|Civilian name||Damien Craig|
|Affiliation||House of Mirrors (Devilfish)|
|PRT Classification||Blaster Striker Shaker Brute|
|A E? | BD A | C F | H E | IM C$ | J D+ | Q E+ | TC C | W F | WS D | Z E?|
Smoke is an adult Caucasian male who stands approximately 5’9. His short-cropped black hair is graying at the temples despite his young age. He has an average weight and build, though his face could be described as sallow, with thin, high cheekbones and wrinkling uncharacteristic of his age that drags down the corners of his mouth. His dark brown eyes are slightly jaundiced.
His costume consists of nothing more than a dark gray cowl that covers the upper portions of his face.
Equipment and Resources
- Pocket Knife
- 2-quart canteen he keeps filled with water
- 8-ounce hip flask he keeps filled with something else
- Zippy-brand wind-proof lighter (Disclaimer: Not actually windproof)
- Motel matchbook that he cusses at because why would you make matches out of cardboard?
- '01 Honda Civic
Skills and Specializations
Knows his way around a gun; Decent in a fistfight; Unusually skilled with watercrafts;
Smoke believes in survival of the fittest and that the weak should make way for the strong or be pushed into the ground. The only place this doesn’t apply in his life is with children. He believes that you never know how a kid will grow up until it’s done, and that you should try to raise them to be strong rather than put them down or target them.
He recognizes authority only when that authority proves its worth in physical or mental contests, i.e. combat or sparring of wits. He has no love for governmental authorities and thinks that laws are put in place to keep the strong from preying on the weak. Otherwise, he’s a perfectly decent fellow, jovial and boisterous with people he likes or wants to befriend and deferential to those he deems an authority over him.
Trigger type: Natural Single Trigger, Blaster/Striker/Shaker/Brute
Smoke has the ability to absorb and then expel pollutants from his system in various ways. He is able to do a general expulsion that releases a cocktail of less-concentrated substances, or with focus can release a smaller dose of a specific substance. Depending on what he is using, it could lead to incapacitation through contact with absorbent membranes or cause chemical burns on contact with skin.
Blaster: He spits or otherwise secretes pollutant from his body in a liquid form from a distance in a highly-concentrated form. Contact with the substance is usually non-lethal but debilitating except in large doses. He’s capable of spitting a fair distance from practice over the years.
Striker: Coats his skin with toxin and attempts to ‘tag’ people with it. More concentrated than his spit, it has harsher effects the more he gets on his opponent.
Shaker: Can convert several chemicals into smoke and gas which he exhales into an area. Being caught in this area can lead to coughing and choking. If he were to go from full reserves to empty just pumping gas, he could fill a 15 foot cubic area.
Life Advantage: Expelling the pollutants detoxifies his system, meaning he can shrug off the effects of narcotics and the like, as well as not having to worry about chemical dependencies.
Drawback: Relies on outside influences for his power to function. If he has used his power a lot recently or hasn’t had downtime to smoke, drink, or absorb the minuscule amounts of ambient pollution, he is effectively powerless.
Sometimes Damien wished he could get drunk. Wasted, even. His body’s absorption of chemicals and toxins made it impossible, though. He couldn’t get high, either. He could get the calming sensation of smoking, be it a cigarette or a blunt, but he knew that was a purely psychological effect from years of associating those things before he’d gotten his power. Like Pavlov’s drooling dog.
Being drunk would help, here. Liquid courage, it was called, and he would need it. Yes, he was scrappy, and he hadn’t detoxed in three days to prepare for this, but still. He’d been ordered to attack a rival cape, someone who had gotten in the Movers’ way one too many times. Worse, he’d been ordered to “make an example” of her by attacking her in a place of power: her headquarters. She was the only cape in her gang, so he wasn’t worried about that.
No, what he was worried about was getting shot by her goons, either on his way in or after the smoke from their fight had cleared. He doubted any of them would be brave enough to poke their heads up during a fight between two capes.
He took a swig from his flask, feeling the alcohol automatically process into his body’s storage. After three days of binging smokes and vodka, his reserves were nearly full. He’d tried, once, to completely fill them and then get drunk. It hadn’t worked. Once he’d reached his limit, his body had started expelling the toxins naturally. He’d had to throw out the clothes he’d been wearing because the stench of tar and alcohol wouldn’t come out of them.
He adjusted his mask and began walking towards the warehouse where the gang’s main base of operations was hidden. Two men were outside, standing guard. They didn’t look like gang members – they never did. They were dressed in heavy-duty jeans, boots, and the hi-vis shirts that one normally saw in construction sites and places with heavy machinery in motion. As he approached, they straightened and one took a step towards him.
The other was reaching for a gun. Damien hocked a loogie and spat. It splattered on the man’s eyes. A cocktail of drugs, alcohol, and the nasty shit they put into cigarettes were quickly absorbed by the membranes around his eyes and nose. The man went down, gagging as the pure toxins worked their way into his system. As for the one who had approached, Damien slammed a fist into his stomach. As the man doubled over for breath, Damien brought his knee up into his chin. Teeth clacked together and the man fell backwards. Damien kicked him in the head and kept walking.
Damien marched on, studiously ignoring the shouts from behind him. If he acknowledged them, they would take that as invitation to fight. If he started running, they would likely open fire. If he kept going at the same pace, pretending he was unconcerned, it would send them a message: “I’m so dangerous I can turn my back to ten probably-armed men without concern.”
He climbed the staircase at the back of the warehouse, following it up to a metal catwalk that stretched half the length of the room below. An office door was guarded by two men with assault rifles. They didn’t immediately notice him. He pulled his own gun from its holster on his shoulder. Guns were technically against the rules of capes. He was pushing the boundary here, but he could excuse it since they weren’t capes. He opened his mouth, and a cloud of smoke formed around him, quickly obscuring the guards’ view of him. He fired two shots, then paused and fired one more time. He’d missed the further man’s head because of the smoke. Double-edged sword, that.
The sound of gunfire was sure to get attention. He tucked his pistol away and drove the sole of his boot into the door, right next to the knob. The door hadn’t been locked, which just made the splintering of the wood and the force of the door opening all the more dramatic as he entered. Vestige was sitting behind a sturdy oaken desk. She rose as he entered, and he could see the anger on her face even past the multi-faceted mask she wore.
“I’m here to kill you,” Smoke announced, a bit lamely. There was a pause as Vestige tried to come up with a response.
No, not to respond. There was a shattering sound from behind him. He threw himself to the side and winced as he felt a knife graze his ribs as it flew past him from behind. Vestige had to move her own head so that her phantom could sink into the wall-hanging mirror behind her.
Right, he’d forgotten for a second that she was a cape. He wasn’t 100% on the terminology, but he was pretty sure she qualified as a Master. She had a mirror twin of hers that she could project onto any reflective object within a certain radius of herself. The twin could communicate with her, acting as a spy or an extra set of eyes and ears in a situation. It could also force itself from whatever object it was reflected on, manifesting into the real world briefly at the expense of shattering mirrors and other glass surfaces when it did. The more she used that aspect of her power, the fewer resources she had. Her tactics were usually to hit hard from oblique angles to end the fight quickly.
Fuck him, there were a lot of reflective objects in her office. Not even counting her costume and mask, which were each composed of hundreds or thousands of shards of mirror, glass, or reflective metal. She had had a giant window overlooking the factory floor, several mirrors and glass-fronted picture frames on the wall, and…
“Is that a disco ball?” he asked incredulously. “Does that even work?”
“Works fine,” the villainess spoke. Her tone was hard, confident. She wasn’t at all concerned that a rival gang’s enforcer was here to kill her. Her long blonde hair flowed down her back, and she gripped an old-fashioned letter opener in one hand. “Smoke, isn’t it?” she went on. “I have bad news for you. I’ve had people – people a lot scarier than you – try to kill me. Those people are all dead.”
He couldn’t see any hints of a tell on her face. That mirrored mask obscured everything but her lips and chin. It even had some sort of mesh or something over the eyes so he couldn’t see where she was looking. He heard another crash and lunged backwards. Another narrow miss as the mirror double emerged from a picture frame across the room. The knife whistled an inch from his nose before it and the twin vanished, dissipating like vapor. That had been too close. He needed to end this before the phantom caught him off guard and gutted him.
He wouldn’t be able to get anything in her eyes for the same reason he couldn’t see her eyes. Her lips were pressed in a firm line. He wouldn’t land a loogie in her mouth even if he somehow got the ability to accurately spit across the room.
He charged. There was another explosion of glass, and he aborted his momentum to dive onto the floor. The phantom passed overhead, and Damien scrambled to his feet. An instant later, there was another shattering sound, and he felt a body slam into him from behind. Another picture frame above the door? No, the impact was too low for that. Maybe a larger chunk of the window.
The tackle actually helped, though. Sure, it drove him into the desk and forced the breath from his lungs, but that was fine. Vestige swung the letter opener at him. He shifted, rolling onto his back so the blade embedded in the wood where he’d been a half a second ago. He swung his legs up, backflipping to the other side of the desk to land roughly on his feet. With a roar, he tackled Vestige. She was a villainess, but she was still a young woman, probably no older than 20. He drove her to the ground and wrestled her into submission enough that he could jam a finger into her mouth. “Don’t bite,” he warned. “Bite and I’ll pump all the most painful shit into my bloodstream so you die in agony. Boss won’t be too happy about it, but I’m a bit of a spiteful fuck. He wants you recognizable when they find your body, so I’m going the polite way and not giving you caustic acid burns or any of that shit. As he spoke, he was secreting pure alcohol from his skin. 100% alcohol by volume. 200 proof.
It wasn’t much different from anhydrous ammonia, to be perfectly honest. Anhydrous ethanol would rip moisture from her mouth and throat until it was distilled to around 95% ethanol by volume. This would leave burns and tears in the lining of her throat. With enough, it would kill her. And he was giving her more than enough. It was painful, and it would be slow. Lucky for her, he was pumping enough alcohol into her that she would be unconscious long before she died. Once he felt her stop struggling, he stood.
The phantom was glaring at him from its mirror dimension, surrounded by darkness. He paused at the sight of it, then shrugged. “Did what I had to,” he told it. It didn’t react. Could it not jump out at him without Vestige’s say-so? Nifty, that. He flipped it the bird then walked out of the office. He took a long pull from his flask before making his way down the catwalk. Some gang members were nearby, giving him a wary look.
“Your boss is dying of alcohol poisoning,” he said calmly. “You could probably get her to a hospital, get her stomach pumped and the like, if you hurry. You do that, though, and I’ll just be back here again when she gets out of the hospital. Next time, I’ll be more subtle and just pump ammonia or something nastier through the vents and take you all out.”
He got a few understanding nods. One gang member reached for a gun, but another grabbed his wrist and stopped him.
Damien sauntered out of the building and went back to his car. With a heavy sigh, he cranked down the window, dug a cigarette from its pack, and lit it as he started driving.
mien Craig was the son of a fisher. His mom died when he was little, so he spent a lot of his time with his father on the trawler, learning how to operate the nets and to pilot the boat. He figured he would grow up, inherit the family business, and pass it on to his own son someday.
He was 15 when the boat broke down on the open water. No motor, no electronics, no radio. They were stranded with no way to call for help. Lucas Craig worked on the engine while Damien did some rod-and-reel fishing over the side to pass the time. After several hours, they were no closer to having the boat running than when it had first stalled out. While they were discussing what to do, storm clouds rolled over them. Before long, they were getting rained on, harsh waves were rocking the boat violently and cresting over to splash onto the deck. Damien and his father retreated down below to avoid being swept over the side.
The storm lasted for two long, miserable days. They rationed their food and water, but it wasn’t enough. They’d been at the end of an underwhelming haul, and had no way to cook the fish regardless.
They ran out of rations and eventually resorted to eating the fish raw and drinking the blood. It was terrible. The boat still wasn’t working, and they’d seen no sign of ships in days. They tried signalling planes flying overhead but had no luck. Eventually, both of them were hungry, dehydrated, and delirious.
They resorted to pulling up buckets of ocean water and drinking from it. It didn’t help. If anything, it made the dehydration and delirium worse. A week after getting stranded, Damien watched his father close his eyes. He knew he’d never see them open again. He knew that was the fate that awaited him, not too long from now.
The vision came to him in a flash, something impossibly large. Was it swimming through an ocean? No, that inky blackness with the pinpricks of light… it was flying through space. As he watched, he realized it wasn’t just one. Two of the creatures, corkscrewing around each other, approaching a planet. The one his vision was focused on seemed to focus on the little blue marble.
Earth. These two giant… things were heading for Earth. As they approached, their double-helix spiral tightening, he saw something like seeds or scales scattering off of them, descending towards the planet.
He blinked, and the vision was gone, the memory fading. He rolled over onto his side and vomited, a thick, salty sludge forcing its way from his throat to coat the deck. He coughed and heaved a bit, then rolled back onto his back. Slowly, he blinked. Despite the vomiting, he felt better. Better than he’d felt in days, actually.
He looked at the sludge, saw the lumps and the crystals. Salt? Had he thrown up pure salt?
Slowly he sat up. He approached the bucket, half full of ocean water. He wasn’t as thirsty as he’d been, but he wanted to wash the taste of bile from his mouth. He cupped his hands and took a swig. As he swallowed, he felt… different. His body did something, separated the salt from the water and stored it somewhere. Pure, clean water hit his stomach. Everything else was removed.
He had a superpower. He had heard of the capes, of course, though he couldn’t remember anything specific. Somehow, he had gotten powers of his own. His stomach growled. No longer full of polluting ocean water, it became aware that it needed food.
Damien grabbed his rod from below deck and cast out the line.
Three days, he thought. It had been three days since he’d gotten his power. Ocean water kept him hydrated, now. Raw fish, while not the most appetizing meal, wouldn’t hurt him. His body took in the nutrients it needed – including any salt it was lacking, apparently – and stored all the harmful substances elsewhere. He could spit it up at will, not just vomit it out in one go. He was pretty sure he had succeeded in forcing some through his skin, like sweat, too.
It was on this third day that he finally – finally – saw another ship. Quickly, he stood and started shouting and waving his arms. The boat approached. Help had arrived.