Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Microstory 1648: Regal Sea Goddess

Image credit: Greg McFall (NOAA's National Ocean Service)
The penultimate universe I’ll discuss for this series doesn’t have a name, because there isn’t a strong enough defining characteristic. Yes, all relevant stories are about a group of superheroes, who fight against a group of supervillains, but there are many branes like that. The first of the heroes came about in the early 1980s. Her work was relatively shortlived, and her only responsibility was to go against regular criminals. Her decision to become the first would fuel the heroes of tomorrow, and also the villains, who were at first, pretending to be heroes. She basically became an excuse for people to dress up in costumes, conceal their identities, and operate outside of the law. People didn’t know what to think when Sea Goddess showed up on the scene in her colorful frilly outfit, and started fighting crime. They didn’t have the concept of a superhero. Comic books were predominantly about angsty teens, and exceptional athletes. They had heard of vigilantes, though, and they knew that what she was doing was against the law. Still, she seemed to be trying to do some good, so law enforcement just kind of stayed out of her way. They didn’t help her, but they didn’t actively try to apprehend her. It became an unwritten rule that if a cop happened across her that they look the other way, and act like it didn’t happen. Sea Goddess’ real name was Shanti Gideon, and she didn’t have some sad story about why she wanted to clean up the streets. She won a somewhat modest amount of money in the lottery, which allowed her to quit her boring job, and now she didn’t have anything better to do. Superheroing passed the time, and gave her purpose, and most people seemed to appreciate it. Obviously, not everyone.

Sea Goddess named herself for a species of underwater creatures called nudibranchs. She took on characteristics of the animal, primarily by wielding harsh chemicals. One of the chemicals put her victims to sleep, while another just tasted bad, and overwhelmed them to the point where they couldn’t fight anymore. She did have one lethal poison that she only used once as a last resort, and it was her final mission before she disappeared. No one knew what happened to her after that. Some believed that she was murdered in retaliation for the mobster that she killed when she was backed into a corner. Others thought that she was always part of some rival gang, and was reassigned to somewhere else. Most people rightly assumed that she retired, having regretted taking a life, and not being able to make up for it. Instead, she dedicated herself to helping others in more traditional ways, by donating to charity, and volunteering. Her identity was never at risk, and she told no one the truth about who she had been. The police reluctantly pursued the mobster’s killer, but came up with no leads, and eventually just let it turn into a cold case. Even if they thought she deserved to be locked up, no one wanted to be the cop who actually did it. Her legacy lived on after this, but it would be decades before anyone truly followed in her footsteps. A support group for people who had been traumatized, and were now lost in the world, was designed with levels. You level up, you learn more about the organization. The middle levels revealed it to be a source of recruitment for superheroes, but the higher levels revealed that it was actually a front for criminals. Upon realizing this, real superheroes had to rise up, and do everything they could to stop them. Once they did, however it wasn’t like their job was over. New threats came along, and perhaps Sea Goddess would have to come out of hiding.

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