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Tale of a Sidekick

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Tale of a Sidekick Reply with quote

This is a piece I wrote a few weeks ago for an ongoing roleplaying campaign. The topic of WG4: Gods reminded me of it, so here it is...

The setting might need a few words of introduction, because I wrote the text for the benefit of people who already knew what it deals with.

The Setting is called Necessary Evil. It's a world of Superheroes and Supervillains -- only without the Heroes!

A few years ago the Earth was attacked by the alien V'sori. The world's Superheroes all moved out to save humanity -- and were cut down like sheep. The V'sori conquered Earth and established a military government.

A couple of months later Dr. Destruction, one of the worlds most notorious and dangerous Supervillains started a campain of recruiting his fellow Supervillains into an organizes resistance group called Omega. And that's where the player characters find themselves in.

My own character in this campaing is a Servitor, which means that he has never been out to strike it rich or conquer the world. Instead he is a servant of a Higher Power -- and his Higher Power is Rock'n'Roll!

A short while ago, I had an opportunity to gain a Sidekick (such things can happen at random intervals). Unfortunately there was no real good opportunity to introduce one during the respective gaming session, so I wrote this story instead, havong the appearance of the Sidekick happen in the character's "down time".

The story begins where our gaming session ended...

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The crowd cheered as Hard Rocker's sonic blast slammed into the group of Drones, scattering them over the asphalt. This was the first time Hard Rocker's Omega cell fought in front of an audience, and it felt mightily strange. (Was he having an attack of stage fright? – Nonsense!) All these people hadn't actually come for them; and neither had the news vans. They had already been there when the cell arrived, watching the firefighters' attempts to get that burning building across the street under control. But now it seemed like the gawkers had found a more interesting source for this afternoon's entertainment.

Hard Rocker soon noticed that his blast had not been as effective as his spectators assumed. Only a handful of the Drones were seriously damaged, the rest had just been knocked down by the shockwave. Not that it mattered much anymore. The fight was pretty much over, the Fins and the single V'sori that had led them into battle lying in bloody heaps. This was just so much mopping up. Looking around for another group of targets, Hard Rocker saw that it was no longer any use. The last of the Drones were just now being taken apart in close combat by his teammates.

That's when the Song started.

By itself, this was not an unusual sensation for Hard Rocker. Ever since that fateful day, years ago, when he had pledged his life to service of Rock'n'Roll, he had heard songs inside his head practically constantly.

But there was something strange about this one. Several somethings, in fact.

First, in situations like this, he'd normally hear something heroic and inspiring, something like Manowar, or Saxon, or even Queen. But this was Twisted Sister's I Wanna Rock!, which sounded more like a challenge than a celebration.

Second, what he was hearing was obviously a cover version. Even over the noisy guitars and the cheering of the crowd, he could clearly make out a female voice singing the lyrics. This had never happened to him before. Rock'n'Roll had access to all the originals, so why would he play a cover version?

Third, and this was perhaps the strangest of them all, the music did not actually appear to come from inside Hard Rocker's head. He turned around in confusion. The Music seemed to originate from somewhere in the crowd. His gaze swept over the assembled spectators, searching for the One…

And there she was.

The girl was perhaps in her early twenties, wearing tight jeans and a black girly-shirt with a Nightwish logo of her chest. She wasn't actually singing – in fact she was rummaging through her purse, looking for something – but by Billy Gibbons' beard, he was sure that she was the source of the song he was hearing.

In the meantime, the strange girl had apparently found what she had been looking for, and now she came striding towards him, holding what looked like a large marker pen in her hand. She said something to him, and at that moment Hard rocker was absolutely certain: It was her voice that was singing I Wanna Rock! inside his head.

'So, she wants to rock,' Hard Rocker thought 'good for her, but so what? What's keeping her?'

The girl looked at Hard Rocker expectantly, and with a pang of guilt he realized that he hadn't paid any attention to what the she had said to him. Slightly embarrassed (man was he glad that his face was hidden behind a mask) he lifted his hand to the side of his helmet and pretended to make some kind of adjustment.

'Eh… Sorry, I couldn't hear you.' That wasn't even that far from the truth.

The girl pushed the pen into his hand. 'I was asking if you'd give me your autograph..?'

'Uh… Sure. Where do you want it?' He waved the pen around as he asked. She had not brought a piece of paper or anything for him to sign on. With a lop-sided smile the girl lifted up her shirt to expose her stomach. Hard Rocker almost laughed out loud. This was his first fan-autograph ever, and he could definitely imagine worse places to put it on than a girl's tummy. With grand and showy motions he shifted his guitar to his side, kneeled down in front of her and drew the pen across her skin in swift, flowing strokes.
When he was done, the girl looked down at herself to inspect his handiwork, a broad grin spreading across her face. 'Thanks!' Before Hard Rocker could stand up again, she bent forward and planted a kiss on the visor plate of his helmet. Then she turned and started running back towards the crowd, where one of the news teams was already waiting for her. She gladly answered the reporter's questions and showed off her trophy to the camera.

Hard Rocker now noticed that his comrades were waiting for him to move out, so he turned towards the crowd one last time and raised his fist with the two outermost fingers stretched out straight. This was answered by fewer cheers from the crowd than he would have liked, but his newly won fan immediately returned the gesture. He lowered his arm to point his fingers directly at her (and the camera which had by now panned over to him), then turned around and followed his team into a back alley to where they had parked their getaway vehicle.

* * *

'dundun dundun dundun dooh… dundun dundun dundun dooh…'

Chelsea shook her head. Now, where had she picked up that earworm? It was the intro to a song she knew, but she couldn't remember the title, or any of the lyrics. The song proceeded to play itself out inside her head; she heard every note of the bass, every chord of the guitar, every beat of the drums. She even knew how the melody of the vocals went, but not a single word of the lyrics came to her mind. And when the song was finished, it just started over again, and again, and again.

The sensation of movement beside her stirred her up from her musical trance and with a sudden alarm she realized that she had sat through the entire lecture and hadn't heard a single word of what Professor Menkovski had been talking about. Damn! She had known in advance that molecular chemistry was bound to get a bit dry at times, but Menkovski's courses would've made the Sahara look like a bog in comparison. Well, she'd just have to read up later on the subjects she'd missed.

As she started to collect her gear, Chelsea noticed the writing on her notebook. It was her handwriting, but she couldn't remember writing anything down during this lesson.

Once upon a time was a backbeat.
Once upon a time all the chords came to life.
And the Angels had guitars, even before they had wings.
If you hold on to a chorus, you get through the night.

Was this a part of the song in her head? Could be. This whole affair was starting to freak her out.

She was walking down the corridors of Star City University, her mind still haunted by that nameless, wordless song. After a while, she noticed that she hadn't even paid any attention to where she was going. She now found herself in the main entrance hall of the Science Building, in front of the large message board. Her eyes fell upon one of the notices stuck to the board, and the suddenly the endless loop of music in her head was replaced by a single, long held note from the lead guitar. As she picked up and read the sheet, this note was followed by an extended improvised solo.

Singer for Rock Band
If you're interested you can find us
in the Fine Arts Building, Practice Room C
every Tuesday & Thursday
between 4 and 6 pm.

Chelsea had been told that she had a good singing voice, but she had never really thought about singing in a band. She gazed at her watch. Today was Tuesday, and it was just past 4:30 pm. They'd be playing right now. Should she give it a try?

Ah, what the hell, why not! At the very least, she might get to hear a new song to replace the one that's been haunting her the whole day.

* * *

Will Bailey was in the middle of the guitar solo of Ace of Spades, when her voice called out inside his head again: 'I Wanna Rock!' In surprise, Will missed the next two notes and failed to catch up on the following ones. Annoyed over this lack of concentration, he called for a halt and, one by one, his band mates stopped playing. He had a pretty good idea what would happen next, and turned his head towards the room's entrance a fraction of a second before the door was opened and someone stepped in.

Will already knew who it would be, and he wasn't disappointed. He'd seen her before, a couple of days ago, while he'd been wearing the mask of the Hard Rocker. She was his Fan; the one who now wore his signature under her shirt.

'Hey, there!' he called out to her.

'Hi, uh… I found your notice. You're looking for a singer..?'

'Yeah! You think you got what it takes?'

'I'm here to find out…' – ('I Wanna Rock!')

'Well, come on over here, then. I'm Will.'


'Hi Chelsea, these are Mick and Karen…' Will indicated the rhythm guitarist and bassist who both threw Chelsea quick salutes. '…and Steve, on the drums.' Steve made the sign of the Horns, a drumstick still clenched in his fist.

'So, …' Will reached into his bag, pulled out a bunch of papers and handed it to Chelsea. 'Here are a couple of songs we've been playing for a while. Just pick one you wanna do…'

Chelsea flipped through the sheets until she stopped at one. Will noticed a slight glint in her eyes as she read the title. Will half expected it to be Twisted Sister: I Wanna Rock!, but that was impossible: He didn't have printed lyrics for that song.

Chelsea recognized the song as soon as her eyes caught the title. It was the one that had been haunting her all day. 'This one.' Chelsea said and handed the sheets back with her chosen song on top.

'Hm… Meatloaf!' Will remarked, 'Brave choice for a first attempt!'

He showed the sheet around to the rest of the band, and than handed it back to her, but she no longer needed it. With a flash of insight all the words were now in her head. She could hardly wait for the band to start playing. When her part finally started, the words just flowed out of her. It almost felt as if the song was singing itself and just needed her to give it a voice:

You can't run away forever
But there's nothing wrong with getting a good head start
You want to shut out the night, you want to shut down the sun
You want to shut away the pieces of a broken heart

Think of how we'd lay down together
We'd be listening to the radio so loud and so strong
Every golden nugget coming like a gift of the gods
Someone must have blessed us when he gave us those songs

I treasure your love, I never want to lose it
You've been through the fires of hell
And I know you've got the ashes to prove it
I treasure your love, I want to show you how to use it
You've been through a lot of pain in the dirt
And I know you've got the scars to prove it

Remember everything that I told you,
And I'm telling you again that it's true
When you're alone and afraid, and you're completely amazed
To find there's nothing anybody can do

Keep on believing, and you'll discover baby

There's always something magic, there's always something new
And when you really really need it the most
That's when rock and roll dreams come through
The beat is yours forever, the beat is always true
And when you really really need it the most
That's when rock and roll dreams come through for you

Once upon a time was a backbeat,
Once upon a time all the chords came to life
And the angels had guitars even before they had wings
If you hold onto a chorus you can get through the night

I treasure your love, I never want to lose it
You've been through the fires of hell
And I know you've got the ashes to prove it
I treasure your love, I want to show you how to use it
You've been through a lot of pain in the dirt
And I know you've got the scars to prove it

Remember everything that I told you,
And I'm telling you again that it's true
You're never alone cause you can put on the phones
And let the drummer tell your heart what to do

Keep on believing, and you'll discover baby

There's always something magic, there's always something new
And when you really really need it the most
That's when rock and roll dreams come through
The beat is yours forever, the beat is always true
And when you really really need it the most
That's when rock and roll dreams come through for you

The beat is yours forever - that's when rock and roll dreams come through

She had a great singing voice, but even more than that, Will felt that she was the right one. The passion of Rock radiated from her like starfire. Will was pretty sure that Rock'n'Roll wanted her to be in this band, and for this reason he knew that none of his band mates would even think of rejecting her.

The last notes of the song died down, and in the silence that followed Will turned towards his band mates, who looked as impressed with Chelsea, as he was. Each in turn they gave short nods.

'Well, Chelsea,' Will started as he turned back to her, 'Welcome to the Jungle!'

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was already dark when Chelsea left the Fine Arts Building. Her car was parked near the Science Building, almost halfway across campus. Well, that gave her time to go through some of those songs again. In the course of the evening, not all songs she had attempted had gone down as easily as the first one, and now she was mentally going over a number of lines where she had gotten stuck before.

She was startled out of her reverie by the sound of an engine coming towards her, fast. She looked up in alarm, but it was already too late.

She hardly felt the impact, but she did feel the ground dropping away from her as the car picked her up and hurled her through the air. Strangely, she never felt any impact on the ground either. It was as if she was floating weightlessly.

Everything had gone dark around her. Then the music started; the lone tune of an electric guitar flowing towards her as if from a great distance, but quickly growing stronger. It was joined by more instruments, and after a while the separate tunes coalesced into a single melody, which Chelsea recognized as You Could Be Mine. Each tune was accompanied by a number of colored lights, and soon the darkness around her was replaced by a venerable light show.

'Wow! Am I, like, dead? And if I am, is this Heaven or Hell?'


'Who's there?'


'What do you mean, "not yet"?' In front of Chelsea materialized what seemed to be a large video screen. On it, she saw herself, still flying through the air in a trajectory that would ultimately result in a rather unhealthy contact of her head with the asphalt. The car that had hit her could be seen disappearing in the distance. Everything was happening in slow-motion, and at this pace Chelsea figured she probably had a couple of minutes left to live.

'Oh, snapple!'


'Is this some kind of Faustian deal? So you're, like, the Devil offering me my life in exchange for my soul?'

'THE DEVIL?' the voice sounded slightly amused by this assumption. 'THE DEVIL IS A LOOSER!'

'Then who are you?'

From out of the flashing lights, a figure approached her. A figure she had seen before, clad in a metallic bodysuit, with a darkly visored helmet, and carrying an oversized guitar. It even still had the lipstick on its visor, which she had left there.

'You?' But then she realized that this was not the Hard Rocker she had seen the other day. The helmet and guitar were the same, and the armor was of the same style, but the figure wearing it was unmistakably female. The figure came closer, quoting the lines Chelsea knew so well by now:


With these words, she took off the helmet and revealed her face. I was Chelsea's own.

'Who are you? WHAT are you?'


Chelsea looked at the helmet in her hands. 'Will I get to fight alongside Him?'

Her double gave a slight chuckle 'OH, BUT YOU ALREADY DO.'

'What's that supposed to mean?'


'But what…' Chelsea started, but the stranger who wore her face was no longer there. She looked at the screen again. Indeed, her head had almost hit the ground by now. Panic started to creep up on her. She looked at the helmet in her hands. The helmet! The stranger was gone, but she had left that helmet in Chelsea's hands…

'This had better work,' she said, and put the helmet on her head.

With a sound like shattering crystal, Chelsea hit the asphalt. 'Ouch!' As she lifted her head, she found that the ground around her was covered in tiny metallic fragments, which were quickly being dispersed by a gust of wind. It seemed like every single part of her body was aching, but as far as she could tell, she was still alive. She tried to stand up, but her legs refused to carry her. Like a marionette with its strings cut, she dropped to the ground once more, and the world went dark again.

When Chelsea woke up, she was lying in a bed, and the room around her didn't look very much like a hospital. Outside her door she heard voiced talking, but she could not make out what they were saying. The conversation ended with the sound of a closing door, so Chelsea assumed that one or both of the talkers had left the house.

'Hello..?' Her voice sounded weak and raspy, but to her great relief her call succeeded in getting the attention of the person outside. The door to her room was opened and in came Will Bailey.

'Chelsea, you're awake! Thank God!'

'Will..? Where am I?'

'My place. Can you remember what happened? I found you lying on the street when I left the Arts Building.'

'Car. I was crossing the street, and didn't see the car coming…'

'Wow! You're lucky to be alive!'

'Yeah, lucky…'

'You'll be ok, though. I've had a friend come around to check you out… What is it? You've got a weird look on your face.'

'I've had the strangest dream while I was knocked out.'

'A dream?' Will sat down on the edge of her bed – his bed, really. 'You wanna tell me about it?'

So she did.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'So, this is it???' Chelsea looked round the warehouse that served as the Omega cell's base of operations, her rage clearly showing on her face.

'This is what this great "Crusader for Rock'n'Roll" really is? A lapdog for the biggest homicidal sociopath alive? Don't tell me you seriously believe that Dr. Destruction is going to save the world. More likely, he's planning to take the world for himself, and just using you to get rid of the V'sori for him…'

'You're probably right!' Will was watching his new protégée from the couch in the warehouse's makeshift lounge area. 'At some point in the future, Doc D's probably going to make his own move for world domination, but until that time comes, he's actually doing the world a favor.'

Chelsea shot him an acid glare, clearly not convinced.

'Someone's gotta fight against the V'sori. Those best suited for that purpose were the Heroes, but they're all dead. Those who remained were the Villains, loners and anarchists; those too selfish to care, and those who're just not able to get themselves organized for a useful resistance.

And that's what Doc D's doing. He's collecting all these wildcards and loose cannons and turns them into a venerable fighting force. The day will come, when each of us will have to decide whether he wants to be a Hero or a Villain, but until then we're all the same: We're Rebels!'

Chelsea clapped her hands, slowly, with a sarcastic expression. 'Nice speech! You running for president, of something?'

'Hmm… Interesting idea. I might actually be good at it, too.' He held his hand out as if plying on a non-existing guitar and began singing in a passable imitation of Beavis: 'Making the Law! Making the Law!'

Chelsea could no longer help but laugh. 'OK, so Destruction's calling the shots for now. But what am I supposed to do in all of this? I mean, I don't have any Superpowers that I know of…'

'Me neither! Hard Rocker's tricks are all in his equipment: The armor, the sonic blaster, the repulsor pack, … I'm gonna have to build another set for you.'

Chelsea's smile faded and was replaced by a frown. 'Somehow, I don't think this whole armor thing is really my style. I was hoping for something more showy… and sexy. You know, like those warrior chicks you always see on heavy metal album covers..?'

'Hmm… personal style is important, of course, but you'll need some kind of serious protection out there, or you're not gonna last long.'

'So, it's gonna have to be a bulky suit like yours after all?'

'No! Go with your inspiration, and have faith! Rock'n'Roll will show you a way.'

'You know, still I find it difficult to think of Rock'n'Roll as something like a god.'

'I wouldn't say "god"; more like a titan – a force of nature.'

* * *

Chelsea was sitting in the university library with a large pile of books, trying to catch up on Professor Menkovski's lecture which she had missed out on the other day. What she was looking at were the molecular structures of spider silk and various attempts at synthetic imitation. To most others, the assemblies of lines and letters would mean little more than complex abstract patterns. But she had been doing this kind of things for years now, and she recognized the functional components of these gargantuan structures, stretching on into virtual infinity.

If anything, this insight only served to make her task worse. The drawings started to dance in front of her eyes.

'Come on, stupid girl, concentrate!' Chelsea shut her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. Just then, a melody started up in her head. This had happened to her so often in the last couple of days that it no longer surprised her. What did surprise her was the fact that, when she opened her eyes again, the music seemed to follow the molecular structures before her; the melodic patterns in her head matching up with the chemical patterns on the pages.

But the melody did not stay with any one of the molecules. It skipped back and forth between organic and synthetic elements, combining both in a completely new composition. "Like a force of nature", Will had said…

With a flash of realization, Chelsea grabbed her notebook and started drawing. Eyes half closed, she drew what she heard; the tremolos, crescendos and pizzicatos turning into alkyls, phenyls and hydroxyls; a polyphonic polymer; a symphony of creation.

The melody went into a grand finale and then died down. Chelsea opened her eyes and studied the new molecule she had designed. She knew what she had on this page, and if this could indeed be done, the result would be… Super.

Chelsea looked into the beaker which was now about half filled with a clear liquid. If she had gotten all of the reactions right, the molecular structure of this liquid ought to be identical to the one she had drawn. Her hand was shaking slightly as she poured her creation into the university's polymer spinneret. With a painful slowness the ultra fine, transparent fiber emerged from the machine. Chelsea had to use tweezers to grab the fiber and feed it into the spindle assembly.

When her fiber was completely spun, dried and wound, she took it over to the mechanics lab and put a length of it into the stress-strain testing machine. In theory, this machine would stretch the fiber to its rupturing point to determine its strength. Chelsea watched as the numbers on the digital force display climbed higher and higher. Finally the machine gave a high-pitched tone of alarm and switched itself off.

The fiber was still intact. It had withstood the highest tensile force the machine was capable of generating.

Chelsea looked at the spool of fiber in her hand and smiled, knowing that she had found her armor.

* * *

In her small dressing room in the back of the warehouse, Chelsea regarded herself in the full-sized mirror. She stretched and twisted her body and waved her arms in all directions to make sure that her new suit of synthetic spider silk fit correctly and didn't obstruct any of her movements. The tight fitting suit covered her body from head to toe, but apart from a slight silky sheen the transparent and ultra-thin material was practically invisible. To a casual observer, she would appear completely nude.

Over the suit went her "armor"; basically a short skirt and bra made of black, studded leather and chain mail. Both were completely fake and served no real purpose other than looking cool and protecting some small amount of modesty. Her outfit was completed by the boots – black, knee-high and high-heeled, with large chrome buckles – and the Helmet.

This helmet was one of Will's creations. Not only would it obscure her identity, it also contained one of Will's special sonic toys. Chelsea had decided that a sonic blast weapon like Will's didn't suit her, so he had designed a device for her that relied more on subterfuge than brute force.

A knock on the door tore Chelsea's attention away from her reflection. 'Hey, Chelsea, are you decent?' Will's voice filtered through the door.

'Well, I would hope not!' Chelsea joked. There was a short pause, and Chelsea imagined Will trying to figure out what her comment was supposed to mean.

'Is it okay for me to come in?'


The door opened and Will stepped into the room, all geared up in his Hard Rocker suit. His gaze wandered over her costumed form. 'Wow! Look who's all dressed to kill, now. How's it feel? Everything fitting well?'

'Seems like it.'

'Great. You got any idea yet for a name?'

A frown crept over Chelsea's face. 'Not really. The best I could come up so far is "Metal Maiden", but I don't think that's very imaginative.'

'I like it. Simple, to the point, easy to remember, and I really think it suits you.'

'If you say so…'

'No! Not if I say so. If you feel like it! If you don't like the name, don't use it. The inspiration will come to you sooner or later.'

'Thanks. But I think I'll go with "Metal Maiden" after all. First ideas normally being the best ones, and all that…'

'That's right. Over thinking stuff only tends to mess up your head for good… Listen, we're moving out. You ready to come with us?'

'Just a sec; I'll be right there.'

Metal Maiden took a final look at her mirror image. This was it; she was going to be a Super… what? A Hero? A Rebel? A Villain?

She made the sign of the Horns, two-fisted. She'd be a Super Rocker!

'Time to get Heavy!'

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sound Track:

I Wanna Rock!

Rock'n'Roll Dreams Come Through

Ace of Spades

Welcome to the Jungle

You Could Be Mine

The Devil is a Loser

Breaking the Law

Polyphonic Polymer

Time to get Heavy

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hee! I like this. You've got her character down well and I liked all the rock references Smile
He who does not eat cheese will go mad. ~ French proverb.

Keeper of the fallen leaves. 'Cos they're still pretty.
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