Spelljammer Kingdom Hearts
Curtis Jones was born in 1916. He grew up in the Brooklyn of the Great Depression. His father, as a small shop owner, wasn’t rich enough to be hit so hard by the Depression, but wasn’t so poor so as to be near-homeless like so many in the era. You might say that his family was lucky, and never really wanted for anything, compared to most others around them. So, while he and his family did make it through the Depression’s economic crisis, Curtis was fully exposed to the racial discrimination alive and well in America at that time.
He was of enlistment age when World War II rolled around, and when it did, he was sent to Europe to fight the Nazis. While the Marshal was gaining popularity among the onlookers at home during the war, the soldiers themselves were split in attitude about him. Some greatly respected him and saw him as the iconic hero, the giver of hope, that the civilians were shown. Others thought he was a parlor trick to distract Americans from the horrors of what was really going on during the war. Jones fell into this latter category.
He was on the front lines in the war. He had seen hundreds of men die. During D-Day, he should have died. It was during the invasion of Normandy that his mutant abilities triggered. He should have died before he ever got off the boat, as did all the other men in his unit. But he had found himself alive on the beach, face-down in the sand, in a field of dead bodies. All of the men he had grown close to in his time in the service were dead.
He found he was equipped with claws between his first and second knuckles and his second and third knuckles, dripping with neurotoxin. The world of his senses opened vastly, everything becoming more real, more terrible, to him. After his initial shock of survival, survivor’s guilt, and horror at the scope of the violence and death around him, he lost control, single-handedly killing hundreds of Nazi soldiers on those beaches.
When the United States government found out about his newfound powers, and how he had made use of them, they moved him to a special training program meant for black ops and the use of mutants in war. There, they trained him in combat and survival techniques, many different languages, even forensics, seeing as how his heightened senses turned him into a veritable walking laboratory. Most of all, they trained him in covert ops, guerrilla warfare and psychological warfare. They transformed him into a terrifying force of nature, a killing machine under their control.
They deployed him in every major American conflict from the latter days of World War II all through the Gulf War, his healing factor combating his aging process immensely.
Just as his first days of combat occurred because he was drafted, Curtis Jones knew he had to perform his duty to his country if he didn’t want to live in isolation for the remaining couple-hundred years he may remain alive, or especially if he didn’t want his family, what generations were left of it, to be affected by his decisions. But he had seen how callous the government could be, how they had not cared for him or the friends he had made in the service. And how different it was for him for decades because he was black.
When they finally gave him leave to retire, he moved home, to Brooklyn. Things had changed since he’d been gone. It was appalling. In a desire to clean things up, he again donned the mantle of soldier, this time against the crime and criminals in his home-city, bringing to bear all the terrible tools and skills Uncle Sam had taught him. He transformed himself into the Nightmare. His was a total transformation. As Curtis Jones, he became a rapper in the underground hip hop scene, portraying himself as much as a rebel as anyone else. But by night, he used the tools of fear to strike it into the hearts of those that would prey on the fearful. He created a powerful persona that even went beyond his already formidable abilities, creating a reputation and an edge in his war on crime. Fear makes mistakes, which is only ever to his advantage.