Golden Child

October 22, 2014: Soder Cola sends their pitch-man to recruit a reclusive heroine.

The Jade Garden, Queensland Park, Metropolis

The Jade Garden is an Asian cuisine restaurant that's a bit worn around the edges, and clearly the money is put into the food. The afternoon buffet is also very good for those that are trying to pack a lot of calories on a very tight budget. The wait staff is an elderly couple who haggle over bills in a fashion familiar to some Asiatic cultures.


Unnamed Elderly couple at The Jade Garden

Mood Music:

Cameron has managed to sneak a 'lunch' break to do her Dyson impression with the remains of the buffet line at the Jade Garden. She's also managed to get one of the servers to take a 'tip' that is twice what she would normally pay for the buffet. She may be on a budget, but she always feels like she's robbing these poor people with her monstrous appetite. Despite their reassurances to the contrary, the place has thankfully not seen an uptick in business since she started coming here — if the media found out, she'd totally have to find a new place to chow down at.

Then she got a message from her mother, of all people, to arrange a business lunch with some 'Gold' fellow. She hates these things. It's always some big star or pitch man that comes in and tries to sell her on a whole wonderful dream of… signing one's life away and giving up being honest and helping all sorts of folks. Still, it's Mom. And Cameron would do pretty much anything reasonable her mother Maria asks of her…

Currently she's seated at 'her' booth, with four plates of Hu Nos Wut arrayed in piles of caloric input.


When Booster Gold shows up, he is not dressed as Booster Gold. He is just Michael Jon Carter, daytime soap actor, wearing a white oxford shirt open at the neck with no tie, jeans, brown boots, and a lightweight khaki herringbone blazer. He is also wearing some aviator sunglasses. The reason for this is not to disguise his identity, however; the reason is clearer when he enters the Jade Garden and removes them. He has a bruise around his left eye, although it just seems to be discolored and not overly swollen.

Hooking the sunglasses into the breast pocket of his shirt, Michael looks around, nodding pleasantly at the staff, and when he spots Cameron he heads her way. Smiling brightly, he says, "Hi there. I'm Booster Gold. You can call me Michael, if you prefer."


Cameron looks up then stands up and holds her hand out. "May I take a look at that? It won't do much because it's minor, but it will bump it up a little bit, make it heal a bit faster?" It would seem the injury got her attention first, not the fact that the man is an actor, or a publicly known hero. "Michael, then? May I have permission to help with that?"

Well, it seems some of the press around her isn't exaggerated, and even as this exchange is going on there's some sort of excited bantering between the two elderly wait staff folks perhaps related to the two… or just their most recent guest. Perhaps they watch the soaps?


Michael hesitates in the action of offering a handshake, because he seems mildly surprised. This was probably not the reaction he expected from Cameron. "Oh…" He lifts his other hand to his cheek, under his blackened eye. "I had a run-in with a supervillain last night, unfortunately in the course of the clobbering he gave me something right where it shows." He does not seem embarassed to admit this, but an expression of regret flashes over his features. "Fortunately, they can cover this with make-up, but…" His smile returns and he resumes the offer of his handshake to Cameron. "Sure, if you'd like. I'm sure you enjoy helping people, I'd be happy to accept."


"They can be rough." The fire-haired woman squints at the actor and public hero, then places her left hand on Michael's shoulder as she shakes with the right. A funny thing happens when Cameron touches with both those points of contact. Instead of the eye healing, the sore and strained ribcage that Booster is nursing along feels… better. Perhaps even less sore. Not fully healed, but a lot closer to that point than it had been before. After about a minute of this, where there's a look of concentration on Cameron's face, she politely breaks off the handshake and removes her hand from the guy's shoulder.

"You got more than your face hit."

She just leaves that one out there as she sits back down, while motioning to Booster to have a seat.

"Feel free to dig in, it's all kinds of different food. I kind of help them out by cleaning the buffet up at the end of lunch. Easier on my budget, and they don't have to throw away food."


As the pain eases, Michael takes in a slow, deep breath through his nose. He is used to putting pain out of his mind when he has to deal with an injury, but the sudden relief makes him feel almost dizzy. "That's… a remarkable ability," he manages to say, sitting down at the table, across from Cameron. "Thank you." The look he gives her is a little difficult to read, then; it may be calculating, or it may simply be thoughtful. "And you're right. I was shot… I'm not sure how many times, to be honest. It happened so fast, I wasn't really focused on counting." When he grins, it is sheepish. "My first encounter with the Joker."

The tall man's attention turns to the food, which he regards with curiosity. "I'm not familiar with … most food of this era. I'm happy to sample it, though." Michael was sent here to speak with Cameron about sponsorship possibilities, but now he has his own questions. He asks of her, "I hope this isn't too personal or anything, but… what do you want out of your life?"


"I get that, sometimes." The statuesque woman casually starts mowing through one of the plates. "I've only heard stories." This is punctuated by her sipping the tea. "I want to help people and be my own person and not have to deal with any more bureaucratic BS than I absolutely have to because of work."

Oh, right, yes, she's a paramedic with Metropolis Fire and Rescue. That probably is why she's so humble? Or is there something else?

"I'd love to have a low profile and still be able to help folks, but.."


Michael is nodding as she speaks, as if he completely understood her point of view. "That's all reasonable." Picking up some chopsticks, and handling them as if he had used them all of his life, he says, "That's difficult, though. I mean, keeping a low profile while helping people, if you have super powers. It just generates a mystique, you know? Like… with Batman. He's pretty elusive, but he's become known. Not sure if that's fame, or infamy, but people know about him. You might be able to do it if you could be invisible." He pauses, and arches an eyebrow as he looks at her. "Can you be invisible?"


Cameron has no doubt in her mind that Booster was sent along because he was not only a hero in his 'day job' but also for his unerring precision in Asiatic cutlery. This is the sort of thing that other headhunters and scouts have tried to do in the past, though with admittedly much less success. Thankfully none of THEM showed up a bit beaten around the edges.

"I know. And no, I can't. It'd be so much easier if I could."

Her eyebrow raises. "I just do what I can. Sometimes that's walking the Suicide Slums at midnight to see who needs healing. Sometimes it's saving people from a damaged vehicle. Anyone with this kind of capability should be doing it."

She slouches a bit, which really doesn't look good for someone as built and buff as she is.


"Well, I agree." Michael selects a morsel from one of the plates, taking it almost delicately with the chopsticks. "If someone has power of any kind, they should be helping others with it. Its frustrating to me that some people use it to oppress or hurt others. It's also frustrating that we can't be everywhere, we can't save everyone. We can only do our best." He eats the bite of food and is sidetracked for a moment, saying, "Gosh. I don't know what this is, but it's delicious. Where I'm from, the food is… very lacking."

Resting his arms on the table as he looks to Cameron again, Michael says, "What's special about superheroes is how they can inspire others. If you're inspiring, then it's like you're with that person when they're lonely or afraid… even if you can't be there in person. It doesn't seem like much, I guess, but sometimes it's all they have."


Booster had gotten some crab rangoon, and yes, it was very tasty indeed. The cooks here love their work and they show it even in the buffet.

"It hurts. People don't understand. And where are you from, Michael?"

It's a very polite question, but loaded with potential pitfalls and further questions, of course.

"I'm a private person, though, and they always want pictures of me, or autographs, or endorse this product or that product. I'm.. that's not me, to be plastered over every billboard from here to the Big Apple. And people appreciate that, because I don't 'sell out' they know they're going to get my focused attention when I show up in an emergency."

Fortunately no one has hit on the idea yet of needing Cameron to show up for an 'Emergency' guest appearance as a party guest of honor. Though… if Make a Wish asked…

"It's like the folks who wanted me to become their goddess."

She shudders a bit. "I can barely balance my budget, and they want me to be their deity? Something's seriously wrong in their heads."


"I'm from the future," Michael answers, very matter-of-fact. "Gotham, 25th century. It's very… different from the way things are now. There are no superheroes, not outside of the museums." He sets his chopsticks down for the moment, so he can spread his hands. "Here's the thing… those people wanted the… the idea of you. Sometimes that has little to do with the reality of you. It's like with advertising and products." Michael touches his chest with one hand. "I do pitches for Soder Cola. It's just sugar water, there's nothing special about it… that's not what they're really selling, though. They're selling the whole idea… that's why they want a superhero holding a can or bottle of it. It's an image."

Michael picks up his chopsticks again. "I know some people assume I'm a made-up mascot. It doesn't bother me, though, because I'm still out there saving people. I'd still be doing it even if I had zero sponsorships. That's me, though, I like attention." He tilts his head at Cameron. "You clearly do not."


"It sounds like either a utopia or a sad tired world limping along. Don't you need heroes then? And… if something is *real*, why do you need 'genuine imitation' instead?" This one has always confused Cameron, perhaps they figured it out in the 25th century?

She devours another plate while she nods at Booster's assertion about being 'made up'. She'd been thinking it, but here he is eating very much solid food and it's not dropping to the floor or bug zappering away when it hits a solid light construct thing… so he's probably flesh and blood.

"Most of my life growing up I wasn't good enough. And then, for lack of a better term, I win the 'powers lottery' on network television and suddenly they can't get enough of me, and they swarm me every so often on slower days when all I'm trying to do is get some privacy and peace and quiet. They *do* have those in your future, right?"


"Oh, it's a utopia if you have money and power," Michael agrees, with a sardonic quirk of his lips. "So in that way… not much different than it is now, but we have flying cars. They also have less crime, although this is because they redefined what constitutes 'crime'. If you ran around with powers saving people, you'd get arrested and branded a criminal." He rolls his eyes a little at this. "I get it, though, Cameron. I was actually very famous in my native era, and I mean, superstar-level fame. I messed up, though. After that, I wasn't sure I'd ever have privacy or peace again. And yet…"

Michael waves his hand, then, dismissing this talk of his past situation. "Look, I was asked to talk to you because Soder would like a lady superhero in their campaign. I'm not going to give you a hard sell on that, though. The offer is there, and it's your decision. Frankly, I'm more interested in discussing the hero thing."


Well, sounds like some things NEVER change. Go figure.

"Seriously? Helping someone out is a crime in your time? That… Oh. The corporations can't make their money off of 'protection' and 'health' plans if they have everyone getting saved all the time?" She pauses then nods. "Sometimes the hardest road to walk is the one that you don't want to, but ya gotta."

She considers.

"So that's why Mom got in on this. Things begin to make a bit more sense. She's big on me 'getting my name out there' but… as you could pick up, not my thing." She devours another plate, and the servers bring over a massive pot filled with fried rice and various chunks of chicken from one of the steam trays from the buffett with smiles on their face. The 'Oh, yes, this will burn the tongue of mere mortals who eat it' smiles. Cameron dishes up a plate for herself then pauses. "Might want to be careful with this one, it's… very hot. Spicy hot."

She tilts her head. "I'm still kinda new at it, but whatcha wanna know?"


"I'll give a pass on the spicy for now," Michael holds one hand up. "I'm still getting used to …well, food. I'm finding I really like the various animal meats, now that I'm over my squeamishness." He thoughtfully taps his lower lip with the blunt end of his chopsticks. "Mostly… well, you want to help people and you go out and do your best. But you also want some protection from the media. It may be too late for you to cultivate a secret identity, but have you considered going the other direction… you know, the whole look. A mask, if you want. When you have a costume, that's what people end up seeing, you know? You're selling that image. It might get you a little more privacy when you're not trying to be a superhero."


"Probably a good call." She takes a bit of the really hot stuff and even with her endurance it brings a bit of a reddish flush to her features. Doesn't make her eyes red or cause her to cry, but it's definitely hot enough that she's diluting the spicy with an even mix of water and tea.

"It'd be nice to have a durable garment. Heck, there have been several shops here in Metropolis that have even offered to make one for me. But… if I accept from one of them, then they're going to be all over the place putting my name out that I support their shop and not someone else's, and… I just want to find somewhere or someone neutral I could, you know, put something together on the quiet — nothing illegal, mind you — just… I had an idea for one but it's so.. '90's that I'd have to find something else. But not a mask. People know I'm Columbia, they know I'm a heroine… but you're right, maybe if I could just find the right outfit the right way…"


"Huh." Michael rubs his chin as he sits back, looking into the middle distance. "Yeah, that's a good point. If you just put on some spandex, it's going to shred after your first fight." He refocuses on Cameron. "However you get one, make sure you have a say …especially the final say… in the design. This is your image, not someone else's. I hadn't thought about where superheroes go to get their costumes. I'll ask the ones I know, and some of the wardrobe people I work with. But I'm with you on the mask thing." He shrugs, and grins brightly. "There's no point in hiding who I am. My goggles are practical."


"I've already gone through four good outfits doing this and at least two sets of second-hand clothes. Normal clothes can't keep up with me when folks start shooting beam weapons or rockets.. or a building that's on fire collapses on me, et cetera. I wouldn't do spandex if you paid me the yearly profits of the company you're speaking for — even before powers I hated it. Sure, there's some leeway there, but I need something that can take what I can. I've heard rumors of this kind of stuff, I don't need armor, really, just… durable clothes. And if you hide who you are, then people start to wonder what your motives are. 'Why do you hide your face if you're doing a good thing?' And… I've done the sunglasses thing… they didn't last through gunfire, though. Stupid HYDRA agents. And I actually have two designs in mind. Hang on…"

Cameron pulls out a notebook and flips through a few pages, then proudly flips it over to show Booster. "This is the one I'd like to do, with the right materials, of course."


"My suit is from the 24th century, the technology and materials don't exist yet," Michael says, sounding thoughtful. "Too bad, because it's extremely durable and can do a lot of self-repair." He leans in to take a look. "That looks practical, easy to move in. The color would be really good with your hair." One corner of his mouth crooks upwards. "It never hurts to look good while you're fighting crime. To be honest, it can be an advantage. Villains tend to underestimate you, if they think you're vain." Michael tilts his head as he clarifies, "Not that you are. I meant myself, of course. I'm just offering my observations. I'm not sure what kind of material would work for this, but there will be something that can work."


"Self-repair or even just *ignored* damage. I'm not vain. I just need something so I'm not half-hanging out after saving the day… which has happened a few… times." Yes, a bit embarrassing to admit… and may just be yet another cause for her… stalkerazzi. "I was trying to avoid the common colors… everyone goes with blue or gold — no offense — or something similar. Kneepads, shoulderguards, and boots reinforced so I could use them as subdual devices if needed, doubling as weight support. The eye-guard? If money wasn't any object I'd get a Starkphone with gps upload to a visual overlay, so I could see where problems were occuring and get to them more quickly. As it is right now, I have to kind of listen to the scanner I have from work when I'm off-duty."

"If you run into someone who may have a lead on durable exotic materials —- ah, who'm I kidding, this would cost ten years pay done up like this."

She folds up the notebook and puts it back in a bag.

"Hey, observations are good. You asked about heroing. What we do is easy. What my partner Eric does? Being a paramedic here in Metropolis? That's the real sort of hero. No powers and still fighting the good fight."


Michael lifts a hand when Cameron says 'no offense', as if pardoning her. He does say, "I picked those colors specifically because they're classic. When I designed my look, I wanted to evoke the feel of the Heroic Age. Which… for me was the distant past, you understand, but it was what I was aiming for." Folding his hands on the table, fingers interlaced, his gold L* ring gleaming, Michael says, "I'll ask around. You never know, someone might just want to help. And I have nothing but respect for firemen, paramedics and so on. That's why I do what I do, it's about helping and protecting everyone."


"We have a whole Age, eh?" Cameron rolls her eyes and shakes her head. "Go figure. And anything you can do on that, well, that's a plus. Both on the material and on the helping out."

"Thank you very much for your time, and let your employer know that I'm not interested at this time." That… is actually a better response than Booster had been warned he'd get. The folks at Soder were expecting an unequivocal *NO*, based on Cameron's noted reticence to public exposure… To leave the option open, well, Booster must have done something right with the approach.

She waves over at the waitstaff, pointing at the remaining food (except the really hot spicy stuff) making a motion of putting it in something. The couple comes back in a few moments with boxes and bags and the like, and fills them up with various assortments of food, giving one bag to Booster and one to Cameron. The bill comes shortly after, and there's two fortune cookies on it along with a smiley face and everything that Cameron had tried to give as a tip earlier. Her face darkens and she waggles an index finger at the couple, who laugh at her… and shortly after she's shaking her head and laughing too, before rubbing her forehead. This seems to be some sort of ritual between them.

"When you eat the leftovers, be sure to heat them in a microwave safe dish in the microwave, then pop the fortune cookie. There's a piece of paper in it — don't eat the paper! — that gives some bit of wisdom."

Cameron half-smiles. "Thank you for having lunch with me today."


"I'll tell them. Oh… and if anyone from the company tries to nudge you, let me know so I can have a word with them." Michael shakes his head a little bit; he knows how pushy some brands can be. "Thank you for letting me sit and talk with you. You know…" He pauses as the bags are brought over and smiles at the couple, then resumes speaking, "I understand what it's like to have someone try to push you into being something you're not, or doing things you don't want to do. I'm not going to do that to anyone else. So, seriously… if someone… anyone, really… gives you trouble, let me know and I'd be happy to help."

Michael tilts his head a bit when Cameron explains about the leftovers. It might seem overkill to explain about the paper, but in the case of a guy who has so little experience with current-day cuisine, this is useful information. He rises from his seat, smiling. "Take care of yourself, Cameron."

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