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SEASON THREE Justice Rising
SUPERBOY: GODBORN #2 Lab Rat in Spandex

The Acropolis Unknown

Hot water hit Superboy's face, diluting the blood that lingered on it. Streams of red contoured 'round bare muscle and ran down the length of his body. They pooled together at his feet, sticking stubbornly to the drain. There was something soothing about showering after a particularly brutal fight. The steam purged his pores of toxins. The heat was energizing, intoxicating. Even the sting of water splashing on bruised, naked flesh had a certain appeal one could not rationally explain.

It, much like Superboy himself, simply was.

He went for a second lathering of soap, rubbing it up along his arms and down each leg, whistling a tune as he did. The jaunty song helped him ignore the camera burning a hole in the back of his head. Someone was always watching him, no matter where he was or what he was doing. While he was in his room, while he was sleeping, while he was relieving himself- there was always a glass eye staring at him, unblinking. It was just as much a part of normal life as breakfast, or breathing.

It was all part of that science experiment he was supposed to be part of. He'd spent his whole life being watched and prodded and poked in this same place. They called it the Acropolis. Claimed it was the most advanced R&D facility on the planet. It made the work sound very important, at least in his mind. The company that owned the place was called CADMUS; they provided the actual scientists that worked on him.

Their tests usually weren't as brutal as that last one. Bruises were a new sensation, and he couldn't recall ever blacking out before today. He couldn't hold back that creeping feeling that things weren't going to get any easier after this, either.

He leaned an arm against the wall, his head held down to let the water run down the back of his head. His wild, black hair fell down around his face, matted and soaking wet. Eyes snapping shut, he steeled himself against his thoughts, rebuking his doubts outright: 'What am I saying, I'm friggin' Superboy! I can handle a couple'a stupid tests. I was built for this.'

Once he was squeaky clean he stepped out of the shower and into the larger locker room, where he found his costume hung on the wall. It was nearly as beaten and battered as he was: the knees, elbows, and sections around the abdomen had to be patched up with black material that didn't at all match the suit's red, yellow and blue. The stylized S Supergirl had plucked from his chest had been stitched back on, too. It was better than nothing.

Immediately outside the locker room door, the space expanded and the tiled floor gave way to the sterile tiles of a laboratory. Gangs of labcoat-wearing techs occupied rows and rows of machinery too complex for Superboy's understanding. He recognized most of them, having seen their faces every day for the last five months, but he only knew a handful of names.

There was Carl, the bald-headed doctor that monitored Superboy's development and ensured he'd grow big and grow. And then there was Tana, the daughter of CADMUS's head honcho and one of the many assistants assisting the experts on the project. Dr. Spence was there, too. She was the one that poked around inside his head. When Dr. Westfield wasn't around- which was most of the time- she was the one that called the shots. He felt his heart rate quicken when she started barking orders at random lab workers.

Tana was the first one to notice him enter and she stalked over to greet him. She was a head shorter than him and several grades lighter, but she walked like someone thrice her size. Talked like it, too. "Well, you look...better. Less like we just wheeled you out of the morgue."

"Ah, you know me. Too stubborn to stay dead, y'know?" He smirked.

She just shook her head and turned to walk deeper into the laboratory, Superboy following her lead. They moved to near the back of the room, where a gaggle of eggheads were gathered around a metal throne. Wiring and piping ran from the chair and into nearby machines, pumping some unknown, inky fluid into it and filtering something else out. Superboy felt his palms itch as Tana peeled away to go work on something, leaving him to approach and take a seat on his own.

It was unnaturally cool to the touch. Tiny ridges covered the steel surface, and there was no obvious sign of rivets or bolts holding it together. Most of the nearby machines and computers were connected to it, a constant stream of information traveling between them.

The moment his arms came to rest on the sides of throne he found he could no longer move them. Some, unseen force far stronger than he was holding him down. He didn't panic. Not like the first few times. Much as he hated to be restricted, Superboy understood what was happening- if not why it had to be this way.

Somebody walked forward with a wicked needle in one hand and a oddly shaped device in the other. It was round-ish, with a small hole in the center, and covered in blinking lights. She pressed the strange tool against the inside of Superboy's neck, shoving his head upward without a care for how it felt.

He felt remarkably vulnerable with the cool metal against his skin, as if some form of protection was peeled away by its presence. She plunged the syringe through the center hole and the needle hit flesh, though it did not pierce it. A motor on the back had to be flipped on, turning the needle into a veritable jackhammer. It had to break through the skin, layer by layer, for several minutes before the needle tasted blood. A sizeable sample was extracted through the process, painful as it was, and the assistant looked satisfied by the result.

"You're welcome," He muttered as she walked away, rubbing a hand against his puncture wound. It'd scar over in a couple of minutes, small as it was. Didn't mean it hurt any less.

She handed the syringe off to Dr. Packard for inspection. He frowned at the sight of the device, quickly plugging it into his work station so the computer could get to work. Blood contained a wealth of data on the body, especially when one knew how to decipher and make sense of all of it. After waiting several moments for the process to finish, he spoke up in a raspy voice: "Subject's genome is stable, no sign of mutation since our last check," He called over his shoulder. "Muscle density increased in regions where it was torn by his injuries. The subject...appears to be perfectly healthy."

Superboy could hear Tana give a quiet sigh of relief from somewhere outside his vision. He could hear the clicking of heels against tiled floor behind him, too, the sound growing louder as it approached him. He had to crane his neck toward the noise to see its source, his eyes connecting with the icy gaze of Dr. Spence. She didn't look too pleased by the news, not that it surprised him. She never smiled. Superboy wasn't even sure she could.

"Its not Thirteen's physical health that I am worried about, Packard." Spence didn't break eye contact as she spoke about him to the other doctor, her fingers tracing along his arm as she slowly moved around to stand straight in front of him. She leaned in close, close enough for her breath to brush against his face. One, long finger came to rest against his forehead. "Its what's going on in here that I care about." She said, her voice low, menacing.

A single bead of sweat ran down Superboy's face.

"Not, uh, sure what you mean." He giggled, a nervous edge laced in it. "I'm not stupid if that's what you're sayin'."

"That is what I mean. You were never meant to do that."

Superboy gave her a look, clearly not understanding what she was going on about.

"Talk back," Spence grunted, annoyed. "You've deviated from your template. Yet for God knows what reason my esteemed colleagues don't seem at all concerned about your flagrant disregard for authority." The mood shifted like a chill had passed through an open window. Any chatter came to an abrupt end, as if the whole room had stopped to hear what happened next. Somebody at the other end of the lab stifled a cough and caught a punch in the arm for it.

"I, however, am very concerned."

The doctor signaled for them to begin. Mechanisms within the throne began to turn. Its top slid open, allowing a crown of thousand tangled wires to rise up from inside it. Spence reached forward and guided it over Subject 13's head. The band bent and melded itself to fit tight around the boy's skull. The crown hissed and sparked. A horrible pressure began to build in his hippocampus, like someone had wrapped a hand around that part of his brain and squeezed.

A chair was rolled up for Spence to sit on, an assistant- Tana- handing her a clipboard and pen. She went to work filling out the necessary information before they could begin their session. "You already know how this goes. I'm going to ask you a series of questions and you're going to answer them honestly. If the machine feels you lying it will induce psychic feedback. Are you ready to begin?"

A sinking feeling gnawed at Superboy's gut, accompanied by but a single thought: 'I don't think she liked my joke.'
<Snipped quote by Lord Wraith>


SEASON THREE Justice Rising
SUPERBOY: GODBORN #1 Home Sweet Home

The Acropolis Unknown

Superboy strut down the hallway, the sound of a thousand screaming fans thundering in his ears. They were chanting his name, 'Superboy! Superboy!', over and over again, growing louder with each successive cry. Anticipation filled his chest as he looked down at his hands, staring wide-eyed at the boxing gloves that covered them. He'd give them a show they'd never forget; remind them all why he held the title.

The doors to the ring opened and an overwhelmingly bright light swept over him.

The Ring's name was more than fitting. It was a large, circular chamber, its paneled walls a sterile white. Intense lights shown down from a vaulted ceiling, so acute that it hurt to look up. The room was empty, save for a single soul waiting for HIM just inside the entrance. He was a tall man in grey fatigues, a tablet in one hand and a remote in the other. He gave Superboy a smile. "Feeling good today, are we?"

"Good n' ready to kick some tail, Jimmy." Superboy proclaimed, holding his arms out in front of him. The gloves were gone, replaced by a pair of heavy steel spheres wrapped around each hand and joined together by a thick bar. Impact-absorbing jelly sloshed around inside the spheres as they were moved around.

"Glad to hear it, Kid." Jim Harper lifted the remote in his hand toward the manacles and waved it around in the air. Something inside both devices clicked, and the specially-designed shackles loosed around Superboy's wrists and dropped to the floor with a clatter. Superboy flicked his hands at a few hundred miles per hour to get all the lingering jelly off of them.

With slow, deliberate pokes to the screen Harper punched a series of codes into the linked computer system, shutting the only visible entrance to the chamber. He spent the next few minutes running through a diagnostics check, and then double and triple checking it, ensuring the session would run smoothly without interruption. The consequences of mucking this sort of thing up were all too familiar to him. "Take a minute to stretch while I figure this dumb thing out. We don't want you pulling any muscles during a session again, alright?"

Superboy nodded and wandered a few feet away to comply with the order, initiating some basic warm up techniques. Reaching down to place a palm flat on the floor was easy task, the costume clinging to his lightly-built form offering no resistance at all. The suit was fashioned to mimic the one worn by his original template, though obviously it'd been improved: the cape was gone, Thank God, the boots were a sturdier black leather and a holster pouch hung 'round his right hip in lieu of adding pockets. Pockets never looked good on spandex.

As he arched his back and stuck his arms into the sky, Superboy paused partway through to stare at the back wall, and the sheet of one-way glass running along the top of the Ring.

Behind it, on the monitoring deck, a half dozen specialized technicians were operating the holoprojection matrix under the watchful eye of the science team. Each of the scientists manned a different station, their terminals displaying rivers of data floating before them in interactive holograms. A black woman in a white coat and round rim glasses stood on an elevated platform overlooking the rest of the deck like a steely captain commanding their ship. Her icy gaze just crossing over a man's back was enough to get him to quicken his pace.

"Dr. Spence? You may want to see this." Dr. Packard, a rotund man with a balding head and a bushy mustache, called her name, motioning wildly for her attention. Once she deigned to offer it and moved behind him, Packard pointed to the screen in front of them. There, a silhouette marked 'Subject 13' showed dozens of sensors sewn into the subject's suit feeding data to the computer in real time.

It took Spence a moment to parse the information, but her expression noticeably shifted once she understood what she was looking at. "These readings are-"

"-Extraordinary!" Packard cut her off in his excitement. "Its only been a day since his last check-in and his telekinetic field is already 150% more efficient. None of the previous versions come even close to this level of growth. If Superboy maintains these rates consistent, he may even surpass-"

A hand coming to rest on Packard's shoulder was enough to shut his mouth. Spence didn't need to verbalize the meaning of the gesture for her colleague to understand it. She stood quietly for a few moments, chewing on what she'd learned. The excitement the rest of the team showed was palpable, but her steadfast grimace never faltered. There were risks here that the others refused to see, too blinded by their faith in Westfield's alleged genius to be objective. It was up to Amanda to keep a steady head. To make actual progress with Project Kr instead of resting on what they'd done so far like the rest of them did.

"Today's opponent will provide ample opportunity for Subject Thirteen to prove itself," She finally broke the silence. Stepping away from Packard, she crossed the room in long, brisk strides, coming to a stop at the window. "...Tana, is the session ready?"

At hearing her name Tana's head popped out from behind a pair of technicians at their computers, too short to be easily seen before. She exchanged a quick word with them to confirm the status of the program, firing a thumbs up in Spence's direction once she had it. "Program S is loaded in, just give us the go ahead."

"I'll inform Thirteen," Spence nodded, "Look alive, people."

He was back in the center of the ring, the audience chanting his name. Tonight was a full house, not a single seat unoccupied. A mass of faceless people, writhing and jittering in uncontrollable excitement. They'd just finished playing his walkout song. The announcer's voice sprang from a loudspeaker somewhere high above Superboy, giving a triumphant introduction to the Boy of Steel, the heavyweight champion of the world- no, the galaxy! Not a soul had come close to taking the belt from him: a fact that kept Superboy bubbling with confidence. The announcer's voice sounded strangely like Doctor Spence, but little thought was given too it. He was too busy basking in the love of his fans to notice.

He began prancing around the ring, giving wide, arcing motions for the crowd to get louder. So thunderous were they that he could scarcely hear himself think. It felt like the very ground was reverberating with their cries.

Jumping up to the top rope, his arms held out wide, he drank it in, as an emaciated dog might lap up water. Emboldened by their cheers he looked to the opposite door where his opponent would soon enter the arena, and called out to them in a loud voice, "Who the hell do you think you are steppin' up to me?!"

The cheering came to an abrupt end. A gust of wind blew away the crowd, leaving Superboy alone.

Darkness swept over the stands, leaving only the lights above the ring itself light. A series of spotlights began to turn on one after the other, tracing along the entrance ramp to the steps that led up to the fighting mat.

Apprehension suddenly formed like bile in his throat. Superboy leaned forward, squinting his eyes as he stared at the doors. They crept open and a rush of fog filled the room, sweeping out to cover the whole of the floor. A human shadow appeared in the billows, the shape of a cape flowing back behind it.

"What the fu-"

And Supergirl fed the clone his teeth.

The punch knocked Superboy out of his daydream and sent him skipping like a rock across a pond, bouncing three times on the sterile, white floor until he came to a violent stop against the far wall. An indent was left in the metal when he peeled off it and fell back to the ground in a disheveled heap. The sudden sucker punch left him dazed but not down as he pushed himself to his feet, wiping the blood from his face with the back of his glove.

She was hovering less than a foot off the ground, near the center of the room where Superboy had been standing a moment before, flicking a bit of his blood off her shoulder. There was no discernible expression on her face, no evidence that she gave a damn about the creature she'd just brutalized; only the apathetic resolve of a god stepping on an ant resided there.

For his part, Superboy managed to maintain a modicum of his dignity by shooting a cocky grin her way. "Didn't expect it to be you. Didn't expect you to hit that hard, either. Guess I won't go easy on you, even if you are my templa-"

The Kryptonian vanished from sight, only to reappear right on top of Superboy with a hand wrapping around his throat. He never stood a chance at dodging her hand. The damn thing moved faster than he could even see, smashing into his Adam's apple with the force of a bullet train. She lifted Superboy up off his feet, slamming his back into the wall three consecutive times. Jolts of pain shot up along his spine. Screaming in agony wasn't even possible with how tight she was holding on to him.

They locked eyes for the longest second of his life.

Superboy brought his hands together over his head and bashed them repeatedly against Supergirl's wrist. Each one fell in quick succession. He counted eighty seven over the course of a few seconds before her fingers budged even slightly. Just enough for him to weasel out of her grip and leap away from her.

"What've you been feeding her, Venom? Christ, she hits like a truck! Big one, too." He yelled between long breaths, taking a moment to recover what energy he could. He'd fought these programs near every day for the past five months and not a single one of them compared to this one in speed and strength. "There's no way the real deal's this tough-"

The speaker system buzzed to life, casting the voice of Dr. Spence over the Ring. "We do not have the equipment to properly simulate her upper limits. This is the Supergirl at half strength and you are failing miserably, Subject Thirteen."

He froze.

She was lying. Had to be. There was no way she was this strong, no way anyone was twice this strong. He could bench press a tank without a sweat and this poor facsimile of her was tossing him around like a toddler stuck in a wet paper bag. And her speed...A few weeks ago Superboy caught a bullet with twizzers on a dare, and he couldn't so much as see her when she rushed him. How the hell did CADMUS expect him of all people to match her?

Spence pressed down the speaker button and offered but two, commanding words upon seeing him hesitate. "Subject, attack."

He was moving before another thought could register, hands balled into fists. Supergirl left the ground to meet him. She landed an uppercut into his abdomen that shook his very core, but when she came around with a hook to finish him off she found an arm in her path. Even deflecting a blow made Superboy's bones ache in agony, but he was forced to continue his attack. He had been commanded. Compliance was mandatory.

A lightning-quick flurry of jabs impacted against her shoulders, arms and upper body. Wild though they might appear to an onlooker, Superboy was probing her defenses, looking for opening where he could slip in an important blow as Harper had taught him. His opponent didn't seem nearly as well trained, her movements were impossibly quick yet basic, predictable. If he could just get her to shift her block...

There! Short though the window of opportunity was he leapt to take it, a fist barreling passed her guard and impacting against her cheek. A loud clap of air followed it after a beat, the sound barrier breaking with the speed of the successful blow. There was faint cheering somewhere up and behind Superboy.

Actual, not-his-imagination cheering.

Supergirl touched her cheek, rubbing at the scuff mark his knuckles had made. It hurt enough to give her pause and make her stumble- something a moment ago he would've thought impossible. Any sense of elation that came from that was cut short before it even had a microsecond to register as she came at him again with renewed savagery.

It could've been four hits or forty for all he knew. Her hands moved too quick for the pain to even register, led alone slow enough to count the successive blows that rocketed into the clone's body and face. Each one sent him reeling yet she pursued all the same, at one point reaching out to pluck Superboy from the air when one of her attacks hit so hard his feet left the floor.

His cheek tore open first, the fabric and flesh around his ribs following swiftly after. Every inch of his body was either bruised, aching or bloodied, with several parts feeling all three at once. Superboy teetered on his feet, too dazed to know what was going on, until a final, light push placed him on his back.

White noise filled his ears. And his head.

The loudspeaker split the air with an obnoxious start, and Spence began to speak again.

"If you can't get up you may as well die and stop wasting our time."

Superboy rolled onto his stomach with a groan, but he didn't rise. His arms had given out on him.

"Did that last order get your broken skull? Get up, Subject 13."

There was no reply, so she sounded the speaker again.


It took a great deal of effort on his part, but Thirteen managed to wiggle his arms underneath his battered form. Taking several, long breaths he attempted to push himself up via his elbows, only getting so far as sliding his knees along the floor before he collapsed again. "I can't." Superboy wheezed, coughing up a chunk of red viscera. "She's too..."

Amanda cut him off, addressing Supergirl instead. "Finish it. Its of no more use to us like this."

Supergirl took a step forward, flipping him over with her boot and placing it on the clone's chest with the intent to cave it in.

"Stop this madness!" A voice snarled from across the room. Jim Harper came marching into the Ring, a hard grimace set upon his face as he approached the two supers. There were calls of protest from the monitoring deck but he didn't react, moving right through the projection of Supergirl and kneeling down to check on the boy.

He offered Harper a pitiful thumbs up.

"He's barely able to breath led alone fight!" He yelled in protest over his shoulder, swiftly spinning around to stare up at lone window. It didn't need to be two-way for him to know who he was staring daggers into.

Spence cleared her throat. "You're interfering with our work, Harper. We were gathering valuable data from this encounter-"

"Like hell you were, you're going to kill him!"

"I can't kill something that's barely even alive, Captain, now move. You don't have authority in this matter and the Board will not take kindly to your actions." A less-than-veiled threat that everyone listening could recognize, save the boy stuck on his stomach. He likely couldn't recognize his own reflection at the moment.

There was a long, tense period of silence before Harper stepped out of the way.

Supergirl moved through him and reached down to pluck Superboy off the floor, holding him to his feet by his shirt. She slapped him across the face hard enough to send him reeling back to the ground, tearing his suit in the process. The sound of a winding down engine came from somewhere above them and Supergirl faded from existence, the S she'd torn off of Superboy now falling to the floor in a crumpled ball.

As his vision began to darken, Superboy imagined himself lying on mat of a boxing ring. It was quiet, and he was alone.
S U B J E C T 1 3 S U P E R H E R O T H E A C R O P O L I S C A D M U S
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T:

"What's the 'S' stand for? It stands for 'stick it where the sun don't shine', pal, now buzz off. I got a world to save."

Superboy grew up in a bottle, the scientists sticking needles in his arm the closest thing he ever had to family. They kept him isolated in a research facility tucked away at the edge of the world, shielded from eyes that may deign to pry- they called it the Acropolis. It was here that the scientists at CADMUS did their best work, particularly in the field of genetics.

CADMUS and its founder, Dr. Westfield, had always believed the solutions to the world's biggest problems lay in metahumans. Their extraordinary biology and unimaginable power made them a near limitless source of advancement, if it could be properly tapped. In recent years progress on that front has accelerated so dramatically that they believe they're on the verge of a breakthrough, thanks to the efforts of Project Kr's development team.

Project Kr is CADMUS's attempt to create an artificial lifeform with DNA samples acquired from the being in Metropolis the press was calling Supergirl. Though they were working with precious little material and on a tight timetable, the Kr team has done near miraculous work in bringing Westfield's vision to life.

The latest iteration of Kr is Subject 13, affectionately nicknamed 'Superboy' by the science team. He took remarkably well to the strenuous regime of testing, training and study they put up for him, lasting longer and performing better than any of his previous versions. The only quirk of his rapid development seems to be his forming a distinctive personality all his own- an aberration not found in previous clones. Some concern has been raised by Dr. Spence but her calls for caution have been overshadowed by the subject's overwhelming progress.

Things are going so well Doctor Westfield is even considering beginning field performance tests...

C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:

Superboy has always been a favorite character of mine, but I've never gotten the opportunity to properly write for him before now. For this game I'm going to be taking the character back to his 90s roots: back when he was a badmouthing punk in tights and a leather jacket. The foundation for his origin story will remain mostly the same, too, with him being a clone created by Cadmus, though I have made some minor alterations to make things more engaging.

Where we'll break from the canon is with some of the characters being different, like Tana Moon and Amanda Spence, and the direction which the story will take. There's no Death of Superman to motivate Superboy's creation and unveiling this time around, so I've had to go ahead and concoct something new.

Superboy has only lived a few, short months and he's spent every moment of that time locked up in a laboratory and training to be a superhero. Though he's told he'll get his chance to prove himself, he grows increasingly impatient in recent weeks. The monotony of his current life drives him up the wall, irritating him to no end. He dreams of the day when he can feel the wind on his face and the grass beneath his feet, free from the poking and prodding of stuffy dorks in labcoats.

This season I intend to explore a couple of different themes revolving around cloning, as that's one of the more interesting parts of his character to be. In particular I'd like to focus on things such as personhood, identity, and how many punches it takes to get to the center of a Kryptonian's skull (hint: its quite a few.)

C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:

S A M P L E P O S T:

P O S T C A T A L O G:

gaem dead

Location: New York City, New York -- City Streets

Just as soon as Conner had arrived at waterboy's side, two others were quick to join them. The four- five, if one counted the semi-unconscious alien- of them were a bizarre sight for anyone still lingering at the edge of the scene, but for all their strangeness there was conviction to match. Waterboy seemed a natural leader with how quickly he took command of that misfit rabble, giving decisive and succinct orders to each of them: the monkey would watch over the alien, the birdboy he called 'Robin' would confuse and scatter the enemy while Conner and waterboy would run up the center and 'break their ranks.' Conner wasn't sure what that meant, but he knew how to break things well enough.

"Hmph." He grunted at being called Superboy, of all things, but he didn't offer up any alternatives. In fact, he didn't appear to have heard it, his eyes locked instead on the enemy he was so eager to grind into dirt. "I'm done talkin'."

He was fast, faster than anyone of his size had any right to be, and he wasn't exactly waiting for Robin or waterboy to catch up. The lizards' energy beams raced out to meet Conner. They struck with that same, intense cold that froze his sinew and made his bones feel brittle, but he didn't let it stop him. Superboy kept barreling along like a runaway freight train. One of reptilian giants dropped their spear as he grew closer and stepped into his path, feet planted in the asphalt and arms held out wide to meet him.

When they made contact it was the ground that gave out before either of them. Asphalt churned underneath their feet, shuddering and cracking when the two began to exchange blows. He had a score to settle with these things for knocking him around earlier, and he wasn't about to be the first one to back down.

"Come on!" He roared until his throat was raw, chasing down his foe even as they stumbled backward under the weight of his wild, untrained blows. Conner ended up knocking one of them into another of their allies, whose attention was focused on one of the other superpowered kids that had since joined the fray.

The newly pissed off alien came charging at the Superboy, knocking their own comrade out of the way to get to Conner. They had their staff held out in front of them, electromagnetic energy bursting from its 'barrel' and into Conner's chest. He let out a pained snarl but marched through it regardless, reaching through the beam to grasp staff and tear it from its owner's hands- instead, the owner refused to let go, and ended up dragged along with it. Superboy spun around, lifting the enormous weight of the alien giant at the end of the staff over his head and slamming them into the dirt.

He tore the weapon from the now dazed alien's hands, and used every ounce of his strength to impale it into the giant's torso. Conner wheeled back and brought a closed fist down on the end of the staff and struck it, like a hammer driving down a stubborn nail.

Bits of blood trailed down his arm as he stumbled away from his beaten and battered foe, a furiously giddy grin on Superboy's face as he searched for his next opponent.

Cold stalked the halls of Vólkerben Castle like a specter. It seeped into the skin of all it passed through, causing hair to stand on end and flesh to bristle. Its wordless whispers were carried on the wind, warning of what lied just beyond the boundaries of stacked, lifeless stone: a storm of ice and snow that tore the life from the chest of any living thing brave or stupid enough to enter its embrace.

There was precious little comfort to be found in those halls for Thomas Rosemont. He had never been particularly good at keeping warm. Even back home, where the winters were long yet tolerable, every new layer he'd put on felt like it wasn't enough. It felt like the cold would slip through it with the ease of a dagger poking through sackcloth. The weather down here was different- the seasons were shorter but far more intense. The specter pierced even the heaviest of coats and dug its claws into a man's very being, draining him of his choler and turning his blood to ice. Thomas had given up any hope of feeling warm.

Even the food was cold, he'd come to learn, as he lifted a spoonful of soup to his lips and found it wanting.

It didn't have a distinctive taste of any kind, just hints of poultry and vegetables hidden in discolored broth. His nose turned up at it out of instinct. He still wasn't used to the taste of a normal man's food, even after all this time. He'd grown up on the savory feasts meant for lords and ladies, where there were so many different spices competing for his attention that he could barely keep track of it all. To go from that to dried bread, salted pork and potatoes...

The wooden spoon fell back into his half-finished bowl, the young initiate's attention shifting back to the parchment rolled out on the table and held open with his other hand. Written in fine blackletter script were the notes he'd taken during his time with the blackwardens, detailing every lesson he thought important enough to use ink on. He'd spent most of his time at dinner pouring over ever word, only ever sparing a moment to break a bite off his bread or a sip from his soup.

Try as he might he couldn't still the shaking in his right hand, anxious as Thomas was. Was he even ready for the final trials? Would they swallow him up on the cusp of his ascension, denying him what was surely rightfully his?

He'd spent every waking moment preparing for this: studying, training, and meditating until his mind was as sharp and quick as his sword arm. There was nothing more he could possibly do to ready himself, he reasoned. If he failed at this final hurdle then perhaps-

'-Perhaps success was never meant to be mine in the first place.'

The bellowing of an arrogant little imp drove his gaze above his papers and his mind away from uncomfortable postulations. He recognized the ill-tempered girl as one of the other initiates, though they weren't exactly well-acquainted. She was of a different sort than he- and their sorts weren't prone to intermingling. Still, for all her obnoxious blundering and chest-puffing, he could tell that her hunger was genuine, and not some poor attempt at bullying better men into bending to her will.

Thomas waited until she'd tread closer to his table to grab her attention. He didn't bother speaking, that'd be a waste of breath, only clearing his throat loud enough for the imp to hear. Once he had her eyes he lifted up his bowl, gestured with it, and then set it at the seat across from him.

Just as soon as it was done he went back to his studies, intent on not wasting his time with the frivolities of posturing. That didn't mean he was above a snide remark or two, of course.

"Stop being an arse. You aren't impressing them." He didn't look up from his work as she drew near, motioning with a finger toward a gaggle of real blackwardens sitting at a table all their own. Rosemont had come to learn the hierarchies that ruled this place: it wasn't blood or familial prestige, but glory won with the work of ones own hands. He wasn't worth any more than the imp across from him, painful as it was to admit.

His eyes glazed over on their return to the page. After so much time staring at it, all the words were running together and turning to nonsense in his mind. The stress was still getting to him. Made it hard to focus on what was important.

Keeping his attention tied to his notes to maintain appearances, Thomas spoke to the girl once again to distract himself from the heavy thumbing in his chest. "We've a long night ahead of us. Do you think you're ready?"

Thomas Rosemont
22 | Male | Northron


A youth born of gentle birth, Thomas Rosemont stands a head taller than most and shares the angular jaw of his grandfather. Any sense of nobility these traits might conjure is broken by the presence of his button nose, rosy cheeks and wiry frame. His once fair skin has been shaded by the kiss of the sun, owed entirely to his fancying elk and boar hunts over stuffy courtly proceedings.

Brown hair flecked with gold frames his square face, dropping down to just below his ears in length and contrasting sharply with the emerald in his eyes. And while he does his best to keep his face shaven, Thomas has fancied as of recent to let his side whiskers grow out to better define his rounded cheeks.

Apart from his boyish looks, Rosemont's worst feature is easily his awkward demeanor. Thomas never took to the training of his tutors when it came to gentlemanly behavior and etiquette; not to say he was intentionally rude, per se, but that he was so intensely insecure that he of came across as aloof and dreary. He still to this day carries his shoulders in a low slouch and walks in short strides with his head tucked down, despite more than a decade of chiding from his family and teachers.

Owing to his station as the son of a minor noble house, Thomas's clothing and equipment is always of quality make. He favors thigh-length tunics, long cloaks and riding boots for general use- typically in dark reds, golds, blacks and whites. When entering combat Rosemont dons the iron half-plate, chemically washed a porcelain white, his family's armorsmith fitted for Thomas specifically. The metalwork, while of excellent quality compared to what many of lower birth use, is still a step below that of a knight or lord's full harness.
---P E R S O N A L I T Y

Growing up in abuse and hardship required that Thomas adapt to cope with his situation if he wanted to maintain his sanity. He chose to deal with it by putting distance between himself and his despondence with a layer of sardonic detachment, finding humor in even the worst moments. That sort of coldness has bled into all aspects of his personality, where in even positive or safe environments its incredibly rare for Rosemont to appear comfortable.

He's never felt any particular connection to others of his class, as most nobles look down their nose at him for being a bastard or, worse, a Rosemont. And he never had much of an opportunity to interact with others of different standing. Thomas was never too bothered by the lack of proper companionship, though, finding solace in his vices and other, less harmful outlets, like week-long hunts for elk and boar, or digging his nose into some stuffy tome he liberated from the family library.

There'd never been any line for Thomas to cross before he entered the service of the Blackwardens. There were things he wouldn't do, of course, but never because he'd developed some strong sense of right and wrong- all he had to go on was an intuitive feeling in his gut to act as his moral compass. Those were ideas he thought belonged to knights and noble kings and their like; Thomas's only goal was to avoid notice and survive. It wasn't until he was introduced to the warden's creed, The Path, that he began to consider such heady things as good and evil.

Some parts of the creed were more digestible than others. Evil lingering in all men was something he'd seen himself. It was easy to believe that, given the right circumstances, just about anyone could commit incredible acts of cruelty that they'd normally think revolting. Other things, like the preciousness of life or that none deserve to suffer, were...harder to contend with. He'd met many a person so gratuitously brutal that there was little they weren't deserving of, and their lives meant precious little to him. Still, if he were to ever actually be a Blackwarden, those were ideas he'd have to actually reckon with.

---O R I G I N

Thomas was born fourteen years before the Age of Dawn to Baron Cedric Rosemont. Cedric's wife, Eveline, was never fond of keeping the servant girls around once the bastards were born, so it wasn't any surprise the boy never knew his mother. He was the second youngest of seven male siblings and a half-score of sisters, all born either from one of Cedric's three legitimate marriages or any of his many extramarital affairs- earning Cedric the nickname 'The Salacious.'

As one of Cedric's legitimized bastards boys, Thomas wasn't raised for succession- but to act as an instrument of the family's will. He was training in swordplay when he was strong enough to hold one and was riding horses when he was tall enough to reach the stirrup. The trainers encouraged fierce competition among the siblings, punishing compassion and rewarding ruthlessness where they saw it. Thomas was never the best of them, but he managed to avoid the whipping's that came with repeated failure...most of the time, anyway.

The children were assigned work in their later years based on their aptitude for various things growing up, some going on to become stewards, others diplomats, spies or enforcers- Thomas fell into the last role, owing to his swordsmanship and his impatience for work in courts. It was his duty to act as retainer to his father during travel, to accompany the tax collectors and to deal with criminals, debtors, and threats to the baron as requested of him.

Nothing good was ever asked of Thomas. There were no knightly heroics or daring adventures, just the bloody work of a nobleman's thug: capturing runaway slaves, dragging indebted fathers from the arms of their families, and picking villagers clean of the little coin and bread they had. Thomas grew to hate it, choosing to distance himself from it by indulging in wine, girls and hunting at every moment. It was easier to drown his miseries away in frivolous luxury than to actually confront the things that bothered him so.

He wished he could say things changed because he tired of acting as a tool for evil men. Say that he came to a revelation and chose to confront the baron. Things were never as romantic as they were in the stories.

It'd been a late night out hunting down a gang of poachers when Thomas and his brothers road back to the town of Redbrook, the seat of the barony and Rosemont Keep. They'd already been drinking on the ride back, but Rowlan, the eldest of the bastards, suggested they stop at the alehouse to celebrate. Thomas, feeling particularly miserable that night, indulged more than usual. In a drunken haze he mouthed off at Rowlan, letting slip more than he'd wanted about his family's cruelty, and the trading of words quickly became physical. Rowlan was far stronger than Thomas and had little trouble putting him on his back. There was talk of dragging the boy before their father for his insolence, though they came to the collective conclusion that waking up Baron Cedric in the middle of the night to deal with this wasn't wise; instead, they'd tie Thomas up in the stable and deal with him in the morning.

Covered in mud, his nose shattered and in a drunken stupor, they tied Thomas to a post and left him there for the night to contemplate his fate. He wasn't particularly hopeful about his father's judgement, having seen what happened to others that stepped out of line firsthand. If it weren't for the kindness of a stranger its entirely possible he wouldn't live to see the next day. A young stablehand, woken up by the racket, wandered outside to find Thomas in his sorry state and chose to cut him free. Thomas took the opportunity to gather his things and flee south, never turning back.

It was in some shoddy, roadside tavern where Thomas was drinking himself under the table that a Blackwarden recruiter just happened to notice the sword on his hilt, the noble's sigil on his brooch and offered him a second chance at life.

---E Q U I P M E N T

- Arming sword, 'Littlethorn,' banded hilt & rose-engraved pommel
- Heater shield, emblazoned with familial heraldry
- Lance
- Javelins (x3)
- Half-plate armor
- sallet helm
- mail hood
- breastplate & pauldrons
- greaves
- gauntlets
- riveted tassets
- mail faulds
- Female courser, Wander
- riding cloak
- Satchel
- journal
- bundle of maps
- provisions
- flint and steel
- lantern

---O T H E R

Thomas, ironically enough, has a pollen allergy.

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