were enclosed in a pale greenish-yellow bubble, and they were off to New York. It only took a few minutes.
The Ghast realized that something else was wrong as soon as they landed and busted in the front door. This building was in the right place, and it looked like the United Nations Building, but there weren’t any crowds of tourists. The receptionist reacted quickly, hitting some kind of switch, and armor plating sealed all the doors and windows as an alarm started to blare. Beam weapons blasted them from hidden gun emplacements in the walls, to little effect. Breakneck was already moving at high speed, Balefire was protected by his magic flame, and the Ghast was dodging. He quickly figured out the blast pattern, clearly computer-generated, and started taking out the blasters one by one as he skipped and tumbled around the room. He wondered why he was doing so all alone, and realized that his teammates were occupied with live opponents.
A small army of costumed figures had materialized from concealed entrances. No, not costumes, they wore uniforms and carried weapons. But this security force, wasn’t likely to slow down his teammates. He took out the last blaster and kept watch for new threats as Balefire and Breakneck methodically tore their enemies apart.
That didn’t happen, however. These guards were much tougher than normal humans. A squadron was giving Balefire all he could handle. They had taken up positions in a circle around him, squatting behind shields and shooting him with several different types of weapons. He was surrounded by a greenish bubble, and wielding an energy whip that could pass through the bubble. When the whip hit a member of the security force, he would actually explode.
The Ghast realized that this small army was composed of androids, and that each time one was destroyed, another would move in to take its place. The androids, meanwhile, had discovered that if several of them concentrated their fire on small areas of the bubble, it would start to bow inward, and Balefire would have to break off his attack until he either moved or shored up the weak point. It was becoming a battle of attrition that Balefire would win, if he had enough power, and the androids couldn’t find more reinforcements.
That was, unless the balance of power in this encounter was changed.
Breakneck was having better luck with the group of androids attacking him. They couldn’t match his speed, but they had some unique weapons that the Ghast had never seen employed before. (Of course not! I’d never seen anything until a couple of hours ago. Still, I do have a lot of memories, phony or not, and I’ve never seen anything like this.) These weapons were clearly designed for use against opponents who had super-speed, and just as clearly they were not designed for a menace as fast as Breakneck.
The androids were shooting projectiles that burst and released a quickly spreading glue. Breakneck was unable to avoid the first such puddle of glue, and he jarred to a halt, seemingly stuck fast. Then he began to vibrate, and the glue on his feet was shattered into harmless molecules. Meanwhile, he had been blasted with more projectiles, which released a variety of different kind of nets, ropes, wires, and even some kind of energy nets. As he changed the frequency of his vibrations, each of these nets simply passed through him, and he was free again. The android squad had surrounded itself with an energy field, but Breakneck sped up his vibrations again and passed right through the barrier — and then, in less than a second, he had ripped them all apart.
By the time he turned to help his teammates, it was already over. The Ghast had realized that these androids were being controlled remotely, analyzed the radio frequencies in use, and improvised a jamming device from his JLA communicator. It wasn’t one-hundred percent effective, but it interfered with the control signals enough that Balefire was easily able to disable the rest of the squad. Within seconds of the alarm, the fight was over, with twenty-four concealed blasters put out of service, and almost fifty android warriors completely destroyed.
Still, they were only in the waiting room. And this building was obviously not the headquarters of the United Nations.
Red Rocket, Lady Victory, and Elastique hurried into the security center in time to witness the devastation of the Super Squad’s security forces on various monitors. The security center was filled with men and women sitting in android control cockpits. Each cockpit was equipped with a video monitor, the android pilots all wore headsets, and the androids were controlled by joysticks, pedals, and a big control panel with a lot of switches.
During the fight, the pilots had all been extremely active, but one by one they pulled back from their controls and started shutting things down, then started preparing for something they had never believed possible: evacuation.
Rocket’s face showed shock and awe. “I wish our big guns were here for this one!” he whispered. He yelled to the radio operator, “Get Master Man or Shiva or Kali back here as soon as possible!” Then he turned to Lady Victory and Elastique. “Well, it looks like we’re gonna have to hold the fort until reinforcements arrive!”
“Hold on, boss! Those guys didn’t get all our droids!” The heroes turned to find four droid pilots dropping into new cockpits, while the speaker was climbing into some kind of weird contraption against the wall of the room. He continued, “Might be a good time to battle test the new telepresence droid, eh?”
The contraption looked somewhat like a giant cubical clothes dryer, ten feet on each side, and instead of a cylindrical drum, the door opened onto a central cavity that was human-shaped. When the door was closed, Will Higgins, the most senior droid pilot, would be encased in a form-fitting cocoon, suspended inside the cube.
While current generation security droids were controlled by joysticks, pedals and switches, the telepresence prototype mimicked the movements of the pilot inside the suspended cocoon. Artificial sensory information was sent back to the pilot. Being in the cocoon was almost like becoming the droid. But it was only a prototype. On the other hand, they would need all the help they could get. Higgins knew what he was getting into.
“You got any hours in that thing?” Rocket asked. “If you foul up in this fight, it could get someone killed.”
“Two-hundred-plus hours already, boss, and I can take any six of the older models! The guys are already calling me ‘Super Squaddie’!” There was a coughing fit from the other four pilots, and Higgins shrugged sheepishly. “Oops, slight exaggeration! I can’t quite take the ‘Four Aces’ here — yet!” He pointed to four other pilots. “Sorry, guys!”
Kim Brand, one of those Four Aces, turned from her monitor and spoke quickly. “We’re the Reserves, boss! We’re bringing the four training droids in from the lab now. Dr. Jennings souped ’em up real good, so we can give Superdupe, here, a good workout in training. We’ll keep those crumbs busy till you guys join the party!” She turned back to her controls. “Engaging in three… two… one… now!” Monitors showed five new androids enter the foyer through sliding panels in the walls. Kim and her fellows in the Super Squad Civilian Reserves were suddenly very busy.
“Just great!” Lady Victory said with a grin. “Going into battle with Super Squaddie and the Four Aces!” The three heroes slid through a sally port and joined the latest battle, already in progress.
The director of security for the Super Squad, Alex Waverley, had already notified New York City authorities, and the surrounding areas were being rapidly evacuated. Mayor Wagner had furiously and famously demanded that Super Squad Headquarters be out of New York, “Before New Year’s Day, or I’ll condemn and raze the building, with you in it!” And then he resignedly ordered the city to follow the by-now-familiar evacuation routine. Hosting the headquarters of a super-hero team improved tourism, but it also saddled the city with unacceptable liabilities.
The Super Squad Headquarters foyer was a large room about the size of a ballroom, elegantly furnished, employing furniture arrangements and movable screens to break up the large open room into smaller, more intimate areas. The furniture and screens could be quickly removed or rearranged to configure the room for receptions, press conferences, charity events, and the like.
Or, at least, that was how it had looked only a few minutes ago. Now the furniture was smashed, the screens torn to shreds, and scattered throughout the wreckage were smoking android body parts. As five more androids battled the three villains, the rubble of the former furnishings was being further reduced. So far, the marvellium walls of the room had contained the battle, but for how long?
Security Force Tactical Commander Will Higgins had to make some tough decisions, fast. The heroes would be here in about a minute, but his squad had to survive those few seconds and beyond. The guy in the gray suit was the most dangerous to the droids; this group used different radio frequencies than the others had, but if they were jammed, too, their droids would instantly become just more smoking body parts.
“Kim! You take the human candle over there!” He pointed out the pale green flame surrounding Balefire. “Tommy, Rosie and John, you guys take the bat guy and take out his radio!” In his gray costume and ribbed cape, the Ghast did somewhat resemble a giant bat.
Will’s mates were already attacking. He expected that he and Kim, his two best fighters, might be quickly overwhelmed by their two powerful foes, but maybe they could hold them off until the others were able to disable the Ghast’s radio.
“I’ve got yellow streak!”
Or, yellow streak had him, more like it. He lunged at the blurred figure, and his android body was immediately pummeled by an invisible barrage of blows, though in his cradle it felt more like a heavy wind blowing against his chest and head. Sure is nice being nearly invulnerable! Will thought. He mentally triggered the release of knockout fog from a nozzle built into his belt, and the cloud momentarily slowed Breakneck, who quickly waved his arms at high speed to disperse it.
Will dived at Breakneck’s legs in a rolling block, but Breakneck stepped aside and kicked him, and he rolled until he smashed into the wall. He was actually stationary in his cradle, but the visual of the room surging and swinging around him while he wasn’t moving was a little disorienting. He closed his eyes for an instant to recover, and triggered the surge weapon that electrified the droid’s skin. Even Breakneck wasn’t faster than electricity, and he was jolted backward when he unleashed his next barrage of punches.
Kim sprinted toward Balefire. With computer assistance, the droids could sprint very fast. She dived through the air to make a nasty tackle, planning to spear her opponent in the stomach with her head. She smashed into the pale green shield surrounding him, knocking it backward a foot or so as she slid to the floor. She hit the switch that called the I’ve fallen and I need to get up subroutine, and her droid climbed quickly to its feet, and she strode forward again to pound on the shield. Balefire lashed at her with his energy whip. She tried to grab it, but even with the souped-up model, her control wasn’t fine enough. The whip lashed her hand — and cut off two fingers.
She was on the verge of shock when her training kicked in. Not my hand! she mentally shouted at herself, holding back the shock reaction with all the focused power of her trained mind. The droid, not me! In their intense concentration, the android pilots sometimes got lost in their droids, which could be dangerous when the droids were damaged during a battle.
Pointing at Balefire with both arms, she clenched her fists and started battering him with her own energy blasts. Her heat-blast had no visible effect, so she quickly switched to cold, encasing his own energy-shield in a solid block of ice. Or maybe not so solid, as it seemed to be melting as fast as she could create it.
Suddenly, she found herself surrounded in a green bubble, which started to shrink as he tried to crush her. Before she switched off her cold blast, the water vapor in the bubble turned to ice, and she decided to make use of it. She began radiating intense heat from her entire android body, and the ice immediately sublimated into steam. The pressure in the bubble instantly rose tremendously, and the bubble burst with a powerful explosion.
The shock when his energy construct was so violently destroyed staggered Balefire, and Kim returned to her relentless attack.
Tommy and Rosie flew toward the Ghast, separating to come at him from either side. With John’s eight-foot-high, four-foot-wide body directly in front of him, and his back against one of the marvellium walls, the villain appeared to be trapped. He pulled a pellet from his utility belt and dashed it to the floor, and was immediately surrounded by a dense black smoke. The droid operators switched to infrared vision, but it didn’t help — this smoke was opaque in all of their vision ranges. But the Ghast was able to navigate using ultrasonic echolocation, and as his opponents groped in the dark, he slipped away.
Back in the control room, Rosie snapped her eyes from her droid’s monitor, slapped a couple of switches on an auxiliary control panel, then turned her attention back to the monitor. Powerful ventilation fans roared momentarily to life, and the smoke cleared. John reached out and grabbed the villain’s cape as he tried to slip away. The Ghast hit some kind of quick release mechanism, and his cowl and cape slipped free. John threw the cowl to the floor and stepped on it, grinding his foot and destroying the radio concealed inside.
“Will, the radio is history!” Tommy yelled.
“Rosie, to me! John, with Kim. Tommy, you stay with the bat!” Will responded instantly. “Let’s take ’em out before the heroes get here!” he added, exultation in his voice that they had already accomplished his first objective. Now, with the threat of jamming removed, he thought they might be able to put up a pretty good showing even without the heroes.