Metahumans or Menace?!
The Chronicling of Firebrand
The Chronicling of The Firebrand: A City on Fire
-Something from Nothing
Charles Coleman, researcher at Prometheus Industries, received a sample of a strange substance known as “Interminium.” He was tasked with catalyzing the substance, which was said to have infinite potential. At that same time, Prometheus Industries was developing a device designated the “Fountain of Youth:” a machine that would be capable of reversing the aging process in most living things. The project was a favorite of Russel Lacer, the CEO of Prometheus Industries. Results were slow and the whole endeavor was eating up too many funds; his desperation mounted and corners were cut. This led to an unfortunate accident that cost several researchers their lives.
Charles stayed late that same night to work with the sample. He was tired because he had been at work early to help his friend, James Albrite, with the Fountain of Youth. He accidently spilled some chemicals into a bit of the sample which let out a noxious gas into the lab. Charles chocked on the cloud and felt like he was on fire. He later woke up in the infirmary.
The Doctors told Charles that he was fine, but he felt odd. They gave him a few days leave so he could get some rest. He was visited by James a few days later who told him that the Fountain of Youth had 6 months to show results or the investors would cut funding to Prometheus. During this time Charles discovered that he had developed strange powers from the gas. He was fireproof and could spontaneously combust the air around him.
Charles had always wanted to use science to propel humanity toward grand evolutionary changes. It was why he started working at Prometheus Industries in the first place. He had to take this opportunity to fulfill a lifelong passion of his: To be a paragon of humanity. Over the next 4 months he trained his body and his powers. He found Sun Wukong, The Monkey King, in San Francisco while looking for a trainer. Charles learned martial arts, the ways of stealth, and acrobatic techniques from the trickster. During all this time though he failed to develop or discover any additional powers.
Charles returned to Prometheus Industries defeated. James told him that he was fired months ago, but Charles didn’t care. He ranted about his lousy powers, eventually getting mad enough to cause a small explosion within a nearby batch of the sample. The sample catalyzed and they immediately brought it to Lacer. Lacer gave Charles his job back and authorized him to use the vault that houses Prometheus’ failed or cancelled experiments.
Charles and James searched the vault and assembled a number of discontinued devices to create a “Super Suit.” They spent an entire month getting it ready for deployment, and soon Charles donned it to become The Firebrand. He immediately got to work cleaning up Cinder City. He first set his sights toward the notorious Arsonist Choir, and foiled them at every turn. During a bank robbery that seemed to be committing itself, Firebrand encountered the Mind Master. After a short fight, the Mind Master retreated, but returned later to find the pieces of one of Firebrand’s utility pods.
The Mind Master discovered that the pod originated from Prometheus Industries, and went to speak to its CEO. The Mind Master threatened to sell the device’s remnants to the highest bidder if Lacer didn’t pay him a hefty bribe. Lacer had no choice but to give in, so he gave up the last of the Fountain of Youth’s funding to the Mind Master. Lacer then became obsessed with finding the man responsible for this. He narrowed the search down to James and Charles, and questioned them both. Charles said nothing, but James told Lacer who Firebrand was when he was tempted with a spot as co-chair of the entire company.
Filled with blind rage, Lacer lured Charles to the Fountain of Youth after hours. He locked Charles inside and turned the machine on. It would have burned him to death if it weren’t for his immunity, but the real threat was the radiation. It transformed Charles into a beast and he tore the door from the Fountain. He stumbled out of Prometheus Industries and wandered into the city, where the Mind Master found him.
The Mind Master saw this as a great opportunity to make some more money and brought the beast back to Prometheus. James had discovered a tape recording of Charles’ murder and was in the middle of confronting Lacer when the alarms started. James figured out that the beast had to be Charles, and ran for the vault Lacer pulled a gun and tried to stop him, but James evaded him. They got separated and James ran into the beast that was Charles. Lacer found the Mind Master.
James couldn’t fight the beast, so he did the only thing he could. He apologized to Charles and it calmed the beast enough for Charles to regain his humanity. Charles grabbed his Firebrand Suit and ran for where Lacer and the Mind Master were fighting. He found them in the Fountain of Youth chamber. In the battle, The Mind Master flung Lacer into a pool of Interminium that had oozed into the Fountain of Youth and he dissolves into it. Firebrand defeats the Mind Master, but he retreats again.
With Lacer dead, James, as co-chair, was slated to become the new CEO of Prometheus Industries. His first action was to officially endorse Firebrand, and gave him full access to the organization’s facilities. Charles got a sizeable penthouse just above James in the Prometheus HQ and turned it into his crime fighting lair.
After being appointed Prometheus Industries’ official super hero, Firebrand was loaded with responsibilities. Along with fighting crime, he had to make public appearances, attend company meetings, and spend time inventing new gadgets for his suit. His popularity skyrocketed, and soon Prometheus was seeing more business than it had in years. He was constantly working, and he loved every minute of it.
With the Mind Master defeated, his crime web was vulnerable. The gangs had fallen back into rivalry, the mobs competed for control, and the police and government officials returned to their work. Firebrand focused on rounding up the gangs first. He had already hit the Arsonist Choir pretty hard during his first month active. But the Free-Runners and [REDACTED] were still at large. The Free-Runners really taxed his acrobatic skills, and the [REDACTED] required careful thinking to bring down.
Firebrand had added a lot of new tools to his arsenal over the past month. Prometheus Industries had provided him with a custom made motorcycle and helicopter. His suit was outfitted with a pressure gauge that could detect his Prime transformation and would collapse the suit before it could be damaged. James personally modified Firebrand’s helmet to include numerous newly developed surveillance systems. All of these devices were monitored by James himself at Prometheus HQ so he could support Firebrand off the field. He took on the codename “Vigil” and became Firebrand’s eyes and ears, as well as informant while he was out heroing.
Firebrand and Vigil cleaned up the streets. They had the leaders of the big gangs behind bars, and an all-time low for random crimes. But a much bigger threat began crawling from the woodwork. The mobs started getting bolder and Firebrand had to start striking at them. The mobsters were much better equipped and far more devious than the gangs of Cinder City. Without Vigil’s help, Firebrand probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up.
Soon the mobs started threatening Prometheus officials hoping to stop Firebrand from interfering with their affairs. Firebrand hated the idea of his co-workers getting hurt because of him, and tried to convince James that they should stop. James disagreed though and said that the mobs’ actions now were exactly why they had to continue. Firebrand knew that he was right, and continued his fight against the mobsters. The Bruciares Family was getting fed up with Cinder City’s new crime-fighter and decided to stop the problem at its source.
They managed to take James hostage, and he disappeared for several weeks. Firebrand suffered from Vigil’s absence and feared that the mobs would win. The Bruciares demanded that Firebrand turn himself in to them in exchange for James. Firebrand told the board at Prometheus that he was going to give in to their demands. But to his surprise, most of them told him not to go. James knew he was a target, but still held freeing the city in higher regard. Firebrand agreed and he and the board hatched a plan to free James.
All the mob bosses came to the meeting place to deal with their newest threat. Firebrand arrived and entered the warehouse they were using hoping to spot James. The bosses told him that they would release James once Firebrand removed his helmet and dropped all of his weapons. While they talked Firebrand located James among the various gangsters spread out in the building. He slowly placed his belt on the ground, and goes to take off his helmet.
Behind James the windows exploded and Firebrand’s motorcycle raced in. It plowed into the gangsters guarding him and James hopped on board. Then the Helicopter burst in from the ceiling. The Gangsters shot at the vehicles and at Firebrand, but during the diversion he had detonated a smoke bomb. Firebrand used the chaos to start knocking out the mobsters while James was rushed away. The police were on their way, so Firebrand chased down all of the mob bosses who had been present. One managed to escape the scene but James knocked him out using the motorcycle.
With all of the mob bosses and a significant number of their officers locked away, the organized crime rate fell drastically. Firebrand and Vigil had cleaned Cinder City from the bottom up. Though the gangs were still around and the mobs hadn’t been completely rounded up, the city was safer now. The people rested easy knowing that The Firebrand was protecting them. He had conquered the darkness that lurked in the depths of the city; his limitless passion for heroism a shining light on humanity. But by defeating the natural darkness that lies in the worst of humans, he had inadvertently invited darkness beyond natural.
Several months later within Vulcan Technologies, an alarm was tripped. The culprit was long gone, the alarm merely meant to attract attention to the theft. Vulcan was robbed by (Free) Lancer, a thief that targeted high profile R&D companies. She had been contracted by Ares, The God of War himself, to steal a weapon created by his brother, Hephaestus, known as the Hellfire Axe. Ares ordered her to bring the Axe to Cinder City, where she would hand it over to him in exchange for a weapon from his arsenal.
Deep in the underground music scene of Cinder City dwelled a man known simply as “War.” He was an exceptional musician, and his talents were the envy of all the bands in the city. People didn’t like working with him for long though, because he refused to record his work, and his live shows tended to grow violent. Injuries and Destruction of Property were commonplace at his performances. Soon, no venues would hire him, his band-mates abandoned him, and his music went unheard. He was furious. With no other option, he started playing on the streets.
Anyone passing by who heard him playing became more aggressive. War’s anger was passing to the people through his music. He started to practice changing people’s moods, which worked a little too well. It was around this time that he was confronted by Ares. Ares claimed that he was War’s father, and that he had brought him a gift. He presented the Hellfire Axe to War and told him that it would amplify his newfound abilities. Ares wanted War to challenge Hepheastus’ son, but War had other plans.
War figured that the best way to try out his new instrument, was on the venues that shunned him. Using a disguise, he got up on stage and prepared for the show to end all shows. Just before he started playing he threw off his disguise, and gained a mixed reaction from the crowd. But once he began, the crowd was completely enthralled by the sound of the Hellfire Axe. He started issuing commands and the people followed them. Soon everyone in the venue was smashing whatever they could get their hands on. Not satisfied with only one venue being destroyed, he ordered the crowd to lift the stage and march it to the next target on his list.
War’s mob was causing a commotion and it quickly alerted the authorities. Firebrand and Vigil were listening in on the police broadcast, and decided to investigate when they failed to stop it. When they arrived at the source of the riot, the crowd, as well as a number of police officers, were trashing a music bar. War stood above them, egging them on with his guitar. Vigil shut down his external audio feed due to the loud music distracting him. Firebrand and War exchanged very few words before it was clear that the riot would not end until everything was destroyed.
Firebrand rushed forward and propelled himself into the air. Before he could strike War, some of the crowd stood in front of him. Firebrand halted his attack and the mob charged him. Not wanting to harm the innocent people, Firebrand was forced to use his stun grenades and knock-out gas to quell the attackers. By the time they were all subdued, War had vanished. Firebrand returned to Prometheus to do some research on this new foe.
War was feeling good about how that had all gone down. He seemed to grow more powerful the more people could hear him. He did find it odd that Firebrand was immune to the effect though. His next step would have to be a big one. He tracked down the last band he had been ousted from and musically influenced them to join back up with him. He had his band, all he needed was a big enough stage, and an audience.
Crimson Cornet Communications had a large broadcasting hub in Cinder City. War broke in and took control of the staff. He ordered them to bring equipment up to the roof for his concert to end all concerts. War began playing on CCC’s city-wide all-inclusive emergency broadcast system. Soon the whole city had begun to gather in front of the building. Firebrand arrived just as the crowd turned violent.
He fought his way into the building. It wasn’t easy though, because having such a large audience as well as being backed up by an actual band made War much more powerful. Inside Firebrand faced the CCC staff, who who were covered in strange spartan-esqe armor that seemed to be tied to the music. Their armor and weapons pulsed with the beat of War’s playing. As War continued, more pulsating objects started conjuring in the building. Firebrand was getting overwhelmed by Sonic Spartans.
Firebrand pulled out and tried to call his helicopter. Vigil wouldn’t pick up, and Firebrand feared the worst. He grabbed his motorcycle, which was being beaten on by the mob, and raced into a neighboring building. He went to the roof and jumped to the CCC stage. War welcomed him as his special guest and sent more Sonic Spartans at Firebrand. Firebrand managed to knock them out, and when he did their strange sonic constructs faded away.
War then sent his band after Firebrand, but Firebrand dropped a smoke bomb. Using the cover, he rushed past the band and straight toward War. Pulling out a Fire-Star he slashed at the Hellfire Axe, cutting the strings of the guitar. The music stopped, a large amount of feedback rang through the city, and War became furious. He punted Firebrand off of the roof. The people quickly returned to their senses, including Vigil.
Firebrand swung down on a Chemical Tether and smashed through the window. War rushed to the lower floor and attacked Firebrand. He tossed Firebrand clear through a wall, and came at him again. He flipped over the Hellfire Axe in order to use it as a weapon. The axe proved to be extremely powerful; it cut through the floor where Firebrand had landed, and he was forced to flee.
Knowing War’s rampage would never stop on its own, Firebrand knew he had to end it. He was no match for War’s battle prowess in his current state. He had no choice but to take on his Prime form. Firebrand slipped away from the fight so he could remove his costume and changed. The transformation surprised War, but he elected to fight this new foe. They were on more equal ground now, though War couldn’t match Prime’s strength, his mighty weapon and battle skills made up for it.
Their fight raged through the building. Prime was gaining the upper hand by the time their fight had reached the lower levels. War had observed the fiery attacks Prime was capable of creating and hatched a plan. He led Prime to the “pyrotechnics” that he had set up for his grand finale planted at the foundation. He coaxed a fireball out of Prime that he redirected with the Hellfire Axe into the room with his explosives. Prime noticed the pyrotechnics too late, and many of them caught fire. War ran from the scene toward the music studio hoping to find some guitar strings.
Prime wanted to go after him, but the explosives would take out the entire block, and all the people gathered there. He had to contain the explosion with his own body. The resulting boom caused a great amount of damage to the lower floors of CCC broadcasting. The people became worried about it’s integrity and started to run away. War noticed the people and cut short his stringing. He only had one string ready to play but it proved effective enough to get the peoples attention.
War was satisfied with this simple control for now. Even limited, he could command the city with his genius. The door behind him burst open, and Prime rushed in. War turned to face him and intensified his playing.
Prime stopped, but was trying to resist. War beckoned him closer and had him look out over the people below. He ordered Prime to destroy them, but then James flew in on Firebrand’s Helicopter.
James pleaded with Prime to not fight the people he’d sworn to protect. War saw the effect this was having on Prime and summoned Sonic Constructs over the Helicopter. The rotors slowed and James shouted out one final plea as the helicopter began to fall out of control. War laughed, but soon found himself lifted into the air. Prime held him there before unceremoniously slamming him into the floor so hard that he broke through it. The helicopter fell toward the crowd, who suddenly regained their awareness and started to flee. Prime lept down from the building and grabbed the helicopter before it could crash and gently put it down. The people celebrated their rescue by Prime as he recovered the barely conscious War from the building.
War was turned over to the authorities and placed in a high security cell. Prime brought the Hellfire Axe with him onto the Helicopter and reverted to human on board. They brought the Axe back to Prometheus in order to study it. The science team, along with Firebrand, investigated it’s strange properties with great interest.
With the newest threat to the city removed, Firebrand was praised once again. He even gained some new respect for his Prime form. He decided that he no longer had to hide him away for fear that he was dangerous. He was able to hold on to enough of himself during the change that he trusted he would do the right thing. His suit was outfitted with a pressure gauge that could detect his Prime transformation and would collapse the suit before it could be damaged.
-Mind over Master