by Selfish Meme
A dark hero is born in the ashes of an evil disaster
|List of Characters|
Tom Martu , The Goanna
Elisabeth Gowan, Lady Namaah
Tracey Emerson, Golden Girl
Harry Trainer, Tank
Newman, Parnpajinya, Pilbara, Western Australia
The bladerator, Mac the knife, crushomatic, The ripper, stabby, berserker, needle, tinman, the strangler, stripper, breaker
Tom is one of the new powered people, super strength, telekinesis etc. are becoming commonplace around the world. In remote Western Australia a small mining town and indigenous community has its own raft of powered problems layered over an already simmering racial and cultural divide. Due to Toms horrific reptilian transformation and orphaned indigenous stigma his only human contact is a girl whose soul belongs to the devil, literally. As his gift for devices of mayhem develops she enjoins him in a plot to bring her demon paramour to Earth via an unholy wedding. Tom is torn by his friendship, his unspoken love, physicality, background, ethics and his own dark desires.
The police car ticked sullenly in the late afternoon heat. Flies zoomed around desperately hunting for a drop of moisture. Tom occasionally flicked his claws at them. He was pissed, and seeing the young policeman with his hand on his gun flinch every time he did it was making him even madder. The older policeman, Sergeant Richfield, Tom knew most of the cops in Newman by now, seemed unfazed but Tom could see his eyes flicker behind the dark glasses at every movement.
Super powered people had started turning up a few decades ago, no one knew why, there were not that many at first, and they were often originally associated with mental disorders. No wonder Newman had more than it's fair share. Heroes and villains, so cliched and one dimensional, but these were real people and they mucked up in their own absolutely unique ways. Law enforcement had been forced to accept the vigilantes, and called upon them to deal with the villains that they could not. The world had already seen at least one credible attempt to take it over.
The police had stopped him trudging along the dusty road back to the Aboriginal Community 10 minutes ago and made him stand in the hot sun. Eventually Sergeant Richfield sighed and heaved himself out of the car. Tom didn't know why it took 10 minutes to check the credentials of the only monstrous lizard boy in town, but there it was. The Sergeant sized him up, they were about the same height, but Tom was only 15, and even though he was snake thin he probably weighed more than the Sergeant thanks to his dense flesh. A product of the powers that enhanced his strength and toughness, and made him look like a nightmare given flesh. His 2 metre height was covered in dark grey, and brown scales, a wicked set of razor sharp teeth were visible when his mouth gaped to let a long forked tongue taste the air, nictitating membranes blinked over his vertically slit gold and topaz eyes, a long tail stirred lazily through the red roadside dust and large claws adorned his bare feet and hands. He had on a white t-shirt and baggy Camo shorts, he didn't really need the clothes but it made other people more comfortable.
"There was a complaint from the store about you" Richfield drawled at him after a moment.
Tom held up the his bag and showed the receipt. Richfield glanced dismissively at them and looked back at Tom "what's in it?"
Tom grimaced and made a strangled hiss "baatterrriies". Richfield knew he didn't like talking.
Richfield said "Next time order them online, I don't want to see you in town unless it's going to or from the Scout hall are we clear?"
Tom nodded his head and briefly tasted the air with his tongue, both men's fear was apparent and their willingness to do violence. Not like the panicked fear at the supermarket. Luckily he hadn't lost his mind enough to try a manned checkout.
"Go home and stay there goanna boy before an accident happens" Richfield glanced at the nervous young cop. Tom nodded his head and turned to started trudging toward home again, his tail swishing the dust slowly from side to side leaving a trail like a snake.
Richfield grunted softly "freak" and gestured for the young cop to get in as he pulled himself in and started the car. The doors closed and the police car slewed around the unmade road kicking up plumes of red dust and headed back towards town.
Tom's anger felt like a summer monsoon thunderhead about to turn the town into a humid muddy hellhole. He must have gone mental to have thought going to the supermarket was a good idea. The trouble was he could sense his rapidly dwindling link to humanity. His powers could flower further soon as he reached adulthood and he was desperately depressed about what that would mean for him. Would he go crazy, and rampage through town until brought down by a hail of bullets?
The town of Newman was like a bland cardboard cutout of a country town landed on Mars. As soon as you left town the predominant colour was red as long as that red was blisteringly hot. It was a mining town, right next to the largest open pit iron ore mine on the planet. Almost right in the middle of Western Australia. It was dry and warm in winter and blisteringly hot in summer.
Tom wished he were anywhere else on earth. Literally anywhere would be better than here. At least that was the dream, he knew the reality would be much different and possibly worse.
When Toms powers first came upon him he had drawn the very shortest straw. Already cursed in the eyes of the nation by the virtue of being an orphaned ward of the state and an aboriginal Australian. Of course that paled in comparison to being a monstrous lizard boy, who looked so obviously dangerous, so hair raisingly violent he had been removed from his foster families home, his school and his community immediately. Instead of living in town, he now lived by himself in a shack on the edge of the Parnpajinya Aboriginal reserve 2 km out of town. The walk there slowly blended from bland suburb, to Mad Max territory, the shells of cars and life littered the sweltering red desert.
Not that Tom needed it, the last hilarious part of his gift that no one else knew about was a very much increased intelligence. So though he could barely speak and would only ever see a lab from a recumbent position It had allowed him to use his old beat up laptop to earn some money from the internet, so he had a source of income that he could use to buy stuff outside of his fortnightly dole.
Electronics, tools, and materials were all delivered to his property. It was how he had fixed up the barely liveable shack, fenced it, created a tiny grain farm and built his mice pens. He was starting to really make progress with his hacking and his mind was voraciously absorbing science at a phenomenal rate.
He could make something of himself if he didn't look like someone's nightmare come to life. He couldn't imagine being able to live in a city, even here as isolated among isolated marginalised people as he was, he was barely free of jail and he had never even broken the law. The rumoured super power prison looked like his likely fate.
Later, he ate a mouse for consolation and went to bed. He didn't sweat so bathing was something he did for fun not necessity. His bed was a platform suspended beneath the ceiling that allowed him to see the desert over his fence. He could let his heat sensitive vision scour the darkness looking for prey. He really wanted revenge on Sergeant Richfield, he could feel it burning in his mouth. He fell asleep thinking of ways to get back at the man.
The next day seemed just as bleak and the sky mirrored his mood, broken grey clouds marched across the sky, a slightly cooler day, but it never really got cold here.
Something had happened last night, Tom felt spent, like the thunderstorm of anger he had been building up had rattled windows, flooded streets, downed trees and then swept away now only mildly disgruntled. He dropped out of his pallet and nearly skewered himself on the jagged pointed thing in the middle of his shack.
It was shiny black and covered in sharp spikes and blades. Some of them seemed to be on arms or revolved. A red light gleamed malevolently in the upper section. It looked new but had obviously been made of scrap from the abandoned yard next door and many parts that had been around his workspace. He recognised it and it was like it was the first time he saw it as well. Fleeting impressions of him putting it together feverishly last night flitted through his head, but it was somehow removed from him, like someone else had controlled his body.
It was a kill bot, a robot designed to kill on his behalf, not kill a single person but to kill a whole crowd of people. It looked like distilled violence. He knew how to use it, in part he knew how it was put together, what made it all work was a blur that hurt to think about too hard. His laptop had a terminal screen open and a menu with one item on screen - 1 - Kill Sergeant Richfield and the 1 was on entered ahead of the blinking cursor ready to hit enter. Carefully he back spaced it and exited the program. His hands were shaking after it was done. Luckily it was Sunday, it took him that long to take it apart. Anybody seeing it would instantly know it's purpose and anyone owning such a thing could only have one purpose. His enhanced mind marvelled at it though and longed to see it in action and also worried that this new manifestation of his powers was going to get him in a lot of trouble.
When he had finished he kept a few parts, the power supply was ingenious, small and energy dense, though its inner workings eluded him. He thought he could use it to run the old clunker in his carport that he had been trying to fix. One of the easiest things for most people to get was one of the hardest for him, petrol. Without stealing it, he really had no way to access it looking like he did. Any right minded person seeing him at a pump would call the cops and they would want to know why a lizard would need it, because he certainly would never get a licence or buy a car. Stealing it from a car put him again at risk of police prosecution. Another thing he decided to keep close was what he thought was a sleep bomb, at least it had a sleeping face crudely stencilled on it, most other things that were deadly were marked with a crossed out human in a circle. The next time he needed to escape from Tank he could use it. Or who knew when he might need to leave town without being followed.
The next day he shuffled through the heat to the Scout hall. Instead of going to school he now had a few hours of study a day conducted by Old Man Emu. As far as Tom knew that was the old mans only name, he had never heard him called by anything else. Emu had a bit of power, he could bench press a ute, but he couldn't piss straight anymore. Emu was one of the oldest people in Newman and had been a professional of some sort, unusual for one of the Martu people. His mind was still sharp enough to be able to teach a ragtag bunch of super powered teenagers their english and maths though, when he hadn't been drinking too much. Even though Emu was Martu as well had never shown the slightest interest in Tom's background. Which was fine with Tom, the old guy was creepy. He often leered at the girls during class, even occasionally drooled.
Three other supers deemed too dangerous to be around ordinary kids shared his classes. His bully from before he acquired powers, Harry Trainer aka Tank, a mean tubby powerhouse. If Old Man Emu could bench press a ute, tubby could pick it up and throw it one handed. Of course his bully got physical powers far beyond his own. But Tom was also tough and healed fast. He avoided the older boy as much as possible, but still got beat up occasionally, Tank couldn't or wouldn't punch nearly anyone else in town for fear of killing them.
One person who even Tank couldn't match was Golden Girl, Tracey Emerson, she was probably the only person in town as strong as Tank, plus she could fly and had some sort of energy blast. She was slightly above average blonde pretty before her powers but now positively glowed with vigour and lean strength. The only reason we believed she was with us was so the town could have her keep an eye on us and also probably some parents were scared she might decapacitate their kid accidentally.
The last member of the super teens was Elisabeth Gowan, or as she now liked to be called Lady Namaah, no one was sure if she was super powered but also no one wanted her in class with their kids after someone took her notebook to the principle. She had gone from mousy quiet back of the class, to full on goth serial killer quiet back of the class. They ate lunch together, and she didn't seem perturbed by his meals. She talked desultorily and darkly about different topics, not really needing input from him. She often talked about the coming of her lord and saviour, but he didn't think it was Jesus, he didn't care. In town often she just stared at people until they moved hurriedly on. She could often be found kicking dust down the back streets dressed all in black, pale skin, dark eye shadow and long black hair, seemingly immune to the blazing sun.
That day had started out bad, the mice he bred had managed to break out of the cage and he had been forced to scamper about his enclosed yard catching as many as he could. The loss of his stock would mean slim pickings for his lunch in the coming weeks, and the free ones would probably damage the corn and grains he grew to feed them. He didn't need to eat the mice to survive, but normal food did not satisfy him as much anymore, the mice brought a taste of life to his diet. He had few enough things he enjoyed already. Thinking about all the things he didn't have made him sad, depressed and angry. By the time he got to the Scout hall he was already miserable. The punch that slammed him into the ground, rattled the teeth in his jaw, and probably broke a rib was a last unpleasant surprise. Tank bellowed with laughter. "Crawl Lizard!". Shit! he had been so pre-occupied he had missed Tank behind him. Tank sauntered through the doors as Tom slowly and painfully picked himself up from the ground, he felt a click in his chest and the pain subsided, yep a broken rib, already healing.
Golden Girl passed him without even a glance, she and Tank were a year older than him and Elisabeth, he wondered if she remembered them playing in pre-school. Shit he barely remembered it. Newman being a mining town had a lot of turnover. At that time she had been a neighbour and then his current foster family had moved to Perth and he had gone to live with another family. They could leave but he couldn't. Some shit about cultural ties. None of the other Martu people like Emu had ever given a shit about him, no one knew his real parents, his mom had put him up for adoption straight after giving birth, the name she gave a false one, his name Tom Martu, obviously also false, no one cared. He became just another aboriginal victim of the system, moving between foster families until the powers found him.
His foster families had ranged from bad to OK, he had not been with any of them for more than three or four years, he knew he was somewhat lucky. He had heard of far worse.
Tom and Elisabeth bond over lunch. She tells him about her dad beating her.
It had happened again and now seemed a regular occurrence, he would wake up to another murderous robot waiting in the workshop, often enough he hadn't had time to disassemble them and they now were residents of the yard next door hidden by some old car bodies. He had started giving them names, the bladerator, Mac the knife, crushomatic, the ripper, stabby, berserker, needle, tinman, the strangler, stripper, breaker. OK the names were starting to get unoriginal. He had been incorporating their controls into a single user interface on his laptop and was quite proud of the work. This wasn't unconscious magic like building the robots, he had written this code and incorporated libraries through his own hard work. He had tried to learn as much as he could about the robots but it seemed like his gift didn't obey the laws of physics in a lot of ways. He could take some things apart but they wouldn't work again when he put them back together, in fact should never have worked in the first place.
Tom didn't feel like a villain, he didn't want to kill anyone, he wouldn't mind temporarily maiming a few though. However his powers seemed destined to make him play the part of one. No one would accept him as a hero, one look at his hideous visage and people ran for the hills. That's what he should do, run from this place as far as he could, that night he looked over the dessert and yearned to escape and hide from everyone.
In the morning he knows he has built something but there is no murder bot in the workshop, instead outside the old clunker has been transformed into a sleek black car that is difficult to look at. It still has some sharp bladelike lines but this time does not look like its meant to kill someone. With rising hope he realises his power is suggestible. He hides the car in his rear yard.
Tom and Elisabeth's friendship deepens, she tells him painfully about how her dark lord is coming to marry her, he tells her about the murder bots that have been spawning without his consent at night to fill up his yard and garage. He shows off to her how they work.
Her father disappears but she doesn't seem upset, the police suspect them both of colluding to get rid of him.
Elisabeth's fathers remains are found, torn to shreds out in the desert in what looks like a satanistic ritual. The police throw Tom in jail as the obvious suspect.
During a jail visit he learns about her unholy wedding where her dark lord will enter this dimension to marry her and they will reign over the ashes of this world forever. He doesn't really believe it, he thinks she is just unbalanced rather than a powered person. She shows him a sample of her new powers and tells him tonight she enacts the wedding sacrifice by killing the entire town to grant her the power to open the portal that the demon lord will come through. He tries to tel the police but they laugh at his clumsy attempts at speech and leave him in his cell.
Another body is found ritualisticly murdered.
"Where is he!" Sergeant Richfield slammed the door to the lockup open. "Where the fuck is that freak"
The constable on duty startled bolt upright said "Who?"
"Lizard boy, where is he, he's escaped hasn't he, he turned some guy into sushi!" Richfield was now walking down the cells. Tom was in the cell furthest from the duty desk. He looked up at Richfield, he would have smiled but he didn't think that would improve things.
"No one's been in or out all night and there's only one door" the duty constable said.
"I know it was you freak, and as soon as I can we are gonna take you out into the desert and shoot you."
"Hey, we can't do tha...." the duty constable stopped as Richfield turned his livid gaze on him.
"If he didn't kill this guy it was probably someone just like him, they all need to be left out in the desert to rot." Richfield stalked out of the lockup and slammed the door. The constable shakily went back to his desk, they didn't pay him enough to look after things like Tom or put up with people like Richfield.
Elisabeth steals his laptop and sets the murder bots to decimate the town on the eve of her wedding as a sacrifice to her evil betrothed. Tom escapes jail during the massacre and returns home to find his laptop missing, he takes the car and returns to where an evil whirlwind is growing in strength in the center of town as the murder bots finish killing everyone. He fights them on his way towards Elisabeth.
After an encounter with Tank and his friends where he stops an attempted pack rape and leaves the boy with severed tendons in his arms he is knocked out and apprehended by Golden Girl. He is taken to the frontline post of the heroes arriving to deal with the towns massacre and the impending doom Elisabeth is conjuring by bringing the demon through an inter dimensional portal. Elisabeth is now extremely powerful after the sacrifice of the townspeople and the regular heroes await the higher powered heroes to deal with her.
Tom and Golden Girl watch the heroes battle Elisabeth in the sky. He tells her about how this happened. While they watch they overhear the other heroes. It's apparent the other heroes had no intention of ever bringing either Tom or Elisabeth to justice and are just going to kill them. Golden Girl is troubled by the casual indifference and implicit prejudice towards those not classed as 'Heroes'.
Elisabeth is finally defeated by the major heroes and her body plummets from the sky as Golden Girl and Tom watch horrified.
Tom only has one chance and lets off a sleep gas bomb and makes his escape in his car, the heroes look for him but can't find the stealth car slipping out of town. The news is full of the events around the town and as Tom drives off he thinks about how he will bring justice to the Heroes.