On the City of Heroes forums, the Player Event Resource Committee sponsored a story-writing contest. The rules were to "write the beginning story of your character" in 1,500 words or less.
I wrote the following story about my character, Red Dragon. It won the contest, and I received a generous reward of in-game currency. (I'm not sure, but I suspect my story might have been the only one entered and so won by default.)
Inside the Skyway City community center, in a corner of the recreation room where martial arts classes are taught, a young Caucasian man kicks and punches at a red leather target ball suspended from the floor and ceiling by white elastic straps. Clad in a karate uniform consisting of white top and pants with a black belt cinching the waist, he bellows with each bare-footed and bare-handed attack, perspiration flying from his neatly trimmed, wavy, brunette hair. Successful strikes knock the ball away, until the elastic straps snap it back; however, several blows miss the elusive, moving target.
Pausing to catch his breath, he resets himself in a fighting stance. He leaps upward, pulls knees toward chest, and turns in mid-air, looking over his left shoulder, and kicks his left leg—but completely misses the ball and lands on his feet awkwardly, stumbling to regain his balance.
Undaunted, he repeats the advanced technique; but, his kick is poorly aimed and hits the elastic strap beneath the ball. With his left foot tangled up in the strap, he hops once on his right foot, arms pinwheeling, and falls backward onto his rump.
Unknown to the young man, across the room, a large, muscular, middle-aged African-American man, dressed in casual street clothes, watches and chuckles at the pratfall. Smiling, he turns to a small, frail, elderly Asian man standing beside him and says in Japanese, "He is one of my students."
The Japanese man, clad in a traditional Eastern, loose-fitting, black suit, nods and smiles. They resume watching the young man practicing.
Now back on his feet, he playfully strikes a theatrical pose, with hands held at shoulder level and index and pinky fingers and thumbs extended, imitating Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. He shouts, "Huaaah-yaaah!" and repeats the jumping, spinning wheel kick. This time, his left heel strikes the target squarely. With a momentary facial expression of triumph, he watches the ball violently rebound—smack!—it hits his forehead, snapping his neck backward.
Rubbing his stinging forehead, he hears booming laughter from behind and turns to face its source.
"Hey, Doug!" shouts the laughing African-American man. "Are you alright?"
"Good! Come on over here and greet our guest."
The young man runs across the floor and stops before the two older men.
"Master Midoru, this is Doug Andrews," says the African-American man. "When he's not in my martial arts class, Doug is an undergraduate student at Paragon University. Doug, let me introduce Master Hiroshi Midoru of Tokyo, Japan."
Doug straightens himself with his heels together and arms at his sides and bows at the waist. "Sensei Byam told us that you would be visiting. Welcome, it's a pleasure to meet you."
Master Midoru returns a short bow and extends his right hand. As they shake hands, he says in broken English, "Please… to meet you."
Sensei Byam explains that he must leave for a while to finalize arrangements of Master Midoru's itinerary, and he asks Doug to host their guest until he returns.
After Sensei Byam leaves, Doug asks Master Midoru, "Would you like a beverage? There's a water fountain nearby."
"How was your trip? Did you travel by plane?"
"Yes. Plane… and green line."
"Great! Well, let me give you a tour of our dojo. It's a multi-purpose recreation room. Before class, we roll out our tatami mat."
"Os. My English… bad. Sorry."
"Your English is much better than my Japanese. Our class has learned a few words. We can count in Japanese: ichi, ni, san…"
"Os." Master Midoru smiles and gestures toward the tatami mat.
"You want to go on the mat?"
They walk to the center of the mat, and Master Midoru turns to face Doug. For a moment, Doug doesn't know what do. He asks, "You want to give some instruction?"
"Thank you, sensei!" says Doug, bowing.
Master Midoru returns a slight bow and says, "Hajime."
Doug had heard this command many times before, when Sensei Byam instructed the class during full-contact sparring; but, now, he hesitates.
"Punch me," says Midoru.
Doug drops into a fighting stance and steps forward, throwing a straight right-hand punch at Midoru's solar plexus. Surprisingly, Midoru moves forward, into the line of oncoming force; he intercepts the attack and redirects it; Doug's body twists to his right, legs flying up in the air, and he lands on his back—so fast that Doug doesn't know exactly how it was done.
Midoru smiles and says, "Again."
"Yes, please, show that to me again," says Doug as Midoru helps him up.
Doug faces Midoru, awaiting his command. "Faster," says Midoru. "Hajime!"
Doug bellows and begins to move forward; but, before he can throw the punch, Midoru blocks Doug's right fist with the palm of his left hand.
"Matte!" commands Midoru in a hushed voice that conveys: stop moving and be silent. Midoru's head snaps to look over his right shoulder.
Perplexed, Doug sees and hears nothing unusual. Then, surrealistically, black-clad figures emerge from the shadows wielding swords, staves, and other traditional Asian weapons—ninjas.
The foremost ninja speaks in Japanese to Midoru, "You journeyed far in pursuit of us, Red Dragon. Only to meet your doom in this foreign city."
Doug exclaims, "Aw, this is a joke, right? Those are the guys from my class, dressed as ninjas!"
Master Midoru replies, "No joke." Barring his right arm, he pushes Doug behind him.
The ninjas launch shurikens, darts, and other deadly projectiles at Midoru; but, amazingly, the white-haired man either dodges them or deflects them with metal wrist bands.
A ninja hurls caltrops at Midoru's feet. Instantly, Midoru grabs Doug's body and executes a combined hip toss and leg sweep to send Doug flying an incredible distance across the room; even more astonishing, Midoru travels in the air with Doug, performing an aerial walk-over acrobatic maneuver to land gracefully on his feet—and place Doug safely on his feet.
Ninjas close on Midoru, striking with blades, staves, fists, and feet; but, their opponent moves with incredible skill, quickness, and economy of motion, routing the assassins with a mastery of martial arts techniques that seems super-human—even magical.
One ninja felled by Midoru lands on his hands and knees in front of Doug. Wanting to help Midoru, Doug kicks the ninja in the face; but, the ninja barely registers the blow and looks up at Doug, enraged. Midoru intervenes, side-kicking the ninja in the ribs with such astounding force, the assailant is knocked across the room and crashes into a wall.
Midoru turns and faces Doug. For a moment, Doug feels relieved; but, the grave expression on Midoru's face indicates, the danger persists.
Following Midoru's gaze, Doug turns to his right and gasps—a stealthy, silent ninja crouches with his sword tip pointed at Doug's chest, inches away.
In Japanese, the ninja taunts, "We could not defeat the teacher, so let us defeat his pupil!" The ninja thrusts his sword at Doug; but, Midoru moves faster, shoving Doug out of the way and palm striking the ninja's chin, defeating the last foe.
Alas, Doug sees a horrifying silhouette: the sword impaling Master Midoru's torso, through the heart.
Doug helps Midoru lie down on his left side. "I'll go call for an ambulance," says Doug.
"No," says Midoru. His right hand firmly grasps Doug's left wrist. "Stay."
The dying master reaches to a red cloth belt around his waist, unties it, and hands it to Doug. Accepting the belt, Doug notices it appears to be ancient—ornately embroidered with gold thread.
"Wear it," says Midoru.
Doug feels compelled to obey. He places the center of the belt beneath his navel; wraps each end behind him and back around to the front; folds one end over and under; and the other end over and around, forming a knot. The technique is different from how his community center class was taught to tie a belt; but, somehow he feels instinctively it is the correct way.
Doug pulls on the ends of the belt, tightening the knot; a flash of red, magical light emanates from the belt, engulfing him. When the magic of the belt subsides, Doug is clad in ancient, arcane, red garb. Moreover, he feels imbued with the wisdom, skills, and abilities of countless generations of martial arts masters.
Doug looks down and sees that Master Midoru's body is gone. Reaching out to where the body was, he senses that Midoru is now with him, along with all the other masters.
Doug lifts his head, feeling an evil presence approach. More ninjas emerge from the shadows.
Their leader speaks in Japanese, which Doug can now understand, "So, the eternal Red Dragon lives. Once again, passed from teacher to pupil. But, the cycle ends now!"
The ninjas attack, and Red Dragon leaps at them, somersaulting and twisting, kicking and punching, in a devastating whirlwind of attacks with amazing, super-human skill, speed, and strength while bellowing a fierce battle cry![link]