Names from Seventh Sanctum, except Richard, which @Dahob picked.
“So, yeah, err, yes. I was in the laboratory, working on a way to collect the etheric resonances, when my generator blew up, exploded, sending the volatile chemicals into a mess, into a steamy miasma that seeped into my blood. When I awoke, after a good deal of time in a hospital, not only had the steam mixture changed me, but it had embedded parts of my machines, of my laboratory, into my skin.” Richard scratched at the line of gears running up his arms, all part of his costume, turning in a pattern that looked as if it did something, looked as it it ran the braces attached to his shoulders.
“Oh, come on, Modificationnaut,” Cryphage rolled her eyes. “Last week you said you were bitten by a radioactive automaton.”
“Well, I was. But that was later, while I was healing from the visit in the hospital.” It was hard to keep it all straight. It was hard to balance the persona and the lies. Fighting crime was easier than having a superhero persona people would believe.
“I bet you’re really…” Ultrablasphemer took a long toke, giggling around the smoke. Richard, now the Modificationnaut, held his breath. What if the crazy little shit had guessed it? “Really an Alien. Like Fusefauna and her dad.”
Richard laughed. “Man, do I look like an alien?”
“You look like a body-mod junkie.” Cryphage poked – carefully – at Richard’s gears. “Like a body-mod junkie with a spark. Are you an android?”
“Cryphage!” He laughed, because they weren’t close, but it was tense, because god-below help him if they figured it out. “Man, you’ve seen me. Do I look like an android?”
“You do have a set of gears…”
“They are pretty,” she allowed. “So what’s with the every-shifting origins story? We’re your team, Mod, we’re your friends. You don’t have to lie to us. I mean, come on, you know my thing.”
“Yeah…” Richard thought fast. Cryphage had been the result of some experimental brain surgery. Ultrablasphemer had tripped so hard he’d turned his body inside-out; when he’d gotten straightened out, he’s been able to see people’s deepest fears – and their most cherished beliefs.
“The lab part is true,” he lied, as unwillingly as he could make it sound. “I was studying the ether – you know, Ultra sees it. The dream-world, the mind-scape. And I had almost gotten there, almost gotten there…”
And his mutant power had finally awoken, and blown up the entire lap in a fit of technokinetics. But they’d kick him out, the police would stop working with him, they’d force him into a camp if they knew. Supers were one thing, mutants an entirely different fish. So he shrugged, and, feeling stupid, muttered, “so I plugged my brain into the ethersphere. And when I came to…”
He’d become a superhero. Better than being a number. He grinned at his friends, not minding if they thought he was stupid. At least they didn’t think he was a mutant.
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