ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the August 5, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] aoifes_isle. It also fills the "anticipation" square in my 7-30-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored out of the general fund, based on an audience poll. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Off Fire"


The two security guards
looked at each other dubiously,
then the senior one reached out
to peel the orange tacky note
from the window.

------------------------------------------------
Your building is off fire.
I would have set it ON FIRE,
but there is currently a red flag
on fire danger for this area.
Your "religious freedom" does not
entitle you to discriminate
against your gay employees.
You have until the red flag drops
to stop ... or things will heat up.
-- Backdraft

------------------------------------------------

The junior security guard
stared at the unlit match
taped to the bottom of the note.
"Does it still count as arson
if he doesn't actually light the fire?"

* * *

Notes:

Backdraft (Gilbert Brenton) -- He has milk-pale skin, flame-blue eyes, and wild hair streaked in fire colors. His body is short and slim. Gilbert is homosexual and can be very flamboyant about it. He reacts badly to prejudice against queerfolk, even though it's not his primary motivation. There is a lot of unresolved sexual tension between him and Green Man. Given his sassy nature, Backdraft usually wins their flyting.
Despite his vendetta against the government, he only attacks buildings while they are mostly empty. He doesn't want to hurt people, and isn't completely confident of his fire control yet. So he waits until he has at most a few security guards to neutralize and move to a safer spot. Backdraft also takes a dim view of terrorists who target innocent bystanders, particularly ones like the IRA who started out bombing government offices and devolved to bombing schoolbuses. More recently, he has targeted banks and credit agencies, destroying their records with fire and hacking to wipe out debts and mortgages. Sometimes he goes after large businesses with pernicious practices. His theme music is Leslie Fish's Firestorm album.
Origin: Gay bashers beat him up, tied him to a post, and tried to set him on fire. It did not go well for them, and they wound up in the hospital with severe burns. He wound up with superpowers. When nobody would press charges against the gay-bashers, he stated a goal of burning down the government, starting with the local city hall.
Uniform: Scarlet and orange swirled dexflan with gold boots and gloves, and a flame-cut cape of gold capery. Leather half-mask has a fire design, yellow at the top, then orange, and deep blue at the base.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Computer Wizard, Good (+2) Activist, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Sassy
Poor (-2) I'll Show You a Flaming Fag!
Powers: Expert (+4) Invulnerability, Good (+2) Fire Powers (Signature Stunts: Fire Blast, Fire Shield, Firestopping, Firetripping; Spin-Off Stunts: Fire Form, Ignite Passion)
Equipment: Good (+2) Sleep Ray Bolt Pistol
Vulnerability: Wanted Man. Police generally recognize him and will try to arrest him if they can, although they rarely have the means. They may call a BASH team or superhero if possible.
Motivation: Bring it down!

* * *

Fire danger ratings include the red flag warning and an adjective scale. It is inadvisable to start fires when the danger is high, because they can easily get out of control.

Many businesses discriminate -- or would like to -- against gay customers and/or employees. Some people protest this by legal means. Others prefer more direct methods.

Congress decided to go on vacation without approving funds urgently needed to control wildfires, leading to this colorful protest graphic. I saw that and thought, "Sheesh, I have a pyromaniac supervillain who is more responsible about fire control than that!" Whereupon Backdraft showed me the note.

Vote BACKDRAFT!

Date: 2014-08-12 04:59 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Seriously? Please, may I replace my idiotic senator or representative? Any of them? Pod people would actually be an IMPROVEMENT, so it's not like he can be WORSE!

I just cackled so much I /had/ to read this aloud to the family. Summary comment: Yeah, he's saner than our politicians!

Re: Vote BACKDRAFT!

Date: 2014-08-12 06:47 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Make that "Mayor of San Francisco" and I can see it happening... which would give him a starting platform to work for something higher.

Unfortunately, I think most states have something in the qualifications about not being a convicted felon. OTOH, even if he were disqualified, it would certainly put the cat among the pigeons elsewhere!

I'd read that story.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-12 05:18 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I can't comment on this, because there's too much, let me sum up: good job!

I actually threw a customer out of the restaurant I was working in for comments he made about the gay cook. My boss backed me up 100%. It was a good day.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-08-13 02:45 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I blush, but that's kind of my thing? It's not the only direct action I've taken against homophobia, or any of the 'isms' or bullying or harassment. Even if it's just to tell people "that sort of language makes me uncomfortable" or "I don't actually agree with your bigoted opinion". It is the only time have had the authority to directly act, being one of two employees there at the time, but I have affected action by speaking up to my supervisors, and letting them handle it. I've been very lucky, in that they were on my side. I have been so lucky, to work in places where discrimination was not tolerated, because the people in charge didn't believe in it. It's a very different sort of animal from not tolerating it because you don't want to get sued or in trouble.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-12 05:50 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Poor (-2) I'll Show You a Flaming Fag!

ROTFL!

I like this. Short and very pointy. While I despise blackmail in general (and therefore agree that Backdraft is behaving like a supervillain), I can't help but empathize with his cause. Call it "doing the wrong thing for the right reasons".

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-12 02:18 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Heeeeeeeee.

I live in an area highly prone to those red-flag days (or months). I appreciate Backdraft's caution as much as his motivation.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-12 10:12 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I like the humor and Backdraft's self-awareness.

You do have an error in his stats, the Invulnerability is marked improperly.

;-)

Date: 2014-08-13 02:03 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I lIKE this guy!

And this serendipitously provides an appropriate place to suggest a soup I've thought of. His (almost has to be male, you'll see) power is that when he's mad, his urine is a stream of fire. His soup-name is Pissed Off.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-12 05:10 am (UTC)
kelkyag: notched triangle signature mark in light blue on yellow (Default)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
Warnings are good!

So, the photos. You're generally very good at referencing your sources; could I trouble you to link to or name your photo sources rather than copying the images entirely uncredited into your scrapbook? In particular, I recognize the first of the two fire masks as a design by Crimson Spark, an instance of which I happen to own. They're no less a solo artisan trying to support themself than you are, and even if it's just being used as a visual reference, deserve credit for their design. (This has bugged me for other photo references -- you used to link to stock photos on their original sites, IIRC? -- but this one I happened to recognize in particular.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-12 01:55 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
An.... ethical terrorist?

Hmmmmmm....

Yes...

Date: 2014-08-12 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
It's a real tactic. Uncommon, because most people who will use terrorist tactics to achieve their goals are not ethical. But it has been done and it can work.

Several of my supervillains are classed as supervillains because they use violent, illegal methods to pursue goals that are laudable. Fortressa is another example; she goes after sexist men. But she's a lot less careful about collateral damage. Dr. Infanta is careful about collateral, but she usually doesn't give warnings first.

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