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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    "Um, well..." Megastar glances around to make sure nobody is listening to your conversation. "OK. So, I was out camping last summer, right? Upstate, with my folks and a couple of friends. And I'm off on my own in the woods, trying to relax, cause I needed some time without my parents arguing nonstop two feet from my ears all day. Anyway, off in the woods, and up in the sky I see this little bright spark moving around, like a shooting star. The thing gets bigger and bigger, and I realize, you know, holy ****, it's a spaceship! And not only that, it's on fire and all beaten up. The ship comes barreling out of the sky and crashes on the far side of this little lake. I go running over there as fast as I can, and oh, it was bad. The ship was, well, it wasn't much of a ship anymore, and there was wreckage everywhere, and it was all on fire. Three of the crew were dead, but there was a survivor. He was torn up, but he'd propped himself up against a tree away from the crash. They were some of the Lor, you know, those friendly aliens who were on the news all the time a couple years back?"

    You do indeed remember. The Lor are an exotic, but humanoid interstellar species who have had limited contact with Earth for decades, usually keeping their hands off as they see the planet as a "developing world", not yet ready to join the galactic society. Two years ago, Earth was on the receiving end of an invasion from the brutish, hive-minded Grue. The Lor brought the force of their military down on the invaders, helping Earth's heroes send the suddenly outgunned Grue fleeing for their lives. Since then, the Lor have been more active and friendly towards Earth, maintaining an embassy at the UN.

    "When he saw me, he waves me over, and tells me 'Keep it safe. Take it, keep it safe from...'. He didn't get to finish, he was pretty far gone. Anyway, he had this little box with him, and so I pick it up, because this must be the thing that needs protecting, right? I'm already freaking out pretty badly because I'm standing in the middle of an alien crash site, you know? It doesn't really help things when this silvery... stuff starts flowing out of the cracks in this box and starts covering my body! I just lose it, I'm screaming, running around the woods, trying to get this stuff off, and I can't, and every time I touch it it spreads more. I end up covered by it, head to toe, even under clothes and shoes, even over my eyes and mouth! But the thing was, I could still see, still breathe. I would have been fine if I could actually calm down. Which made it kind of stupid that I ran right into a Grue shock net, now that I look back."

    "That's who had damaged the Lor ship and made them crash land. I don't know how they got there so fast, they must have been right behind the Lor, but they were after this box, or the stuff from the box, anyway. I think I'm about to die, when I hear this voice in my head all of sudden: 'Partially online, awaiting full reboot and unification. Physical protections at 65% efficiency. Options: Offensive return fire or device nullification and energy absorption?'"

    Chris waves his hands around enthusiastically as he tells his tale. It's obvious that he doesn't get to tell this story very often. "It turns out 'Offensive return fire' means 'Wicked awesome energy blasts from your hands!' The Grue were not expecting that, I can tell you, and they got out of there in a hurry. So, now, I'm safe, and I've got this alien stuff all over me that gives me superpowers. It took a while to figure things out, but I knew right away that I wanted to be a superhero. I spent a couple of weeks learning what this stuff was and what it could do. I can't really show you, not here, but when I don't look, um, like this, Meg looks just a tattoo on my upper arm. It's awesome, but also pretty inconspicuous when she's gotta be."

    "I can't even pronounce her real name, but in English it translates to, um, oh jeez, wait..." "Metamorphic Encephalic Guidance and Attack Suspension, Christopher." A soothing, but slightly mechanical feminine voice pipes up out of nowhere. Chris doesn't seem disturbed by this at all. "Right, right, which is a mouthful and a half. Even she usually calls herself M.E.G.A.S., but I use Meg. She doesn't seem to mind."

    "Anyway, the next part I already told you. It's like a month later, and I'm bumbling around, being the world's worst superhero, when the Raven swoops down. Once she's convinced that I'm not the world's worst supervillain, we have an extremely intimidating conversation, and she gives me that line about pulling strings. Next thing I know, bam! Claremont Academy."

    "Anyway, when I was at school, we had a visit from a Lor ambassador, and he explained a little about Meg. I guess she's not actually a Lor device. She's way older, an artifact they found, something they want to study, but the thing is, she bonds to a person for life. I get her AI and these powers for as long as I'm alive, or as long as I want them, which is pretty cool. The Lor actually seemed a bit miffed. I think he was pissed that she picked a 'lowly human' to bond to. Not like there was a choice, but still."

    "Anyway, that's my story." He grins. "What's yours? I mean, if it's OK to ask, that is? Where does one sign up to become an awesome 8-foot-tall sharkman?"
    Last edited by ripleycat; 2012-04-04 at 11:27 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Sharkguard keeps an eye out for possible listeners as Megastar tells his origin. The shark-man didn't take any sort of interruption the exposition but kept his thoughts circling in his mind during it. It was amazing how coincidences happen; Chris' meeting with the Lor came almost seemingly by pure luck, much in the way how Sharkguard came into his own transformation... Possibly. "Aye. I do remember the Lor. I'm still grateful for their assistance way back then." He then smirks and gives a quiet chuckle. "Not to say that I couldn't handle the Grue myself." That was his confidence talking. He continues to listen to Chris and his story. He remembers his own sort-of-origin quite well, trying to draw whatever parallels he can between his own and the teen's past.

    He smiles as he sees Chris begin to get very enthusiastic about telling his past. It was good to know one doesn't regret how they came to be today, especially the younger kind like Megastar. The talk of energy blasts must have been a heck of a blast to use. "M.E.G.A.S? Interesting acronym. So the Lor have no sort of info on her at all? Does she even know some things about herself before being found by the Lor?" It seemed a bit weird how Chris got an alien superweapon from a race that also picked it up from somewhere else. Still it was so much better that he got it than a hostile alien race such as the Grue.

    What surprised him was how the Lor seemed unhappy with how M.E.G.A.S. bonded herself to Chris. "What, they got no confidence in a human with such an item? You'd think after seeing the city for a couple months one would realize the potential of this place, aye?" If it were up to Sharkguard, he'd tell the Lor to show the kid the ways of the cosmic universe. The shark-man places his hand on Megastar's shoulder. "Well, either way I suggest you keep up with your duty. This power; your bonded friend, Meg; I think you both have potential greater than any human-born hero here." He gives a glaring wink to the teen. "You promise me that you'll explore the stars as a cosmic savior when I grow too old to keep this work up, aye?" What was great about being old are the expectations he could tell the younger generation about, even if it also added on pressure.

    "So, yarr be wantin' to know 'bout my origin?" He switches back to his pirate/sailor accent, deciding that if he were to explain his past, he'd make it an enjoyable, possibly hammy, time during it. "Gotta say it was a literal sign-up. But that ain't ta main course. Get comfortable now..." He waits for a possible response from Megastar, in addition to a possible response from everything else the shark-man had asked/talked about earlier.
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    "Hey, thanks, Shakguard. Seriously. That really does mean a lot coming from someone like you. I'll try my best." Chris beams so wide you can practically see him blush under the silver suit.

    "Well, they must have some info. I mean, they had the artifact, so they must know something. I haven't heard much about that from them, they're pretty tight-lipped, and mostly ignore me, or treat me like any other hero." Megastar shrugs.

    "Thing is, Meg's not just some device the Lor picked up from someone else. She's ancient, like tens-of-thousands of years old, created before human civilization old, so there's a lot that's a mystery to them."

    "We had a Lor archaeologist come talk at the Academy last fall. Actually a pretty nice guy. Got to talk to him a little bit after his presentation. Apparently, the race that made her doesn't even exist anymore. Nobody knows exactly what happened to them. The Lor and human scientists have all sorts of theories, you know, war, plague, something like that, who knows? This guy though perhaps they'd um, 'transcended this plane of existence,' that they'd actually become so advanced they'd moved on and don't bother with us anymore."

    "I don't know if I buy any of that, but they do know these ancient dudes were super-advanced. Like, they built stuff the Lor can't even do today. And they left ruins and artifacts all over the galaxy. They've even found some here! Down in southern Africa somewhere, I think. They were way into science, and did experiments wherever they went, and they went everywhere, so their artifacts are really valuable. I'm making it sound a lot simpler than he did. They don't know much at all, most of my info comes from Meg. Hey, what are the guys who made you called again? I feel stupid calling them 'ancient dudes.'"

    "It requires two tongues to pronounce properly. In English, though, the closest translation for what my creators called themselves would be... Collectors. Or perhaps Preservers. Yes. Preservers is the more accurate term."

    "Thanks, Meg." Megastar does an exaggerated "getting comfortable" stretch and grins. "So, now I get to hear your story, right? You actually signed up for... this? That's pretty wild. How the heck did that work?"

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    "Hmm, interesting," Sharkguard responds to the teen. The Lor did seem a bit secretive about everything cosmic in the universe. The shark-man is rather annoyed by it. He thinks that humanity, and Earth as a whole, is ready to learn more about the galaxy they existed in. Earth has been touched by outside forces from space many times, in many ways. Sharkguard is sure that those of Earth, himself included, can handle whatever cosmic forces can after them... If he could, Sharkguard would show those Lor that humans are ready, but even if they are friendly, the Lor were a bit... Arrogant, especially to the shark-man. (possibly of his own arrogance) If there would be any progress to humanity moving to space, it wouldn't likely be soon... But it will eventually happen.

    So then Sharkguard got to his own origin; being much older, he didn't need to describe the whole thing so he kept it as minimal as he could... Or as minimal as he wanted to. "Aye, it was indeed a sign-up, not in ta way yarr expect though." He wondered what the teen was expecting; he could have thought that the shark-man was some sort of space pirate, or a mutated creature from eldritch locations, or a centuries old sailor of Earth's seas. It wasn't going to be like that however. "Well yarr be surprised that I was once human, and ain't from this city. Ever hear of the city to the north, Portfall?" The name came from how it was famous for it's sealife profits and it's ports... And a mysterious accident that hit the city years ago.

    "I was once the captain of the sailors. Biggest dang sailor yarr ever seen." If he was going to tell his story, he'd make the most of it. "Been known for my strength and courage, so I got a little offer from a company called Aquo-Sign, an organization focused on the research of aquatic species." Sharkguard remembers how they had been known to improve sealife and the quality of the ocean. Profits for the fish and quantity of clean water, among other positive benefits, wouldn't be the same without Aquo-Sign. "They wanted me as an... Experiment; wanting me to see if I could become a crime-fightin' hero. Naturally I accepted, power was something I enjoy to be honest." Sharkguard's brave face slowly lowered. "As it turned out though, experiments don't always show results. Despite the best of efforts, there weren't any sort of noticeable changes in me. For all we knew, nothing had changed. A waste of time."

    Sharkguard took a look outside, seeing if Johnny was coming back, then moved back to Megastar. "Course after all that buildup, I wouldn't simply go back to life as it was before. Powers or not, I went to crime-fightin' myself. Put on a shark costume, gave myself ta name Sharkguard, and gave the role a shot." He looks to his first aid kit he always brought with him. "Superhero work as a human however wasn't like fighting as I am now. I carry this for aid, both for myself, and for others. Nowadays these don't see their bandages on me, but I keep it just in case. 'Sides, my boisterous attitude helped out more than I can remember." He stretches his neck a bit. "Played ta role well for decades, then I retired after Portfall calmed down from crime."

    Sharkguard smiles now, he knew he was getting to the best part. "But it seems that nature decided I wasn't done yet. 'Bout a year later, there was this... Storm that hit Portfall; a magical, or scientifically magical, force that drove through the city. Can't describe it's looks in any way other than a glass-clear storm of winds and thunder. Turned out I was right in ta middle of it. Felt like an eternity before it passed... And when it ended," He spreads his arms out proudly, "I became what I am now. Hell of a time that ain't gonna be forgotten." he waits for a response from Megastar before the shark-man crossed his arms again. "Despite what happened, Portfall wasn't as beat up as you think. That and my sudden change, which as yarr see is easily noticeable, made it a bit difficult to stay. So I took off, went south through the seas to find a place more suiting for me."

    He looks outside once more. "And that's how I got here," he tells Chris, at the end of his little story. "Once I got into Freedom City, yarr know the rest, aye?" Sharkguard had hoped that the teen enjoyed the tale, even if it may not be what Megastar expected.
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Megastar listened raptly to your tale. "Yeah, I've heard of Portfall. Got a cousin who lives near there. You were a regular human? Really? I- wow, for some reason, I'd always thought you were... well, a mutant."

    "Wait, you were a superhero even without these powers? Cool!" Chris seems genuinely impressed by the revelation, almost as much as he is by the tale of the storm that transformed you into your current form. "Are you sure what the Aquo-Sign researchers were doing to you was actually science? I mean, how would a magic event trigger a scientific change? Have you ever asked anyone about that crazy storm? I mean, like, a mage, or someone like that? There's a girl at Claremont, a witch, calls herself Seven, she might know someone who could tell you more about it."

    About half a minute later, Johnny comes zipping back across the park with a large plastic-covered tray in tow. "Hey fellas, lunch is served! Sorry it took so long, there was a line." Johnny sets the elaborate collection of sushi down on a nearby table. "And you owe me..." He takes a receipt out of his pocket and glances at it. "$35.21. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?"

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Sharkguard was glad that Megastar was impressed, even if he might not have been static. "Aye, I was indeed a superhero before getting powers. You wouldn't believe how different it was. I can't fight with brute force like here. I stuck with skill and sneak attacks, my costume helping me absorb what damage I did take." He points to his first aid kit, "Again, this was incredibly useful back then. At the least, I keep it as a good luck charm." On the subject of Aquo-Sign's experiments, Sharkguard thinks to himself for a moment before saying, "Could be a possibility. It's fuzzy nowadays but I remember those experiments involving tubes, something sharp, and some headache-inducing things..." Definitely not clear at all. "I don't think my eyes were working then, so guess I didn't really know. If you can get a meeting with Seven for me, I'd appreciate it." Sharkguard gives another toothy, happy smile. "Promise you won't tell too many others about my past. I prefer keeping it secret."

    Just then Sharkguard notices Johnny coming in. "Ah! Was wondering about the wait. Thanks for being able to deliver." He puts a hand on Johnny's shoulder before beginning to dig into the sushi. "I'll pay you once this fundraiser is done." Sharkguard usually was able to keep his word, at least better than he does with Alyssa. "As for what happened... Well me and Megastar here discussed about each others origins. Yarr remember the time we discussed both of ours long ago too, aye?"
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    "Hey, sure, no problem. Like I said, I know you're good for it." Johnny nods, then grabs a piece of sushi with a grin. "Finder's fee."

    "Ah, so you two got to trading origin stories, eh? Fun times. Yeah, I remember when you told me. You've got a good one, Sharkguard. Mine's not a story I really like telling. There isn't much that's entertaining about attempted murder, you know?"

    Megastar also comes over and picks up a few pieces from the tray. "Ooh, California roll. Nice. Hold up, Johnny. Attempted murder? I thought you just inherited your powers. Wasn't your grandpa the original Johnny Rocket, back in the '40s or whatever?"

    Johnny sighs and nods glumly, realizing he's going to have to tell his tale anyway. "Yeah, he was. Great hero, but in the fifties, he decided to retire, settle down, raise a family, all that. My dad didn't inherit his abilities, which was just fine with grandad. I did, but I didn't know it until..."

    "OK, so this is about 15 years ago. I'm your age, Megastar, Jesus, that makes me feel old... Anyway, back when my gramps was Johnny Rocket, he fought a group of villains called the TNTrio. Corny, yeah, but they weren't a joke. Nasty gangsters who got their name from blowing up shops that didn't pay their protection money. He won, though, put 'em away for decades. Thing was, the last of them, rat-faced guy by the name of Sonny Farris, got out of jail, and started gunning for my grandfather again. He found him, or rather, he found us, I was there. Pulled a shotgun, tried to blow us away. Gramps hadn't used his powers for years at that point, but he was still fast enough to push me out of the way."

    "He got the worst of it though. Seeing him all torn up like that, and the stress and trauma, it triggered something in me. Next thing I know, I'm racing through the streets of the city, faster than a jet fighter! That first time, man, nothing's ever felt like that since. Got my granddad to the hospital in record time, and went back and beat the tar out of Farris. Ever since then, path's been pretty clear. I'm a superhero!"

    He steals another sushi piece. "Great, now you've got me in storytelling mode too, Sharkguard. So I've got two for you. Who's the toughest villain you've ever fought, and who's the cheesiest? Those big scary world-breakers are one thing, but the villain ranks seem to attract a lot of total losers, too. Who ya got?"

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Sharkguard's eating slowed down as Johnny had begun to mention about his own past. The shark-man remembers well about the last time they talked about origins, and Johnny's was no fun. "...Aye, fun times indeed," Sharkguard says in a deadpan tone indicating his sentence was simply harsh sarcasm. "Fifteen years since then... I'm amazed how far you've come since then." With age comes wisdom and experience, Sharkguard knew that for a fact... Mostly. "I remember the TNTrio. They really thought a few dozen tons of dynamite would blow me up." He laughed in excitement. "Hah, well they were well beyond wrong there." Sharkguard remembers well most of the times he encountered seemingly life-threatening situations. Somehow it was surviving what was the absolute worst of punishment that is the most exhilarating to the shark-man.

    "Toughest yarr say?" Sharkguard tries to recall the times he's faced a "tough" supervillain and not in the hard-to-injure way, he's faced enough of those. Most of the time Sharkguard's challenges involve the danger that those around him are in, not himself. However... "I gotta say, of them all, Gravitina has always been the worst." He did not like that name, and for good reason. "You remember her Johnny? The one that manipulates gravity on a whim, can throw almost anything with it; cars, trucks, buildings... Myself..." One of the most frustrating things Sharkguard had about the gravity-using woman was that battles usually, if not always, ended in incredible amounts of destruction; no small part in Sharkguard being used like a ragdoll when she gets the chance. "Blasted witch makes it difficult to freely move, much less get a hit on. You always fare better than I do," she says to Johnny. "If she wasn't constantly at odds with the Psion family, I'd hate to see what she'd do in her spare time."

    Sharkguard waits for Megastar to speak before moving to the topic about corny villains. "Well, now here's a literal example I got! I remember this corn field, and I ain't kidding, a corn field, that came to life and mutated through out-of-control science!" He checks to see the expression on Megastar's and Johnny's faces before continuing. "Now he's some hideous man-corn creature known as Mister Maize, who's goal is, in his own words," Sharkguard does his best to copy Maize's 'extraordinary accent," "Three mai enshaved corn brothas prom da typhany of inthrustry!" The shark-man almost cracked up over the impossibly poor English words that the corn-man 'spoke' of. "And if you thought that was bad to listen to, wait till you see him. He never shuts up! You could almost call laughter one of his weapons." And it was probably the only weapon Mister Maize had, as Sharkguard trounces him thoroughly the time they met before.

    Spoiler
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    Many thanks to kpenguin for the idea of Mister Maize
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-04-09 at 12:51 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Both of the other heroes wince at the mention of Gravitina. "Oh God, her. Last time she came to town I got a building dropped on me." "It was an oil truck for me. That fireball was not fun to outrun. I only have it easier with her until she notices me. Then I get to fight my way though those damn mass fields."

    "For my money, the worst is Madame Zero, that damn ice controller."

    "Don't like getting cold feet, Johnny?"


    "You wouldn't laugh if you'd fought her. It's not just beating her, it's all the collateral damage and the clean up and just... rrrrgh. And yes, I hate running on ice, that is part of it. What about you, hotshot? You've had so much experience, after all. Who's yours?"


    "Sandstone. Remember her? The rock mutant? That fight took forever. You can't hurt her, she just re-forms! The cheesiest, though, that's easy. Dart-Master."

    "You had to fight Dart-Master? I'm so sorry. He likes to focus on me most of the time. Thinks he's my 'arch-enemy', of course. Him and his stupid 'trick darts.' Ugh. Because being good at a pub game means you've got the chops to be a supervillain. Stupid, stupid man."



    Megastar loses it when you begin describing Mister Maize. Johnny simply facepalms. "A... cornfield? Are you serious? You're not making that up?" "No, unfortunately, he's not. I've seen him on the news. You win, Sharkguard. I can't top that."

    Spoiler
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    Mister Maize is brilliant. Consider it a given that you will encounter both of these guys by story's end.

    Also, I have no structure here, so we can do this as long as you want, until you're ready to move on to the events again.

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Sharkguard kept eating sushi as he listens to what the other two had to say. "Bah. You two were lucky with that woman. She could have dropped me on either of you at maximum velocity." Sharkguard's own innate toughness made him better used by villains as an object than throwing objects at him. "Daedalus is still trying to figure out how to boost his armor's blunt resilience since that time..." Boy was that a terrible reminder of an event for Sharkguard. Made him wish he could fly at times.

    On the subject of other villains, Sharkguard smiles at the ones they mention. "Ah Johnny, yarr just haven't been at sea during the winter enough!" Sharkguard was more suited to ice than other heroes. And while the collateral damage was definitely a pain to clear up, it was better than having gravity forced against a being who's tougher than super-alloy. "And hey, I liked fighting Sandstone! Hadn't found a foe who could go toe-to-toe for so long before. Some of the best eight hours of my life I had against her, haha!" Inside Sharkguard had hoped that he didn't bring down Megastar's spirit saying that.

    "Dart-Master?" Interestingly, Sharkguard had never fought against that "villain" before. "I've heard of him a lot, but I ain't seen him in person. Either he's scared of me or he really focuses on you all the time Johnny." He gives off a low chuckle as he sees Johnny's and Megastar's reaction to Maize. "Aye. Both of you should let me know if either of you encounter him. It's not something you will forget, trust me." He finishes his share of sushi before turning to Johnny again. "I don't really care if you can't top the corniest guy I fought, I wanna know about the corniest you took on that wasn't Dart-Master." The speedster technically didn't answer that question yet.

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    I'm interested in going a bit further, at least one more post each after this one before we move on.

    And yes, Mister Maize is an awesome idea. I don't think anyone else but kpenguin (who I credit with the idea) could have come up with something as brilliant as that.
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  11. - Top - End - #101
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    "Oh, all right." Johnny and Chris search their memory banks for some real losers for a few moments, eventually huddling up as they discuss some of the sadder "super"-villains they've encountered.

    "What about Junkheap?"

    "'I am the spirit of the landfill! You will pay for your wasteful ways!' Yeah, that was pretty bad. Course, he's a good guy now, so does he really count?"

    "Technically, I guess not. Hmm. I know, the Orange Outlaw! I swear, the man stepped right off the pages of a comic book from 1960."

    "I've never fought him. Did have to repaint part of downtown after one of his stunts, though. You know, one who was kinda memorable... you remember Naughty Girl?"

    "Yeah, but I just think the way she vamps up is more annoying than cheesy. Plus, she never did anything for me, for obvious reasons."

    "Lucky. Her pheromones had me drooling all over myself in front of my friends. That was such a humiliating day. Hey, speaking of humiliating, the Dungeon Master!"

    "Ha, yes! And his magical dice! 'Behold the D20 of DOOM!' Oh God, so bad. Hey Sharkguard, were you active when he tried to turn the Hamilton St. Mall into 'The Temple of Elemental Evil?'"

    "How'd you beat him? His deathtraps are actually dangerous if you let him get set up."

    "He rolled a 1 on the final encounter."

    "Heh. Now, does cheesy automatically equal 'not dangerous'? Because I can think of a villain who takes both absurd and dangerous to really high levels."

    "Oh, you don't mean... and Sharkguard was off saving Atlantis, he never got to experience that disaster. That's the answer, right there!"


    They turn to you and proudly announce in unison "Tyrannosaurus Hex!"

    "The greatest magician saurian-kind has ever seen!"

    "By the Titanic Terrors of the Triassic, you will pay, puny mammals!"

    "Oh lord, and his wand! His wand and his dapper little top hat! Bahahahaha!"

    "I have never laughed so hard at something that was trying to kill me!"

    Johnny eventually stops laughing long enough to explain. "Oh God, I can't breathe. Tyrannosaurus Hex was exactly what the name implies. He's a dinosaur, from a dimension where they never died out. But he's also a supervillain in his home dimension, a sorcerer who dresses up as a 'stage magician.' I mean, that would be bad enough, but the thing is, he's a really bad stage magician. Part of me hopes he comes back, just so you can see it."

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    Depending on the plot and how bored I am, you may encounter any or all of these foes in your journeys. Yes, even the wizard dinosaur. You have been warned.

  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Sharkguard listened on the various other villains Megastar and Johnny mentioned of. All of these were a riot from the ones Sharkguard encountered beforehand. "Aye. Junkheap was quite the buffoon. I'm glad to see he knows better now. Can't say the same for most other villains." The many they encountered was surprising, but being a veteran superhero would do that. "I remember my time with Orange Outlaw. Didn't like that coat he blasted on me. Almost as bad as bruises." Orange definitely became a hated color for the shark-man after that. "Never 'met' Naughty Girl; not sure if I want her ire at any point." The Dungeon Master however was a very fun one. "I do remember that time with the Temple of Elemental Evil. He actually thought I'd be more concerned with the extreme heat and chill." He flashes back to a previous encounter. "And then there was the time he turned King's corporate building into Tomb of Horrors. Aside from the escorting of the workers, that was quite fun, throwing myself into all those traps." Sharkguard was always more focused on others rather than himself, and sometimes came to forget how he's holding up compared to everyone else.

    But then there was Tyrannosaurus Hex. Sharkguard was indeed saving Atlantis during that time, a place he enjoyed visiting when, or if, he ever had the time. "...A stage magician?" The idea of a creature in such an outfit was quite hard to believe... Among so much else. Sharkguard ended up chuckling so hard he couldn't control his accented laugh. "Yarhahahar! That really is something now. I do imagine he'd be back. Not really like most villains to give up after one failure, aye?" Sharkguard pounded his fists together like in preparation. "As fun as magic can be, I find no better weapon for myself than brute force." Brawn against brains, always a classic matchup; almost as fun (for Sharkguard) as brawn against brawn.

    Spoiler
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    For the record, I've got no idea which of these villains are in FC and which you made yourself. However most of them look like a blast, so I have considered myself warned.

    Anyway, ready to move onto the next scene after seeing if Chris or Johnny got anything else to say about Sharkguard's reactions.
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    "Well, you're built for brute force, that's for sure." Johnny quips.

    "Yeah, all three are here, we're good to go." A voice crackles into a walkie-talkie some distance behind you. A relieved-looking Joseph wanders up. "Hey there gents! This event's set to kick back off in about 10 minutes, so if there's anything you need to do, or any questions or concerns you've got for us, go ahead and do it now. Megastar, you're up next in the obstacle course, so good luck."

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    I'm fresh out of witty banter, so we'll go ahead and move on with a mini-post here.

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    As Joseph comes up in appearance to the three heroes, Sharkguard flashes his toothy grin again. "Glad ta hear it!" Sharkguard stands up as he sees the sushi finished. He had lost track of time as he chatted with Megastar and Johnny. He was all set for the next event. After Megastar's obstacle course would be his own and hopefully not one like Johnny's. "So," Sharkguard spoke up quickly to take advantage of the free time of questions. "So what will Megastar's obstacle course be like? In fact, what will my own be in terms of difference between Megastar and Johnny's?" He was excited to know how his course would go.
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    Joseph chuckles at the barrage of questions. "Well, I can't tell you everything, because the element of surprise is part of the challenge, after all, and also because I don't actually know what all the challenges are, but I can tell you a bit."

    "A couple of the obstacles are the same for all three of you. Part of the fun is seeing the different ways you deal with them, after all. Johnny's was all about speed and agility. Megastar's course involves some more aerial challenges, since he's quite the flier, and a strength-focused obstacle or two."

    "Yours, Sharkguard, has some more strength challenges and some puzzles, since, well, no offense, but with these guys around, nobody expects you to be the fastest one through. There's also some underwater obstacles, so you can show off those swimming skills of yours. One of the reasons we're doing this after lunch. Had to get the underwater cameras ready."

    "Is that enough of an answer, big guy?" Joseph asks, as Megastar waves to you and heads off to the starting line. "Like I said, I'm not up on all the particulars. The engineers were brainstorming ideas until the last minute. Hey, you two should grab a seat, enjoy the show. I gotta get back to the announcer's booth, get us started again."

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    Sharkguard listens with focus at Joseph's description of the courses he and Megastar will be taking. "Gotcha loud and clear sir!" The aerial challenge sounded like something more for fun than for a challenge. However considering Johnny's obstacle course, that kind of confidence, if the teen has any, wouldn't last for long. Sharkguard gently brushes his elbow against Megastar. "Flight shouldn't be an issue for you, aye? Gotta say I've always wondered what flying is like, but, heh, you know me; I'm a captain of the seas! Just be sure to make quite the show and I'll do the same." He winks at the teen as he begins his way out, hopefully with Johnny.

    The challenges of strength in a course designed to be fast would be something of interest; the puzzles even more so. Sharkguard was never known for being a genius, and rightfully so. If he could pull it off, Sharkguard could really express his brainpower here. Worst comes to worst he'll smash his way through, but challenging himself can be more fun anyway, to both him and the audience.

    First up however was Megastar. Sharkguard looked for a good spot to sit down at, one that will hopefully get a good look at the course. Sharkguard turns around to Johnny, who was hopefully following, and asks, "So, what is it like to move at implausible speeds for yourself?"
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    Johnny chuckles. "You know, it doesn't feel implausible when you're doing it. It doesn't feel weird to me, it's just something my body can do. It's strange. It's like... it doesn't feel like you are going fast, it feels like everything else is stuck in slow-motion. I've had to carry a few people while running, and some said it was terrifying, others thought it was awesome, so I don't know. One guy passed out."

    "Hey, if you ask nicely, maybe you can get Megastar to carry you around. Find out what flying and super-fast feel like all at once, eh?" Johnny teases. As if on cue, Joseph comes on over the PA.

    "Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. After a well-deserved break for them and a lot of hard work for our engineering crew, it's time for our heroes to get back into action. If you'll direct your attention to the starting line once again, it's time for none other than Claremont Academy's own Megastar to try his hand at our obstacle course. Now, you may notice quite a few changes to our course setup from earlier today when Johnny Rocket went blazing through a nest of tricks and traps. The course each of our heroes will face is mostly unique to them. After all, where's the fun in doing the same thing twice, and don't our heroes deserve a challenge tailored to their extraordinary skillsets?"

    The Assistant Coordinator is clearly enjoying this, and you half-expect him to break into an evil laugh after that. You note that if this job ever falls through, Joseph might have a future as a monologue writer for supervillains.

    Unlike Johnny's mostly closed-in, narrow run, the sections of the course have been opened up wider for Megastar. There are also a few places where the walls have been taken down and replaced with safety netting, allowing the crowd a better look without having to follow all the action on the cameras. Chris mugs for the cameras and crowd as he stands near the entrance to the course, looking cocky and confident.

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    I'll post his actual run tomorrow. I've got a nasty headache, but I didn't want to lose what I had done. Feel free to chime in if inspired.

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    Sharkguard tries to imagine super-speed as Johnny explained it. Moving at incredible speeds feels like time slowing down? Would make sense, but it does seem, in a way, like a terrifying lifestyle. "Well, seems easy to live with, but moving across huge areas like that sounds like it could take forever." He makes sure he wasn't attracting too much attention at this time. "I'd hate to try doing... Almost anything when time slows down to a crawl; that'd be too boring for me." Regardless of that, super-speed definitely sounded like a wonderful thing to have once one gets used to it and Johnny definitely had a ton of experience, just as Sharkguard had much experience with his strength.

    Sharkguard was going to respond to Johnny about the idea of having Megastar carry the shark-man, but Joseph's voice on the PA stopped the conversation. Sharkguard's attention turned to the course set up for Megastar. It was going to be interesting how a flying course would work. Of course the same would be for the shark-man's own course. He could only smirk quietly at Chris's cocky outlook. The teen had both incredible physical strength and tremendous flight speed; both would likely be at great use here.
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    The gun sounds, and Megastar is off and running, climbing up the ramp and using it as a convenient place to get airborne. The first room appears to be unchanged from Johnny's run, but that proves not to be the case. As Megastar passes through the doorway, he appears to trigger a sensor, as the poles shoot out of the walls again. This time, though, they are not set up as spears, but with substantial weights on the ends. They look like someone put sledgehammers jutting from the walls, and from the battering the teen takes, they hit like them too. He's knocked around the room like a pinball, a comparison the silver skin doesn't do anything to help. Standing up, he ducks under one of the "hammers", rips it from the wall, and uses it to simply smash his way though to the end of the room, where he takes flight again, out into one of the open-air sections.

    From your vantage point, it seems to be a simple, if challenging speed/agility test, a series of hoops on poles, set high in the air. They form a pattern that looks a bit like a roller-coaster, with loops and twists and and loop-de-loops, folding back on itself several times. Megastar regains his cocky grin and shoots off through the course at blinding speed. As soon as he passes through the first hoop, though, the last loop promptly bursts into flame, followed by the others, progressing quickly towards him as he travels towards them. On the screen, you can see his eyes go wide as the simple test becomes a flaming tunnel, but the grin returns as well, and he actually speeds up, rocketing through the course so fast the wind blows out the flames behind him.

    Megastar actually causes a sonic boom as he shoots out of the hoops and arcs back down into the next area, a wide tunnel with sturdy metal walls, including one that blocks him off from the end of the course up ahead. There's little here that looks suspicious, but that's proven not to mean a thing on this course so far. On the screen, you see him encounter a Chris skids to a halt, looking puzzled. There really isn't anything here, and if it weren't set up in the middle of a park for charity, you'd be sure it was a dead end.

    That's when a panel slams shut behind Megastar, and the walls start closing in. "Oh, come on! That's cheap!" You hear him complain, though he seems more angry at himself for actually getting caught in the oldest, most cliched supervillain trap in the world than anything. He cranes his head, as if listening to someone talk. Meg must be offering her opinion on the situation. Dashing back to the entrance, he jumps up and shoots down the rapidly narrowing hallway at his full speed, lowering his shoulder with a yell and striking the barrier with a force that might have knocked you out of the ring, if he'd been allowed to do it during your fight. The steel door gets turned to scrap as the teen smashes through to thunderous applause, his momentum carrying him, half flying and half stumbling, over the finish line. He finishes with flair, though, regaining his balance and doing an impressive flip into the air. "Woo! That's right, can't stop me!"

    "No we couldn't! Megastar got knocked around a bit, nearly squished and almost set on fire, but that's just a slow afternoon for one of our fair city's great protectors. The second run, completed in spectacular fashion by Megastar. Let's hear it for him, folks!"

    Once the cheers have subsided a bit, he joins you and Johnny. "Well, how'd I look? I still can't believe I fell for that stupid wall-crushing deathtrap. That's like the first thing they teach you at Claremont."

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    Sharkguard gets comfortable as Megastar begins his runthrough of the obstacle course. The first trap featuring the sledgehammers almost made the shark-man wince slightly as the teen gets bounced around quite a bit. He later however smiles as Megastar smashes his way through with the sledgehammer Thinking just how I'd get past it, Sharkguard thinks to himself. From there the course changes to the roller coaster-like structure of hoops as he watches the teen fly through them in an enjoyable display of agility and maneuverability. Even when the flames came, watching Megastar fly through them in a confident mood really reminded Sharkguard of the potential the teen has.

    Once the unbelievably cliched "wall-crushing" trap comes in, Sharkguard held back from chuckling. He had been in such traps before, intentionally even, so he knew what it was like for Megastar to fall for it... Perhaps. Regardless however, plowing literally through it was something the shark-man bravely clapped his hands as a show of congratulations. Once things quiet down. He takes a moment to go over Megastar's situation in the course before responding with, "That was a heck of a time you must have had, especially with the flaming rings!" Sharkguard was betting he'd encounter flaming rings in his course... Underwater... Somehow.

    On the subject of the cliched trap, Sharkguard only could chuckle quietly. "Hah! Actually you'd be surprised at how often one can fall for it. It depends on how you do things." He winks at the teen. "I myself never really bother avoiding such traps, especially when time is of importance. And after all it's another thing to test my strength on!" Sharkguard could probably expect the works for his own obstacle course... Except flying. "I'm guessing such a deathtrap was your first time out of training, aye?"
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    "Um, yeah, yeah it was." Megastar nods. "Still should have seen it coming, though."

    "Hey, you did great. Busting through that door at the end was pretty impressive." Johnny gives his admiration to the teen.

    "We've got one more run remaining, so don't go anywhere quite yet, folks. The mighty Sharkguard has yet to test his mettle against the course, and we know you don't want to miss that!"

    While the engineers quickly clean up and maneuver the course sections into place for your run, Dr. Chase takes the opportunity to speak, handing out some goods from the charity auction, and commending some of the big spenders whose donations made the event itself possible. The engineers are good, and the time passes quickly. They have the obstacle course set to challenge you in a mere half-hour.
    ...

    30 minutes later...

    "All right, ladies and gentlemen! The grand finale is upon us, and what a finale it is! Sharkguard himself will be taking on the best our technicians could dream up. Johnny Rocket and Megastar made it past our gauntlet unscathed, will the King of the Seas be so lucky? Only one way to find out!"

    Joseph's bombastic announcement signals that it's time for your run to start. "Break a leg, big guy. Well, not literally. You know what I mean." Johnny claps you on the shoulder and grins. "Show 'em what you can do. This is gonna be awesome!" Chris chimes in. An assistant comes over to escort you to the starting line. Time to shine!

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    Much like Johnny, Sharkguard agreed that busting through the door was a real impressive move for Megastar. Of course such a tactic isn't the best option when it came to civilian areas, but Sharkguard enjoyed it when used in supervillain bases or castles. Inbetween now and the completion of the obstacle course, Sharkguard prepared himself for the event, mostly through exercise and stretching. While he didn't get cramps too often, the shark-man always made sure to get himself ready whenever he is aware of what comes. He keeps himself from things like lifting cars or trees in the possible case of damage. As much as he loves being a hero for the thrills, it doesn't help anyone if he causes a lot of property damage in the process.

    Once things are set up, Sharkguard tells Johnny and Megastar, "I hope yarr both be entertained by this," as he makes his way off to the starting area. There would really be no way he could do this as fast as Megastar or Johnny did their courses. Even at sea, Sharkguard wasn't sonic fast like those two. Of course that hopefully won't be an issue; Sharkguard would probably have his brains tested more than his strength. He stuck with his fists a lot, but when time called for thinking, he tries his best at it despite being no genius. All set up, Sharkguard smiles confidently and menacingly as he is ready to go. The soonest the gunshot came, Sharkguard would take off, beginning the course and going to make as good a showing of his performance as he can.
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    The starting gun fires, the crowd roars, and you're off! Once up the ramp, you see the first room ahead. It appears quiet again, but you have to wonder what's waiting behind those walls after they tried to skewer Johnny and smash Megastar.

    You find out soon enough! As you enter, the room hums to life again, but these aren't simple spears or hammers shooting from the holes in the walls, but coiling whips of steel! The writhing coils wrap and snap around your body, like fighting through a living spiderweb, threatening to bring you to a halt almost before you've started!

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    Give me a DC 15 Reflex check, please, to avoid getting caught in the lashes. Failure means you're entangled and can only move at half speed, and will have to make another save next round to get across the room. Failure by 5 means you are bound and can't move at all. If that happens, it's a DC20 Strength check to break free.

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    Heading into the first room, Sharkguard had expected something like the walls closing in on him, or some sort of massive pusher charging him back. What he wasn't expecting were coils. Regardless, it quickly taught Sharkguard to think more on his feet than his muscles as he makes the attempt to avoid them while moving through. While he barely avoids the worst of it, a number of them manage to coil themselves on the shark-man. However Sharkguard was never one to simply stop, only be slowed down. He braces himself as he keeps moving forward, using his strength to break off the coils while reflexively doing his best to avoid the rest. Megastar had some difficulty here, but Sharkguard would rather avoid struggling right off the bat.

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    Reflex Save: (1d20+2)[10]
    And just in case, a Strength check: (1d20+29)[38]
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    The coils do manage to wrap you up, but they can't restrain you, and those that try are torn unceremoniously from the wall by your titanic strength. It's slow going, however, and the assault continues, pulling and lashing at you as you wade towards the door, threatening to pull you down again.

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    OK, one more reflex save (and a strength check, if you end up bound again). If you make it, or fail by less than 5, Sharkguard manages to make it to the exit.

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    As much as Sharkguard tries here, he finds that the rate he is going at is not helping him at all. Quickly he finds himself tangled up again, now worse than before. The whips binding his movement to a halt in large numbers. He even finds his eyes wrapped and blocked by the whips. He almost found this embarrassing. He wondered if Megastar or Johnny would have fallen into the same situation... Still this was hardly the time to think about it. With a great heave, Sharkguard gave one short but powerful charge forward, breaking the whips that had held him before. With the end in sight, Sharkguard tries for a more aggressive approach, dashing down the hall quickly rather than being careful like before. Hopefully this tactic would be better.

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    And another Reflex save: (1d20+2)[15] and Strength: (1d20+29)[49]
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    Your strength and momentum are simply too much for the whips to restrain any longer, and you manage to reach the end of the hall and round the corner with no further struggle or embarrassment.

    It's only a few feet into the next room from there. It's small and square and seems relatively innocent, compared to the room full of angry metal snakes. Indeed, it looks more like something out of a video game than something out of a supervillain's lair. The exit has been sealed with a humming blue forcefield "courtesy of Majestic Industries R&D," you hear Joseph's slightly muffled voice mention outside. Product placement aside, it seems to be in place so you're not tempted to simply smash through the wall.

    In front of the exit sit five steel blocks, with different colors painted on their edges. They're big things, too. They'd be taller than an average person, though not you, of course. Five pedestals are lined up behind the blocks, with the same colors painted in rings around them. It's obvious this is one of the puzzles Joseph mentioned when you asked what was in store, though color matching might be stretching the definition of "puzzle" a little bit. Sharkguard may not be a genius, but this sure does seem to be selling him short.

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    Since my art skills are, as the kids say, friggin' terrible, the part of the blocks and pedestals will be played by the color of these smilies.

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    Breaking his way out of the whips and coils, Sharkguard mentally tells himself to pick up the pace as he hurries to the next room... Where he is confronted by a block puzzle. Sharkguard quickly slowed to a crawl to give himself a minute to think about the puzzle, but figured it out within a matter of moments. "Ay! Yarr think I'd got ta mind of a child?" He shouts in playful retort as he decides to make his work quick on the puzzle. While he could probably try to see if he can break through the forcefield, it would be better to use his brains here instead, like he should.

    First, to get a feel of the weight of the blocks, Sharkguard grabs the red block and lifts it with both hands, placing it on the red pedestal like he already figured it out. Once that is done he decides to pick up a block with one hand, and another block in the other provided he is able of lifting it in a stable manner. He uses his right arm to pick up the green block and his left for the purple bloc, placing them on the green and purple pedestals respectively. Once that is done he does the same with the blue and yellow blocks, placing them on the blue and yellow pedestals. While he didn't just plop the blocks right on the pedestals, he wasn't quite treating them like fine china either. Hah, this can be done by a child, he thought to himself. There's gotta be some sort of oblivious trick or trap to this. If the forcefield lowers right once he's done with the block formations, Sharkguard would hurry onto the next area.
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    The blocks, you notice, are hefty, as befits big chunks of steel, probably a ton or so apiece. A normal person couldn't budge one, but you're able to lift them easily, even with one hand. Also of note is the forcefield, still firmly in place, and the *bing* noise and small light that come on when you place the green block on its pedestal, but only for the green block. There's something else at work here besides just matching color to color.

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    As Sharkguard places the blocks into what he thought was the answer, he realizes he was correct in that there was a trick to it. Did it depend on order, or was it about positioning? Sharkguard decided on the latter. The green block started one part to the left of it's pedestal, so he would try moving the other blocks to the counterpart pedestal. The purple block to the yellow pedestal; the blue block to the purple pedestal, the yellow block to the red pedestal, and the red block to the blue pedestal. The green block will stay as is, Sharkguard hoped it might allow for some sort of progress here.
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