The Conductor

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  • Graham:

    My name is Chastity Nicollette, and I am a huge fan of this character concept.

    I stumbled upon it earlier today while looking for a way to combine Sherlock Holmes with the Ben 10 alien Feedback. I thought that "Conductor" would be a fantastic name for such a hero, what with orchestrating events around him like a musical conductor, and of course electrical conduction. Upon Googling "superhero conductor," I found this image, and it so perfectly evokes what I was trying to capture.

    You see, I'm writing in a story thread where I'm playing a Hero Dialer from a DC-based continuity. But rather than picking the heroes and heroines that she Dials to become, I ask readers and co-writers to suggest heroes or powers that she might become or emulate.

    One person suggested Feedback. Another suggested Sherlock Holmes. Thus, a mash-up was born. I would love to use your picture, please, with your kind permission, to represent this version of "The Conductor" that she becomes.

    I would of course link to this blog post in the character description, making certain that you get credit for the image and the overarching concept you've created.

    My characterization, of course, may not be spot-on, as I will seek to directly incorporate Sherlockian references and mannerisms– particularly the weaponized "Sherlock Scan" that appears in the Robert Downey Jr films. And I may take small liberties with the powerset as I understand it. I hope that will be all right.

    Of course, if you are not okay with this, I would completely understand, and would seek an alternate way to represent the character. But I thought it would be unbecoming to use your original imagery without at least seeking your permission first.

    Hoping to hear from you soon,
    Chastity "Chas" Nicollette

  • Please forgive me.

    Much like Holmes himself, my brain rebels at stagnation, and this story was burning a hole in my brain.

    I went ahead and wrote the scene combining your Conductor concept with Sherlockian references and methodology.

    But if you have fierce objections to my utilizing this notion, please let me know and I will gladly use the edit function to scrub your character out and replace him with some other ectype.

    I hope this finds you well.

    Chastity "Chas" Nicollette.

  • Hi Chas,
    Ooops sorry wasnt watching for the comments closely enough. Yes, please use the conductor art and look around here for more that might be useful for you and just credit when you use it as you said. Happy to support a fellow writer/designer/gamer 🙂
    Let me know how you go!

  • Central City, Kansas.
    15 Years Ago.

    The world rippled under 15-year-old Ruby Reed, and she flinched, and clenched her teeth, and hung on tight.

    A rooftop loomed below, and she leaned for it, lean, leeeeean…

    …she landed with a thump, rolling off of her flimsy, threadbare means of transportation and clinging to the solid rooftop for a moment, grateful to be alive.

    "Holy fuck," she mumbled from under her hood, which had blown back from her head in flight but had fallen back over her face when she'd slumped onto the roof.

    "What was that?" a voice issued from the marsupial pocket of the grey hooded sweatshirt she was wearing. "Are you all right?"

    Ruby took a breath, reached into that pocket and pulled out The H-Dial, chucking back her hood.

    "I'm all right, Tex, I'm okay, promise, sorry about my language," she reassured him. "Your patriotic old flying carpet got me halfway across Colorado and all the way across Kansas. Just… barely."

    "Good. I'm sorry I couldn't provide something with seatbelts or lower mileage on such short notice. Do you still have sight of the objective?"

    Ruby was a brave enough soul, and she only had to wait a few more seconds for her knees to stop trembling.

    Then she stood, straightened her baggy hoodie, and hurried to the edge of the roof.

    There they were. One of Thunderbolt's hovercraft had parked in a vacant lot surrounded by high fences, and its pilot had emerged– clad in a Thunderbolt uniform– to greet a mysterious figure robed in green.

    "Yeah, Tex, I got 'em. I'm gonna hang up now in case I need to Dial in a hurry. Thanks for, uh, Coordinating. Give Sooz my best."

    "Good luck, Ruby."

    And CLICK! Tex Thompson, Hero Hotline's mysterious Coordinator, was gone.

    Leaving Ruby to listen in, flat on her tummy on the roof and straining to hear.

    "As your master requested," the fellow in the Neo-Nazi esque Thunderbolt uniform intoned, pulling a vial of purple fluid out of his pocket, presenting it to the figure in the green uniform. "A genetic sample from the dullard bruiser Mammoth. Hiring him to attack S.T.A.R.Labs in Denver was just window-dressing."

    "Excellent," the figure in the green hooded robe hissed. "The Master extends his regards for Mr. Thunder. The payment will be deposited in the agreed accounts in but a moment."

    "Mr. Thunder will, I'm sure, return that respect in kind," the Thunderbolt agent nodded, and then cued up the turbines of his hovercraft, preparing to head out again. "But out of professional curiosity– what would you want with the DNA of such a mindless monstrosity?"

    The engines were configured for almost-silent flight, but at this distance the rising whine was able to blot out their voices– Ruby had been barely able to hear them as it was. If she could just get a good view of their faces, she could lip-read, that was better than nothing.

    She leaned over the edge of the rooftop, straining, squinting–

    –slipped a bit, reflexively snapped "FUCK!"–

    –as The H-Dial slipped out of her grip and bounced clatteringly through the metal grating of a fire escape towards the alley below.

  • Fortunately, a gold-and-red streak zipped out of nowhere, caught The Dial before it hit the ground (probably it would have been fine, but still), and then whooshed up the wall to carry it back up to Ruby.

    She knew who it was even before the streak blurred to a stop: ten-year-old Wally West, Kid Flash.

    He grinned at her. "Hey, Ruby! I haven't seen you since that weird crap with Agamemno–"

    Ruby waved at him to shut up, her eyes wide, but it was too late, she'd already given the game away with her own clumsiness.

    Between the various shouts and clangs, both the green-robed guy and the Thunderbolt agent were glaring at them.

    The hooded mystery man rounded on the Thunderbolt agent. "You imbecile! You led heroes right to us! If my Master's long game is exposed–!"

    The Thunderbolt scowled. "Children. Pests. But don't get your robes in a bunch. Mr. Thunder took the liberty of putting some local muscle on retainer in case of such… interruptions. They should be sufficient to cover our respective escapes."

    Grabbing a radio from his pocket, he pressed the transmit button and roared: "GET THEM!"

    And then in a crackle and a flash of light and a billow of glittery smoke, they were joined in the vacant lot by five menacing figures:

    Abra Kadbra, whose futuristic technomagic had provided that dramatic entrance.

    Captain Cold and his partner-in-crime, Heatwave, armed with their respective cryonic and thermic energy weapons.

    Mr. Element, wielding a raygun of his own that could transmute physical substances into any element on the periodic table.

    …and Captain Boomerang, equipped with his trademark array of trick boomerangs.

    "Well, shit," Wally opined, green eyes wide.

    "Language," Ruby wisecracked ironically, grimly snatching her Dial out of Wally's hand and Dialing, well, in a hurry.

    4. 3. 7. 6.



  • Hypertime stretched out before Ruby like a vista.

    And then snapped back like a rubber band.

    Lightning crackled in her skin as she changed…

    …and then… didn't… stop?

    She was male again this time. In a skintight uniform adorned with glowing nodules, a battery pack on her back with an aerial extending high over one shoulder… electricity dancing from his gloved fingertips.

    "I am… The CONDUCTOR!"

    He had an Australian accent, still, perhaps interestingly.

    His eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the five Rogues in the lot below already breaking formation to come and attack them, and then his eyes narrowed. "Right, then."

    The Conductor glanced at Kid Flash, still hesitating beside him, still wondering what strangeness Ruby Reed had conjured this time, and scanned him with a gaze. "I recognize your icon."

    And slapped a palm onto Wally's chest.

    Electricity sizzled, the taste of ozone filled the air, Wally flinched as "Ow hey that stings!" and golden lighting coursed out of Kid Flash and into The Conductor.

    The Rogues had only made it a few steps running across the vacant lot, and Kadabra had only levitated a few feet off the ground… but then they seemed to sloooooowww…

    …time stopped.

    "What did you just do?" Wally demanded, one hand in his ginger hair as he staggered a bit.

    "The extradimensional energy field you call The Speed Force vibrates down into this dimensional plane in a form resembling electricity. I have momentarily harnessed it to accelerate our perceptions and thought processes that we might strategize. Such a maneuver does eclipse my natural electromagnetokinetic abilities, but they will return when this effect fades."

    The Conductor straightened, and stepped out to the edge of the roof.

    "Data, data, data. I can't make bricks without clay."

    He pointed at each Rogue in turn. "Cryokinesis, pyrokinesis, transmutation, all derived from rayguns, point-click interface. 64th-Century adaptive micro-opto-electronics combined with phase shifting, simulating gaudy displays of stage magic, exceptionally versatile, problematic. But the weak link is there–" he pointed at Captain Boomerang "–he is skilled with his arsenal of hand-flung projectiles but his psychological profile makes him unreliable and he possesses insufficient physical capability to stand against us."

    "I don't see how picking off Boomerang gets us any kind of advantage against the rest of these feebs," Wally protested.

    "You see," The Conductor held up an instructive finger, "but you do not observe. The distinction is clear."

    Wally narrowed his green eyes severely. "You are not my favorite Hero that I've ever seen Ruby Dial, holmes. In fact, you're a little trying."

  • Tracing lines in the air from Captain Boomerang to just above the respective heads of Cold, Kadabra, and Element, The Conductor squinted, continuing as though Wally had never complained. "Things must be done decently, and in order: when the time dilation fades, immediately circle around behind 'Captain' Harkness at Mach 7.013 and divest him of his weapons, hurling them at angles encompassing this arc. The individual effects of the 'trick' boomerangs are… academic… as we cannot defeat them in this way, I have already extrapolated numerous scenarios where you attack them directly with the boomerangs and they all end in Kadabra turning them into doves or some such trifle. We must merely put these four on their proverbial back foot for a protracted instant. Heatwave will retaliate, firing at me at a 77.3-degree angle when he realizes that I am airborne. While this happens and before his compatriots recover, you must then circle around again at 1123.63 miles per hour and in turn deprive Mr. Element of his weapon, using it to transmute the radius of dirt beneath the non-airborne Rogues into a seven-percent-solution of saline approximately 4.241891 inches in depth."

    Wally hesitated. "Yo, Conductoid, I'm in elementary school. I don't know how to use Element's gun to even make simple elements, let alone compounds and solutions of compounds–"

    The Conductor whirled to face him, grimacing. "I exist in this state of temporal grace only momentarily, but you have the blessed gift of being a perpetual motion engine, forever capable of darting between nanoseconds and watching the world fall still like aspic. You are by very nature a quick study, Wallace, and now you know my methods. Apply them."

    Wally took a step back, startled by the ferocity The Conductor's eyes, the ruthlessness– like a mastermind– like a high-functioning sociopath. "Uh. Yessir."

    Time began to wind and whine back up again, and The Conductor pushed off of the rooftop with a puff of force as the Speed Force lightning burned out of him and baseline electromagnetism once more crackled around him. "Do your part. I shall do the rest."

    "Let's go." Kid Flash flashed forward.

    He raced down the side of the building, vibrated through the fence circling the lot, and was behind Captain Boomerang before a hummingbird could have flapped its wings once. Arms blurring like buzzsaws, he snatched the boomerangs off of "Digger" Harkness' blue uniform and immediately flung them in the arc The Conductor had prescribed.

    Roaring with dismay and fury and surprise, Element, Cold, and Kadabra found the air above them and around themselves beset with flash-bangs, taser-shocks, fire and ice and glue–

    –but Heatwave, Mick Rory, he saw a clear shot almost directly above him at the electrically-humming stranger, and he took it, blasting superheated plasma–

    "I may not be the brains of this outfit," he growled, "but I know a magnet loses its pull when it loses its cool!"

    The Conductor simply held out his palm and the blast dispersed in the air just before the skin of his glove, shimmering out of existence, and his eyes almost… twinkled… with something resembling amusement. "Elementary. Less well-known is the concept of the thermocouple, by which excess heat may be converted… into electricity."

  • Heatwave's brow furrowed in puzzlement, but then widened again as realization struck– and as The Conductor began to resonate– rattle and hum –with a supercharged electromagnetic field…

    …in that instant, Wally darted across the lot like a neural impulse jumping synapses, grabbing the gun out of Mr. Element's grip…

    …time slowed to a crawl again for him as he desperately examined the weapon, fighting his youthfully-exuberant brain to remember the scant scraps of scientific knowledge, "Flash Facts," that he'd managed to absorb from his mentor Barry Allen…

    …and when everything sprang back into motion again, Kid Flash pointed Mr. Element's gun at the ground, pulled the trigger.

    The very earth that four Rogues stood upon crackled and sizzled and shifted, becoming salt-water.

    "I never can resist a touch of the dramatic," The Conductor mused.

    And a thunderbolt the girth of a sequoia flared and stabbed downward from The Conductor into the pool of water that Wally had so graciously provided–

    –Wally himself had seldom moved faster, watching that lightning bolt descend, and with all due haste he stampeded out of the watery pool to perch atop the fence at the perimeter of the lot.

    Electricity frazzled every nerve in those Rogues' central nervous systems– despite their uniforms' insulation –and their weapons were instantly rendered useless by the EMP.

    They crumpled, shuddering, twitching, groaning.

    All but for Abra Kadabra, who, shaken, singed, damaged, long black coat smouldering, nevertheless escaped the worst of the damage and brandished his magic wand at The Conductor.

    "In my future, fools, a mere electromagnetic pulse is what we call a parlor trick."

    And a green bolt of energy stabbed from the tip of the wand, leaping in an arc to the tip of The Conductor's shoulder-mounted aerial, coursing into him, blasting him back–

    "AHHHHHHHH!" The Conductor roared, tumbling from the air and landing in the dirt in a heap.

    Coat billowing around him, Kadabra swooped low over the fallen Conductor, sneering. "'A touch of the dramatic.' Feh! You know nothing of showmanship."

    The Conductor coughed, and grinned up at Kadabra. "I know that the first rule of magic… is misdirection."

  • And with a wave of his hand, The Conductor projected a ramp sculpted from electromagnetic force…

    …which Wally sprinted up faster than the blink of the fastest eye, up to where Kadabra levitated, kicking the wand out of Abra's hand in the same instant that his fist bisected Kadabra's jaw.

    Kadabra corkscrewed insensate in the air for a moment before splashing into the puddle with the rest of the cronies.

    Wally stood over the fallen Kadabra for a moment, tutting. "Man, everyone's wearing these long black coats, now. The Matrix has got a lot to answer for."

    Then he zipped over to The Conductor, offering him a hand up. "You okay there, brainstorm?"

    The Conductor smiled at him shakily, accepting the hand and rising. "It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely. Thank you, Wallace."

    Captain Boomerang stirred woozily nearby, and The Conductor stepped over to him and knocked him back unconscious with a single grim punch. "Ned Kelly would be ashamed of you."

  • Kid Flash glanced around, and frowned. "Looks like those two guys who signaled these Rogues are long gone."

    "I am not particularly surprised," The Conductor mused. "No doubt Thunderbolt hovercrafts are hardened against EMPs, and equipped with some manner of chameleon circuit. I only regret that I can perceive no clue as to the identity of the robed figure with whom he met. I can only trust that they will surface in time for us to best them– to paraphrase the proverb: Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another."

    "Uh, yeah," Wally chuckled. "If you say so."

    At this moment, air rushed beside them and the ground quivered under thundershock footfalls– The Flash himself, Bartholomew "Barry" Henry Allen blurred to a stop beside Kid Flash.

    The Conductor briefly considered that the power he had converted from Heatwave's attack was a mere erg compared to the way that Kid Flash lit up upon seeing his mentor.

    "I'm sorry I got held up," The Flash apologized. "Grodd was–"

    He hesitated, glanced around. "But I see you've managed to keep busy while you waited. Did you defeat five Rogues?"

    "Not alone," Wally admitted, though he was absolutely glowing under The Flash's praise, even brighter than before. "This is The Conductor, Ruby Dialed him."

    The Flash nodded gratefully to The Conductor, and shook his hand. "Thank you, ah, Conductor. And thank you… Ruby… pretty sure you're in there somewhere. Thanks again for your help with Agamemno and The Secret Society."

    "I am glad," The Conductor nodded back simply, his glove in The Flash's, "to represent justice so far as my feeble powers go."

    He paused, then. "But I must warn you, Flash, Kid Flash. My electromagnetic senses detect something curious– it is almost as though, for the instant when my electromagnetic pulse lit up the nearby spectrum moments ago– I saw a second power grid layered upon that of Central City and her twin sister Keystone, as though there were twice as much power being generated in these cities as the output would suggest–"


    And with a burst of hypertemporal flux, The Conductor was gone, leaving behind slight, awkward, decidedly tomboyish Ruby Reed. "–um. Sorry."

    "Whatever the rest of his sentence was going to be, it's gone with him."

    "It's all right," The Flash clapped Ruby reassuringly on the shoulder. "You guys stopped five Rogues today, that's a victory no matter how you shake it out. You guys did brilliant work today, all that's left is the clean-up."

    He grinned at Wally in particular. "You. Are going to make an amazing full-fledged Flash someday, I'm more sure of it than ever."

    Kid Flash grinned sheepishly, taken aback by the scope of that compliment. "Uh, thank you, Unc– Flash. But no rush on that, okay? You're gonna be around a good long while yet."

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