Everyone in the small housing development knew "Granny Gertie," as old Gertrude Hempstead was usually called. Young working mothers often left their littlest ones with her during the day; school-age children usually begged the bus driver to drop them off at her house first so they could partake of Gertie's yummy sugar and peanut butter cookies before going home. And every Sunday afternoon, it seemed, there was always a gathering on her wide, wraparound front porch, with singing and playing and lots of delicious little finger foods abounding on the dining table inside.
Gertie and her husband had raised three children (two sons and a daughter) in this same house, back before a housing development even existed. Her sons moved away to larger suburbs within Paragon City as their jobs demanded, but her daughter stayed close by even after her marriage. By the time Gertie was sixty, she already had four grandchildren, and one more on the way.
Unfortunately, the social climate in Paragon City was already shifting for the worse by this time; news of gang activity had been all over the local television stations. Gertie's younger son, Daniel, moved his family away from the city, ending up in a house only three doors down from where he had grown up, so that he could buy some more time to protect his wife Amelia and their children from the violence in the streets. Gertie enjoyed having her children and grandchildren closer to home, but she feared what was happening in Paragon City. Her fears were soon proved to be all too correct.
First, it was the house on the corner of the housing development that was torched; a gang called the "Hellions" had targeted bigger neighborhoods closer to the center of the city before, but now they were apparently after the smaller developments too. Local PPD officers ran the group off and arrested several of them, but it wasn't enough to stop a second attack, this time on Daniel's home. Gertie took him and his family in after their house was nearly burnt to the ground--she thanked God that the whole family got out alive. But it was not too long before the Hellions began knocking on her door--literally.
It was around 1:30 AM, about a month after the last torching incident, when Gertie awoke to the sounds of shuffling and banging coming from downstairs. Suddenly, a shrill cry came from the children's bedroom. Getting up stiffly, Gertie hobbled to her bedroom door and was about to turn the knob when the door was flung back in her face, sending her staggering back against the foot of the bed."Hey there, Mawmaw," the youth at the doorway drawled, waving a brightly burning, fluttering torch in her direction. "Hear tell you bake the best cookies 'round. Well, we're busy making you an oven downstairs..."
Gertie could hear Daniel yelling at the intruders, and some crashing and fighting noises; the shrieks of her grandchildren were almost too much to bear. "What do you want?" she hollered.
"We jus' wanna burn things," he said, laughing as if he were too high or too drunk to care. He waved the torch at her again, advancing into the room, and she tried to dart around him to get to the door, but was too slow. A second youth, hidden in the shadows beyond the door, grabbed her arm."Naw, now, Granny, we can't let you go now. You done seen our faces...we got to get rid of ya now."
A thin knife glinted silver and orange in the light from the rapidly burning fires downstairs. Gertie froze, and the two Hellions grabbed her by the arms and dragged her down the stairs.
"Mother!" cried Daniel, catching sight of her held fast by the two gang members. "Let her go!" He rushed at them and would have freed her, but the Hellion armed with the knife slashed out savagely at him. Daniel fell back against the stair railing, clutching his bleeding arm and shoulder, and the Hellions dragged Gertie towards the living room, where more of the gang members had Amelia and all three children cornered.
"House is gonna be burnin' down 'round your ears in a few minutes, Granny," chuckled one of the gang members. "I figure your boy ain't gettin' up again, neither." He nodded his head back towards the stairs, where Daniel lay wounded. "My buddies'll take care of him soon. Y'all stay here, then...if we find you trying to escape, we'll let the fire deal with you." He let Gertie go roughly, shoving her into the room, and shut the door behind her; it sounded like the gang was dragging chairs up the hall and bracing them against the door to prevent them escaping.
Summoning up what courage she had, Gertie gathered the grandchildren together on the floor, away from the smoke that was already seeping into the room. She directed Amelia to try to open a window to vent the room and see if she could get the screen down so they could escape out the window. Meanwhile, she kept the children as calm as possible. Four voices choked with fear recited Gertie's favorite prayer, the Lord's Prayer:
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name...Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done..."As she prayed the old, old verses, her eyes closed, her arms around all three children, Gertie felt a surge of nearly-painful tingling racing up and down her spine, down her arms and legs, even pricking the hairs on the back of her neck. She bit her lip and kept speaking quietly.
"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."
The tingling intensified, and Gertie began to feel very cold, even though she knew by the pungent smell of smoke that the house was continuing to burn. She finished the prayer, and her youngest grandson tugged at her sleeve.
"Gwanny, Gwanny, you're cold all over!"
Opening her eyes, Gertie was astonished to see that a thin film of frost had developed over her entire body--even her glasses were frosted! Bewildered, she took off her glasses to clean them with a corner of her blouse, but that didn't work; the fabric was frozen stiff as well.
Just then, a Hellion burst into the room. "Shut that window, bitch!" he yelled at Amelia, who was still struggling with the outdoor screen. He hurled a burning stick at her, setting the curtains and her clothes ablaze. Amelia screamed, and Gertie got over to her as fast as her arthritic legs would move, pulling her away from the window. But as Gertie touched Amelia, the fire on her arms and legs dissipated and winked out, as if it had never been. Astonished, Gertie touched the burning curtains and watched as frost somehow appeared, dripping down the fabric and silencing all the flames.
The Hellion stood there, mouth hanging open for a second, before his eyes flared angrily. "Why, you--you ol' witch!" he shouted. "Bad enough we can't get this house to burn, but now you puttin' out fires too?!"
He rushed at her, and suddenly the room seemed full of Hellions, all trying to knock her to the ground. But every Hellion who touched her found himself incredibly cold all of a sudden, and their torches were all put out in seconds. One Hellion reached out and made as if to strangle her, grunting in frustration; Gertie did what instinct demanded and slapped him in the face to drive him away. She didn't expect him to hit the floor and lay unmoving.
As the Hellion thudded to the floor, all battle stopped, and the Hellions looked at Gertie with fear in their eyes for the first time. Gertie looked at her right hand and saw that it was glowing, a bright pinkish-white that brightened the entire smoky room.
"Witch!" one of them hissed.
"No, I'm just a grandmother, defending my family," Gertie said. "And God's protecting me." She gestured to the fallen Hellion. "Get your buddy and get out of this house right now. All of you. I want you OUT of my HOUSE!"
She made a move toward them, and the entire group of Hellions ran out the living room door, forgetting their compatriot on the floor. She could hear them scrambling down the front hall and out the front door, nearly battering it off its hinges.
The Hellion at her feet began to rouse, but shrank back in terror as Gertie reached for him. "Don't touch me!" he cried, scuttling away from her. He got to his feet, stumbled, fell, and got up again, then wobbled out the door and out of the house, moaning and mumbling under his breath.
A few tense seconds of silence followed, and then one of her granddaughters spoke. "Wow, Granny. You showed him!"
Gertie let out a breath that was half-chuckle, half-gasp. "Guess I did!" She looked toward the stairs, and saw that her son was no longer there. "Let me find Daniel," she told the children, and made for the stairs.
As she walked up the stairs, she noticed that while there were still glowing pockets of fire here and there, a large part of the house had remained unscathed. As she passed by each burning portion, the flames died down to ashes with a soft hiss. Finally, after going over the entire house and apparently putting out all the fires, she found Daniel in the children's bedroom, beating out a tiny remaining fire. It also died abruptly as Gertie's foot touched the outer embers.
"Mother?" he asked. He caught hold of her arm and gasped. "Your...your skin is like ice, Mother. Are you all right?"
"Yes, and your wife and children are, too," she replied, shaking her head to clear it of the sudden dizziness and weakness she felt.
"I'll take you to your room," Daniel said, and Gertie nodded.
A few minutes after Daniel had led her back to her room, her youngest grandson came to the door.
"Gwanny?" he said from outside the door.
"Yes, dear?" she answered.
"Can I come in?"
"Yes, of course."
He toddled into the room, and held up his arms to be picked up. Gertie accordingly lifted him gently onto the bed, and he hugged her tightly.
"Gwanny, I'm scared."
"I know," she said, stroking his soft blond hair.
"Dose men were mean," he added, his voice muffled by the sleeve of Gertie's nightgown.
"I know, but they're gone now. And if they know what's good for them, they won't come back."
"'Cause Gwanny was strong," he said, looking up at her with wide, trusting green eyes. "Gwanny not let bad men come back."
"I think God had a lot to do with how strong your Granny was," Gertie said gently.
"We pwayed, 'n den you got cold. God did it?"
"Yes," Gertie replied. "I think God did it all."
Her grandson smiled, and snuggled his little face into the sleeve of her nightgown again. It seemed he was almost asleep, so Gertie rose carefully with the child in her arms, about to take him back to his bed. But he stirred, and woke again, briefly.
"Dose men not wub us." He was remarkably matter-of-fact.
"No, I don't think they loved us at all."
"You wub us, though. And God wub us too. Why dose men not wub us?"
"For them, there's not much love in their hearts at all," Gertie said sadly.
"Daddy scared of bad men," her grandson said. "Why?"
Gertie sighed. "Well, there's not much love in the world out there," she said at last. "But you know that your mama and daddy love you, and you know that your granny loves you."
He smiled, the beatific grin of a child about to fall asleep, and Gertie carried him back to his bed and tucked him in. Then she returned to her room, getting back into bed carefully to ease her sore joints. Before she could sleep, though, the thought came to her mind: what if she was the one to bring love back to Paragon City? Maybe God had given her those powers so that she could become a hero like the ones she read about in the papers.
The next day, an unknown heroine with the name of "Wubbius" officially entered the roster at Paragon City's City Hall in Atlas Park. Who she was or where she came from, no one asked and no one knew. Only the heroine herself, dressed in soft pink and white with a gold circlet holding her graying hair back, knew anything--and she wasn't about to give away her real identity so that the Hellions could find her family again.
I wanted to make an older-lady character to go along with my boyfriend's main character, Tubbius (also known as "SANTA!")--I wanted to make a believable Mrs. Claus. Since very few heroes are old (and even fewer are old women), I knew that my character would be very different. And indeed, Wubbius is a very different character from my other heroes in that she is an older woman, and that she is plainly a devout Christian. I included this as part of her story because it's an important part of my life, and I wanted to show a different kind of strength with my old-lady character: strength through faith. Her origin story is a lot more intricate (and a lot longer) because there's more of her non-heroic life to tell about before we get to the part where she gets her powers and becomes a superhero. She's in some ways a bit more developed as a character because of that.
And as for her powersets? Well, I chose Ice Armor because if she's going to be holding down the fort for Santa on Christmas Eve, she better have some ice protection. XD Also, I'd never tried the Ice Armor powerset before and wanted to see how well it could work. The Energy Melee set has always intrigued me, with its ability to stun--and what's more stunning than a grandma throwing a powerful punch? I figure she simply catches the bad guys off guard with the first punch, and it goes downhill from there.
Admittedly, I rhymed my character's name with that of Tubbius intentionally. But I also meant the "wub" part of "Wubbius" to stand for "love," as it does in her origin story when her grandson speaks of the Hellions: "Dose men not wub us." His childlike pronunciation of the word "love" leads Granny Gertie to come up with her pseudonym of "Wubbius" to protect her identity and her family.
Wubbius has developed into quite a Tank in her own right, though at the moment I doubt that she will ever be as unstoppable as Austara has proven to be. But, in a way, this suits Wubbius' character just fine; she's a woman in her late sixties, a grandmother-turned-superhero, so she's not automatically going to be the most badass Tank around. She's just strong enough to defend and keep the baddies busy while her teammates work on them.