Pride, the 6’4” mountain not unsimilar to Torque himself in build laughed from behind his head dress, “Right, you’re gonna hurt me. And gas prices are gonna drop to a buck and half soon, too, I bet. Screw you, kid. You did fine against the canon fodder, but you earned a beat down from the King.” Redline glanced back at the dozen bangers he’d fought on the rooftop, still not moving enough to be a threat. In the heat of the fight he didn’t even realize where they’d ended up, the Billingsly Apartments. Same place Torque had thrown Roughrider off the roof, this roof. Great, was he here to pay for Reggie’s crime? Karma was a serious bitch.
The two began circling, Jake maneuvering his batons into position as the beast man shifted. He’d never faced Pride before, seen plenty of his victims, but the way he moved, there was something familiar. For the first time in months Jake felt something rise over the excitement of ‘the game’ as Reggie called it. It was fear. Almost as overpowering as the first night he threw himself in harms way to help the girl. He’d grown confidant and even a bit cocky. Not like Reggie who seemed to take a little too much joy in fighting, but with the changes to his body he’d become GOOD at this, and he was a quick learner. He was either practicing fighting with Reggie, parkour on his own, scouring Science City at night hunting criminals or sleeping. He’d dropped out of Community College because this life was just too exhilarating to put on hold. And Reg had the trust fund, so money wasn’t a problem.
Pride lunged, going low. It looked like a set up, he’d seen Jake side flip over his minions and take them out as they were off balance. He switched it up and spun to the side instead, fortunately for Pride rolled and kipped up with his toe claws striking nothing but air. Before he could land from his miss Jake spun a sweeping kick out, knocking the big man down onto his side. He was prone, and this had to end fast. If he tried to go toe to toe with the monster he was going to end up like Reggie, or worse. All that practice with Reggie was about to pay off, he had a combo in his pocket that even Reggie couldn’t defend, even when he knew it was coming. He lept into a flip, wrapped Pride’s neck and threw him low into the concrete wall the door hatch was in, then went in for the kill. 15 strikes from every direction, baton, knee, foot.. as he twisted into a back kick he caught the monster in the chin, sending the Lion mask flying. Keeping his momentum he went for the finishing strike, jamming both batons into the solar plexus. But mid strike he was stopped dead. Pride had crossed his big arms and protected the spot, intercepting the move perfectly. Jake looked up to see his opponent’s face for the first time.
“Reggie?” His friend slammed his thick head square into Jake’s, pain and stars overwhelming the smaller combatant.
“I knew you’d try that stupid move, Jake. I always hated acting like it was better than it was.”
Plagued all his life with poor health, Jacob O’Ryan was born to a young girl living on the streets and given up for adoption. Jennifer and Jason O’Ryan saved the boy from a life of destitution and probably an early demise. The software engineer and his wife took the boy to specialists near and far to help him recover from his various heart and lung problems and it wasn’t until he was fourteen he made it through a full year without having to be hospitalized. He was thin and much smaller than his classmates, but for once he considered himself healthy.
Although he had a blossoming interest in sports he’d missed out too long on being able to participate, and was far to small and unskilled to break into any of the teams in high school. He relegated himself to what he’d found solace in through his youth, video games where he could be anyone and anything, regardless of his physical shortcomings. He did take up an interest in free running, and found a makeshift course to run in an abandoned industrial park not far from his home. It was safe, or fairly safe, during the day. But he was trying to teach himself by watching you tube videos and the small progress he was making wouldn’t have impressed anyone. Endurance was something he’d never had, followed closely by strength. Then he met Reggie Tolland.
Reggie was older than Jake by a pair of years, they met at a GameStop picking up preorders of the same game and Jake agreed to friend him online so they could play together. Over the course of a few weeks they became good online friends, despite the age difference, and when Reggie learned Jake was trying to teach himself Parkour the elder boy invited him to the gym he went to where they had classes. The new environment seemed to work wonders for Jake who quickly began developing skills, as well as improving his strength and endurance. He assumed it was his body finally becoming what it should have been if not held back by his congenital problems.
Jake wanted to show Reggie the industrial area he trained in after a couple of months and they stopped by there, in Reggie’s car, one night on the way home from the gym. When they arrived they heard screaming, and rushed to find a woman being assaulted by a large insect like creature. They tried to fight it off, but the creature spewed a viscous glowing liquid on them and fled.
Soon after, Jake and Reggie’s physical abilities began to grow beyond normal. Jake added size and became considerably stronger and faster, with near limitless energy. Reggie bulked up considerably and may have lacked Jake’s speed and agility, but made up for it with superhuman strength. The younger boy convinced Reggie they should wear disguises and try to help others. And although Reggie seemed reluctant, he went along with the idea. They soon made a name for themselves with the local human and superhuman gangs as Redline and Torque and when he graduated High School Jake thought they would be the next Batman and Robin.
Of course that dream, just like the bug man and his glowing venom and everything else Jake believed, wasn’t real.
Reginald Tolland, the real Reginald Tolland, was found in a shallow grave. His identity, like so many others, had been assumed by Luthor Dillard, son of the superhuman mass murderer Barlow Dillard, better known as Stain. Stain was a serial killer whose calling card was the horrific scenes he’d leave his victims in, draining every last ounce of blood he could to create his inhuman artwork. One of Dillard’s victims was a biochemist whose lab exposed Dillard to an experimental serum which granted him enhanced strength.
Stain was hunted down years ago and died in a battle with police, but he left a legacy. In his civilian life he had a family. His wife, once she learned what and who her husband was, eventually committed suicide leaving his son, Luthor with his aunt and uncle on his mother’s side. Luthor, despite his family’s best efforts, inherited his father’s personal lusts. He was cunning and affable, the Robinson’s never knew they had a mass murderer in their home. When he was 17 Luthor graduated high school and supposedly joined the military. He did not, he was following in his father’s footsteps. He had inherited all of his parents belongings, and in them he found his father’s journal. It contained not just intricate details of all of his kills but also other interesting facts. Like the laboratory the scientist had worked for and the identity of a street whore he had raped and let live who had born another child. A brother.
Luthor made his way around the country murdering people usually for money, or identities, but sometimes just for fun. Eventually he found the right people at Frotide Labs and was able to find out what had granted his father such wonderful talents. It was a freak accident, just the right chemical cocktail with just the right genetic code. It was messy, but he gathered all the information he needed and verified that he should have just the right genetic structure to benefit from the serum he forced them to create. But if it didn’t work it could be fatal. He needed a test subject, someone else it might bond with. He hunted down the whore’s child and found poor, pathetic Jake. Normally someone as useless as him he would have just taken and forced to do what he wanted, but he believed he could almost feel the kinship with the boy, maybe, given the right circumstances, they could be a family.
He impressed himself on Jake and began dosing the boy’s drinks with the serum. When it began to work he felt safe enough to use it on himself. Knowing that increasing the dosage would have magnified effects he created the Assassin Bug scenario and even played along with Jake’s comic book fantasies by having Leopold, the human cockroach, spray a phoney ‘radioactive fluid’ on them, really just a collection of goo from glowsticks.
Once they began their night patrols Luthor began testing Jake’s resilience, his soul. As Torque Luthor became more and more aggressive, trying to lure the naive kid to his side. When that didn’t work he created the identity of ‘Pride’, which was more fun than work. As Pride he extended the network of subordinates he’d already acquired and actually seized control of the local gangs. He forced Jake into grayer and grayer situations trying to show him the truth, but the kid was useless. He tried to put ‘Redline’ in an impossible situation. He had his number one guy, RoughRider, surprise attack them on the roof of an apartment building. He intentionally lost his fight with ‘Rider and instructed the villain to dangle him over the edge, hoping Jake would use the spike in his baton lethally in order to save his friend. But the kid didn’t have it in him, he pleaded for RoughRider to let him go. ‘Rider, idiot that he was, openly asked Luthor, “Well, what’s the plan now, Boss?” Infuriated, Luthor grabbed RoughRider by the throat and tossed him off the 24 story apartment. Jake didn’t catch on.
Not long later Luthor decided to get rid of Jake. He lured him to the same location, intent to rectify his mistake and throw Jake off, which he should have done before. But when the time came, his identity revealed and he had him where he wanted him, Redline proved to be more competent than Luthor had given him credit for.
Jake realized what had happened, not all of it. That he’d learn when he’d ransack ’Reggie’s’ house and find the files and the evidence. But he pieced it all together, the coincidences, the escalating violence, “what’s the plan now, Boss” Luthor was stronger, more brutal, and later Jake realized an accomplished killer. But the serum gave Jake something it didn’t give Luthor:Reggie:Pride. He didn’t call himself Redline because he ran around in a black speedskater’s uniform with red stripes on it. He called himself Redline because he was the opposite of what he was as a child. At 8 he could barely run for 50 yards without choking and coughing for air, without burning pain in his chest. At 18 he could push himself to the limit, full bore 100 percent for what seemed like an eternity. He was filled with rage and pain, fury and agony. He moved like a relentless machine, striking Luthor five times for every blow the big man leveled. In the span of a few minutes he’d pelted the thing he thought was his best friend more than any ten rounds a prize fighter ever dreamed. He was injured, he knew he had broken ribs. He had lost his batons and had to strike with his fists despite the damage that did to his hands. In desperation Luthor pulled out a long blade and made a last ditch attempt to murder his half-brother, but Redline was too fast, rolled back and pitched the mass murderer over the very ledge intended for himself.
When he discovered Luthor’s personal affects he wanted to turn everything over to the police. Like his father, Luthor had kept grizzly records of his actions over the past 2 years. But to expose Luthor would be to expose himself and his family. As Redline he had created quite a rogues gallery of gang bangers and other criminals, his parents, friends, and extended family would all be targets. Instead he placed everything Luthor had in his home in the bunker he had in the basement and burned it. Luthor of course had found a home for himself so remote that all of the evidence was destroyed long before the fire department arrived. He kept the two journals. Somehow, in some way, he’d figure out how to get the evidence to the authorities without endangering his loved ones.
Jacob (Jake) O’Ryan: Redline
Jake currently stands at 5’10” weighing in just under 180 pounds. Due to exposure to the serum he is roughly 3 times stronger than a man of his height and weight. He can also exert himself at 100% effort for very extended periods of time. He has to work up to this state, getting his heart rate and respiration up to a point that would kill a normal person. His reflexes and coordination are also enhanced. He is an avid free runner and thanks to the combination of strength, endurance and reflexes can accomplish feats no normal person could perform.
Although he heals faster than normal, about 4x faster than a person of his age, he learned early on that he can still break his hands (or feet, or knees, or elbows) by striking opponents with too much force. He learned to use a pair (he keeps several) of weighted carbon batons as fighting sticks. They fit securely in a holster on his back. Luthor had gifted him pairs with extending spikes, but he destroyed those in the fire.
Redline wears a ‘uniform’ which is really a speedskater’s leotard, complete with jacket and hoodie. He also wears glasses and a matching face scarf to hide his identity.
Jake was living in an apartment Reggie paid for with his ‘Trust Fund’. Knowing where the money was really coming from Jake moved out, got himself a job at a local warehouse distributor, and moved into a much more modest efficiency apartment. He didn’t want to ‘move home’ because he feared his alter ego could bring danger too close to his parents. Because of the experience with ‘Reggie’ and the weight of what he was a part of Jake doesn’t take to friendships. He’s kind and helpful, never rude, but he keeps his distance in fear of being betrayed.