“So, ah, can you hear us?”

“Yes, I can hear you perfectly. In fact given the pickup on my parabolic microphones, I could hear you when you were still inside. Doing this outside is more about you hearing me, without my speakers blowing out windshields and breaking windows.”

“We’d have been happy to have you leave your…. suit?… for the interview and come inside.”

“I’m… I’m not prepared for encounters outside the battle pod. Or, rather, I’m not satisfied with my preparation for such encounters.”

“That’s fine, really. We’ve done interviews on the quad before. Red Giant, Colossia. Even the Mist, though that was more about ventilation than size.”

“I saw that interview. I was amazed the Mist agreed to one.”

“Well let’s start there, then. You’re Scrap-Iron, one of the newest masked heroes on the scene. You’ve already made a major name for yourself, helping to take down the most recent attack of Injustice Machines on Flint, Michigan. Several editorial programs have made public offers of big money if you speak with them exclusively. Why agree to an interview with us?”

“Someone I trust suggested a four-meter-tall, rusted armored capsule with big guns and no sign of humanity might make people nervous. So, I thought this might help. If people have a better idea who I am, what I hope to accomplish, they might be less likely to crap themselves when I land behind them at a park. Ah… can I say crap? I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

“Believe it or not the 1994 McCloud Act actually allows us to broadcast what you say word-for-word without repercussions. You may get a visit from federal regulators, however. So, you wanted to get a message out–why not do it on a show that pays you for it?”

“All those shows seem… look I don’t want to claim I know how television works. But I also don’t want to feel like I’m being turned into a corporate mascot or somehow find myself on billboards selling used cars. I talked to some of those shows, and their interview contracts are hundreds of pages long. I didn’t trust them.”

“So, you’re cautious about corporate intentions?”

“I’m cautious about anyone who needs 200 pages to outline their intentions.”

“Fair enough, and obviously we’re delighted to have you. Since you are new on the scene, and you want to put people at ease, perhaps we should cover the Severin-Simonson Questionnaire?”

“Oh, awesome! Ah, I mean, sure, Yes.”

“Do you want to go over them all yourself, or have us ask you one at a time?”

“I, ah… Why don’t you ask.”

“Okay. Everyone remembers the first two, which we think go together. What is your nom de masque, and why did you select it?”

“My masked name is Scrap-Iron, and mostly that’s because this thing looks like it’s made of scrap. Well, and it is. It is scrap, and recycled parts and leftovers. I got most of it from junkyards and scrap heaps. It’s all I could afford, to be honest. But, I guess, I also wanted to make a point. About the things no one considers worthwhile. Scrap. Refuse. Garbage. If scrap can become something like Scrap-Iron, something like a hero, then what else are we throwing away, or ignoring, that could help save the world?”

“That’s interesting, and we’d like to get back to that in a moment if you don’t mind. But let’s finish the Severin-Simonson first. What made you want to be a masked hero?”

“I live in Saginaw Valley, the Tri-Cities region of Michigan. Times are hard. Unemployment is up, crime is up, hope is down. In Detroit, they have Gargoyle and his whole crew. But in Flint, Bay City, places like that there’s aren’t a lot of major heroes. Saginaw Joe, the Tri-City Sentinels, and that’s about it. People needed help, and instead governments are doing things like cutting back on services, not patrolling blighted areas, turning off street lights at night. I thought I could help. I thought someone had to.”

“What gives you the authority to act outside the law?”

“I don’t accept I do act outside the law. Most of my actions are based on preventing imminent bodily harm to myself or others. Where I move beyond that, I am applying the standards of citizen’s arrest under Michigan law and the Taylor v. Trantor ruling.”

“That’s a popular answer, since Anthem first gave it. Do you really think the ‘Bounty Hero’ Supreme Court case from 1872 is relevant today?”

“Anthem set a standard for a lot of us. He made it relevant, for a lot of people. I never met him of course, but I am certainly inspired to try to meet the expectations he set for masked heroes.”

“All right, last items from the Questionnaire. Where do your powers come from, and where do your loyalties lie?”

“I designed and built Scrap-Iron myself, so I guess my powers come from my own mind. My loyalties…”

“Are you a Boomer? We’re sorry, but we need to delve a little more into your powers. Obviously the Scrap-Iron, what did you call it earlier, a battle pod? Your battle pod is obviously a remarkably accomplishment of incredibly advanced science. The fact you build something from junk that can take on multiple Injustice Machines is proof your mind is well beyond normal human limits. So, are you a Boomer baby?”

“No, I’m way too young to be a Boomer.”

“NextGen, then? One of your parents or grandparents might have been a latent Boomer.”

“No, I know all my grandparents, and know about my great-grandparents. We’re all native to Michigan. No one was in New York for the Big Boom.”

“So, where does the intellect to build a battle pod from scrap come from?”

“I, ah, I wasn’t planning on talking about this.”

“You wanted to put people at ease. Whether it’s fair or not, there’s a lot of suspicion of masks who conceal the source of their powers.”

“Yeah, but shouldn’t we be judged by our actions, not our origins?”

“Does that mean you don’t want to answer the question? It’s entirely up to you.”

“I guess… I guess I should. Two years ago, during the Midnight Sun?”

“The 2013 conflict in Near Earth Orbit, between a Kindred Seeder Ship and the Vaelar High Guard Fleet?”

“Yeah, that. Like a lot of people I went outside to see why the sky was so bright at night. A Vaelar Tech Princess got shot down near where I live. I went to see if she needed help, and a wounded Kindred blade-drone was attacking her. I hit it with a bat, and it was in such bad shape it collapsed. I tried to help her, but she was dying. She asked me to take her thought grid – that’s a, ah, a virtual program that lives in her brain. It’ll die if it doesn’t have a host, and she didn’t want a Kindred to get hold of it. So I took it, and it moved in. Into my brain. The Vaelar weren’t happy, but apparently a Tech Princess can do what she wants with her thought grid. And since then, I’ve had a much stronger grasp of technology.”

“Okay, let’s look at some of that. You, ah, you attacked a Kindred? With a bat?”

“It was already pretty badly banged up. It had to survive re-entry”

“Blade-drones are eight feet tall and weigh six hundred pounds. That still must have been very frightening.”

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. They’re all claws and teeth and quills, and mucus.”

“And then an alien put a cybernetic implant in your head, and you use it to create alien technology.”

“Um, no. It didn’t come with any technology. The Tech Princess wiped it clean, so she wasn’t betraying her people’s secrets. No blueprints, nothing like that. It just shows me new ways of thinking about things. About how they go together. But it’s all Earth technology. Actually, the Vaellar keep asking if I’ll give them the thought grid when I’m dead, so they can see how I built Scrap-Iron. Sometimes they ask… rigorously.”

“Are you saying you’ve been attacked by Vaellar?”

“No. I am not saying that. You wanted to come back to something, earlier?”

“Yes, but first, the end of the Questionnaire. Your loyalties?”

“My loyalties are with everyone who is need of defense, justice, or a second chance.”

“So, not with the United States?”

“I take my cues from Anthem. The United States is my home, and I love it. But it’s better, WE are better, when we worry more about the downtrodden of the world than ourselves. And I want the United States to be a better place. And I think it can be. It must be.”

“Okay, so, we wanted to come back to your thoughts on Scrap-Iron showing that garbage can be something more. We’d love for you to expound on that.”

“I… I don’t know, exactly. I think too often, we throw away things when they aren’t perfect. People, too. If it’s easier to get a new thing rather than fix the old one, for almost anything, we do it. But… but not everything is easily replaced. And everything you get rid of has a cost. If we all took it on ourselves to make things, people, places, all useful, I think we’d all benefit. There are more abandoned houses in the U.S. than homeless people. That can’t be the only way to do things. But… but I don’t have a better answer yet.”

“Thank you. That takes you through the Questionnaire, and our initial thoughts on your answers. We hope you’ll speak to us again, when you’ve had some time to think about the answers you’d like to see enacted.”

“Yeah. I mean yes, sure. I’d be happy to. So… if we’re done you’d better back up. The backblast when I take off is a bit much close up.”

About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on March 26, 2015, in Short Fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: