· Sun Strike
Illustrated by Gary Wong
"I am he, I am the comer forth from Seb. Hath been given to him the inundation" said Professor Devéria, standing at the head of a table in the old lecture room. Crowded around the table were a group of people swaying and chanting in soft tones, maybe eight or ten in all. Dylan thought he recognised some of them from class. "He hath obtained power in it as Hapi. I, I open the two doors of heaven; are opened to me the two doors of the floods by Thoth and by Hapi who are the two sons of heaven, mighty of splendours". Dylan was creeping closer, keeping in the shadows cast from the flicking candles in the center of the ceremony. "Grant ye that I may gain power over the water, even as conquered..." And the candles went out, and the darkness was total.
Something was moving in the darkness, something growled, and as Dylan heard the group shout in fear and fly apart with the clatter of chairs he also heard a dull thud of a body slammed onto the table. One cry was not of fear but of pain, almost drowned out in the commotion, as was the slow sound of ripping. Bodies crashed into each other, crashed into Dylan, but the door was not to be found.
A strange light suffused the room, like the coming of dawn before you can see the location of the sun rise. The others must have found the door after all, because as the light brightened Dylan was alone, just himself and the creature bent over the body, its grey snout now red with blood. The creature rose and looked around. "Will there be two?" it said in a harsh and arrogant tongue. "Who would challenge me?"
If there is a moral here, it may well be something about not accepting the challenge of a bestial deity. Dylan stood up, somewhat unsteadily, because there didn't seem to be anything else to do.
A quarter of an hour later Dylan climbed back up the stairwell, somewhat slower than the eight that had witnessed the fight. He had beaten the creature off -- somehow. He didn't know if he could do it again. He did know where a working public phone was and, after sitting by it for another quarter of an hour, he rang up directory information, got them to put him through to ASHES, and asked for help.
Dylan Tsolakkis grew up in Wollongong, a city an hour south of Sydney that stretches between the coast and a lengthy series of cliffs. He was renting an apartment in the inner city to be close to Uni and, as far as his family are aware, nothing has changed. His identity as Sun Strike is a closely kept secret, to the extent that, as far as he knows, only Sheona and Rex Collins know his real surname. He goes to visit his family when he can, and seems to be keeping the charade under control, but his excuses for occasional absences are starting to stretch. And that doesn't include his brother Leigh (seven minutes older), who also lives in Newtown and knows something weird is happening.
Just exactly what that weirdness is, not even Dylan knows for sure. Devéria is still out there, and the creature remains within him, tales of its violence becoming more and more common. As for the force within Dylan, it doesn't answer questions, but he now feels he made the right decision, is on the right side in this fight -- whenever the final battle might be.
As for Sun Strike, Phalanx's newest superhero, it seems a slightly different prospect. He is most definitely, and most self-consciously, the youngster of the team. Whilst he has been training hard since joining, he still knows he is nowhere near ready to enter serious physical combat. He gets on with the others well enough -- and Sheona in particular. In quiet periods they have gone out, to the movies, surfing, nothing too serious... yet. But he gets frustrated with the whole superhero thing at times, perhaps underestimating his own contribution.
Quote: "How about this one, guys: 'Bow before me, insignificant one'?"
Personality: Easy going, happy to go out for a drink on any night you'd care to name, he dreams of glory and (somewhat ambivalently) fame. He is even, mostly, prepared to do the work required. He enjoys the presence of the Avatar within him, and the effects he can achieve with it. He certainly feels far more confident in its presence, and though he understands a battle must be fought against Devéria, he does sometimes wonder if it has its own agenda beyond that goal.
Powers/Tactics: The Avatar is not an illusion -- that much is clear. Calling it is more akin to forcing people to meet it half way, raising their consciousness so that they can see it -- perhaps raising it enough so that they lose sight of everybody else. Within the group, he is used for surgical strikes whenever possible. His powers and reputation being what they are (they could be called uniquely distracting), he often finds himself a target, so care is taken and he generally falls back on the Avatar's defences after the initial blows. He can use his curative power as well, of course, though the calling of the Avatar makes it rather dangerous to use on others whilst a battle is raging.
Appearance: Dylan stands at 5'10" with dark hair and a serious expression on his face, seemingly by default. His costume, which he wears constantly whilst 'on duty', is the standard Australian green and gold -- mostly dark green, with a brilliant sun on the chest, lined with silver. His head is bare, but he wears a mask to conceal his identity. When he has called the Avatar, his right eye glows gold, his left silver -- to people who cannot see it.
To people who can see the Avatar, it is a lot more impressive. The green fades into a pre-dawn grey, the sun becomes almost intolerably bright, and his head becomes that of a falcon with blazing eyes, the whole effect wreathed in golden flame. The sun strike appears as an extension of that flame, but he can also heal with a silver radiance.
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