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Pompadour: Press Releases

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The Graduate

Pompadour found it easier to pretend to be paying attention if he imagined the man's head exploding. One moment, droning away like a moronic bumblebee, the next... Splortch! 'Mah brainz asplode!' When the droning came to an end, Pompadour clapped enthusiastically with the rest of his class, and joined the procession to receive his "mental health" diploma. Man, I am so ready to blow this popsicle stand and get on with my life.

Pompadour milled around a bit, after the ceremony was over. He felt some definite mixed feelings. His group-therapy classes were artificial. People with anger or anxiety issues, socialization problems... to them, he was just one of the bunch. They accepted him, because he was one of them. He had not really interacted with anyone outside his class since the Raven stopped him. But, he wasn't really one of them. The changes that turned him into The Sinister Pompadour turned him into a maniac, but the serum that the Raven injected him with turned off the crazy like flipping a switch. He just had to get through the court ordered therapy. Pompadour considered his fellow classmates... they all seemed happy, but did they really change over the last six months? Did he?

This was just delaying the inevitable. It was time to get out of here, and get back to the real world. He disengaged himself from one of his well-wishing former classmates, and headed for the door.

Outside the McNider Memorial Hospital, Pompadour stepped into a phone booth -his diploma already sinking to the depths of the first waste basket he passed. His first call was to his agent, confirming his appointment later that afternoon, his second call was to his friend "Tank" confirming his appointment later that morning. He stepped out of the phonebooth, and looked up at the bright morning sky. He considered swinging through the streets on tendrils of his hair... but frowned and discarded that idea. Hailing a taxi, he headed cross town.

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A morning with the Tank...

"Tank!" "Pomp!"

The hug that followed was exceptionally manly, with plenty of back-slapping.

"So, are we going back to work on that sleeve?" "You betcha."

Pompadour hung his jacket up, and settled into the tattoo artist's chair. The bulky, bespectacled artist donned a pair of gloves and swabbed Pompadour's arm with an alcohol cloth. "So, you're free and clear now, right?"

"You betcha. Last day was today. That was a colossal waste of time anyways." Trevor 'Tank' Hancock said nothing, but his eyes regarded the former supervillain over his glasses thoughtfully.

Pompadour's lips quirked. "Don't give me that look... no, it's like this. Before the Raven caught me, I was completely raving. That stuff she injected me with cured me, and if it hadn't I'd still be doing what I was doing. None of the counseling sessions, or self esteem workshops, or sharing circles would have done me a damn bit of good if I were still crazed." Pompadour glanced over at his friend. "The truth is, the only worthwhile therapy I got over the last six months happened in this chair."

Tank didn't respond, his attention on working some bright orange ink into the flames surrounding an eyeball.

"Seriously, man. I've shared more real feelings, and gotten more insights about how I should see the world talking to you than I did at McNider. I mean... when I was using my hair to open doors, or write in my Journal, it made them all nervous and they told me they were worried my therapy wasn't going well. You helped me figure out that it was them and not me. Just as soon as I stopped using my hair to do stuff, that made them all happy and they told me I was doing better."

Tank paused, and shifted his thick glasses back up his nose. "S'projection, Man. Psych 101. Doctors, Psych Nurses... they're still human. O'course they afraid."

Pompadour nodded. "Anyways... I know we're almost done that sleeve, and I'm not sure if I'm going to get more work or not yet... but I think it's important that I stay in touch."

"Howzat, man?" Tank paused, his buzzing needle suspended in air.

"Sometimes I remember stuff. I have dreams. All of that... stuff at McNider was bogus, y'know? But... I think it's important that someone who knows me can keep tabs. If you think that... I might not be myself, I want you to call someone." Pompadour looked searchingly at his friend. "Can you do that for me?"

Tank met his eyes, measure for measure. "Bro, I got you covered."

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An afternoon among the Circling Sharks

Pompadour crossed the lobby of the Mercury Building in the commercial maze that is Wading Way. He'd spoken with his agent numerous times in the past six months, but never set foot in the building. He checked with the security desk for directions, then waited for the elevator. The building was stately, but antiquated... the elevator seemed to take forever.

Up on the 7th floor, he had little difficulty finding the offices of Mandy Karlson Consulting, where his Agent dwelled. The receptionist was twirling her hair around an unsharpened pencil when he arrived. She invited him to sign in, with a thorough disinterest... but within a few minutes, she was leaning over the desk to touch his hand, with extra buttons popped to show cleavage, and laughing like a jackass at his mildest jibes. She looked thoroughly offended when Mandy came out of her office to collect her client. At least I know my super-stud powers are still working.

Mandy Karlson was a pleasant looking woman in her late 30s. Pompadour was more than a little surprised, having only talked to her over the phone before now. When a dog goes down on its back, the fight is over, when a man goes down on his back, the fight's just getting started she had told him. The ruthlessness didn't seem to fit with her mint-coloured blouse and pencil-skirt. There were two men waiting for them in her office, a petite Asian man in a dark blue suit with rich plum-coloured pin-stripes, and a silver-haired man in a Glencheck sports jacket. "Brett, I'd like to introduce you to Gerald 'Hard' Case," she indicated the Asian man, "and Randolph Craig." He shook each man's hand in turn.

"Alright, you're probably not ready for a lot of detail yet. Fresh out of the system, you probably need some time to think and get yourself sorted out. I'm just going to bring you up to speed with what I was able to arrange while you were a Ward of the State." Mandy lifted a stack of manila folders off her desk. "First... name change. Goodbye Craig Spurgess, Hello Brett Mason. Nice and legal, now. Here's your Driver's License, Social Security, Credit Cards, yada yada with your new legal name." She passed him a small case, closed the folder and then gestured to Gerald. "Mr. Case can take it from here..."

Pompadour regarded the man, as he sorted his new identity into his bill-fold. The little man favoured him with a toothy smile. "Ah, yes. Ms. Karlson tells us that you're probably eager to get out and enjoy your freedom as quickly as possible. So, I'll cut through the legalese and lay it down straight for you. You signed a Liability Waiver for the Mega Makeover people, but that doesn't protect them against reckless endangerment. The primary parties associated with the show disappeared like cockroaches when the kitchen light comes on. We still managed to seize some assets though. However, there were a lot of big, legitimate companies involved in that tragic mess, and they're very sorry about how everything turned out." Gerald opened another folder, and showed Pompadour a list of companies and figures... big figures. "Did I mention that they were very sorry?" The man's smirk was oily and feral. "All you need to do is agree that they were unaware that the products they supplied Mega Makeover were going to be used on you, not mention their names in the press, and agree not to pursue further legal action." Out of the corner of his eyes, Pompadour could see his agent and the other man, the silver wolf, nodding eagerly. He shrugged. Gerald turned to the older man, "Randolph, would you like to take over?"

The older man adjusted his jacket before speaking. "Mr. Mason, I'm an investment banker with Southern Glory. Ms. Karlson approached me to put together a portfolio for you based on projected settlement numbers. There are... a lot of factors here. Annuities, Amortization, Accrued Interest..." vague hand gestures "businessy crap, really. The bottom line is, you will have a respectable income for the remainder of your days, provided you don't live past 127. At Ms. Karlson's instruction, I also set aside a fair chunk of capital to finance your growth as a Celebrity Brand. At the moment... you have no money. Papers need to be signed, notorized and thoroughly scrutinized. A formality, but it will take a few months to put money in your hands. In the meantime, I have arranged a large line of credit with Southern Glory. Also, to facilitate your immediate enjoyment of your new freedom, I've arranged for you to stay in a luxury Mid-town condo." The man pulled a small envelope out of his jacket and slid it across the table to Pompadour. There was an address with a small map, and two sets of keys; one of which was for a car. Pompadour arced an eyebrow at the man. "The car is a gift from my bank. You'll find it in the parkade, stall 201. Honestly, your account is very lucrative, and it's the least we could do."

Slightly numb, Pompadour shot a questioning look over at his agent, who nodded subtly. He shrugged again slightly, and began signing an army of papers that the two men began marching in front of him.

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Battle Plans

After the paperwork barrage had ended, Ms. Karlson ushered the two men from her office. While Mandy wrangled them out the door, her receptionist came in to offer Pompadour some refreshments, as well as some hot-eyed glances and less than subtle lip-licking. He sent her off in search of Cherry Coke.

Mandy returned, frowning in the direction her assistant had gone. "That brings to mind a few topics we should discuss. I'm gonna come right out and say it... It's taking a lot of willpower on my part to keep from jumping on you with my skirt pulled up around my ears. But I don't, and I won't because I'm a professional. You have... quite an effect on women," she frowned. "And men too, actually. Gerald wants to be your bromance, he wants to go clubbing, play golf, and shop for clothes with you. I nearly vomited listening to his plans." Mandy made a point of intercepting the receptionist at the door, and sending her back out to the front office. She set a tray of glasses, ice, and cola on the table, and sat down across from him. "So... specifically, please do not knock-up Cassie, and more generally -when it comes to other women, try and keep it in your pants." "Cassie?" Asked Pompadour, pouring cola over ice.

Mandy sighed. "My assistant. The eager little kitten that's been drooling over you all afternoon?" Pompadour wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed that he hadn't bothered to get her name. "Never mind that. You called me, many moons ago, because you want to be a Big Star; A-List, Red Carpet, Groupies, Limos, and the rest of it. You have the raw talent, I have the know-how, the only thing between you and your goals is some hard work, and some discipline. If you get yourself caught up in paternity suits and pointless marriages, you'll be just another K-Fed. Don't waste my time, don't waste your potential." She raised her own glass of bubbling black soda, "Shall we toast to your future?" She maintained eye contact continuously through the ritual of clinking glasses together, clearly evaluating his commitment.

"Alright. I'm negotiating with all the tell-all mags. The highest bid that agrees to give me final editorial gets an exclusive story. We'll arrange an interview, show them what a nice, stable guy you are now, and you can talk about how sorry you are about what happened. The following week, the other magazines will get a press release and a polite note from Gerald about unauthorized deviations from what we've prepared for print. I'm also in talks to get you onto Tyra." Pompadour carefully wiped up the soda that had spurted out his nose. "You think that's likelier than air spontaneously turning into gold?" Mandy nodded. "First, Tyra is a pro. Second... as much as she was terrified when you had her captured, I know for a fact she was just as turned on. I know that seems pretty improbable, but my first hand experience has taught me that women are crazy... anyways. Trust me, it won't be a big deal. You show up, make nice, charm the Blahniks off her, and give her a big ass cheque for her pet charity. Big hug, photo-op, and it gets posted on You Tube."

"Anyways, I think that's where we should leave it for today. I have another appointment at 3:00. When you come in again, we can talk about your career as a super-hero." Pompadour made use of yet another napkin. "My what now?" "You have super powers, you can be a super hero. Great press. We'll talk about it."

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Homecoming King

Pompadour had started to open the door to leave the building when something occurred to him. He backtracked to the security desk, and got directions to the parkade. So... stall 201 should be on the 2nd level, and it should be... that-a-ways.

"Huh." This... I was not expecting. He gets it... but he doesn't get it. Pompadour frowned at the car, tapping his chin thoughtfully. He gave the car a thorough checking-over. Well, the downside is that this car is not Rockabilly, but someone who didn't really understand the style might think it was. On the upside, it's a 2008 PT Cruiser custom-chopped to be a street-rod. It's probably worth 60 Grand, and it's probably a sweet ride. All the right papers were in the glove box.

He settled into the driver's seat and started the car. He checked the map to his new home, and programmed the address into the cars GPS. After firing the ignition it didn't take long to be sure that the car had something much sexier than the standard 4cylinder engine. The trip from Wading Way to the Mid-Town condo was pretty quick; it was not yet 3:00pm and he had beat the Rush Hour.

The building was a newer high-rise, and clearly upscale. There was a doorman on duty at the front of the building. Pompadour parked his car and approached the man. Consulting the map Randolph Craig had given him, he told the doorman "I'm new to the building, in 1204. Is there anything special I need to do to get in?" "Ah, Mr. Mason. I've been expecting you. Here is your remote for the underground parking. After hours, you will also need your key to enter the elevator. The same key that opens your suite will also open the main door here and the elevator in the parking lot. The entrance is around the corner here, on the South side." Pompadour thanked the man, and returned to the car. The trip through the parkade and up the elevator to his floor was uneventful.

Pompadour found his apartment on the North-West corner of the building. Each floor seemed divided into 4 suites. He walked through the suite. There was a large living-room and a dining-room off the well appointed kitchen. Behind the kitchen a pantry/utility room housed stacked laundry units; washer and dryer. Across from the kitchen, there was a study and a guest room, a full bathroom that was across from the study and down from the kitchen. The Master Bedroom had a walk-in closet, and an attached bathroom that offered a dual-shower and a whirl-pool soaker. Nice. In the study, he found a neatly laid-out stack of things he had bought on-line while in Therapy, most conspicuous of these being the custom Stand-up Bass he had ordered. There were some other things that he hadn't bought, and he leaned in to inspect these items. Ah... gifts from Mandy. PDA-slash-Cell phone, fancy-manly-tool-thingy... Mag-lite. There was already a text message on the phone, from Mandy. Simply "welcome home."

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Empty Spaces

Pompadour roamed aimlessly from room to room in his new apartment. The place was already furnished, every piece of furniture selected from the finest manufacturer, in colours intended to be as neutral, and therefore bland as possible. The living room was dominated by an enormous flat screen TV. Pompadour picked up the remote and stared at it. Some time later, he was able to actually use it on the TV. There was no cable hooked up yet; white noise on every channel. A state-of-the-art stereo system was prominent in the entertainment center as well. There was probably something specific he needed to do, to get the stereo attached to the building's antenna; the solid concrete construction made it impossible to get a station tuned in. He had no CDs with him. More white noise.

He drifted into the kitchen. The crisp white fridge was open and unplugged. Most of the cupboards were empty. Above the gleaming steel sink, he found shelves filled neat stacks of stylishly patterned china and clear glassware. Stainless cutlery glinted in one of the drawers. It made him think of an operating room.

His restless, listless feet brought him to the study. He looked at the sealed cardboard boxes that contained the assorted things he'd bought online over the last few months. He fiddled with his new multitool until he found a blade, and set about cutting open packages. Plastic wrapped garments and oddities. He didn't really remember ordering any of it. He blinked a few times. He was sitting at the desk, staring at a hoodie that was covered in tattoo patterns. He wasn't sure how long he'd been spacing out. He tossed the hoodie on the floor. He picked up the massive case containing his Stand-up Bass, and walked to the bedroom. Styrofoam peanuts stirred and settled in his wake.

Run to the bedroom! In the suitcase to the left you'll find my favourite axe! Don't look so frightened! It's just a passing phase; one of my bad days! The kingsize bed was smothered in crisp, white and sterile bedding. Probably as comfortable as sleeping on a cloud. Closets, drawers... empty. He opened the case, and gently lifted the expensive instrument. He frowned for a few minutes, idly running his fingers over the strings. He limbered his fingers by running through some basic chords, and finally started to play. He had been working on learning Estranged by Guns and Roses and he tried to wrest the song from the instrument. Something wrong. Something off. He thought, maybe, singing might help and he raised his untrained voice. "So nobody ever told you, Baby - How it was going to be. -So what'll happen to you, Baby? - Guess we'll have to wait and see." His voice echoed back to him, from the empty suite; it sounded weak and hollow. His singing trailed off, and his playing devolved into a jangle of notes. He sighed, and sat down on the bed.

He regarded his bass, spinning the big instrument slowly around the spike on it's end. He frowned. This was something he distinctly remembered ordering. The sparkle finish, in iridescent green and gold looked so cool in his head, but now he thought it was sort of pretentious. Turning it, he looked at the mural painted on the belly. A faerie kneeling before a rearing unicorn... the juxtaposed Child's Fantasy and Adult Fantasy images struck his fancy when he commissioned it. Now he thought it looked surreal and vulgar. He carefully put the expensive piece back in its case.

He made his way to the bathroom; stared at himself in the mirror. There were no toiletries or linen of any sort to be had, so he used his hands to splash his face and drink from the tap. I have got to get out of here. This place is haunted and the ghost is me. He frowned and dug into his pockets, looking for a card. The lawyer, Gerald Case, had given him an address to a club. If that little weasel thinks it's great, it will probably suck... but at least it's not here.

He grabbed his jacket and his keys, and went out.

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The Morning After the Night Before

He awoke in another strange bed, with another strange ceiling staring back at him. At least he knew where he was, and how he got there. A Nurse plumping his pillows had woken him. He was in a private room, back at McNider. This time, at least, he was in for physical rather than mental health reasons... at the strict orders of his Agent and Lawyer. Waste of time... nothing happened last night that I couldn't walk off... The Nurse gave him a pat on the cheek before heading out. She seemed old, wise, tough and brown like an old oak tree... Pompadour wondered if his agent had requested that more mature Nurses be assigned to him.

He napped for a while, not quite able to get to sleep with the noise and bustle of the hospital around him. Some time later, a Doctor came in, holding a chart. "How are you holding up, Champ?" Pompadour frowned at the man. "Honestly, I think I'm taking up a bed that someone who might actually be hurt should have." The Doctor returned his frown, shaking his head. "First, don't worry about it. Private rooms generally sit idle unless someone with serious health coverage checks in -such as yourself. Second, we're really not sure how much damage you may or may not have taken in that fight. The same body systems that let you survive at all are also making it very hard to get accurate readings as to your health. Here's your head & neck X-ray from when you were brought in."

The sheet the Doctor held up was a nearly white silhouette, although strange trails of... something seemed to extend from the head. "Not a lot of use to us. This might be because of tissue density, or well, I think there's some sort of energy field emanating from your hair... in any case, we're going to have another look at you with an MRI. We're also having some issues drawing blood... but this is Freedom City, so nothing we haven't gotten around before." The Doctor gave him a hearty smack on the knee. "I doubt it's a problem, but you know Mandy... she told me that Gerald would sue us into the ground if we let you walk out of here with an untreated injury. Such a kidder. Anyways, we have the tests booked, and you should be all checked out by this afternoon." The Doctor's tone made it clear he knew that Mandy was not kidding... she was completely ruthless.

After the Doctor made his exit, Pompadour uncoiled a lock of hair, and brought it down before his eyes. A field of energy surrounding my hair. Interesting... He squished the tendril between his fingers thoughtfully. Well, clearly I have no hair bones, and something makes it move how I want.

Not too long after, the Ruthless One herself made an appearance. "So... I make a comment about you taking up a career in Heroism, next thing I know you're in a fight with Donar. You know, I think he fought Centurion back in the day. While I admire your enthusiasm for the project, we should probably have a talk about exercising caution..." She frowned at her client, and perched on the edge of the bed. "So, how are you actually doing? You don't look too broken." Pompadour scowled at his agent. "I'm fine. This is pointless. I shouldn't be here." Mandy patted his knee. "Relax. I'm sure you'll be fine... it's just better to be sure. I'm not going to take chances with my rising star." She paused and opened her briefcase. "Here's something to ward off boredom. I've pretty much settled on a magazine for your interview, here's a little pre-interview exercise so you've had a chance to think about anything they might ask you." The questionaire Mandy passed him was thick... and heavy... more like a workbook. Pompadour narrowed his eyes at her, and allowed his expression to sink into 'thoroughly sulky' territory.

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Special to the Freedom Ledger, Saturday May 16th, 2009

Explosions rocked a south-side nightclub last night, in an apparent supervillain attack. At around 10:00pm a superhuman calling himself Donar, Lord of Lightning, blasted through the walls of Da Bomb and threatened the patrons. In a strange reversal of roles this supervillain also claimed to be Ray Gardner (Freedom League's Captain Thunder) and that the (formerly) Sinister Pompadour was on hand to fight him. Pompadour was responsible for saving nearly a hundred civilian lives. Other witnesses reported that Fen's Vigilante the Avenger was also present in the club, battling the electric lout.

One witness, Michelle (last name withheld), described the scene. "This big guy in blue and white armour showed up and started blasting everything with lightning! Then Pompadour told him to quit being a jerk, and the fight was on! But the blue guy made the roof cave in, and Pompadour was holding up the whole place with strands of his hair, it was so totally awesome? But Pompadour got us out, and wouldn't leave until everyone else was safe. I'm so worried he got hurt -he got caught in the crush when the roof finally gave in. He's so brave!"

Police Spokesperson, Sergeant Linda Burelle had this to say, "Witness reports are fairly conclusive that Avenger and Pompadour battled a supervillain in the club, and that acting together they saved a lot of lives. We aren't prepared to comment at this time about reports indicating that the attacker was Captain Thunder. Pompadour was taken from the scene by ambulance, with undisclosed injuries. There is no sign of Avenger, who is wanted for questioning by the police on unrelated matters."

Club owners could not be reached for comment.

Mandy smiled, and reached for her scissors; a little something for the scrap-book. It's amazing how a few suggestions to the right reporter, coupled with a small token of appreciation will produce a newspaper article that says almost exactly what you want it to say.

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Idle Hands do the Devil's Paperwork

Monday afternoon saw Pompadour strolling into his agent's office with the massive questionnaire she had saddled him with while stuck in the hospital. He didn't have an appointment, but she waved him in anyways. "Hey Brett, nice job wrangling the press yesterday." "Just call me Pompadour or Pomp for short. Honestly, my other name doesn't mean much to me." Then he shrugged slightly. "As for yesterday, I thought they were doing quite a hatchet job on Mercy, and I didn't think that was right. Anyways... after being stuck in the hospital for two days, with what was just a backache, I got this" he waved the workbook at his agent "monstrosity filled out."

Mandy thumbed through the questionnaire briefly, "thanks... I was noticing you seem to be moving ok today." Pompadour had already started for the door, "yeah. I found a cute little Asian girl to walk on my back... with clogs made out of cinder blocks. I'm not actually kidding... we also tried shiatsu with a sledgehammer. Being super tough means I need super massage." "huh... I guess that makes sense... hey, some of these answers are kind of slim!" Pompadour just waved as he left.

And now... the Ridiculous Questionnaire...

Introduction

Give a two or three word description of yourself (Describe your character's concept).

Sexy Hair God.

Do you have any nicknames, street names, titles, or nom de plume?

I generally use Pompadour regardless of social circumstances.

What is your full birth name?

My agent made arrangements to change my name, so it's not really relevant.

Where do you live?

I have a luxury condo in Mid-town.

Why do you live there?

I think the property belongs to the investment and banking firm that my agent hired to handle my assets. It is a nice apartment, but the cynical side of me says they pawned it off on me because the North-West view sucks.

What do you perceive as your greatest strength?

My hair... not just a personal statement, coveted by many... it's awesomely powerful.

What do you perceive as your greatest weakness?

Probably my inexperience as a hero. Failing that, my lack of modesty.

Physical Traits

How old are you (Chronological age as well as age category)?

24 (and I'm not sure what the second half of this question is asking)

What is your sex?

Male

What is your race?

American Mutt.

How tall are you?

6'3"

How much do you weigh?

220

What is your general body type, frame, bone structure, and poise?

My frame is about average, but I have a lot of muscle mass. I have a lot of definition, but not like a Roid-Head. I'm learning to move like a celebrity... meaning even my casual gestures are kind of posed, and I've learned to pause for photo-ops.

What is your skin colour?

Just a hint dusky. There's some Mediterranean in my background, and I even some black, about 4 or 5 generations ago.

What is your hair colour?

Black

What is your hair style?

Asking me that question constitutes an Epic Fail.

Do you have any facial hair?

I generally maintain a bit of stubble.

What is your eye colour?

Blue

How attractive are you?

It's hard to get a good look at me, because I'm usually covered in women.

What is your most distinguishing feature?

My hair is Legendary.

Do you have any scars, tattoos, or birthmarks?

I have some awesome sleeve work, thanks to my buddy Trevor "Tank" Hancock.

What is your handedness (left/right/ambidextrous)?

Right

Do you resemble some currently known person?

I am frequently compared to Elvis or The Fonze, but no one has gone so far as to say that I look like either.

What kind of clothing do you wear?

I wear a lot of vintage or retro 50s Greaser stuff, mixed with a bit of 70s punk stuff.

Do you wear makeup?

I don't seem to need it; even when I'm on TV. I'm just that photogenic.

What sort of vocal tone do you have?

My fans say it sounds like caramel being poured over ice-cream. The haters say I sound smarmy. Still working on my singing voice, but I sound a lot like the guy from Against Me!

History

Where is your homeland?

For the last 300 years, my family has lived on the east coast... as far south as Florida, as far north as New Found Land.

Are you aware of its history?

I'm no expert, but I went to school...

Are you patriotic or a social outcast?

I don't see that as an either or situation. Can't outcasts be patriotic?

What are your opinion of home?

The previous administration made some very unpopular decisions at home and in the eyes of the world. I'm excited about the new administration, and making the USA a global hero again.

Where is your home town?

I live in Freedom City now.

Are your real reasons for becoming an adventurer different from what you tell others?

I'm not really sure. I was a villain, but not because I wanted to be. If I get to choose, I choose to be a hero. But, I don't think it's exactly a secret that I want to be a celebrity... and being a superhero is part of how I'm going to achieve the fame I want.

How far would you go to keep such secrets from being revealed? What would you do if the truth became known?

I'm pretty much exactly what I say I am. If someone wants to "expose the truth" in the media, I'll fight fire with fire, and get my side of the story out there.

What do you fear would occur if the truth became known?

The truth is, I'm really not a bad guy. I think there are still people who haven't gotten the memo that The Sinister Pompadour has reformed... so the farther the truth spreads the better.

Do you have any particularly high or low ability scores?

Without any false modesty, I'm one of the hottest men on the planet... and anyone who can see me knows I ain't lying. As for weaknesses... I would say I'm not what you'd call a pinnacle of self-discipline.

How have these scores affected your life so far?

Well, I got the looks with my super powers. I wasn't always this attractive... and suddenly everybody wants me. This is a new experience for me, and honestly, that lack of discipline might lead me astray. I think every young star that makes it big in Hollywood can relate to what I'm talking about.

What about your race, growing up were you in the majority or a minority?

I have the pleasure of being a 'true' American. There's no hyphens here, my family has been in the country too long to be anything but straight-up Americans. So... I'm not sure if I'm in the majority or the minority -I think I'm in a place where it doesn't matter.

Did this impact your outlook in any way?

I like to think it means I'm free of prejudice... but I don't think people generally acknowledge their prejudices.

How do you feel about other races?

Pretty much all of them are in my own make-up. My family has always been more interested in People than Races.

Were there any traumatic experiences in your early years (death of a family member, abandonment, orphaned at an early age)?

Really not. The only real traumatic event was the Mega Makeover fiasco.

Briefly describe a defining moment in your childhood and how it influenced your life.

Uhm... I got nothing.

What stupid things did you do when you were younger?

I don't really got... oh. Well, I went through a phase where I was stealing the page 3 girls from the UK paper in the library.

Which toys from your childhood have you kept?

When I left home for college I didn't really take any nostalgia with me. I don't really know what my parents may or may not have kept.

Why? What do they mean to you? If you didn't keep any, why not? What did you do to them all?

I don't really remember if there's any momentoes that mean anything to me... and I don't know what's happened to them.

Do you have any deep, dark secrets in the past that may come back to haunt you?

I'd just as soon my yearbook pictures didn't surface.

Are you who you claim to be?

There's a lot of smoke and mirrors. I have a good agent... but at the core, or at least somewhere under the gloss you can find the real me.

Do you have any sort of criminal record?

I was indicted for numerous criminal and federal crimes by a Grand Jury, but found not guilty due to mental incapacity. That doesn't mean stupid, it means I was suffering from a drug induced psychosis.

How do you view the heroes/legends of your country?

Honestly, I haven't really given it a lot of thought.

Family

Who were your parents?

Were you raised by them? If not, then why didn't they and who did raise you?

What was their standing in the community?

Did your family stay in one area or move around a lot?

How did you get along with their parents?

How would your parents describe you? Answer this in the voice of your mother, then in your father's.

Do you have any siblings? If so how many and what were their names? How did you get along with each of your siblings?

What was your birth position in the family?

List all current knowledge of family locations, spouses, children, birth dates, schooling, and any important incidents that only you and they might remember.

Do you stay in touch with them or have you become estranged?

Do you love or hate one member of the family in particular?

Is any member of the family special to you in any way (perhaps, as a confidant, mentor, or arch-rival)?

[a thick, heavy line is drawn through each of the above questions]

Here is, in a nutshell, everything you need to know about my family. My parents were good, regular people, and my siblings were good, regular (if typical) siblings. We had the White Picket Fence. However... when I became The Sinister Pompadour, they understandably moved away... names were changed. I don't know where they went... It's hard for me, because my experience really changed me. I'm not sure how I feel about my family, and they obviously aren't quite willing to trust that I'm cured of the mania that turned me into Sinister Pompadour.

Are there any black (or white) sheep in the family (including you)?

That would be me.

If so, who are they and how did they "gain" the position?

I signed up for an extreme make-over show... and I got more than I bargained for.

Do you have a notorious or celebrated ancestor?

My great-great-great grandmother ran away to Canada with the slave she helped to escape, so that she could live with him and raise a family. That was pretty scandalous for the times.

If so, what did this person do to become famous or infamous?

As above.

Do you try to live up to the reputation of your ancestor, try to live it down, or ignore it?

As I wrote earlier, I am proud that my family has always been pioneers in tolerance.

Do you ever want to have a family of your own someday?

I'm way too young to worry about that stuff.

Would anything change your mind on this issue and if so, what?

We'll see after I've grown up a bit.

What type of person would be your ideal mate?

Normally when guys write this, and they say they're looking for a double-joined bisexual girl without a jealous bone in their body, they're being kind of facetious... but that's actually what I'd need to see in a woman before I produced a rock and took a knee.

Relationships

Do you have any close friends? If so, who and what are they like?

Trevor "Tank" Hancock. He is a smart, solid guy. He's the one guy I know who truly knows the new, real, me.

What is the history of their relationship(s) with you?

After I stopped being The Sinister Pompadour, a lot of my perceptions had changed, and one of the things I knew I wanted was a tattoo. So, I went out to get one... but, I'm pretty much bulletproof, which means a normal tattoo needle can't touch me. When I snooped around, I was directed to see him. He's done all my Ink, and gave me more useful therapy than I got in the hospital.

Do you currently have a best friend whom you would protect with your reputation or your life?

That definitely applies to the Tank... except I can't really imagine him getting into trouble that was all that dire.

If so, who are they and what caused you to feel so close to them? What would have to happen for you to end this relationship?

At a time when pretty much everyone should have been afraid of me, he was willing to be my friend.

Do you have any bitter enemies?

Nope.

If so, who are they, what are they like, and what is the history of their feud with you?

Not applicable.

Have you defeated them before?

Not applicable

How might these enemies seek to discomfit you in the future?

I think a barrage of 'alt-girls' (Roller Babes, Tat & Piercing Enthusiasts, Neo Pin-Ups) armed with snacks and Cherry Cola crashing my apartment would be devastating.

Which person(s) or group(s) are you most loyal to?

hmm... see below.

Who is your most trusted ally?

I'm going to have to say my Agent, Amanda (Mandy) Karlson. Not just because she's financial invested in my success or mere professionalism. When it comes to helping me succeed, she is driven because she's made it her goal. I think that if she fell on really hard times, and became a street person she would still be personally invested in my success.

Who do you trust, in general?

I'm not exactly a paranoid person, nor am I gullible. I'm willing to give anyone trust, until I have reason not to.

Who do you despise and why?

Despise is a pretty harsh word... I don't really despise... no. Wait. I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon here... if I got the chance, I would hit White Knight soooooo hard.

Name seven things you hate in others.

I don't think there's anything that I would go so far as to say I hate in others. I don't really like guys who have to be all competitive and I really don't like bigotry... but I understand that sometimes these things can't be helped. Certain traits, or combinations of traits can irritate the hell out of me though.

Is your image consistent?

I just got started, so it's hard to say... but I think that in the future I'll probably change my image. I think a lot of the 'greats' reinvent themselves fairly regularly.

Do you deliberately present yourself differently in different situations, and how?

Other than adjusting to different social situations, I don't think I do.

What would you die for?

I can think of situations that I might... but I can't really see myself in those situations.

What is the worst thing someone has done to you?

Arguably, the worst thing is also the best thing, and that was sign me up for Mega Makeover.

What is your general reaction to an attractive member of the opposite sex who lets you know they are available?

sigh... The line starts over there.

How do you get along with others of the same adventuring class?

Haven't met too many yet. So far so good, I guess.

Have you lost any loves?

Well, I'm estranged from my family if that counts.

How did you handle the situation (short & long term)?

I'm not sure how I feel about that, to be honest.

Who would miss you should you go missing?

My Agent and my Tattoo Artist.

How close are you to your adventuring companions?

It's too early to say.

What do they not know about you?

I'm going to make a point about not talking about my family... It's either detail they don't need, or tear-jerk fodder.

Are you a member of any house, guild, organization, or church? What is your level of involvement?

I'm the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Me, Myself & I Club.

Personality & Beliefs

Do you, or did you, have any role models?

The role models I had aren't people who mean anything to me now. I'm not sure how that changed.

Do you have any heroes or idols, either contemporary or from legend?

Gettin' repetitive over here...

Did you ever become disillusioned with former heroes or idols? If so, why and what were the circumstances?

The whole Sinister Pompadour thing changed a lot of my thoughts and opinions... so maybe I used to consider Paul Revere a hero, maybe now I don't care. That makes answering these questions about childhood role models very hard, because in a lot of ways I was reborn when the Raven's serum cured the Sinister part of my personality.

When did you decide to become an adventurer?

Oddly enough, it was something my agent suggested to me... and I fell into a real live super adventure before we could discuss details.

Why have you chosen to risk your life as a career?

Honestly, I do expect to reap the celebrity rewards of superheroism... but I can do something most people can't. I can do some good in Freedom City.

What do you expect to get out of being an adventurer? What, if anything, would make you stop adventuring?

I'm looking for Fame... and I think I would probably stop if I didn't think think it was "working" and that can mean I'm not getting the press I want, or that I'm not doing enough good... or even that I'm taking too many serious injuries.

Do you have any dreams or ambitions? If not, why?

I want a string of platinum records, and a string of famous and hawt girlfriends.

What are your short term goals (what would you like to be doing within a year)?

Recording my second record, and spanking my 6th (or so) model-starlet girlfriend.

What are your long term goals (what would you like to be doing twenty years from now)?

You know, I'm a young man and I'm entering strange territory; celebrity, superhero... I think planning past the next year would be overly ambitious at this point.

If these goals seem at odds with each other, or with your dreams, how do you reconcile the differences?

Not applicable.

Do you have any great rational or irrational fears or phobias? If so, what are the origins of, or reasons behind them?

The Sinister Pompadour was an evil genius. My brain just doesn't work that way now. I can kind of remember how he thought, but I can't duplicate it... Sometimes when I'm asleep I have dreams... no, Nightmares about being that person again.

How do you react when this fear manifests itself?

Usually I wake up in a panic; sweating and freaking out... I remember waking up and writing down this chemical formula... I don't know what the heck it was supposed to do... but then I realized that, whatever it was, it was probably something horrible, so I burned it.

What are your attitudes regarding material wealth?

I'm someone who has relatively simple tastes suddenly blessed with a lot of income. I think the temptation would be to run out and buy a gold plated hummer... but I'm not going to go dine at Pharos, when what I really want is a hamburger.

Are you miserly with your share of the wealth, or do you spend it freely?

I've got my funds set up as an annuity, so if I burn through my bank account today, I have more next week. I don't generally use up all my available money, so it usually accumulates. I think I've already established a charitable fund... I'll have to check into details.

Do you see wealth as a mark of success, or just as a means to an end?

My perspective is kind of screwy... I thought I could use my superpowers to gain a reasonable amount of wealth... but I won the "Lawsuit Lottery." I'm pretty well off, and I didn't have to do anything.

How do you generally treat others?

That's sort of a matter of opinion. Women fall into my bed way too easily. I could exaggerate the brutal truth to them: Not only will I kick you out in the middle of the night, I won't call afterwords and they'd still do it. They probably think that they're the one I'm going to fall in love with... so they get disappointed when I don't.

Do you trust easily (perhaps too easily) or not?

I tend to be pretty trusting, but I wouldn't say that I'm not reasonably cautious.

Are you introverted (shy and withdrawn) or extroverted (outgoing)?

I used to be really introverted... once I became Pompadour, I became really extroverted.

Are you a humble soul or blusteringly proud?

That would dependent on whether you think my opinion of myself is unjustified.

What habits do you find most annoying in friends?

I don't really know... I'll get back to you if I notice something.

What are your most annoying habits?

I don't really know... I'll get back to you if someone tells me I have some.

Is there any race, creed, alignment, religion, class, profession, political viewpoint, or the like against which you are strongly prejudiced, and why?

Fundies make my scalp itch.

What is your favourite food?

I like me some classic drive-in. Big Stacked Burger and a Five Dollar Shake.

What is your favourite drink?

These answers may change, pending finalized endorsement contracts: I'm not too particular. If I'm out at a bar, I'll drink Miller Lite from the bottle, but that has as much to do with style as preference. For straight up taste, I like Cherry Coke.

What is your favourite treat (desert)?

Either vanilla ice-cream with strawberry sauce, or fudge brownies.

Do you favour a particular cuisine?

Classic American

Do you savor the tastes when eating or "wolf down" your food?

I'm not likely to spend 4 hours nibbling on a 12 course meal, but I'm not in any hurray.

Do you like food mild or heavily spiced?

Not too mild.

Are there any specific foodstuffs that you find disgusting or refuse to eat?

I suspect as I go to higher end parties and get exposed to more culture... I'm going to be offered food that falls under the "Emperor's New Clothes" provision... just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's good.

What are your favourite colour(s)?

I kind of like Red.

Is there any colour that you dislike?

No. Who hates a colour?

Do you have a favourite (or hated) song, type of music, or instrument?

I play a stand-up bass, and I really like it. It's the backbone of Rockabilly and Psychobilly music.

If you have a favourite scent, what is it?

uhm?

What is your favourite type of animal?

uhm?

Are you allergic to any kinds of animals?

Don't think so.

Is there anything that enrages you?

Lots of stuff makes me angry, but no particular thing pushes my berzerk button.

Is there anything which embarrasses you?

I always keep my cool.

Do you enjoy "roughing it", or do you prefer your creature comforts?

Roughing is less than 3 stars.

Do you have a patron deity?

Uhm... maybe? I guess so.

Are you devout or impious?

I wouldn't say indifferent, exactly...

Do you actively worship and proselytize or do you simply pay lip service?

er...

What lengths would you go to defend your faith?

uhm...

Was your faith influenced or molded by anyone special?

hmm...

Do you belong to a dominant church, or an independent church, cult, or sect (and is the group accepted, frowned upon, or considered heretics)?

I have no idea.

Will you kill?

Not if I can help it.

When did you decide (or learn) that you would?

I don't know if I can.

When do you consider it okay to kill (under what circumstances)?

I can understand that there are times when it would be, but I don't think that I'm the person that should be making that decision.

When do you consider it wrong to kill (under what circumstances)?

Most of them.

What would you do if someone else attempted to (or successfully did) kill under your "wrong" circumstances, what would be your reaction?

I know my limitations. I'm not the right person to make those calls... and it would be best to turn it over to someone who was.

What if it were your enemy?

That makes it easier to turn them over to justice.

What if it were your friend?

That makes it harder.

What if the opponent were not in control of their own actions (under duress, charmed, dominated, possessed)?

That makes it complicated... and we've already established I'm not a moral authority.

What would you do if something were stolen from you?

There's not a lot of stuff I have that can't be replaced.

What would you do if you were badly insulted publicly?

I have people to handle that sort of thing.

What would you do if a good friend or relative were killed by means other than natural death?

I'd be looking for justice, I guess... in whatever nebulous way is best suited to this nebulous question.

What is the one task you would absolutely refuse to do?

Probably something gross.

What do you consider to be the worst crime someone could commit and why?

Some creepy dude is always saying something like "Death isn't the worst thing that can happen to you." So, I kind of think it's not murder... but I'm not sure what it is.

How do you feel about government (rulers) in general? Why do you feel that way?

I sometimes wish I could be convinced they were actually the right people for the jobs... or that the real rulers of the country aren't the faceless bureaucrats we never see.

Do you support the current government of your homeland?

Yes, but not fanatically.

If so, how far are you willing to go to defend the government? If not, do you actively oppose it?

I'll give them my vote and my voice, until they give me reason to do otherwise.

What form of government do you believe is the best (democracy, monarchy, anarchy, aristocratic rule, oligarchy, matriarchy) and why?

Democracy. Unless Matriarchy means rule by the hottest chick, I could get behind that.

Do you have any unusual habits or dominant personality traits that are evident to others?

My hair is as useful to me as my hands, if not more so. I'm as likely to use them as I am my hands, even if I'm not trying to show off that I have a special ability.

If so, describe them and how you acquired them, as well as when they might be more noticeable and what causes them.

Well, there was this show...

Do you have any unusual or nervous mannerisms, such as when talking, thinking, afraid, under stress, or when embarrassed?

Not that I know of.

What is your most treasured possession?

My bass is a custom piece, I'm thinking probably that.

If your life were to end in 24 hours, what 5 things would you do in those remaining hours?

Anything I write here is probably cliche... and the truth is you'll never know until you really are in that situation. This, also, has been a cliche.

Career & Training

Where and how were you educated?

I have a business diploma from a community college.

Who trained you in your adventuring class(es)?

Yeah... I should get me some of that.

What was your relationship with your teacher(s)/mentor(s)?

I doubt you're asking about college...

Is this person or institution still in existence?

Sure...

Were you a prize student or did you just barely pass?

I got good grades.

Look at your skills. How did you acquire them (especially the unusual ones)?

I don't think I have any really unusual skills.

Have you ever done anything else for a living?

Not really.

How do you function in combat (maneuvers, weaknesses)?

Yeah... again, I should look into some sort of super-training.

Have you ever received any awards or honours?

Nothing really worth mentioning.

Is there anything that you don't currently know how to do that you wish you could?

Most of the skills I have I just need to improve on.

Are you envious of others who can do such things in a good-natured way or are you sullen and morose about it?

This mostly makes me think of music, where no matter how popular you get, you will always turn into a babbling fanboi around your influences and idols.

Lifestyle & Hobbies

When not adventuring, what is your normal daily routine?

I don't really have one... my life is just getting started, and I haven't really put it in order, or an order yet.

How do you feel and react when this routine is interrupted for some reason?

Interruptions mean something interesting is happening, and that's cool.

What are your hobbies when you are not adventuring or training?

I like going to shows, and carousing... I'm also working on song-writing and improving my musical craft.

What do you do for relaxation? What things do you do for enjoyment? What interests do you have?

I need to explore that side of myself more. My days are an open book, and I need to find more lines for the pages.

How do you normally dress when not in your adventuring gear?

I wear the same sort of stuff all the time.

What do you normally wear in bed at home?

When you have Egyptian cotton and silk blend sheets with a ridiculous thread-count, you sleep naked.

What do you normally wear in bed while adventuring?

If some sort of escapade keeps me out past my bedtime, I probably will end up sleeping in my clothes.

Do you wear any identifiable jewelry?

Currently I don't wear anything... maybe I should check into some Bling.

Where do you normally put your weapons, magic items, or other valuables when you are sleeping?

I've never journeyed to Mordor... the closest I've been was a trip to Milwaukee to see a band called The Ring Wraiths.

What morning or evening routines do you normally have?

In the morning, I have breakfast. At night, I go to bed.

Do these change when you are adventuring?

I hope not. I like my breakfast and my sleep.

Travel: how do you get around locally?

I could zip through town on tendrils of hair... but I'm not really experienced with that yet. I have a custom street-rod that works pretty well.

Do you have a Last Will and Testament?

I'll have to check with my agent on that.

What does it say?

It ought to say something like: I got something to say! It's better to burn out... than fade away.

Miscellaneous

What would you like to be remembered for after your death?

I'm not sure. I wanted to be a star, through my music. This super hero thing is a new idea... so, I think I'm just going to say "yes." Next question...

What kind of threat do you present to the public?

None, I hope. I do worry that I might somehow remember how to think like the Sinister Pompadour... and that the Super Intelligence I had will still come with a side order of Psychopath.

If your features were to be destroyed beyond recognition, is there any other way of identifying your body?

I have a hunch that my hair would survive a nuclear blast at ground zero, even if the rest of me were scattered atoms.

As a player, if you could, what advice would you give your character? Speak as if he/she were sitting right here in front of you. Use proper tone so they might heed your advice...

Quit being such a douchebag. Seriously. If you stop your seek & destroy style serial dating, you will find more satisfaction in maintaining a long term relationship with one special woman.

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3rd Page News

Mandy checked her newspaper, then double checked the front page. Frowning she opened up the paper and began to dig through it. Towards the back of the paper, she found a brief two-paragraph article about the liquor-store robbery. She drummed her fingers on her desk, and frowned. Oh, well... I guess it was 'just' a liquor store robbery -even if the perps were demons. At least they had mentioned that Pompadour and Mercy had stopped the robbery.

Something else on the page caught Mandy's eye... an add for Madame Li's Karmic Adjuster. It featured a picture of her client, Pompadour with an enormous smile on his face. Super Therapy for Super Heroes the ad was tagged. She checked her watch 9:17am -she resolved to call Pomp in a few hours... when he'd be out of bed.

Later...

"Pomp, we have someone using your likeness without a contract."

"What?! They're using my what?" Pompadour's voice was a bit fuzzy, he was only barely up.

"Like an endorsement. They've got a picture of you, and it's not a very good one, implying you endorse their product."

"Oh. Oh! Ok. Who is it?"

"Madame Li's Karmic Adjusters."

"Ooooooh... actually I do endorse their product. We should get something on paper, though... and get them a better picture."

"Alright, I'll get Gerald to give them a call."

"No, not Gerald. Kid gloves, please. I don't want Madame Li mad at me."

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In Soup there is Truth

Pompadour parked his souped up PT Cruiser across the street from The Ink Tank, grabbed the big bag of take-out from the passenger seat, and headed inside. He had stopped by without an appointment, or calling first and Tank was still with a client. His front-end girl, improbably named Buick invited him to hang around until Tank was free. He considered the woman's blocky, anvil-like physique and the gems and metal embedded in her teeth, lips and tongue and decided that perhaps Buick wasn't such an improbable a name after all. Buick worked reception, ordered supplies and apprenticed as an artist when possible. An established tattoo artist named Mickey-Z rented a chair from Tank... Pomp wasn't sure if the wraith-like, emo Mickey-Z was a boy or a girl... in any case, he had picked up lunch for four people; a tasty Vietnamese soup called Pho and green onion cakes. He passed styrofoam containers and paper bags out to Buick and Mickey-Z, and waited for Tank to be finished. He browsed the portfolio books and considered getting more ink done once his sleeve was finished.

Once Tank was finished with his client, he and Pompadour took their lunch out on a bench behind the building to eat and talk.

"Got an interview with the magazine people tomorrow night... and my agent's got me going out to New York to be on Tyra next week."

"That's kind of what you wanted, isn't it? Get yourself famous, live the high life?"

"I thought it was. Things seem to be moving awfully fast. She wants me to be a super hero, did I tell you?"

Trevor shook his head, his mouth full of green onion cake. "I hadn't heard. Does this have anything to do with what happened at the club the other night?"

"Actually... no. That was just a coincidence. I mean... I wouldn't put it past Mandy to stage something, but that Donar guy had some serious power, and I doubt that she could or would have arranged for something of that magnitude." Pompadour scooped up some noodles and mystery meat and chewed for a few minutes. "I guess I don't mind the idea of being a hero. But I still don't have a really good idea of what I can do. When I was doing the evil thing I acted on instinct. I don't have those instincts anymore."

"Albright Institute, man." Pompadour arced an eyebrow at his friend. "They study metahuman, or super powers. They're always looking for people with special abilities to test what they can do and how they can do it. They have a special gym that can measure and test your powers."

"That sounds promising... but there's got to be a long waiting list for something like that. It's probably pretty exclusive?"

Tank shook his head, chewing again. "They get a lot of applicants, but their screening test is extremely fast and simple. You go in, they ask you if you have super powers, and if you can't demonstrate that you do, your name doesn't go on the list."

"Hmm."

They ate their food in silence for a while. Finally Trevor "Tank" Hancock tipped his foam bowl back, drinking the last of the soup broth. He nibbled his green onion cake, while giving Pompadour a very long, very appraising look.

"Frankly Pomp, I'm not sure if you're asking the right question here."

"What's the right question, Trev?"

"Should you be a superhero."

"That is a good question. What do you think?"

"Nice dodge. Well, lemme start you off. You got to think about the ethical and moral angles. Yeah, you can stop someone from robbing a store, but what if you hurt them doing it? What's worse... their theft or your assault?"

"Ye-ah..." Pompadour considered this. "I think I'm ok with that. I mean... if you don't want to get hurt while robbing a store, you shouldn't rob the store. That same robber is probably not going to hold back on trying to hurt me if he can... but that leads me to some questions I'm a lot less comfortable with. Like, one of the girls in group therapy can't hold a job because of her depression. She hooks to make rent. So... is she committing a crime or just surviving?"

"Don't stop there, man. Maybe you go after pimps instead... But it would be hard to put them in jail without their girls' testimony and what happens to those girls when the pimp gets out of jail? Street Crime is depressing... and it's an ethical quagmire that will suck you in and not spit you back out." Tank popped the last bit of his green onion cake into his mouth, stood up and brushed off his pants. "I'm not saying you can't be a hero, or that you can't do some good with your powers. What I am saying is that you need to think about action and consequence... but don't let that bog you down too much. You are a good person. Listen to your heart, and you will be just fine. I got another client in ten... but it was good talking to you man. Thanks for lunch."

Pompadour also stood up, and gave his friend a big, rough hug. "No, it's good talking to you. Even if you did warp my brain. Bastard."

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The Mullet takes Manhattan

After sharing lunch and talking with Tank, Pompadour found himself back in his condo, worrying about packing. Finally, he shrugged and forgot about it. I don't have any personal stuff I need, I don't really have any clothes, and I'm going to New York. All I really need is an empty suitcase, and I can get that when I get there. His agent had suggested that he bring his bass along, so he grabbed the case out of the bedroom where he had left if a few days before. He had agreed to pick Mandy up at 6:30pm for an 8 o'clock flight.

Since he had a few hours to kill, Pompadour made up a list of things he needed, predominantly basic toiletries and headed out shopping. It was perhaps fortunate that he was just killing time. Pompadour found shopping to be surprisingly time consuming. He found that the sales clerks, especially the lady ones... just did not want to let him go. They always had just one more thing they wanted to show him. He managed to procure the few things he really needed, while eating up a surprising amount of time. When he finally drove out to Mandy's Riverside townhome, he was racing against the clock. They got to Jameson Airport and checked in before 7:00 pm. In one of the airport's finer eateries they discussed their itinerary.

Tomorrow, he would interview with a writer for Us magazine's "Superheroes: they're just like Us" column. Thursday, he would return for follow-up questions and a photo shoot. On Friday, Mandy had arranged for him to meet with a representative from Geffen. Saturday afternoon he was scheduled to attend an art show at the Guggenheim and Saturday evening he was 'on the list' for a hot new club. Sunday, there would hopefully be time for shopping... and finally, Monday... the Tyra Show... Live.

"Sounds like a busy week," Pompadour told his agent. She nodded. They finished their after dinner drinks in amiable solitude, and then headed for the VIP boarding lounge.

Thanks to Heritage for "Superheroes: Just like Us!"

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This Flight Tonight

The flight to New York was quite enjoyable. Mandy had booked them into First Class seats which were deep and comfortable. A somewhat continuous stream of flight attendants offered every conceivable comfort. The flight was also too short for Pompadour to get over the novelty of flying first class and become bored or irritable. During the flight, Mandy produced the questionnaire he had filled out a few days before, and went through some of his answers with him. She made suggestions for phrasing, things to emphasize, and topics to steer clear of. She also cautioned him that while she was supposed to have final editorial of the magazine piece, if he told them anything truly juicy or inflammatory, they might well run the piece how they wanted and risk the legal consequences.

With assorted delays, Pompadour and Mandy didn't clear the airport and get to their hotel until 10:30pm. Pompadour waved off the bell-hop. His only luggage was his stand-up bass, and he carried Mandy's few bags with tendrils of hair. He had yet to try to pick up something with his hair that didn't seem weightless, and contemplated how much he could actually lift. For that matter, he had come to realize that he had incredible strength in his arms as well. Well he'd learn more about that soon enough; he'd booked an appointment with the Albright Institute for the following Monday. Pompadour received several odd looks. Mandy checked them in, adjoining suites apparently. The upscale hotel had an elevator attendant who seemed scandalized to see Pompadour carrying his luggage... whether because he wasn't attended by a bell hop, or because he was using his hair to do it wasn't clear.

Pompadour set his instrument case down in his room, then went through the adjoining room to bring Mandy her luggage. They chatted, briefly, but she seemed concerned about something. Finally, Mandy said "A long time ago, I told you that willpower and professionalism was keeping me from pouncing on you. That still goes. But... tonight, traveling with you, having other people -other women look at me with you. I could see them wondering what I had that you wanted, and that felt pretty damn good. And you... paying attention to me, taking my bags like a gentleman..." Mandy gave him a searching look, perhaps debating what she would say next. "And so, my lovely, yummy Pompadour... I'm not made of steel. Tonight, lock your door... and don't let me in."

Pompadour blinked. Oh, awkward... "oh. Yeah, sure thing, boss." As he turned back to his own room, he did not see his agent's manicured nails digging furrows into her skirt.

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A Week in the Big Apple, Part I

The night passed uneventfully. Perhaps admitting her fear that she might want nocturnal company was enough to strengthen Mandy's resolve. Pompadour, conscious of his utter lack of luggage slipped out early and visited the boutique in the hotel. He picked out a new outfit, as well as a few assorted extras. He breakfasted on bagels, cream cheese and coffee in a bistro across the street from the hotel, and then returned to his room to shower and change. Perhaps feeling a bit awkward, Mandy did not attempt to track him down until nearer the time of his interview. Neither of them mentioned last night's admission.

A car was summoned to take them to the offices of Us Magazine. On the way to the interview, Mandy reminded Pomp of some of the key points she had discussed with him on the flight. The rest of the afternoon proved grueling. A perky young woman trapped him in an office that was either too damn hot, or too damn cold and asked him increasingly repetitive questions. Then, after a short break for a snack, the whole thing started all over again. Pompadour did his level headed best to remain pleasant and jovial with the woman the entire time. For reasons he was unable to determine, she seemed unaffected by his hawtness powers. Despite this unexpected setback, he thought the interviews went rather well.

Wednesday night was spent quietly bumming around the hotel. After a quiet dinner, Mandy excused herself to her room. Pompadour browsed the boutique in the hotel again, and picked out a few more articles of clothing. Then he spent a few hours in front of the television. Every once in a while, he could hear Mandy in her suite. Before turning in himself, he tapped on the adjoining door and said good-night through it... and heard a murmer in reply.

Thursday morning saw Pompadour and Mandy back in the offices of Us Magazine. An editor sat down with them to go through the rough draft and make some notes. Mandy was assured she would have access to the final draft for editorial approval by Friday afternoon. Then Pompadour got to spend three hours posing for photographs.

That night, he decided to see the sights. His agent pled fatigue, and declined to come with him. He went down to the car by himself. "I'm a tourist. show me all the sights," he told the driver. The man nodded, and pulled into the New York traffic. The smoothly moving towncar passed through Time Square. Pompadour gawked at the enormous electronic signs and the bustling people. He decided not to get out and wander around, though. He had a vague notion that the Square was supposed to be seedy, but it didn't seem that way. The car went on to the waterfront, and Pompadour got out to take a look at America's Grandest Old Girl. My ancestors beat you here, but I dig what you do, baby. A street vendor hawking souveniers caught Pompadours eye, and he left $20 poorer, but with a plastic replica of the statue, except wearing Lady Liberty's red, white and blue costume.

The car had one final stop to make. As the car approached Ground Zero, Pompadour felt, or imagined that the city seemed to grow quieter or somber. Almost 8 years later, the wound in the heart of the Big Apple... in the heart of the country still hurt. Pompadour got out of the car, and walked at a slow pace to the monument. He looked around, and let his mind wander. This is the truth of evil. Over 2000 dead for no reason but Hate... and this is where ordinary men and women proved Heroes beyond the Centurion. So easy to be a hero when you're indestructible. To run into a burning, collapsing office tower when you're not... you're not indestructible Pomp... do you have what it takes to be a Hero? He was just a teenager when it happened, but he still remembered the day. He wiped some moisture from his eyes, and returned to the car.

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A Week in the Big Apple, Part II

Friday morning, Pompadour and his agent set out again. This time, Pompadour brought his massive, stand-up bass along, as their destination was Geffen Records. The next few hours at the record company went by at a blur. For the most part, Pompadour played the part of a trained Monkey, while Mandy talked business. Secretaries -ruthless guardians of portals to people of increasing prominence were disarmed and dispatched by Mandy with talk of appointments and other words of power. Later, in a small acoustically sound chamber, Pompadour played and sang for a grim-faced suit who sat in judgement. Later his agent dueled the man, for the highest stakes of all: money, percentages, artistic control... Pompadour felt wiped out from performing, but watching The Ruthless One, Amanda Karlson tear a hapless recording exec apart left him feeling numb.

"So, what was it that you arranged back there?" He asked, on the way back to the hotel in the slick, black towncar.

"Development contract. I signed you to a sub-label's sub-label. They like your looks, and don't mind your sound. Most of what we arranged is speculative. Your talent as a musician and a singer needs to improve to match your potential as a front-man. They offered us a lump sum for first dibs on anything you put out. If you put out a record within the next 18 months, they will also provide a production budget, advertising budget, and promote a first single."

"So... is that good? Did you... we... get what you wanted?"

Mandy looked utterly smug. "Oh yes. I basically stopped short of having him gift-wrap his cojones for me."

That afternoon, Mandy insisted on taking Pompadour out shopping. Primarily for clothes, but she also dragged him to a few upscale jewelry stores. Supper time saw Pompadour carrying an assortment of bags, not to mention new luggage. A heavy steel Breitling chronograph with a carbon-fiber face adorned his left wrist. They sat down to eat at Zoe on Prince St. Most of the conversation was idle chatter, although Pompadour did complain of being talked into spending so much money that was from a line of credit. But then, Mandy told him what his recording contract was worth, and that made it seem more reasonable.

Friday night, Pompadour decided to visit a nightclub; the doorman at their hotel suggested The Guesthouse. Ten o'clock found him wading a sea of beautiful people, drinking over-priced light beer, and having... a pretty reasonable time. The New York 'talent' was a little more blase, but he did draw a fair amount of notice. When he was roaming the club, the women would drag him onto the dance floor. When he was sitting down, they would press themselves into his lap. One dark-haired stunner seemed more determined than most to get his attention. He couldn't hit the dance floor without her making an appearance, or sit down to rest without her tracking him down. Unsurprisingly, when he headed for the exit, she was there to join him, arm-in-arm. The rest of the night passed somewhat more eventfully.

He woke up alone on Saturday morning. Last night seemed pretty surreal. He was more or less sober for the whole evening but it had been an entirely new experience for him. He would be wondering if it had actually happened, if he hadn't found a pair of panties with a name and number monogrammed into the waist-band. He chose to order breakfast to his room, to consider the events of the previous evening. He wondered if perhaps he was supposed to feel different... but he didn't really. Later that day, he was supposed to attend an Art show at the Guggenheim. His thoughts continued to be preoccupied with the previous night. He drifted through the gallery, without seeing much of the works of Art. He practiced the two techniques his agent taught him -look for the artist tag, to make sure it's actually Art and then scan the work until you spy the signature. With this simple technique, he managed to look like he was actually interested in the show.

Saturday night, he was slated to attend the opening of a new club. He found himself feeling antsy, and unsure about another foray into the wilds of the Big City Nightlife. Finally, he managed to psych himself up enough to attend the opening. Pompadour found the events somewhat more nerve-wracking that he had expected. First, some Press was on hand to cover the opening. He was photographed being admitted beyond the velvet rope. A few Media Mavens with better access actually managed to corner him, and ask him questions inside the club. One, a 40-something blonde asked him about his 'Sinister Intentions' with a look of terror in her eyes. She knew who he had been, although perhaps not who he was now. As the evening progressed, he found that not one or two, but three women were becoming increasingly competitive for his attentions. Uncomfortable, he tried to evade them, but to little avail. The girls presented a united front, and tracked him down wherever he went to avoid them. Finally he told them that he wouldn't be able to choose between them. He was more than a little disturbed when they told him that he didn't have to.

The wee hours saw Pompadour faced with a writhing hydra of feminine lust on his bed. Partially disrobed, petting each other, eying him with evident hunger. Pompadour regarded the women. Six eyes leered back at him. Then... he sent them home. A call down to the desk arranged cabs, and some firm words evicted the women from his suite.

There were no events scheduled for Sunday, and Pompadour spent the entirety of the day in his room.

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Fierce!

"Our next guest wanted to be on America's Next Top Model so badly, he hijacked the whole show... I mean he literally stole the whole show. Come on out here, Pompadour."

There was a smattering of boos mixed in with the applause that greeted Pompadour as he walked on stage at the Tyra Banks show. The hostess herself took a step back and raised her hands like claws and made a cat hiss at him -although the gesture was clearly mocking. Pompadour himself recoiled in mock-horror, cowering briefly behind a raised arm. After their brief charade, guest and host hugged briefly before settling onto her cream coloured crescent couch. One lone audience member continued to boo, but Tyra shushed him fiercely.

"So, Pomp... I understand that you really don't remember anything about your life as The Sinister Pompadour."

"Basically. It's all hazy, sort of like if how you might remember a movie you watched while you were high. If you can imagine that."

"I wouldn't know anything about that." :? " Sort of like a dream, maybe? But really, there's no point in asking you about what was going on in your head back then, or why you did what you did."

"That's pretty much true, I don't have a lot of insight. From what I understand it came down to paranoid ravings. One day I was going off about unrealistic expectations the fashion industry puts on people to be beautiful, the next day I was in a rage because that make over show didn't make me pretty enough." Pompadour offers an elegant shrug.

"Not pretty enough? Boy, you fine!" Ms. Banks made a dismissive gesture. "Alright, so tell me about now. What's life like, post-supervillain?"

"Right now, everything is pretty up in the air. In a lot of ways, I was completely reborn when The Raven injected me with that serum. It's not just memories of being a villain that are hazy, a lot of my life before then is hard to remember, and a lot of the things I'm into have changed. I mean, I only bother using the name Pompadour now, although I have a civie name... but it doesn't mean anything to me, y'know?"

"I feel you. It's really odd for me to be saying this... especially when we get back to that supervillain that took my show hostage thing... but I can see that it's been hard for you, and I hope things work out OK for you... now, since you wanted to be on America's Next Top Model so bad, we cooked up a special little something for you." Tyra gestures toward the monitor "take a look."

A montage of Tyra's cohorts from ANTM set to Right Said Fred's "I'm too Sexy" plays. Mr. Jay walks Pompadour through a photo shoot, Miss Jay spends some time teaching him to walk in heals, Benny Ninja teaches him the fine art of the extreme vogue. The montage is interspersed with images of Pompadour in glamour poses with various former contestants on the show.

"Ooooh, you go girl! You're a natural, Pompadour!"

"I had a blast, and the Jays were great, and Benny Ninja... all the girls. That was an awesome experience... and now, I have something for you." As Pompadour stood up, Tyra's expression became just a tiny bit nervous. His hair seemed to expand, and uncoil, and eventually he unfurled a giant cheque, made out to the Tyra Banks Foundation for $50,000. The two of them stood, holding the cheque, and swapping kisses on the cheek as the show cut to commercial.

Trevor "Tank" Hancock pushed a button on the remote. They were sitting in Pompadour's living room, watching the show via the miracle of Tivo on his big screen. "How exactly did you do that man?"

"Do what, Trev?"

"That novelty cheque. It's... 3 feet tall, almost six long... where were you keeping it?"

"Uh, you know... just... in my hair? I dunno. It fit."

Trevor frowned, eying Pompadour's head thoughtfully.

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Days and Days

Without a job or school to get him up in the morning, Pompadour found it was easy to lose track of time. He would find himself lounging around in his silk pajamas, sipping coffee and then realize it was practically supper time. Treating his music career as a job helped a lot. He set himself a practice schedule, and an alarm to get himself up in the morning and a clock to punch when it came to writing and practicing his bass.

Mandy called often, with things she wanted him to get involved in. First, she had arranged for him to work out and learn combat skills from a super tough martial artist, and his first lesson was on Wednesday. She also arranged for him to get into the Ace Danger Home-Coming Party. He also made arrangements to see his friend Trevor at least once a week... although his tattoo was virtually finished, 'Tank' was a perfectionist and was more than happy to touch up tiny bits of it that seemed fine to a less trained eye. Pompadour contemplated getting more work done, but didn't want to become an ink addict.

He was starting to get into a nice routine, regularly interrupted by something interesting to see or do. Life... was good.

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Fireworks on the Fourth

Having never really felt at home at the condo Randolph had arranged for Pompadour, and having come into full possession of his long awaited law-suit payouts, Pompadour had moved into a posh manor-home on the Lake MacKenzie estates. His old condo had come furnished, so 'moving into' the new place was as simple as ordering furniture, and throwing his few suit-cases from New York into the back of his car. He opted to have an Independence Day-House warming.

Mandy Karlson, and her office people came... Cassie, the eager receptionist, and her new office-boy Nicholas. Trevor "Tank" Hancock and his art associates from The Ink Tank; the androgynous Mickey-Z and the very butch Buick. His lawyer, Gerald Case showed up with his boyfriend. Pompadour also had some newer associates from the music world he'd been working with more and more. Mandy had tracked him down a pair of session musicians he could record and tour with. The two women were chosen for their sex-appeal as much as for their musical talent (which they most certainly had); Tamara Meadows and Chelsea Blackwood. Tamara had brought her boyfriend, and Chelsea was hoping to interview Pompadour for that position. Pompadour's producer also showed up, a surprisingly bland fellow with the moniker Chas Smith.

Pompadour played host, happily showed the guests around his new digs. There was a recording studio in the basement, but not yet operational. Mr. Smith excused himself to mess around with the various decks and mixing boards. He had hired a caterer, and there was far too much food for the dozen or so people that had come. The diverse groups of people were able to mix together quite well, once liberal amounts of alcohol had been applied to the situation.

Later in the evening, Pompadour found himself on the deck sipping scotch with his best friend Tank, while they overtly watched Chelsea skinny-dipping.

"How's business, Trev?"

"Pretty damn good, actually. How's super-heroin' treating you?"

Pompadour scowled. "That's over with now."

Tank nodded. "I sort of thought so. I hadn't heard you do, or say anything about that biz since the party."

"Yeah... I don't think that's the right world for me. Someone I talked to there sort of made the point to me that no matter what I do, my origin as a supervillain is always going to follow me."

"I didn't hear much about that party. I saw you going in, your red-carpet moment, but almost nothing about you once you got inside."

Pompadour considered the agreement that Mandy had worked out with Fletcher Beaumont, and the limited value of rehashing the unpleasantness of the party for his friend, and decided that there just wasn't any point. "I left early. Super Heroes just aren't my kind of people, I guess."

The two men returned to sipping their scotch, and watching the lithe, buxom Chelsea flaunt her nudity in the pool.

Later, the guests who were still standing gathered on the balcony to watch the fireworks. Mandy maneuvered in close to chat with Pompadour.

"So... I was only ever billed once for training with Thunder. When were you planning on getting back to see her?"

Pompadour had a pleasant amount of scotch inside him, smiled happily. "Don't need to."

"That's odd... I got the impression she felt you could benefit from a lot of training."

Pompadour nodded, "Musicians don't need to fight too much. I think I could already take the Gallagher brothers, anyways."

"...and superheroes?" Mandy prompted.

Pompadour pointed out the first of the fire-blossoms exploding over the bay. "Let's enjoy the fireworks."

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