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"Yes, I really used to dress like that. It was a different time. The fellas didn't seem to mind any, though." ~Richard Grey, on his World War II-era "Zephyr" costume, in the documentary Avenging before the Avengers: the Sentinels of Liberty, hosted by Trish Tilby

Zephyr was a Golden Age superhero, a mutant and member of Captain America's Sentinels of Liberty in World War II. This character was created for the Joint Venture Universe.

Zephyr (Joint Venture)
Condor-JV
Real Name Richard Grey
Current Alias None
Alias(es) Zephyr, The Human Condor, "Flying Fruit"
Relatives Adam Grey, (father, deceased), unnamed mother, Joseph "Joe" Grey (brother, deceased), Patrick Mason (husband), John Grey (nephew), Elaine Grey (niece-in-law), Jean Grey (grandniece), Sara Grey (grandniece), Paul Bailey (grandnephew-in-law, deceased), Gailyn Bailey (great-grandniece), Joey Bailey (great-grandnephew)
Affiliation Sentinels of Liberty (retired)
Base Of Operations Washington, D.C. (former)
Alignment Chaotic Good
Universe Joint Venture Universe
Gender Male
Eyes Grey
Hair White (formerly black)
Unusual Features A man in his mid-nienties who possesses the physical fitness and mental acuity of a man in his early sixties.


History

Early life

Richard Grey is the youngest son of explorer Adam Grey and his wife. As such, although his family is native to New York  City, he ended up moving from place to place  quite a bit. One such move would change his life forever.

When Richard was eight, and his elder brother Joseph twelve, Adam took the entire Grey family -- the boys and their mother -- on an expedition to the Andes, to study the condors of the region. Unfortunately, duirng their explorations, they strayed into the Amazon basin -- perilously close to the lost civilization of Nova Roma. Tragically, Adam and his wife were captured by Nova Roman border guards, to be offered up as a sacrifice to their God-Queen.

Only Richard and his brother escaped, living alone in the Andes with only each other to depend upon for years while they evaded the mysterious people who had kidnapped their parents. In secret, Richard would watch the condors that lived in the trees near home, and emulate them, eventually discovering that he, too, could fly. He kept this discovery from Joseph, as he was afraid that Joseph might think his miraculous new power was some form of witchcraft, and turn on him.

Escape to New York

Eventually, the Nova Roman soldiers who had pursued them for years had them cornered, and Joseph and Richard were forced to flee the Amazon altogether, with Richard revealing his power of flight to his brother for the first time. The Grey brothers flew north for nearly half a day, Richard carrying his older brother as if he weighed nothing, until they saw a sight Joseph remembered from his childhood: the rise of the Empire State Building.

The brothers landed in New York, where Joseph, now twenty-one, decided he would make a life for himself. Richard, now eighteen, was uncomfortable in such a large city after so long in the rainforests and mountains of South America, returned south, along the East Coast, in search of a place like that which he had come to call home. His powers temporarily exhausted from his long flight, RIchard either walked or hitchhiked southeast until he found the forests of western Maryland, where he happily settled into a hermitage of his own, becoming "The Human Condor," something of an urban legend.

 A Sentinel of Liberty

By this time, word of the urban legend reached Captain America, who was assembling a team of superhumans to battle the forces of HYDRA -- the first such organization in American history. This group would be called the Sentinels of Liberty.

When he was first approached, Richard was skeptical, having had little practice in the use of his powers and even less working with a group. He was later convinced to join by the team's strongman Patrick Mason, AKA Thunderfist, whose massive size and titanic strength concealed a kind and sensitive soul. In addition, studies done by the scientific genius known as the Riveter and Nina Minoru, Earth's Sorceress Supreme during that era, showed that Richard's powers went far beyond simply flight -- he did, in fact, have the power to control the forces of gravity. With this new information, Richard agreed to Captain America's offer and became Zephyr.

Led by Captain America, the Sentinels won many battles against HYDRA and the Axis Powers in World War II; among them was the liberation of Jack Fury and his Howling Commandoes, which Steve then led, naming Nina Minoru his successor as leader of the Sentinels, with Isaiah Bradley, the first Super-Soldier to be created with the Erskine formula, taking Captain America's place on the team as the super-soldier Patriot.

During this time, Richard and Patrick grew close, eventually starting a relationship after Thunderfist saved Zephyr from a HYDRA spy called Red Raven, who had infiltrated the Sentinels in hopes of finding a way to steal Zephyr's power over gravity. They remained partners throughout the rest of their time with the Sentinels, and in modern times are now a happily married couple.

The "Death" of Captain America

The Sentinels of Liberty and Howling Commandoes' war against HYDRA ended just outside of Berlin, where Captain America, Bucky, and the Red Skull all seemingly perished in a plane explosion over the Red Skull's castle. The remaining agents of HYDRA surrendered after their leader's apparent demise. In the aftermath of the battle, Nina Minoru and Zephyr were responsible for transporting prisoners from Berlin directly to Ryker's Island Prison.

Zephyr was devastated by the loss of Steve Rogers, on whom he had always harbored a crush. Thunderfist knew, but did not judge, instead supporting his lover as best he was able. The two men retired, along with the rest of the Sentinels, shortly thereafter.

 Into the Modern Day

Richard Grey

Richard Grey as he appears in the modern day

Richard and Patrick eventually reconnected with Richard's brother Joe, now married and with a son of his own, named John. While Joe was initially put off by Richard's coming out as gay, relations between the brothers quickly warmed, and they remained close until Joe's death in the early 1980s.

Richard and Patrick managed to survive both decades of rampant homophobia and the worst years of the AIDS crisis, relying on each other and building a life together. Then, in the mid-1990s, another long-standing question of Richard's was answered via a scientific dissertation by Professor Charles Xavier: that Richard's ability to fly and power over gravity, and Patrick's superhuman strength, were in fact mutant in origin. Furthermore, when Richard's youngest grand-niece Jean displayed superhuman powers like his own, he was the first in the family to accept her, and to encourage her to use her gift as he had, to protect the world and the people she loved.

Today, Richard and Patrick are finally married and live a happy, quiet life in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, not far from the college where Richard's nephew, Jean's father John, is a professor. They remain in good health and good spirits, though they have put the superhero life behind them. Most recently, both men have been elated at the news that Captain America was found, alive, in the Arctic Ocean, and revived, though Richard admits to some good-natured jealousy that Steve Rogers has not aged in the seventy years since he saw him last. Time will tell if fate has anything new in store for him or his husband.

 Powers

Richard Grey is a mutant with various powers related to gravity; specifically, to reducing or negating its influence on physical objects.

Gravimetric Flight: The first power Richard ever discovered was the ability to fly by controlling gravity in a certain radius around him. As Zephyr, he could fly at any speed or height at which he could still breathe normally. In his youth, he managed trans-continental flights at the speed of a modenr-day passenger aircraft, though this drained him. His air speed successfully outstripped the average land speed of such superhumans as the Whizzer with no ill effects. In his civilian life it is unknown if he retains the air speed or stamina he once possessed, though he has demonstrated that the ability to fly is still his.

Weight control: By affecting how gravity affects an object, Zephyr can make that object weigh as much or as little as he desires. He has made crates of World War II ordinance weigh less than an ounce, and made a single bullet weigh upwards of 10 tons (20,000 lbs). He can even affect objects in transit without altering their velocity or trajectory, such as increasing the weight of a bullet as it travels to make it more impactful.

Force Field Generation: Zephyr can create a gravitational force field around himself or others, capable of protecting them from any physical impact, up to and including incendiaries and explosives.

Tactile Gravimetric Strength: By decreasing the force of gravity around something he is touching, Richard can lift and manipulate objects many times his size. His full strength is undetermined at this time; rather, he seems to be able to lift almost anything he can conceive of. During the war, he managed to disable several Axis and HYDRA battleships, which can weigh upwards of 58,000 tons, simply by carrying them off.

Graviton Attraction: By focusing intensely, Richard could cause an inanimate object (such as a 1-foot diameter rock) to radiate enough gravitons to give it its own gravitational field, able to attract nearby matter and energy.

 Movement Impairment: By increasing the pull of gravity beneath his opponents, Zephyr can slow their movement or even pin them to the ground, having applied too much gravimetric pressure to allow them to move. He can also cause sufficient gravitational stress to impair the normal functioning of the human cardiovascular system, inducing a heart attack or stroke simply through use of his gravimetric powers. In extreme cases, he can crush objects and people with a powerful gravity well; however, he was loathe to do this even during the war, and is even less inclined to do so now.

Graviton Blast: In the ultimate expression of his power, by rapidly projecting gravitons in a cohesive beam, Zephyr can generate a blast of pure gravimetric force. He can project this blast outwards in a single direction, in a beam or conical shape, or in an omni-directional sphere about himself. The upper lmit of this blast's concussive force is unknown, but during the war it yielded a payload equivalent to the primary shock wave of an explosion of 20,000 pounds of TNT. With sufficient concentration, Zephyr might conceivably exert his power to level a whole city.However, he uses this power only rarely, as it is incredibly taxing.

Physical Fitness: Despite being well into his nineties, Richard retains the physical fitness and mental acuity of a man several decades younger. He attributes this to diet and regular exercise, though it is possible there may be trace amounts of the Erskine formula in his body. How those traces got there is a hotly debated matter.

Multilingual: Richard speaks fluent English, Spanish, and Italian.

Weaknesses

Physical Condition: Zephyr's ability to wield his gravimetric powers effectively is dependent upon his physical condition. When severely injured, his body is unable to withstand the strain of manipulating gravitons. As he has gotten older, and is no longer at his physical peak, Richard also appears to have greater difficulty utilizing his gravimetric powers for any particularly taxing feats. Physical and mental fatigue can ultimately affect his ability to adequately use his powers, especially if he overuses or overextends them in a short amount of time.

Power Exhaustion: Zephyr had, and still possesses, a limited "well" of energy resources to draw upon. Expending all his energy on a sufficiently taxing feat, such as a trans-continental flight, will leave him physically weakened and unable to use his powers for a time afterward. The time necessary for recovery is entirely dependent on his physicality; at his peak, with ample time to rest, he can access his abilities again within a matter of hours, but if he is forced to physically exert himself in some fashion after completely depleting his powers, this recovery period can extend to days, even a week if he is under enough pressure.

Flight Limitation: Zephyr can only fly as high as there is sufficient oxygen for him to breathe. Similarly, his flight speed is affected by how much stress his body can take. He is also not resistant to cold; if flying at higher altitudes for longer periods of time, he runs the risk of freezing, especially in his relatively revealing World War II-era costume.


Emotional Stability: As is the case for many openly LGBT+ individuals growing up in "less enlightened" times, Richard possesses a degree of emotional vulnerability. When angered, he can sometimes inadvertently lash out with his gravimetric powers, usually in the form of a destructive graviton blast. The first incarnation of the cybernetic HYDRA agent Arnim Zola was destroyed in this manner, after gloating to Zephyr about the death of Steve Rogers.

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