Origin Story: Part 9
“Are you going to cry, Rainbow Brite?”
Madeline was at a table with a group of dangerous, rogue superheroes about to get a mission briefing on actually helping people. She realized she had a big, goofy smile and quickly adopted a more serious expression. She looked at Harvey seated next to her, but he seemed to be staring at Fatale.
“As you can see, we have two new people here I’ve recruited for the Vindicators,” Armored Justice stated, who sat at the head of the table. He motioned to Harvey. “This is Jingo, a World War II-era superhero with lots of combat experience.”
Harvey looked at everyone else at the table and waved. “I punched out Hitler. Not a racist... like you may have heard.”
“Also, we have a new superhero who I believe has a lot of potential,” Armored Justice said, motioning to Madeline.
Madeline smiled but tried to make it a confident smile and not a goofy one. “Hi, guys. It’s great to be here among so many ready to do good in the world.”
“So what’s this?” asked the Grasshopper. “Are we adding a cheerleading squad?”
Madeline politely laughed at the insulting joke (though she found it slightly flattering he thought she looked like she could be a cheerleader). “Very funny, but I have superpowers. You see, one day—”
“Doesn’t matter that you have superpowers,” said the Executor. His accent wasn’t Texan. “You put a gun in the hand of a teenage girl, that doesn’t suddenly make her a Navy SEAL.”
“I think she can be of help to us,” Armored Justice said. “Her force fields will be a great asset in the area of defense.”
“Yeah, we saw the YouTube video of how Pink Princess defended herself from that cat,” said the Grasshopper with a chuckle.
The Honey Badger shot out the claws on his hands. “Violence against animals isn’t funny!”
Madeline put up her hands defensively. “Sorry, I panicked. But I really want to work at being a superhero — a real one who helps people... and has a better superhero name.”
“And this mission will be your opportunity,” Armored Justice said. In the center of the table appeared a hologram of a map of Mokovia. A red dot appeared on it, and the hologram zoomed in until it showed the aerial view of a town. “This is the Mokovian village of Lambovo. Baron Strytle has declared the inhabitants to be rebels, and the village is under siege. No one — no other government — is helping them, and they are on their own. Our mission is to bring them food and needed medical supplies. This should be a simple mission to start with, but resistance from the Mokovian military is possible.”
Madeline raised her hand. Armored Justice nodded at her, and she asked her question. “So, if the military does attack, what do we do?”
“You fight them.”
Madeline suppressed a shudder. Fighting people with assault rifles — this was serious.
When the briefing ended, Madeline decided it was a good time to chat with the other rogue superheroes and learn their story. Harvey had immediately started talking to Executor to learn more about modern guns, so Madeline approached Fatale, who was in the breakroom getting a cup of coffee.
“It’s always good to know other woman superheroes,” Madeline said. “I was wondering if you had any tips about working on my fighting skills?”
Fatale assessed Madeline with a neutral expression and then asked with a faint Russian accent, “Is this supposed to be some sort of female bonding, Rainbow Brite?”
Madeline was a little taken aback by the immediate hostility and stammered, “I just thought since we might be working together, we could—”
There was a sharp pain in Madeline’s cheek as her head was jerked to the side, dizzying her to the point she barely kept standing. It took her a moment to realize what had just happened: Fatale had punched her! Madeline had never been punched in the face before, and it really stung. “Why did you—”
“Are you going to cry, little girl?” Fatale sipped her coffee and looked disinterested.
“No, I...” Madeline could feel herself tearing up, but she soon got a hold of herself and stood up straight, resisting the urge to clutch her surely bruising face. “Not crying. I’m tough,” she stated firmly. “Are we friends now?”
“No,” Fatale uttered and left the breakroom. When she was gone, Madeline couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. That really hurt, and she didn’t know my Fatale had to be so mean!
“Modern guns are really nifty,” Harvey said as he entered the breakroom. “Ever use an M60, Madeline?” Madeline wasn’t able to stop crying fast enough, and Harvey quickly noticed something was wrong. “What happened?” He looked over her face. “Did someone punch you?! I’ll pulverize whoever did it.”
“It was Fatale,” Madeline blurted, quickly wondering if she should have kept her mouth shut.
Harvey was instantly taken aback. “Oh. Well... I’m not going to punch a woman.” He thought about it. “No, that’s sexist. If I was going to punch a man, then I need to punch a woman. You wait here.” Harvey took a deep breath and marched out of the breakroom. Madeline became worried about what would happen if they started a fight with rogue superheroes, but Harvey was back almost immediately. “I couldn’t do it,” he said. “She’s too pretty. I want to be a feminist, but I don’t know if I can hit women. At least not in the face. Maybe I could hit her in the gut.” An awful thought struck him. “But what if there’s a baby in there!”
“Stop talking to me!” Madeline blurted out, but she realized she wasn’t angry at Harvey. She wanted to be a superhero — a real one, but no one seemed to take her seriously.
“I’m just trying to look out for you,” Harvey said apologetically. “I might do this — it could be a good way for me to get back in the hero business — but I’m not sure about you joining the Vindicators.”
“Why not?” Madeline demanded.
“Well, it seems really dangerous,” Harvey said, “and I’m not sure...” He could tell he was just making Madeline angrier. “And we don’t even really know who this Armored Justice is,” Harvey stated, trying a different tack. “This whole thing could get you in big trouble. I mean, it could really mess up your plans to become a dental hygienist.”
“A dentist, Harvey!” Madeline yelled louder than she meant. She was tired of this. She had superpowers; she was meant to do something with them. She was meant to help people. But no one thought she was capable.
Except for one person.
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