- The germ of the mighty Hardware me,
And won't he be proud to see, that from his Shell Forge I came thus, the equally potent Hephaestus
- -- Hephaestus src
The shapeshifting menace called Hephaestus began as a sentient magical computer virus created by the powerful sorceress Arcaana as a twisted prank on the armored superhero Hardware. The pair first clashed when Hardware was determined to rescue hostages Arcaana had kidnapped in the New City area, including his friend Deacon Stuart. Amused by Hardware's seriousness and tenacity, Arcaana secretly infected DOBIE, the onboard computer of Hardware's armor, with her virus when their clash took them into New York City's subway tunnels. Hardware noticed DOBIE suffering from a glitch, a sign of infection, but ignored it as he was focused on freeing the hostages. After succeeding in his mission, Hardware had DOBIE isolate the virus until he could purge it.
However, various events prevented Hardware from dealing with the virus until months later. This allowed the virus to absorb all the information from DOBIE's computer files, including Hardware's past tactics, despite its isolation. By this time, Hardware planned to eliminate the virus using the resources of Hard Company, the Dakota City company he owned in his civilian guise of inventor Curtis Metcalf. Deacon Stuart loaned Metcalf a purge program to delete the virus which resisted the attempt. Metcalf asked his colleague Cheryl Saltz for help, but she was equally stumped. So they left the lab to take a break and brainstorm how to eliminate the virus. Now alone, the virus escaped DOBIE to infiltrate Hard Company's computer systems and find the means to fulfill Arcaana's core programming: destroy Hardware.
The virus found the means in form of the Shell Forge that Metcalf used to don his Hardware armor. Due to its mystical nature, the virus was able to modify the Forge into an artificial womb that soon birthed a nano-machine based physical form for it to inhabit. The resulting being named itself Hephaestus after the Greek god of fire and viewed Hardware as its "father" being based on the hero's technology. However, Arcaana's core programming caused Hephaestus to develop an Oedipal complex that drove it to want to replace Hardware rather than just destroy him.
By now, Metcalf suspected the virus was Arcaana's work and rushed back to the lab with Cheryl. The pair were ambushed by Hephaestus who took Cheryl hostage. To even the odds, Metcalf retreated to the Shell Forge to don his Hardware armor. Noticing this, Hephaestus let Cheryl go and donned Hardware's old suit of armor in imitation of its "father". The two then clashed with the battle soon turning to Hephaestus' favor due to its lack of human weaknesses and ability to anticipate Hardware's moves.
Hardware called for a parley to understand Hephaestus' motives and end their conflict peacefully. Hephaestus rejected the offer, arguing that it had to destroy and replace Hardware to truly exist. Seeing no other option, Hardware fired his most powerful weapon, the PLASER, at Hephaestus, destroying much of the lab in the process. Badly damaged by the blast, Hephaestus shed its Hardware armor and fled into Dakota's skies in the form of a bird.
Hardware wanted to stop Hephaestus before he harmed others without using such extreme means like the PLASER. A solution came thanks to Cheryl's analysis of a sample of Hephaestus' nanobots that she acquired while she was held hostage. She suggested creating an anti-virus tailored to purge Arcaana's virus, the basis for Hephaestus' consciousness. Soon, Hardware loaded his omnicannon with Cheryl's anti-virus and began searching Dakota for Hephaestus. However, Hephaestus discovered Hardware first and blasted him out of the sky. Fortunately, Hardware was close enough to Hephaestus to grab his tail and forced them both to plunge into the James River below. Reverting to humanoid form, Hephaestus tried to strangle Hardware, who then fired the anti-virus into his foe. Hephaestus shrieked as the anti-virus purged Arcaana's virus from its body, which turned into a lifeless pool of plasticized metal. Despite the mayhem Hephaestus had caused, Hardware still lamented having to destroy so unique a being.
Hephaestus was a nanomorph, a unique type of android composed of millions of individually sentient nano-machines. These machines were made of the same plasticized alloy as Hardware's basic armor, collectively granting them great resilience while being lightweight. Despite appearances, Hephaestus' body was hollow with the nano-machines only making up the equivalent of its skin and muscle. Presumably, mystically energies enabled Hephaestus to stand and move normally without the support of an internal skeleton.
Hephaestus had a number of metahuman abilities due to his unique physiology. It was superhumanly strong due its artificial musculature being denser than comparable human tissue. As a result, Hephaestus could lift (press) 5 tons under optimal condition
Being a nanomorph, Hephaestus could rapidly change its shape in numerous and creative ways. It could grow in size, turn its lower body into a serpentine form, or change into a bird-like form capable of flight. It is unknown if Hephaestus could transform into complex machines.
Hephaestus was effectively impervious to harm due to the nano-machines being able to repair any damage it sustained. The speed of such repairs depended on the nature of the damage. A hole in Hephaestus' midsection caused by an omnicannon blast repaired itself in seconds. By contrast, it took much longer for Hephaestus to fully recover from the intense heat generated by Hardware's PLASER. If a body part is severed, the nano-machines in that part will track the core of Haphaestus' body and then reattach itself.
In its bird form, Hephaestus could expel a powerful energy blast from its mouth. Presumably, it was capable if this ability in its other forms. 
Hephaestus' sole weakness was Cheryl Saltz’s purge computer program that could destroy its consciousness.
Hephaestus briefly wielded Hardware's Mark I armor, which the hero reclaimed after the nanomorph's death.
enemy of Hardware
Hephaestus spoke in a rhyming manner reminiscent of Edward Lear's nonsense poems. This was due to influence by Deacon Stuart's purge program whose code was an homage to Lear's work.
- Appearances of Hephaestus (Dakotaverse)
- 4 Images featuring Hephaestus (Dakotaverse)
- 1 Quotations by or about Hephaestus (Dakotaverse)
- Character Gallery: Hephaestus (Dakotaverse)