Brace yourself, clinic children, because it’s time for yet another installment of…
…in which I use the character creation rules in the Marvel Super Heroes RPG’s Ultimate Powers Book to roll up a random batch of powers and abilities, then sit back and watch as some incredibly talented folks work their creative magic upon the quantified chaos.
This week’s amorphous contibution comes courtesy of the titanic tag team of Jon Wolter (art) and Ed Cunard (writing).
The teenage years can be an awkward time. The body changes in ways that, sometimes, the mind and the heart have trouble processing. Growth spurts may change the way one interacts with the environment, to clumsy results. The voice might quiver and crack when the words behind it are resolute. Even dreams provide little escape, as sometimes their contents can be messy and, other times, their aftereffects prove even messier.
Or, if you happen to be Stephen Gibson, you might wake up one day as a puddle of sentient fluid.
Something happened when he was working in his parents nursery–that was all he could piece together. Some combination of fertilizing chemicals, UV light sources, and temperature control created some kind of fumes, perhaps. The Gibsons had switched suppliers on their fertilizer, right? HYDRA-Ponic, or something? Maybe he spilled something on himself while cleaning. He was too busy listening to a Pandora station on his iPhone to notice exactly what off-brand his folks picked up and what seeped into the frayed ends of his jeans.
What he did know was that when he woke up, he woke up to the wettest dream ever. Flesh had given way to fluid. He slid out of the sheets and towards the sun streaming in through the window, soaking up the light until he felt satisfied, like he just had a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles. He collected himself as best he could and, through trial and error, was able to cohere into a vague, masculine, humanoid shape.
Maybe if his high school English curriculum covered THE METAMORPHOSIS, Stephen would have been prepared for a change like this. Sadly, it didn’t, and he wasn’t. Fortunately, he remembered a few things from biology and chemistry, which were way more interesting than English class anyway. He remembered that plants “eat” sunlight through something called photosynthesis, and that seemed to make sense with the way he felt in the sun. Like any teenager, he began the process of adjusting to his body. Letting light refract through his form let him create disorienting images of the world around him, like mirages. Repeated viewings of ENTER THE DRAGON made him realize that more than any martial artist Bruce Lee instructed, he could actually “be water.” And he found he could also assume the shape or properties of any plant he was familiar with.
And, maybe the biggest bonus of all–he never got tired. He never seemed to get hurt, aside from the time he slid through some run-off from Sharada’s parents’ pool and the chemicals made him violently ill. I mean, it’s not like he was over there doing anything bad, with his new abilities. She was the only girl he ever really connected with, and he would totally have asked her to the fall formal if, you know, he could still wear an ill-fitting suit. He wasn’t spying. He just wanted someone to talk to, now that his voice didn’t crack and pimples were a thing of the past. Heck, Stephen Gibson? Steven Gibson was a thing of the past. He was Erosion Man–no, that’s stupid. Pond Scum? Too Hot Topic. Vegangster? That’s even worse.
Viscosity. That sounds appropriate. That sounds like a superhero name.
Fighting crime seemed like the right thing to do, considering that’s what you do when you get super powers (and can’t go to school, or get a job, or have a date, or really anything else that doesn’t involve being a big super-powered puddle). Interrupting robberies, breaking up fights, that sort of thing, with a prank or two along the way when there was nothing left to fight. Sure, he made some mistakes. A lot of criminals got away. Some people slipped and hurt themselves in what he left behind. That one gang member might have drowned or, as Stephen told himself, that could have totally been some kind of panic-induced heart attack and he totally shouldn’t be blamed for it. Because, let’s face it–mistakes happen.
Fortunately, when you are effectively immortal, you have plenty of time to learn from your mistakes.
Are you an artist, writer, or terrifying combination of the two who’d like to try your hand at the Ultimate Powers Jam? Then drop me a line at bitter(dot)andrew(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll commence the dice to rolling.