Origin Story: Part 5
“Isn’t that what your generation wants? To be treated as important and special without having to do any actual work?”
“And here is the new member of the Protectors,” said the news anchor. And there on screen was Madeline in her pink superhero outfit (and now matching pink lipstick), smiling as genuinely as she had managed. “And her name is... the Pink Princess.”
Madeline turned from the TV to see the reactions of the other superheroes, and they were all laughing except for the Cowl — who never seemed to crack a smile — and the Quickener, who seemed to successfully suppress a laugh. “Well, that’s a name people will remember,” he told her.
“She looks like a plush doll!” said the Amazonian, leading her to another round of laughter.
Splash held up a box. “Actually, they’re making her a Barbie doll.”
Madeline looked at the box, which had a plastic doll in her superhero outfit. “That is so flattering, infuriating, and adorable at the same time.” It was getting hard to keep her spirits up, but Madeline realized at least Fly-Over — the best superhero — wasn’t laughing at her. That’s because he wasn’t there as he was dealing with an earthquake or something. “So when will I be joining you all on your next mission?” she asked the others.
Sonicgirl burst out laughing again. “Yeah, we’ll bring you along when we battle the huggy bears in Rainbowland.”
Madeline smiled as if she thought the joke was funny too and then walked off, just needing to get away from everyone else. She found a couch in the corner of the common area and sat down. She had the urge to cry, but she fought it because she was a superhero. Or at least she thought she was. Despite her best efforts, she certainly didn’t feel like one.
A gravelly voice asked, “Is something wrong?”
Madeline turned to see the Cowl standing in the shadows near the couch. “I’m just not sure about my superhero name,” Madeline answered carefully. “I get the ‘Pink’ part as my powers are pink — though not my choice of color, and I don’t see the need to draw attention to it. I’m not so sure about the “Princess” part as that doesn’t really imply any superhero powers but more of an association with a monarchy — which isn’t accurate.”
The Cowl nodded. “And what kind of name would you want?”
“One that could intimidate evildoers,” Madeline said, getting more emphatic. “No criminal is going to shout, ‘Oh no! Here comes Pink Princess!’”
Again, the Cowl nodded. “And you think you’re going to be fighting evildoers?”
Madeline was confused by the question. “Well, I’m a superhero.”
The Cowl held up his palm facing Madeline. “I want you to throw a punch.”
Madeline stood up and considered the Cowl’s hand for a moment. She came at it with an overhead swing that bounced off it ineffectively.
The Cowl raised an eyebrow. “When did you last throw a punch? When you were three?”
“Hitters don’t make friends,” Madeline said weakly.
Madeline noticed a change in the Cowl’s countenance. His permanent scowl was gone and when he spoke again, the gravelliness was gone and replaced with a normal, friendly tone. “What are you doing here, Maddie?”
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