Every story has a catalyst.
A moment in which, in most books and movies, the protagonist realizes that their life has changed completely.
Everything about their lives become irrevocably different, new, exciting- and it all stemmed from this one, singular moment.
This one, singular moment, where, had they not been in that place at that time, their life would have remained the same.
Elliot Edison had not anticipated that his life would have one of these moments.
Considering who he was as a person, this said quite a lot.
Elliot had a relatively detailed plan of how he thought his life would pan out. Be it from the cynicism he’d gained over the course of his life, or the fact that he was remarkably self absorbed and spent quite a great deal of time thinking about himself.
And up until his moment, his catalyst and world-altering event, it seemed as though all was going according to how he had foreseen it.
Of course, he was well aware a few elements of this life plan were subject to change.
His employment at InfoBYTE for instance, central hub for all things news and gossip, or so it claimed to be, was subject to end at any moment.
It wasn’t that he was bad at his job by any stretch of the imagination. He was quite the opposite, in fact. Elliot possessed the perfect mixture of ruthless determination and an almost non-existent moral compass that really makes or breaks a good journalist.
His issue with his employment wasn’t even how loosely they seemed to use the word “journalism” at InfoBYTE, which was fairly loose.
Sure, InfoBYTE had started as a cutting-edge news platform, their mission to “give a voice to the common man in the technological age”. But in the minuscule six years since it’s founding, it had become nothing but a glorified cesspool of tabloid drama, brainless quizzes, and what ironically constituted as “think-pieces”. Which were ironic due to how little thought actually went into them, as they were also mostly tabloid fodder, but at least went about it in a slightly more subtle way than the actual tabloid fodder.
Not that Elliot minded the drama, in fact, he actually sort of loved it.
He could only write one more quiz aboutwhat celebrity couple one was based on their preference of cupcake sprinkle before he hung himself, but he didn’t hate his job.
He simply had stopped attending as much as he should.
Elliot was grateful he was so good at what little he showed up to do, otherwise he’d be destitute. But, eventually, he was aware that his attitude was going to get him fired.
No, Elliot’s issue with his job was the same issue he’d found was slowly suffocating every single aspect of his life.
He was thoroughly, completely, absolutely, and maddeningly bored.
Elliot had always struggled with a certain kind of listlessness. Growing up, he’d assumed it was his podunk little hometown and his frustratingly simple surroundings, the people especially upholding that particular adjective.
They’d been so dull, so unoriginal, so...boring. For as long as he could remember he’d wanted nothing more than to get out of there, to go somewhere bursting with life.
And he had, because if anywhere was blossoming with life and newness it was Starlight City.
It was actually the perfect time to live there, he’d wager. Some strange, unforeseen force had recently given birth to superheroes and supervillains, one of which substantially weaker than the other.
On the one hand, the city’s inability to keep a superhero in commission had to be a bad thing. Because bad guys were...well...bad.
On the other hand, it had definitely given Elliot easy work, the steady flux of failing heroes and easy fear-mongering that came with successful villains made the little bit of work he did a breeze.
Perhaps that was, in a way, part of the issue.
Everything felt easy. Sure, it wasn’t as dull as the middle of nowhere, but it wasn’t doing his existential boredom any favors.
The longer Elliot was in the wonderful and bright metropolis, the more he realized that the feeling of stagnation may be more internal than he’d previously thought.
Aside from not knowing where he should be in life and what actually made him feel happy, Elliot was at least more content here than if he’d stayed at home.
He knew he’d give it at least five more years before before conceding and eventually moving back home, whether out of boredom or loneliness only time would tell. He’d settle back in near his family, grow old, and die alone.
Which wasn’t pessimism on his part, Elliot was simply self-aware enough to know he was as intolerable as he was hard to love.
Besides, loneliness suited him better anyhow. He was used to it.
A part of him had just hoped life in the city would have made it feel better.
Up until his catalyst moment, Elliot had honestly found his life tragically predictable. The sort of dull but mildly entertaining best captured in made-for-television Christmas movies.
It was depressing, but realism usually was.
And his life had fit that particular bill until this moment, anyways.
But as Elliot stood there, hand shakily holding up his phone in the dimly lit alleyway, it struck him that this moment was about to change that.
It was about to change everything.
Granted, if he’d had his pick of setting it wouldn’t be some dank, moldy alleyway with his tiny gay ass crammed behind a trashcan, but he could always embellish that particular detail years down the road when he wrote his memoir and Oprah came back from retirement for the sole purpose of interviewing him about it.
The figure that Elliot had his camera pointed at turned, his bright brown eyes widening in shock and abject horror as the sound of Elliot turning off the recording app reverberated through the alleyway.
Elliot slid further out from his hiding place, brushing some of the debris he’d attracted off of his shorts, twirling his phone in his palm.
“I gotta say,” He grinned, “I wasn’t expecting to see you again. At least, not this soon.”
“Please tell me that isn’t live-streaming.” The other man said breathlessly with a nod to Elliot’s phone, panic evident in his expression.
Shit, I should have thought of that. Elliot thought bitterly, that would have blown up my views.
“Of course not.” Elliot responded instead, watching the other boy intently while his own mental wheels began to spin, “I’m not a monster.”
There was a pause as they stood there, silently staring each other down.
Elliot took great strength in the knowledge that the man in front of him was a good person. Arguably, he was one of the city’s best, now that he had thought about it.
This mess shivering in front of him was the only good thing in Starlight City, subjectively speaking.
This man was the longest lasting hero to date, something that had attracted as much ire from villains as it had attention in the media. He was fresh, he was new, and he was something that sold much better than fear, gossip, or stupid fucking cupcake quizzes.
He was hope.
And in Starlight City, hope was as rare a commodity as it was invaluable.
“Not a monster…” Elliot repeated as his plan began to slowly take form, “But extortionist I’m much more comfortable with.”
The man looked horrified, and for a fleeting moment, Elliot almost felt bad.
But fortune didn’t just favor the bold, in Elliot’s experience if you really wanted to get in good with fortune, you took any opportunity given to you and made fortune your bitch.
He had all the leverage he needed, and now he had an idea.
And maybe, thanks to this catalyst, his life was about to finally feel interesting.
“So, here’s what we’re going to do.”