Defenders League Prologue: For The People

We are the Defenders League. We fight to protect those who cannot fight to protect themselves and to stop criminal acts in progress.

We are nine in number. Four males, five females, with ages ranging from barely 20 to our eldest member's hale and healthy 91 years.

Six of us were born here in Canada, one is a dual citizen, Canada and UK, and the other two moved here and eventually became citizens.

We tend to work in two groups, which can be brought together when needed.

**********

Let me start by telling you about Steel Rose and her partner, Titan Thorn.

Steel Rose was a young male initially, one who could blend into any crowd because of his being average in size, appearance, build, etc. Things stayed that way until about a year ago, when the young man was run over by five young males carrying small barrels filled with an unknown liquid. One of those barrels hit the young man in the chest and broke, splattering him with most of the contents within it.

The thug that had been carrying it let go of the barrel as soon as he noticed it being about to break, stepping to the side in a rather fleet-footed manner, then continued running with the rest of the little gang, and thus managed to just barely avoid contact with the contents.

Our young male continued on home, washed himself off as thoroughly as he could, then set back to relax and enjoy the evening. This was not to be, though. About three hours after he returned home, he started to change, his body lost a bit of height and some mass initially.

The changes continued, though, going on through the night, making sleep rather rough for the young person.

By the time morning arrived, most of the changes had taken place, the result was a very big shock for our young man, let me tell you.

For one, he was no longer male, but a stunning young woman of about his own age, 5'9" tall, mid-back length steel coloured hair, and a much denser body and bone structure. When she stepped on her scale, the poor thing crumpled under the much higher weight of her new body.

Testing eventually revealed that her body had the density and strength of extremely high quality steel, yet she appeared relatively normal.

After even more tests that determined she could punch or kick through foot thick stone or metal walls or doors, she took the name Steel Rose. One of her other abilities was that she could watch an area for a short while and give an accurate assessment of dangers and problems.

Her partner, on the other hand, was a male to begin with, quarterback all four years for his high school football team. By the time he graduated from high school, he was 6'2" and 220 pounds of good, solid muscle, which he thought would give him an edge when he went off to college.

He played football in college, too, but was rarely used as anything more than a second string quarterback if the main one became injured.

He took several law courses, mostly to gain an understanding of the laws in his area, then applied for police training once he graduated.

Police training was not easy, but it was within his capabilities and he made sure to do the studying needed for any tests.

He eventually finished the training, third in the class, then was hired by the Toronto police force and put to work in the bar areas downtown.

He spent the next five years responding to incidents at various bars, often having to break up fights.

At that point, he asked a superior officer why he wasn't being considered for other police duties, and was told, in essence, that he was one of the most, if not the most, effective member of the tavern units in the city. To him, it sounded like they had decided he was out of the way there.

After thinking about the situation for a few weeks, he realized they weren't about to change their minds and handed in his resignation.

He went back to college, this time getting a degree in education, intending to be hired as a physical education teacher somewhere.

His life, though, wasn't destined for a high school gymnasium. The world had other plans for him.

He came down with a bad fever one fall day, and his current girlfriend tried to take care of him for a while, but she couldn't handle her job in the boutique, then coming home to find him being sick all over the place. Eventually, she decided to take him to a nearby hospital.

He spent the night in the hospital, saw a doctor, was diagnosed with the flu, then told he would be getting a shot to clear that up shortly.

What the doctor and many of the other staff didn't know was that the flu vaccine in the particular container that the nurse drew the dosage from had been contaminated in transit, and was no longer safe to use for said vaccinations. He received the shot, felt better and went home.

Well, the shot did help with the flu, but it also sent the contaminants into his system and as he healed, his body changed.

Over a period of about a week, he went from 6'2" tall and just under 210 pounds to 7'9" tall and 650 pounds, a very large change indeed. Like Steel Rose, his body density and structure had been changed, but not as drastically as hers. He was still quite rugged and handsome.

The other interesting thing was that he could generate thorns from his hands, slim, very sharp needles of titanium alloy about nine inches long. These thorns could be used to slash at others, or could be fired at targets, depending on whether he wanted to fight at a distance or not.

The contaminated flu vaccine was discovered early the day after he had received his shot and was immediately removed and destroyed.

His girlfriend freaked out when he started changing and broke up with him two days later, while the changes were still taking place.

It would be seven years before he would meet Steel Rose. He decided to take the name Titan Thorn as his superhero identity.

Those two are quite the pair, believe me. She hits like a freight truck at high speed and he keeps her safe while she scans places. I've seen him in a close quarters fight many, many times in the last seven years, and it's downright scary how fast he can move while he's fighting.

**********

Titan Thorn isn't her only defence, there are three of us who act as a second line of defence for the pair.

I guess that brings my tale to the fore, I might as well get it out of the way now, I suppose.

I've been around here for a long time, I'll be 56 in a month or so. As for my being the way I am...

Well, I suppose you've heard people say that lightning can't strike twice in the same place? I hate to say this, but they are absolutely wrong.

I was raised as a farm boy in Southern Alberta, a big dairy farm with some chickens, a small herd of pigs, you get the idea.

My life was quite normal, I finished high school, went to a local college, then returned home to take over the running of the farm.

It was a month after I turned 34 that everything went upside down in my life, so to speak.

I was moving the pigs to a pen on the other side of the big barn when a storm came out of nowhere, hard and heavy. I was soaked to the skin in seconds, then had the rotten luck to be hit by lightning as I passed near a giant apple tree on the edge of one of the fields.

Let me say that it hurt like all bloody hell, yet the storm wasn't finished with me, there was much more to come.

It took me about ten minutes to gather up the pigs again and resume the journey to the second pen.

I was a bit over 3/4 of the way to the pen when the second lightning bolt hit me, this one next to a steel phone pole on the edge of the field. The phone line that ran along the set of poles of which that one was a part went from the road nearly a mile away to the farm house and barn.

I caught the back blast from that strike, and I can swear I felt like I was being fried right there. Once again, it hurt like all hell.

I hadn't even managed to recover from that blast when another strike hit the same pole, and I was less than three feet away at the time.

This one threw me back a good fifteen feet, and my skin was turning quite red, it felt all itchy and hot and very, very painful.

The third time was my own fault, I was quite disoriented, and actually stumbled against the pole when the third bolt hit it.

I ended up on the ground next to the pole, unconscious barely a second or two after that third strike, and I laid there for quite some time.

I wasn't found until ma came looking for me about three hours later. She found me lying under that pole, looking like I'd been cooked alive.

The recovery process was long and slow, it was two months before I was able to get out of bed and hobble around on my own. Another five months passed before I was considered fit enough to be able to return to doing some of the work on the farm.

It was perhaps a month or so after I started working again that I found out that I am able to call lightning and have it strike wherever I wish.

To say that that was a shock would be quite polite, ma actually saw it happen one day and that was when I found myself being disowned.

I headed east, eventually reached Toronto, and met up with some other folks. We started to build a core group of superheroes.

I'll never understand the reasoning of some folks, when they saw what I could do, they called me Flash Boom. The first part was because my lightning happens to be very, very bright, almost blindingly so; the second part is due to the sound it makes sometimes when it strikes.

That was almost 22 years ago, things have changed a lot over the years. Best of all, we now have that core group we were hoping to build.

**********

Well, now you know that I am part of the second line of defence for Steel Rose and Titan Thorn.

There are two other people who act as part of that second line of defence, let me tell you about them now.

The first is a young woman, well, young compared to me, I suppose, she'll be 32 in February.

She was an excellent student in school, then headed to university where she eventually received a masters degree in physics.

She ended up working in a lab in West Vancouver, not a big corporate lab, but a small private one owned by an almost billionaire.

She loved working there, it was a nice little place, people knew each other and the work was well within her abilities.

Things continued like that for about three years, then they were told they would have to shut the lab down early one night, as a very powerful electrical storm was on the way into the area, and anything running at that point could cause all kinds of problems.

Well, she offered to stay on site that night, but didn't realize that one of the staff had left a machine operating. The machine was a closed vat with an electrical conduit inside a steel pipe running into it from outside, and one of the lightning strikes hit it as she walked through the room.

The electricity went through that narrow steel pipe from one end to the other in just a second or two, that was all it needed.

The machine that was running was so quiet that she hadn't noticed it, so she was not ready for what happened at that point.

The machine exploded, sending the contents all over the room, she could not avoid being hit by some of the liquid from the vat.

The liquid wasn't hot, barely warm actually, so it didn't bother her much, she headed into one of the shower stalls and washed herself. Once she had cleaned herself, she grabbed a mop and spent an hour cleaning up the liquid, then taking pieces of the broken machine outside.

After that, she quickly wrote up a report describing what had happened, including her being splashed by the liquid and sent it off to the boss.

When the shift ended, she headed out, passing by the incoming staff members, including the boss, and headed for her home.

Well, she had a strong dislike for the auto industry and had long ago decided that using transit was easier, if slower and often overcrowded.

She caught a bus heading into downtown Vancouver, then switched to another that would drop her off a block from her home.

At one point, while she was riding on that second bus, an almost empty one which was a surprise, she idly wished that she were already home. Almost instantly, she found herself standing in her apartment, next to her sofa; the shock was sufficient that she collapsed onto the sofa.

She sat there for nearly two hours thinking about what had happened before she realized she was hungry and called out for pizza.

She continued thinking about it once the pizza was delivered and paid for, and for another three hours before she decided to sleep.

She woke up feeling very refreshed, then checked the time and discovered she had been in bed for less than three hours.

The boss called, talked to her for several minutes, and asked that she undergo some testing that evening when she arrived at work.

She didn't tell him what had happened early that morning, or that she seemed to need much less sleep now than she had previously.

She spent most of the time before she had to leave for work in cleaning up the apartment, it had become a bit of a mess, it seemed.

Another odd thing came up while she was cleaning. When reaching into tight spaces, she found she could bend much more easily and in ways that should not have been possible for any human. Once the cleaning was finished, she experimented with the bending a bit.

It soon became clear that she could bend and twist herself around like a human pretzel, even more than a contortionist could manage to do.

She arrived at work that evening, spent some time talking to her boss and explained what she had discovered. She then informed him that she felt it necessary that she hand in her resignation, effective in two weeks, as she felt the other workers would take advantage of her.

The boss didn't like it, he was losing a very good worker, but he understood her reasoning, the other workers would be jealous and spiteful.

Two weeks later, after giving notice to her landlord and putting everything in storage, she headed east, ending up in Toronto.

There she met up with Flash Boom and several others. She eventually decided to join them, taking the name Twist 'N' Port for herself. The name was due to each of her abilities, that superhuman flexibility and the ability to teleport to any location she actually knew or had visited. Her skill with the teleporting would be very useful, she could currently take four people and jump from LA to New York City quite easily.

The other woman who worked as part of the second line of defence for Steel Rose and Titan Thorn was the oldest member of the core group of the Defenders League. Flamestrike was 91 now and had been a superhero for longer than any other member of the team had been alive.

Flamestrike had grown up in a mid-sized city in Southern Ontario back in the years of the Great Depression and knew all too well just how hard life could be on people, she'd seen it firsthand far too often as small businesses closed and farms ended up with slim or no harvests.

It was in the middle of World War II that the former male underwent his mutation, at which point his family disowned him and tossed him out. The newly transformed girl ended up on the streets for most of the summer of '43, then headed to Toronto where she met a few other mutants. The small group of mutants formed a loose association that helped the various police forces regarding crimes involving supervillains.

Like Steel Rose, she had originally been male, but her mutation had transformed her into a tall and beautiful woman with hair the colour of flame. Her ability to throw large fire balls at opponents was the main source of her name, something she just accepted as part of her crazy life.

The interesting part of her mutation was that she appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties, even after over 65 years of fighting villains. She had no idea why she still looked that young, but it sure made it easier to do things as she remained in almost tip top shape over the years.

It wasn't until the last decade or so of the 20th century that the group started to help new superheroes learn how to use their abilities.

Well, that's the info for the first team that forms the core group, I'd say that the five of us work together quite well.

**********

There are four members of the second team that forms part of the core group of the Defenders League, two males and two females.

The first member of this second team is Stone Tiger, he's a shapeshifter with a mutation side effect of great strength and a "stone skin". Hitting him is like trying to punch a heavy stone wall, you're only going to hurt yourself in the process. His tiger shape is quite large, easily matching or exceeding the size of the largest known tigers in existence. He is able to move like a cat, sinuous and silent until he pounces.

In his human form, he's a fairly big guy, but appears quite normal, being 6'2" and just over 200 pounds with long, shaggy dirty blond hair.

Stone Tiger is the one member of the core group with dual nationality, his father was British, but he was raised here in Canada.

The next member of the second team is Dancing Demona, another member that was born male, but became female through mutating.

His life before the mutation was boringly normal, he was an honour roll student in high school in Copenhagen and continued in that style when he went to university, eventually graduating with the second highest overall grade for a law student at that particular university.

He moved to London, England, where he worked his way up in a law firm there for about ten years, then was transferred to Canada.

The firm had a satellite office in Toronto, and they had decided he would be a good person to run that office as its primary partner.

He hadn't married or ended up in a relationship, so he agreed and moved across the Atlantic, settling down in a nice house in Toronto.

He applied for citizenship in Canada, knowing he was unlikely to return to London or Copenhagen except for maybe a vacation. The papers sat on someone's desk for over a year before they came to the attention of the citizenship minister, and he became a citizen three months later.

Another ten years passed as he worked on making the satellite office into a respected division of the firm's main London offices. He and the six junior partners won many cases over that time span, slowly enlarging their workload to the point they had to appoint three new partners.

The mutation struck about six months after those new partners joined the office, taking him utterly by surprise.

It began a few hours after he arrived home one Friday evening and continued through the weekend.

When Monday morning dawned, it was quite clear that he would not be able to go to work at all, he was female in all physical respects.

He managed to disguise his new voice enough to call in and state that he was taking his unused holidays, then sick leave. He gave the excuse of a serious family emergency, even though he had not been close to any of his family members for many years.

He looked in the mirror, shaking his head at what he could see there. The image in the mirror was of a fairly young woman, perhaps thirty years old, much younger than the 49 years he had had as a male before this turned his whole life upside down. She wasn't stunningly beautiful like Flamestrike or Steel Rose, but she was fairly pretty with her wide light brown eyes, Cupid's bow lips, pert nose and brunette pixie cut.

She discovered that she didn't seem to have any particularly strong offensive abilities but she was very fast on her feet, so fast that several of the other mutants that were training her complained that it was hard to do anything to her with her dancing around them like that.

She did find out that she was quite capable of doing many gymnastics maneuvers, tumbles, rolls, jumps, etc. Someone in the headquarters suggested that she use her flexibility, speed and maneuvers in fights rather than direct physical attacks or additional weapons. Over the next two months, she became quite proficient at using the maneuvers she had learned and her ability to move fast to beat several other heroes.

Her ability to flit from place to place, plus her flexibility and her gymnastics abilities, led her to call herself by the name Dancing Demona.

**********

That's two of the four members of the second team within the core group, now I'll tell you about the third member of that team.

He's a young kid, still in college actually, working on a business administration degree, I believe.

A few months ago, he was walking home from classes, slipped on some wet grass and tumbled down a hill, then through a large puddle.

Well, he thought it was a puddle, but that wasn't the case, it was the contents of a smashed barrel lying a few feet away on the ground. He took a closer look at the barrel, noticing the radioactive contents insignia and decided that he should go to a hospital to be examined.

He did get examined in a hospital. The doctor that checked him over said that he seemed to be just fine, but what was that glow?

Pete looked down at his hand, which was glowing, yup, definitely glowing, a rather visible orange-red light radiating from his skin.

He ran down to the nearest washroom, looked in the mirror and gasped, his face was glowing in the same way!

He stopped thinking at that point. In shock, he ran out of the hospital, then headed toward his home, not realizing for a moment that his desire to get there was causing him to "jump" as far as he could see ahead of him, then he would do it again a moment later, and yet again.

It proved to be rather disorienting, as his perspective of things and places kept changing with each jump in rapid succession.

His home was a bit over three miles away from the hospital, yet here he was running in his front door less than ten minutes later.

He collapsed on his couch for a while, staring mindlessly at his glowing hands and wrists. The glow was actually brightening.

He finally got up and wandered into the kitchen, tossing a TV dinner into the nuke because his stomach was growling rather loudly.

He ate absentmindedly, then sat on the couch for a couple of hours looking at his hands before he wandered off to try to sleep.

He did manage to get some sleep, although it was difficult because he had to ignore the glow that was visible wherever skin showed.

He woke up the following morning, checked his cell phone, it was 11:30 AM. Oops, he'd already missed both of his morning classes. He still found it hard to believe what he was experiencing, even though his skin glowing was pretty hard to miss in the dim light of the cloudy day.

Now what was he going to do? He doubted that he would be able to just walk into his other classes as if everything was still normal.

Hmmm... What about that one doctor over in the science department? Wasn't she a mutant? Maybe he could talk to her?

He covered himself up as much as possible, using gloves, scarf and an old hoodie under his battered leather jacket, then headed out.

He didn't want to cause any weird situations, so he took the buses over to the science department and eventually found the doctor.

"Dr. Willamar?" he enquired as he approached her, the pretty middle-aged woman looked up and nodded in the affirmative.

He walked forward several more steps, then spoke again. "Could we please go into an office to talk? What I have to say is private."

She nodded again, slipped the pair of eyeglasses she had been wearing into a pocket of her lab coat, then led the way down the hall. She used a key to open an office door, turning to him and explaining, "My office, now what is going on that you need privacy?" as she closed the door.

Pete sighed, pulled the hoodie's hood back, unwrapped the scarf, then took off the gloves, revealing his hands, face and neck.

She stared at him, her jaw dropping in astonishment. This was definitely unusual. She spent a few minutes examining his hands and face.

"Quite interesting," she stated, "How long have you been glowing like this?"

Pete had to think for a moment before he was able to answer, "Since about 6:30 PM yesterday, Dr. Willamar."

"Fascinating. I assume the glow is visible on any skin that is uncovered?"

"Yes, Doctor. Getting to sleep last night wasn't easy at all, I missed both of my morning classes because of it."

"The glow hasn't stopped at any time since you first noticed it? It's continuous, constant?"

"Yes, Doctor and it has been growing steadily brighter over the last eighteen hours. If this continues, I'll outshine neon signs fairly soon."

"That would make it difficult for you to do things like attend classes, you would stand out right away. Hmmm... private tutoring, I think, and I believe I know just the people that can help you with that. Both are mutants, but can pass as normal, so they can come and go easily."

"You're one of the exam masters for the science department courses, correct?" Pete asked. "I have lab on Wednesdays and Fridays."

"That is correct, young man. I will be able to take over that part of your education, plus the two people I know who can help tutor you."

"Thanks for your help, Doctor." Pete chatted with her for a few minutes, then covered himself up and returned to his home.

He sent most of his time at home from then on, working hard under the three teachers as he continued his business admin studies.

Home was the third floor of the old farm house on the north side of Markham, Ontario, a city just north of Toronto. A few days later, he made contact with a super who pointed him to the group in Toronto. He eventually joined them, going under the name of Neon Jump.

His parents were both busy with their own interests, having retired a few years ago after a nasty car accident and a hefty lawsuit reward.

His ability to jump wasn't as big of an asset as Twist 'N' Port's long distance teleporting, but it would be perfect for short distance operations.

**********

Now for the final member of the second team within the core group.

Ella VanBinter was born in Munich, Germany, just over 36 years before, and had lived in that city for her first 25 years.

She had stayed close to home, studying nursing at Katholische Stiftungsfachhochschule, graduating third in her class.

She found a job working in a care home only five blocks away from her parents' house, so she continued to live with them while working.

About three years after she graduated, she heard that a care centre in Toronto, Canada was looking for a nurse who spoke fluent German, as several people in that residence were either post-WWII transplants from Germany or had grown up in Canada speaking mostly German.

The pay was a fair bit better than she had been getting at the care centre in Munich, so after a bit of discussion with her parents and the promise to stay in contact, Ellie packed up three suitcases and left Munich, flying second class to Toronto, where she was met at the airport.

The person meeting her turned out to be the psych doctor in the residence, and second in command for the staff there.

Ella chatted with the psych doctor, learning bits and pieces about many of the residents in the home, then they were at the residence.

Ella was introduced to the evening shift staff people, then led off to what would be her office for the foreseeable future. She liked working there, her being able to talk to many of the residents in their birth tongue helped a good number of those residents to stabilize health wise.

She filed for citizenship shortly after arriving in Canada. Unlike Demona, her papers were not lost and she became a citizen three years later.

Ella was like Demona in that her mutation was a delayed onset one, she had not known that she carried the gene for it at all.

That mutation became a major part of her life five months after her 31st birthday, when it developed and made itself known to her. You couldn't know just from looking at Ella, there weren't any obvious physical changes, the only way to know was to see it happen.

Ella was lucky in that respect, she was able to keep the mutation from manifesting while at work, which avoided all too many complications.

Ella was fairly private for the most part, but she did have a girlfriend, who eventually saw one effect of the mutation while visiting her home.

The girlfriend, Stephani Rowlands, thought her ability to pretty much turn non-corporeal and avoid direct attacks was rather cool. At that point, keeping it from Steph became moot, so Ella also showed Steph that she could actually phase through walls and doors, Steph loved it.

There was another part of it that was effective for defence purposes, she could form a solid wall of smoke in front of or around herself.

Ella was introduced to a couple of supers in Toronto over the holidays a year or so later, and took the name Smokescreen.

**********

So now you know at least a little bit about each one of us. We're a bunch of odd folks, I suppose, but we've grown close over the last year.

We are the Defenders League. Welcome to our world.



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