47.3 - AJ Masoud

Amos Jacobs Masoud likes when people call him “A.J.”, and that’s what his friends and favorite teachers use, including Dr. Schumer. The teachers he doesn’t get along with call him “Mr. Masoud”. Some people who only think they know him try and call him Amos. When he brushes them off, they probably give him dirty looks. He wouldn’t know.

He’s not sure what the Junior HHL calls him these days. It’s certainly not “Pharos”, the code-name he’d picked out in middle school. It’s not “Retinator” or “Gay-zor” or any of the other stupid nicknames people used to use for him. Sometimes he’s curious how Stingray or other newer recruits would interact with him. But that would require talking to them, and he’s not interested in that.

He’s a year from graduating, and two years older than he was when he was retired from the JHHL. Older and wiser, he thinks. As Pharos, he had the same mistaken impression that drives many high school athletes: “if I just keep playing on the team, I’ll graduate to the big leagues and then my life will be set!” Most of them just won’t make the cut. A few are out thanks to crippling sports injuries. And what do they have then?

AJ is in the latter category. He still remembers the fight, his stupidity, his over-eagerness to use his one freakin’ power. The feel of the prismatic shards, of a hand roughly forcing the dust over his eyes and clamping shut on his face, of trying to conjure an eye-beam to blast it away and feeling the world explode in fire and pain. That’s the highest he’s ever been, that day and the ones that followed, thanks to all the pain medication they had him on. Doctors said he’d be blind, his power broken. But what did they know? There were options. Treatments. Cures. The superhuman world was full of miracles. His team would find a way. It was just a matter of time.

They say that when one sense is lost, the others sharpen. AJ thinks that must be true. All he could do was lay in bed and listen to whispered conversations in the hall. Even if the senses don’t sharpen, practice makes perfect. He remembers hearing what they were saying. “… not really at our level …” “… poor kid …” “… better if he didn’t come back …”

Screw it. He announced to the adult liaison the next day that he was out, he wanted to be off the team. He wanted to cry when nothing but resignation filled the man’s voice. He wasn’t making a decision after all. He was acknowledging a choice the team had made for him.

As AJ, his grades improved. All that time he’d wasted, reading about the exploits of heroes past and present, practicing his power, honing his accuracy, was better spent in study. When he entered high school, he wasn’t “ex-JHHL member Pharos”, he was just AJ Masoud, a kid on a scholarship from a sympathetic and anonymous donor. Word got around - it always does, this is high school - but by the time anyone brought it up with him, he had already established a small circle of friends, and enough self-confidence to weather the barrage of questions.

When he met Dr. Schumer, he didn’t encounter sympathy, or false admiration, or anything else he’d found his condition would provoke in grownups. If he was on the science track, she would expect much of him, she said. If he found that any of the course work wasn’t available in Braille, or that electronic media lacked a text-to-speech or closed-captioning track, he was expected to report it. He’d not have any excuses for lazy or incomplete work. And he was profoundly grateful.

It’s been a quiet couple of years. Sometimes, AJ gets asked questions about his time in the JHHL. Sometimes, he answers. Advice for other teen heroes is always cynical. He’s more productive when it’s battle tactics, positioning, and the moment-to-moment nuances of a fight. As a ranged attacker, knowing the whole battlefield was his job. He’s happiest when the topic turns to his actual interest: trends in the manifestation of super-powers historically and geographically. College is looking promising, as long as he keeps his grades up.

There’s one new distraction in AJ’s life, and it started late last year. It’s a question he didn’t have answers for at the time, and has been researching more and more lately for his own peace of mind. “Who are the Menagerie?”

#Background

This is AJ, aka Pharos, a “failed Beacon”. He can serve as a source of information about JHHL history, supervillains he’s fought, or combat tactics. He might be part of Summer’s school obligations, or interact with other members of the team at Gardner.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6611749

“Pharos” as a “beacon”? I see what you did there.

Also, cool backstory. I can see him and Alycia having some conversations.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6612047