here is another old piece of origin writing I wanted to preserve from the pre-release boards. I also decided to include a final post from the Artic Transcontinental thread where the real secret of this character is revealed. EnjoyHeavy metal guitar and percussions riffs echoed through the abandoned Parzoil refinery on the far side of Paragon Harbor. It was one of Splat’s favorite arena match settings, full of twists, ramps, catwalks, tanks, drainage channels and such. He knew them all by heart and today he was skating them in his best form. Down the ramp, kick the board up onto the stair rail, grind down the rail, kick off the bottom into an aerial 360 while delivering the approaching opponents down both side aisles and the pursuers behind him with deadly sprays of incendiaries and explosives. A wooden barricade blocked the path ahead. An explosive grenade shattered it to bits while he hopped the skateboard over the remains. The fixed camera positions and the chase copter drank it all in. It looked like fun. It was fun. But less than a year earlier it had been anything but fun.

The final word came from a call from his agent while finishing up practicing at a local park. As much as he had expected it the call still left him depressed, He had only worked at building it for a few years, but considering that he started in his early teens it really did seem like the object of most of his life had just been crushed. His friend Al, who had been through most major events in his life happened to be nearby. Al sat down on the bench beside him and said “Dude?”

“The league folded, they’ve ceased operations. They expect to file Chapter 9 tomorrow”

“Duuude” Al replied in a sort of groaning wail. But it was in fact expected. ESPN3 had just the previous week elected to not renew the contract to Professional Paintball League tournaments, deciding instead to take ‘HeroArena Today” to a full hour nightly. It was the last coverage, broadcast or cable, national or local, that the league had. Tournament cancellation notices cascaded after that. Paintball was not a sport that worked with live spectators so the only reason for a city or paintball park to underwrite the cost of hosting a tournament was the media publicity. And that was gone. The same **** sequence of events had happened to Worldwide Wrestling the year before, and the irony was that many of the displaced fakers from that league wound up in the lowermost division of the HeroArena where the acting and the posturing was just as bad but the punches had to, at least occasionally, actually land. F***, at least paintball was real! Or at least real paint. His agent Nancy had explained that his sponsors would likely invoke the ‘material change of condition’ clause of their contracts to pull out. He might possibly keep Tippman at the minimum payment level, but there was a real question whether Tippman would even stay in the business.

“F***!” he railed. “F*** f*** f*** it is back to community college and most likely to have to take a f***ing fast food job to pay for that without having to move back in with the folks. F***, f***, f***!”

Al took him by the shoulder, shook him and shouted “DUDE!” like a command to snap out of it, show some backbone, take control of your fate. It also was a reminder of a half-serious conversation that they had over some beers the previous week.

“Yeah, right, sure I can hit any part of their body at thirty yards even while moving but at the end of it all, it is just paint. All I will be doing is being sure that they are messy when they beat the crap out of me.”

Al took a small handwritten card out of his pocket. He pointed to it and said, matter-of-factly, “dude….” It contained a phone number and a single letter.


He recognized the letter. If this was for real he had no idea what kind of strings Al had to have pulled to get that phone number. There were lots of folks who provided specialized gear in Paragon City. But M was more than that. It was rumored that he had worked for one of the top spy agencies in the world (depending on the rumors it was either the CIA or Mossad or both) and that he still bought from and sold to his old employers. He not only had the very best stuff but also an uncanny knack for knowing, more than the customer did, exactly what was needed.

You never would have guessed it from looking at the elderly Hebrew gentleman whom he met with a week later in the curio-filled town home bordering an industrial area of the city.

“So how do you make an arena hero out of nothing?”

“ I don’t, we are going to make the arena hero you already are.”

“Yeah, right, I think that I already heard this from the volleyball coach.”

“I have seen your marksmanship and the skill which you move and use cover.”

“And then I can make yucky paint splotches on their spandex. Big deal”

“Who said anything about paint? Have you ever had any experience with pepper spray?”

“Well there was this one girl I got a little bit carried away with at a party…”

“If she used ‘police grade’ spray it had ten percent active ingredients. Twenty percent purity is sold only as bear repellant.” M rolled a small yellow ball onto the table. “Guess what is in there.”

It was pretty clear that it was not just paint. “Thirty?”

“Ninety plus.”

He let out a low whistle and said “duuuuude” to make up for the fact that Al was not there.

“But part of what makes for success in the arena is having a variety of attack modes to suit the opponent and the situation.” He rolled a sickly green ball onto the table. It had a glossy surface.

“Why the glass ball?”

“Because plastic could not hold the strength of acid that it contains. It also lacerates upon impact.” The next ball was reddish and seemed to have a smaller plastic ball inside the larger one. “This one essentially contains napalm with a small bladder of a chemical that ignites when exposed to air. So this will make an effective incendiary attack. The final one…” He said as he brought out a blue ball “Contains military grade C4 explosive plus the same small bladder of igniter chemical to set it off on impact.”

“Wow, that is some badass s***!”

“Watch your tongue, young man, but yes, that should get you through a broad variety of antipersonnel situations. For structural and group situations we make grenade-size versions of each of these. So next we need to think of defense. Did you bring your current costume as I asked?”

He had. It was a combination of competition motocross leathers and standard paintball protective gear. M methodically analyzed it, showing that by replacing plastic with carbon composites and fabric linings with Kevlar and a few hidden inserts the suit can be transformed into a pretty effective set of lightweight body armor.

The gear would be ready in a week. Checking the schedule he noticed that there would be an afternoon ten-on-ten lightweight division ‘rumble’ match taped for coverage by ESPN3. The date for his going out with a bang was set.

On that afternoon the contestants were lined up for the cameras at the old refinery, snarling and sneering for the benefit of the cameras while the announcers gushed about what a great match it was going to be. Suddenly there was a tiny thump on the forehead of what used to be one of the foremost stars of Worldwide Wrestlemania. Immediately the seven foot, three hundred pound ‘Gibraltar’ was a crying, wailing, fetal position lump on the ground. Dozens of other thumps followed immediately, each placed with the pinpoint marksmanship that had lead him to the top of a paintball league that no longer existed. Under the astonished eyes of the announcers and commentators a ten-on-ten match had just become a twenty-on-one blowout.

Only two of the opponents were adequately protected against the pepper-balls. A quick flip of a thumb lever on a clever multi-chambered hopper switched ammunition types. For the first of the remaining heroes he hit the armor with two high potency acid hits plus an incendiary at the now-bare spot. For the second a rapid spray of explosive balls right on the faceplate sent him tumbling.

The dumbfounded on field interviewer did not know what to say so she just pointed the microphone at the newcomer. The cameraman knew that when strange things happen above all else keep the tape rolling.

“These (bleep)ers are nothing but (bleep)ing (bleep)! (bleep)ing (bleep)ing (bleep)!” A small concave mirror that M built into his visor showed one of the heroes had recovered enough to be sneaking up behind him holding a pipe. Without turning he nailed him in the crotch with an acid bomb and then tagged his butt with an incendiary as he fled, treating the camera to a background shot of someone literally running with their pants on fire.

“See! Just a bunch of flaming (bleep)holes they all are!. Splat! They fall down crying. Splat! They run off screaming. Splat! They are shown to be the wussies that they are!” Then, shaking his gun at the camera, he shouted “AND THIS IS THE SPLAT!”

Then he stormed off to his motorbike and then departed by zooming through the set past the cameras, laying down sprays of explosives and incendiaries for effect.



In the control trailer the field unit director had already hit the speed dial to the 24-hour news sister channel. “Twenty heroes were defeated single-handedly by an unknown newcomer. I will have raw tape to you in less than five.”

Later he related his grand finale to Al over a couple of beers , punctuated with multiple ‘dudes’ of approval from his friend.

The cell phone rang. He could tell from the Caller ID that it was his agent Nancy. They had not spoken since that initial bad news. She had always made it clear how essential it was that he clear and coordinate all professional appearances through her. “Here comes a major butt-chewing.” He activated the speakerphone feature so Al could hear it too.

“Splat my man! That was just so completely fantastic!”

His name was Splat now? How did that happen? “Dude?” Al asked.

“A genius you are! The sponsors are uncertain if their old contracts include the Splat persona so they are all willing to renegotiate to be sure they do.”

“They aren’t dropping me.”

“Are you kidding? They are killing each other to be the lead licensee in the Splat line of merchandise. We are not just talking paintball gear but shoes, apparel, accessories, video games, music videos…”

“But I can’t sing…”

“Since when did that stop anybody from doing a music video? The footage on CNN is test marketing through the roof with Males 12-21! I am going to need a calculator with more zeroes before this is done!”

They stared at each other slack-jawed. Al managed only a dumbfounded, is-this-for-real “dude?”

Nancy continued exuberantly “Oh, one thing they want to know is, are you going to be fighting crime?”

“Is that required?”

“No, it is just that the sponsors want to have added risk insurance if you do.”

“Never have before. If I were to fight crime the first thing I would have to do is bust Al here for possession!”

“Dude!” Al laughed. Then, in a you-wouldn’t-would-you tone “dude?”

The music increases in intensity. Ahead is his signature ‘Splat-edition’ Kawasaki 600 on-off road motorcycle. He flips the skateboard up onto the electromagnetic clamps on his backpack, leaps onto the bike, and blasts away in a cloud of gravel. But his expected route is blocked and he is forced into a box canyon in the refinery. Behind him, closing off his escape, is the Annihilator, someone whose resistances has always given him trouble. Even worse, he is completely out of ammo. No more balls of any color. No grenades either. The only thing in his belt is a can of Mountain Dew. He pops open the can, pours half of it down his throat, and puts the half-empty can in the grenade launcher tube. He fires the can at the enemy, where it smashes against his head with an amusing ‘tink’ and a spray of yellow-green fluid, sending him crashing to the ground.

Splat, formerly known as Zachary Whitman of the former Professional Paintball League, punches his fist into the air in triumph.

‘Cut’ the director says. “That one may be perfect, break while I review the tape.”

Al emerges from the crew and tosses him a towel with an approving “Dude!” It is still Al’s judgment that he most trusts.

The director announces “Could we try the 360 from the stairrail again? Maybe get a little more height on it?”

Al points to his watch and says “Dude?”

Splat understands what Al is meaning. He always does. “Are you sure that you can’t fix it in post? My timeframe is tight to catch the pre-briefing for ‘Artic Transcontinental’.

“Yeah, we can fix it there. That’s a wrap, tear it down and pack it up.” The crew is alternately pleased and disappointed. Many would have gone on golden time in another half hour.



I never tried to create Splat in the game. He is obviously a blaster....but which powerset? But even more than that his relationship with Al is a little complicated. The best way of explaining this is to put up a quote from the Artic Transcontinental thread, which occured after ten pages of posts where Al never said anything but "dude"

"Duuude" Al said slowly. They had quite a choice on their hands.

White Hat sighed and asked Norman. "How was the exchange going to happen?" He was not enjoying the idea of letting even one Rikti through the portal but being haunted by the knowledge of leaving Norman's innocent daughter in the hands of the Rikti was not pleasant either.

"As it happens at each other site One Rikti comes through with my daughter to show that she is still OK, Donald gives him the activation code for the site, the Rikti verifies where the site is and that the activation code works, and then leaves. The only difference is that this time my daughter stays. We have to make it fast though, they were expecting the portal to open three minutes ago."

That seemed hopelessly simple. But it was all they had and maybe it really would work out that way. "Ok, we'll observe from a distance and hidden." White Hat commented. To Splat he said "Be ready for anything."

"I don't fight."


"I mean I don't fight for real...It is in the contract with my sponsors. They didn't get the 'hazardous behaviour' riders on their insurance policies. My agent would have a fit if I...."

"I am sure if you explain all that to the Rikti they would be completely understanding."

Splat just gulped. The prospect of facing a Rikti was sobering indeed.

Mere minutes later Donald re-entered the codes to activate the VirtuaScape transmitters. The lines of force reappeared.

It began almost like the happy ending that even Disney would have had trouble putting on Escape from Paragon. Father and Daughter rushed into each other's arms. The only thing missing was the violins.

The Rikti then said "Run far. Run fast."

Then rather than entering the portal himself he tossed in something that apparently acted as the signal for Rikti to come charging out of the portal in a steady stream. The flaw in Norman's plan was now clear. The Rikti understood that once Norman was reunited with his daughter he would have no reason not to tear down the portals. So they were launching their attack immediately. And no doubt not just at this location only. The Second Rikti Invastion had just begun all across the artic on a transcontinental scale.

White Hat commanded "Detective! Leave and get the alarm out! I will try to get the workers out safely and deny them use of the power plant! Splat! You've got to take out that portal to buy us time before there are thousands of them!"

Splat sat frozen in terror. Rush the portal?

"Dude" Al said in a tone that was both command and encouragement.

Somehow in that one word he found the ability to act. From behind the transformer he leapt while raining a stream of toxic paintballs. But balls that would have dropped a normal person, or even incapacitated many superheroes, only seemed to momentarily stun the Ritki. But that and surprize allowed him to get within air mortar range. A well placed explosive round blasted one of the transmitters, wrecking the perfect symmetry of the pentagram.

But the time to take that one shot was enough to let a Rikti charge within reach. The bladed arm slashed across Splat's body and sent him hurling backward.

"Dude!" Al screamed and rushed to his friend's side. The kelvar in Splat's body armor had prevented him from being slashed to ribbons like the Blue Comet had been, but the impact deamge was huge. Blood was seeping from seams in the armor and his left leg was bent in an unnatural way from an even more unnatural location. He was barely conscious. "Get the F*** out of here!" He ordered Al. A half dozen Rikti were slowly approaching.

But Al could not leave his friend. Ever. That was all he knew, except that he hated these Rikti. He had never hated much of anything but now he hated them more than he ever thought that it was possible to hate.

He screamed at them "DUDE!"

The Rikti collapsed to the ground and writhed in pain at the powerfull mental lashing that seared their brains.

Other Rikti came in response to their cries. "DUDE!" Al commanded and a huge transformer lifted from its mountings and hurled itself upon them, crushing them. A third group tenatively approached and with another command of "DUDE!" the severed kilovolt wire sprang and struck at them like a deadly snake until they fled.

"Dude?" Splat whispered in amazement at all this.

"Dude" Al said in reply. In his head Splat heard "Yes it would seem indeed that all these years that we have known each other I have only had to use one word because of latent psychic powers. I know not the scope or strength of them but we may yet be able to survive this."

"Dude." Splat said in awe of his suddenly dwarfed capabilities.

"Dude" Al again replied. Splat heard "Until I understand these powers and how the world might react to them it may be best if we continued in our existing roles, with you the celebrity any myself the assistant.

"Dude" Splat nodded his head in amazement. Al could do a lot with just one word. Of course, he always had.


So you see, just when Splat genuinely comes to grips with himself as a hero and not just a media celebrity we also learn that Splat is really the sidekick. I think that Splat and Al would actually make a fun comic, which is its own irony because they were heavily influenced, though not copied, from Jay and Silent Bob, who themselves in the movie are used as the inspiration for a comic called Bluntman and Chronic.




Pretty good story.