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Poem: "Off Fire" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Off Fire"
This poem is spillover from the August 5, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] aoifes_isle. It also fills the "anticipation" square in my 7-30-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored out of the general fund, based on an audience poll. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Off Fire"


The two security guards
looked at each other dubiously,
then the senior one reached out
to peel the orange tacky note
from the window.

------------------------------------------------
Your building is off fire.
I would have set it ON FIRE,
but there is currently a red flag
on fire danger for this area.
Your "religious freedom" does not
entitle you to discriminate
against your gay employees.
You have until the red flag drops
to stop ... or things will heat up.
-- Backdraft

------------------------------------------------

The junior security guard
stared at the unlit match
taped to the bottom of the note.
"Does it still count as arson
if he doesn't actually light the fire?"

* * *

Notes:

Backdraft (Gilbert Brenton) -- He has milk-pale skin, flame-blue eyes, and wild hair streaked in fire colors. His body is short and slim. Gilbert is homosexual and can be very flamboyant about it. He reacts badly to prejudice against queerfolk, even though it's not his primary motivation. There is a lot of unresolved sexual tension between him and Green Man. Given his sassy nature, Backdraft usually wins their flyting.
Despite his vendetta against the government, he only attacks buildings while they are mostly empty. He doesn't want to hurt people, and isn't completely confident of his fire control yet. So he waits until he has at most a few security guards to neutralize and move to a safer spot. Backdraft also takes a dim view of terrorists who target innocent bystanders, particularly ones like the IRA who started out bombing government offices and devolved to bombing schoolbuses. More recently, he has targeted banks and credit agencies, destroying their records with fire and hacking to wipe out debts and mortgages. Sometimes he goes after large businesses with pernicious practices. His theme music is Leslie Fish's Firestorm album.
Origin: Gay bashers beat him up, tied him to a post, and tried to set him on fire. It did not go well for them, and they wound up in the hospital with severe burns. He wound up with superpowers. When nobody would press charges against the gay-bashers, he stated a goal of burning down the government, starting with the local city hall.
Uniform: Scarlet and orange swirled dexflan with gold boots and gloves, and a flame-cut cape of gold capery. Leather half-mask has a fire design, yellow at the top, then orange, and deep blue at the base.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Computer Wizard, Good (+2) Activist, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Sassy
Poor (-2) I'll Show You a Flaming Fag!
Powers: Expert (+4) Invulnerability, Good (+2) Fire Powers (Signature Stunts: Fire Blast, Fire Shield, Firestopping, Firetripping; Spin-Off Stunts: Fire Form, Ignite Passion)
Equipment: Good (+2) Sleep Ray Bolt Pistol
Vulnerability: Wanted Man. Police generally recognize him and will try to arrest him if they can, although they rarely have the means. They may call a BASH team or superhero if possible.
Motivation: Bring it down!

* * *

Fire danger ratings include the red flag warning and an adjective scale. It is inadvisable to start fires when the danger is high, because they can easily get out of control.

Many businesses discriminate -- or would like to -- against gay customers and/or employees. Some people protest this by legal means. Others prefer more direct methods.

Congress decided to go on vacation without approving funds urgently needed to control wildfires, leading to this colorful protest graphic. I saw that and thought, "Sheesh, I have a pyromaniac supervillain who is more responsible about fire control than that!" Whereupon Backdraft showed me the note.

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3 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 12th, 2014 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Warnings are good!

So, the photos. You're generally very good at referencing your sources; could I trouble you to link to or name your photo sources rather than copying the images entirely uncredited into your scrapbook? In particular, I recognize the first of the two fire masks as a design by Crimson Spark, an instance of which I happen to own. They're no less a solo artisan trying to support themself than you are, and even if it's just being used as a visual reference, deserve credit for their design. (This has bugged me for other photo references -- you used to link to stock photos on their original sites, IIRC? -- but this one I happened to recognize in particular.)
From: technoshaman Date: August 12th, 2014 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
An.... ethical terrorist?

Hmmmmmm....
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 12th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

It's a real tactic. Uncommon, because most people who will use terrorist tactics to achieve their goals are not ethical. But it has been done and it can work.

Several of my supervillains are classed as supervillains because they use violent, illegal methods to pursue goals that are laudable. Fortressa is another example; she goes after sexist men. But she's a lot less careful about collateral damage. Dr. Infanta is careful about collateral, but she usually doesn't give warnings first.
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