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Mutants & Masterminds: The Unlikely Prophets - Prologue: Hikari Motarasu - Shine On


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Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.

- Desiderius Erasmus

It was a new day.

Hikari didn't awake to an alarm clock like many of the 6 billion other people on planet Earth. She'd been up all night, staring at the canvas.

It was the ocean. Specifically, it was the ocean just off the bay in Seattle, as the sun was coming up. The waves lapped at the shore. She was happy with that. The beached, the waterfront property, all that looked good. It was the light that annoyed her. It was too bright.

Seattle was drizzly. The sun poked through the clouds only reluctantly. She loved the sun, loved those days it shone forth. It was what set her apart in Seattle's burgeoning art scene. 'An uncanny eye for luminosity' crowed the Washington Independant. But there was a stinging critique in the last paper, too, complaining that she'd lent 'an unhealthy amount of light to a life drawing of the local homeless shelter.'

She liked light. That wasn't wrong. So she'd brightened the painting up a little. It didn't hurt anyone. And it was nice that people with so little could have a little light brought into their lives, even if only in paint. If only life was like that...

If only.

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She sighed. She hated covering the light, as it never worked as well as she liked. but soon she'd made up the right blend f grey to match the usual overcast sky of Seattle. She started adding clouds to the sky, and after an hour moved on to elimanating the light on the buildings and beaches. She couldn't bring herself to remove all of it. She left faint shafts of light leading to certain points along the edge of the painting, drawing the eye to the whole of the painting, not just one particular part.

She smiled. Hopefully it would be enough to please the critics. She wasn't totally satisfied but it was how the world worked. She could be herself, but there were guidelines that generally had to be followed. She wouldn't ever remove all the light, there was something just inherently wrong about that to her.

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As she appraised the painting, the phone rang. She sighed slightly as she rose, and picked up the phone.

"Hi, Miss Motarasu, right? Or Miss Hikari. I can never keep it straight. Anyways. I'm from Order Cultural Governance. I'm here to talk to you about the poster that's going on exhibition tomorrow. See... here's the thing. There's an official named Leslie Mitchell in the poster standing next to the local Knights and Spartan. Well... Leslie isn't with us any more."

There was a pause, long enough for Hikaru to figure out what 'no longer with us' meant. It didn't mean they were dead - or at least, not in this case. It meant that the official had done something, or didn't do something, and was out of favor with the Order's government. Sometimes the official got shipped out to another posting; sometimes they just went missing.

"Anyways! We need you to redo the poster. Take your time but have it done by tomorrow, arighty?"

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Hikari was somewhat beside herself. She'd liked the painting they'd picked for their poster as it was, having to redo it was somewhat insulting. She sighed. This was one of the bad sides of being liked by the establishment. She was virtually at their beck and call to redo things they didn't like.

She had planned on going out, but this was for the order, and it had to come first.

She set up her canvas and began to paint, three hours later she had a rough painting of the poster minus Ms. Mitchell. It seemed to unbalance the painting though.

She started again twice, each time trying to find some inspiration balancing the painting around Spartan. Something just wasn't right. In a rare moment she decided to remove elements of light from the painting, giving it a darker look, and when she viewed that version, it looked better to her eye, now it seemed to fit.

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"Looks great. You came through."

Steven Klein, of Order Cultural Governance, looked over the poster approvingly. "Yes, I like how you did the light thing... here... luminosity, right? That's the term I'm hunting for?"

He stood, admiring the painting, while his friend - well, probably not a friend, no one who scowled that much had many friends - took a supposedly leisurely walk around Hikaru's studio. He was looking at every painting she was working on. He was looking very closely.

"Yeah, Spartan looks great in this. You caught his smile just right."

"Hm," said his friend, looking at a landscape of the city of Seattle. He leaned in close enough to touch.

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She nodded. "Yes mr. Klein."

She watches him get near and inspect her paintings, wondering exactly what he's looking for. "I've done these mostly from Stills, I know I could do better if I actually had the chance to see them in person."

She looks after the other one and notices him looking at one of her landscapes and smiles. People couldn't just look, some just had to have tactile stimulation as well. "see something in particular you like? None of these have been shown at a gallery yet, indeed some aren't finished."

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"No, nothing I like. Nothing I don't like, either. Yet."

Steven rolled his eyes slightly. "He's kind of a hard sell, Hikaru, I wouldn't worry too hard about him - "

"Steven, this one has the Cardinal building still in it."

Steven paused in mid-sentence, and held up a finger. "Would you hold a sec? Thanks. The Cardinal building? But it's still there."

"For now." Klein's friend said it matter of factly. It shouldn't have sounded menacing. It still did.

Klein coughed. "Do you know something I don't?"

"I know a guy who knows a guy. You might want to paint a version with that building missing, miss. Word to the wise."

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"Good idea. Everything else looks okay. We won't disturb you any longer."

The two of them went to leave. Halfway out the door, Steven snapped his fingers. "Oh, hey. I have money on the Seahawks game. Do you mind if I turn your TV on for a moment? I need to check the score."

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Hikari nods. "Sure, let me get that for you." She finds the remote and turns on the tv. "What channel?"

She was getting a little worried. Guests from the Order rarely stayed longer than enough time to get the picture. This was very strange.

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"Fantastic." Steven turned on the TV. After a moment, the local sports network came on. Several men in football helmets were positioning themselves on a field.

"C'mon, gimmie the score, come on - oh, FUCK - "

Then the image seemed to scramble, as if the signal was interrupted. Then the visual was replaced by the little-seen face of the Order's economic and sociological engine: The Mathemagician.

There was silence as the Mathemagician stared out of the TV set. With a start, Hiraku realized that it wasn't just silence on the television. There was silence all around her. And no one else seemed to notice.

Attempts to speak didn't seem to work. Hikaru felt a tightness in her throat. And then, the Mathemagician spoke.

who are you?

Then there was a song.

" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344">

To call this song 'haunting' did no justice. It seemed to stop the whole world. Nothing was frozen - the wind blew, the sun shone - but the whole planet seemed to take a collective breath. No one around Hikaru noticed the song, just as no one around her seemed to notice the Mathemagician either.

The song lasted a few seconds. It also lasted forever. Time lost all meaning in its embrace. The song crescendoed, and built, and crashed to its climax, moving mountains with notes. It faded away, leaving her feeling different. Like everything in the living room of her soul was moved six inches out of place.

why are you here?

The Mathemagician's final words hung in the air. The world started up again.

"18 down in the third quarter. Fuck the Seahawks. Fuck them forever. Ahh."

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She was overawed by what she'd seen, enough that the swearing didn't really faze her. She seemed to wake as if from a dream and looked to the man who'd been interested in the game. "I take it your team is doing poorly? I've never been one for team sports, though I watch a game here and there."

She didn't know what to say. It was like they'd neither seen nor heard what she had, and in truth that frightened her as she began to mull over the questions in her head.

Who am I?

Why are you here? The thoughts echo in her brain and she's reasonably sure of the first one, but not at all about the second one.

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"Well, we won't keep you. See you around, miss."

Steven waved at her, as he and his friend exited the apartment.

Hiraku sighed. She drifted unconsciously to the bathroom as she often did when done painting, to wash all the paint off. She flipped the taps on and washed her hands... and then stopped.

Her hands shimmered. They became paler. She blinked, staring at them, then she looked up at the mirror, and gasped.

She was blonde, for a start. That was the first thing that leapt at her. The second thing were her deep blue eyes, and the third thing was the change in her features, which had become more Caucasian and less like the Eastern features she'd sported all her life.

As she stared at herself, her eyes... shone.

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She jumped back from her own reflection as if a snake had bitten her. She touched her own face and body and watched the reflection do the same. It was beyond belief. Her eyes were still shining brightly and sh quickly noted that she was a good deal taller and proportioned differently.

"What the hell happened to me?"

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As she stumbled out of the bathroom, the whole apartment was lit up. It took her a long moment to realize that the one doing the lighting was her.

She felt her heart hammer in her chest. She tried to stay calm, gasping for breath, remembering the exercises that calmed her, the gentle swordplay with thrust and parry and riposte, the rythm that set her mind at ease...


She blinked, and looked down. In her hands were twin blades, glowing like lightsabers from the Star Wars movies that came out every year. She let them go, instinctively, and they disappeared before they hit the floor.

She could feel the light. There was no other word for it. Really, she always could - it was always there in her paintings. But now she could feel the light. Squeeze it in her hand. Mold it like clay. Shape it like paint.

She knew, instinctively, that solid light swords were only the beginning. She could make light solid in just about any shape. She could focus it like a laser, or create a suit of armor, or even changed how she looked. It was at her command.

There was something else. Out there, in the city, she could feel... the opposite of light. She knew that darkness was merely the absense of light, but this wasn't the same thing. It was the opposite of light. Darkness that was its own thing. She didn't know if it was benevolent of malicious, only that it was out there, somewhere, in the city of Seattle...

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It was weird, She wanted to go search out the darkness. "I can't go out like this. Nothing I have is going to fit. I wonder if I can go back to my regular look." No sooner than she said it than she changed back to her normal form. "Wicked. cool." With that she got dressed, and promptly made a quick trip to one of the department stores to pick up some other clothing.

She'd always wondered what it was like to be someone else, now she'd find out. She shifted back to her other form and put on her new clothes. Tonight was a nice night for a walk anyways. Then she had another idea, why not a bike ride? She concentrated a moment, thinking about various bike designs and in the end sorta combining them into a very nice street bicycle. She then left her apartment and set off into the city.

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