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R. Bluefish


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Who are you? Sum yourself up in one sentence.

I’m Starlight, a light-controlling super.


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

Just Starlight.


What is your full birth name?

Samantha Madison Lawrence.


Where do you live?

Freedom City. I spend most of my time in the Fens. I was, uh, “between residences” for a while, but now I’m staying in Greenbank with Asli.


How old are you? What year were you born (if applicable)?

I’m 26 years old. I was born in 1988.


Physical Traits

What is your gender? If not applicable, please explain.

Female, last time I checked.


How would you describe your heritage?

No clue. Mom never talked much about family. And I’m no genealogist.


How tall are you?

Five feet, eight inches.


What is your body type?

I’m kind of skinny. I didn’t take very good care of myself before my powers manifested, and…well, now I don’t know how the hell my metabolism works.


Do you have any particular weaknesses, such as allergies or physical disabilities?

Not anymore. Used to be have some serious hayfever allergies, but my powers seem to have taken care of all that. Only thing with my powers is I need to juice them up from a light source every day or so, or they stop working. It has to be natural light, too, like the sun or something.


How do you carry yourself? Are you graceful, or heavy on your feet? Can you be stealthy, do you walk with confidence?

I’m told I tend to trudge a bit, like I just got some bad news. I also have a habit of keeping my hands in my pockets. I can be pretty quiet when I need to, though.


Describe your skin, eye, and hair color.

I’m white, blonde, and have grey eyes.


How do you wear your hair, if applicable? Do you have facial hair?

I keep my hair back a ponytail. It’s pretty long, goes down to my waist or so. Facial hair? Hell no.


Do you consider yourself attractive? Do others?

Attractive? I used to. Kinda stopped caring about that when I stopped doing drugs. These days…I have other things to worry about.


Do you have any scars, tattoos, piercings, or birthmarks?

I had a few scars. Biggest one was a nasty little cigarette burn on the back of my hand, courtesy of dear old Mom. But they all disappeared when I got my powers. I don’t know why. I guess compared to getting all that poison out of my system, erasing a few scars must have been child’s play for them. I still have pierced ears, though, and wear a couple of earrings in both. And I have this fancy tattoo of a half-eclipsed sun on my right shoulder. Woke up with that one morning after getting wasted.


Do you resemble anyone famous?

I think someone once told me I look like a young Vera Farmiga, whoever that is.


Do you have a dominant hand?



What kind of clothing do you wear?

Black jeans, a T-shirt, boots. And a leather jacket. I don’t get cold anymore, I just like the look.


Do you wear makeup?

No, never. Even if I wanted to, I don’t have any money.


What is your vocal range? Is your voice distinctive in some way?

My voice is a little deep for a woman, but nothing that unusual.


Do you have any distinctive habits, nervous tics, or mannerism? Where did they come from, and what causes them? Do other people notice and remark on these habits? Do they annoy you or other people?

Yeah, I still have a bunch of little habits from my junkie days. I’m always shifting around, avoiding eye contact, fidgeting with stuff. You know, the kind of habits that make cops want to search you. People don’t really mention them, but they look at you differently, like they can tell you’re beneath them.



Where do you come from?

Right here. Freedom City, born and raised. Hell, until I accidentally ‘ported myself into outer space, I’d never been outside the city limits.


Have you made any major moves, or do you live in your hometown?

Unless going to the moon now and then counts, I still live in FC.


Do you feel loyal to your country of citizenship? Do you consider yourself patriotic? How do you feel about the government of your country?

I don’t feel loyal to any one country. I just live here. The government? I don’t really trust them. They turned on us supers once before. Who’s to say there isn’t another Moore Act waiting in the wings, just waiting for an excuse to be passed?


How do you feel about the place you come from?

Well, the Fens is a cesspit, take it from me. The rest of it is fine, I guess.


Where is your home town? What was/is it like?

Like I said, I was born and raised right here. Same as it ever was, give or take a few supers.


Growing up, were most of the people you knew similar to you, or were you somehow a minority? How did that affect you?

I was always kind of the weird kid at school. Comes of Mom being an angry drunk. I was the kid who showed up every day with new bruises. And no lunch. Either because Mom hadn’t bothered to buy food, or because I’d given it to Becky.


Is there something you’ve always been really good at or really bad at? How has that affected your life?

I’ve never been any good at anything. (Until now, I suppose). Bad at something? Sure, I’m bad at not treating the people I love like s—t. Really bad.


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

Mom drank. A lot. I think she started after Dad left. And she hit me all the time. I let her. Better me than Becky, I thought.


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

Let’s just say, the first time somebody handed me a joint at a party? Thanks, man. Thanks a whole lot.


What stupid things did you do when you were younger?

What didn’t I do? I started in high school, mostly. Smoked, drank. Started doing drugs. I thought I’d just try it once, see what it was like. You can see how that worked out.


Where did you go to school? How much school did you have, and did you enjoy it?

I went to school here, in the city. Hated every minute of it. All the kids treated me and my sister like freaks. I dropped out when I was sixteen because I thought it was getting in the way of my – ha – life.


Do you have any mementos of your childhood? What are they, and why did you keep them? If you have none, why not?

Nothing about my childhood I want to remember.


When did you decide to become a hero? Why? Did anyone influence you one way or another in the decision?

Started when I overdosed. Sounds weird when I say it like that. Usually it all ends when you overdose, right? But for me, it kickstarted something. The super gene or whatever the hell they call it. Shoulda woke up dead, instead I woke up glowing.

You know how my powers mean I can’t be poisoned? Well, turns out that applies to drugs too. I didn’t crave anymore. At first when I realized that, I was happier than I’d been in years. I thought it was like this magic cure that had just fixed my life, just like that. Then I started to realize what I’d – how I’d treated my kid, Arthur. Then I just wanted to forget again, I couldn’t deal with that. So I tried to shoot up, and it didn’t work. It was never going to work again.

That, right there, was when it all really hit me. I mean, look at what I was doing. It’s like God just up and gives me this one chance to get off that stuff, and I turn right around and try to go back to using? What the hell was wrong with me? I still don’t want to think about who I might be today if the drugs had worked. Superpowered junkie? Recipe for disaster.

So, I decided I wasn’t going to be that person anymore. I know I can’t change all the things I did before, but maybe I can try to, I don’t know, make things a little better now? Like, if I do enough good now, maybe the world will still end up being a little better off for my having been born?

Try telling that to Arthur, I guess.


Is the reason you give people for becoming a hero different than your real reason? If so, why?

I usually don’t talk about the drugs. It’s slipped out a couple of times, though, and when it does, I try to act like that’s why I do what I do. I don’t talk about Arthur.


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

Like I said, I’ve never told anybody about Arthur. Ever. I don’t want them to know. I don’t want to know what they’d think of me if they knew.


Do you represent yourself as being different from who you really are? Why?

Sure. I represent myself as being a hero.


If you do have these secrets, what do you fear would happen if the truth became known? How far would you go to protect these secrets?

I guess the biggest reason I’ve never told anyone about Arthur is I’m scared of what might happen to him if the wrong person found out. You hear those horror stories, you know? About what happens when the bad guys find out about some hero’s family? I think I’ve messed up his life enough already.

How far would I go to keep him safe? All the way. I don’t care what I need to do. If somebody threatened him, I would…stop them. Whatever it took.

I may be the world’s worst mother, but I can at least do that.


Do you have any sort of criminal record? If so, is it public knowledge?

Yeah. I did some time for drugs. And child abuse. And neglect. I guess that’s probably public record. At least, for the old me. Far as I know, no one knows Starlight’s an ex-con.



What are your biological parents’ names?

Jeffrey and Lisa Lawrence.


Were you raised by them? If not, please explain and describe who raised you.

Dad left in the middle of the night when I was pretty young. I don’t really remember much about him. Mom “raised” me and Becky after that.


What was their standing in the community? What did/do they do for a living?

They were both lowlifes. I don’t know what Dad did, but I’m guessing it wasn’t anything too great. Mom was always getting fired from some job or another.


Where are your parents now?

Don’t know, don’t care. Mom’s a worthless drunk and Dad’s a cowardly sperm bank.


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

We lived in this once crappy apartment for my entire childhood. I still have no idea why the landlord didn’t throw us out, the rent was always late. Always.


How did you get along with their parents? How do you get along with them now (if applicable)?

I used to blame them for screwing up my life, but now I see I did that all by myself. Now I just don’t want to think about them. I’m away from them now, it’s done, that’s all there is to it.


How do your parents view you now, or how would they?

They’d probably be scared of me. That might be just wishful thinking on my part, though.


Do you have any siblings? If so, how many and what are their names? Describe your relationship with them.

I have a little sister, Becky. We…don’t talk anymore.


What was your birth order in the family?

Eldest. Meant I had to do a lot of growing up pretty fast to protect Becky from Mom.


Where are your siblings now (if applicable)? Do they have families of their own? What do they do?

Becky still lives in FC, like me. She’s in med school, I think, and got married to some guy named Omid a while back. The two of them are taking care of Arthur now. I owe them for that. I know having a kid so early must be screwing up their lives, but she didn’t let him go into the system. Turns out she’s a better person than I am. Surprise.


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

We haven’t spoken in years. One night, she just up and told me that if I didn’t stop doing drugs, she would never speak to me again.

Well. Here we are.


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

I know I didn’t treat him right, but Arthur’s still my son. I can’t believe how long it took me to realize that.


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

Not in that way, no.


Are there any black (or white) sheep in your family (including you)? If so, please explain.

Me. No question. Look up “screwup” in the dictionary, and they’ll have my f---ing picture. I was doing drugs and getting arrested while Becky was acing her classes and studying to be a doctor.


Do you have a notorious or celebrated ancestor? If so, please explain, including how it has affected your life.

Nah. Not that I know of, at least.


Do you have a partner and children currently? If so, please describe them.

My little boy, Arthur, is seven years old now. I don’t know who the father is.


If you do not have a partner or children, do you want them someday? How firm are you in your opinion on this, and what might change your mind?

I think I’ve demonstrated already that I’m not exactly a fit mom. I doubt I’d be any better of a spouse.


What type of person would be your ideal mate?

What, is this for a dating site or something? I stopped thinking about stuff like that a long time ago.



Do you have any close friends? If so, please describe them, and how you came to be close to them.

That would be Asli, I guess. She’s a cape, like me. Goes by the name of Miras. A mage. Pretty powerful one too, from what I can tell. We met a while ago, both trying to chase down the source of this new drug. After we dealt with that, she found out I was homeless and offered me a couch to crash on. Most people wouldn’t do that.


Do you have a best friend? If so, how did they become your best friend? How close are you to your best friend?

Again, Asli. It’s been a long time, a long damn time, since anyone actually went out of their way to help me. She lets me stay at her place, read all her books, disorganize her CD collection. I know I don’t need to eat or sleep or stay warm, but I think being out on the streets 24/7 was starting to get to me. So, she helped me and I’m honestly not sure why. But I’m doing what I can to make sure she doesn’t regret it.


If you were to go missing, who would worry about you?

Technically, I am missing right now. Sam Lawrence hasn’t been seen or heard from in quite a while. I guess maybe the parole board might be curious as to where I am. Becky probably just thinks I’m getting high somewhere. Or dead.

If I disappeared now, Asli would probably come looking for me. At least, I like to think she would.


Have you lost any loves? If so, how did it happen, and what did you do?

I had a string of boyfriends for a while. I didn’t really love any of them, though.


Do you have any bitter enemies? If so, please describe them and their history with you.

No one in particular. That I know of.


If you have enemies, how do you think they might attempt to work against you in the future?

Like I said before, what really scares me is the idea of someone finding out about Arthur. I have no idea what I would do if someone had him. Beyond that, I guess they might just try to kill me? That wouldn’t be so bad.


What is the worst thing someone has done to you?

I suppose that would be dear old Mom, hitting me, yelling at me, blaming me for Dad ditching her ass. She put out a cigarette on my hand once, does that qualify?


Where do your loyalties lie? In what order?

I like to think it’s with whoever needs/deserves my help. But I guess, really, it’s all about Arthur. Try and make a better world for him, you know? I owe him that much.


Who or what do you trust the most? Why?

I have what you might call “trust issues,” so that’s a hard question for me to answer. Once upon a time, I’d have said “myself,” but I think that particular self-delusion has fallen hard. So, I really don’t know.

I guess I trust Becky. Not that she trusts me, and I don’t blame her. I’ve betrayed her trust enough times.

Asli. I trust Asli. She’s good people. I know she’ll always try and do what’s right. Even if that involves taking in a homeless ex-junkie. God only knows why she did that.


Who or what do you despise? Why?

Drugs. That one’s personal. You know what drugs do? They make people into animals. Animals who will do anything, anything, just for one more fix. And all the while, the kingpins and dealers just sit back and watch the money stack up and up.


What qualities do you admire most in other people? Are those qualities you possess?

I’ve always kinda admired people who can just shut off their emotions and focus on the task at hand. Like, just put aside all of their own baggage and get the job done. Something I’ve never been very good at.


What qualities do you hate most in other people? Do you have any of those qualities?

Selfishness. Some people just think the whole universe revolves around them, and don’t care about anyone but themselves. And yeah, that used to be me.


Do you have a secret identity? If so, who knows it? Do you hide it from people who are close to you? Why?

Well, no one knows who I really am, so I suppose so. I think I mentioned before that I don’t use the name Sam Lawrence anymore. She’s basically dead and gone. Good riddance, I say.

I’ve told Asli my name is Samantha, but nothing much beyond that. I feel kind of scummy about it, since she’s doing so much to help me, but…I really don’t want her to find out about Arthur. She almost respects me right now, I think. I don’t want that to change.

And no, I haven’t told Arthur what I’m doing now. Or Becky. What am I going to do, show up on their doorstep like, “Hey honey, I know I spent years criminally neglecting you, but I’m doing cape work now, so it’s all good?”


Do you work well on teams and in groups? Are you a leader or a follower?

I’ve never been good with people or teams. I’ve been told I “don’t play well with others,” which I think is code for “you’re a jerk.” I’ve worked with other capes a few times before when we all had the same goal, but nothing truly organized. If I did wind up on a team somehow, I’m not leadership material, I know that.


Are you on a super team? If so, how do you get along with your comrades? Do you trust them, or do you have secrets from them?

I’m not on any team right now. I probably wouldn’t want to be a member of any team that would have me.


Are you a member of any church, fraternal organization, club, committee, political party, or other group? How much time do you spend on that?

No. All that seems like a waste of time now.


Personality & Beliefs

Who are your heroes?

When we were kids, me and my sister were just in awe of superheroes. I mean, we worshipped the ground they walked on. I remember on T-Day, all of us sitting in front of the TV, watching all these heroes lay down their lives to defend us. I was really young then, but I think even then it made an impression on me.

Funny how things work out.


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

My fascination with heroes waned a lot as I got older. I just started to realize that they weren’t any better than us, not really. Just way more powerful.


Do you like being a hero? If so, what is the most rewarding part? If not, what makes you keep doing it?

Do I like it? It’s what I am now, whether I like it or not. What else am I going to do?


Is there anything that would make you give up hero work, or even switch sides?

If something happened to Arthur, I don’t know what I would do. If that happened, then what’s the point of going on? I’d probably just give up. Go off into space or something and live inside a star.


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

I want to make every drug dealer in the city s--t themselves at the sound of my name.


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

I want to make every drug dealer in the world s--t themselves at the sound of my name.


What is your greatest fear? Why? What do you do when something triggers this fear?

Well, aside from the thing about Arthur I’ve mentioned, I’m scared of what would happen if I found out I could do drugs again. If something changed with my powers or something like that. I don’t know what I would do if that happened. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to resist that.


Is there anything you would give your life for?

I’d die for my son. I may be the worst mother in the world, but I can do that at least.


How do you feel about money and material wealth? Do you desire it or disdain it? Are you miserly with what you have, or do you like to share? Is it a mark of success, or a means to an end?

I don’t have any money. At all. I don’t need to eat or drink or sleep or anything, so what’s the point? What am I going to do with it?


How do you generally treat others?

Oh, I’m a real bunny rabbit. Can’t you tell?


Are you a trusting person? Has your trust ever been abused?

I used to be one. Then my trust got abused plenty. I did my share of abusing too.


Are you introverted (shy and withdrawn) or extroverted (outgoing)? Do you have a lot of self-confidence?

I don’t talk a lot. So introverted, I guess. Confidence? I’m confident I can kick the ass of anyone I want. How’s that?


How do you act around attractive, available members of your preferred sex?

When I was younger, I was about as subtle as a train wreck when it came to that kind of thing. Now, I have other things on my mind.


What are your most annoying habits?

I don’t really look people in the eye very often. Gets on their nerves. Makes me seem untrustworthy. Imagine, me untrustworthy.


Do you feel contempt for any general category of people? Who are they, and why?

There was this guy, a couple months ago, some Walter White wannabe who was cooking up this fancy new drug and selling it on the street. Not by himself, of course. He got all his goons and lackeys to do the dirty work, the actual selling. Didn’t have the guts, or was too scared of getting caught. But anyway, we get him, and he just has this attitude, this smarmy yuppie scumbag attitude, like he thinks he’s some kind of defiant-to-the-end rogue. I never wanted to kick somebody’s teeth in more in my life.

So, people like that. People who profit off other people’s misery, and don’t have to feel bad about it because they don’t actually the consequences.


What is your favorite food? Do you prefer any particular type of food? Do you take the time to enjoy your food, or do you eat it as fast as you can?

Don’t really have one. When I was a kid, I didn’t really have the luxury of having a favorite food – I just ate whatever I could get. Now, I don’t even eat anymore.


What is your favorite drink (alcoholic or otherwise)?

I used to drink a lot of beer, until I found something “better” for getting me through the day.

Don’t need to drink anymore either.


What is your favorite treat (dessert)?

I suppose when I was younger, I would kill for an ice cream sandwich.


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

Not really.


What is your favorite color? Are there any colors you dislike?

I always liked white. Nice and simple, but pure, you know? I like black too, for pretty much the same reason. Not crazy about puce.


What sort of music do you like? Is there any that you hate?

I never did listen to much music, but recently I’ve been binging on this guy called David Bowie. You ever hear of him?


If you have a favorite scent, what is it?

Well, I like the smell of woodsmoke.


Do you have a favorite animal?

Uh…dogs are nice.


What is your most treasured possession? Why?

A couple years ago, when Arthur was five or something, I got one of my sudden “let’s be a good mom” kicks, and decided to take him to the zoo. You know, see the animals and eat junk food and stuff. It was the greatest day ever. I was so proud of myself, being a normal parent and all that. I got this guy to take our picture in front of the elephant enclosure, with me holding Arthur up in the air and him just laughing and laughing. For so long after that, I carried that picture everywhere. Whenever I started to get scared that I was a bad mom, I would pull that out and look at it until I’d convinced myself it wasn’t true.

Of course, the real reason I was in such a good mood then was I was as high as a kite. Very next day, I was back to sleeping all afternoon, and not making dinner, and screaming myself hoarse at him for every little thing.

I don’t have that picture any more. I burned it.


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

Oh, I loved being homeless on the streets of FC. Lap of luxury.

Okay, to be fair, I don’t need to eat, drink, or sleep, and cold and heat don’t bother me. So, I guess it could have been a lot worse. Still, just being able to rest at Asli’s does me a world of good. I can’t fall asleep, but I can at least close my eyes and relax for a while.


Is there a job or task you would absolutely refuse to do?

…Sell drugs?


Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? If so, how do your beliefs affect your life? How important is it to you?

I’ve never been very religious. But…what happened to me? My powers? Curing my addiction and saving my life and everything? That’s seriously weird. One hell of a coincidence. If there is somebody up there, they gave me a second chance. I don’t know why, but they did.


Was your faith influenced or molded by anyone special?

Not really, no.


If you belong to a religious organization, how often do you attend? Do you have a specific place of worship, or friends within the organization? How much do you agree with the beliefs of your organization?

I’m not a part of any church or anything.


Could you kill? Have you killed?

I don’t kill. Just don’t. Doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t think I’m in any position to judge someone else like that.


What circumstances led to you forming that conviction, or taking that action?

Look at me. I was a complete waste of skin. World would have been a better place without me, that’s for damn sure. But here I am, and now I’m trying to do something to make it right. I know I can’t really, but I’m trying. It’d be pretty rich for me to deny someone else that chance.


Are there circumstances under which you believe it is permissible to kill? What are they?

Okay, fine.

If somebody…hurt Arthur, I have no idea what I would do. But I know I would find them, and I would make them pay. Bad. Yeah, I might kill them. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows what they would do in that situation.


How would you react to watching someone kill another person? Would your reaction be different if the killer was a friend or an enemy of yours?

I would probably be a little freaked out, to be honest. Or maybe just angry. Hard to say. If it was a friend, they’d better have a damned good reason, that’s all I can say.


How would you react if something important was stolen from you?

I’d go get it back. And I wouldn’t let anyone get in my way.


How would you react to public humiliation?

Get angry, probably.


How would you react if a good friend or relative were purposely or accidentally killed? Has it happened to you?

“Get angry” seems to be the answer to a lot of these questions all of a sudden. And no, it’s never happened to me.


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

I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you do. I don’t care why you do it. You don’t hurt kids.

I’m aware of the hypocrisy of that statement, yeah.


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

Five things? Uh…

I’d try to find my parents. I know there’s not much chance of finding them in just a day, but I’d give it a shot. And if I found them, I’d tell them exactly what they are, and exactly what I think of them.

I like to think she already knows it, but I’d tell Asli how much it means to me, all the help she’s given me. I’m still not exactly on Cloud 9, but I was in a pretty dark place before, and she took me in. That’s not something most people would do. So I would thank her. I wish I could do more, but apparently I’m dying.

The Clines. They invited me to dinner a little while ago. No idea why the hell they thought I would make for a good dinner guest, but they did. If it wasn’t for them, I probably still wouldn’t know whether or not it was safe for me to eat food. They’re good people, and I suppose I don’t really have time to return the favor in full, but I’d send them a…a fruit basket or something. Something to say thank you.

…I’d talk to Becky. No. No, I wouldn’t. I’d leave her a note. Just explain what happened, what I’m trying to do, and that I’m going to be gone soon. Maybe ask her to explain it all to Arthur when he’s old enough. And tell her that I love her. Both of them.

Then I guess I’d go somewhere. The moon. I like the moon. And I’d just wait.


Career & Training


Do you have any special training in your hero skills? If so, where and how did you get it?

No. Self-taught. If they had a college course on photokinesis, I’d take it.


Who taught you the most about your heroing abilities? What was your relationship with that person?

Nobody taught me anything. Kinda figuring it out as I go here.


Do you have any particularly unusual skills? How did you acquire them?

Well, I can balance a spoon on my nose, and can do a handstand, and…oh yeah, I have superpowers. Is that unusual enough for you?


Do you do something besides hero work for a living? Have you ever done anything else, or do you plan to?

I used to do all kinds of low-paying jobs. Waitressing, stuff like that. I always got fired pretty quickly. Now, I’m “self-employed.”


What is your preferred combat style?

I’m not the most subtle fighter. I go in, I blast everything that moves until it stops moving. If it’s not going well, sometimes I’ll try to turn invisible and come at them from another direction. Or just ‘port myself out of there.


Have you ever received any awards or honors?

No. They don’t give awards to junkies.


What skill areas would you like most to improve in? Is there anything you can't do that you wish desperately you could?

I have powers. What more do I need?


How do you act around people who are more skilled than you in areas you'd like to improve? Are you jealous, or do you try and learn?

What, like other supers who are more powerful than me? Good for them. Not like there’s a whole lot I can do about it.

Lifestyle & Hobbies

What is a normal day for you? How do you feel when something interrupts this routine?

Fly around the city, usually the Fens, and wait for something illegal to happen. When I start to feel like I’m losing my mind, head on back to Asli’s and vegetate. Read a book, ransack her fridge, listen to some Bowie. I have to do something to keep me sane, now that I’m physically incapable of sleeping.


Do you have any hobbies, or interests outside hero work? What are they, and where did you pick them up?

Sure. I’m an amateur astronaut. I go to the moon every now and then. It helps. The quiet.


What do you do for fun?

The aforementioned astronauting? I don’t know if I’d call it fun necessarily, but it helps me stay sane.


Do you have a costume? What does it look like?

I don’t really have a costume. I don’t even know where you’re supposed to get those things. I just wear street clothes.


How do you normally dress when not in costume?

I’m never not in costume. Comes of not having one.


What do you wear to bed most nights?

I don’t sleep anymore. At all. Trust me, I’ve tried. Can’t. I’ve been awake for months now.

Sometimes I feel like I’d give anything in the world just to shut off for a few hours. Just close my eyes and rest. But, well. I can’t.


Do you wear any special jewelry? What is it, and what does it look like?

A bunch of little earrings. You know, faux-punk-style.


Do you have a special place where you keep your valuables?

What valuables? I don’t have anything. All I have is what I’m wearing now.


What's your preferred means of local travel? How about long distance?

The answer to both is teleportation. Or flight, if I feel like taking in the scenery.




Have you ever made a will, or tried to make arrangements for your death? What provisions did you make?

When I was younger, it never occurred to me that I could die. Now, I’m not sure what kind of arrangements I could make. “To my son, Arthur, I bequeath my jacket? Sorry about the neglect?”


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

Uh, what the hell kind of question is that? Dental records, maybe? My tattoo or something?


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

I’d rather not be. There’s a reason I avoid the public eye, you know. Nothing I’ve done is going to sound very good in an obituary speech.

“Thus let me live; unseen, unknown. Thus unlamented let me die. Steal from the world, and not a stone tell where I lie.”

That’s the only piece of poetry I know. I just read it somewhere once, something about it stuck with me.

I don’t know. It’s just kinda how I feel.


Do you believe you pose a threat to the public? Why or why not?

What happens if I find a way to do drugs again? Or find something even “better?” It wasn’t like I stopped before of my own free will. I’m weak, I know that. What happens if there’s some superpowerful crackhead flying around the city, chasing her next high?

So yeah. I think I’m dangerous.


What do you perceive as your greatest strength?

Gonna have to go with the laser beams on that one.


What do you perceive as your greatest weakness?

That fact that I’m not a good person. You think I chose to be a hero? After I got my powers, I didn’t rush out the door and don a cape. I just wanted to get high again. I didn’t so much refuse the call to heroism as I did run away and lock myself in the closet.


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...

You’re too hard on yourself, and it’s holding you back. You’re not the only one in the world who’s done things they regret. Constantly flagellating yourself for every mistake you ever made isn’t helping anything. Lose the attitude, put the past behind you, and start thinking about what you can do to actually try to make up for it.

Also, stop thinking of yourself as invincible. You’re not exactly the biggest fish in the pond, despite what you seem to believe. It’s going to get you killed.

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Origin Story: The Wish I Make (Part One)


One of the wheels on the cart was broken. It wobbled, stuck, rattled, swayed, did everything but spin. When Sam pushed the cart, the wheel made it veer to the left, forcing her to constantly tug it right to keep straight. When she wanted to turn right, she had to use all of her strength to lift the cart slightly up so that the wheel no longer touched the floor, else the rubber made a squealing sound that attracted darting, irritated glances from all those around.

The fluorescent lights overhead buzzed on the very edge of hearing as they shed down their sickly artificial glow. They were dim, and some were dark, but to her they seemed blindingly bright and she kept her gaze down, squinting with pain whenever they stabbed at her eyes.

She stopped in front of a shelf displaying rows of canned pasta, wrestling the cart to the side of the aisle, out of the way of passersby. Three cans of spaghetti with sauce. That would be enough for two days. She tried to do the math in her head. An ache pounded in her temples, and the numbers kept slipping away. There would still be enough. She was sure there would still be enough.

She had the spaghetti. She had already gotten the grape juice and the toilet paper and the toothbrush. That was everything, wasn’t it?


Yes, that was everything. She didn’t have the frozen waffles, but she didn’t have enough for them and she didn’t need them anyway. Not really.

“Mommy, are we going home now?”

“Not yet, baby.” The headache was getting worse, a cold spike of pain deep inside her skull, like hooks were being twisted into her brain. “Mommy needs to stop and get her medicine first.”

As she pushed the cart along in the direction of the checkout lanes, Arthur in tow, her hands began to shake again. She fought to keep still, but it continued, until soon her arms were trembling uncontrollably all the way to her shoulders. She was freezing cold, but her body was slick with sweat. Her vision wouldn’t focus.

Her cart struck something. A man’s voice cursed. Her eyes snapped open. She hadn’t realized they were closed. It took her a moment to realize she had accidentally rammed her cart straight into someone’s back. It wasn’t until he turned around that she realized he was a cop.

Her apology died in her throat, stifled by a sudden, inexplicable panic. All she could think of were the dark circles under her eyes, her hollow cheeks, her trembling hands. Cops could see the signs, she was sure of it. It was part of their training.

She became aware that she was standing there like an idiot, and forced a word past the lump in her throat. “Sorry.”

He was a big man, big and beefy, wearing a black short-sleeved uniform that read FCPD. “That’s okay,” he said. There was a pause, then he added, “You all right?”

“Mommy gets clumsy when she hasn’t had her medicine,” Arthur informed him before she could open her mouth. She could have screamed.

Something shifted behind the cop’s eyes. His face became calm and carefully neutral, the face cops wore when they were on the job. “That so,” he said. She could feel him sizing her up, assessing her. He was probably already writing the report in his head.

“Flu medicine,” she lied, knowing immediately that she had said it too quickly. “I - I have the flu. I just needed to come and get some groceries. Then I’m going to get some flu medicine.”

“Sure,” he said, regarding her coolly. “Hope you feel better.” He glanced down at Arthur and cracked a smile. “Take care of her, okay little man?”


Sam was sure she could feel his eyes boring holes into the back of her head all the way to the checkout lanes, though she didn’t dare turn to look.

The checkout was geologically slow. The worn-looking grey-haired woman at the register seemed to be constantly entering the wrong codes for everything and getting increasingly flustered with every error, to the growing annoyance of everyone in line, Sam included. She was starting to feel it strongly now; the raw, desperate hunger that permeated every fiber of her being. The minutes drained away with the speed of molasses, every moment making her want to cry with frustration.

“Mommy, can I have candy?” The high-pitched voice was like an screwdriver in her ear.


At last it was her turn. Sam laid her scant few items out on the counter with shaking hands, thankful at least that there was no way her simple purchases could drag on in the same way.

“Mommy, I want M&Ms.”

“You can’t have M&Ms.”

Beep went the spaghetti. Beep. The grape juice. Beep. The toilet paper. Beep. She had the cash ready, handing it over without even waiting for the cashier to tell her the total.

There was another long pause as the grey-haired woman ponderously counted the money, then looked up at Sam. “You don’t have enough here.”


“You’re three-twenty-three short.”

I am? She must have added up wrong. She had always hated math. She just wanted to get out of there. Why couldn’t she just get out of there? She dug into her purse for the rest of the money when a realization struck her like a stone. Dammit. That was too much. If she paid that, she wouldn’t have enough to score later. Dammit. Dammit.

“Okay. Uh.” She just needed to get rid of a few things. “Uh, I don’t need this.” She pushed aside one of the cans of spaghetti. “Or, uh, this.” The toothbrush.

The cashier checked the total, then shook her head gravely. Still short.

“I want M&Ms, Mommy.”

“What did I just say?” Okay. Maybe if she got rid of the juice too. The water was out in their apartment, but a few days without drinking something wouldn’t kill them. But the thought of going through another week without using was almost more than she could bear. “Okay. I’ll-”

Arthur snatched a packet of M&Ms from the stand and tried to put it on the counter. She grabbed it from his hands. “Goddamnit, Arthur!”

He tried to grab it back. For a moment they both pulled on it, then the back split, sending candy spilling to the floor in a multicolored cascade.

“Christ!” she screamed.

People were staring. Disapproving eyes watched her from all directions. Look at her. Look at the bad mother.

For a moment, Arthur was silent and still. Then his face crumpled like a napkin. He tilted his head back and opened his mouth wide in preparation for an earsplitting wail.

She slapped him.

There were sharp intakes of breath all around, followed by a shocked, pregnant silence. Arthur stared up at her, not crying now, as though she had struck the tears from his face. She stood there, feeling strangely numb, until she remembered. The cop.

Sam seized Arthur by the wrist and half-ran from the store.

The automatic doors rattled slowly apart before her; she forced her way between them before they were even fully open. Then they were in the parking lot, cold air biting through their clothing. The same panic she had felt before had returned tenfold, squeezing her lungs and filling her eyes with stinging tears. She couldn’t go to jail. She had to get away.

She heard a whimper from Arthur, and realized she was crushing his hand in hers. She tried to loosen her grip, but her fingers were locked by fear and would not obey her. Every moment she seemed to feel the ice-cold handcuffs closing around her wrists, hear the bars of a cell door crashing shut. It’s okay. She just needed to get home. Maybe nobody in the store had thought to tell the cop. It’s okay.

A voice sounded from behind her. A man’s voice, in an authoritative tone that brooked no argument. “Ma’am, stop right there.”

She stopped dead in her tracks, Arthur staggering to a halt beside her. She felt her muscles wilt under the weight of a fear made manifest. Her resolve was gone, replaced by a hopeless dread.

She turned around.

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Origin Story: The Wish I Make (Part Two)


The man walked quickly, shoulders hunched, hands jammed in the pockets of his sleeveless hoodie. Every minute or two he shot a look over his shoulder, as though wary of being followed. Not exactly the image of a model citizen. Even disregarding the fact that he was out in the Fens in the middle of the night, a time when most honest people who lived in this neighborhood - assuming there were any honest people in this neighborhood - preferred to be safely behind locked doors.

He ducked into an alley, quickening his step slightly, plainly anxious to pass through the clutching shadows and reach the meager puddles of illumination cast by the streetlights at the other end of the alley.

Starlight waited until he was barely a foot away before making herself visible.

His curse echoed off the silent buildings as he fell back in shock, landing hard on his ass and trying to scrabble away from her backwards. She flicked a hand and the shadows in the alley came alive, lashing forth in black coils to snake around his arms and legs, lifting him bodily into the air. He tried to struggle free, cursing, and with another flick of her hand the shadows slammed him against the wall, just hard enough to rattle his teeth. He gave one more useless thrash before apparently thinking better of it and going limp, pinned against the brickwork. Smart. She leaned right into his face, letting him look into her cold grey eyes, the lower half of her face covered by her mask.


“You know who I am?”

He licked his lips and nodded. “Yeah.”

“Good. That means we can skip the introductions and go right to the part where you tell me everything I want to know.” He started to open his mouth, but she interrupted him. “I’m looking for a friend of yours. Carl Moreland.”

His brow furrowed. “Who?”

She gestured impatiently. “Pipes.”

“I already told the cops-”

 “I’m not a cop.”

His eyes shot back and forth, looking for an escape. “This about that girl got shot?”

“No, he’s been dodging his income tax,” she snapped. The shadows swirled silently around them. “Of course this is about the girl.”

“He didn’t have nothing to do with that.” The words fell from his mouth as naturally as his own name.

She slammed her fist into the wall next to this head, making him flinch violently. “You think you can jerk me around?” Her eyes flared into twin orbs of angry white light. “I’m not in the mood to stand here and listen to you bulls--t me. Gonna ask you one more time before I start getting mad: where is Pipes?

Sweat was shining on his forehead, and he swallowed several times before speaking, but when he did his tone was oddly calm. “I ain’t no snitch. And I don’t put in my friends. You gonna hurt me, hurt me.”

Starlight stared him in the eye for several long moments. He stared back.

She hated having her bluff called. With a grunt, she stepped back, frustrated. The shadows that bound him abruptly vanished, dropping him in an undignified heap. He groaned as he got to his feet, but didn’t bolt.

“Nah,” she said, idly pulling a photograph from her pocket. “I’m not gonna hurt you, Jasper.” He flinched at the sound of his name. “Just gonna show you something.”

He started to speak, but trailed off when she shoved the picture in his face.

“Maria Estevez. Nice little girl. Going to be eleven next week. Of course,” she hardened her voice, “that’s assuming she survives the bullet your ‘friend’ put in her stomach.” She paused to let that sink in. “Either way, gonna be a bad birthday for her.”

He stared at the photograph. She held it steady, watching his face. Finally he looked away. “He didn’t mean to do that,” he mumbled.

“I don’t imagine he did. Doesn’t help her much though, does it?” She could see his resolve wavering, and she pushed harder. “Even if she makes it, there’s going to be pain. A lot of it. Plus they’re still trying to figure out if the bullet caught any spine on its way through. All that, just because your friend,” she spat the word, “caught some guy trying to break into his car and starting blazing away at him in the middle of a public street. Little Maria was just wrong place, wrong time, and she might die for it.”

He rubbed his hand across his face, the movement quick and jerky. He moved away the her and paced back and forth restlessly, from one wall of the alley to the other. She let him. “I ain’t no snitch,” he said again, but this time he seemed to say it more to himself than to her.

“Talking to capes isn’t the same as talking to cops. You know that. Everybody knows capes can be…persuasive.” Her body were tense, awaiting his next words. If he clammed up, she was back to square one. She’d already tried all of Pipes’ usual haunts: his relatives, the corners he dealt at, the bars he frequented. Wherever he was, he’d gone to ground, and he wasn’t likely to come out anytime soon. “I know about you, Jasper. You’re not a bad guy.” Relatively speaking. “You don’t like seeing people get hurt, you don’t sell to kids, you stick by your people. But Pipes shot a little girl. Look me in the eye and tell me you’re okay with that.”

Starlight waited. A car roared past in the street at the far end of the alley. The passing headlights made strange shadows flicker across Jasper’s face.

He broke the silence abruptly. “You find him, you gonna hurt him?”

 “Not interested in hurting him. Just don’t think he should get away with what he did.”

He stared fixedly at the overflowing dumpsters, as though if by not looking at her he could pretend he was speaking only to himself. “There’s…you know those storage units over in Greenbank, near the car dealership?”


“He’s set up a little hideaway in one of those. Number 29. It’s where he goes to lay his head whenever someone’s beefing with him. If…” he seemed to have to force the words out, “…if the cops were after him, that’s where he’d go.”

If he was a liar, he was a good one. And if he fed her bad information, she would just come back, only she would be in a considerably worse mood. “I’ll keep your name out of it.”

“Appreciate it,” he mumbled.

Storage units. Number 29. She had business in Greenbank, it would appear. First, though, she had one last thing to take care of here. A matter of routine. “You holding?” she asked him sharply.

He shook his head mutely.


A nod.

She held out her hand. “Give it to me.”

He reached into his waistband and pulled out a gun. Big, black and silver, semi-automatic. He handed it to her grip-first.

She weighed it in her hand. “I’m dumping this in orbit. You want it back, go get it.”

“Okay.” He would have another by the end of the week, and they both knew it.

Starlight turned on her heel and strode away. She reached the weak circle of yellowish light that lay on the ground around the streetlamp, then hesitated. Something made her stop and half-turn, looking at him over her shoulder. “This…” she searched for the words. “This doesn’t have to be your life, you know.”

Jasper stood there in the shadows of the alley and stared back at her stonily. “What else am I gonna do?”

Sirens wailed in the distance. A dog started barking.

She sighed and looked down. “Yeah, I hear you.”

Then she was gone, replaced by a streak of pure white light that flashed upwards, arcing gracefully over the rooftops towards the smog-laden night sky.

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Origin Story: The Wish I Make (Part Three)


The sun shone with a clear, cold light that struggled through the banks of misty grey clouds. The sky was a passionless white, broken overhead by an arrow-shaped flock of geese, honking faintly as they flew south in the face of the coming winter.

As she watched, the sun struck a chink in the clouds and pierced through eagerly, spearing painfully at her eyes, jolting her from her reverie. She looked down, blinking dancing stars from her vision, and realized that her cigarette had burned down to a mere stub with a withered stem of ash. Dammit. She removed it from her mouth and tapped the ash away against the wall, then dropped the butt and ground it out under her heel. The prison yard was already strewn with hundreds of the things, no one would care about one more.

With her last cigarette wasted, she sighed and leaned back against the wall once more, hands jammed in the pockets of her garishly orange inmates’ jumpsuit. Her hands didn’t shake anymore. The pains of withdrawal had long since abated, but no matter how hard she tried to focus her thoughts on other things, still she found herself longing night and day. Every hour seemed to her an eternity. She found herself spending each day doing nothing but waiting for sunset, so she could once more escape from the world with a few hours of troubled, fitful sleep.

“How long since and how long ‘til?”

She started and looked up. A woman had sidled up next to her, dressed in the same orange jumpsuit as Sam, watching her with an expectant grin.

Sam, in no mood for conversation, said, “The hell are you talking about?”

The woman’s grin never flickered. She was short and stout, old too, probably in her sixties. Her hair was brown twisted with grey, long, draping over her shoulders. “How long since, and how long ‘til?” she repeated, slowly and clearly this time, as though talking to a child. “How long since you used, and how long ‘til you’re out?”

Sam stiffened. “What makes you think I used?”

The woman’s smile was almost grandmotherly. “Honey, I know ‘em when I see ‘em. I’m guessing coke?”

Sam tried to stare her down, but gave up almost immediately. It was like trying to outstare a friendly brick wall. There didn’t seem to be any point in lying. “Coke. Three months and five years. Maybe less if I keep my nose clean.”

The woman brayed a laugh. “Ha! Nose clean. That’s a good one.” She produced a pack of cigarettes and put one in her mouth, still chortling as she flicked the lighter. “Nose clean.” She took a drag, then looked at Sam and offered it to her. “Want one?”

Sam hesitated, wary of seeming indebted, then caved. “Sure.” She took it and put it to her lips, drawing in the soothing smoke gratefully.

The woman lit another one for herself. “Roxanne. You can call me Roxie.”

“Sam.” Neither of them offered their hand.

For a long minute, they smoked in silence. Then Roxie spoke again. “So, you in for the drugs?”


“Anything else?”


Roxie’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly, as though she sensed the lie.

Sam looked away hurriedly. “So, what about you? How long since and how long ‘til?”

“First one’s never. Never gone near the stuff. It’ll f--k you up.” She shot a sly glance at Sam. “But I bet I don’t need to tell you that.”

Sam stared straight ahead, the cigarette smoldering in her mouth.

Roxie coughed. “Second one? Hell of a long time, I hope. I’m a lifer.”

Sam found her curiosity aroused despite herself. “What’d you do?”

The tip of Roxie’s cigarette flared as she took another drag. “That’s a bit of a tale.”

“Oh, well better not then,” Sam said sarcastically. “I got someplace to be, you know?”

 “Point taken,” the older woman said with a snort.

The silence returned. The wind blew a wave of withered dead leaves across the prison yard, making a faint skittering sound. The smoke from their cigarettes was momentarily stretched out into long, wispy trails of gray mist.

Roxie broke the silence so suddenly and confidently it was as though she had received a cue. “So this was back in the seventies. Disco wasn’t dead, nobody knew who Franklin Moore was, and I weighed about a hundred pounds. So yeah, this was a long damn time ago.” She let out another braying laugh. Sam ignored the joke, which didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest. “I was nothing back then, just another face in the damn crowd. Young, stupid. Up to my ears in debt. I bet you know that story, right?” Sam ignored this too.

“So I need money. I’m flat broke, behind on the rent, car needs a new wheel, aunt needs a new hip, cat needs a new tail, you know the drill. And I - I can’t find a job for the life of me. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, I don’t know. Doesn’t matter now. All I know is, I need money fast. And what do I have? I have a gun.

“So I gotta rob a place, right? But you gotta understand, trying to get away with an honest crime? In this city? It’s like ringing the dinner bell at a kennel. They just start coming out of the woodwork like they’ve got nothing else to do in the world.” Sam didn’t need to ask who “they” were. “If anything, it was even worse back then. All these costumed kooks, looking to prove something to somebody by dressing up in their old Halloween costumes and breaking your legs. You couldn’t get away with anything.

“Now I fancied myself quite a thinker. So here’s my idea. What’s the one thing that keeps the masks from coming down on you? Them being busy. And that’s the thing, in this city you never have to wait long for something that’ll get a whole lot of super attention, fast. So that’s what I do. I wait. Barely sat a week before everybody on the TV starts pitching a fit about how tentacles are coming out of the sewers or something like that. So I think, great! Here’s my chance! Every mask in the city will be tripping over each other trying to deal with that, who’s gonna notice if I knock over a GO-Mart?

“So I get my gun and I head on down. But you gotta understand, I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m sweating bullets before I even walk in the door. And then I see there’s other people in there shopping, so I gotta just hang around the aisles pretending I’m looking for something, waiting for them to leave.

“Then finally everybody’s gone. Just me and the guy at the register. He’s this kid, looks barely out of high school. I walk up, and my nerves are just so totally shot. I try to tell him to give me the money, but it comes out this weak little mumble, and he’s like, ‘What?’ I go again, and now it’s this squeak.” She mimicked a high-pitched Mickey Mouse-style voice. “Gimme the money! And I don’t know, I guess it must have just seemed so ridiculous, the kid just looks at me and laughs.

Sam, starting to see where this was going, looked away.

“And I guess it made me mad, right? Just mad. So I take out the gun and put it in his face, and he just keeps laughing. But now I can see he’s scared, eyes are like dinner plates, but he keeps laughing like he can’t stop.”

Sam spoke up. “So what’d you do?”

Roxie made a finger-gun and touched it to her throat, where the Adam’s apple would be on a man. “Bang. Right here.”

Sam shook her head. “Christ.”

“I know. I know.” Roxie stared at the burning tip of her cigarette. “I know I shouldn’t have done that. But it’s done. He’s lying there dead, and I have the gun, and I know I need to go, now, but I can’t make myself leave the money. So I run around the counter, and damned if I can figure out how to open the cash register. It was like something out of a comedy skit. I’m pushing and pulling and banging, think I might’ve been crying, finally the thing opens, there’s all the money, and I realize I don’t have anything to put it in. Can you believe that? I do all this, didn’t even think to bring a bag. So now I’m tearing the place up, trying to find something big enough to hold all the money, I’m really panicking now, and then I hear the doors ding open. So I look up, and who do you think it is?”

She was looking at Sam keenly, apparently waiting for a response. Sam hazarded a halfhearted guess. “A cop.”

Roxie shook her head, grinning from ear to ear. “The Centurion.”


“Swear to God.” She used her finger to air-sketch an X over her heart. “The very man himself. Right there in the GO-Mart, hovering a foot off the ground, in all his blue-and-gold glory. I don’t even know how he got there so fast. I guess whatever was going on with the tentacles must not have been too serious. Maybe somebody reported the gunshot, or he heard it, sensed it, whatever. I don’t think anybody ever did figure out exactly how all his powers worked.

“Now, you’re a young little thing, so you probably don’t remember what it was like having him in the city back then. You gotta understand, this was before T-Day, obviously, and he was…” she waved a hand is if she could conjure the perfect words from the air. “He was like a god to us. Like a part of the city. Even to the criminals. He’d been protecting the city for…what, forty years? And he hadn’t aged a day. He wasn’t just a hero, he was the hero. And he was in the room with me, and here’s me having just shot a guy and trying to rob the place.”

She paused, as if to let the situation sink in. Sam pressed her. “So what’d you do?”

Roxie started chuckling again, her shoulders shaking up and down with mirth as she blew out a serpentine coil of smoke. “Shot him.”

“You shot him?”

“Five times. Emptied the whole gun right in the chest.”

Sam found herself at a loss for words. “You…shot…the Centurion?”

“You need a hearing aid, honey?”

Sam struggled for another moment, then asked, “Why?”

Roxie shrugged. “Gotta try, right? Didn’t want to go to jail. Simple as that."

“How’d that work out for you?”

“Not so good, obviously. He-” Roxie cut herself off with a fit of hacking coughs. Sam stepped back instinctively, waiting for her to recover.

Roxie regained control of herself after a minute, thumped herself on the chest, then spat off to the side. “Sorry. So anyway, I shoot him. What do you think happens? Bullets just go bouncing off his chest and flying every which way, like ping ping ping. He’s just standing there the whole time. And he has this look. Like, he wasn’t angry. I’m shooting him in the chest over and over, and he’s not angry at all. He looks at the guy I killed, looks at the money, looks at me, and I swear, he just looks sad. Disappointed, like.

“And that’s the last thing I remember of that day, that look on his face. Next thing I knew I was waking up in jail with a headache the size of the West End. Never even saw him move.

“So that’s how I wound up in here. Life without parole. Murder, attempted murder, robbery, possession of an illegal firearm, parking violations…” she waved her hand in an and-so-on kind of way. “And I think there’s some more.”

Sam considered what she had heard, then asked, “Any of that true?”

That seemed to amuse her. “Every damn word.”

Sam’s cigarette was down to a stub. She took one last drag and flicked it away. “So in hindsight, maybe you shouldn’t have robbed that store.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. I like to look at it this way. Whole reason I did the caper and got locked up was because I was tired of not having enough, right? Not having enough food, not having enough money. Not having enough respect. Whatever. But now,” she waved a hand expansively. “In this place? I got everything I want. People respect me in here. I guess you could say,” she cackled, “I got my wish.”

Sam looked at her, quizzical. “What the hell’s so great about being in here?”

A grin. “I’m very glad you asked that.” Roxie moved  closer, a little inside Sam’s personal space now. “This goes all the way back to what I asked you before. About how long since and how long ‘til. What if I told you I can grant you a wish too? What if I told you got something that’ll make both of those numbers stop mattering?”

“What?” Sam knew exactly what she meant. Her mouth was suddenly dry, her insides twisting with a horrible, sinking sort of anticipation.

Roxie reached into her pocket and pulled out a tiny plastic packet filled with whitish powder. She held it between thumb and forefinger, letting Sam see it. “This? Right here? One shot of this, and suddenly you won’t have a care in the world.”

Sam felt lightheaded. “I thought you never used.”

“This ain’t using, sweetheart. This is dealing.”

Somewhere in the back of Sam’s mind, a voice screamed at her to turn and walk away. The words came anyway, jerkily, painfully, as though dragged out on a jagged chain. “How…much?”

Roxie took Sam’s sweating hand and pressed the packet into it. “This one’s on me, honey. For listening to my story. You need a set of works, I can hook you up with that too.”

 Sam stared at the bag in her hand, at the powder.

My wish.

“First one’s free, huh?” she said, not looking away from the packet.

 “That’s right, honey.” There no longer seemed to Sam to be anything grandmotherly about Roxie’s smile. “First one’s free.”

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Origin Story: The Wish I Make (Part Four)


With a flash of silvery-white light that for an instant turned night into day, Starlight stood on solid ground once more. She took in a reflexive breath as always, her ears popping at the sudden transition from vacuum to atmosphere. A glance at her surrounding confirmed her new location - the storage units Jasper had pointed her to. Three long, squat buildings of uniform grey concrete, little more than rows of adjoining garages. If Jasper was to be believed, Carl was in one of these.

She tried to think of what she was going to say when he saw her. A threat? A one-liner? What did you say to someone who shot a child? What could you say? What words were there?

She had to turn him over to the cops, she knew that. All the time she’d been searching for him, some dark voice in the back of her mind had been whispering to her to deal with him personally, make sure he never shot another kid. But once you started doing things like that you didn’t stop. And he wasn’t worth it. Not him. She wouldn’t become a killer for a thug with a gun.

So what was he worth? A photon blast in the face? A punch in the gut? If he surrendered without putting up a fuss, was she supposed to just hand him over to the police, simple as that? So that he could go through some farce of a trial and be back on the streets before you knew it, selling poison and dropping bodies?

Her boots clicked sharply on the asphalt as she strode down along the second row of storage units, scanning the stenciled-on numbers. Twenty-one…twenty-two…She could scare him, that she was sure of. But she doubted she could scare him badly enough to make a difference. Anyone who was dealing in this city had to have some kind of guts. Twenty-three…twenty-four…

What kind of sentence would he even get? Maybe the law would take care of him after all. Accidentally or not, he did shoot a kid. The case had gotten media attention. There would be public pressure to see justice done.

She gritted her teeth. And what if it didn’t happen like that? What if he pulled out some sob story, got a sweetheart deal? Did a few measly years - a mere slap on the wrist - and was a free man again, free to do something like this again? Twenty-six…twenty-seven…

Or what if he walked? What if his lawyer pulled a fast one, got him off? It happened all the time. Twenty-eight. Then he’d get away with it. Shooting a little girl. A little kid. She realized she was breathing hard. Calm down, she told herself. For Christ’s sake, get a hold of yourself.

Twenty-nine. She stood before the garage-style door, made of cold corrugated steel. If Jasper had lied to her, she was going to make him regret it. She knelt down next to the lock and extended her index finger, which began to glow with a white-hot inner light. Carefully, she pushed her finger straight into the lock, the smell of burning metal filling her nostrils as the mechanism melted into slag.

Rising back to her feet, she took a moment to square her shoulders and compose herself. Just take him to the cops. Kick his ass if you need to, but no more. Let the legal system take care of the rest. The legal system. She snorted. Because it did such a great job on her.

Starlight seized the handle of the door and heaved upward, the now-molten lock providing no resistance. The door opened with a deafening crash of metal, sliding up into the ceiling. Inside it was pitch dark, but her eyes easily pierced through the blackness. Jasper hadn’t been lying - the unit really was set up as a makeshift hideout. There were countless discarded fast-food wrappers, empty bottles of water, even a bucket she tried not to guess at the contents of. Is this guy hiding from the cops or trying to wait out a nuclear war? What held her attention, though, was the sleeping bag curled in the corner, unmistakably occupied. The figure didn’t move, even after the din of the opening door.

She waved a hand and a globe of light appeared in the air before her, casting a pale radiance over the scene. She sent it flitting up to float near the ceiling of the unit and stepped inside. On the walls, shapeless shadows advanced with her, though there was nothing there to cast them.

Still Carl didn’t move. This guy would probably sleep through a nuclear war. She walked over and looked down at him, curled up there like a baby. He shot a kid, then crawled away to his man-cave to pig out on cheeseburgers and lie around all day until the heat was off. Pathetic.

She prodded him with her boot, none too gently, resisting the urge to kick him. “Rise and shine, s---bird.”
He didn’t move.

It was then that she saw the empty pill bottle in his hand, the half-open eyes, the flecks of white foam at the corners of his mouth. No. She was down beside him, seizing his shoulders, shaking him. “No, no, no!

An effort of will, a flash of light, and the storage unit was gone, replaced by clean white tiles and the smell of chemicals. Someone screamed, someone else cursed, there was what sounded like a tray of objects crashing to the floor. She paid no attention, seizing a man who wore a white doctor’s coat. She all but threw him at where Carl lay dying.

“Save him!” she snapped.

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Origin Story: The Wish I Make (Part Five)


Sam fought to keep her eyes open as the guard led her down the hallway, her prisoner-issue shoes squeaking faintly on the floor, the rolled-down sleeves of her jumpsuit chafing at her wrists. Her head felt as if it were full of sludge. She barely paid attention to where she was going, mindlessly following the guard, her thoughts still with the bunk she had left behind and the warm, deep sleep she had been roused from.
She had of course been vaguely aware that it would be visiting day today, just as she had been vaguely aware that she was going to see her sister for the first time in…five years? Six? Didn’t matter. At the moment, all she could think about was sitting, or preferably lying, down.

Sam didn’t realize they had arrived until the guard touched her shoulder, getting her attention. They were in a cafeteria-sized room filled with a rows of gunmetal-grey tables, all bolted firmly to the floor. At least half of them were occupied, women in orange jumpsuits at one end, friends and family at the other. The air was heavy with the soft murmur of conversation, the stabbing hisses of a whispered argument, the quiet sobbing of someone’s muffled tears.

She was pointed to one of the tables, where a woman was already seated. Sam felt a surreal jolt of recognition upon seeing her features - blonde hair, grey eyes, pointed chin. For a moment it felt like looking in a mirror. They had always looked alike.

Becky didn’t move when Sam approached, barely glancing at her before returning her attention to the far wall. Sam hesitated, then sank into the folding chair opposite her, trying not to groan with relief as she did so. Becky looked at her now, eyes impassive, hands folded neatly on the table in front of her, her bearing reminding Sam forcibly of a judge.

Becky seemed unwilling to break the silence, so Sam did. “Hey, little sister.” It came out raspier than she had hoped, the syllables scratching at her sore throat.

Still there was no flicker of emotion from Becky. “Hey, Sam.”

“Been a while.” Sam found herself unable to resist a jab. “What happened to never speaking to me again?” She regretted it the moment it was past her lips.

Becky twitched her shoulders in faint shrug, indifferent, not rising to the bait.

Sam ducked her head, working at a spot of dried food on the table with a fingernail. She wished she was back in her bunk. She searched for some topic of conversation, the silence stretching on. Her arm throbbed painfully.

She whipped her head back up to look at Becky. “You wouldn’t believe how many of the chicks in here got put in by capes.”

Becky seemed unimpressed. Sam plowed on. “I mean, I knew there would be a lot, but everybody you talk to, it’s like ‘Freedom League this,’ and ‘masks and tights that.’ And my - my friend in here? Guess who she got put in by.”

Another almost imperceptible shrug.

“The f---ing Centurion.” No reaction, Becky apparently unimpressed. “Seriously. Got nabbed by him back in the seventies, before T-Day. Been here ever since. Lifer.” Becky didn’t look like she was even trying to pretend she cared. Sam kept going, unable to stop. “Hey, you - you remember those games we used to play? Where we’d dress up, like, with the masks and the capes, and run around pretending to be-”

“I remember.”

Taking this as encouragement, Sam began to laugh, forced, pleading laughter, desperate to coax a smile to Becky’s face. “All the - all the stories we’d do. With the villains, and the aliens, and the Freedom League - hey, you remember our names? S--t, what were they? You were - yeah, you were Moonshadow, and I was - I was-”

“I remember.”

Sam trailed off, her laughter dying. The smile sank from her face and she dropped her head once more, staring fixedly at the tabletop. When she spoke, her voice was tight. “You didn’t come here to talk, why did you come?”

Becky seemed to hesitate slightly before responding. When she did speak, she did as if the words left a bad taste in her mouth. “Arthur wants to know what happened to his mother.”

It’s about him. Sam felt her lips tighten. Of course. Why would she come here for me? She tried to hide her resentment by fiddling with one of her earrings. “You didn’t tell him?”

“He doesn’t understand.” Now Becky didn’t seem like she wanted to be there any more than Sam did.
Sam threw herself back in her chair and crossing her arms mulishly. “So?”

Becky’s eyes grew colder, which Sam hadn’t thought was possible. “So I think this isn’t about you and me anymore.”

Sam let her gaze rove around the room, refusing to look at her. Becky leaned forward, the shift in her demeanor conveying a sudden intensity that dragged Sam’s attention back.

“Monthly visits,” Becky said. “Thirty minutes each. Supervised. They have a program for that here. If it goes well,” she paused, “then maybe we can bring it up to weekly.”

Sam, with no idea how to feel, was now the mute one.

“One condition.” Becky jabbed a finger in Sam’s face. “You enter the prison drug program. I checked, and you’re not in it, Christ knows why. You’re locked up, so you’re clean now - you f---ing stay that way.”

Drug program? Sam felt a strange sinking feeling in her gut, like a heavy weight had settled onto her stomach. “Uh. That’s - that’s a good idea, but…” she groped. “I don’t know if…I don’t know if I’m eligible.” Of course she was eligible. “I mean, I guess I am, but…I don’t know, maybe we could just…”

But even as she spoke, somewhere in the back of her mind a voice was asking, What if? An image played across her mind - of a clean, sober Samantha Lawrence, reunited and reconciled, all wrongs forgiven, all defects washed away.

Sam heard herself talking. “Yeah, I guess I should, you know, get in that program…wouldn’t want to go back to…the way I was…” The weight in her gut seemed to be lessening, replaced by an almost queasy hope. “Yeah, I can do that. Once I do, when,” she risked a glance at her sister’s face, “when could we do the first-”

Becky interrupted as suddenly as if she hadn’t been listening to a word Sam had said. “It’s warm in here.”

Sam blinked, nonplussed. “Uh, yeah I guess. They keep the heat turned up pretty high in-”

Becky cut her off again. “Why are your sleeves rolled down?”

The weight in her gut returned, heavier than before. “They’re - it was - it was cold in my cell, so I - I like to keep them-” Too late, she tried to shove her arms under the table. Quick as a snake, Becky caught her wrist and forced her sleeve up to her elbow, laying bare her forearm.

The flesh on the inside of her arm was a mottled spiderweb of grayish-black bruises, punctured with angry red sores. Sam went limp, making no effort to pull away. She only closed her eyes, unable to meet her sister’s gaze.

She felt Becky release her wrist and heard her release a sharp exhale of breath. Then, “Jesus Christ, Sam.”

When Sam opened her eyes, Becky was gone.

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Origin Story:  The Wish I Make (Part Six)


The carpeting in the hospital room was stone-grey, the walls off-white. The only sound was the humming of the heating systems and the steady beeping of Carl’s heart monitor. He lay in the only bed, face turned to the window, away from Starlight. She saw that his wrists were restrained to the bed with leather straps.
Hesitating only briefly in the doorway, she entered, letting the door close behind her with an impersonal click. He didn’t look at her. She crossed the room and sat down in the chair beside his bed.

Still he didn’t move. She cleared her throat. “You asked to see me.”

The seconds ticked by, and then he spoke. “They told me you saved my life.” His voice was thin and raspy.

The heart monitor beeped a half-dozen times before he responded. “Why?”

She shrugged. “Got to.”

His face was still turned away from her, but she could see his hands clench into fists. “You don’t think I deserve to die?”

“I don’t think it matters what we deserve.”

He turned his head to look at her. His face was ashen, even against the sterile white of the pillow. His eyes were dark and sunken, and wet. She saw that his face was stiff, the kind look that men got when they were trying to hold back tears. He was young, couldn’t be more than twenty. “I shot that little girl.”

“I know.”

He was staring at her masked face, as though seeking some kind of reaction “I sell drugs.”

“I know.”

Whatever he was seeking in her face, he didn’t seem to find it. He looked back out the window, though nothing could be seen through the darkness outside.

The silence returned, deafeningly loud. Starlight looked down at her hands, Carl still stared at nothing through the window. She racked her brains, searching for something to say. Richard should be here. Or Paige. Or Asli. Or Lynn. They would know what to say. They would have the right words. Once or twice she raised her head to look at Carl, but he never moved. She couldn’t see his face.

She was just starting to wonder if he had fallen asleep, and if so whether she should stay or go, when he finally spoke. “My brother’s dead.”

All she could think of was, “Sorry.”

He continued as if he hadn’t heard her. “I knew it was coming. He was on that stuff. Using. For years now. I tried to make him stop, but…” he shook his head, slowly, as if it pained him to do so. “Couldn’t tell him what to do.

Starlight opened her mouth, changed her mind, and closed it again. It seemed to her that now was a time to listen, not speak.

 “He had a girlfriend, you know. A kid too. Couldn’t get work, though. Not good work. Never had any money. And he, he wasn’t cut out for slinging. Wasn’t tough enough. He’d always be doing people favors. Trusting them. Believed anything he got told.” He shook his head again. “Can’t do that. Not on the corner.

“And so he has the habit, but not the money to keep it fed. So he starts ripping and running. And he is, he is so lucky. He gets away with it. Time and time again. I mean, it,” he made a strangled half-laugh, “it got so I was starting to think he must have some kind of powers or something, he was so lucky with it. And I keep telling him, saying, you got to stop. They’re going to catch you one of these days. But, no. Couldn’t tell him what to do.”

Starlight’s hands were clenched tightly, so hard it hurt.

“And it gets so bad that one of the lieutenants, he straight-out tells me, Pipes, we know it’s your brother doing it, we’ve got to kill him. So I beg. I go - I go down on my knees, I beg like a dog. And finally he says, okay, we’ll wipe the slate, we’ll let him live, if you just do this job for us.

“All I had to do was drive a package across town. They give me the car for it. I put the package there, under the seat, and I start driving. And I’m so f---ing happy. I’m so happy, I’ve fixed everything, I’ve saved my brother, I’m the man. And I…” a choked sob escaped him. “I remember all of a sudden. I promised to buy my nephew a present. And I’m so, like, high on happiness here, I don’t even think about it, I just stop at the first store I see and I go in to buy something for him. I leave the car there, with the package in it.

“So I buy a comic book for my nephew, and I come back out, and I see a guy trying to break into my car.”
Starlight exhaled slowly through her teeth. She saw where this was headed.

“I don’t even think. I panic. I completely panic. If I lose this package, then that’s it. They’ll think I stole it. They’ll kill me, they’ll kill my brother. That’ll be the end of everything, and it’ll be all my fault. All I’m thinking is, you can’t take that car. So I pull out my gun, and I just start shooting.”

Several heartbeats passed, and then he turned his eyes back to her. “I never saw the little girl.”

She watched him, still saying nothing.

He jerked his arms as if trying to raise his hands to his face, the motion brought up short by his restraints. “So now my brother’s dead anyway. They killed him. And all I did was shoot a little kid.” The next words came out all at once, in a rush, as if he’d been waiting to say them the whole time. “So how am I supposed to fix that?”

She looked at her hands, then out the window, then at him. Then she said levelly, “You can’t.”

Carl swallowed hard and nodded, apparently unsurprised by her answer.

She sighed. “I’m going to let you in on a secret, Carl. I’ve done bad things too.”

“As bad as what I did?”

She hesitated, then shook her head. “No.” It felt strange to admit it. “Not that bad. Just regular bad. Things people shouldn’t do.” There was a weariness creeping deep in her bones, as if her limbs were filled with lead. “I’ll tell you why they’re worse than what you did, though. You never meant for anyone to get hurt. You were trying to make it better, the only way you knew how. But me? I never cared. Never. Never thought about anyone but myself.” God, she was tired. “And I ended up hurting people. People I should’ve cared about.

“Then, well, things changed.” She made a halfhearted gesture towards her own costume. “Obviously. And I took some time to think. And you know what I decided?”

She tried to think of the best way to put it into words. “It’s not about…fixing it. You can’t fix it. It’s never going to be how it should be. That’s what you have to accept, if you really want to change who you are. Going straight, cleaning yourself up…there’s no big reward. There’s never going to be a day when you look back at everything you’ve done and say yeah, I’ve made up for it now. You just keep going. Keep trying. And maybe, if you do that, maybe someday you look back and you say, it’s not how it should be, but it’s better than it was.

Carl’s eyes were dry now, but unfocused. He wasn’t looking at her. He wasn’t looking at anything. “Shoulda died back there.”



“I shot a kid.”

“But you care.”

“That’s not enough.”

“It’s something.”

He seemed to hesitate, then asked, almost tentatively, “Have you gotten there yet?”

“Gotten where?”

“Gotten to where you can say it’s better than it was?”

Now it was her turn to hesitate. “Yeah. I guess so.” She didn’t bother trying to sound enthusiastic.

He opened his hands, then clenched them into fists. “Do you think I ever will?”

She looked him in the eye. “That’s up to you.”

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Origin Story: The Wish I Make (Part Seven)


The room was a grey, utilitarian rectangle, hardly larger than a prison cell, and nearly as bare of furnishings. Against one wall stood an off-white refrigerator than buzzed and hummed irregularly, a puddle of leaked water spreading around it with glacial slowness. A little red shaded lamp was on the floor, the power cord coiled behind it like the tail of a rat. A mattress lay across from it.

It was on this mattress that Sam sat, her knees pulled up to her chin, staring at the opposite wall. Beside her on the mattress was a syringe.

It had been the first thing she’d done after getting out, of course. She’d walked all the way from the bus stop to the Fens, to the place she had always gone to score. But it hadn’t been coke she’d bought this time. Ever since being introduced to the needle, she’d never even considered going back.

She didn’t know why she had bought the lamp, though. There was already a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling in her new home. It had gone against all of her instincts so spend money on something she didn’t actually need, rather than saving it all up towards her next high.

But she had bought the lamp anyway.

She looked at it now, already regretting the stupid decision. How much would she be able to get for it the next time she needed cash, she wondered. She’d be lucky if it fetched a dollar. All she’d managed to do was cheat herself out of a high.

That didn’t matter right now, though, right? She picked up the needle and weighed it in her hand. She had her high for the moment. And that was all that really mattered. The moment.

So why hadn’t she used it yet?

She put the needle back down and started gently rocking herself back and forth, arms wrapped around her knees.

She could feel the hunger in her veins. Sweat was breaking out on her forehead and her arms were prickled with goose bumps. Every second dragged by like an eternity.

There was a merciless, throbbing pain deep in the base of her skull. The pain made her want to cry.
She still didn’t use the needle.

It was late afternoon. She could tell from the muffled sounds of traffic that rush hour was in full swing. Everyone leaving their jobs and going home, to their families. To their children and their lives and their futures.
She still didn’t use the needle.

Her knees were starting to cramp. She shifted position, scooting backwards so she could lean against the wall and stretch her legs out in front of her. Something crinkled in the pocket of her leather jacket as she did so, the jacket she hadn’t worn in years.

Seeking any distraction, she reached into her pocket and found a crumpled-up rectangle. She pulled it out, smoothed it, and saw it was a photograph.

She remembered when it was taken. She had decided to take Arthur to the zoo for the day. They had looked at the animals and eaten snacks and laughed and talked with people. She had wanted to remember that day, so she asked a passing man to take their picture.

She was holding Arthur under the armpits in the picture, lifting him up so their faces were on the same level. Both of them were laughing, their cheeks pressed together, just how mother and son should be.


Sam looked at her own glassy, frozen expression, and remembered how high she had been that day.


And then she did cry. She crushed the picture into a ball in her fist, lowered her chin to her chest, and cried in great, choking sobs that racked her whole body and made her lungs ache as though they were being squeezed in a vise. Her eyes burned with tears that flowed freely down her cheeks.

At last she opened her eyes, and didn’t know if it had been a minute or a day. She might have slept, or she might not have. The room was dark now, the only light the reddish glow of the evening traffic that filtered in through the window.

She sat and looked at the darkness for a while, then got ponderously to her feet, her muscles protesting every inch of the way. She crossed the room, knelt down before the little red lamp, and pressed the on switch.

Nothing happened. She made sure it was plugged into the wall, then tried it again. Still no light came.
She jerked the switch back and forth, more and more rapidly, then, possessed by a sudden rage, seized the lamp and hurled it against the wall, where it shattered into a thousand pieces.

She stood there, breath coming in harsh gasps, and then the rage left her as quickly as it had come. Her arms sank back to her sides and after a minute she went back to the mattress, sitting once more propped up against the wall.

There were no more tears. Now she only felt numb.

She still didn’t use the needle.

After a while, she started to wonder what Becky and Arthur were doing right now. Sitting down to dinner, probably. Or watching a movie together. Maybe she was helping him with his homework, or telling him to clean his goddamned room.

Fantasies flashed through her mind, of taking a cab over there and just showing up on their doorstep. A grand, heartfelt reunion, with many hugs and tearful reconciliations.

A shiver racked her body. It had been too long since she’d used. Way too long.


And just like that, the fantasy was gone, replaced by harsh reality. There would be no reconciliation, no forgiveness.

She could show up on their doorstep if she wanted. They wouldn’t care.

That was the truth. She could show up dead in a dumpster and they wouldn’t care. They wouldn’t be happy and they wouldn’t be sad. Her actions had at last earned her their indifference, and it was that indifference that now hurt more than anything else. And in that moment, more than anything in the world, she only wanted to feel as though everything was all right.

She knew how she could make herself feel that way.

It didn’t matter what she did. The world would keep turning, whether she did it or not. Becky and Arthur would keep living. The stars would still shine in the sky.

No one would be hurt by it, because there was no one left to hurt. Only herself. A life lived only for herself.

Would that be so terrible?

In the darkness, her hand closed around the needle.

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