Hang on, Folks. This one’s gonna get rambly.
First, I went to the Texas Wildflower Festival yesterday and had a VIP pass from work. This got me free food and beer, which was nice but the highlight of the trip was probably Swan Song, a Led Zeppelin cover band. For those who went to college with me, the lead singer reminded me strangely of Donnie. But that’s not the point. The point is, the guitar player was good. Not Jimmy Page Great, but good. And that made me think about the difference between good and great. This guy was hitting all the notes in perfectly acceptable form but it felt like he really had to work at it. That’s not true with Jimmy Page. When you listen to a Led Zeppelin song, the guitar seems effortless. So effortless that you have to think about it to realize that what he’s doing actually is impressive. I can only imagine how crazy it would be trying to actually do it.
I think the same is true of writing and stories. A good story makes you feel and think and keeps you entertained. A great story makes you feel and think and keeps you entertained and is never work. You just move through it, sometimes without remembering that it is a story. I think that’s what every author strives for.
So, that was just a side thought that occurred to me and was too big for a tweet. Now on to our regularly scheduled programming.
One of my dream jobs has been to write a comic book. In recent years, I’ve focused that to wanting to revive the Exiles series. But in my version, it wouldn’t all be mutants it would be a mixed bag of heroes serving the Universal Majestrix, you know, the one from the Captain Britain series. They’d have the same Exiles/Quantum leap function, namely going through different alternate realities cleaning things up.
So, sometimes I think up Exiles and sometimes they obsess me. This is one that bumped around in my head until I fished her out.
Don’t ask me why, especially since, as I’ve already said, I hate snakes, but I’ve been fascinated by the semi-obscure Serpent Society character Bushmaster since the first time I saw him in the Captain America where he was part of the squad trying to off M.O.D.O.K. Then again, he kind of looks like a Naga and we’ve already established I like them.
Also don’t ask me why I decided to cross that concept with everyone’s favorite semi-Blaxploitation gone good Marvel Girl Misty Knight. Maybe it was the cybernetic limbs thing. Anyway, imagine my serendipitous surprise when I found out Misty Knight and Bushmaster actually had a shared history. It made writing the rest fairly easy.
Oh, and in my usual word play/pun way, I did consider renaming her “Bushmistress.” Also, the stats aren’t going to mean much to most folks since they’re from the old version of the Marvel Superheroes game. Still, you should be able to get a feel for her powers and abilities.
Bionic Limbs: Bushmaster is a triplegic who has a bionic arm attached to her left shoulder and a 14’ long snakelike tail instead of legs. These modifications give Bushmaster the statistics listed above. She can also move at Good speed (4 areas/round) on both land and in water and spring up to one area away (or 2 stories straight up.) If using her tail in wrestling combat, Bushmaster may exert Incredible constricting strength on her opponent.
Claw: Bushmaster’s bionic arm is equipped with an 8” metallic fang. This claw is made of Remarkable strength material, inflicts Remarkable damage on the Edged chart and is tipped with snake poison of Excellent intensity. Anyone injected with the poison must make an Endurance FEAT roll against Excellent intensity or be knocked unconscious and lose Endurance ranks if a second Endurance FEAT is failed.
Gills: Bushmaster is equipped with artificial gills that allow her to breathe freely both above and below water.
Viper Sting: Bushmaster employs a pistol that can fire a burst of Remarkable electrical Energy damage or a barrage of three blasts of Good Energy damage. Bushmaster receives a +2 CS for each blast when firing a burst of three.
Talents: Knight has Law Enforcement, Marksman and Guns talents. Her Reason is Incredible as a Detective. She also has considerable skill with Martial Arts A and E
Contacts: Sisters of the Serpent
Background: Misty Knight was the best marksman in her class at the New York police academy, and graduated at the top of her class. She became a patrolwoman for New York’s 12th Precinct. Her friendship with Colleen Wing began when she saved Wing from criminal gunfire in the course of duty.
Knight was well on her way to becoming a detective when she started dating John McIver, little knowing that he was the crime boss known as Bushmaster. McIver had chosen to pursue Knight at least partially because of her position in the police force. After several months, he lured her onto his yacht and revealed his true identity and offered her the chance to become his mole inside the police department.
Hurt and betrayed, Misty refused, her strong moral compass preventing her from helping the man she thought she loved commit crimes. Bushmaster did not take her denial well and threw her off the yacht and straight in the path of a passing boat. Knight’s left arm and both legs were mangled by the ships screws and it was only a miracle and the quick reflexes of John’s younger brother Quincy that saved her life. Always infatuated with her, he fled his brother’s yacht at the risk of his own life to fish her out of the river and take her to the emergency room.
Knight had to resign her position in the police department and both she and Quincy entered protected custody while waiting to testify. Even then they were not safe and it was only the fact that Bushmaster had double crossed a corrupt Roxxon executive that saved her life. Seeing her as the perfect tool of retribution and test subject for some of the corporation’s new cybernetic systems, he offered her the chance to replace her lost limbs and get her revenge.
Though still depressed, Knight agreed under the advice of Quincy and she was soon fitted with a new arm and the cybernetic snake tail that would replace her legs. It took her a bit to adjust but then she was unleashed against her former boyfriend’s organization and she rampaged through it, disrupting deals, breaking up rings and generally terrorizing Bushmaster’s underlings.
Finally, she worked her way to the top of the organization and came face to face with John McIver, himself. Furious as she was at his betrayal, she could not bring herself to kill the man and would have brought him in to face justice but before she could, Quincy appeared and shot his brother dead.
Despite this betrayal of her ideas, she realized that Quincy’s support and loyalty had instilled the seeds of love in her and the pair became romantically involved and Quincy, only involved in criminal activities because of the influence of his brother went straight and studied cybernetics, eventually gaining a job at Roxxon and later becoming lead researcher and technician on Misty’s bionic limbs. Working so closely together, their love for each other grew and they eventually married.
In the meantime, Knight took her foe’s name as her own, taking the codename Bushmaster. Bushmaster was teamed up with two other operatives who had been enhanced with snake themed cybernetics and formed the Serpent Squad. This group served as super powered defenders, enforcers and troubleshooters for the Corporation. One of their earliest missions, and one that would prove their most fateful was retrieving the Serpent Crown from an ancient Lemuran ruin.
Eventually, all three became disillusioned with their employment, Bushmaster because of the questionable tasks they were often given, Anaconda and Death Adder because they felt under paid and underappreciated. Thus, they were all too amenable when they were approached by the criminal mastermind Sidewinder. He was gathering a number of snake themed super powered beings together and formed the Serpent Society.
Bushmaster quickly formed a friendship with Rachel Leighton, aka Diamondback, perhaps seeing a kindred soul in another woman who seemed more than a little reluctant to perform some of the more morally questionable assignments they were given.
Eventually, Misty was reunited with another old friend as the Viper staged a coup that stole the leadership of the Society from Sidewinder using a handful of spies that she used to infiltrate the group. One of these plants was Colleen Wing, who had since taken the costumed persona of Copperhead. If Misty needed more incentive to join Viper’s side than having her friend on it, the new leader promised to guide the Serpent Society in a new direction, becoming a covert force for good.
Unfortunately, this was a lie and Viper simply used the Serpent Society as her own personal terrorist strike force and assassination squad, always convincing the more reluctant among them that it was for the better good and simply paying the rest enough that they did not ask questions.
It is likely that many of the Society would have rebelled at some point even if Paul Destine had not arrived. Possessing the Serpent Crown, he saw the Serpent Society as the natural Royal Guard of his growing cult and operatives of his world conquering plots. And all too many of the members of the Society joined voluntarily, caring little whether they were advancing Viper’s political ideals of Destiny’s religious ones. Worse, many of those who were not interested in serving him had their wills dominated by the awe-inspiring mental powers of the man and the Crown.
Only a handful of the Society, namely Asp, Black Mamba, Bushmaster, Copperhead and Diamondback managed to escape. While there was some discussion of simply going to ground, the quintet instead decided to form the Sisters of the Serpent and to fight the machinations of their former comrades where they could.
Eventually, they managed to stop Destiny and his henchmen with the assistance of the dimension spanning Exiles and became operatives of the Omniversal Majestrix and even joining the Exiles for various periods.