Hi guys! It’s been a while since my last update but now we’re drawing ever so closer to July 15th, the release date of True Hero? To hopefully get some of you interested in the novel here is the first chapter of the novel.
I hope you enjoy it and please, leave feedback in the comments section!
Issue 1: Stella Stargirl
“Ms. Stargirl? Could you, maybe do a shot with the flag?” the photographer asked, clutching his camera tightly to his chest.
“Like this?” Stella replied, flashing the man a dazzling smile. She raised the Union Jack flag and took a step forward, holding it aloft so that it fluttered above her head in the breeze.
With her long, flowing blonde hair, her white and gold superhero costume and scarlet cape billowing in the wind from her shoulders (with, of course, the flag of Great Britain flying high above her), Stella felt certain it would be a fantastic shot. Possibly one which would adorn the covers of all the world’s major magazines.
“Perfect, perfect,” the photographer said, clicking his bulky camera. The other two dozen or so photographers lucky enough to be on the scene did likewise.
Stella tried not to giggle. She got the feeling that the photographer would have said ‘perfect’ even if she posed with her fingers up her nose. He didn’t really seem like the sort of person who would disagree with anything.
“Is this over yet?” a gruff, discontented voice muttered from behind Stella.
The speaker was Brutus the Barbarian. He was the team’s resident strong-man and was, as usual, looking moody and like he wanted to be anywhere else but here.
“Soon, soon, not long now, Mr. Barbarian,” the shutterbug replied, his camera clicking away.
“Maybe now a photo with Ms. Stargirl posing with her foot on the, uhm…the thing?” he suggested uncertainly.
Stella couldn’t blame the man for his confusion. Even she didn’t know what the hell it was that she and The Empire (Britain’s premier superhero team) had defeated.
During her five years in the superhero business, Stella had never come across a villain so mutated. With glowing green skin and long tentacles, it was barely recognisable as a human at all.
Was it an experiment gone wrong perhaps, Stella mused giving the unconscious man (for that was what it must have been at some point), a quick look of disgust.
An experiment done to it unwillingly? Or perhaps yet another nut-job trying to give himself super-powers? Those sorts of people seemed to be crawling out of the woodwork lately; it seemed to be the latest craze. Mix a highly dangerous formula, create a malfunctioning jet pack or expose yourself to excessive amounts of radiation in an attempt to gain super-powers.
It was silly really, Stella thought. The extremes that some people were willing to go to try to get superpowers.
She just hoped that the scientists who worked for The Empire would be able to reverse the effects of whatever had been done to the poor person. In the past, they had occasionally managed to do that after similar self-powering incidents.
The photographer’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts and she quickly gave a nod of her head.
“Of course,” she said, giving the man yet another dazzling smile. It was a smile that had appeared on the front cover of every major magazine, billboards and on many television commercials during her superhero career.
She positioned herself to the rear of the mutated form, placed one foot on its flank and posed once more with the flag raised above her head.
“Erm, excuse me, Mr. Hotrod?” the photographer said, lowering his camera. “You’re, uhm, blocking the view of Ms. Stargirl.”
Stella suppressed a smirk as Hotrod sighed and took a few steps to the side so he was out of shot.
“Arrogant jerk,” Stella muttered ever so quietly under her breath. She knew Hotrod had positioned himself in front of the camera deliberately in an attempt to grab himself a front-page shot.
He was such a douchebag. She had known he was a douchebag from the first moment she set eyes on him. With a smug grin, fake tan, ever present sunglasses (even when indoors) and spiky, bleached-blonde hair, he just looked like a douche.
He was the sort of person who Stella found she wanted to slap on sight. Besides, only a douchebag would choose the codename ‘Hotrod’ in an attempt to sound and look cool.
She drew her gaze away from Hotrod and smiled as the many cameras flashed.
“Stella? Cindy Lawrence, CTV News.” A stern-looking woman in a business suit stepped forward, pushing herself through the throng of photographers. “Can I have a few words?”
“Sure,” Stella replied, thrusting the flag roughly into Hotrod’s hands as she pushed by him.
Stella already knew who Cindy Lawrence was, of course. Every superhero did, since she was usually the first reporter on the scene and was always the most aggressive.
“Stella, despite the Prime Minister’s claims that self-powering is on the rise, this is the third such attack in as many weeks with countless more civilians been taken to the hospital with injuries resulting from attempts to power themselves. What are your thoughts on this?” Cindy asked, pen and notepad at the ready to scribble down Stella’s answers.
Countless more? Stella raised her eyebrows; she doubted the number of people taken to hospital with injuries related to self-powering was that high. Still, she supposed she shouldn’t be surprised by Cindy’s wording since the media loved to exaggerate.
“I’m afraid, Ms. Lawrence, I cannot comment on what the Prime Minister has said for I don’t speak to him,” Stella replied, fighting hard to resist the urge to sigh. “I…”
“But you have been on the front-line fighting against many wannabe superheroes and villains, many of whom are driven mad and out of control by their attempts to give themselves powers,” Cindy rudely interrupted. “Do you not feel that the prominence of superheroes is to blame for this?”
Stella gently bit her bottom lip and placed her hands on her hips. “Well…” Stella began, struggling to find an answer. She mentally cursed her P.R. team and her manager for not preparing her for questions like this.
In hindsight, Stella realized that it was obvious that vicious members of the media, such as Cindy Lawrence, would eagerly place the blame for the rise in self-powering incidents on the super-heroes themselves.
“Ms. Stargirl? Will you be including details of this confrontation in your autobiography?” A plump reporter shouldered himself through the crowd. He had a bright red face, was sweating profusely, and breathing heavily.
Stella flashed the man a genuine smile. Saved by the fat reporter.
“I’m afraid not,” Stella replied with a shake of her head. “My autobiography, containing details of how I first gained my powers and a first-hand account of my most deadly battles against supervillains, including last year’s epic battle against Dr. Menace, is already complete and will be available in just three weeks’ time at all book retailers.”
Book-plug accomplished, Stella thought, mentally ticking off the book plug on the list of things she was supposed to mention during all interviews.
“However, if the demand is there for a second autobiography, then …” Stella trailed off to allow an appreciative chuckle from the gathered members of the media.
There was a demand for a second book. Stella knew it, the press knew it, and the four other members of The Empire who were stood silently behind her, knew it. She was Britain’s most popular super-hero after all, possible even the most popular superhero in the world. Stella felt that she could write a book on stamp-collecting or train-spotting and it would sell like hot cakes.
“Then,” Stella continued, once the chuckles had died down, “I will, of course, include a detailed account of this battle, and I’ll be sure to mention the help that my fellow superheroes provided in taking down the, uhm…” she trailed off and scratched her chin. All supervillains needed a name. Thinking up a good one on the spot like this was a little tricky, however.
“The Octopus!” Hotrod exclaimed, seizing his chance to join the interview. “He…”
“The Octopus,” Stella said, cutting off Hotrod before he could steal the spotlight. She gave a small nod of her head in agreement whilst resisting the need to give Hotrod a look of disgust.
What a lame name, Stella thought, feeling embarrassed by it. Trust douchebag Hotrod to come up with something dumb like the Octopus.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Stella said quickly, getting back on track with the interview.
“Remember, even though it was me who landed the finishing blow, it was a team effort to take down the Octopus.” Stella cringed again at having to say the name.
Mentally, she ticked off ‘show modesty by saying it was a team effort’ on the list of things to do in her interviews.
“Stella, going back to my…” Cindy began.
“Ms. Stargirl, do you have any messages for your many supporters?” a plump red-faced reporter shouted, drowning out Cindy Lawrence’s question.
“I have,” Stella said, turning to face the video cameras pointed her way. “Remember kids, you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. I started off as your normal, everyday girl from Peckham and look at me now.” She spread her arms out and smiled. “I’m the world’s greatest superhero.”
She lowered her arms and winked at the news cameras. “Work hard, practice every day, never give up, and you will achieve your dreams.”
Check number three, ‘a message of encouragement to the kids’. She felt it sounded a bit cheesy, but at least she had stopped before encouraging kids to always drink milk and take their vitamins.
“Okay, okay, that’s a wrap, guys!” A smartly dressed man with brown, balding hair who had just stepped out of an expensive, silver BMW said, as he hurried towards them.
The man in question was Marty Sinclair, the public relations manager of The Empire, who organized all interviews, press-conferences, autograph signings and other public appearances.
“The Empire superheroes need to return to Avalon for the debriefing and, I’m sure you can all appreciate that they have all had a long day,” Marty said.
Stella looked over her shoulder and saw that almost half of the team had gone.
Brutus the Barbarian’s Hummer was just squealing away, while Lady Adder and her limousine were nowhere to be seen.
Other than herself, only Hotrod remained and he was posing for photos and signing autographs for the obsessive female following who adored him.
The final member of the team, Lancaster, stood away from the crowd. He was deep in talk with members of the emergency services who were on the scene. Even though Lancaster was the leader of The Empire, Stella still managed to garner all of the attention.
She smiled as she watched Lancaster congratulate the police and ambulance crews for their hard work.
Getting all the attention was all part and parcel of been the most powerful, best looking, and most popular member of the team, she thought smugly. She turned to follow Marty back into his car for a ride back to Avalon, the large complex just outside of London which served as The Empire’s headquarters.
At that moment, there was a deafening explosion and a flash of light which was shortly followed by cries of alarm from the mixed group of civilians and press who were still at the scene.
“Keep the camera’s rolling!” a voice shouted above the din, as a purple-clad form hovered in the sky above them.
“It’s… It’s the Great Khan!” Marty stammered, raising his hand to point up into the air.
“Correct,” Khan said, waving his hand towards Marty’s BMW. There was a faint humming noise and the car lifted itself into the air where it hovered for a few seconds, before dropping down toward Marty and Stella.
Stella reacted quickly. She darted towards Marty to push the immobilized man out of the way, just as the BMW plummeted down to the ground with a loud crash of breaking metal and smashing glass.
“You okay?” Stella asked, as she clambered off of Marty.
He nodded his head numbly. “I’m fine. Go and get him.”
“Okay, you asked for it!” Stella said, leaping lightly to her feet and glaring up at the purple-clad supervillain.
“Empire! Engage!” Lancaster shouted, giving the famous rallying cry of Britain’s most famous superhero team.
“Hotrod, get the civilians out of here. Stella, back me up!” he ordered, as he flew up into the air.
“You’ve got it,” Stella replied. She pushed off, flying up to meet the Great Khan fifty feet in the air above the streets of Milton Keynes.
The Great Khan laughed gently. “Stella Stargirl, Lancaster…” he said, slowly revolving in mid-air to face, in turn, each of the heroes opposing him.
“Here to get your arse kicked again?” Stella asked, raising her eyebrows as she grinned at the supervillain. “Last time I beat you, in what, five minutes?”
“This time, things will be different, Stella Stargirl!” the Great Khan replied.
Below, Hotrod, with the aid of a number of police officers, was working on getting the press and civilians back out of harm’s way. Most of the cameras were still rolling though, Stella noted, much to her delight.
A super-powered battle, above the streets of Milton Keynes, in front of the cameras. What great publicity that would be, especially with her book out in a few weeks, and a guest spot tomorrow morning on the early morning show, Daybreak. The Great Khan’s attack really couldn’t have come at a better time.
Stella smiled and drew back her fist to fire a beam of silvery coloured energy at the Great Khan, while Lancaster simultaneously flew at super speed at the villain, intent on taking him from behind.
Khan laughed and deflected Stella’s beam of energy up into the air with a casual wave of his hand, while dodging Lancaster’s attack by looping gracefully behind the charging hero.
The Great Khan waved his hands again, this time easily hoisting two transit vans used by the press into the air, to throw them directly at Stella and Lancaster.
Lancaster easy caught one with his bare hands, letting out a tiny grunt off effort as he did so.
Stella, not possessing super-strength, fired one of her beams of energy, which she called ‘star blasts’, directly at the oncoming van.
The star blast struck the trucks engine, detonating it in mid-air.
The shockwave from the blast was strong enough to knock the Great Khan backwards. Pieces of burning metal rained down on the ground below, sending the police officers who were trying to keep the situation under control running for cover.
“Stella, careful! There are still civilians nearby!” Lancaster shouted.
Stella ignored him, and instead focussed on following up the explosion with yet another energy blast.
The beam of light shot towards the Great Khan, who was still looking dazed from the first explosion.
Just as Stella thought her attack was going to hit the supervillain, he lifted his head and quickly waved his hands.
The energy blast changed direction in mid-air. Stella threw her arms up protectively in front of her face, expecting the powerful villain she was facing to direct her attack right back at her.
Instead, the Great Khan used his telekinetic powers to loop the beam of energy around and shot it down toward Lancaster.
The leader of The Empire was busy gently setting the press truck down on the ground. Strait-laced and ever heroic, he wasn’t the sort to needlessly damage public property, even when lives were at stake.
“Lancaster!” Stella screamed.
Lancaster, a tall, burly hero who was clad in a spandex uniform patterned like the Union Flag looked around, an expression of shock appearing on his face a moment before the silver energy beam struck him in the chest.
The force of the attack knocked him off of his feet, catapulting him over onto his back where he lie in a heap.
His costume was torn at the chest, revealing a nasty looking burn, the result of the high heat energy of Stella Stargirl’s star blast.
She stared in shock at what she had done, having no idea whether Lancaster was still alive.
Even Hotrod, still working to contain the situation on the ground had halted, sliding his sunglasses to the top of his head so that he could see more clearly.
Despite the fierce battle between the three superheroes and the noise of shouting and sirens, all seemed to grind to a halt and all became silent.
The heroes, the villain, members of the emergency services, the gathered press and the civilians viewing the scene all stared in shock at the motionless, possibly even dead, form of Lancaster, leader of The Empire.