in San Francisco was different. Appearing some time after the fire, Inert was never associated with the manipulation of physical chemicals. No pyrotechnics and electrochemics, not even the average injuries inflicted. Instead, there was little to no physical violence in any of Inert’s activities. Dressed in a surgeon’s get up, complete with gown, mask and gloves, Inert was silent and surgical in his strikes. Inert appeared at hostage negotiations, kidnappings and animal attacks. Craven criminals and crazed creatures would collapse at a look or a touch from Inert. His powers were never stated, nor his origin, though those who saw him drew their own conclusions.That is, the ones they wanted to.
Inert’s powers were thought to come from the distinctive smell of camphor and chloroform that constantly surrounded him. The queasiness those around him felt was attributed to this, from which the first whiff of Ginferno arises. Dissimilar to the Black Out incidents are almost all the details of the modus operandi and the general proferment of a persona for the crowd, costume and all. However, Inert’s context is indicative of why this was possible. San Francisco Master Mystery Man was known as the Doctrination, a group gestalt entity that had been incarnated into the body of a leading street medic and surgeon. The Doctrination was all the medical minds of a millenia manifested in human incarnation per generation. Primarily a medicine man, the Doctrination’s host was a favourite of the city at large and he co-ordinated, co-operated and recuperated the cities various teams.
He had disappeared during the Great Fire.
The get up Doctrination’s was sufficiently similar to make the association, sufficiently dissimilar not to insist upon it. On one occassion, his mask was ‘accidently’ pulled back by a collapsing criminal revealed a head almost completely bandaged. Those parts conspicuously not bandaged were apparently scattered with scar tissue consistent with fire injury. Sufficed to say, he was not the good doctor returned, despite these implications of a baptism by fire. Respect was maintained – despite his dress type, Inert was never given a medical moniker, nor gave himself one. People adjusted. The heroes Doctrination had fought and fallen alongside were aware of his means of reintroduction to the world. They tipped their hats, caps and cowls to Inert, but never engaged him as they had the old boy, because he wasn’t him. It wasn’t ice between them, nor fire, but merely an absence, just as there was an absence in Inert. He was not the powerhouse of peace and purpose that Doctrination had been, nor tried to be, and was unobstrusively accepted as a result. Perhaps there would have been a fufilment, and adjustment in this state of affairs, but the year of 1913 put an end to that. There was a hostage situation, a warehouse of TNT, a little girl with pigtails and ponies. Inert walked in, the girl ran out, the flames leapt sky high.
The loss of the criminals was little mourned, Inert was mourned not at all.
They didn’t hate that dead man. Despite publicity and performance, the fine folk of ‘Francisco simply had nowhere to put the pity and pour the pain felt from this loss. Two months later, a boy Doctrination stepped from the loud crowd that formed when Shroudog slammed Cataflaque into the pavement. Shroudog collared by Ferr Al, the spotlight led to a magical lad that healed the fearless feline’s wounds. The boy was carried on shoulder top to the headquarters of the Sons of the San Franciscan Sun, where, with a glass of milk and a quick questioning of the boy’s limitless nursing know-how, he was hailed as Doctrination reborn. Inert had been a shadow, they said, a ghost of the old incarnation serving time until the arrival of the new. A shade, a shard of soul, this relentless revenant had benevolently beheld the city in the stead of his arising successor. Inert’s name was added to the hall, a rare frontpage picture was wreathed in roses, a true carer’s catharsis was achieved, cleanly sealing up speculation behind him.
That the boy’s account of himself as to have come into his powers directly after his predecessor’s passing, seven years previous, played little part into this reverential reasoning.
‘Ginferno’ has been released under a creative commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license. You can clone us, and promote us when you do, just don’t sell us or change us.