820 words (3 minute read)

Excerpt: Deimos

A little of your backstory, from the POV of your mentor:

Jane had not been destined for great things. The only thing she’d been destined for when he’d met her was a terrified existence on the fringes of society, existing, but never really living. Deimos could still see her in his memories - the too big coat, baggy pants, straggly hair and bangs that covered her eyes. She’d been a tiny thing, lingering around the edges of his freakshow that day in Texas.

He smiled to himself. The freakshow had been a bit of fun for him, back in the day. Before the League had recruited him. A traveling troupe of ‘performers’, all mutants with uncanny abilities, that the good folks of small town America would reliably come out to pay to watch fight each other. Mutants were scary things to simple, small minded people. To see them as freaks made them feel better about themselves. To see the freaks fighting in a ring gave them something to cheer about. And Deimos was there, drawing on that thrill of fear that came from seeing the ferocity of the thing you were scared of up close.

It was a profitable gig, for him at least, and when Jane had stumbled across them he’d been willing enough to bring her along, especially when Phoebe had insisted. Phoebe had simply wanted an impressionable teen to draw into her web. She had a similar power to Deimos - the ability to inflame the emotions of others - and had a track record of using it for her own amusement. He’d paid little attention to Jane at first, but when he realized what her power was...the thought of using her in the ring had taken root. She’d been so grateful for a place to stay, food to eat, and people to call her new family, that she’d agreed to just about everything he’d asked of her.

Once she’d learned how to fight, and held her own well enough in sparring matches, he’d put her in the first match of the night. Phoebe had nearly been delirious with the sensations from the crowd, from those wicked few who really enjoyed watching a teenager (barely legal) get punched in the face, and the horror from the majority. Jane had only gone down after she got the signal - her enhanced strength enough to help her hold her own before she had the technique down. In time she earned the nickname of Zombie, never quite the headliner, but she became more muscular and quick, with a wicked right hook and the endurance of the Energizer Bunny.

If he’d remained with the freakshow, no doubt Jane would still be there, throwing punches for money and taking a beating. Phoebe had tried to convince him of any number of horrible things they could put Jane through for the crowd - across the border, in Mexico, where restrictions were looser on what they could do. Deimos had thought about it. In the end, it was a step too far. He had left the show, and taken Jane and another fighter, Tar Man, with him. Phoebe had continued across the border, and the freakshow had never come back.

Without him, Jane would have been nothing.

Deimos looked up from his memories, his eyes hooded. “She will kick over the wasp nest with those work boots of hers.” His companion said nothing. “Of course, that’s why I sent her to Los Angeles in the first place.

“Her apparent empathy for the mundanes is a weakness. I taught her better.” The silence was as good as agreement. Deimos ran his hand through the hair of his companion, a twenty-something bartender, who was staring at him, eyes wide enough that he could see white all around the irises. His nostrils were flaring with each breath. Delicious.

Deimos lightly stroked the side of the man’s face, the bar around them empty. “You should have served my friend,” he said softly, each syllable causing a twitch of the hapless bartender’s face. “No one deserves to be called a freak.” The irony being, of course, that once they had made their living as ‘freaks,’ and playing on the expectations of the masses. It had been a different time.

The bartender gasped and tried to speak, but Deimos shushed him, and then tapped him on the forehead. The man toppled over, his eyes closed, lost in his private terrors. Deimos stood up, adjusting his suit coat and cufflinks. There was money to be made as a freak - but more to be made as a legend.

Jane would see, in time. She would seize the power available to her, or die trying to save everyone. She never had been very bright.