Nightshadow

It has been a few months since I posted one of my patented, (semi-)original character and story ideas. Hope ya like this one….

“Nightshadow”

After graduating high school, Stephanie “Stevie” Walker worked for two years at her widowed father’s auto repair shop in the small, industrial city of Dewayne, Georgia. She was a grease-monkey like her father, but she also grew increasingly restless, wanting a different kind of life/career for herself. Stevie decided to go off to “the big city” to attend college and experience life outside of Dewayne. This caused a rift between her and her father, who 1) is very protective of his only child and 2) always planned on her learning the family business and eventually becoming his partner. He wouldn’t admit it, but Jason Walker also didn’t want to be “alone” without family in town. Six years later, Stevie had earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Materials Sciences.

Shift to the “present”…

Sort of a cross between this aviatrix...

Sort of a cross between this aviatrix…

A few months into her first “real” job, Stevie is informed that her father has died of a heart attack and left her the family home (long paid-off) and the auto repair shop. Stevie travels back to Dewayne for the first time since leaving for college and discovers an undercurrent of corruption in local government and the local factories. Rather than sell or close the auto shop, she decides — partially out of guilt, partially out of concern for her hometown and the friends she still has there — to move back into Dewayne, manage the shop, and perhaps eventually run for a part-time position in the local government. Then, she gets another, less conventional idea…. Within a month, rumors of a masked vigilante (dubbed “Nightshadow/wraith”?) make it into the local news. Fortunately, no one makes the connection between these two new residents, partly because the vigilante only works at night and partly because his/her costume is dark and loose-fitting (see below).

Back in grad school, Stevie and a former mentor developed an experimental, lightweight-but-superdurable, carbon-steel &

... and this guy from Splinter Cell

… and this guy from Splinter Cell

ceramic exo-skeleton,which could in turn be woven onto or into a special bodysuit (insulated against temperature extremes and electricity). Using electromagnetism, the full outfit endows the wearer with greatly enhanced strength, limited invulnerability, and directed levitation of self or other objects (max. ~5 tons). (For extended flight & improved stabilization, however, Stevie is developing an additional apparatus to strap onto her boots and/or hips/thighs.) But, to help hide her identity, she also wears a full-face cowl (incorporating a tiny radio for monitoring police, CBs, etc.), goggles (including an infrared mode and HUD for info from a small onboard computer), and somewhat loose-fitting clothes over the bodysuit. The effect makes her look sort of (but not quite) like an old-time aviator. She also employs a voice modulator within the reinforced neck-piece to disguise her voice. (Note: The original exo-skeleton was developed for rescue & salvage operations, but funding for the project was withdrawn at the end of her last semester. Fortunately, most of the initial design & testing had already been done. The exo-suit and a few spare parts were “mothballed” at a warehouse, but when it occurred to Stevie that she could use it for crimefighting/adventuring, she quietly “appropriated” it before relocating. She then used the modest proceeds from her father’s life insurance policy to pay for additional materials and equipment.)

Meanwhile, Stevie gets help running the repair shop from a couple other part-timers that her father had hired and trusted, both personally and professionally. One of these is a nice kid named Mickey Burroughs, fresh out of high school, who is an amazingly good mechanic for his age but still unsure what to do with his life. (Stevie, like her father, encourages young Mickey to at least start taking night courses at the county college and consider majoring in mechanical engineering. The kid comes from a broken home and Stevie becomes a big sister/mentor of sorts.) The other friend/employee is a semi-retired guy named “Big Joe” Torelli, a burly ex-marine who used to run the repair shop across town until being forced to sell his building & land to an unscrupulous local businessman. It is his stories, along with a disturbing visit by some thugs, that introduce Stevie to the local corruption.

I picture Stevie as a fairly attractive Black woman, roughly 5’8″ and of average build. She is quite physically fit, having been a track & field competitor during her high school and undergrad years. But, she would probably need to start a more intense exercise regimen — perhaps Crossfit? — as part of her conditioning for her nightly adventures. Maybe some basic martial arts, too? She practices using the exo-suit in the scrapyard out behind the repair shop. I haven’t worked out any details about the level and nature of the corruption she discovers in and around Dewayne, but she would need to find allies in the police department and city government, maybe the D.A.’s office.

That’s all I got. Any suggestions?

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.

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