Sojourner (Triumph) - origin story (lengthy)




As a young research scientist, Sarita Lopez earned both recognition and admiration for her tireless efforts to improve the lot of sick children. Working primarily with those stricken by various forms of cancer, Sarita demonstrated a breadth of knowledge and a capacity for healing that was matched only by her dedication and genuine love for her patients. By the time Sarita was only 20, she had also managed, quite without her conscious desire or effort, to grace the covers of several nationally known magazines, the focus of which seemed to be the “beautiful people.” Named “most eligible bachelorette” several years in a row, it was no surprise at all that she had a significant and very devoted male following. She, however, took little notice of any of these would-be callers, electing to spend all her time, spare and otherwise, immersed in her work.

What most people did not know about Sarita was that a healthy portion of her curative abilities was the direct result of her being born a mutant. Sarita herself thought little of it; it was merely another aspect of her life. She neither donned a cape to crusade against crime, nor did she zealously fight against the instinct that came naturally to her, to protect the innocent. She was, in the truest sense, a woman both defined by, and at peace with, her gifts.

One day in late 1976, a unique case presented itself to her. A child was brought in who had been horribly burned during a firefight of some sort with villains. That in itself was, sadly, a regular occurrence. What made this case so odd was that one of the villains brought the child to her.

He was known only as the Bitter Monk, a name which regularly occurred in the local press, connected with any number of savage and seemingly pointless crimes. When her assistant told her who was with the child, Sarita was rightfully wary about his presence and his motives, but the child needed help and she would never turn away from her obligations, regardless of any possible risk to herself.

Bitter Monk was taller than she might have expected, and dressed entirely in black, except for a small band across his face that exposed his eyes. He met her eyes and for a moment, Sarita had the oddest sensation of falling, as though the universe itself had simply ceased being and she was floating in the ether. There was nothing outwardly remarkable about his eyes. They were as dark as she supposed were the secrets hidden behind them. Nor was he a terribly handsome man, from what little she could see. Yet something about him drew her, almost without her consent. For the first time in her young life, Sarita found herself at a loss for words, and marveled and how her hands trembled as she examined the child.

Her instincts took over at that point, and all she concerned herself with was healing the child. It was fortunate that he had been brought it quickly, and she was satisfied that he would make a full recovery. She was not at all prepared for the reaction Bitter Monk had to this news: he broke down. Unsure if she should be comforting him or calling security, she hesitantly placed her hand on his forearm, and searched for words that might be of help, yet none came. For a long while, they seemed frozen in that position, neither speaking, he softly weeping.

A friendship developed out of that one awkward moment. In time, Sarita came to understand the man that was behind the dark mask, a man tormented by his own deeds, yet incapable of preventing his mutant powers from hurting others. At least, incapable on his own. With her assistance, he gradually regained control of his abilities and began the long process of rebuilding the life he had once lived as a “normal.” Turning his abilities to benefit mankind, he found something akin to redemption, though he would carry the scars of his misdeeds to his own demise.

In time, this unlikely friendship developed into a deep and lasting love, and consummated in their marriage in the late autumn of 1978. Many a heart was broken that Sarita had made her choice, but as far as she was concerned, there had never been a choice. As for Bitter Monk, now known only as Marcus Saranno, he knew the simple truth: that she had saved his life and he would eagerly spend the rest of it keeping her happy.

A single child was born in 1980 of this union, a daughter named Angelica, named so because her parents believed the angels themselves must have smiled upon them to give them such a blessing.

Angelica was graced with her mother’s great beauty and easily matched, if not surpassed, her healing abilities. From her father, she gained the darker powers, powers she dared not let him know she possessed, for fear of breaking his heart, and powers she certainly never thought to use.

Angelica lived an idyllic life as a child. Her parents were neither rich nor poor, but provided for everything she needed, most importantly a firm moral foundation on which to build her life. They did overuse their own mutant abilities, neither did they hide them in shame, and Angelica never knew what it meant to be ashamed of her mutant powers. For her, they were every bit as natural as breathing, and her parents encouraged her to use them when necessary to protect those in need.

She was a studious child, and excelled with her schoolwork yet was equally competent in her athletic pursuits. Friends came easily to her, and her extended family was very close and supportive of anything she tried. Few “normals” could claim such an incredibly functional, loving childhood. Angelica never once took for granted all that she had been blessed with. Though she had not personally known grief or suffered from any abuse or crime, she well knew from those she healed that she was very, very lucky.

At 16, she met Paulo, a mutant a few years older than she. They found themselves working frequently together against the evil elements of Skyway. Other superheroes, as that is what they were being called now, joined them. Paulo, aka Radiant, decided they should organize into a band of like-minded mutants and formed Delphion 5.

For several years, Angelica happily committed herself to fighting against evil at Radiant’s side, and they fell madly, unabashedly in love. As with any young love, they were blind to all else but one another. Day after day was full, with both fighting the enemy of the day, and with long hours of talking and lovemaking. They planned in detail the wedding they would have in the spring of 2001. Angelica’s parents were thrilled with Radiant, and supported both their daughter’s vocation and her choice of mate. For a time, life was as good as it could possibly be.

Inevitably, it had to come to an end. There came a day, the darkest day Angelica had ever known, near the end of 2000. It was bitter cold that winter, and the sky seemed to let no sunlight through at all. In retrospect, Angelica thought she should have known no good could come from such a day, but that morning broke as any other, lying beside Radiant and warmed by the light only his love could bring into her life. She had been slow to get up, wanting only to bask in that light a few moments longer, but .. there was work to be done. She had donned her supergroup costume and prepared herself mentally to become Sojourner, the name she had chosen to use for her superheroine identity.

They, along with several other members of their group, had done a routine patrol, finding nothing extraordinary in the villains they met and mete justice to, nor in the complete confidence they all shared in one another’s competence. Perhaps overconfidence.

Coming around a corner, four of them were ambushed by a gang of Hellions. The numbers were against them from the beginning, but no member of Delphion 5 had ever run from battle, or was about to start now. Looking back, she could so easily see how foolish that had been. She was an exceptional healer, she knew that, without any sense of false or overblown pride, but even she could not have saved them all. Tonic, one of their mutant team members, had fallen first, felled by a death’s head gunner in one hit. Sojourner, recovering from a stunning blow by another Hellion, had rushed to Tonic’s side to help her, and using all the power she could find within herself, had revived her fallen sister.

When she rose, weak and unsteady, the surviving Hellions were barely being contained by Radiant and Bastille. Bastille was bleeding badly and Sojourner focused her remaining strength on bolstering him. For one so mammoth in size as Bastille, it took everything she had. Then.. in one blow.. Radiant was down.

Reeling from pain herself, Sojourner made her way to his side and desperately tried to find some remaining power within herself with which to revive him, but there was nothing left. The battle around them might have existed wholly separate from them, so focused was she upon trying to wring some shred of strength from herself that she could spare him. But she was helpless to do anything but hold him tightly as he drew his last breath.

Much later, she learned that Bastille had run, that the Hellions had given chase after him, and that that alone had probably spared her. He and Tonic made it back to their headquarters safely, wounded badly but alive. For all their camaraderie, for all they had experienced together, Sojourner could not find it in herself to care about these two who had survived when her whole world had been taken with Radiant’s loss.

In the days and weeks that followed, Sojourner knew pain for the first time in her life, and the depth of that pain changed her irrevocably. For a time, she was just listless, not really sure what had happened, not certain where she belonged anymore. Then the rage had come, and with it, a horribly violent reduction in the crime level in Paragon. She easily earned her stripes as a superhero that winter, but given a choice, she would have gladly traded them to go back in time and change what brought her here.

Here was Dark Astoria, where she spent the bulk of her time. She would not wish the evil she felt she had become upon her friends or family, and despite their best efforts, she isolated herself entirely from everyone. Dark Astoria offered her a place to find solitude and to vent her rage. If she needed to scream, to rant, to shatter things, she could do so without anyone the wiser. The constant fog embraced her, protected her from the eyes she felt sure were watching her, sympathizing when she wanted no sympathy; she only wanted him back.

As the weeks turned into months, and the winter finally came to an end, she reached the end of her rage, and the beginning of a grief so profound it overwhelmed her. Where before she had fought back against any evil element that came within a block of her, she now could not find an ounce of energy to care. She spent long hours just walking around Dark Astoria, occasionally watching other superheroes with a kind of detached fascination. Once, she had seen Bastille and Tonic in the distance, each sporting new uniforms, and she had known then that Delphion 5 was no longer. Just as well, she had thought, it had no heart without Radiant. She found herself frequently conversing with the monuments, feeling a certain comfort in their stony silence and their lack of sympathetic gazes. On some level, she knew she was going mad, but she almost welcomed that surrender.

In mid-summer of 2001, she realized, with some surprise, that she missed her parents. Without a conscious decision to return to the land of the living, she left Dark Astoria and returned home, where she was welcomed gladly. Gradually, ever so gradually, she began to heal within herself, each day finding one small shred of life that she could hold onto and accept as worthy of keeping.

She started to fight against the deep certainty that she had failed, that Radiant had died because of her. That was no small task. Like her father before her, she felt a compelling need to help as many people as she could to somehow atone for her guilt. Her name became known, as she garnered a reputation as a great healer, but deep within her, she doubted her own ability and knew the road to any kind of self-forgiveness would be lengthy, if not permanent.

Despite this change, what some might have perceived as a growing acceptance of her loss, Sojourner kept mostly to herself. So much was internalized now, so little shared with even those she trusted completely. To give even a small part of herself risked loss again, something she very actively avoided. The majority of her crimefighting was spent alone for the next two years.

After a while, it became apparent that this was not the most effective means of ridding the city of evil. Perhaps there were other like-minded individuals who truly would rather fight alone, but occasionally needed some help. So Sojourner founded The Wanderlust, and a few superheroes joined. In that tiny group were three who would come to mean a great deal to her: Ash Lord, Blue-Streek and Dogma. Dogma couldn’t help but remind her of Bastille, only Bastille had never had such a great sense of humor when he was whomping thugs either.

Later, when it was obvious that The Wanderlust was not living up to its original mission, Sojourner left, soloing again for a while until she met Antipathy. Anti was a metal Amazon, ferocious in battle and someone Sojourner seriously didn’t want to piss off, but she was a steadfast ally and for a time, the two women fought together.

Then Anti went and fell in love, and that was the end of that. Sojourner was fighting alone again, but more and more often, she found herself fighting alongside Anti’s new comrades, the KILLSEEKERS. She couldn’t help but notice how well the team worked together, and with such a great sense of cooperation and mutual respect, something even Delphion 5 had had trouble with. She also noticed how each member, individually, seemed to be very similar to herself.. for one reason or another, loners. Maybe this team was what The Wanderlust was meant to be. With very little prodding on Anti’s part, Taro extended an invitation to Sojourner, and she joined.

Over the next six months, Sojourner found again the sense of belonging she’d sorely missed since Radiant had died. Here in KILLSEEKERS, more than anywhere else in her life, she felt she was home. Ash Lord, Blue-Streek and Dogma soon followed her to the new team and for a time the supergroup experienced a tremendous rate of growth, with new members joining almost daily. Some of these Sojourner fought with regularly, while others she never quite connected to, but all became family to her.

Of course, Ash Lord would always be very special to her. She had been working with him for so long, he seemed like the older brother she’d never had and she would not bat an eye at killing anyone or anything that threatened him. Blue-Streek was the younger brother she’d wished she’d had, more than a little wild, always getting into some kind of trouble or another, and always quick with a smile and a kind word for her. And Dogma! What could one say about him? He was the staunch and steady friend one could always count on, for anything. At heart, she knew he was very much like her, a loner with a reason for being alone, and they shared a respect for one another born of that understanding.

Then there were the other KILLSEEKERS, a very diverse group. There was Antipathy, of course, her friend that was so lost in love with Taro that there was no talking to her anymore. Taro was an oddball anyhow, a great healer and one of the team’s leaders, but Sojourner had to wonder.. what man wears a veil? That man had secrets, she didn’t care what anyone else thought. And speaking of oddballs, there was Automator, the man with the trademark battle cry, Pork chop sandwiches! He was forever teleporting her places she didn’t expect to be, just because .. he could. He never failed to make her laugh.

There were the newer members, some of whom she’d recruited herself, like Inflamation. When she’d first met him, he’d reminded her so much of Radiant, tears had sprung to her eyes unbidden. Having gotten to know him though, she found them greatly dissimilar and had grown very fond of Inflamation in his own right. There were Jehhuty and Sicarius, two friends and great heroes who she’d felt honored to fight alongside. There was Morningstar, whose brilliant red costume was forever inciting the evildoers to a frenzy of hatred. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d spent whole battles healing him alone, and not minding at all. He was always sweet to her, and she couldn’t help but care about him.

Then there were those she’d met outside of the group who had left their impressions on her, most notably Shadowfyre. When she’d first met him, he’d run away from her healing, forcing her to chase him to keep him alive, and risking the rest of the team’s lives in the process. She’d been understandably upset; it brought back some memories she really didn’t want to dwell on. And he was forever running right into battle before the team could properly apply their defenses and plan. He joined the KILLSEEKERS for a time, and during that time, Sojourner got to know him pretty well. She watched him mature and grow into an amazing superhero, and she was immensely proud of him for that growth. When he had announced he was leaving the group for a more exclusive group, she had felt a mixture of both elation for him for his progress forward, and deep sadness at seeing him go. But he would always remain her close friend and ally, despite any team affiliation.

There was Mole King, also a former KILLSEEKER, and a fearless warrior, the epitome of who she deeply hoped Bastille had become. And Kheris, her occasional ally on certain missions, one of the smartest heroes she’d ever met, and always ready to try anything. And of course, Rex Radium, her dear friend and co-healer on quite a few missions, quick with a kind word for anyone.

Joining the KILLSEEKERS brought Sojourner out of her shell, and forced her to live again. Even had she wanted to remain walking in the shadows, there was simply too much work to be done, and too many great examples of what a superhero should be, for her to remain long in the dark. When she fought alongside these people, she felt more alive than she had in years, and she formed lifelong attachments that she had sworn never to allow herself again. There were hundreds and hundreds of memories from her time with the group, and she would be forever grateful for having stumbled upon them almost by accident. Of course, she was beginning to believe, there are no coincidences in life, only destiny.

The greatest change had started only two months ago. She’d been invited to join a team with Sicarius and Jehhuty, before she’d recruited them to KILLSEEKERS. In fact, it was the mission she had first met them on. In that team had been a healer of incredible ability named Vraith. He hadn’t left much of an impression on Sojourner that night, largely because she just assumed someone at the peak of his abilities such as he was would have little or nothing to do with someone as young and inexperienced as she. But she was wrong. Soon after that first mission, she’d found herself in another team with him. And a few days after that, he had offered her some pointers. He was neither overbearing nor arrogant, and asked for nothing in return, and Sojourner wisely (if warily) accepted his training.

In the next few weeks, he frequently called on her, each time offering her more assistance. She wondered at his generosity, and questioned his motives, but could find nothing improper about his behavior. He was a perfect gentleman and never asked for a dime in return for the exceptional training he provided to her. She felt indebted to him, and was concerned that the eventual cost might be more than she could afford.. but it never came.

The more they spoke, and the more she trained under him, the more Sojourner was intrigued by this man. He was about twenty years older than her, not quite old enough that she could consider him a father figure. And she adored her father anyhow, why would she be looking for a father figure in her life? She was surrounded by brothers, her supergroup members who had come to mean so much to her, but Vraith didn’t fit right in that role either. She couldn’t categorize him, and perhaps that, more than anything else, kept her talking to him, always trying to figure out what his agenda was, or maybe what her own was. She was at once intimidated by his great skill and courage in battle, and drawn to him by his constancy and calm. He simply exuded peace, something so lacking in her life for so long, that she would hardly have recognized it for what it was had someone asked her.

In a short time, he had brought her skills almost on a par with his own, and she was surprised to find herself looking at him as more than her mentor and friend. Ever so slowly, and with the greatest thought possible, she permitted herself to care about him. For every tiny bit of herself she allowed, he returned it with gentleness and affection, until the day came when she knew she could trust him, that maybe it was all right if she allowed herself to .. love .. this one time. Of course she questioned herself internally.. Is this a betrayal of Radiant? And even more so, Do I deserve to love again after letting him die? The answers did not come easily, and she still had to sort it out, but there was time…

Vraith had asked her to join his small supergroup and Sojourner found her heart aching at the thought of leaving KILLSEEKERS, but the thought of this incredible man wanting HER to be with him just floored her. Now she had an idea what Shadowfyre had gone through when he made his choice. Only Shadow hadn’t been in love, had he? And yes, there was no questioning it anymore, she loved him wholly and without reservation. She left KILLSEEKERS then and joined the super-exclusive supergroup The Mr. Super Captain Fairweather Laser Ring Men TM.

Now she was still trying to find her place in the new group. Skooto was awesome, and she adored him, especially when he danced. And Fettman, DeathHawk and Doniomi were awesome heroes she would enjoy getting to work with. But Vraith.. here was the light in her life. In his eyes, in his arms, this is where she belonged.

NOTE: The superhero names Radiant, Tonic and Bastille are pulled entirely from my imagination. Any resemblence to actual characters by these names on the Triumph server is purely coincidental.



Awesome story, herochick! Five stars for, it's time to dance!