Born in a Toledo, Ohio suburb, Adam Hunter lived a very typical midwestern life – until a couple of years after graduating from college, when he found a mysterious case on the side of the road, while traveling the Ohio turnpike between Cleveland and Toledo to visit his parents, Squiggy and Gretchen. He spotted the case while stuck in traffic, and on a whim, jumped out of his car, picked it up, and tossed it in the back seat.
After hugging his parents, whom he hadn’t seen for a couple of months, he ran upstairs to his childhood bedroom, and opened the case. Inside, he found a collection of diamonds – but not just any diamonds – these were hyper-diamonds. Each of the precious stones granted him a different hyper-ability – enhanced strength, enhanced speed, telepathy, telekinesis, invisibility, flight, and more, including some otherworldly abilities that were not of Earth. There was absolutely no indication of where they came from or how that ended up in Ohio, but it seemed that the over two dozen hyper-diamonds now belonged to him.
Stratosphere gained a vast array of hyper-abilities from a collection of hyper-diamonds – flight, enhanced durability, super strength and speed, the ability to breathe in outer space, energy projection, and much more.
After returning home to his apartment in Cleveland the next day, he began testing the abilities afforded him by the hyper-diamonds. It was incredible, as he found that as long as the diamonds were in his general vicinity, he could wield the powers. Furthermore, the stones all seemed to feed off of and synergize with one another. He had his friend, Cali Mara, create a specialized shirt with a series of pockets on the sleeves, in which he inserted one hyper-diamond each. Then, he ventured out, to see just how far he could push the limits of his powers. He quickly found out that there was no limit. Adam was was able to fly into outer space and breathe without a problem; he could move at the speed of light, allowing him to travel to each planet in our solar system in mere hours; he was even able to walk on the surface of the Sun, even if for just a few minutes. But still!
When he returned to Cleveland, he told Cali about his trip, then asked her to help him create a more permanent and functional suit. They worked around the clock for weeks, until they had built the perfect outfit for him to wear, and he took on the superhero mantle and began calling himself Stratosphere. However, after about a year of blasting off into space, looking for days to save, he hadn’t found much. He had stumbled upon a few benevolent alien races, and a couple of low-level space pirates, however, it seemed that for the most part, his part of the galaxy was pretty quiet.
Then, one day he decided to push out a little further, and he stumbled upon a small, but absolutely beautiful, shimmering black planet, which was seemingly abandoned. He would soon find out that the planet itself was alive, and because of one of the hyper-diamonds he possessed, he was able to telepathically and empathically communicate with it. Its name was Bloshimio, and it was actually part of an entire race of planetary beings called the Atramental.
No one had ever known these planets were sentient, because no one in the history of the universe had ever had the capability of communicating with them. Stratosphere was the first. Bloshimio expressed to him that it had traveled throughout the cosmos for a very long time, looking for a warrior who could defend the Atramental against pirates, and others who had been digging for, and harvesting their resources. Of course, these harvesters had no idea they were causing the Atramental excruciatingly brutal physical pain, but now, hopefully, Stratosphere could speak on their behalf.
The hero was more than happy to help, and accompanied Bloshimo back to the main cluster of Atramental planets. There were hundreds of them – all of them different shades and hues of shimmering and shining black, and all of them stunningly beautiful. But also, many of them did indeed have ships orbiting them, and crews of pirates using powerful energy-based tools to drill holes into the surfaces of the Atramental. Stratosphere could literally hear a multitude of voices in his head, screaming in agony. He needed to act fast.
He first tried to reason with the alien space pirates, explaining to them that the planets were sentient, and that they were feeling pain. The pirates, however, laughed at the hero – they, of course didn’t believe a word he was saying; and even if they did believe him, there was no way they were going to just halt such a lucrative operation. Stratosphere would have to turn to more drastic measures. He warned the pirates of said measures; but again, they laughed. And so, Stratosphere dropped the pleasantries and went to work!
He flew from planet to planet, using his strength and concussive blasts to destroy the energy drills. The pirates immediately brandished their weapons and turned their ships cannons on him, but they quickly found out that they were no match for the vast array of powers and abilities he possessed. Because there were so many pirates, it took some time, but eventually the Atramental planets were cleared of the space pirates and their ships. Stratosphere was now able to hear and feel their gratitude. It was an incredible feeling. He agreed to become their protector.
After a few days of fending of subsequent attacks from the pirates, and a few other factions who attempted to harvest materials, he flew back to Earth and told Cali all about the Atramental. She was utterly riveted by the story. He told her he was going back, but first, he wanted to know if she would marry him. She said yes!
They planned the wedding over the next year, as Stratosphere continued to fly back and forth, whenever he was called upon. Then, after the beautiful wedding, the two of them flew out, so that Cali could finally meet the Atramental. Bloshimo allowed them to build a house which would serve as their second home on its surface, and for the next two decades Adam and Cali lived an adventurous, and sometimes perilous life, as they split their time between Earth and the Atramental cluster. Stratosphere was able to infuse Cali with the ability to breathe and exist in Atramental atmospheres, and at times he would lend his wife a few of the hyper-diamonds, so that she could help him in battles against would-be harvesters. She began calling herself Ebony Raven, with her favorite hyper-diamond being the one that allowed her to manipulate a mysterious and mystical black energy.
When they were both in their late 40s, Stratosphere and Ebony Raven had just finished fending off yet another attack, when Adam decided to take a trip back to Earth to visit his family. Cali decided to stay back with the Atramental, and kept the Atramental communication hyper-diamond and the black energy hyper-diamond in her possession.
Adam arrived back at his house in his Cleveland suburb and as he usually did, he took off his super-suit and placed the hyper-diamonds in an old, random-looking cardboard box, and placed it amongst the multitude of other random cardboard boxes in his basement. He then went upstairs to take a long shower, before laying down for a nap.
After a couple of hours he was awakened from his nap by intruders in his house, and to his extreme surprise he found that a pair of renegade alien space pirates, Ridex and Karadian, had come to pay him a visit. They immediately jumped him. He attempted to fight back, but without his hyper-diamonds, he was no match for them. They beat him to within an inch of his life, and finished the massacre by throwing him through the wall and into his garage. He crashed into his car, which subsequently crashed into a high-efficiency propane tank, and caused an explosion that set the house on fire!
Ridex picked up the battered and bruised hero, and fled. Karadian followed, but not before grabbing Adam’s custom-made super-suit, as they had come to believe that the suit alone was the source of his hyper-abilities. They made it back to their ship, and left the planet. The police and the fire departments arrived within minutes, and they were able to put the fire out before too much damage had been done – outside of the garage that had been burnt to a crisp, and the car, which had been nearly vaporized. The ensuing investigation concluded that Adam had been driving toward his house, lost control, crashed, and sparked an explosion. Any possible evidence to the contrary was totally gone. They also assumed that his wife, Cali had been in the car with him.
A week later, funerals were held for the couple. Cali was an only child, whose parents had died several years earlier, so Adam’s family handled everything, with his mother, Gretchen making taking care of most of the arrangements. She was also the beneficiary on Adam’s will, in the case that he and Cali met their demise together, and so it was her job to tend to the house.
She and her other children were in the midst of going through the house and cleaning it out, when she stumbled upon a random cardboard box in the garage. She opened it, to reveal a collection of hyper-diamonds….