Captain Scorpion II [Luna Church]
An A-Student, Baby
Growing up, Luna Lewis
thought she would only teach history, not make it.
She’d always loved school. The textbooks that smelt of old paper and introduced her to the wider world outside her small Texas town. The teachers who praised and encouraged her while her parents (who did love her dearly) worked long hours and left her to her own devices. And even frustrating, annoying, dreamy Ray Church
- her academic rival since the sixth grade, her steady boyfriend since the 10th.
Luna and Ray would spend time afterschool, and after their part-time jobs, driving off in his father’s car and staring into the beautiful night sky together. They made their plans - to go to college, to become teachers themselves to help shape the next generation of Black minds, and to get married.
And for a while, things did indeed go according to plan. They got their degrees and their marriage certificate in the same campus chapel. They started teaching jobs in the west of Texas, and for two years their lives were consumed by lesson planning, homework grading, home remodeling, and marital bliss.
Then the visions began.
First in her dreams, and then later in her waking hours, Luna saw a recurring image - a vast, dark canyon, lit by an unearthly glow.
She drew the image in the margins of the novels she read in bed and in the corners of her coursework prep. Luna thought it must be something from a movie she’d seen, or in a book she’d read. But after she caught herself sketching the image on her classroom blackboard instead of the equations she’d meant to write, Luna and Ray realized there was something wrong.
The couple sat and reasoned it out - Luna only ever saw the one image, and never any others. If she wasn’t going mad, then it must some from somewhere. So they did their homework. They poured through atlases and magazines, eventually identifying the scene as “Broome’s Gorge
,” in a lonely stretch of New Mexico.
When she saw it on the map, Luna felt a strange certainty settle over her. “We have to go,” she said. She didn’t know what it meant, but the only way to find out would be to visit. And so, when school ended for the summer, the Churchs packed their bags and hit the road.
They arrived at Broome’s Gorge in the early hours of the morning, and after a long hike identified the entrance to the canyon ahead of them - exactly as it had appeared in Luna’s dreams. She felt compelled to enter, but when Ray made to follow her, she had a sudden sense that she had to go alone.
After a firm embrace, Luna stepped ahead, leaving a nervous Ray watching – and then she vanished…
Don’t Know Much About Astrology
Here, the two Churchs had very different experiences:
For Ray, Luna took a few steps into the Gorge, turned a corner, and then – vanished!
He called out to his wife after she left his sight to make sure she was alright, and when she didn’t respond, he went after her. He searched the twisting and turning canyon for hours, nearly getting lost a dozen times, all to no avail. He was sitting on the hood of their car, beside himself with worry and grief, when Luna reappeared, as simply as she had disappeared, walking out of the Gorge.
She wandered and walked the canyon, until she emerged onto a vast, silvery-gray plain, pockmarked by craters, beneath a vast starry sky. She became aware that she was one of a dozen or so figures, all from backgrounds. Somehow, they all breathed without air. And then the twinkling stars above seemed to move, taking vaguely familiar forms, like an audience…
After that, her recollection was even more dream-like, a series of impressions. A competition of some kind. A battle maybe, or a debate? But she won, or was chosen, or both. The stars and heavens above her descended, pouring into her, fueling her with cosmic power and potential.
And then she was walking back out of Broome’s Gorge, stumbling confused into the loving arms of her concerned, now relieved, husband.
Years later, Luna and others would piece together this sequence of events in greater detail:
The cosmic beings known as the Zodiac Council
had convened over Earth, as they had on many planets before and after, in accordance with their enigmatic will. Each Sign identified and summoned a potential avatar, who in some way exemplified their ideals. These avatars engaged in a contest. The details are always scarce, but eventually, as they always do, the Signs came to an agreement about which of their number would be allowed to intercede and exalt an avatar. In the case of Earth, this was Scorpio, the Sign of Justice.
The other candidates had their memories wiped and were returned to where they were summoned from, while Luna was turned into Captain Scorpion
, Scorpio’s Zodiac Champion
, and gifted great powers including its ultimate gift, the Sting of Justice
On other worlds, other Signs may have won, and different Zodiac Champions may have taken up their own causes…
But in 1974, no one on Earth knew any of this yet, including Luna. She just knew that she was mentally and physically exhausted, so Ray started driving, looking for a motel.
In the wee hours of the morning they found one. They paid for their room and Luna collapsed into bed. She was almost drifting off into blissful sleep when the couple heard a commotion outside.
Police had arrived. Summoned after a complaint about certain guests at the motel. A man was being dragged from his room. Panic and fear had set in.
The Churchs watched from their motel room window, Horrified, but feeling impotent. Except, something in Luna burned at this injustice. To her and Ray’s surprise, she stepped out of the room. She yelled at the police, batons already in their hands. They swapped them for guns.
Something tripped within Luna. She refused to let the officers hurt anyone. There was a brilliant white and red light, like a star going supernova.
Then she was standing there in a green and white costume, a nebular cape streaming from her shoulders, and the sigil of Scorpio blazing
from her chest. The officers fired, but their bullets bounced off her harmlessly. They were disarmed, their guns were crushed, their car flipped. The man the officers had sought to hurt was given a window to safely get away.
Ray and Luna themselves fled in their car. Luna was terrified, yet exhilarated. Soon she found out how to revert to her former self.
Something about her experiences had granted her the ability to shift into a superpowered form. Triggered, in part, by the perception of thwarting an injustice. In her other form, with the cape and the M-like symbol of the scorpion, she was superhumanly strong, fast, and able to fly. This form she dubbed inspired by both faint historical notes and a cosmic sense of propriety, “Captain Scorpion
One and One is Two
As Captain Scorpion, Luna found herself righting wrongs and thwarting injustice across Texas. The hero developed a contentious reputation - she was unafraid to step in where “the legitimate authorities” got it wrong.
But despite the blessings of her powers, Luna still had questions about her experience in Broome’s Gorge, wondering just how she had gotten these powers and what beings might be responsible.
So, in 1975, Luna and Ray traveled to Chicago
to consult Laurent Laurier
, the noted French UFOlogist (a contemporary of Hynek and Vallée) at the University of Chicago.
This meant that Captain Scorpion was in the Windy City at the right time to join Miss Terrific
(herself a visiting professor at the University), Gatorman
, the Bronze Rider
, and the Troubadour
in facing the subterranean threat of the Tyrant
. While Miss Terrific and the Troubadour worked on a technological solution, Captain Scorpion and Gatorman fought the villain’s minions to buy time. The innocents freed and the day saved, the heroes decided to make their arrangement permanent as the Battalion
Honestly, it had all happened so fast, Luna was practically overwhelmed! The Churchs’ trip to Chicago had been meant as a brief excursion, but suddenly she found herself with commitments to her Battalion teammates and a desire to explore and protect the Windy City. So, she and Ray made a permanent move from Texas to Illinois. The pair got jobs in Chicago’s notoriously underfunded public school system (indeed, the 1975 strike happened almost immediately after they started). But the couple were determined, they were resourceful, and they were together.
While the entire Battalion spent time protecting the city (save of course the Troubadour who famously left the team within its first year), Captain Scorpion became specifically regarded as Chicago’s hero. She could respond faster than the others, and her work as a teacher (and eventually as an activist) let her keep an ear to the ground.
Naturally she soon developed a rogues gallery. In 1976 she defended the World Surrealist Exhibition from the mad science artist Sander Sillart
, aka the Sculptor
(despite the name, he only challenged the Bronze Rider once, and didn’t seek a rematch after the latter broke his jaw). Then there was the assassin Ironsight
), initially working for various Chicago organized crime factions, and once thwarted by Captain Scorpion spent considerable time and effort trying to acquire weapons potent enough to take down the hero. And, of course, there was Walter Quinn
, the technological genius and eco-fascist who nearly froze Chicago solid in 1979, more than once taking on the entire Battalion as well.
But while Luna fought supervillains, she was also fighting to give her students a better future. Before Luna had been granted the cosmic powers of the Sign of Scorpio, she thought this would happen by educating and equipping the next generation. But with the incredible power and profile she commanded as Captain Scorpion, she realized she had to go beyond the classroom. As both Luna Church and Captain Scorpion, she spoke out on the damages of racism, sexism, and other -isms, both personal and institutional. Captain Scorpion advocated against redlining and police brutality while Luna joined legal actions and protests in the streets.
Naturally, this made her even more enemies. Some were never public, but their presence was felt but for example Ironsight suddenly gained access to certain bleeding edge equipment that more than once nearly cost Captain Scorpion her life. But justice isn’t just doing the popular or safe thing – it’s doing the right thing.
In 1980, it became clear that the right thing for the Churchs would be one of the hardest things they’d ever done. After months of tension and stress, Ray admitted to Luna that he wanted to move back to their hometown in Texas. He appreciated the work they did in Chicago, he loved their students, but ultimately big city life just wasn’t who he was. But Luna truly felt she had found her calling in Chicago.
Now, for other couples, this may have been it. But after long discussions, the pair agreed to live separately. Ray returned to Texas, while Luna stayed in Illinois. It was hard, but they loved one another, and knew that love took work. They planned schedules out and found time to see one another - Luna would fly down to visit Ray, and he would fly (sadly only at jet speed) up to stay with her.
There were temptations. There were trials. But ultimately the Churchs persevered.
Which was good, because the life of Captain Scorpion only continued to get more complicated…
What a Wonderful World It Would Be
In 1982, Her longtime friend and mentor, Professor Laurier, had become increasingly obsessed with the possibilities of extraterrestrial life. Luna’s experience had eroded his skepticism, and he privately thought that if someone “like her” had been granted such power, then someone “like him” would qualify for even more. Thus, he eventually sought out Broome’s Gorge, from which he took strange crystalline samples. During his experiments with them, believing them to perhaps have a frequency to contact alien life, he was infected by the matter within. He slowly turned into the rocky monster Krater
, fortunately thwarted and contained by Captain Scorpion. Unfortunately, attempts to cure him were only temporarily successful, and ultimately he was reduced to an immobile, crystal monolith, under government observation.
This left Luna feeling more isolated than ever. Which was worsened by the appearance of Vega
Perhaps the first true confirmation for the public of alien life, the kaleidoscopic energy-based alien appeared in his saucer over the Chicago Loop and challenged Earth’s heroes to a variety of combat contests, recklessly endangering civilians to do so. When Captain Scorpion joined the fray, Vega expressed joy to have a chance to fight a “Zodiac Champion,” the first time that Luna encountered that term, which triggered certain memories of her close encounter and left her with even more questions. When Vega was beaten, the alien thrillseeker only had hearsay and rumors to pass along, tales of heroes of other Signs on other worlds.
Concerned about the nature of her powers and feeling between them and her time with the Battalion that she was growing too distant from humanity, Captain Scorpion took a sabbatical from the team in 1985. After further thought, she took extended leave from her teaching position to spend several months with Ray, perhaps as a precursor to a permanent move.
Unfortunately, the day after she arrived back in Texas, strange weather events and mass power outages began to strike the globe. Captain Scorpion became part of the investigation, and with the aid of some former graduate students of the late, lamented Professor Laurier, discovered the cause:
Walter Quinn, the villainous Windchill, had been an early member of the environmental movement, sounding the alarm on the harm humanity was doing to the planet. However, he also believed that overpopulation and the “great writhing masses” were part of the problem. He felt that the world could only be responsibly shepherded by the superior race - here he meant white superhumans (despite his own “powers” being weather-and-environment-manipulating technological devices). He’d been repeatedly thwarted over the years, and grew more and more fanatical and desperate.
In the 80s, weary from a lifetime of superhuman combat and sick with a myriad of illnesses from his dangerous equipment, he undertook a final masterplan. He gathered the remnants of his once fearsome Salvation Network
and partnered with one faction of the international terrorist society known as the Conquest of Dawn
. Then he faked his surrender to the US government, and made it known through certain channels that he was willing to design supertech equipment for military and government use, which certain deniable authorities took him up on. This gave him the industrial supplies and manpower to create a “cosmic cloudbuster,” a device that would manipulate solar weather and allow a final great scourging of the Earth. When the time came, his own agents from the Network and CoD activated and seized control of the facility the ‘buster was built in.
This was Captain Scorpion’s greatest battle – uncovering Quinn’s plot and thwarting it required she call upon all her allies and strengths, and in the final moments she found herself staring down a defeated and dying Windchill. Despite the presence of his young son, Quinn refused to shut off the machine, instead revealing that he had played everyone and that there was no off switch. The indiscriminate destruction was now the point. He aimed to take down everyone with him if he could not have the world he wanted.
Miss Terrific managed to reconfigure the core of the device into something which would disrupt and end the magnetic storms wracking the planet, but the damaged transmitter meant that Captain Scorpion would need to fly into space to deploy it successfully, and even she was not likely to survive the forces involved.
Luna took hold of the device and asked Ray, over her Battalion communicator, to sing their favorite song to her. A Sam Cooke number that he used to sing when they sat on the hood of his car watching the stars. Ray sang and wept until the magnetic interference became too strong, and then could only watch as there was a vast explosion of light and color in the sky, and then the magnetic storms finally faded in a burst that matched the sign of Scorpio, and left it slowly fading across the night.
The world mourned Captain Scorpion, the hero of the hour. Her legacy remains conflicted, with many trying to paint her as less radical than she often was. But it was impossible to deny her influence, especially as her teammates and others exposed not just some of the conspirators who had enabled Windchill’s final scheme, but the systems that let them do so unchecked.
The Battalion mourned their friend, the first founding member to die. She remains a highwater mark for heroism, and a reminder that it goes beyond merely saving today, but rather thinking about how to improve tomorrow.
Students in Chicago mourned the loss of Ms. Church, assumed to be one of many to have died in the collateral damage from the storms. Her students would go on to be leaders and thinkers, but also merely better men, women, and people from the care and education she gave them.
And Ray mourned Luna, the love of his life. He never remarried, instead moving on with his life with quiet and solemn dignity. He became a principal and superintendent, guiding the school district of their hometown with an able hand until retirement, after which he remained a volunteer tutor and community organizer. A photo of him and his wife, degrees in one hand, marriage certificates in the other, sat atop his desk at school every day.
Possible Plot Seeds & Campaign Uses
- Politically outspoken heroes during Captain Scorpion’s lifetime could easily be approached to join protests or demonstrations. This may make them a target of her own enemies like Ironsight or the Sculptor. It would also mean that the police and other authorities may take a dim view of the PCs rocking the boat. Are they willing to take a stand despite not quite having the power and profile of Captain Scorpion to protect them? (Of course they are, they’re heroes!) She may ask PCs to help protect a march, knowing that if someone plans violence against protestors that they’d likely aim to distract her and lure her elsewhere.
- A game of teen superheroes could easily have Ms. Luna Church or Mr. Ray Church as their mentor:
**Captain Scorpion would be reluctant to see young people, even powered ones, endanger themselves as heroes – until one of the PCs gives a good speech about doing their part regardless of age. She’d be a firm but fair mentor, and since she can’t be everywhere she could be used by a GM to rescue PCs in over their heads without always stealing their fire - her responsibilities with the Battalion or her visits to Ray in Texas could mean that she is unable to arrive until dramatically convenient.
**Ray as a mentor could occur after Captain Scorpion gives her life. His small Texas town, unlike Chicago, never had superheroes before so a group of teen heroes there would quickly attract his attention, and he may find the PCs before they realize who he is! He’d emphasize the importance of spending time with loved ones as well as being a hero, and while he couldn’t join in battle, he’s resourceful and still has many of the world’s greatest heroes in his rolodex if need be.
- I’ll eventually explain more about the Zodiac Council and the Zodiac Champions. Earth has only ever had the one, Captain Scorpion, but other worlds had different ones. And in your campaign, a player might be selected as Captain Scorpion instead. Or one of the other Zodiac Champions. While a full list will come later, some examples are Starbull, Zodiac Champion of Taurus, the Sign of Power, and Sentinel Leo, Zodiac Champion of Leo, the Sign of Faith. I’m inventing some symbolism and associations for the Signs, so don’t feel beholden to existing cultural / astrological significance.