Brightly-Eyed Teen Sensation

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Young superheroes hate being sidekicks. They want to be in the action. I guess they do not know the saying: be careful what you wish for.

I do not own any rights to David Okum's Monster Book of Manga Universe or any of its stories, characters, and settings. The (affectionately called) "Okum Universe" and all related stories, characters, and settings is the property of David Okum and Penguin Random House, and are not my intellectual property. There is no financial gain made from this nor will any be sought. This is for entertainment purposes only.

This is a work of fan fiction using characters from the Okum Universe, which is trademarked by Penguin Random House and copyright by David Okum. Any of the superheroes or supervillains, and any supporting characters, are all characters and character concepts created and owned by David Okum and Penguin Random House, and I do not claim any ownership over them or the Okum Universe. This story concept is of my invention, and it is not purported or believed to be part of the Okum Universe story canon. This story is for entertainment only and is not part of any official story line. I am grateful to David Okum for his vision and desire to help fools like me learn how to draw. Without Okum's How To books or his doodles over the years, this story would not exist.

The thug fell from the scaffold and into a trash dumpster. Red Ribbon laughed, excited that she had taken him down alone. His partner charged at her, a crowbar waving over his head. She pitched out her arm and the indestructible material that wrapped around her body sprung out, whacking the guy in the face. It hit him so hard that he got lifted off his feet and tossed through the air. He landed with a grand thump. Again, Red Ribbon laughed in the thrill of the moment.
Unbeknownst to her though, there was a third criminal who had been hiding amongst the shadows. He crept up behind her, ever so quietly, and just as he was about to swing the baseball bat he was carrying, a blast of cosmic energy sent him reeling into the wall.
Red Ribbon spun, ready for action, only to find the thug unconscious, and a genuine superhero from Atom City hovering over him. “You did pretty well here young lady,” he said. “But you must always be aware of your surroundings and of how many of these no-good criminals there are.”
Red Ribbon stood silent, her eyes wide. There, in her small hometown, was the leader of Liberty Guard, Scarlet Avenger. And he had just said she done a good job.
“Are you okay young lady?” he asked, while dragging the thug from the dumpster over to the rest of their unconscious comrades.
She nodded. Of course she was okay; a bit star-shocked was all, but definitely okay. How unprofessional. “Yes, I’m good,” she finally blurted. “Just a bit surprised that you’re here in Libertyville.”
Red Ribbon watched in amazement as Scarlet Avenger snatched a long steel-rod from the scaffold and bent it around the wood-be-criminals. He then used his cosmic blast to melt the ends of the rod together, and finished off by hanging the tied up criminals unto a street lamp.
“Well, you shouldn’t be too surprised,” Scarlet Avenger finally said. “I mean, when a new teen superhero is making headlines like you are, of course the Liberty Guard would want to check them out.”
“Making headlines? Me?” Red Ribbon was confused. There had been a blurb or two in the town’s local paper in the last few months, but surely nothing that would catch the attention of a big city superhero, especially the leader of Liberty Guard.
“You must understand,” Scarlet Avenger began, “Liberty Guard makes it our business to ensure we know when superpowered people are either robbing banks, or risking their lives to rescue others.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Red Ribbon hunched her shoulders. “So, you all know about what happened five months ago, when that crazy Doctor Hyperzone took hostages at the school prom?”
“Yes we do,” Scarlet Avenger beamed. “We also know about the power plant, the foiled bank heist, and what you did for the Bailey Farm.”
“Woah!” Red Ribbon gasped. She was shocked, Liberty guard had known all about the big moments when she used her abilities. It was flattering, and honestly, a little bit creepy.
That first time, when in her secret identity she and her friends had only tried to crash the high school prom, but then she found herself saving the day because some loon went after her arch nemesis’ grandkids, was the biggest day of her life. It was a big day for Libertyville as well.
The revealing of a superhero’s secret identity, and the fact that a supervillain went after children in a rural town, meant that story was told worldwide. And the whole town was shook for sure; finding out that a big time retired superhero was living amongst them was exciting. But the other times, how could they know?
As if reading her mind Scarlet Avenger chuckled, “I must be honest, we been keeping an eye on you ever since you stopped that maniac Hyperzone by yourself.” Red Ribbon said nothing. “Eyewitness accounts of what you did were very impressive,” Scarlet Avenger said.
“But why are you here? Are you worried I’ll turn evil?” Sadly, that exact thing had happened recently to one of the coolest superheroes of all time. The world was devastated when Mighty Valor betrayed his sidekick and joined his arch nemesis in attempting to conquer the city of Golgoth. At first, people thought it was mind control. But it wasn’t.
Scarlet Avenger was silent. Did he know Mighty Valor? Were they friends? Oh man, Red Ribbon thought, I think I upset the guy.
“You got nothing to worry about,” she blurted, her eyes wide yet hidden by her mask. “I won’t ever turn evil. I promise. I only want to help my town out.”
The great hero smiled, his red cape billowing behind him in the wind. “That’s great to hear. But we’re not worried at all about you turning evil. I’m here to offer you a position with Liberty Guard.”

* * *

That had been two hours ago, when she was in costume wreaking havoc for criminals, but now she was rushing home to meet curfew. Tabitha rushed through the front door, yelled hi to whoever was in the living room, and ran up stairs to her room. She closed and locked the door, throwing her costume into the trunk in her closet, slamming it shut and locking it. She tossed herself unto her bed with a huge sigh. A position with Liberty Guard, she thought, that would be groovy.
However, she had said no. It was definitely an offer her classmates and friends would kill to get, and she had turned it down. It would be cool to work alongside some of the greatest heroes of the world, but what the Scarlet Avenger had asked her to do to get the position, meant she had to say no.
The superhero of Atom City had asked her to get her parent’s permission to join. Tabitha did not have a problem with her folks knowing she dressed up in a magical costume to help others, but she did have a problem with revealing her secret identity to strangers. Sure, members of Liberty Guard were the defenders of justice and all that, but that did not mean she could blindly trust them.
Tabitha thought about Mighty Valor. What if she revealed her secret identity, just so she could join Liberty Guard, and some supervillain discovered it? It would mean her folks and dweeb of a brother could be targeted, just like Ursula had been at the high school prom. She couldn’t be that selfish. So, she turned down the offer.
Of course she had not just said no, when she refused to join Liberty Guard. She had explained that she only wore the costume sometimes, only when something really bad was happening. She wasn’t a superhero all the time, like those of the Liberty Guard. Scarlet Avenger had only grinned and said okay. Then, as he had flown off, he said something about when she was older.
Tabitha lay on her bed questioning if it was the right thing to do. She had been helping people for months, and that was enough for her she decided. Turning over, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. She was too young for such important life decisions anyhow.

* * *

Two months later, Tabitha was no longer thinking about the offer she had turned down. She moved on with her life, and she was content: school, weekend paper route, some sleepovers, and a couple of people saved from a fire. Life was good, she couldn’t complain.
Now, she was just waiting for her mother to pick her up from school. Band practice had been over for almost an hour before her mom finally arrived. Tabitha got in the car and said nothing. “Sorry kiddo,” her mother said. “I got held up.”
“It’s okay. I been doodling.” Her mother started down the street, her facial expression strange. “Seriously mom, it’s okay. I know the store gets busy sometimes.”
Her mother smiled, but stayed silent. For five minutes she said nothing, and then suddenly, “Do you like living in Libertyville?”
“What?!” she stared at her mother. “Why are you asking that mom? We moving?”
“I’m curious Tabby, that’s all.”
“Well, okay. Um, yeah, it’s good living here.”
“So, if you had a chance to move somewhere else, you wouldn’t?” Tabitha shook her head. “Why? You want to live in this small town forever?”
Honestly, she had never really thought about living anywhere else. Her family and friends were all in Libertyville. And Tabitha knew she could find good work on a farm, being a live-in veterinarian. It was something she had always dreamed of, even after putting on the magical outfit that allowed her to be Red Ribbon.
“Gee golly mom, honest, I like living here.”
“What about college?”
“I’d go, and then come back.” She grinned. “Is that what this is about? You scared I’m gonna go off and not come back? Well, we still got like four years to figure that all out.” She laughed a little. Her mother’s face was drawn into a frown. Something was really bothering her. “Mom, are you okay?
“But you could be so much more beneficial in one of the bigger cities.”
She was shocked. Where was this all coming from? “What?” Tabitha gasped. “How do you mean?” Her mother said nothing, just kept looking straight ahead, driving. “Mom,” she placed her hand on her mother’s shoulder, hoping the touch would feel comforting. “What would I be doing in the big city that I couldn’t right here at home? They need vets here, just as bad as the cities, mom.”
“You could be rescuing a lot more people as Red Ribbon in a big city.” Her mom said it flatly, taking a quick look at her daughter. There was a small smirk in the corner of her mouth.
Holy reveal! How did she know? Did Scarlet Avenger go to her directly, to get permission? But then, that would mean Liberty Guard already knew who she was. Was she not careful enough when knocking out criminals?
“Are you going to say anything Tabby?”
“Red Ribbon?” she muttered.
Tabitha’s mother smiled, and pulled the car over to the side of the road. Turning off the engine, she took her daughter’s hands in hers. “Your dad and I have known since the mill fire.”
“But old man George was unconscious the whole time.” In that moment, Tabitha knew she could no longer try to deny being the town’s sole superhero. Somehow, her parents knew she was using the magical costume to help others. “How do you know?”
Tabitha thought about that very first time she wore the magical costume. She was eleven and playing in the attic with some of her grandfather’s old stuff, when she stumbled upon the trunk which held the outfit. At first she had thought it was just some strange scarf, but then the magical ribbon had inexplicably stretched, sort of coming to life and wrapping around her whole body. Oddly enough, she never got afraid; it felt right. She had then gone to the old abandon mill just a short ways from her home. She had never thought about it before, but it had felt like she was being drawn to the mill. While there she tested the limits of the magical costume.
Tabitha had used the stretchy magical material to snap old beams, swing through the rafters, and toss logs. It was the most fun she had ever had. What she had not known, was that old man George was nearby, and unconscious, while some kindling had begun to grow in intensity. It did not take long for the fire to spread throughout the dry, abandoned facility. Through instinct alone, Tabitha had used the suit to drag old man George out of the place. When the firefighters finally arrived, old man George had told them he was living in the abandon mill ever since he lost his wife and home, and he had not known there was a fire. He could not tell them how he had gotten out.
Old man George was the first life Tabitha saved, and it had felt good. For the next few years she dedicated herself to learning the extent of her abilities, until finally donning a mask and name, to finally publically reveal that she would be the town’s superhero. She told none of her friends or family what she was doing; Tabitha felt that it was safer that way.
“We know, because of the costume,” her mother said softly.
“The costume?” Tabitha muttered. “What, you recognized it or something? But how?” Then a thought hit Tabitha. “But how would that mean you know about the mill? There were no eyewitnesses.”
“That costume belonged to your grandpa,” her mother said as a matter of fact. That, Tabitha already knew. The next thing her mother said was all surprise and shock. “He used to wear that same outfit, and do the same thing. And we know about the mill because grandpa told us.”
Holy reveal!
“He is still very connected to it,” her mother continued. “So, when you put it on, he sort of just knew. And then what you did with it, he also just knew.”
Tabitha’s mind raced. There was so much she wanted to say, to ask. Where did the costume come from? How did it work? Why did grandpa not tell her sooner? Where was grandpa now?
“Scarlet Avenger came to you, right?”
Tabitha was startled. Her mother knew about that as well? “Um, yeah. He talked to you too?”
Smiling, her mother said no. Then she explained how Tabitha’s grandfather had come to Liberty Guard with concerns about how fast she accumulated to the costume. Her grandfather wanted her to learn more about being heroic and staying safe. It was his idea that she be approached for membership.
“We were all surprised when grandpa told us you denied the request.” Tabitha’s mother looked at her daughter, so much compassion and concern in her eyes. “Why did you say no?”
“They wanted your permission,” Tabitha said quickly. Her mother’s eyes went wide. “It meant I would have to reveal my secret identity. I don’t know who Scarlet Avenger is.”
“We raised you too right,” her mother giggled. “Is that the only reason you said no; because he is a stranger to you?”
“If people found out what I was doing, they would harass you and dad. If it were a supervillain that discovered who I was behind my mask, they may come after us at home.” Tabitha poured out her heart, revealing her worst fear. “If you all knew, you could be in danger. I mean, that’s how it works sometimes, right? Remember Ursula?”
Of course her mother remembered that night at the high school prom. It was something that took a long time for adults to wrap their heads around. So many parents were frightened for the children. Some of the parents had even requested that the mayor demand all retired heroes to reveal themselves. It was chaos for a long time.
“I don’t want you worrying about your dad and I,” her mother said. “Or your little brother. We will be alright, we’ll be safe.”
Mother and daughter sat in the quiet car for what seemed to be an eternity, just staring at one another. “Now that you know that we know, do you want to join?”
Her mind reeled. Her parents knew. Her grandfather knew; in fact, apparently he used to do the same thing. But she was still thinking that it was a bad idea to leave and join Liberty Guard. But why, she thought. If my folks know, and grandpa knows, then it should be fine. Tabitha did not get a chance to answer. A block away, the bank’s alarm went off.
Tabitha and her mother spun in their chairs, and saw some people running from the building, their arms in the air trying to cover their heads. “You got the costume on you?” her mother asked. Tabitha nodded. “Then go do what you do. And be very careful. If I recall, the suit can deflect bullets, but not block them.”
“What? Really?” Tabitha had never even thought about what she could do against guns.
Her mother nodded, grinning wide. “Hurry it up Tabby. Help those people. And when we’re done here, I think you, your father, and grandpa need to have a long, good talk.”
Tabitha stared at her mother a moment longer. She gave her a huge hug and kiss before opening the car door, and running off towards the bank, the magical costume enveloping her with the magical material. Deflect bullets, she thought. Groovy!

Submitted: September 01, 2022

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