Friday, May 25, 2012

Back from the Dead #4

It’s not easy being different, even when you’re a superhero.

Orion’s Belt could attest to that.  Although by all appearances he seemed pretty normal, as far as cosmic adventurers go, the one thing that worked against him was that Orion’s Belt refused to explain either his curious name or his secret origin.  Within the superhero community, this is a no-no.

Sure, to the general public, that’s exactly what you want, to simply be the good guy who saves the day and earns heaps of admiration, but the truth is, that’s not good enough for your peers.  They want to know more than that, and it’s not even just a matter of trust.  They think it’s something that they’re owed.  In many ways, superheroes in private act a lot like supervillains.

That’s what Orion’s Belt discovered when he was selected as a squire of Alpha Dog.  Now, Alpha Dog was the most respected and revered superhero in the world, and in fact on many other worlds, but to anyone who actually knew him, it was hard to like him, and it was strictly because of his condescending and bitchy attitude.  He was cock of the walk, and he didn’t mind proving it.

Now, normally, members of the Council selected squires who weren’t all that similar to themselves, because the whole point of the exercise is to mentor someone who will benefit from the experience.  That’s the opposite of what Alpha Dog did.  Bruin could attest to that, but Orion’s Belt suffered a great deal more for it.  In fact, his reputation suffered for it.  He was a known commodity to the public, but his profile was several degrees lower than it should have been, because Alpha Dog wanted it that way.

That’s what made it so easy for him to be the first one convinced by the resurrected Witch Doctor to join her budding alliance, even after she admitted that she couldn’t explain what she wanted to accomplish with it.

He was tired of the bullshit.

Before she came back, the closest he had to a friend was the Red Dean, who was a wisecracking vigilante with less respect than even he had.  They enjoyed going out on missions with each other, an exception within the system possible thanks to the Boolean’s discretion, and the negligence of Alpha Dog, who rarely paid attention to what Orion’s Belt was doing, except to say that he wasn’t doing it right, or that he shouldn’t be doing it at all.

The Red Dean had a greater influence on him than he was willing to admit, and it was probably true in the opposite as well.  Their personalities changed in each other’s presence.  Ellen Encanto’s first question to him was actually, “Are you gay?”  Typically, Orion’s Belt didn’t answer, but he didn’t protest, either.

He knew what was coming, and that’s why he agreed, on the spot, despite never having had that much to do with the Witch Doctor in the first place.  He was going to do it not just for himself, but for every other hero who had ever experienced someone like Alpha Dog, the preening asshole.  He didn’t care much for Encanto, actually.

Unlike Bruin, he began avoiding Alpha Dog, and thereby subverting the system that much more, in his mind having now crossed the line.  He was done with it, and done with Alpha Dog, and the thing that made it so easy was that Alpha Dog wouldn’t even notice, at least at first, having already established a pattern of behavior that had made all of this possible in the first place, perhaps without realizing it, perhaps without caring.  Orion’s Belt no longer gave a damn.

That’s how a revolution really begins, with existing elements being spurred by an inciting incident.  In this case, it was the death and return of an individual who no one had ever considered important.  And now suddenly many things that were once exactly like that were.

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