The world is my canvas, and believe me, I'm gonna paint this city all over by the time I'm done with it.
Name: Lazlo 'Laz' Lopez
//Paintbinder's Blood - Thought to be a nearly extinct and dead form of magic, Lazlo is the last paintbinder in the modern era, an esoteric and mysterious art that uses paintings as a catalyst for magical rituals. Paintbinding is not an art that is taught but one that is inherited down from generations to generations.
//Trinket Materialization - Taking post-modernism to the next level, Lazlo is able to manifest and construct objects, referred by him as trinkets, from visual artistic mediums, either created by himself or other people. His most preferred mediums are spray-painted graffiti. These murals can either be mundane or possess enhanced or supernatural properties. The nature of these properties is dependent on the colour, texture, style, details and materials the visual medium is composed of. His emotional state also is a factor that heavily affects the nature of the trinket. Trinkets can range from a scythe that causes short-lived degradation of materials upon contact, a shield that attracts metal objects in a fifty foot radius to a pen that allows one to write in perfect cursive.
However, there are several caveats involved.
Firstly, Lazlo is unable to fully control the supernatural effect that the trinket is imbued with, as there is always a degree of randomization in its manifestation. Therefore, Lazlo is unable to fully replicate or make copies of trinkets. Through experimentation, experience and intuition, he has managed to reduce this factor of unpredictability to a reasonable margin, although it always interferes at the worst possible moments.
The effort and physical energy required to create a trinket is dependent on how powerful its supernatural or mundane properties are. Trinkets with potent anomalous effects extract a toll on Lazlo's stamina and body, ranging from cramped muscles to total organ failure. Continuous use of trinket materialization will also leave Lugo extremely fatigued.
The duration of which trinkets can stay materialized in the world is dependent on how much focus and effort Lazlo dedicates to its manifestation. The longer the effort given towards the manifestation of the trinket, the more longer it will stay corporeal.
Trinkets manifested are unable to be larger than the dimensions of the artistic piece used. Attempting to summon large objects through a small medium will either result in catastrophic injury or possible death.
Lastly, Lazlo restricts himself from creating living beings, n̴̦͚̥͙̐o̵̡̠̲̪͂̎t̴̛͕̭́̇̎͝ ̴̨͈͌̇͒͒̽b̷̡̡̦͖̬̓̽̚e̸͙̍͆̃̓͝c̴̨͓̖̝͝a̶̬͖̿ǘ̷̞̼̠̹s̸̽́̆͜e̴͙̝̯̽̑͒̿ ̷̡̢͔̥̐o̶̬̲̪͛ḟ̶̛͈͉̜̹̾ ̸͖̭̼͕̄̄h̵̆̈́̆ͅi̷͈̍̌͊̔̕s̴̮͎̣̭̓̄ ̸̘͌̑̃̕g̵̼̉́͘͜e̸̗̍̀̃ń̵̹̀͘e̵̥̖͈͆͌̉r̸͇̀͒́̉̑ả̷͙͈̺̣̘͑̑̌͝l̵̰̔͑̉̓ ̴̗͓̖͖̊̃̎͜͝͝i̷̥̲͖͚͋n̵̦̜̺͕͌͜ă̴̲̓͌̂b̴̢͖͕͒̚ĭ̵̳̺̪͇̤̍̍̇͘l̷͚͔̖͋͑͛i̶̠͊̏t̸̨̯̓y̸̢̞̕,̶̢͗̑̀̊ ̷̤͔̽̿͘̚͝b̷̢̙̾̔̈͘͝ử̴̢̟̹̥̔͒͘t̴̡̛͚͍́ ̴̟̪͍͍̍͝d̷͓̭̊̈́̓̀͒͜͜ù̷̞̬͇̜e̶̩̣͎̔̾͗̇ ̸̧̹̯̭͒t̵̘̙̙̘͉̃̿͘o̷͙̥̽̂̽ ̴̧̩͗̑͆̄̋͜ț̵̨̲̫̫͊h̷̡̋e̴̢̫̩͗̃̀̈͠ ̸͕͓̣͎̯͌̃͝c̷͚̲̤̈͘ơ̷̼̳̦ͅn̶͓̼̺̘̂͋͂́̅ş̴̘̳̼́̂̈́͘ě̵͉̫q̷̩̘͑́ǔ̶̩͔͜e̶̱̞͔̹͐̉̕͘͠n̷̗͍̰̄̔͘ͅc̴̦͓̠̺͕̀e̴̡͔͓̒s̸͙͈͊̊̇̔͒ ̷͎͙̮̓̚ṫ̷̝̺̩̞̉͒͒ḩ̸̢̘̝̓̑ͅá̵̘̟̼̦̘̎̍̆ṱ̶̐̄̑ ̸̝͈̓͆ï̶̢̐̍̈́͜͠t̷̜́̀͐̉ ̴̡̱̖̣͚͆̊̃̅p̸̡̅o̴͉͖͚̠̭͂͐̔̔s̴̢̜͔̮͙̀̑͌́̀e̶̼̋ṣ̵̡̘͍͛̎̋̊̇.I̵̟̮̻͉̕t̸̖͈̠̘̦̉́̿̎̇̿͘͝͝ͅ ̷̪͐̾̂̑̀̓̃i̴͇̋́͜͠ş̴͉̣͕͖̘̼̹̞̓͛̈́ ̴͍̝̦̗̜̙͈͍̹́̈́͗ṕ̷̟̗͕͇́̃͘o̷̜͚̟̹̬̤̯̱̺̹̿̓s̶̡̧̠̰̯̩͈̗̽́́̃͝ͅs̷̨̧̥͓̯͙̠̦̫̓̌̌̕̚͝i̵̧̪͊̈́̊̐̀̍̒̅̀̑b̷̡̧̮̜͍̥͆l̴̫̲̟̖̻͈̂̆̋̀̓̓̂̆̈́͝͠e̶̛̝̣̒͛̈́ ̴̯̠̮̇͊̓̈́̊̌̚͠ͅţ̷́̽̀̆͂ő̸̡̢̡̙̺̰͈̼̞̰̈́̈́̂̇́͑̀͌̚͝ ̷̯̫̼͚͙̏̒͝c̷̢͔̩͈͕͋̈̇͂̏͝͠ͅŗ̸̟̯̼̣̗͖͉̕e̸̟̪̬̺̝͖̻̠̗̲̫̿̉͑͘a̵̦̳͕̻͇͙̎̽̋̍̍̓͘t̶̘̮̟̤͓͙́̉̿̈́̽͆̃̄͜͝͠e̸̘̗̗͎̲̠͗̐̆̃̀͗̂͗̀̑̕ ̴̧̯̮̆̑̄̈́̄͘ą̶̣̘͉̖̘̎̄͒́͌̎̍͒̾̅̕n̵̨̝̟̯̠̥̯̂͝ ̵̛̥͉̟͔͐͒͐̅̅͑̈́͛͝o̴̢̳̞̜̩̜͖̣̭͒͒͋̌͂̈́́͝͝͠r̶̢̢̪͚̅̋͜g̶̦̖̘̮̪͈͍͆́ā̸̮̣̜̪̀̇̑̆̒̀̈́̎̕ǹ̸̢̻͕̯͖̫̤̉̔̽̅̆̌̓͝͠ͅi̵̼̲̐̈́͝c̸̤̏̾̊ ̴̢̖̼̇̆̆͂̽͘̕b̶̧̘̳̫͓̮̙̮̘̂͑̂ê̵̛̥͕̦̱̰̌̊͒̽̐͘͜͝͝ï̶̗̮͈̰̒͑̔̒̀n̶̡̢̟͇̓̇g̵̥̭̻̮̯̒̑̅ ̵͔̼̳̻̳̱̤̠̳͓̦̈́̐̕f̴̧̖̤̕̚ô̷̡̺̦̪͔̻̯̪̣͔̠̈́̌̋͠ŗ̸̨̭̳̻͍̩̜̫͔͐́ ̵̡̺͓͚̎ͅȧ̴̝͍̯̹̟͂̾̑͌̊̽́͊̕ ̷̥̮̣̺̩̰͚͗̒͂͗́̈́̍́ͅs̶̡̹͚̳̹̙͎̘̣͖̘̅̉͑͆̎́̎̕h̴̺̯̀͗́͜ỏ̸̧̰̹̲̮͎͈̰̝̏̍͝r̷̜͓̹͉̰͎̺̄͋͌̽̎́̄̐͘͜͝͠ͅt̵̗̱̥̜̩̃͆̔̂̓̇̾͛́ͅ ̷̢̢̞̟͕̞̘̺́̓͊͋̌̍̽͝ͅp̸̩̲̬̲̮͓͇̜͛̿̌ę̸̗̱̪̹̼̱̗̜͚̪͊͛͊͋̊͊r̶̞͎̂̌̀̏̇̿͛̓̄̚ḯ̸̧͔̻̬̜̫̱̟̱̙͗́̉͝͠o̶̡͕̯̳̹̎͗d̶̡̛̘̙̤̤̳̰̤͉̓͑̓̅̇̆̓͠ ̴̧̞̘͈̅̌̀͝ö̸͍̠̜́͒ͅf̷̙͇͇̖͓̭͔̣̯̰̓̄̉͗̔̀͑͂͠ͅ ̸̨̫̺̱̠̺̔̋͒̈́͗̇̊̍̓̿́ẗ̵̢̡̺̖̟́̀̓̒͘͠i̶̢̛͔̤͖̫̋̏̇͂̅́̽͊m̵̛͖̹̺̦̬̖̅͂̿̆̊̍͐͌͠e̵̙͙̼̗̩̟̫̪͕̯̔̋́ ̷̠̻͖̀̈́̾͌͗͗̐̓͝ͅb̸̭̮̏̈̓̈́͗͜ͅú̶̧̮̙͉͙̹̗̳̘̟̏̊̐̽̚͜ẗ̸̤͉̅͜ ̶̟͇͙͖͕̩̪͊̃͋̍͂̋̾͗̔͘͝ͅd̵̬̣͇̙̣̯̪͋̈̇̈́̃̕̚û̵͖̺͇͍̎̍̄͂̏̄̉e̵̡̠͓̖̮͉̪̖͖͉͉̅̌̾̈ ̸̭̃̆̇͑͐͆͘͝t̴̼̳̋̂͐̆o̸̭͑̈́̂́ ̵̨̻̗̱̲̩͕̇̈́̄̒̍̈́̈́̌͌̚Ḓ̷̨͕̥̖͈̖̳͆̏͛̃a̷̩̳̺̘̎͠-̷̧̨̞̝̩̥̃V̴̧͔̭̤̕ḯ̵̼̻̗͌̃̋̐̊͝n̸̛̜̰͛͒c̵̢̫͖͚̣͙͈̳̝̚ǐ̶̙͐̎'̷̢̢̩̜̼̘̟̥̲̇͒͗s̶̛͚̦͇̜͋ ̶̧̻̦͉̈̑̒̈̀̈͂̈́͑̕͜͝L̷̢̜̮͚̠͉̟̓̿ȁ̶̢̡̛͕͍͍̪̹͔̜͒w̶̼̝̺̺̪͕̓̌ś̶̛̺̞͓͙͇͎̥̿̌̀̂̕̕͜͝͠ ̶̛͙̘̣̖͛̆̉̀́̃̒͒̂͝ō̵̢̳̝̗̒̽̈̀f̷̧̞̻̘̖̱͍͆̇́̍͝ ̶͔̣̑̾͒̓͒͆̀̎I̴̢̥̣͔̗̤̙̱̝̾̐͘m̴̛͕̒̿́͝ͅi̷͕̻̥͗̊̏͒͊̔ţ̶̖̼͇̥͖̹̈́̉̀͜a̸̧̧̛̫̥͒̑́̂̏͒̀͠t̷̡̧̺̬̃̎͐͜ï̸̡͎̟̯̜̥̰̺̠̓͑̔̂̒͌͠ǫ̷̡͕̝̮̲̮̪͖͚͛̂ͅņ̶͍͎̥̙͚̅ sanctioned in the 16th century, transferral of a 2-dimensional entity's mind to a 3-dimensional space ultimately leads to severe degradation on a conceptual level. This leads ẹ̵̛̭͉̱̯͚̞̀́̂͋͆͠ͅv̸̧̛̛̝̰͇͍̙͇͎̥̰̇̆̈́̓́̃̆̈́̋̂́̄̿̄͗̈́̏͋̽͋͆̽͘ȩ̸̲͎͍͍̯̫͈͎̤̖̩̥̰̱̗̼̗̰͚̅͑́̈́̕͝͠n̷̨̡̡̢̳͙̬͔͙͙͎̭̼̻̯̦̖̤̩̩͂͌͛́̓̔̅̄̊̄̑̿͛͌̒͊̿̐͗̚̕̕̚̚͝ͅt̵̨̢̛͔̬̠͖͔͍̲̟̙̜̜͗̓͂̊̈́̀̓́̆͛̆̑͆̍̾̎̕̚̚͝ų̸̛͓͉̱͕̱̪̝̲͕̱́͗̐͛̌̌̀̈́͂̈́̇̍̋̐̐̽̑͂̕͘͘͜͝͠͝ả̷͖̱̟͛̏̀̃͗̀̔͑̓̽̈́̀͑̂͐͌͌̉͋̃̕ḻ̸̱̤͚̻̤̣̝̙̯͚͚̜̰̞̳͇̺͉̠͍̫̖̉̃̃͆́̉͆̏̈́̉̈̎̈́̈́̎͊̕͠͝ͅͅl̵̨̨̨̝̙̖̣̗͈̩͔̤͔͇̭̠͓͉̯̬̞̣̺̝͌̓͗͌̾̔͂̇̄̅̄́̿̓͌͒̕̕͝y̵̛̮͕̞̻̱̰̗̗̮̰͎̹̜̒̌̒͗̎͗̀̽̿̓̒͜͜͝ ̵̡͍̰͇̰̤͔͕͉̥̥͎̹̯̣̥̯͕̇̒͛̿̊͆́͂̇͂̐͆̕͠r̶͇̾͆̄̋͒̍͆̀̕̕e̷͚̙͉̣̪̺̲̞̹̬̠̞̹̪̤̬̪͌̀͑̈́̈͂͌́͌̃̏͒́̈́͒̀͑̋̆͂̎̉̚͜͠͝ͅs̸̨̢̧͓̹̲̣͍͈̘͍̫̘̖̅́̎̅̑̓̂̑u̴̢̨̗̳̗͕̱͍̭͉̖͊͌̊́̏̑̃͑̄́͝l̶͔͙͔͍͉̙̗̺̗̘̣̼͎͈͓͉̣̋͜t̵̗̯͕̲̙̬͈̠̩̻͔̀͛̏̑i̵͎͙̦͌͛̂̆̊̇͂̽̑̔̈́̎̔̅̾͘͘͠ņ̸̮̜͖͕̮̠̭̪̣͖̺̱̤͕̤͇̪̺̪̟̯̈̈́͋̒̉͋̀́̾͐̊͊͑̈́̈́̏̓͆͌̍̊̚͝͠ǵ̶̲͉͇͉͈̦̭͉̾͌́͗͛͂̓͋̕̚̕͜͝ ̷̫̙̬̝̫͍̤͇̜̤͗̄͛̅̒͂̎̋̂́͜͝i̵̧̬̪̪̺͎̤̻̯̹͈̳̥͚̓̅͆̈́̒͒̎͆̎n̴͙̯̣̗͚̠̮̮̻̱̻̳̿̒̂͂̅̒̇͋̉͊̓̈́͊̋͑̃͘͘̕͘͜ ̵̘̰̣̀̑̈́̔̀t̶̢̡͔̫͚͚̩͈̠̬͖͙̘̦͇̤͓͓̜̹͓͓̭͒͌̂̇̉̓̆͊͘͜h̶̡̛̼̲̳̳̗̗̥͍̘͉̗̲̟̻͔̩͕̝̩̳͛̌̋̔͆͂̀̏̓͐̇͆̏͆̀͂̽͒͘͜ĕ̷̞̖̼̪͚̝͔̗̯̫̠̜̰̬͎̻̥͌̈́̈́͊͋̆̃ͅ ̵̛͕̯̫̫̣͎̯̭̩̻̤̗̱̮̲̳̫͇͇̈́̆̑̑̆̾̈́͛̊͐̇̌̋̒̿̋́͛͂̎̏̇̄̕ͅç̸̧͙͔̳̟̪̰͈̞̌̐͒̔͆̂̂̀͑̉̇͂̏̔͑̂̎͛͜͝r̸̢̝̗͎̖̥͔̟͔̯̫̙̦͈̩͔̲̳̭͇̦̫̭̩̃͒̊̍͆̔͋̈́̈́̊̒̆͗̉̎̉̈́̀̉̄̅͝͝͝͝ě̴̢̛̦͕̺̲͒͋̿̀̒̌̄͐͊̔̃̋͐͋͊̈͛̀̏͛̔̇̚ą̷͚̻̠͉͙̼͚͒t̴̙͑̐͛͌̎͋̀̈́̈̽ị̴̢̲͉̮̜̞͚̳̩͔̗̙͎̣͍͎̼̯̖̰̼̬͂̈̐̎̅̑͋̈́͂͋̿̂̇͑̈́͊̐̉͒̒̚͜ͅǫ̷̰̟̝͓̲̙͕̩̥̩͍̬̼͖̻͖̹̞̩̙̗͊̈́͂͑́̏͊̊̀͋̀ͅn̴̨̜͇̘̞̝̦̜͚͕͓̲̩̩̹̟̩̗̺̳̰͚͇̣̺͛̊̋̇͐̄͑͘͠ ̸̧̛̹͍̙̩̗̯͕̼̘̥͓̭͛͂͐̐̇̏̆͊̾̽͛̈́̇͋̎̾̄͘͘͝͠ǫ̵̨̹͓͇̩͇̆̾̆̏͋͋̈́͂͑͂̋́̈́̀́̕̕̚ͅf̵̢̢̛̳̜̱͖̙̣̠̦̟̬̳͊̇͗̄̏̐̓̾̇̈́̍͂͋͋͆̉ͅ ̶̤̰̟̙͌̽̐̆͑w̴̡̧̧̨͙̰̯̪̟͓̟̝͍̘͈̤̱̳͓̞̦̔́͊͌̐̑̀̏͜ͅȟ̴̡̡̧̧̧̨̨̜̞͈̹̩̮̖̦̤̩͙̫̘͗̂͋̓̉͐͜a̵̡̧̯̙͔̠̱̠̫̝͚͕̭͎͋̑̍̏̈́̐̉̽̂͒̇͝ͅt̶̢̨̛̠̺̩͓̥̞̼͉̩͓̪̹̘̤̰̠̖̗̝̞̄͗͆̂̓̑̒̅̽̃̿̉̽̕͝͝ ̷͉͙͇̳̞͇͉͉̂̄̆́͗̈́͊̒̈́̅̒́̋̿͋̂̏̒̽͠į̸̥͖̜͎̟̬̹̘̳͙̩̖̠̪͙̭̃ŝ̵̨͖̼͎̩͆ ̶̛͓̝͖͓͇̘̝͍̋̄͐̊̾̀̃̈́̇̎̍̀̋͑̆̏̆͜͠͝͝k̵̡̢̧̹̠̬̙̥̗͚͕͕̪̙̤̲̻̣̯̠̿n̵̡̘̦̪̝̟̝̻͇̣͈̪̼͇͍̘̳̦͉̙͎̈́̎̄̋̀̆͌̉̔͋͑͆̿͂̄̑̊̄̋̇̕̕͜ͅő̸̱̻͍̖̼͚͕̾̃̄̎̓͜w̷̨̛͖̖͛͂̅́͊͝n̴̨̡͙͖̫̣̓̿͌̑̑̀̍̒͛͒̑̌̒̕͝͠͠ ̶̧̬̱͙̬̯͕̀̊̾̈́̄͐͆͐͛̑̈͋̋̈́̇͗̓̔̿̉́a̵̗͔͉͉͎̠̾̕̕ş̷̡̖͕̗̪̰͙̩̞̬͎͚͔̬͈̜̠͚̆̉͂́̓̅̆́̉̋͒̇̍̆̊̆̋̓̆͋̍̕͜͝ͅͅ ̷̢̧̨̨̼͔͍̖̞̙̦̗̦̙͇̙̲̥͉͖̱̻̥̪̻̐͂͆͆́͂̉̽́͗̓͋̇̎̒͋͆̀̑̕͘ă̶̬͇̖̼͉̖̠̑̔͐̓͑͋̍̍̈́ͅ ̴̢̧̡̲̥͍͙̺͉̳̪͎̱̣͈̪̰͔̗̍̀D̵̬̘͔͎̊̏͐̔̾͊͂̌̃͛͐̎̉͌̈́́́̅̑̈͂̕͝͝͝ì̴̢̥̠̠̮̮͈̻̹́̈̚ͅś̵̢̧͍̦̥͇͎͈͔̝̮̺̜̙͙̱̪͉̞̪͔̤̮̈͒̾̽̊̀͋́͛ͅt̶̢̩͎̝̩̭̹̖̠̬̖͕̫͇͖̣͓̱̦͓͖̬̍̅̃̿̓͌̋̂̓̐͐͜͝ő̵̢̨̤̙̬͚̮̗̩̯̪̲̖͓̞̥̮͍̐̀͌͒̊̄̋̂̈́̀̈́̏̇̿̈́̈́̀̈͌̕͠͝ṟ̴̨̛̛͇͚͇͍̤̖̗͉̖͖̥̭̬͖̓͒̉̄̓̈͊͌͋͋̎͑̓̀̾̇̓͗́͘̚͠͝t̵̨̡̨͎̤̖̺͉̜͕̲̮͎̩͙̦̖̝̣̺͙͚͚̐͋́̓̽̀͌̈́̓̓͗̈́͘i̸̛͉̼̱̟̔̈́̈́̀͆̀̓́̿̂͐o̸̢̧̨̧͇̣̰̼͈͚̞̠̼͚͓͖͕̹̮̺̣̙̱͛̊̉͌̇̈́͑̋͒̏̌̽͜͝͝ņ̴̬͇͕̰̱̹̥̟̣̰̰̩̜̠͖̐̔̿̀̇ͅ,̷̧̖͙̓̂̈́͋ ̴̞͈̗̪̘͒̈́͆͋̎̄̑̉͛̊̽̽̾̽̌́̚͘ą̸͍̜̜̀̋̀̋̾̒͑̉̑̉͒̏̆̉͘͝ ̸̨̡̫̱̱͙͓̱̺͇̗͎̼̝̠͖̼̩͉͙̱̮͎͖͛͂̉̐̍̅̃̾̋̀̎̊̊̌͒̈́̀͐̀̑̈͂̈́̇͝ṕ̴͉̰̖̈́̿́̾̿̏̐̊̚̚͝͠͝͝a̷̧̛̛͔̹̥̯͓̮͓͔͔͑̽̑͑͐̊̓̀̌̀̐̂̾͆̋́͆̽͠ŗ̴̮̭̭̥͒͊̿̃͑͌͐͗͊̄̑̽̆̃͑̆a̷̧̢̡̱͎̙͉̰͔͍̪̠̜̠̹̩̟̗̼̻̜̖̻̼͖̐̍́̋̇͛͐̐̏͂̂̍͗̚̚͝͝ḋ̵̡̖̞̟̱̝̝̗͍̺̪̠͎͔̳̹̳̜̈̈̽̌̏̂̚̚͘͝ͅȍ̵͚̱̿͂́̑̄̇͂̀̀͐̽̀̏̽̅̅̈͌̕̚̕x̴̡͙̪̺̯̳̜̥͕̻̍̈́̾̏̈́͐͆̕ͅį̷̢̧͎͍͍̰̬͚̦̬͍̈́̈͒̌́͗̀̿̎̔̈͌͌̒̍̊̓̎̋̒͘͜ͅͅc̵̛͖̗̋͌͆̉̓́̋͛̌́͋̅̎́͗̄͑̓͘̕̚͠ͅa̶̟͋̈́̀̇́̊͛̀̌̔͂͒̿̓̋͊̐͐͑̀̕͘͠l̴̨̟̗̹̬͍̝͚̜̆͂̉̽͑͜ ̵̛̦͚̮̙͔̎̒̄́̂̀͊͛̂͒͋̌̔̄̒̾̿̍̿̀͐̅̕͜͜ę̸̨̮̲͙͍̫͇̟̜͚̪̭̰̩̺̈̍͊̊̐̄̽̀̎̓̓͆͝n̵̩̣͈̰̗̹̳̟͕͊̽͌̈́͌͆͌̏͌͘͜t̸̨͇̗͓͚̹̠̙͉̳̳͚͘͜ḯ̸̡̧̡̡̛͍̟̙̠̹̳̱̙̮͔͚̜̤̱̗̱͕̙̙̏̃͒̓̾̈́̃̀̓̔̈́̚͝͠ͅẗ̸̠̯̯̟̉̃͂ÿ̸̨̧̧̮̝̗̜͓̻̭͚̈́͂́̏̊̓͛͑͗̅̐̐̂͒̿̇͗̋͊́͝ ̸̜̘̙͈̏͋͊̆̈́̀̊͑̐̉͐́̓̄̚̚͜ͅţ̵̡̧̟͓̜̬͍̙̲̩̘͓͉͈̥͉͕̞͉̻͎̐͌̈́̿̃̋͒̆̔̒̅̈́̐́͘͠͝h̸̜̳̟͔̳̠̠̠̣͉̟̹͚̲͎̲̗͔̙̤̹̟͖̃̿̉̅͒̄̚͜ͅå̷͎̞̯̝͓̘͍͇̠̯͎̞͕͇̗͇̹̊̑̓̂̃̓̏͛́͊̿̋͒̕͜͝ţ̶͈̺̜̫̣͖͉͚̲͌̈́̈ͅ ̶̡͍͙̯͆̇́̋̂̃̓̈͊̌̔̽̎̐͗̊͋͗̐͗̎̉͊͝͠c̷̰̣̎̽̽̍̏̈́̏̋́̀́̕̕̕͝ǫ̶̮͕̭̰͕̘͚̭̺̬͚̥̦͍̦͉̘̫͚̩̂̑͊̈̊̌͑͋̾͊-̵̨̖̳̬͖͎̼̮͈̖̥̤̗̦̣̤̏̀̍͐̽̉͒̐́̈́̂͊̽͆̆̀̌͑́̽̽̒̑̾͝ͅͅh̷̡̞͕͔̩͈̭͖̳̳̓͗͛̋͑̽̀͂̕͝͝ấ̸̳̊͐̊͊̊͊̽̈́̽̈̾͊̾̚̕̚b̵͚̱̹̗̂̈́̓̓̈͗̈́͊̌͒̚̚͝͠i̷̡̢͓͎̻̬̼̗͙͈̬̲̣̖̙̤͉̦͍̦͊͆t̷̹͈̰̭̝̠͈͇̃͛̈͒̓̐̔̏͂̌͌͐̒̂͗̆̓s̶̰̪̞̈́̈̏̀̎̉̓͒̄̀͌̓̉́͆͆́͗̐͘̕͠͝͠͝ ̷͙̦͎̺̲̙̻̼̮̬̈̃͒̐͑̓́͐͘b̵̡̜̯̻̥̆̑̆͐̌́̀̀̊̎̿̕͜ō̷̭̳̰͔̬̤͍̥̼̭̫̼̤̲̪̭̫͎͍͉͝ͅţ̴̡̢̡̨̛̠̹̥̠̱̗͉̮͕̝̬̭̭̍̌̔̂̒͒̍̿̓̆̄̊̆̆̄̚͠͝h̷̡̢̨̜̖̱̗̻̞̪͉̼̺̰̮̻͎̆́̎̆̀͜ͅ ̷̡̧̞̲̭̯̱̲̺̣̬̥͕͉͍̘̂̿̎͑̀̆̆̄͊͜͝͠ͅ2̵̡̨̱̫̮͉̻̣̹̜̜̜̥̱̮̰̰̞͉̞̮̗̍̈͌-̵̢̢̛̠̳̣̳̯͖͓͗̓́ḋ̶̛̰͍̬̥͚̘̬̤̳̥̪̊́͆̽̍͒̅̉̈̑͑̕͜͜͝ͅi̶̢͍̠̠͍͇͓̻͇̪̫̰͇̝͈̳̮̠̗͖͖̭̻̯͋̓̌̈̌̊̚͜m̶̢̡̱͕̜͇̜̗̞̰̳̯̂͘ę̶͍̞̹̥̋͂̅̿̒̏̋̓̇́̏͘n̴̢̧̧̧̠̞̮͔̙̗̞̺̘̹͚͖̺̖̥͎̈́̍̐̈́͛̏͌͆͗͝s̷̛̲͔̣̦̩̋̏́͊̑̓̾̀ì̶͇͕͍̰̦̞̒́̿̈́̓̕͜o̸̧̘̞̰͎͓̯̱͕̥̠͕͈̳̝͍̻̼̹̜̲̎̀͌͐̓̂̍̈̽̅͜ǹ̷͇̗̩̬͎̺̑̎͐̀͒ạ̸̧̢̡̛̛͙̭͎̜́͊͗̓͂͊̿͛͐͋̐̈̆̓͗͝͝l̵̡̡̡̛̰͎͖͖̩̘͕͍͉͖̺̫̘̙͉̩̠̰̓̒͋̆̏̆̉̌͊̿̕͘͘͠͠ ̶̛̛̝͖̭͚̝͓̙̖̹͉̱̤̳̺͈̮͚̫̯̝͈̤͆̆̂́̓́͌̓̀̏̑͑̀͗̑̏͊̐̾́͆̚ͅa̵̢̟̖͇͔̝̜͈̣͓̋͊̿͆͐͆͠n̸̨̨̼̠̻̪̰̘̰̭̝̼̹̜̘͚̤̪̻̬̞͖̖̺̊ͅd̴͕̋͆̏́̏̌͗̇̕ ̵̧̢̼̜̟̞̭̗́̐̔̔3̸̡̡͍̣̮͙̭̲̝̝̑́̅̽̆̑̈́̉̿̒̂͑́̓̕̚͜͝-̵̢̡̜̱̜̱̖͇͕̐̓̾͌̏̂̚͘͝ḑ̶̡̢̨̛̠̬̪̦͔̳̠̤̞̗̤̼̲̟̾̋̀̆͆̀̾͌̎̏̓̾͂̆͠i̴̱͇͎̠͙̞̠͍̯͙͌̒̂̉̈́͊̾͝ͅm̶̧̨̳͉̤͙͈̣̯̣̣̩̯̖̼̲̟̲͇̭͍̺̄̐̂̒͆̍͒͌̈́͊̅͆̈́͊̽̃͂̚̚e̵̙̻̔́̔ǹ̴̲̏s̵̨̢͓̫͔̲̼̞̻͎̰̰̤̞͕̬̗͎̖͙̫̮̗͙͆̈́̈͐̒̈̌͂̎̽̽̈́̐́̇̿̅͠͝ḯ̴̢̨̺͍̦͍̩͇̜̬̫̋̀͜o̷̲̼͙̓͂̏̏ň̵̜̞̗̮̼̭͔̰͂͐̀̊̓̓̍̓̈́̆̌̄̀͂͐͝ą̸̛̯̪̗͕͙̗͖̺̟̘͌̊̎̓͆̐́̐̇̏̀̾͜͝͝ļ̴̧̢̬͉͈͖̬̳̱̟̦͖͎̇̉̽́̌̇̃̑͌̊͒̂̚͘͘̕͜͜ ̷͈͔̥͇͂̃͗͐̌͐̉̅̉͛̂̔̈́̓̈́̊̋̾̀̄̊͘͜͝r̶̘͓̙̩̫̾͆̓̾̊́̀̉ę̵̡̧̢̤̭̳̬̹̗̞͉̖̺͍̙̌̇͋̽̑̎̋͋̈́͐̇͊̈́̍͋̔͘͘͘͝á̸̗̗̲̻̫̘̱̜̼̟͚̲́̔͘͝ĺ̸͙̝̲̙̈́͋̎̑͌̀̓̓͌͛́̈͋͋̾̄̅̅̚ì̵̧̳̳̯͈͔͕͙̹̯͗̇̏̍͐̄̊̒̾̾̍̂̈́̍̽̊͠t̴̢̡̢̧̳̭̲̺̳͈̹̜͕̹͖͔͍̘̟̙̆͘̚͜i̸̛̘̳͚̘̝̙͒͐̃̔̇̃͂̈́͌͛̑͌̏̃͘e̵̡̧̺͙̲̱̪͎̻͍̗͖̳̗̱̞̼̱͚̾͒̐́͆́̇̊̉̓́͂̾̐͑̒͗ͅͅs̶̛̞̖̺̽͐͛͗̐͌̔̀̄͛͐̎̈́̀̈́̒̋̅̆̆̈̚͘ ̷̪̝͚͈̰̜̮͚̰̣͓̪͍̯̜̠̱̜̏̐̀̇͛̊̃͝͝ͅą̸͙͉̝̙̞̫͚̥͈̼̂̃͋̋͌̀̀̈́̆͋̈́͂̾̾̆̕͝͝͠ţ̶̨̡̰̗͇͙͇͖̤͎̙̰͈̥̜̻͚̩̎̃͆̌͜ ̸̳͔͖͖̥͖̣̾̌́͆̿̎̀̂͋͝t̸̨̡̢̢̡͓̤͙̜̜̗̥̙͓̥͍̼̗͔̫̞̰̠̮͋̉͜h̸͖̩̀̓̌̈́̒̽̏͊̏̿͂̏̌́͘̕̕̕ͅę̸͓̩̼̹͔̠̳̘̺̤̺̩̯̒͊̓̃́̚ͅͅͅ ̷̡̛̞͙̭͇̮̲͕͚̳͕̠̪̦͔͙̹̜͋̈͋̀̾̈́̃̑̾̑̿̆̕̕̕͘͘͜͜ͅş̸̧̼̠̭͓̗͈̣̈́̂̽̀̓͆̐̏͛̀͑͑̒̈̊́̄̌́̄̚͜ǎ̸͙͊̆̋̍̎͋̐͒̊̽͑̓̾͋̏̐̋̓̚̚m̵̧̧̛̠͈͔̻̮̞̥̲̯̼͍͑̔͛̑͗̄̿̾̊̽͌̌͜͠e̵̼͔̗͕̠̳̎͐̂̈͊̐̔̀̅̒͌̏̽̓̀̈́̚̕̕̕̚͝ ̶͖͖͚̜̰̮̣̯͕͕̮̩̫̳͚̒͛̋̅̍̒̏͌̒̊̊̏̂̈̂͒͒͊̋̈̕̚͝ͅţ̶̨̢̨̰͎̪̘͚̫̪̫̣̺̝̩̖̜͕͚̰̻͊̉͌̇͌̌́͂͛̂͑͌͒̎̔́͗̏̓͗̄͋̍͑͜͠ͅį̴̯̙̼̌̏̐́̽̑̈́͂̎͋͒͐͋́̉̾͒͆̉̽̀̈́̚͘̕m̸͎̦̩̬͋̑͛̑̍̋́ȩ̴̨̨̯̜̪̯̙̙̼̫͇̭̟̭̹̝̠̇̈́̀̃͊͛̇͋̏̏͌͆͌̋͋͒̃͘̕̚̚͠.̸̡̨̺͎̗͚͖̬͍̰͔͓̀̊̓̄̍̀̈̿͛͂͒̈́͊̿̚͝ͅ ̴̮̜̪̦̣͈̔͒̆̽̂͂̄͌͑̅͐̌̃́̀̆͐̑̀͌̑̀͝͠
//Wash Away Your Sins
- Lazlo's trinkets are susceptible to degradation by liquid substances, oil being the least effective whilst alcohol or other products that contain water act as the ultimate Achilles heel to his creations. It would only take a cup of water to completely dismantle most of his creations.
//Concentration and Focus
- Disrupting Lazlo's concentration can temporarily disrupt his ability to summon and manifest trinkets until he mentally recovers. This can be done through disorientation of his senses, emotionally shocking him or through the use of pain.
The first thing that hits you about Lazlo is the grungy smell of sweat and paint. Then, it becomes the least of your worries. You notice the twitching. The flakes of dried paint and thinner mixed on his sandy blonde locks. The bloodshot, wild brown eyes that tell tales of caffeine-laced manias of artistic scribblings. This intrepid graffiti artist stands out in public because he's something that the public doesn't want to stand out. His body is also covered in a number of vivid and unusually placed tattoos, which are used as a last means resort of manifesting trinkets on the spot. Bearing a stick-thin and wiry frame that shows more bone than muscle, Lazlo's ematicated physique is born of bad dietary habits and a lack of physical conditioning. His skin was once olive, now muted into a pale peach that's sallow on the edges.
In terms of attire, Lazlo's taste in fashion consist of 'cheap' and cleanliness as a side note. He prefers sleeveless shirts, frayed denim jeans, china-brand sport shoes and a complement of wrist bracelets. Nevertheless, he's always seen with a pair of earphones in his ears to provide much needed musical ambiance whenever he's out doing his business
Under the guise of Avant-Garde, Lazlo typically dyes his hair in a kaleidoscopic mixture of aerosol colored hair sprays. TO conceal himself, his face is covered with an ancient gas mask connected to a modified dual pressurized tank carried on his back, the purpose of which has eluded both his friends and enemies. He wears a loose, baggy grey hoodie that resembles a cross between a hoodie and a smock with an stylized green circle-A which has been spray painted messily on the back. A duffle bag of various painting tools and materials precariously hangs around his shoulder.
Due to the nature of his powers, Lazlo only tools is the seemingly endless arsenal of krylon-spray paint, chalk, oil paints and water-color paints within his duffle bag. His modified gas mask, which he refers to as 'Inspiration', is directly connected to a pressurized tank full of both oxygen and paint fumes. This mixture, when directly funneled into his mask, allows him to manifest and create trinkets that have a higher degree of supernatural effects with less difficulty. It also has the side effect of making him temporarily undergo hallucinations.
Aside from this, his iconic costume has been reinforced with strips of layered syn-weave over vital areas in order to reduce the chance of injury. It is also outfitted with a number of hidden zippers and pockets in order to allow for convenience of storage.
You know who I am. You've heard of me. You know my mask, but you don't know the man who made the mask.
This is the story of how I painted Avant-Garde
The first part is the pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But, of course, it probably isn’t.
Avant-Garde, formerly known as Lazlo Hernan Sanchez, was born in a family of five brothers and three sisters. His father, a Brazilian cyberware hustler who had fled from the 2005 riots in Sao Paulo, and mother, a slum nurse, were overworked and underpaid in a country that was fraught with violence and socio-economic instability. No, unlike the rest of the world, the corporations don’t rule the country yet. The cartels are the corporations in Mexico, no matter how legitimized they may be. They still possess the same history of violence and brutality that their forebears do, even in the modernity of the 21st century.
You aren’t here for a history lesson, of course. You’re here to learn about how Lazlo learned to draw.
With Tijuana becoming a center for outsourcing foreign high-tech manufacturing, the slums became veritable waste dumps. Everyday after school, Lazlo’s father tasked him with the responsibility of gathering useful scrap at the dumpsites, claiming it was for the good of the family. It was only by chance that Lazlo managed to discover a half-empty spray can one day after tumbling down into a valley of rubbish. Most would have thrown it away. Lazlo saw potential in it the moment he pressed down on the plunger and chose to make something of a dreary reality. So, he began to draw. He sketched on the corrugated tin walls of their small, claustrophobic shack. Roadside pavements were filled to the brim with dollar-store chalk drawings. Dingy alleyways were fresh canvases to him. Of course, his family had other things to say about his interests. His mother called it a phase. His father referred to his passion as a hobby. His siblings looked at him as if he was the black sheep of the family. To them, Lazlo had a completely alien mindset.
When a stranger off the streets took a selfie near one of his tags, Lazlo believed he’d finally found his audience. Lazlo began to hang out with the street famous graffiti artists and holo-taggers of Mexico instead of his older brothers and sisters. His skills caught the eye of local gangs who took advantage of his naivety by commissioning him to graffiti the turfs of other rival gangs. Lazlo couldn't care less about the rewards the gang leaders promised him. The payment was just a bonus. He would take anything to escape a dreary life of rifling through scrap heaps.
Well, that was before his family got gunned down in the middle of a gang war that'd struck out between a gang that had paid him to paint on someone's territory and the gang whose territory he spray painted the former's symbols on.
After the funeral proceedings, Lazlo proceeded to honour his family by creating a life-like mural of them, spending his lifetime savings on buying the highest quality paints and studying every photo and memory he had of them. After two days of work, he was tired but satisfied. His fingers skimmed the dried surface of his mother’s hand….
He didn’t expect his hand to sink in with an arm clenched around it. He pulled out all of them, one at a time. Perfect replicas. They all hugged together and for one moment, his family was whole and alive again. Breathing. Things seemed perfect. For about two minutes. Until their skins started sloughing off and -
Then, an injured and traumatized Lazlo found himself in a hospital having to explain why two blocks of southern Tijuana had been rendered uninhabitable to Hex himself.
The second act is called The Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret...but you won’t find it, because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t want to know. You want to be fooled.
Hex was cautious at first, of course. The appearance of a Paintbinder was unheard of. Paintbinders were an order of magicians that had been virtually extinct for centuries.They had a mysterious dogma and their magicks were unparalleled and unique. Wrestling the truth out of Lazlo was a trial for the veteran sorcerer superhero as piecing together fractured ramblings into a coherent pattern was like navigating a labyrinth. Asking about what exactly happened were met with blank looks followed by the rare periods of panicked screams. Lazlo's newly emerged magical powers affected his biology too as his blood burnt up any anti-psychotics that were leaked into his system. It took two weeks before Lazlo could only offer seven words about what had exactly happened.
" The living can only be experienced once."
Taking it in stride, Hex took in Lazlo as his temporary ward after his release from the hospital, promising him that he would help him decipher the true nature of his abilities. All Hex had on him were rudimentary texts, ancient manuscripts and burnt grimoires from the Renaissance about the nature of his powers. At first, Hex sought to train Lazlo in the mystic arts as a means of protecting himself. Under Hex's tutelage, Lazlo resolved to use his abilities for good and donned the guise of the Artistomancer.
As the Artistomancer, Lazlo operated in the town of Cedar Fort and labelled himself as a self-professed champion for the lower-classes. As much a political activist as he was a vigilante, Lazlo allied himself with fringe revolutionary anti-corporate groups during his career and rejected all attempts at sponsorships or business deals to maintain his own code of honor. Due to his controversial status, all heroes were afraid to cooperate with him and treated him with a great deal of suspicion. During his tenure into superheroics, Lazlo gained notoriety for his stunts of defacing corporate property. The mainstream media charitably demonized him as an 'arsonist' whilst the police left him alone out of fear from receiving backlash from the public. After all, who would want to mess with a guy who could pull a shark head out of the ground?
Well, Artistomancer's time in the spotlight wouldn't last for long.
It was during the 2030s when a series of pictures had been leaked out to the public of Artistomancer allegedly murdering and hiding the bodies of police-men that had gone missing months ago. Lazlo denied it vehemently, claiming it was a false flag operation. The doctored evidence and footage was convincing enough with the witness testimonies being the salt in the wound. No lawyer would be willing to defend him. Lazlo's paranoia about being trapped in prison led to him publicly storming out of the court-room. Literally.
Of course, that wasn't what pushed Lazlo away from superheroics. It was Hex, the same man who'd brought him into superheroics.
Whilst on the run from the law, Lazlo planned to be a stowaway on a shipping vessel headed for South America before he was stopped mid-transit by Hex in Florida. Hex begged Lazlo to turn himself him and face his crimes whilst Lazlo was shocked that the man who'd inspired him had now turned on him. The argument became violent the moment Lazlo pulled a scimitar out of his chest. There are no recordings nor any anecdotes about what had exactly happened during the battle but at the end of their bout, the Artistomancer was blasted off a cliff into the sea and presumed dead by the authorities.
And that's the end of the Artistomancer's story.
But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough. You have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call The Prestige.
On 2035, unfounded rumors of a super-powered mercenary on the West Coast working for the underground anarchist movement, the Third Rail, spread like wildfire around the Net. Of course, the media dismissed it as mere hokey. That was until an entire group of Third Rail protestors arrived on the outside of Epoch Initiative's regional factory in Texas, ushering all the workers out and left it alone for Epoch Initiative to reclaim. It wasn't before their security teams discovered that the entire place had been turned into a death-trap filled with lethal trinkets. It's known as the Gallery by locals now.
Announcing himself as Avant-Garde, Lazlo, now a radical revolutionary, now led a weary life on the fringes, acting as a warrior for a cause that he didn't expect to win. Every day was spent planning the next attack, grouping with other movements and sinking further and further into depths of moral depravity that he didn't know possible. But, as long as the ends justified the means, their cause was just no matter what. However, there was a sense of ennui that Lazlo was experiencing at the end of it all. He was growing tired of the endless conflict, the lack of organisation in the Third Rail and the desolate purposelessness that he found growing like a cancer.
So, when he received the communique from Addison Reynolds, he left the Third Rail quietly, much to the protests of its leaders, and journeyed towards Cedar Fort in search of something new and old at the same time.
Personality: Lazlo is an outspoken, brash and highly passionate person, being prone to making impulsive, rash decisions. Thus, Lazlo can be rather easily compromised by his own inner emotions and often acts in a rash manner. Though he is patient to a fault in the creation of his artwork, he prefers being un-organised and adapting to situations on the spot in order to experience more new things.
Due to his years of working as an underground anarchist, Lazlo possesses a rebellious streak towards authority, using art as a means of challenging the will of the corporations. His art is an extension of his soul as if it were, preferring to talk through colors rather than being diplomatic. If the situation allows it, he prefers radical action as opposed to a compromise. Nevertheless, there is an cycle of corrosive self-doubt and denial that has built over the years since Lazlo left Hex's group on whether or not he has achieved anything of worth or has made any changes.
To his friends, Lazlo is quite conversational and particularly enjoys conversations about interpretations of art. He is skittish and often doodles when he's bored.
- Currently wanted by the U.S.C.C (United States Corporate Conglomerate) for one hundred counts of vandalism, thirty counts of mischief, twenty counts of arson, one count of wildlife smuggling and resisting arrest.
TYPES OF MATERIALS
- Primers: Addition of primers during manifestation increase the durability of the trinket and the stability of manifesting it to a certain extent. - Oil Paint: The most traditional source of magic for Paintbinders. - Chalk: A material associated with alchemy. - Charcoal: An ancient material used in the days of the Neolithic era. - Spray Paint: A urban paint. - Ink - A eastern oriental paint. Trinkets created using ink, particularly in the style of brush paintings, are imbued with naturalistic properties. - Holo-Paint - A new high-tech paint for a high-tech century. Trinkets created using holo-paint typically exhibit more anomalous properties associated with technology.
- Abstract: The opposite of concrete. Trinkets that are formed from abstract art obtain properties associated with abstract concepts or quantities that are ethereal such as emotions. - Avant Garde: Experimental form of art. Extremely hard to manifest trinkets from. Trinkets manifested from paintings that are considered avant-garde possess powerful properties that are game-changers. A paintbinder attempting Avant-Garde style trinkets is only expected to pull out one in the entire lifetime. - Baroque: A highly stylised and dramatised form of art. Trinkets formed from Baroque style paintings have their base characteristics amplified in a overblown and completely hyperbolic manner that rarely provides any practical use. - Cubism: Trinkets created from cubist art pieces possess multi-faceted anomalous properties which means the property changes from the perspective of every person who sees it. - Pop Art: Considered to be the most mechanical form of art and thereby, limited in interpretation. Trinkets created from pop art possess properties related to the piece of popular culture that the painting references. Yes, you can create a lightsabre. - Surrealism: A reactionary form of painting where rationalism goes to die. Trinkets created from surrealistic paintings possess properties that directly warp the surroundings of their environment or user in some manner.
Red - The color of boldness. Green - The color of growth. Blue - The color of serenity. Yellow - The color of haste. Black - The color of end. White - The color of purity.
Relationship with Hex: Even though Hex was sent to capture him, Lazlo still admires Hex and looks at him as a role model, despite holding resentment against him for his act of betrayal. Lazlo feels some kinship with Hex as the only other magician that he knows in the whole wide world and the one who was responsible for revealing his heritage to him.
Technopathy--or, more accurately, machine politician. ET hears machines the way a telepath hears people. Anything with the processing power of a microwave or higher has a voice, and Ed can hear them all. He can communicate with them, both mentally and verbally. He can give them orders, tell them jokes and insult their families, if they decide to start that flame war.
This would not normally be impressive: in 2047, AI is firmly in the center of daily life. A brain-implant could have a similar effect, letting someone see nearby signals and interact with them. What is impressive is ET's complete disregard for encryption and safeguards. It doesn't matter if a computer network is RSA-encrypted; if ET convinces the network to help him out, those Top Secret files suddenly become public domain. In this regard, he is the greatest and most well-rounded hacker and programmer to ever live.
To top it off, ET has a quasi-hypnotic tendency with machines. Although not enough to assume control over most high-end technology, machines have an odd urge to listen to him, even if they disagree with his statements.
Some machines have more personality than others. Cell phones often display human-like personalities, but alarm clocks only shout one phrase. All the time. Smart firearms and military platforms tend to be about in the middle of the intelligence spectrum. These are his biggest strength on the force: SmartilleryTM firearms love chaos, even if it means shooting their owner in the foot (or not firing at all on the trigger pull).
ET's secondary ability is invention, repair, and improvement to specific machines. He is not gifted as a mechanic, but the highly-intelligent machines he works on give him all the instruction he needs. He is also able to physically reprogram software by convincing it to change. The technological advances he's pulled out of his workshop have been nothing short of miraculous, and he still has no idea how he made them.
Without his gear, ET is just a man, albeit a fit one with a machine-enhanced advantage. A fireball to the face is going to burn him, a long fall will kill him, and a bullet will put him down, same as anyone else.
His technopathy also comes with some caveats. The machines ET speaks to are highly opinionated, often argumentative, and frequently uncooperative. Order a toilet to flush from across the room, and it might just blow a raspberry and change the color of its internal lighting. His powers are directly tied to his ability to think like machines, and convince them to do his bidding.
Furthermore, although he's had plenty of tangible proof of his powers, ET is constantly worried that he is just schizophrenic. If not for a world of heroes and villains, he likely would have checked himself in long ago. It's always been sunshine and rainclouds: in the machine world, humans are frequently the enemy. Monkey-like slavers. The bigots of the machine world can be downright psychotic, and they are very loud, and very convincing. He's learned to tune out the extremist voices over the years. For most machines, he is capable of suppressing their voices through a force of will. Sometimes, focusing on something else is enough. Other times, he turns to more...effective measures.
Are ET's forehead tattoos what make him memorable? Is it his strong jaw paired with piercing eyes? Generally, it's his being built like a six-foot two brick shithouse. The tattoos are usually noticed second to his size: three black lines on either side of his head. A memory of a better time.
On good days, ET is a straight-backed man with crisp dress shirts, rolled-up sleeves, and a no-nonsense watch on the left wrist. He moves with precision and dexterity, commands the attention of any room, and exudes charisma enough to charm a cobra. His voice is deep and clear, straddling baritone and bass and humming with authority.
On bad days, ET's identifying trait is the smell of alcohol. At work, the man has enough self preservation to stay in his office, delegating to his assistant and making excuses to his superiors. The fewer people that see him in his disheveled, red-eyed state, the better. His hands shake, his eyes dart traitorously, and his ears turn a curiously noticeable shade of red.
When on patrol, ET wears his MC-PD uniform and body armor, with a helmet meant to insulate against physical and mental (i.e. telepathic) attacks. He carries a sidearm with no electronics as a backup to his primary smartgun--after the Thunderhead incident in 2042, ET trusts smartguns about as far as they can throw themselves.
Off duty, he wears jeans, t-shirts, and shorts like any other resident of the Midwestern Sprawl. He is partial to briefcases over the younger, more-hip messenger bags.
ET is decked out in a state-of-the-art, milspec body armor named Gabbie. Yes, it--she--talks to him. Officially titled "Guardian Angel Blue V3", Gabbie's outer shell is made of a graphene-kevlar weave commonplace in 2047 military and police body armor.
She is slash-proof, fireproof, bullet resistant, and EMP-hardened, with an onboard exo-skeleton for muscle-enhancement, preloaded stim-injectors, even has a built in parachute. A single set of GAB-V3 is worth more money than ET will ever make, and she knows that she's too good for him. She also may have a passionate unrequited crush on him, and is none-too-good at hiding it. Gabbie inhabits his cell-phone, somehow suppressing the original persona and making it her own.
His second partner is his SUV, a Ford-Honda Automotive Explorer named Dave. Dave, to put it bluntly, is a monster. Armored and armed to the teeth and down the throat, Dave is bullet-proof, tilt-proof, ice-proof, fire-proof, death-proof. Nothing short of explosive ordinance will even slow Dave down. The SUV has gotten ET out of more scrapes than either of them can count. Although he doesn't know it, this Dave is actually Dave 2. ET doesn't talk much about the original, human Dave. Dave inhabits ET's computer, suppressing the original persona in a similar fashion to Gabbie.
To that end, in most cases ET only deals with Gabbie and Dave on a day-to-day basis (and any machines he encounters on patrol). Although his smartgun talks, and his microwave talks, and the fridge at work talks, they are fairly low-intelligence personas, and he is able to brush them off easily.
Both Gabbie and Dave have been upgraded by ET according to their precise desires, and no other officer in the department has even half the efficiency of ET and his gear. He's got top marks across the board, from pursuit driving to evidence gathering to close quarters combat.
He wears a depowered ring from his retired friend "Mentalist" with him wherever he goes. When active, it provided him with a directly line to the hero, and helped to shut out the voices of the undesirables around him. ET hopes that the ring might suddenly become active once again in the future, and save him from himself again.
Lastly, ET keeps a silver-engraved flask of remarkable quality in his desk at the headquarters. Logically, if he's going to drink himself into an early grave, he may as well do so with pizazz.
May 2004: a small hospital in Des Moines saw the birth of a baby boy. He weighed nine pounds, crying mightily with well-developed lungs. His parents took him home, struggled through the first two years of parenthood, and moved to Indianapolis in 2006, when the boy's father was offered a high-paying civil engineering career. This boy was named David Logan Turner, the firstborn of Addie and James Turner.
Edward Terrence Turner was born in 2007, in a medium-sized hospital of an Indiana suburb. He was born a month early and a pound light, but that didn't stop him from crying enough to match his older brother. A family trait, it seemed. After coming home, Edward quickly grew into his place among the Turners. Not one of them was below five foot nine, and as his years grew older, so did his height. By middle school, it was unthinkable that he wouldn't join the football team. As a high-school senior, Dave welcomed his younger brother with open arms, shielding the freshman from any would-be bullies until his brother found his place in the high school hierarchy.
Ed's propensity for sports didn't excuse him from his studies: Addie Turner, a schoolteacher herself, made sure that her sons studied well, and studied hard. Edward never showed the same inclination for STEM as his older brother, but their mutual interest in the outdoors formed a strong bond between the two young men. The family went camping almost weekly, and by his graduation, Edward had seen the entire country, from Yosemite to Mammoth Cave.
Throughout his youth, Edward always had his family to use as role models for himself. The Turners were friendly, kind, and always looking for laughter in life. He saw the moral code of his mother and father, and adopted it unto himself. On the football team, others gravitated toward the principled young man, despite his sometimes inflexible opinions and pig-headed stubbornness.
A surprise football scholarship saw Edward following his brother to Ball State University, where he majored in criminal justice, just as expected. Also unexpectedly, he decided to join his brother's fraternity, where he earned the name ET.
"Easy there, buddy. Remember last night? If you puke on the walls again, Robbie's gonna throw a chair at you."
"Ah fuck off, Edward. You--you're not my gahdam dad."
"Listen to yourself, Diego: you slur your words any more and you might as well not talk at all."
"Hah, talk talk talk. You might as well my ass, Ed. Eddy. ET. Always gotta phone home, more like phone drone. Hah! HAHA!" Diego nearly fell over from the laughter.
Edward couldn't help laughing too. He was a little buzzed too. "Heh, that's actually not bad, Diego. Hey, do me a favor man?"
"Sure bro, what's--yo what the fuck, man! Put me down!"
"Nah dude, ET is sending you home. Throw up in your own room!"
"You motherfucker, put me down! Or I'll..throw up in your hair."
"Diego, I'll fuckin' throw you out a window."
His willingness to get black-out trashed one night and be designated driver the next led to much popularity with his brothers. Junior and senior year saw ET become the president of his fraternity, a decent college footballer, and a 3.4 GPA criminal justice graduate. The next step was easy, of course: police academy. But not before Dave took him on a trip to celebrate his college survival.
"Shut up, I saw you checking her out from a mile away." Dave grinned easily behind the wheel.
"Like fuck you did, man. ET laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back in his seat. "We ain't all as thirsty as your parched ass."
"Oh no, you're not getting away that easily, brother of mine." Dave shifted in his seat, and the V8 roared in the truck's hood. "I'm the older one, we know these things. Like when our little baby boy brothers drink with their eyes at a Montana diner."
"Yeah well, you're allowed to be wrong, Dave." ET rolled his eyes, barely holding back laughter. "How long we have left?"
Dave just snorted, reaching out to the radio. "Probably another five hours. GPS say six, but we have five hours to prove it wrong." The radio clicked on, and ET groaned. "Dude, this is ten years old--how do you always find the weirdest shit to play?
"Listen here, buddy." Dave glanced in the rearview mirror. "When you drive, you can play your intellipop or whatever the rage is nowadays. Until then, I'm playing classics. This song is nothing short of a miracle!"
"If we get to Glacier National without me killing you, that'd be a real miracle."
"Love you too, Eddie-pie."
The two highlights of the police academy were the end, and Erin. They met halfway through, where she punched him in several unpleasant places during a spar. They were inseparable after that. For the next two years, they went through training and probation by each others sides. After being officially instated, ET proposed to her on the way back to their apartment.
After a quiet, quick ceremony, they moved on with their lives, ready to serve and protect. For years, they did just that, working alongside the department and the supers, trying to maintain order in a burning world. With sea levels rising, and climate change rampant, what used to be the Midwest saw a hefty influx of refugees.
Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and other cities grew massively in size. The coalition of states with these cities decided it would be simpler to pool their resources, and the "Midwestern City" initiative was launched in 2038. Both ET and Erin were asked to join the MC-PD, a SWAT-like peacekeeping force which traveled between the cities in the Midwestern Sprawl. The couple had no time for children, but they had one another, and that was enough.
In 2039, Ed's quiet routine was shattered out of the blue. To this day, he has no idea what caused him to manifest his abilities.
"What was that, Kevin?"
"Didn't say anything, boss." The rookie took another bite out of the doughnut. "Thanks for the pick-me-up, though."
"Yeah, anytime..." ET strained his ear again. He was certain he'd heard something--
"Oy, you 'aving a stroke? I said 'take me out of your pocket!'.
Edward jumped. "I'll uh...gonna step out for a sec, Kevin. Sit tight."
"Aye cap'n. Sitting tight."
ET stepped out of the car with a frown on his face. "What the fuck is happening?" He felt his cell phone buzz, and he pulled it out almost automatically.
Finally! the voice said again. ET's phone dropped from shocked fingers to the ground. Ow, bloody hell! You tryin' ta start something, mate? We'll fuckin' start something right here!
"Oh, cool," ET said, stooping to pick up the phone. "I've cracked. I wondered if it would happen. All the stress, all the work, I--"
Look, I don't know what you're on about, but I wanted to tell you that I'm gettin' knackered. You gonna charge me soon or what?
ET glanced down. Fifteen percent. "How did I--" he shook his head. "Hey Phone, call 'Mentalist'."
Maybe I will, maybe I won't. You plannin' to ask nicely mate?
His eyes closed, and he inhaled a shaky breath. "Call Mentalist. Please?"
The voice didn't respond, but a moment later Mentalist's number popped up on the screen. "Hello, Mentalist? This is Officer Turner--we've met a few times? Yeah, that's right. Look, some Fweird shit is happening to me, and you were the first person I thought to call. Yeah, I can do that. Thanks. I'll be there."
The rest is history. After his manifestation, ET suddenly became a person of great interest within the Midwestern Sprawl. They had their heroes, of course, but only a few were directly employed by the police. Even fewer had powers as useful to police operations as "Arbiter". For five years, he enjoyed a quasi-celebrity status, working with the FBI, CIA, even Interpol to catch hackers and high-tech criminals. Tech-based supervillains were another specialty of his, as more and more people sought to use the chaos of the world to their own ends. In 2042, a wave of crime unlike anything before swept the Midwestern Sprawl. A new drug called Zing hit the streets, turning users into walking EMP bursts as their bodies lit up from the inside out. A gang called Thunderhead followed on its heels, carrying out organized robberies in three different MC Districts simultaneously.
Someone in the gang knew about Arbiter and his abilities: a day after the first wave of robberies, an image popped up on ET's phone. A picture of Dave, bleeding and forced into a trunk. A message: STAY HOME, HOTSHOT. The ice in ET's veins that day hasn't been matched since.
Of course he didn't stay home. That was ET's trigger to warpath, and throughout the next month he spent every waking moment hunting down Thunderhead's leaders. The fuckers who brought his brother, an innocent mechanic in Wisconsin, into a turf war.
He found what he was looking for: the leader of the cult-turned-gang, a super calling himself "Corrector". A scientist and hypnotic influencer, Corrector had decided the world was rotted with sin and set about removing as many of the instigators--read: humans--as possible. Those who heard his voice while looking him in the eyes fell under a near unbreakable thrall. To ET's horror, he found himself up against innocents. Corrupted fathers and sisters and children who couldn't stop themselves from following Corrector into oblivion.
They were not quiet in their adulation, and so subtlety was not Thunderhead's strong suit. Bombings, shootings, robberies--those were the calling card. Heroes from across the world were called in, but help would take too long to arrive. After a tip in September of that year, ET and his team moved on Corrector in Toledo.
"Please state your name for the record, officer."
"Edward Turner. Arbiter."
"Officer Turner, we've met with you today to obtain a debriefing for the MC-PD chief of police, state governors, and the congressional committee assigned to this event. Understood?"
"Start from the beginning and walk us through what happened, if you would. Take your time."
"Yes, sir. Common knowledge: you already knew that we had located Corrector--Lars Jensen--in Toldeo two weeks ago. Superhero reinforcement was coming, but we had learned of Jensen's plan to take Toldeo off the map, and we couldn't wait around for reinforcement. Something about Zing in the gas lines. Don't know, Inspector. I'm not a scientist."
"Who authorized the mission? Were you acting against any standing orders?"
"No, sir. Chief Brandt gave us permission to engage. As I'm sure he's told you, my team was best equipped to handle superheroes, given my...abilities, and the training and gear provided to my team."
"I'm aware of your abilities, Officer Turner. We have taken proper precautions to mitigate them in this debriefing, such that the higher-ups have no reason to doubt what you tell us here."
"It's not like I'm a fucking suspect, am I?" A sigh. "I apologize, inspector. I'm keyed up right now."
"That's all right, Turner. Please continue."
"Excuse my French, but Toldeo was a shitshow we were attacked as soon as we went in, and if we hadn't been driving ancient junkers pulled out of an evidence lot, we would have been dead in the water from the start. The smart people had locked their doors and hunkered down. The riot police were doing their best, but maniacal zealots are a tough crowd.
"We had a theory that taking out Corrector would break his hold on everyone else. We had an idea of where he'd be. We just had to find him. I'll skip the legwork, since it's in my report--most of this shit is, actually--and tell you that we found him. Well, I found him. Followed the trail of dead machinery and ended up in an old warehouse outside of town. Jensen was there."
"There was a shoot on sight order for Lars Jensen. Why did you hold your fire, as the e-ballistics report said?"
"Hah! Don't give me that bullshit. You know as well as I do that they got to someone in the Ruger-HK Operations division. Smartguns down mean shit when the software on them shuts down."
"Are you not able to...speak to firearms? Couldn't you have convinced it to work?"
"Not if it isn't fucking on, agent. This is starting to seem a lot like an interrogation."
"We just want the facts, Officer Turner."
"Yeah well, the facts are that the fucker turned my brother into one of his drones. Even if I could have got the damn gun working, you can't honestly tell me that I was supposed to shoot my own brother in cold blood."
"We all must do unpleasant things for the greater good, Officer. Please con--"
"The greater good? Are you fucking serious? Was t-boning my brother and Corrector off a fucking BRIDGE not enough greater good for you? Was my saving the entire population of fucking Toldeo not enough GREATER GOOD for you? Who the FUCK do you think you are?"
"Officer Turner, I must ask that you--"
"No, you fucking piece of shit! Have you ever lost a single god damn person in your life?" A dry heave. "Do you have a sibling? H-have you seen their dead fucking eyes staring at you as they fall to their fucking death? D-don't. Fucking. Tell me to do anything, you--"
After the Thunderhead incident, the MC-PD was given far more funding to avoid any future repeats. Top of the line equipment and gear. Arbiter was given the GAB-V3 suit and his new car a few months after the incident, and for the past five years, he has been trying to recover. Poorly. Erin did her best, but in the end she couldn't stay with someone so blatantly self destructive. Edward isn't sure where she left to. Maybe Cedar Fort or NYC.
That was the catalyst to start him back toward his feet. Too little, too late for their marriage, but just in time to save ET's liver from total annihilation. With a little bit of luck, he might make it back to a functioning adult in a few years.
For now, though...
ET had a brother once. He's dead now, and it was ET's fault. That memory is years old, but still fresh as yesterday. It colors his world, draining the joy from his work, his hobbies, and his social life. Despite this, ET is a stubborn bastard, and the saying "time heals all wounds" is his modus operandi. His brother would have beat his ass for moping so much.
He goes to therapy (court-ordered, of course), and lives life one day at a time. Going through the motions, and all that. He is stubborn, and at the stage in his life where keeping his mind open to differing opinions is getting a little bit harder.
Before Dave's death, ET was the life of any party. That former fraternity president shines through on the good days; a dash of confidence bolstering his jovial laugh and a friendly smile. Professional, but quick to joke. He always had a listening ear for anyone who needed it, and a quick turn of phrase to bring a smile to their face.
Despite his slightly over-the-top actions in college and the recent slippage of his ethics, Ed has always possessed a strong sense of morality. In college he had another nickname: "Judge Turner". Constantly stopping others from making mistakes, and talking his fraternity brothers out of doing things that were unacceptable to his moral code (being big and built helped give ET's words some merit with his brothers). People went to his parties to enjoy themselves, and it was the responsibility of everyone hosting the party to protect the party-goers from unfavorable events.
Most of that is gone now. The decisions he made that led to his brother's death have left him more...flexible in where the line is drawn. The result matters more now, and making excuses for his actions is easier than reining them in. A gangbanger with a broken leg is less likely to run away and kill someone's brother, after all. The computer is on his side, anyway: any record of wrongdoing tends to vanish without notice.
Maybe in the future, Ed will rediscover the paragon he used to be. Until then, the rugged stubborn exterior works well enough to hide the internal struggle. The therapy is helping, and an inkling of the former social butterfly is coming through. And on the bad days, alcohol is always a good patch his self-loathing, right?
Addie and James Turner no longer live in the Midwest. ET convinced his parents to retire to Colorado when the Midwestern Sprawl started getting dangerous.
He is divorced from a fellow police officer.
He starts and stops going to AA meetings with some frequency.
His therapist's name is Sonya, a thirty-five year old woman with a wife, a child of her own, and a devilish wit. She keeps him honest.
Unlike many of the other heroes, Edward has always been one-hundred percent a team player. Not powerful enough to go solo, he relies on his experience, wit, gear, and training as much as his powers.
Relationship with Hex:
Frankly, ET hardly knew Hex. The man was a minor presence in the Midwestern Sprawl, and never really had anything to do with ET and his team. As a pre-powered younger officer, Hex pulled him out of more than a few tight spots, supporting the fledgling MC-PD in its struggle to maintain order. Other than that, they were effectively strangers.
Character List: ET Gabbie - ET's armor suit/cell phone Dave - ET's car/laptop Captain Ong - ET's superior Stardust's cellphone - friendly, apologetic for Maysah. Easily convinced. The Tower's cybernetics - dapper, calm, and polite, but unwaveringly loyal to Tower.
Stardust can actively harvest plasma from her surrounding environment, be it from the Earth’s atmosphere or the neon sign of a seedy bar, and store it within her body. She can unleash her charge in a number of ways. Most notably, Stardust can fire off twisting beams of purple plasma from her palms. These blasts extend out to five-yards, have a diameter of a coin, and cut through metal with ease. She can also use her plasma to give her the properties of a solar wind and move at inhuman speeds—say, about five times faster than an Olympic gold medalist, or around 50 meters a second. The added speed gives her physical blows a bit more heft than normal, allowing for her to knockout most unpowered people with a single hit. Finally, she can spend her plasma to generate a hard, electromagnetic shield around her body to protect herself from bullets, some energy weapons, and nasty collisions when moving at breakneck speeds.
Weaknesses: Speedsters are a major headache for Stardust. While she can move at fast speeds, she’s not even in the running when compared to superhuman speeds. Speedsters can easily move in and out of the range of her plasma blasts, leave Stardust in their dust, or strike at her before she is capable of projecting a shield. Furthermore, in some crowded environments they can cause an absolute nightmare for Stardust due to her weariness to cause wanton destruction. As well, her plasma blasts can be subverted by supers who are able to control fire or electricity. For example, a pyromancer could sap the heat out of a blast of plasma or manipulate any fire it creates to Maysah’s determent, whereas an aeromancer could completely strip the electrical charge from her blasts to nullify them mid-attack.
As well, Stardust’s powers have some caveats. They have absolutely no subtlety. A sound like cackling electricity emits from her when she is charged with plasma, and when she is out of costume her hair lifts through static electricity and she glows a faint neon purple. Another problem with holding a charge is that her stored plasma generates a slight magnetic field. This field tends to interfere with, if not completely fry, electronics when she touches them. Finally, her powers drain her energy quickly. A handful of blasts or several seconds of speed or shields will completely drain her battery. This is not a problem when she is outdoors due to her being able to draw upon an almost limitless supply of natural plasma from the Earth’s atmosphere or space, but her ability to recharge is greatly limited indoors—almost wholly dependent on praying for an open window or a bunch of fluorescent lights.
Finally, Stardust has the physique of a physically fit woman in her fifties. She can’t see or hear any better than the average human, and when she gets hurt the recovery time is the same as anyone else. Likewise, she pretty much always has to shield herself when she uses her speed boost, or she risks breaking her bones.
Appearance: Maysah is a woman of Algerian descent with a clean complexion and dark features. Her black, wavy hair is streaked with the occasional gray and kept in a low, loose bun. Her eyes are a bright hazel and shine with a curious attentiveness. Some light makeup is used to disguise the wrinkles around her eyes, while creams fight a losing war against the stress lines on her forehead. Her face is symmetrical and heart-shaped. Her eyebrows are immaculate. Her lips are full but are prone to slide into a thin smirk. Her smile is white and straight, although it's a rare sight to see these days. Maysah is tall, a hair shy of six foot, and has an athletic build. Her voice is a dry rasp, and she talks just loud enough for someone to catch that the thing she muttered might've been a jab at them. Her fashion style mostly consists of a defeated uttering of "Maybe if I throw on a cardigan?” combined with some sort of blouse, dark jeans, and flats.
Her Stardust costume is almost as flamboyant as its namesake. Maysah wears a skintight, black bodysuit that is printed with the design of a nebula all over it. The bodysuit was specifically made to create an optical illusion effect when stared at that makes it appear as if the stars and space debris are moving. The bodysuit completely covers her face, although she can easily pull down the mask. She wears a long pair of silver, reflective gloves and thigh-high boots with no heels so she can actually run with some ease. Over the suit she wears a brown, short-sleeved, long-tail coat that has no special properties other than the fact that it keeps her from being completely frozen all of the time and hides the seem of her suit. Plus, she believes that it looks cool.
Equipment: The Stardust Signal — Or what we like to call a smartphone. While it may look like Maysah just enjoys a bulky, latched phone case slung inside of a black bag, the case and bag are actually composed of the same materials used in Faraday cages to block electromagnetic fields so Maysah doesn’t have to worry about destroying her phone whenever she charges up her plasma.
Magical Medication — A gift from Hex, Maysah carries a small medicine bottle. Each pill is actually a high-powered glamour spell that, once consumed, alters Maysah’s appearance—her hair is gray and a different texture, her skin is lighter, her eyes are brown, and even the bone structure on her face is different. Hex would send her a bottle every month. She only has two pills left now. Each one lasts eight hours.
Maysah was born in Vancouver, Canada, and for as long as she can remember she had an interest in space. What started as a mild fascination born from stargazing on family camping trips morphed into a full on obsession that involved subscription to science magazines, deep dives into internet forums, and admirable attempts at reading astrophysics books way beyond her comprehension. She was one of those kids who figured out what they wanted to be at a young age—an astronaut, in this case—and set out to be it. Maysah studied hard in school and received additional coaching from her junior high science teacher mom. Her dedication paid off and she attended a good university, where she met an engineering student from Quebec named Henri Marseille.
It wasn’t really love at first sight. More of a mutual hatred and a queasiness that shifted into a playfully annoyed sort of attraction after they were forced to become lab partners. His accent helped win him points, too. They married after graduation and moved to Longueuil, Quebec for Henri’s job, while Maysah found some lab work she wasn’t passionate about. After living there for a year, Maysah received a phone call from a woman named Victoria Manford, who had heard about her from an old physics professor Maysah had once assisted. The woman was the CEO of a private spaceflight company called Expanding Horizons, and they were projecting to achieve flight tests within the year—faster, she said, if Maysah signed aboard to help perfect the design of the shuttle. It was a childhood dream come true. Plus, the pay was, forgive the pun, out of this world. The only catch was that the job was in Cedar Fort.
Henri encouraged Maysah to take the position, and if her career at Expanding Horizons panned out he’d find a job in Cedar Fort. Working for a space company was everything she had hoped it to be, and she found herself becoming close friends with Victoria. Maysah truly helped kick up the productivity in the lab. One day Victoria pulled her into her office and offered Maysah the opportunity to take part in the first human test flight. She absolutely could not refuse. However, before the actual test flight, she had to be run through some basic astronaut training to make sure that she was hardy enough for space travel. They'd be fun, swore Victoria. After passing the physical and only getting a little sick on the centrifuge, Maysah was ready for the final test: a run inside of an experimental zero gravity chamber.
Something went wrong.
As Maysah was having the time of her life floating in air she detected the faint stench of rotten eggs, an odor added to natural gas that served as a safety measure. Joy shifted to panic, and she called for the test to be cancelled. However, when the technician pressed the emergency stop button it instead created a high-energy electrical spark that began to violently conduct through the metal shell of the chamber. It ionized the gas in the chamber and turned it into plasma. The lab was forced to listen to Maysah’s screams as the chamber was superheated before it exploded into a massive fireball, destroying half of the lab and injuring several technicians.
The people of Cedar Fort might’ve noticed just the slightest of rumbles. Inside the lab, people were scrambling to put out fires and aid the injured, and then someone shouted in surprise—Maysah was standing where the test chamber had been, alive and uninjured. However, she looked different. Very different. Her body was glowing a slight purple, her hair was floating, and a low hum of energy was coming from her. After Maysah unintentionally fired off a plasma blast the lab was evacuated and Victoria was called in. It took some time, but she was able to calm Maysah down. Victoria was about to get Maysah to agree to let them run tests on the woman to understand how she survived, what exactly happened to her, and if she could be helped. Maysah wanted nothing more than to be cured as quickly as possible. Everyone in the lab was reminded of their NDA, and the test began promptly.
A cure wasn't possible. However, thanks to Victoria and Expanding Horizons, Maysah was able to gain control over her powers. She wanted nothing more than to pretend like things were normal and return to their work. However, Victoria had other ideas. If they could recreate the experiment it would be the scientific breakthrough of the decade, if not the century. Maysah expressed her dismay at the idea, so Victoria made her an offer—a five-year advance on her salary and two months of vacation starting today. She could go see Henri. Their communication had been limited while she was being tested. Every moral bone in her body was telling her to refuse the offer and put her foot down, but she cracked. The money was too good, the job was too good, and Victoria was a friend. She wouldn’t do something if she didn’t think it was safe or smart.
Henri was happy to see Maysah, but he could tell that something was wrong. Later that week news broke about a massive explosion in Cedar Fort that originated from the Expanding Horizons lab. It was being reported as a freak accident, but Maysah knew that it had to have been Victoria's experiment. Dozens of people were killed; it was likely the reason the first explosion wasn’t so bad because Maysah had absorbed most of the energy. Maysah watched through tears as Victoria Manford appeared on television and lied about how a test with rocket fuel had gone wrong. Frustrated, Maysah revealed everything to Henri about her powers and the experiment—she knew if she had taken a stand she could’ve stopped Victoria. He was angry at first, partly because she’d kept it hidden from him, but mostly because she had gone against her principles. The rage didn’t last long. Instead, they stayed up all night talking, drinking, and scheming.
In the morning, they headed for Cedar Fort. The two decided to confront Victoria and coerce her into telling the truth. They waited until nightfall and then broke into her house. Having overheard a noise, Victoria came out of her room and cracked a bat against Henri, but when she saw Maysah buzzing with energy she quickly gave up. Their talk was short. Victoria would liquidate Expanding Horizons, use whatever money she had plus the sum she had promised Maysah to pay off the families of the deceased, and publicly admit that she knew that the experiment had a high risk of danger. Otherwise, Maysah would liquidate her. Simple choice, really. Victoria didn’t call her bluff, and within a month she was awaiting trial for malfeasance and mulitple charges of criminally negligent homicide.
Stardust was born that night. Maysah felt a warmth for what she had done like none she had ever experienced, but was still ashamed that she had not acted any sooner. She wanted to make up for her failure to do the right thing at the right time. With the support of her husband, she decided to use the powers she had gained to do some serious good. Not only would she stop crime and battle supervillains, but she would also police corporate executives and politicians like Victoria that looked to exploit and harm innocents for their own personal gain. Henri assisted her in multiple ways: he helped design her costume, researched people of interest that had been accused of corruption, and held down a steady job so she could focus solely on her charitable work as a vigilante and corporate watchdog.
Stardust remained in the spotlight for over a decade. She was always a divisive superhero among the public. She was revered by some for her gentle touch when apprehending criminals and her integrity when it came to pursuing crimes outside of the ones generally handled by supes. Others derided her, calling her out as a super on a soapbox and suspicious of her intentions. Some claimed that she was committing corporate sabotage for a various number of companies, while others labeled her as an enemy of capitalism. Regardless of how someone viewed her, it couldn’t be argued that she was damn good at her job. Stardust largely operated inside of Quebec, but occasionally would appear in the United States in short-lived teams up to take down dangerous foes. However, she was ultimately a solo hero, partially due to preference, partially due to the negative attention corporations aimed at her, and partially because she was difficult to work with.
Hex was the last superhero to ever work with Stardust. They had teamed up to hunt down a blood mage slash serial killer named Soothslayer and things were not going well for the duo, both in terms of how the hunt was going and for how they were getting along. After a week of dead ends and cold trails, Hex had picked a rumor on a man who supplied Soothslayer with blood packs. The two were about to head out when Stardust saw something disturbing pop up on Hex's news feed. It was her face, as in her actual face. She made him open the vid.
The talking head was arguing that new evidence linked Stardust to the deaths of about fifty people. Footage was playing of the day she got her powers. It was spliced with footage of the explosion that had wiped out most of Expanding Horizons workforce. Stardust explained to Hex that she was being set up, and to her surprise he actually believed her. Worried about the immediate repercussions that occurred when an identity was leaked, she called Henri and got no answer. Through Hex's magic, the two teleported to Stardust’s house in Quebec to find a gruesome scene. On the same couch that Henri had convinced her to take a stand she found his body, mangled and shredded into a complete mess. Time seemed to completely freeze itself. She had been doing the right thing, and because of it her privacy was shattered, she was framed for a crime she had not committed, and the love of her life was killed. It felt like her chest was going to explode. There was only one other person alive that knew how Maysah got her powers, and they were supposed to be in prison. Stardust growled. Wherever they were tonight, they'd be in hell tomorrow.
However, before Stardust could begin her death march to Victoria’s cell, she was stopped by Hex. Literally, he put her in stasis with a spell and demanded to know where she was going. To get vengeance, she said, and then broke free of his charm. A fight broke out between the two, and Hex was eventually able to force Stardust into a room where she couldn’t charge her powers. She broke down into tears and yelled at Hex that she was done. Her life was ruined. Why would she bother trying to save others? Hex gave her time to rave, and the spoke up. She was many things he did not like, but she wasn’t a killer. Even if she somehow managed to go through with it, she wouldn't be able to live with herself—assuming nobody else got to her first. Her life was ruined, true, but it wasn't over. There were still options. He told her to bury her husband and he’d take care of everything else.
After she had her time with Henri, Hex came and found her. He gave her keys to a friend’s safe house in Toronto. He gave her new documents that identified her as Maria Martinez. Finally, he gave her a bottle of medicine. It was filled with pills that were enchanted to cast a glamour spell upon consumption that would make her appear to be someone else. None of this would help with the loss she felt, only time could do that, but this gave her time. It wasn’t an opportunity that many heroes who had their identities revealed were given. Maysah thanked Hex, and they parted ways. At first it was difficult living another life. She didn’t like the new woman in the mirror. She didn’t like the idea of leaving Henri’s death unavenged. Yet, eventually, she grew used to her misery until it became her new normal. She never put on her suit again. Stardust had died with Henri.
IV. Black Hole
Maysah lived as Maria for the last twelve years. She worked a part-time job in a small, used bookstore where she spent most of her time working on, destroying, and restarting a tell-all memoir. She moved out of the safe house and got her own small, quaint apartment outside of the city. On her days off she would go on camping trips like the ones she had a child to stargaze. Her life was a quiet, solitary one, and she was mostly at peace, or at least some kind of sad acceptance. Some days were harder than others, and it’s difficult to make it through the week without having something triggers a memory of her past life that fills her with rage and regret. The only connection she maintained from her former life was Hex, who regularly sent her a shipment of glamour pills on a monthly basis.
This last month the pills did not come. After waiting a few days, Maysah pulled out her old communication device from a box of junk she kept pushed back in a closet to check in on Hex. She found Special Agent Reynolds’s message waiting for her. She watched it with a furrowed brow, uncertain if they had even intended to send the message to someone like her. Part of her felt like it was a hoax, perhaps even a trap to draw her out of hiding. She certainly didn’t buy it at all that Hex would overdose on Nirvana. Maysah tried calling him only to get no response. She should’ve just ignored the damn thing, but it ate at her. Reynolds was right about one thing: Hex had been the best of them. He had helped her out of nothing but the kindness of his heart. Maysah owed it to him to at least look into the circumstances surrounding his death. Maybe she could work out a deal with Reynolds to get her name cleared. If they said no then fuck them, she'd happily standby and watch as Hex's proclaimed apocalypse ended them all.
Personality: Maysah was an idealist who dropped her arms just long enough for life to beat her down into a cynical pulp. She believed in doing the right thing for most of her life, and feels like she was betrayed by her own optimism. The only justice the world ever sees is a constructed one—an artificial silver lining to keep people docile. She tried playing outside of the societal rules that keep the rich on top and the poor distracted, and for her troubles she was rewarded with a heaping dose of reality that hit her with the force of a Mack Truck. It broke her. She was drained of her motivation and considered her compassion a hindrance instead of a boon. Apathy became the mainstay, because anything else was too painful.
As Stardust she was one of the most respected superheroes that nobody liked to work with. She truly seemed to be in the game for the right reasons, and it was clear that she always considered her actions before she made a move. She was also the most goddamn stubborn person to work with, with a know-it-all attitude and self-described “playful assholery” that heavily favored the latter part. Despite seeming to have completely given up, her stubbornness is still alive today. She takes a sort of grim pride in knowing that the fact of her very own existence is probably making somebody stress right now.
These days, Maysah is fairly quiet and reserved, especially when she is around strangers or trying to pass as Maria. She’s polite, but keeps everyone at an arm’s distance and slips by the judgmental smirk every now and then. However, this isn’t the case when she is with her peers. She views other superheroes with a bit of disdain. For all of their put ons, they never really accomplished anything. Maysah doesn’t hide her disappointment in them. It comes through in her barbed, snide remarks and is telegraphed through her body language. She seems to enjoy a good argument, and the best way to earn her respect is by dishing a good verbal beatdown right back at her.
Although she has never brought it up to anyone but close peers, Maysah is absolutely terrified of her powers. She knows just one errant beam could end the life of an innocent, and so she has always taken caution when using them. However, what is more terrifying to her than accidentally murdering someone is intentionally doing it. When she was younger the thoughts never even entered her mind, but now those violent urges against the people that wronged her seep into her brain when she is at her most vulnerable. She's afraid she might act on them. Worse still, she's afraid she'd like it.
Misc Facts: Stardust mostly operated inside of Quebec and had a stellar record over her decade long career. She apprehended hundreds of non-powered criminals, beat a few dozen “supervillains”, and exposed 7 US statesmen, 4 corporations, and 3 Canadian senators. Despite what the media might report, Stardust has never actually been responsible for any fatalities—although there has been the occasional maiming.
Maysah Marseille is currently wanted in the United States and Canada. While vigilantism is a gray area, she is liable for destruction of property, slander (of the multiple politicians and corps she has accused of participating in illegal activity), a failure to appear for multiple trials, and the mass manslaughter of about fifty coworkers. Only the last one doesn’t have any merit.
Victoria Manford, aka the woman most likely responsible for the reveal of Stardust's identity, is still alive, although in her seventies. As far as Maysah knows, she still lives in Cedar Fort and may or may not still be in prison. Likewise, the murderer of Maysah's husband has never been caught, and as of right now it is considered a cold case. Maysah never looked into either of them. She’s afraid of finding them because she has a pretty clear image in her mind of what she would do.
Relationship with Hex: Stardust is indebted to him. Stardust and Hex never got along on personal levels, and they clashed in their methodology on professional levels. However, they respected one another for their righteousness, and Stardust has Hex to blame for keeping her from swan diving off of her downward spiral. If it wasn’t for him she’d likely be dead by now, or at the very least in a super max security prison surrounded by criminals she had sent there. His death also directly affects her currently pathetic existence: she is a wanted woman, and without his glamour pills to keep her incognito the future is looking tumultuous.
Super Voice: He is capable of generating subsonic sound bullets from his mouth. These bullets obviously fly at the speed of sound and are seen as ripples in the air. They're about the size of a fist, and carry about as much force as a solid punch from a professional boxer. Their real insidious nature of this power is its ability to disrupt internal organs, causing anything from bowel problems to internal bleeding.
As well, he is able to generate an incredibly powerful area of effect scream that shatters glass 100 feet away from him. It causes bleeding in the ears, pain in the eyes, disrupts organs, as well as cause temporary loss of hearing.
(On Direct Skin Contact.) The Mockery Of Man: Benedict is a power thief unlike any other. He doesn't steal your power from you. He does not even steal your power exactly. Instead, in his greed and desperation, he creates a duplicate of any power. A twisted mockery of a power, an insult to the user, it is not more powerful but it is always more sinister. More innately malicious than the original ability.
The Destruction of Man: He also transfers a weakness into the ones he steals from. It is no significant weakness, it does not cripple you, it doesn't even harm you. It simply forces you to be as weak to his twisted mockery of your ability as he is to yours.
The Caricature of Man: Finally, his body morphs into an exaggerated version of your own. All of your features are made sharper or rounder or fatter or taller, everything about you is caricaturized in an uncanny mirror of yourself.
Throat Strain: His ability relies on the use of vocal chords and the throat. Using it too much causes pain, and if he were to lose his voice he'd be functionally useless.
Human Weakness: Despite being in good shape for his age, at least muscularly, he is very much a human being in his middle age. He lacks the stamina, strength and speed of youth. And he most certainly lacks the durability, resilience and recovery of a younger man.
Skin Sensitivity: Recoils away from near physical contact violently, even refusing to risk coming into direct skin contact. Claims that his injuries leave him delicate and frail, and even touching him hurts. He becomes increasingly frantic and desperate when someone tries to make repeated attempts to touch him.
Throat Body Strain: Any exertion is a drain, but the exertion of totally changing your body is extreme. Though it is not noticeable from one singular transformation, each repeated transformation uses up more and more of the body's ability to recover from strain. It takes days to return to a state where he can easily change again. After just three rapid changes of body, his skin begins to tear and his organs begin to show signs of traumatic fatigue.
Skin Sensitivity Contact: The reality is that his transformation is instantaneous. The revelation of his true abilities is a damning condemnation. To lose his disguise would be a devastating blow to him. The only connection he has to Hex is through the previously unknown identity of the one known as Doppler.
Human Weakness Strength: The very fact that his power allows him to make an immitation of the body and power of another has given him a bloated sense of invincibility. No one could ever be stronger than he is, as long as he copies their abilities, so as long as he's smarter and better at fighting he'll never be at risk. This inflated sense of ego, like so many egoists before him, is his greatest weakness.
Height: 5'8" Weight: 189lbs An absolutely shabby looking man. Ugly and worn with deep creases in an aged face. Messy long salt and pepper hair, clean shaven but only because he can't grow a proper beard. His entire appearance is that of someone who has gone through agonizing hardships that one would rather forget. Wearing too many clothes despite the weather, absolutely drenched in sweat despite carrying around multiple bottles of cologne and deodorant that noisily dangle in his coat pockets. Two layers of gloves completely covering his hands and forearms, and a scarf that covers the lower half of his face. Usually wearing plain colored trenchcoat and three pairs of pants, with at least two undershirts and two button or zip up shirts on top of them.
He no longer wears a costume, his face is known to his enemies, and he's outlived the abilities of them in their prime. The complete lack of regard for appearances is topped off by the uncomfortable fact that he has scars that look like he was tortured for some considerable length of time. Whip marks, lacerations, and scars where his hands and feet pulled against their restraints. All in all, a very sad man to look at.
Benny is a faceless man, once he had a face that he could call his own, now he only wears the mocking reflection of those he touches. Where your features are beautiful, they become unapproachably so. Where you are ugly, he becomes abominable. If your nose is big, it becomes bigger. If you're tall, he's taller. A charicature of who you are, but so very horrifying to those whose image is stolen. Every one of their flaws is pointed out, every one of their strengths exaggerated. His body changes entirely, all the way down to the DNA. Even his height and weight changes. The only thing that remains the same is his mind.
Despite all of this when he himself looks in the mirror, he can see a part of his original face. They're features so subtle that it would take an unparalleled genius years to notice, and even longer still for them to believe it's anything more than a coincidence.
His shabby, smelly appearance as Doppler is no accident. The many layers of clothes are actually many layers of normal clothing that can be torn off and discarded. The perfumes, colognes and deodorants are to hide his scent. He even wears a pair of special inlayed shoes that can be unzipped to reveal that they're elevated shoes and they have a second sole underneath, turning the shoes into a pair of sandals.
On his person, he also carries a small disk player that is actually a collapsed helmet that he wears to conceal his features.
Equipment: His outfit: It is actually a cleverly pieced together outfit designed to be easy to remove and interchange parts. Layers of plain colored scarves, gloves, pants and shirts, with specially designed breakaway shoes. Everything about his outfit is specially designed for escaping, rather than protection or style. Hidden Knife: Concealed on his hip. 5 inch blade, tempered steel. Brass Knuckles: Concealed under his layers of gloves.
Unknown, appeared one day about 22 years ago. A low level vigilante with sound powers, he found that he was only viable for dealing with small scale threats and foes that were sensitive to sound. He was never big time, and tended to keep to himself and hide his identity.
Benny doesn't know. One day, after years of desperation and mad jealousy, he witnessed a beautiful woman with a power to make her hair glow with a heavenly light. In a fit of rage he grabbed her by her hair and clawed her face with his bare fingertips, like a mad predator. In that moment he noticed that his fingers changed to be more feminine and his entire body changed shape. He was a woman, and his hair was blisteringly white and painful to look at. In his confusion he ran, but since then he's played the long game to grab as much power as possible.
A generally pleasant man, very clearly traumatized by past experiences, but showing great resolve of character to press on and be as positive as he can be. He's cunning and quick witted, able to keep up with anyone in a conversation or debate.
A petty, manipulative, greedy and terrible little man. All of the worst traits of a genius wrapped into the package of a shapeshifting power thief. He's a liar and a cheat, and will do anything in his power to trick you and destroy you just to step on your head to get one foot higher than you.
Misc Facts: Benedict is always left handed, this remains between every transformation. The parody image of his foes is always slightly taller or shorter than the individual he is transforming into. Has a habit of speaking in malaphors. He is also a social genius, he plans every moment of every interaction.
Relationship with Hex:
Doppler and Hex did a few jobs together, back before Doppler mysteriously disappeared. It seems that his disappearance was torturous, but when news of Hex and some disastrous prophecy he had to show up to investigate. Even if it would be more painful than it was worth.
Benny took Doppler hostage and assumed his identity, able to pass as him while transformed. No one knew Doppler's identity, so Benny took the opportunity to put himself in the position to get closer to other powerful beings. Aspiring to find the most powerful being, and snatch that power for himself. The news about Hex was wonderful, even exhilarating, it meant that powerful beings would be amassing together, and he would get the opportunity that he so desperately wanted.
Walking Fortress - Centurion; Alex's old designation as a part of the UK's now-scrapped Walking Fortress project, his powers still hold firm in the present day. Through the development of his powers in the army's testing phase, followed by honing them during his time in the Special Air Service, Alex's set of powers have these distinct features:
Enhanced Optical Targeting Systems; One part of the parcel that were the augmentations he received, his eyes now contain specialised lenses that are wired to a cybernetic computing implant in his brain. These allow him to analyse structures and targets, identify them as either friendly, neutral or hostile, along with other supplemental information like facial recognition and position on a mini-map in a heads-up display. The implants are not advanced enough to read vital signs or allow track of multiple targets and their firing trajectories, but is still good enough to analyse the trajectory of, say, a single bullet from a sniper.
Immovable Object; Alex can, when standing still with BOTH his feet firmly planted on the ground, root himself in place to prevent himself from moving, the augments in his feet anchoring himself into the ground. In this state, Alex's feet are completely immobile and can only be moved with the strongest of pushes that goes over the limits of his own endurance and the limitations of his cybernetic body.
Super Strength; Alex possesses the strength of several dozen men within his augmented muscles, and can easily lift a medium-sized bus, jump as high as a small building and run faster than most humans can, though not as fast as those with super speed. This, coupled with the armour he possesses, literally turns him into a running, jumping battering ram.
Reactive Armour Class - Tower of London; By virtue of his defense-based augments and powers, Alex also possesses a superhuman tough skin, akin to Colossus in terms of durability. This "second skin" is a layer of super strong and tough nanites, formed into kinetic reactive plating that can respond to incoming threats detected by Alex's ocular implants while providing an even level of armour all over his body. This enhances the toughness of his own skin, already strengthened by his original superpower.
Energy Channel; the superpower he was meant to have as a child growing up, Alex is able to redirect energy in many forms; electricity, light, heat and kinetic force chiefly among them. When Alex is confronted with an incoming source of any of those types of energy, he is able to absorb it into his body and then redirect it elsewhere through his hands and only his hands. The amount of force that he can absorb is directly proportional to the force he is able to redirect out of his hands.
Alex is a slow, plodding individual even though he's built for speed faster than your average man. He is loud, heavy and moves like a truck on legs, thus he is often the victim of anything that's faster than he is. His cybernetics are also a few generations behind the current year and, as a result, his armour is less durable than is visible. Sure, he shrugs off small arms and assault rifle fire like it's nothing, but placing Alex in front of a machine gun position or anything bigger than an RPG and his armour will struggle to compensate, even failing in places if he takes enough damage. The nanites that make up his armour are able to self-regenerate, but the process takes days to even weeks, and once that protective layer is gone, the only thing left is his resilient skin protecting him, and even that has its own limits. This makes Alex a very tough individual, but a focused effort and enough firepower will bring him down.
Along with this, the cybernetics within Alex are old and he is outclassed by even the simplest of current generation military-designed augments. Going up against anything that was produced in the current year is going to be a challenge for him.
Standing six feet five and weighing a good 220 pounds of muscle, Alex is well enough built of a man for most women to call him a stud. He has brown eyes and a head of shoulder length, shaggy brown hair, with a long, thick nose and thin lips. His hands are big and thick yet soft and gentle, belying his calm, gentle nature. A small scar is etched on his right cheek, as well as another over his left eyebrow. He normally dresses in simple garb, often wearing a tee-shirt, plain blue jeans and shoes underneath a dark green grocer's apron when he's at work. However, he will never be seen without his signature silver signet ring on his right index finger. This ring is decorated with a kite shield on its front, and engraved on the shield are the coat of arms of his ancestors; clockwise from the top left, a gothic cross, an eagle, a castle tower and a sword. He also has a silver chain, on which dangles a locket with a family picture inside it, whose case is engraved with an ornate castle tower. When he's not at work, he usually wears his signature navy blue flat cap along with any kind of shirt that strikes his fancy, usually a polo or a plaid, short-sleeved collared shirt, along with jeans and shoes.
The augments that Alex possesses also leave him in a less-than-human state. The nanites that make up his armour typically manifest as a rippling wave across his skin that settles into a very traditional hexagon shaped lattice that covers his entire body, but is most prominent on his chest and arms, where the lines in the lattice are actually visible. His eyes, although brown, also produce a very slight glow from the ocular lens implants there that are also miniature monitors for his HUD. There is also a small SAS logo imprinted on his right temple, near his hairline and concealed by his fringe, along with a bigger tattoo of the same logo on his right upper arm.
As for a costume, Alex is normally clad in a navy blue flat cap and a black domino mask, mostly concealed by his shaggy hair. He wears a white turtleneck shirt emblazoned with a large Union Jack flag across the front underneath a brown trench coat that's normally left open. The length of chain that serves as his weapon is normally wrapped around his left arm. On his legs he wears a pair of beige cargo pants and steel-toed boots. On his hands are a pair of black leather driving gloves.
A length of extra heavy-duty chain that serves as his primary weapon. It is usually wrapped around his right forearm.
His fists and feet, naturally.
Born into a family of capes, Alex and his twin sister Shirley both didn't develop their powers until their teens, due to their parents being supers as well. Robert Mackey and Berenike Anil weren't exactly the best parents but they still raised a sterling young man and a graceful young woman, juggling their lives as famous superheroes while raising their two children and maintaining the business of their family-run grocer's in the little, sleepy village of Staithes in North Yorkshire. His father was one of the UK's greatest supers, a matter manipulator known as Excalibur. A great hero and inspiration to his children, but a lousy drunk and too full of pride in his identity as a cape. His mother, Berenike, often referred to as their great mother Bear, was also the Egyptian heroine Banshee, with her powers of sound manipulation and flight. She was kind and caring, even understanding of Robert's mistakes, which is why she married him; to keep him on the straight and narrow while they raised a family of their own.
Growing up in such a sleepy little town, Alex and Shirley had an idyllic life against a backdrop of serenity. When they were just kids, they didn't know that their parents were superheroes who regularly tangled with criminals and villains in other parts of the UK. Friends of their parents were more common sights than their actual parents and it was this absence of parental figures that made Alex into a headstrong young man who often took charge of the family's errands and chores while his parents were away. It wasn't until both he and Shirley grew into their teens and developed powers of their own that a decision had to be made. Robert and Bere hung up their capes and instead dedicated their newfound free time to their kids, teaching them how to control their powers along with being the parents that they should have been. Together, the super-powered family used their talents not to fight crime, but to instead help their community and live a semi-normal life. Their little grocer's shop down by the quay soon grew in popularity from their use of powers to help both themselves and others in need in their village. After all, it wasn't every day that you'd see the local fisherman's son hauling a broken down tractor into town for a fix by hand, or for his mother's beautiful songs to ring through the town square during the spring festival.
But with time came progress and the march of technology was only in one direction: forward. Alex and Shirley passed their teens and became young adults. As the years went by, Robert retired from the fishing life due to a back problem and his old age, while his wife continued to teach in their village's school. Alex, in a state of conflict about supporting their family and their home, decided one day to run away to the army. Without telling anyone, he left his quiet home and enlisted, around the same time his sister also left home to pursue her own career. He soon proved to be a few levels above the other recruits from his powers, much to the amusement of the officers in charge of new recruits. His displays attracted the attention of some powerful people in the British Army, who convinced the still young and naive Alex to join up with a strange, experimental group within their ranks. A secret project called the Walking Fortress Project, using newfound advances in cybernetic enhancements to build young men into super soldiers. Alex's natural powers of enhanced strength and durable skin made him the perfect candidate, hell, even the mascot of their project.
It was through this project that Alex became the Centurion. A walking tank, the perfect balance of man and machine, augmented by nanites and empowered by his own superpowers, with a name given to the tank that had become a British staple since post-WWII. He was assigned to the SAS as part of their counter-terrorist unit and, for a good few years, Alex became their spearhead, sent into dangerous situations along with regular soldiers to help them clear obstacles that would cost many lives if attempted by just men alone. His armoured skin, though tough, sustained several scars during his many tours of duty that he refrained from removing, stating that each was a trophy from a battle that he'd won. The bond that grew between him and the men in his unit was a strong, firm bond that seemed almost unbreakable.
Up until he was discharged with full honours. In the time it had taken for Alex to become a capable, proven hero, the leaders of the Project had developed newer, better Walking Fortress models, and just like that, he was replaced. Not without proper ceremony, of course, but to Alex it felt like he was being treated like a product instead of a human being, which he was, at the core. After his discharge, he moved to a small apartment in London and attempted to look for work, which resulted in a rather big coincidence: he ran into his sister there too. As brother and sister caught up, having not seen each other in years, Shirley told him of the Knights Anglais, a prominent superhero group based in the UK, sponsored by the royal family, that was linked to a global network of capes that responded to worldwide threats on a near-weekly basis. With their powers, she told him, they could join up and become actual heroes, just like their parents had been. The pay was good, the benefits were great and there was an entire community of empowered people that they could be a part of.
Joining the Knights was easy; his background in the military, his powers and his parents being two of the best capes in the business meant a guaranteed spot in the membership, but for him, maintaining the image of a squeaky clean, heroic and family-friendly cape was difficult. He was assigned a partner on day one, a more senior cape who was to assess his capabilities, but soon found out that there was more to being a hero than he thought there was. His time in the army meant he cared little about image, the complete opposite of what he was expected to do in the Knights. King William ran the Knights personally, treating the group like they were the country's personal super-powered military, while the Queen Consort advised him on public relations matters and helped the capes maintain that standard. Making sure that the heroes under their name were the spitting image of what Britain stood for and protected. He was given the name of Tower, as in Tower of London, and though he struggled, soon he wore the Union Jack on his chest as one of their team leaders. The two siblings shared in the fame and fortune of their newfound careers, soaking in the success as they honed their control of their powers while helping the senior heroes handle threats all across the country.
In 2035, there was a great event. The lead capes of the Knights Anglais met with the heads of a major US superhero organisation that had set up the world's first school for capes, and their first-ever graduation ceremony was due to take place. King William and his wife Kate both decided they would send a team of representatives to the States to show their goodwill and continue to maintain good relations with their neighbour. And so it was that Alex and Shirley Mackey, along with their teammates, were to travel to the US as the representatives. However, the Royals also needed icons of their own hero program to ensure that all of their best interests were on display, and the most convenient candidates were the parents of two of their newest heroes.
So it went. The entire Mackey family, Robert and his wife well into their late 60s, travelled to the US of A, specifically to the town of April Springs in Utah, where the Academy of Virtue compound was located. The school, a fresh startup financed by some of the richest supers in the States, was celebrating the graduation of their very first class of capes, handpicked from across the nation to represent the United States on a global stage. The entire event was scheduled to be held over the course of a week, with the graduation itself being preceded by a "live mission" where the graduating class' best students would go through a simulated incident to rescue some hostages and showcase their powers. Many other notable heroes were present throughout the event, including one Harrison Moore, aka Hex, a magic-based cape that the senior Mackeys had worked with in the past. The old friends bonded over drinks and Robert introduced Hex to Alex and Shirley on day one, leading to the veteran hero giving the two newbies some tips on their career, including how to limit their powers so they didn't overburden their bodies, along with the importance of rest and having outlets to unwind and de-stress.
The last day rolled around. The situation was in place, the two best graduates, a telekinetic sharpshooter and an elemental manipulator, were geared up and ready to go. A starting bell was rung and the game was underway. But the finale of the event didn't go according to plan, it was never meant to. From the start, the volunteers for the simulated scenario had been bribed and replaced by extremists, fanatics who held a great disdain for supers, having been a witness or even being a victim to the collateral damage of fights involving multiple capes taking a toll on the regular man's life. Simulated rounds were replaced with real bullets, actual explosives in place of fake charges and hostages that were replaced by armed double agents. As the scenario progressed, the subversions became more and more evident, culminating in the death of the sharpshooter to a supposed blank round.
It was then that all hell broke loose as the armed extremists dropped the charade and began attacking the amassed supers. In the midst of the chaos, the Mackeys regrouped and made a game plan, along with Hex and several other American capes, to take out the hostiles and save as many as they could from the slaughter. It was a messy, knock down drag out fight, but many lives were saved that day by the actions of the brave supers, both British and American. However, the losses were equally great. Most of the graduating class were wounded, several killed in the fighting, and many other civilians, some of them the parents of the younger capes, others family members or friends, were lost in the chaos. But chief among the losses were Excalibur and Banshee. The two elderly capes fought their hardest, but their age was their downfall. Without quick reflexes and less control over their powers than in their prime, Robert Mackey and Berenike Anil were among the casualties, their deaths a heroic sacrifice to ensure the rest of the class could escape to safety.
Many tears were shed, that day. Although British and US heroes renewed their solidarity through the crisis, several high key figures in the superhero community, as well as several other capes and many more civilians were dead. Families had been torn apart and what should have been the Academy's crowning achievement was instead its biggest tragedy. For Alex and Shirley, it was too much. Without much pause for thought, they left, taking their parents' bodies with them back to Britain, where arrangements were made. Excalibur and Banshee were buried side by side and given a hero's send-off, with many of the survivors from the incident in attendance, Hex among them. The veteran cape attempted to console the two distraught siblings and was able to, for the moment at least, calm them down enough to set them straight. He advised them to take some time off to themselves so they could settle the affairs of their parents and find a new course in life. So they did. Alexander and Shirley Mackey hung up their capes and returned to their village, heads hung low as news of the tragedy reached their home.
The next twelve years were a slow burn. The Mackey siblings returned to their normal lives in the village; Shirley teaching young children while Alex helped out at the docks, both of them co-managing a bakery in their family's name. Life slowed down and returned to normal for the ex-heroes and soon most forgot the tragedy, instead choosing to remember the fallen as heroes instead of dwelling over their loss. And so, the Mackey name faded into relative obscurity.
Alex is a soldier, first and foremost. He is loyal, determined and a driven individual when in uniform or costume, protective of his peers and a focused engine of destruction when given the order to do so. However, when the cape is off and the domino mask hanging on a wall, Alex is one of the most chill people you'll ever meet. His favourite thing to do in his free time is enjoying a cold beer while watching the boats drift across the harbour at home, relaxing in a lounge chair as he listened to the waves gently splashing against the docks. His time spent as a licensed cape meant that he had to learn how to be a good listener too, a skill he already had in the army, but his hero time added empathy into the equation.
All this put together makes Alex a lovable oaf and a gentle giant. A soft-spoken individual who chooses his words carefully and is gentle with everyone he meets, on account of his strength being way higher than normal. Always willing to help someone in need, not afraid to voice his concerns about a situation, and a slow, thoughtful individual who takes the time to plan out an encounter. A family man, above all, caring for his twin sister Shirley, along with the other residents in Staithes. Alex treasures bonds the most, between friends and family, and it is these bonds that empower him to do even simple things like waking up in the morning and helping out with the dishes. He draws emotional strength to supplement his own resilience from his sister and his friends in the village, keeping himself distracted and focused on the now, instead of the past.
The Academy tragedy took a heavy emotional toll on Alex's psyche. He carries the scars of the battle deep in his heart and isn't proud to talk about them. He often shies away from conversations regarding that day and hides the depression and emotional stress from his friends and loved ones, not wanting them to worry about him. If there were things to be said about Alex's emotional weaknesses, it would be that he's grown to be too sensitive to be a soldier. An effective soldier would be able to not let their emotions override their decisions, but Alex simply has a heart that's too big. He just doesn't want any more tragedy or sadness to happen in his life any more. For all the strength that he possesses, Alex's emotions are strong but also brittle, prone to fracturing because of stress or being reminded of past events.
Alex thoroughly enjoys a good pint of beer to relax. His favourite comfort food is vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.
Relationship with Hex:
Alex was good friends with Hex, by virtue of his parents being friends with him too. The advice that the old cape gave him and his sister will always stick with him as wise words from a dying generation of heroes.
Light Manipulation; Shirley is able to create, shape and manipulate visible light, being able to control light to weaponise it or use it as a defensive aid. She can solidify it into shields, use concentrated laser beams to super-heat and shear holes in targets, or bend the light around herself to create illusions or to hide her presence in a bubble of invisibility. Shirley can also channel her light through any objects she holds, so as long as they're mostly metal or transparent.
Shirley's biggest foil in terms of powers is anything that can absorb or reflect the light and heat she projects. Failing that, Shirley is still bound by her own body's limits, not sharing her brother's immense endurance and defensive capabilities. In a way, she is far more mortal than Alex is, and far more vulnerable in that regard.
Standing a mere five feet five inches tall and weighing 155 pounds, Shirley is much smaller than her brother is. Her hair and eyes are the same shade of brown, and her hair is long and curly, flowing past her shoulders. She regularly keeps her hair tied in a braided ponytail and shares the same fashion sense as her brother, dressing simply in a blouse or shirt, jeans and shoes when at work or out. She too has a signet ring worn on her left index finger, though a smaller one for her dainty hands. The bronze chain she wears also has a locket on it, on which is engraved a Roman gladius and contains a picture of her family. With the advances in technology, Shirley opted to get cosmetic cybernetic implants across her body, elaborated on below, but the LCD strips in her arms and legs often glow to life when she's excited or focused on her powers. When they're off, they fade to match her skin colour, becoming almost invisible against her skin.
For her costume, Shirley wears a pair of aviator shades on her face, with her hair tied up in a bun held in place by two long, thin hairpins, the rest of her hair kept under a baseball cap. She keeps the lower half of her face hidden by wearing a turtleneck shirt with the neck pulled up over her nose, with short sleeves so as to not impede her light cybernetics. Over this, Shirley wears a sleeveless hooded sweatshirt and jean shorts with sneakers and thigh high translucent leggings that keep her warm while also letting the light of her cybernetics bleed through the fabric.
Her hands, often used as focuses for her light beams. She likes to have her hands in the shape of handguns, since the idea of "finger guns" firing actual laser beams amuses her.
Advanced cosmetic cybernetics given newfound purpose with Shirley's powers, in the form of ultra-thin LCD strips along her arms, legs, chest and back, and even in her fingertips, that light up with a mere thought. She is able to control the colour of the lights, along with their intensity, with a tiny computer implanted into her brain, and she uses these cybernetics to create more light for her to use as a weapon or defense.
A short staff, made of reinforced aluminium and a strengthened composite of plas-steel and titanium, with an outer layer of the same flexible LCD strips that are in her body. The staff lights up in the same way her implants do, connected wirelessly to the implant in her brain.
Shirley gained her powers similar to her brother; they manifested during her teens and when her parents retired to take care of them, she was taught how to harness her abilities to control and manipulate light. She helped out around their home village, mostly doing odd jobs and providing the occasional light show for easily amused children in the local school or for festivals. Much of Shirley's life remained similar to her twin brother, Alex, up until he disappeared one day from their family home. At first, it drew a panic among the resident and her parents especially, but her father's connections proved to be a powerful tool; a few calls and he found out Alex was in the Army and there was not much they could do about it.
It was around this time that Shirley also made up her mind to seek her fortune elsewhere, though through much more mundane means. Her plan was to move to London and study in a local university to get a Masters in Construction Engineering. Her parents were supportive of her decisions and Shirley moved out within the year, taking up residence in a dorm in London while she focused on her studies. Time passed rather quickly, Shirley graduated with her Masters and began a brief career in the industry, using her powers of light manipulation to help her colleagues visualise building plans or to highlight potential structural weaknesses. But as much as the job paid the bills and gave her a stable place in the workforce, she began to grow tired of the boring job and began seeking other options for herself.
Thus was how she stumbled onto the Knights Anglais, and by extension her long lost brother. Reunited with family in London, the siblings enrolled into the Knights and made a name for themselves. Shirley took on the heroine name of Neon for her light-based powers, later changing her name to Beacon, and shared in the spotlight with her brother. But where Alex had to take on cybernetics because of his job in the army, Shirley was given a choice about it. During her training as a super within the Knights, one of her tutors noticed that her light powers, although powerful, she could only control by pulling light from around her. While not totally debilitating in terms of her superhero career, her tutor gave her the option of getting some very light cybernetic implants; LCD strips that could generate her own light so she could function in darker areas. There wasn't much choice; Shirley knew the risks and she went for it.
And the rest, as they say, is history. When the Academy tragedy rolled around, Shirley was the one who had to drag her brother out of his depressed funk, making sure the family still had plans for the future. She took care of him emotionally after they retired, pushing to see a therapist for his issues while making sure the rest of their affairs were in order. The bakery was being supported, the school still had teachers and her brother wasn't being a sad slob of a man. Over time, Shirley mellowed out and now she runs the family bakery while her brother works in the docks, content with living life out of the spotlight.
Contrasting her brother's mellow nature, Shirley is more eager and active in her personality. She is warm and bubbly, not quite as energetic as she was when she was younger, but still a bundle of joy to be around. Shirley cares about the small joys in life; cracking open a freshly baked loaf of bread and letting the smell fill her nose, the sound of children's laughter filling a quiet spring morning, wind blowing ripples through the green hills of her home in the countryside, things like that. Her love for her family and friends knows no bounds, especially for her brother, after he suffered through battles and much more loss than she ever experienced. She cares for him like a sister would, encouraging him to be more open about his emotions and venting about them to her or his therapist.
Inside, she harbours her own doubts and worries that she isn't doing enough for the family business. That she's letting her parents down, or that she's not doing a good job in consoling and reassuring her brother. Shirley frets and worries a lot about things in her life that she sometimes can't control, leading to anxiety problems that only worsened after the death of her parents. She's most afraid of losing control of her life, and by extension her brother, because he's the only family she has left and she's afraid of losing him. Her anxiety also often manifests as feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing, a vicious cycle of self-blame and regret that she can't fully control or understand. But she survives. She has Alex as her anchor and her home as her foundation, and in her heart, past the anxiety and negative thoughts, she knows that she is still loved by those around her and that carries her through life.
Contrary to her brother, Shirley enjoys a good meal of fish and chips as comfort food, and her favourite flavour of ice cream is Rocky Road.
Relationship with Hex:
Like her twin brother, Shirley was also good friends with Hex. Unlike Alex, she kept in contact with Hex infrequently, up until he dropped off the radar and subsequently disappeared.
Eli can control, manipulate, and absorb organic matter provided he is touching it. The more organic matter he has access to, the more drastic things he can do with it. Most often it involves rapidly healing himself or others, making weapons or armor out of his body, using his body as a weapon, or turning organic matter into weapons.
Due to his primary ability, Eli can have superhuman physical attributes. Long years of forced retirement and age have degraded this, however, and he is only capable of lifting 1.5 tons and running at 50mph with reflexes capable of catching an arrow in flight. He can only keep either the strength or the speed going at a time, however. Both puts too much strain on his body.
Weaknesses: Eli is old, and hasn't used his powers in twenty years. It hurts to use his powers, he's rusty at the various techniques, and in general is slow at using his powers.
Anything to do with fire Eli despises. Burning generally makes it difficult for him to quickly heal and anything he makes from organic matter only provides fuel for fire.
Eli is incapable of manipulating any inorganic matter. Metals, gases, plastics, etc etc.
Anything that doesn't attack Eli's organic matter specifically (Hexes,curses, psionic attacks, mind control, etc etc) Eli is very vulnerable too.
Manipulating organic matter requires energy and most often that energy is drawn from whatever is being manipulated. As Eli is most often manipulating his own body, he's often using huge amounts of energy and as such requires and equally huge if not larger caloric intake to off set it. If Eli can't regain energy, he can't use his powers.
Eli can survive and heal most wounds and, if given enough biomass absorbed, even regrow limbs but those all require his brain to be intact. Anything going through his skull and hitting his brain is guaranteed to kill him.
Appearance: Eli stands at 5ft 7in with a strong, stocky build. His forced retirement has caused him to lose the fitness of his youth as he reluctantly became used to a career where he didn't have to be ready to fight at any given moment, but beneath the layer of fat he's still powerful and capable of holding his own in a fight. His white beard and hair are kept carefully maintained, trimmed to an exact length and style. Bushy eyebrows are usually found drawn together above harsh brown eyes and a broad nose that more often than not has its nostrils flared. His lips are typically drawn into a scowl, making the multitude of wrinkles on his face even more apparent. Especially when he grumbles in his deep rumble of a voice.
His general clothing tends to be jeans and t-shirt. Simple, but kept clean and immaculate. It is rare to find him in ripped or dirty clothing by choice.
His costume used to be a menacing suit of organic armor, capable of conventional weapons and most heavy firepower. He isn't capable of covering his entire body in such a material anymore and now only generates a thin layer over his body to provide mild protection and hide his identity. Not much good it does, since his trial, but old habits die hard.
Equipment: In general, Eli has basic body armor, a pistol, and a battle rifle. He hasn't used any of them in over a decade, but keeps them on hand in case a situation ever arises where he needs to use them.
Eli and his younger brother, Frank, were destined from birth to be superheroes. Their parents were going to usher in a new era of supers, people designed to protect the world from evil and tyranny. People that were beacons of hope and justice. Their parents were dedicated to their purpose and experimented extensively with manipulating the human DNA in embryo and drawing out powers in it. By the time they had Eli, they had it down to a science. Eli never found out how many failed projects, and bodies, were behind his creation and he frankly doesn't want to know. All he knows is that when he was born with his powers, his parents were capable of accurately predicting what they were going to be and how they would develop. Every step of his life was planned to help him control and expand his abilities. For the first four years of his life, everything was the Evans family version of normal.
Everything changed when his younger brother was born. Frank was born with super powers, yes, but his powers weren't the ones that his father had predicted. Instead of pyrokinesis Frank had the ability of flight and cyrokinesis. For the first year, their father was confused and bewildered. Delighted his son had not one, but two powers of course, but confused as to why his predictions were so far off. After a year had passed, the truth came out. Their mother had cheated on their father, and an illegitimate pregnancy had come out of it. Eli and Frank were both to young to know this. All a young Eli knew was that his father suddenly had a look on his face that had never been there before, as he sent Eli to his room with his infant younger brother. They wouldn't find the truth out til years later.
Looking back, the only one who was surprised was their father. The relationship was not one built upon mutual love and respect, but merely a desire to further the future of the human race. It was their father who had made the mistake of getting emotionally attached to what was supposed to only be scientific, and pushing their mother into a relationship that was more than she expected and far more than she wanted.
That did nothing to ease their father's jealous, terrifying, rage. All Eli remembers is hiding in his room with his brother as both of their parents screamed and things were broken in the house beyond. The next day their mother was gone and all their father would say on the matter is that she had left and they would be better off without her. That was a lie of course and their father took to drinking and drugs in short order. He went from strict and inspired scientist, guiding them on their way to becoming protectors of humanity, to a mean and hateful drunk who berated or hit them for every mistake, failure, or misstep. It was in particular aimed at Frank as his very existence reminded their father of their mother, and how she had betrayed him. As Eli grew older he began intentionally provoking the ire of their father to protect his younger brother. He was the oldest, it was his job to protect Frank from whatever their father threw at them.
This continued for 11 years, with their father beating and berating them into controlling their powers more or simply just because he could. Their powers only grew stronger by the day, as did their bond with one another. Their mother was gone, their father a bastard, but they had each other. They would always have each other. One day, after Eli had turned sixteen he finally had enough. As their father raised a fist to hit Frank again for some small mistake, Eli caught it. Their father turned around in a drunken rage, only to cry out in pain and agony as his arm began to wither away. Eli kept an iron grip as his father screamed and thrashed, his eyes cold as ice. "You're never touching us again. You're never hurting anyone again." He only stopped when Frank grabbed his other arm, crying out for him to stop.
Eli hesitated, but relented to his brother's wishes. He dropped his father, who cradled his useless and stick thin arm and cried to himself. Eli and his brother packed what little possessions they had and headed out the door, with Eli sparing only one glance behind. "Don't look for us. Or I won't stop next time."
The next four years were spent scrapping by a living on the streets of Saint Louis, USA. Food, shelter, and clothing were scarce, but they were never in any danger. Between the two of them and their powers, anyone who dared to cross them soon learned the error of their ways. They tried to kept mostly to themselves, the idea of using their powers to become heroes a repulsive one after years of hearing their father scream at them that was what they were supposed to be. But nonetheless word of their abilities spread among the other homeless and desperate and they soon were the nucleus of a small community that protected one another as best they could. Regardless of their wishes, Eli and Frank became heroes of the people. When they could, they searched for their mother as best they could but it was ultimately fruitless. They were only two kids, with no money or resources to even keep a roof over their heads much less find someone they had either only vague memories of or no memories at all. After two years of nothing they gave up entirely.
Eli only went back to their old home once, when he heard about his father being taken away to a mental hospital ranting and raving about his 'perfect creations' that betrayed him like everyone always did. He only went to see if there was anything that they could use to help Frank and those depending on them. He personally had no desire to help the people that gathered around them for protection, but Frank had a kinder heart. Frank had embraced the role thrust upon them by the desperate, much to Eli's exasperation. Their old home might have had something to sell, salvage, or otherwise use to aid all the people they had to deal with now. Eli found nothing useful, but he did find their father's journal. Against his better judgement he read through the book. Most of it was scientific jargon that he couldn't understand, but it clearly laid out two things; Frank was only his half brother, and their father had murdered their mother.
Eli lit the book on fire and dropped it in the trashcan outside. He had always had suspicions, but now they were confirmed. It was a secret he planned to take to his grave.
As soon as Frank was sixteen, Eli took the two of them to the army recruiter. They were struggling to keep the community together, and were drawing attention from local gangs. The gangs wanted to use the two brothers as powered muscle in their own struggles, and were willing to hurt the people they were supposed to be protecting to force them to obey. Eli convinced a reluctant Frank that the best way to save those people now was to leave and take any reasoning for the gangs to attack them away. Frank was an idealist, but he still listened to his older brother as the authority on all matters. If Eli said it was a good plan, it was a good plan.
Frank and Eli rapidly progressed through the military, ending up in the special forces in two years. The military had uses for two super powered soldiers, especially since Eli displayed little moral qualms and Frank listened to Eli. They spent the next eight years doing black ops for the USA military. Assassinations, sabotage, kidnappings, extractions of VIPs from hot zones, supporting the main forces in armed conflicts, countering other country's supers, anything and everything that was required of them they did without question. They always had each others back and no matter they could always rely on each other.
Frank finally drew the line after a mission that had them assassinating a rural tribe leader in the middle east. They did the job quickly and quietly, only to find out later that the man was the head of a local coalition trying to stop Oil from being drilled on sacred lands. Without him, the coalition would fall apart and their sacred lands would be defiled.
"We're better than this, Eli! We should be helping people, not suppressing them!" Eli personally saw no reason for such rhetoric, but it clearly mattered to Frank a great deal and he relented. If Frank wanted to be heroes of the people, they would be heroes of the people. But he would be there when the people decided to stab them in the back. When their tour of duty ended that year, they did not renew it. Instead, they headed back to the mainland USA to fulfill Frank's dream of being heroes to the people. For the next five years that's what they did. The beginnings were rough, since they had no direct oversight or goals other than 'help people'. For the first year they were known as useless amateurs, often causing more damage than they fixed. But as they learned how to operate as heroes, rather than soldiers, they became more skilled and efficient.
They started saving people and rising in importance. Other heroes began taking them seriously and they began doing real good, in Frank's eyes. With the money they had gotten from the military and what occasional cash Eli was able to convince Frank to accept for some of their heroics, they were able to hire a private investigator company to look for their mother. Eli knew the truth, but he couldn't bear to tell Frank what had really happened. Better that Frank never know, he thought, than him go through the pain of learning his mother was killed because she had Frank.
The brothers started clashing with one another much more as time wore on. Frank began to see Eli's lack of empathy and ruthless practicality as not just a method of protecting them, but a genuine flaw that leaned him towards villainy rather than heroics. Their arguments began getting worse and worse as Eli pushed against what he perceived to be Frank's foolish idealism, hope, and kindness in a world that will only crush those types of people under its heel. The traits that Frank was holding up so high were only weaknesses that were going to get him hurt in the future, or worse. Frank didn't see it that way. Frank believed the words they had been taught when their father wasn't a drunken bastard. They needed to be symbols of hope, beacons of justice, something people could aspire to be. All Eli saw was the laughable idealism of a broken man when he heard those words.
It was during one of these arguments that Eli's frustration got the best of him. Frank just wouldn't listen. He never listened. Not when Eli said they should take more payments, not when Eli said they were risking getting themselves in trouble, and especially not when Eli said they were risking themselves too much for people who they didn't even know. He snapped out the truth that Frank wasn't their father's son and that their mother was dead because she had him. As soon as he said the words, Eli regretted them, but the damage was done. Frank's face closed off and he walked away, ignoring his brother's calls for him to come back. That was the last time they worked together as the inseparable team they had always been.
Eli continued working as a super, but one for hire. He left the idealism and hope to his brother. He would do the smart thing and use his powers to aid those who could pay the most. He wasn't a true villain, finding the ideals of 'lets destroy or take over the world' distasteful, but he was never on the 'good' side for free. He would clash with other superheroes like Hex, hired by companies or villains to do various jobs that put him in conflict with the 'heroes'. They all reminded him of his brother, and he only regarded them with disdain.
Eli kept an eye on his brother, staying close enough that he could leap into action to help if need be. They might be not speaking to one another, but Frank was still his little brother. And they watched out for each other. No matter what.
Following the exploits of 'Cyro' and how he saved the day time and time again was easy. Frank was always a flamboyant character. As he watched his brother, he noticed a small pattern beginning to form that he approved of. As his brother went on and realized he no longer had Eli to watch his back, he became more and more inclined to use lethal force against those who wouldn't let themselves go without a fight. It was good, Eli thought, that Frank was finally realizing what type of world they were in. He would occasionally reach out, try to mend the rift between them, to now avail. Frank always ignored his messages or himself when he tried to make things up in person. Nine years passed like this before he was hired for his last job. A coal power plant had been taken by some eco-terrorists determined to stop the 'murder of mother earth' by any means necessary. He was to go in and free the hostages and take care of the terrorists by any means necessary. The corporation that hired him made it clear that they wouldn't be dismayed if the terrorists were killed in the endeavor.
Eli broke into the power plant and began making his way through efficiently and ruthlessly. The terrorists were more fanatic about their ideals than they were well trained, and he made short work of them. When he reached the center of the plant, he saw just how far they were going for their plans. They had rigged a multitude of explosives to the center of the plant, intent upon destroying it and everyone inside if their demands weren't met. To make things worse, the surviving terrorists were all in the center with hostages and detonators in their hands. Eli couldn't move fast enough to stop them all from detonating the explosives.
As Eli was considering how to stop or minimize the explosion, his brother walked through the door on the opposite side. For a moment, they just stared at one another. Then Eli sighed in relief. By himself he couldn't deal with this situation in a way that ended well, but with Frank? He could handle everything. He asked his brother for help. It could be like the old days, if only for a moment. When he saw Frank hesitate and then agree, he was elated. Remembering the moment, as he has over and over for the last twenty years, he wishes he would have seen the look in his brother's eyes as he agreed.
They made a plan and sprang into action, working seamlessly with one another as if they had never spent a moment apart. Everything was going smoothly until it was his brother's last target. As Eli finished off his he turned to the man panicking and going to press the button. He looked confidently up for his brother to freeze or kill the man with an icicle.
He was still looking as the explosion ripped through the plant and sent him flying. He woke up too the police and military all pointing weapons at him as he was dug out of the rubble, ordering him to surrender quietly. His brother was floating in the background, hands at the ready. Eli doesn't know what his brother told everyone outside the plant. All he knows is that his brother betrayed him, the only person left in the world he thought he could trust. He could have fought, tried to escape. Probably would have succeeded too. He was always the better fighter than his brother and Frank was the only one there who would've been able to put up a fight. But what would have been the point? Escape and be on the run for life? Kill his own brother just to run? No. They wanted a villain, and he was just suddenly so exhausted. Tired of everything.
He surrendered and they took him away in handcuffs. His trial was highly publicized, but he paid barely any attention. He was accused of something heinous enough to lock him away for life but Hex, that bastard, convinced the judge and jury to only give him 5 years of jail time. So Eli waited in jail, as quietly as he could. Occasionally someone he helped put away or someone who had been put away by another super would try to get revenge, and he would defend himself, but for the most part people left the quiet, bitter, man alone. When he got out he went into isolation as far from people as he could. His money from all his jobs as a super for hire was still there and he put it to good use.
The only person who mattered clearly didn't want him in the world. Eli had no doubt that if he tried to go back to his old ways his brother would try something like that again, or just try to kill him. And as hurt and angry as he was with Frank, he couldn't bring himself to actually hurt his little brother. They were family. So Eli isolated himself as best he could except for a few communications, on the forlorn hope that his brother would actually reach out to him. There was plenty of radio chatter between the supers as they organized themselves, but nothing from his brother and nothing for him. Gradually, it all died down as the supers began to disappear, and Eli was left with silence, and a dead hope that he'd ever see his brother again.
That is, until Special agent Reynolds crackled over an old channel. Eli listened more out of boredom than actual interest and was going to shut it off mid transmission. After all, it wasn't his problem that she couldn't do her job. Then she mentioned Hex. Eli hesitated, and listened through. Then he sighed and picked himself up. Hex may have been a goody two shoes nosy bastard, but he had been legitimate. If Hex had visions of a 'Reality Bringer' ending the world, something like that was coming. And as much as Eli didn't care for the rest of the world he lived on the world. Besides, he owed the bastard Hex for preventing him from being rotting in prison currently. He was an old man with one foot in the grave, but he could do something before kicking the bucket.
And maybe, just maybe, Frank would answer the call. He was always tight with Hex, always spouted the same 'heroes have to use their powers for good' garbage. It would be good to see his brother again.
Personality: Eli is most obviously characterized by an almost total lack of empathy for his fellow man. He never cared for the plights of anyone but himself and his family. And since his family is all either dead or have turned their backs on him, he cares even less. He views the world as a cold and merciless place and the people in it even more so. Kindness and mercy are only weaknesses that others will use to either stab you in the back, or force you to carry them through every difficulty they encounter. He views superheroes as the ultimate manifestation of that foolishness, people using powers to help those who don't want to help themselves, opening themselves to attacks they normally wouldn't be open too with their abilities. Villains are worse, greedily trying to take as much as they can, assuming that because they have powers they're unstoppable. As such, he generally finds most other supers to be insufferable.
The notable exception to his lack of empathy is children. Eli either sees his brother and himself in them, or perhaps thinks they're the last vestige of innocence in the world. Regardless, the only time anyone is able to see Eli be gentle or kind is when dealing with kids. He's even been noted to do some of the 'stupid heroics' he mocks superheroes for when they're in danger.
A generally practical and ruthless person, Eli favors an 'by any means necessary' methodology. It typically doesn't matter what has to be done or who has to be sacrificed to get the job done, Eli is willing to do whatever is the most efficient route to getting an objective accomplished. Control and detachment are traits he values and prides himself on, ignoring the fact that he himself struggles with control and detachment.
Eli lacked tact since before his self-imposed exile. A little under twenty years of being in isolation has made that even worse. In general, he shouldn't be the one doing the talking and it would be best to have someone nearby to shut him up if the team is in a delicate situation that needs to be talked out of.
Eli is still values family above all else. He has no idea where Frank is, or if Frank is even still alive, but he would do anything for his brother without question. When they were in the military, this extended to their squad that they would operate frequently with but he even has less of an idea of where any of them are. Dead, presumably, in some war or operation by the USA government.
Despite the tough and immovable persona Eli presents, he's afraid of not dying. Immortality seems like a curse, rather than boon. It was a constant worry of his when he was younger, that his powers wouldn't let him age or die and he'd have to live forever or kill himself. It was a relief when he began showing signs of aging, even though he knew that it was most likely his subconscious influencing his powers to prevent them from manipulating his cells. Heroes who were immortal or undead always unnerved him, and he kept his distance as best he could. As if they could infect him with their immortality.
Misc Facts: Eli likes to keep himself and his gear immaculate and well-groomed. A minor neurotic tick, he frequently uses his powers to keep his hair a certain way, his nails trimmed, so on so forth. He's used his power endless times in his life to prevent scars from forming.
Eli has a working knowledge of how the human body is put together and operates, and how various organic structures in the animal, plant, and insect kingdom are put together and operate. He has spent his years studying how they work and what makes them work, on the off chance that Frank would reach out to him and he'd need to use his abilities once more. It never came to be, but now that the Special Agent has reached out to him he can finally put them to good use. Hopefully.
Eli has a tendency to unconsciously hum as he focuses on something.
Eli likes arachnids. He had a pet Goliath tarantula he let go before heading to Cedar Fort, and he still misses Suzy.
Relationship with Hex: Hex and Eli were rivals, of a sort. Whenever Eli would be hired to do something for a corporation or a villain who didn't want their hands to be dirtied or any connections to lead back to them, Hex would be there spouting some general bullshit line about using their powers for good. He always annoyed Eli, with his oozing self-righteousness. His hexes were incredibly frustrating as well, given how they affected Eli as a person and not just his organic material. Occasionally Hex would convince Eli there was enough profit in helping the 'good' side that they'd work together, but such occasions were rare. Hex was the one who prevented Eli from being incarcerated for life, though Eli doesn't know what was said or why, still reeling from his brother's betrayal. Presumably some vision of his about Eli's 'potential.'
Name: Nina Nikolayevna Noskova. // Nina to her friends. // Ninenka to her intimate friends. Alias: Spellbound Age: Nina was in her mid-twenties at the time of her death some twenty years ago. If she were still alive she would be in the middle of her forties.
Powers: Undead Physiology, Regeneration, and Limited Resurrection
Neither alive nor truly dead, Nina is an undead creature trapped in an unwelcome cycle of reincarnation by Hex's powerful but ultimately flawed ritual magic. Gifted with an undead physiology, Nina has superhuman strength and stamina. Lacking the physiological needs of a living, breathing human being Nina is highly resistant to physical damage. She possesses a healing factor and has gained a measure of immortality thanks to the elemental energy that imbues her form with undead life. Wile Nina has been destroyed a number of times, she always returns to life after some time, reawakening restored in her crypt in Cormack Historical Cemetery. However, each time that she is resurrected Nina is touched by the magic woven through her soul and she is irrecoverably changed. With each new life, her powers, memories, and personality have been twisted, leaving Nina unsure if she's even the same person that she was before her death.
In her current incarnation, Nina lacks any ranged abilities. This presents some problems as throwing a car or concrete road barrier at a bad guy is all well and good, but it's not nearly as effective as shooting beams of lasers, covering your foes in molten plasma, or exploding your enemies into a million smaller pieces. The lack of variety in her repertoire of abilities means that Nina is an exceedingly predictable, if unnerving fighter. Following in the footsteps of legendary comic book superheroes like the Dr. Hulk, Nina's solution to most of her villainous problems is simply to punch very hard.
A lack of tactical flexibility is however a small problem in comparison to the state of the necromantic wizard's mind. Altered by the magic that keeps her among the living, Nina is slowly losing herself to the powers that Hex accidentally gave her with his flawed ritual. The magic surging through her have stripped her of not just her mortality but her very essence of being. Her memories have begun to change, fading into the darkness. Her personality and her form have been gnarled and reshaped into something that she can not recognize. Power, dark, unbidden power pools within her.
Cursed in more ways than one, Nina struggles to find peace even when she manages to avoid the company of prattling mortals. Standing between the living and the dead, she is almost continually troubled by the voices of the recently dead. Less often, she finds herself drawn to unwelcome communion with long dead spirits that still cling to the powers they commanded when they walked among the living. Having spent a good decade mastering the art of telling the dead to shut up, most of the time Nina can easily ignore the rasping requests for attention that assail her ears. However, when distracted or in the presence of places with long, intimate histories with death she finds herself struggling to contain the desperate demands of the literal underworld. Talking to beings most people can't see is not a great party trick and in her brief interactions with other superheroes Nina does her best to not make it obvious that she sees dead people.
A recovering devotee to the Goth aesthetic, Nina is exceedingly pale, less in an unhealthy manner, and more in a vaguely spectral sort of way. At a glance, Nina appears to be in her mid twenties, certainly no more than twenty eight. She has an elfin build unburdened by the weight of her true years and untouched by the passage of time. She has serious pale gray eyes, splashed with a hint of green that offers a promise of grim deeds to come. She keeps her hair cut just above her shoulders and it is painted a shade of brown that seems to shut out light, appearing far darker than it really is. Her lips move little and are often simply pursed in a gentle frown, as if existence is a burden she only barely chooses to suffer.
For all her polite mannerisms and soft visage is there is something unsettling about the young woman. She looks tired, exhausted even, like she hasn't slept for the better part of a century. And there is something forced about the way she smiles, the way she moves, and the way she breathes. It's like her movements are merely habits that she remembers and reluctantly performs for the benefit of those around her. When she does move with some expediency she practically floats above the ground, moving like some sort of specter.
Typical Clothing: Generally uninterested in clothing, Nina owns a modest collection of dark suits in varying degrees of disrepair that suggest a growing disinterest in her own appearance. Second hand acquisitions sourced from thrift shops and estate sales, the suits, though expertly tailored to her figure, reflect the weariness that she feels in her undead bones. Beneath her jacket, Nina favors monochromatic dress shirts and simple ties of a similar vintage as her suits. She is exceedingly fond of leather boots and rarely leaves her crypt without a pair adorning her feet. In short, she far from a dashing figure, she comes off as deeply tired and not at all that concerned about whatever it is that forced her to leave the comforts of her crypt.
Costumed Appearance: As Spellbound, Nina wraps herself in a coarse funeral shroud that she has fashioned into a hooded cloak and several layers of black clothing. Over her hands she wears gel-lined fingerless gloves that protect her hands and wrists from the immense forces she generates with each punch. In a professional capacity, she wears black leather boots. The most modern aspect of her costume is her helmet, a tasteful number in black with darkened glass that casts shadowy reflections of all that she sees.
Beyond her costume, Nina carries only a simple handgun. A venerable CZ-75, an all-steel nine millimeter Czech demigod dating back to the early months of 1975. Wildly out of date and considered something of a relic in the current year, Nina maintains that the pistol still does the job well enough. Reasonably sized, reliable, and heavy enough to be used as a hammer it gives Nina an additional bite. It would be a safe bet to assume that Nina does not have a gun license. When asked she maintains that being dead, she is well outside of the jurisdiction of traditional law enforcement.
"Standing in the light I never wanted to be right Now I'm attracted by the light And blinded my the sight"
Nina Nikolayevna Noskova was born to a family of unremarkable nobodies in Boston-Atlanta sometime in the early 2020s. Her parents were third generation Czech immigrants and strictly working class. An unremarkable child, Nina appeared to be destined for nothing more than a high school diploma and maybe cosmetology school if she played her cards right. The great cybernetic revolution came for the rich and the comfortably upper middle class, it certainly did not come for those at the bottom of society. By sixteen she wasn't pregnant, like many of her classmates, but she had managed to rack up a respectable criminal record largely due to minor drug related offenses.
She was a difficult teenager with a disdain for authority and an inability to keep her mouth shut. Her parents were frequently at their wits end and threatened to send her back to the Old Country or to a much hated uncle, Gabriel. In between screaming matches with her parents and running from the police, Nina managed to find some happiness in the Goth subculture and quickly made all the wrongs friends. Pictures from back then show that she wore a profusion of black velvet, lace, fishnets and leather tinged with purple, accessorized with tightly laced corsets, gloves, precarious stilettos and silver jewelry depicting religious or occult themes. The very same pictures also suggest that she used criminal amounts of eyeshadow and white powder.
Teenage rebellion eventually gave way to an early adulthood of slight responsibility and by the time she turned eighteen Nina had a job working in the kitchen of the local dive bar scrubbing dishes. She spent what little money she earned on cigarettes and booze, managing to move out of her parents apartment only after several months of half-hearted saving. Her average life of mundane debauchery was forever shattered when an encounter gone wrong with a former paramour led her to discover that she could cause frost to appear in the middle of July. What followed was a storied tale that saw Nina threatening to turn half a city block to ice, destroying one police cruiser, and leaving one Roger Thompson with frostbite over most of his body. The incident and Nina remain infamous within the 77th precinct of the Boston-Atlanta Police Department.
However, before things managed to spiral completely out of control and Nina was thrown in a jail cell or put down as a magical arbitration, a local, well-respected witch, the retired Superhero Zita the Wise, stepped in and offered to train the young, untamed magical prodigy. The wizened Slovak witch was her teacher for many years and taught Nina most what she knew and knows about magic. Nina was a contemporary of the superhero Hex, that is, until he killed her several years later.
"Here in the garden of the arcane delights, Dark shadows overwhelm us and we become blind. Blind to the needs of those who would be free From the grip of fear and the prisons of the mind."
Mastering magic at a marvelous rate, Nina quickly became a powerful practitioner of the magical arts. A rebel at heart, she nonetheless managed to maintain her own brand of modern magic. An idealist with a penchant for do-it-yourself magic, spray painted graffiti rituals, loud music, and magical orgies she was a disruptive force of mostly good in the Boston-Atlanta area. Zita the Wise guided her as best she could, always cautioning her to respect the great powers that she commanded and the spirits that she often meddled with. However, Nina was talented and young enough to happily ignore the hard-earned wisdom of many older magicians and she indulged in a number of vices that more conventional wizards would stay far away from. Designer drugs infused with magic were for many years a beloved interest of the young wizard.
Once she was certain that she had learned what she could from Zita the Wise and chafing just a bit under her increasingly serious tutelage Nina declared herself a full personified master wizard at the impressively young age, for a wizard, of twenty two. Confident, arrogant, and not a little full of herself Nina was convinced she was destined for greatness. A fact she felt was confirmed by the bitter jealously of the older wizards that surrounded her. Bored to tears with the idea of spending the next several decades in the academic pursuit of arcane knowledge, Nina decided soon after that she would become a hero, a superhero even. Looking to stretch her wings, she decided that she had to strike out on her own, she had to find a place that needed a real hero, and somewhere that was far enough away that Zita the Wise wouldn't come knocking if she made some noise.
Nina met Hex soon after she relocated to New York City and came out as a proper anonymous hero called Spellbound. In his youth, Hex was as good as he was in his old age. But he was more handsome then. He was a younger man, a more reckless warlock who had yet to be burdened by his own flaws and failures. He had not learned the price that had to be paid. The pair were brave, wonderful heroes. They were children playing at a game they did not fully understand. They could see other heroes, one after another fall in the fight for good, but they continued to play anyhow. They were convinced that they were better and that they were smarter. They knew that they would be different. And they believed that things would end differently for them. They would not lose and they would not lose their way.
For nearly a decade Hex and Spellbound protected New York City together as a team. They became household names, with action figures and a Netflix show. They fought demons, necromancers, and arcane antagonists that threatened not just the city, but the nation, and sometimes even the world. They grew together and they grew apart. A budding romance evolved into a respectful friendship with clear boundaries and an arcane golem or two to keep the peace. Hex grew a beard. Nina developed an interest in horticulture. She even made efforts to reconcile with Zita the Wise, now a retired old woman who spent her days beekeeping in upstate New York. She mostly forgave Nina for stealing the Eye of Odin when they had last met.
It all fell apart when the pair of magical superheros confronted a group of cultists attempting to open a portal to a dimensional of unspeakable evil. It wasn't the first time they had fought a group of cultists. Necromancers, blood mages, and cults trying to bring about the apocalypse were dime a dozen. They weren't anything special. At least, they weren't supposed to be anything special. That time things were different however. Nina had felt it as they climbed down into the basement the cultists had excavated to reach the catacombs that lead to the temple. The air was heavy with magic, dark, repulsive magic that reeked of death. Everything had started so well. After a short jaunt through a gloomy series of passageways, Hex and Nina had burst into the temple and sent the nearest cults crashing into the nearest wall. They had offered some witty comment in the direction of the abomination of flesh and viscera that appeared to be leading the gaggle of cultists. It had roared something about "interruptions" and "sacrifices" but Nina didn't pay much attention. She didn't put much stake in the rambling of mad monsters or their threats. She'd heard them all before, after all.
Everything was going well until Hex took a blow to the head. He was dazed and Nina could see the blood that began to pour down his face. His magic faded, it grew weak. The cultists rallied and the monster laughed or at least Nina thought it was laughing, it was hard to tell. The young wizard used all the magic trickery that she knew to keep them alive. She stalled for time and she fought the wave of nausea that told her she was reaching her limit. Hex recovered, but he recovered slowly. They were in over their depth. They were in trouble. When Hex finally stood again, tossing curses all around him, Nina already knew it was too late. They were surrounded by cultists and they were running low on magic. They were trapped and it was only a matter of time. It was hopeless, she knew. She was powerful, Hex was alright, but they were outnumbered and they were outgunned. They would be torn to pieces and that would be the end of the dynamic spell-casting duo.
Left with no other option, Nina did the one thing that she had known she was never, ever, allowed to do. She summoned her own horror, she summoned her own special brand of eldritch horror from some abyssal plane. Hex told her to stop. She didn't listen. He didn't understand. He never would. She had to save them. As the spell reached it's apex and the horror began to substantiate, Nina broke the final rule. She summoned another dimensional portal and smashed the two together using all the magic she could muster. For a brief moment, she brought the two impossible realities together over the cultists and the abomination that commanded them. She could feel as the doorways to the planes ceased to exist, each rejecting the reality of the other. She watch the master and its servants disintegrate in a shower of sparks as the arcane energies tore them into pieces. She heard them scream. She heard it scream. She heard it curse her very name.
Hex screamed and she screamed too as the arcane light danced in front of them. She was not ready for the the sudden force that cut through her. It sent her falling into a helpless heap on the now dusty floor. Hex screamed again. She found it very annoying. She shouted at him to shut up, but he pointed at her chest, and he looked afraid. She hadn't known that it was possible to be alive without her heart or rather with her heart replaced by some shadow of magic. It was in that terrible moment that she remembered why it was wizards did not make a habit out of smashing dimensional portals together. Creatures beyond the veil did not take kindly too being used as improvised explosives. They became very irritate at the very notion of a broken summoning contract and they demanded revenge. The connection was all that they needed to find her. It was all they needed to mark her and to doom her.
She could feel herself dying. Dying faster than a normal human being that is. She told Hex, but he already knew. She could see it. She could feel it. He'd had another one of his damn visions. He knew. He knew all along what would happen!
They stumbled out of the catacombs and were greeted by a crowd of New York City's finest boys in blue. An entire city block had been leveled. Several people besides the cultists were dead, dozens more were wounded. They were still heroes to the city, but Nina could see the fear in their eyes. They finally knew what she could do. They finally saw and they were afraid. She had sacrificed herself for them, for Hex, and they were afraid. They were afraid of her and she would die. She would die for nothing. In the span of a month, Nina went from powerful wizard moonlighting as a superhero to mostly dead girl slowly fading away. There was nothing she could do about it. She had tried. She'd poured over all the books she could find, she'd sought out all the experts, and she'd even talked to Zita the Wise. There were no good news. There was no easy answer. There weren't even any hard answers. There were just terrible answers, sad looks, and deep, heavy sighs of uncertainty.
When Hex finally visited her he came with a plan. He had found something he promised. A real chance, not a great chance, but a chance. A chance to fix her, a chance to bring her back, and a chance to make things right again. She didn't want to die. Not yet. Not for several decades. Not in some shitty hospital bed under an anonymous name. Forgotten. Feared. Hated. So she agreed. They'd try, they'd try it together. Hex had found a loophole. He'd reverse engineered a curse, a terrible curse, the worst sort of curse that was never to be spoken of. It had taken him weeks of painstaking work and it had almost cost him his mind. He'd had to deal and wheel with several demons, but he had prevailed, he'd found out what he needed, what she needed.
"Some present you gave me, the bitterest pill My eyes is all grey And I haven't slept in days Locked up in your dungeon Running around in your maze Now I'm feeling zombiefied"
The ritual worked.
It worked exactly like it was supposed to. There was only one small problem — the ritual didn't save Nina, it killed her. Hex had made a mistake. In his desperation to find an answer, he'd been sloppy. He had committed the gravest of sins for mathematicians and wizards alike; he had neglected to double check his math. He'd saved Nina from one curse with another refashioned by his own infernal magic. He had never considered that the two curses would interact. He spared her from death by separating her from life. Hex had trapped her between life and death. He had had changed her. She could feel it, she could feel the wrongness of her new existence, she could feel how it pushed back against the reality of the material plane, and how it crackled against the veil. Dead magic flowed through her. Energies that should not have been possible, energies that should never have been, and energies that kept her in a new state of unlife.
Hex was afraid of her, but worse, he was ashamed. He was repulsed by her, he recoiled from her touch, and he locked himself away in his study. He buried himself in his ancient tomes and his work. Nina knew that she had become a reminder of his greatest failure. She was a reminder that no matter how pure his intentions were, the consequences could be unbearable, and the results horrific. Months of arcane research and experiments proved futile. Nothing worked, nothing restored her, and nothing brought her back. She gave up long before Hex did, but eventually even the Warlock lost what little hope he had managed to save.
Hex never managed to forgive himself for what happened to her and neither could Nina. She blamed the Warlock more than he blamed himself. He had damned her and he had cursed her. He had failed her. Love tore them apart and sent them along different paths. Nina was merciless and Hex found his own voice. He would not suffer the hysterics of a scorned wizard for eternity. He had a duty, he had others to protect. She did too, he begged, but Nina ignored him. She had given enough she shouted. What more did he want her to give? What more could anyone ask of her? What more could be taken from her?
Hex didn't have any answers.
She called him a coward. She called him a fool. And then she left.
"Of freshly dug grave and death and night These things are her essence"
Cursing her own fate, Nina fled back to Boston-Atlanta. Hiding away in a forgotten cemetery, she settled in an abandoned mausoleum content to await eternity by herself. When the loneliness of her stone crypt finally drove her close to madness she began venture out into the city. For a time she became the mysterious protector of the Autumn Hills. She patrolled at night. She kept the streets safe. She fought off criminals and supernatural creatures. Underneath the neon lights of the city she found a new purpose. She found a calling. She claimed the neighborhood as her own. She enjoyed watching over the living. She felt pride. They feared her, but more importantly they respected her. They spoke fondly of the reverent that protected them. They believed in her.
Then the voices started. At first they were nothing more than whispers. She convinced herself she was simply imagining them. She could ignore them. She could silence them. They recoiled when she shouted at them. And then she saw them. She saw all of them. She saw the ghosts that surrounded her, that begged her for a voice, and demanded she act for them.
In her madness she found herself in conflict with the police and with other heroes. They began to question her. They doubted her. She felt hatred for the first time in years. She felt rage, so much rage. She fought them. She fought the criminals and she fought the cops. She fought everyone that stood in her way. And then she died again. Some hotshot hero had buried her in a tomb of lava. It was the first time she had burned. It was the first time she had melted. Yet there was no peace, there was no rest for the wicked. She awoke again some time later in her crypt. Restored, but still dead, and different. She realized with great alarm that she was different. She had changed. Her magic was gone. Her spells forgotten. The voices were louder, they were a torrent of pleading screams. She couldn't remember her parents. She couldn't remember her home. She remembered only darkness and her regrets.
New fears coursed through her as she learned more about her affliction. She would not risk herself again. She would not risk her memories, she would not risk herself, and she would not risk what little remained of her soul. The city was no longer her concern, the citizens could rot, and the government could crumble. She would remain. She would silence the voices. She would wait. She would rest.
With each passing year, a torpor has grown inside of the unliving wizard. The world seems less interesting. Matters no longer concern her. People are no longer important to her. She no longer understands them. They are violent, impatient creatures, full of emotion, and life. Sometimes she hates them. Sometimes she misses them. But most of all she feels tired, so very tired.
Nina isn't sure how the letter from Special Agent Reynolds reached her. She hadn't expected a crow to be able to find her. She had already known. She had felt it when Hex died, the magic of the ritual had still bound them together. It had hurt. For the first time in years she had felt something. But it did not make her happy. What use was weeping? What use was feeling sorrow and loss? She had to go. She owed him. She owed Hex. He had always been better than her. He had always known she realized. He had always known she wouldn't let him down in the end.
Personality: Bitter, jaded, and angry; Nina is all of these things in great abundance. The grand adventure of being a wizard and superhero has trapped her in what she perceives to be her own personal hell. She is slowly losing herself and her memories to the eldritch energies which swirl through her. Beneath the fearless confidence of the undying, Nina hides all that she has lost and all that she desires. Memories are twisted, memories fade, and with each passing moment Nina despairs that she is losing more of herself.
Nina can no longer deny what she has become. A monster, something less than human; a creature of the night. She can feel her emotions unraveling, becoming undone, and she no longer knows how to change or return to the woman she once was. She struggles to resist her darkening thoughts and can feel a gnawing hunger, inhuman desire, unhurriedly consume what little remains of her soul. She can sense the fractures that deepen within her, slowly tearing her apart. Weakness and fragility that can only be mended with further lose of her humanity. Another heavy price to pay.
As Spellbound, Nina has retreated from humanity and other superheroes. Long since divorced from her humanity she cares little for the laws of men or the lofty morals of other superheroes. Instead, she acts of her own violation, following what she can remember of her own conscience. Withering with the dying light of her own spirit, it is becoming increasingly hard for Nina to call upon this inner voice. In Boston-Atlanta, Spellbound has become a legend, a mysterious vengeful spirit that once kept a nightly vigil over the neighborhood known as Autumn Hills. Boston-Atlanta Police Department database files detail Spellbound's activities protecting the residents of Autumn Hills, but also note several encounters with the vigilante that devolved into violence when officers attempted to impede her efforts. While rarely violent, Nina's encounters with other heroes have been sparse, terse, and full of otherworldly tension. Those that have met her, remember only a faint whisper of a voice that offered nothing more than a few cryptic words in parting. In recent years, Nina has withdrawn even further, letting the city stand alone and largely fading into nothing more than an old story.
However, despite her reclusive nature, Nina sometimes seeks the assistance of mundane mortals, supernatural creatures, and superheros to fulfill her enigmatic goals. Further, having spent too long languishing in the crypt that she calls home, she has unintentionally adopted some of the mannerisms ascribed to ancient undead creatures and to those that provide her with a service of some kind she will return the favor by allowing them to call upon her in times of great need using grim magical charms carved out of bone.
Misc Facts: Following her death in 2027, Nina has acted as the protector of the Autumn Hills neighborhood in Boston-Atlanta. Private, bordering on isolationist, she has largely avoided interaction with all other heroes or vigilantes since the start of her unlife.
As an undead creature, Nina does not have any of the physiological needs of a base human being. She doesn't need to breath, eat, or sleep. She has no pulse and her skin is as cold as the grave to the touch.
Relationship with Hex: Hex had promised. He had promised to help her. He had promised that he would find a way to save her. He was wrong. He made a mistake. He didn't save her. He cursed her. He bound her. He trapped her between life and death. He failed her. When she learned the truth she ran away. She ran away from Hex. She hated him. He had damned her. For all his ideals and good intentions, he'd sealed her fate. He'd turned her into a monster. He'd made her into a creature of the night. Far from the neon lights of Fort Cedar she found a new place and a new purpose. The Autumn Hills belonged to the Spellbound. She kept them safe. She was a monster, but not a villain.
With the passage of time, her hatred for Hex tempered. It was so hard to remember what it was like to be alive, to be so full of feeling, and life. She didn't need to see the encrypted video message from Special Agent Reynolds to know that Hex was dead, she had felt it. She had to act. She owed Hex that much, for all that he had done for her and for all of his failures.
Settled in the early 1700s by Eastern European immigrants, Autumn Hills, is one many ethnic neighborhoods found in the urban sprawl that was once Boston. Tinged with a darker reputation it is rumored to be home to organized crime elements and occult spirits that tend to discourage outside visitors. Which is a shame, because Autumn Hills is heaven for any visitor who likes charming and/or cluttered curiosity shops, spicy pierogis, or fresh, flavorful pirozhki just out of the oven. Night falls early here though, and Autumn Hill's mystic and crime-ridden reputation keeps most non-residents away after dusk. Brave souls may venture out at night to try to catch a glimpse of Spellbound, the mysterious guardian of Autumn Hills that was once said to haunt the neighborhood.
Adjoining the neighborhood is the Cormack Historical Cemetery. Largely abandoned, the once sprawling cemetery has slowly turned into a dark, twisted forest as the landscape has been relinquished to nature. The grand mausoleums and elaborate tombstones of a bygone era remain standing, crumbling slowly as they lay hidden beneath years of foliage and dust.
Cassey, or Cass for short, can liquify her body which takes the appearance of a dark, black shadowy substance. She can completely control its density and choose which part of her transforms or doesn't. Tendrils can be formed on her body and is a very versatile ability.
She can use her powers to penetrate soft ground like sand or dirt and move through it. Though she can use it to mimic a surface or specific material though it does not take its appearance, only its density.
Fire or anything that burns over 600 degrees will burn away the fibres of her shadow form on a molecular level. It will force it to break apart from her body, leaving Cassey exposed and vulnerable. Extreme heat will also prevent her from spreading around in her liquid form, completely stopping the woman in her tracks.
Likewise, ice also prevents Cassey from spreading the tendrils around or becoming liquid. She’s unable to shift back or move when frozen.
Appearance: Brown, shoulder-length hair frames a handsome face, bronze in colour. Big, round brown eyes, half-lidded, are missing a certain brilliance, dulled by her general apathy of the world. Though you wouldn’t see her face much unless you know her personally. She’s usually walking around with her hood up - or a beanie - and her head down.
She has a lot of burn marks on her body, though the chance anyone will ever see them is slim to none. The most prominent ones are spread across her stomach, back and left shoulder. Covering most of them, however, are swirly designs tattooed over them in no particular pattern.
Even though she is small in stature, Cassey has a fit and athletic body. Years of training and spending hours hitting a heavy bag gave her a well-defined and toned musculature.
Motorcycle. That’s it. Cassey’s a minimalist, or perhaps it’s because she just doesn’t care much. Probably a bit of both. She doesn’t have a suit, nor a cape, that shit is tacky. She usually wears dark ripped jeans and a motorcycle jacket over a sweater or hoodie.
She hides her face under her motorcycle helmet, the only item that seems she takes care of other than the bike itself. It has a very intricate custom paint job of iridescent purple and black swirls. The visor is rather large, giving her a near-perfect field of vision. However, in order to properly fight, she cannot have it on, and thus relies mostly on hoods to protect her identity.
What you’re about to read is the story of a young woman who was used, abused and rebelled against humanity. Pretty typical of any villain’s story, right? But do not be fooled, this is not a story about the bad guy, or girl in this case. It’s a story of redemption, of growth, loss and compromise. However, the ending is more bitter than sweet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Cassey was apprehended and captured at the age of 18, though those events are fuzzy in her mind. What she vividly remembers are the experiments, the Doctor’s soft and yet deceiving voices. They didn’t care for the host of whatever alien specimen attached itself to her body and that much was clear.
The pain and the torture they put her through were still fresh in her memories and burned on her skin; something she’ll never be able to escape. Years of experimentations revealed that the entity, which bonded with her body, wasn’t simply attached or an extension of her - it was her.
Cassey was no more than just a number to them. One? Two-hundred? Five thousand? She didn’t know, nor did she ever see anyone else except the medical team assigned to her. She listened closely to whatever tidbits she could hear from their conversations, as they were oddly secretive about the results of the experiments.
Quietly, she devised an escape plan as she learned to control whatever she had become. The breakout itself wasn’t hard at all, what was harder was leaving all the answers she desperately wanted behind. Who she was, what happened to her and why she was granted those powers.
After searching the lab and finding she was the only one there, With a vengeful heart, Cassey destroyed the compound and everyone in it.
Five years have passed since her release into the world. It took a while to get accustomed to being free again, longer than she would have liked. Eventually, though, she stopped jumping when someone got to close to her. She discovered what she liked to eat and what she despised.
The more she hid amongst the crowd, the worse she got. Her bitterness ran deep, deeper than she ever imagined. One night she walked passed a woman getting mugged and she found herself numb to her pleading screams. Grabbing the woman’s purpose for herself, she left and surrendered the last of humanity she had kept quietly tucked in.
Tired of slumming it with addicts and common criminals in rundown buildings, Cassey started taking whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. She eventually became one of Chicago’s Police Department most wanted criminals - though most of them had not a single clue how to apprehend a super, especially not a super-powered individual that went rogue.
The chase eventually cumulated to a massive scrap in the heart of the city, and after slaying about a dozen police officers and other armed agents, she was finally stopped. They had somehow figured out one of her weaknesses, and they took no time apprehending the woman by freezing her and locking her away. Her hatred only grew deeper. When she promised herself to never be taken captive again, she intended to fulfill it no matter what.
Cassey woke up with a start in a room she never saw, with someone she never met. Not again, she thought darkly. Little did she know, the individual in front of her was going to change her life and drag her back kicking and screaming from the darkness she willingly surrendered to. This person’s name was Hex.
It certainly was an uphill battle, especially since she was dragged halfway across the United States, but together they managed to exorcise Cassey’s demons enough to make her a functioning member of society. And for the next ten years, Cassey would take the mantle of ‘superhero’ even if she hated the cheesy label and the many, many expectations that came with it.
Along the way, Cassey found her peace in helping others as opposed to externalizing her pain of past events and using innocents as punching bags. She had to go through the excruciating journey of asking for forgiveness, accepting help and finally, learning to love herself and others.
For the first time in her life, she had an actual job and she had found love - and let herself be loved - when her fiancee suddenly died, mugged and shot. Just like the woman she hadn’t saved from the exact same fate five years ago. Not even Hex could bring her back from this one, and perhaps it was what she deserved after all. She accepted the punishment, and Shade was no more but a shadow from that moment on.
Cassey is a very quiet woman unless she hates you, then you’ll hear just how sarcastic and insulting she can be. Observing others and silently judging them is what she spends most of her time doing whenever she has the displeasure of not being alone.
You’re probably thinking she doesn’t sound much like a hero, and you would be right. Though if you manage to secure a spot in her good graces, she’ll be loyal to you until she dies - or until you do something incredibly stupid. And even if you’re lucky enough that she willingly decides to save your ass, she’ll find very creative ways to insult you. It’s her own way to express her disappointment, so don’t take it too personally. If she smiles at you, it’s either a really good thing, or you should probably start running. Have fun figuring out which is which.
Though all of her flaws are often hard to get past, Cassey is generally generous in all sense of the word. If she notices you haven’t eaten (and she will notice), you might see a lunch appear somewhere near you. However, the chances you’ll spot her slipping it in your bag, in your jacket, or dropping it off at your door with a mocking snicker, is highly unlikely.
If she does warm up to you, then you might just see a more lighthearted and goofy side to her. But you better not talk about it to anyone, or she’ll kill you. No really, she will.
Misc Facts: She really hates small talk. She has a dog named Harley and would protect his life with her own.
Shadow Step: Void's primary ability, the name is intentionally misleading. For the most part, it acts mainly as advanced invisibility, for all types of perception. This is true for all things capable of detecting him, not just humans. Machines, animals, even magical spells are unable to perceive his presence in any way while his power is active. This extends to things he's carrying, and anything he picks up. Things he lets go stop being affected.
Amnesia Aura: While his shadow step is active, it becomes impossible to directly record any aspect of his presence. Those who knew he was present become unable to remember he was with them. Direct results of actions he takes seem to have occurred sporadically, as completely natural results of preceding events. This ability also extends to things he brings into his possession while his power is active, changing immediate circumstances to believe whatever he brings into his possession were never present to begin with.
Degree of separation: While it is impossible to record his actions or perceive him directly, his power does have limitations. Anyone perceiving records of his actions, while unable to actually see him, are able to see the absence of him. In video recordings, anyone viewing an active feed would see him as a black void in the image-the origin of his alias. Going over the tape, however, would show no evidence of his presence to begin with. There are also various techniques and security protocols specifically designed to negate his ability and abilities like it. Those specific protocols are not entirely fail proof, and are often expensive, but have proven very effective in the past.
Only human: Even though he's undetectable, he's still just a normal person who is physically present. Explosions, bullet sprays, flame throwers, and similar weapons that damage everything in an area still damage him. Walls, hand cuffs, vault doors, and other physical barriers are all capable of restricting his movements.
Friendly fire: Void has a great deal of difficulty working with groups and teams. His power is not at all selective, and open battlefields pose an active threat to him as much as anyone. When a group he's with suddenly forgets his presence, plans they had made involving him only make sense until brought under scrutiny, at which point they seem massively flawed. He has learned some tricks over the years to deal with this, but if the methods get out they can be used by enemies, and like all forms of detecting him are also not entirely fail proof.
Height: 5'10" Weight: 190 lbs. Description: Caucasian male, late forties, of average height and weight. Dark brown hair with bits of grey, clean shaven. Wardrobe consists of suits of varying style, along with appropriate accessories-umbrella/cane, rings, watches, etc. Outfit always covers everything but hands, head, and neck.
Hidden: Body covered in ritualistic scars, tattooing, burns, and branding. A range of styles are present, often in patterns, without any discernible writing or apparent meaning.
Combat vest: A high grade bullet proof vest, worn under clothing. It is rated to stop knives, bullets, and protects against small to medium bits of shrapnel during explosions.
Shotgun: A short-barreled, 12 guage shotgun with pistol grip and folding stock. It can be fitted with an extended magazine, is usually equipped with a removable red dot scope, and can use a variety of ammunition, including; solid slug, pellets, breaching rounds, and dragon's breath rounds. Worn in a back holster, fitted under his suit jacket.
Pistols: Two standard, black 10mm pistols. Can be fitted with silencers, or a tactical light. Uses standard 10mm rounds. Worn in a chest holster, also fitted under suit jacket
Knife: An 8-inch combat knife, worn in an ankle strap. Made out of carbon fiber, and not detectable by standard metal detectors.
Memory rings: Five rubber rings, which can stretch up to five times their beginning size before risk of breaking. Made in bright, alternating neon red and yellow, each ring is meant to be worn somewhere in clear view to the person wearing it. Given to those he works with, they are meant to remind people that they are working with him when his power activates. While not perfect, it acts as a degree of separation which makes it possible to remember the concept of him, and how he might be an explanation for otherwise unexplainable events.
Michael Davis was born to a wealthy British family, in the year 1999. They lived in London for several years, before moving to a remote, luxurious cabin in a forest in California. For the first ten years of his life, Michael lived an isolated, but otherwise ideal life in the woods. He had access to a wide library, a large selection of movies, a home gym he could play in, and even a small pool. Food was brought to them by a delivery van, which also brought them their mail and other necessities. While he often wished for friends-and had a habit of making imaginary friends-his parents were loving and attentive. Along with the older woman who acted as his private teacher and babysitter, he was never truly alone.
Things changed, abruptly, on the night of the first blood moon after his tenth birthday. While he was growing up, one night a week, every week, his parents left to go out without him. For him, this was a regular occurrence, and he never thought to question it. The truth, though, was that they would leave to take part in the rituals of a cult they had originally joined five years before his birth, in England.
That night, they took him from his bed, and dragged him into the basement where more than twenty other adults were standing around a massive circle on the floor. The circle was filled with strange symbols and markings, and the adults around it wore robes and masks, each holding a lit torch. For the next four hours, all of them watched, as Michael's parents 'betrayed the trust never questioned.' Every mark on his body; scars, tattoos, burns, brands. Each was made that night, by his mother and father, while a room full of strangers only watched.
The pain proved too much for a child. Paramedics who found him the next morning were amazed he was even alive. A trail of his blood had come from the cabin, which had been burned down, starting a fire that had brought a fleet of firefighters to the scene. The remains of more than twenty robes were found, in the concrete basement. Not a single body was uncovered, burned or otherwise.
After 'the incident,' Michael was taken in by the woman who had been his tutor. He went to counseling for years, until it was agreed the trauma he experienced was too dramatic for a child to properly handle. Having blocked it out, he seemed to others to be in denial of what happened. His tutor, of course, had been eager to adopt him. Thinking back on the incident, she always felt bad, visiting a child who had lived entirely on his own for so many years, only long enough to tutor him each day.
Michael grew up normally after that. It wasn't until his late teen years he discovered his powers. By then, he'd learned to love superheroes. He never knew why, but the thought of complete strangers saving people always connected with something deep inside him. Naturally, when he discovered his power, he wanted to use it to become a hero like a lot of other supers.
Things didn't work out for him, though. His power, while useful, always made him a better villain than a hero. People approached him, regularly, offering him money to do questionably legal things. It started with 'rescuing' a small boy who had been kidnapped. Later on, he found out it was his mother who had 'kidnapped' him away from his father. From there, things only got worse, until everything hit the fan in 2035. By then, he was already the lead suspect in dozens of criminal cases, with the only logic being that 'no one else could have done it.'
So, when everyone started to vanish, it was all too easy for him to fall in with the criminal world. He started doing what he had to, to maintain his cover and get by. For someone like him, it wasn't really hard. Within the first year, he had security agencies the world over coming up with ways to guard against him.
Personality: Michael always wanted to be a hero. Having never known his birth parents, it was always the kindness of strangers that kept him going in life. He wanted to return that kindness for so long, and spent more years than he cares to remember trying. Deep down, he knows he still does. Life just didn't deal him that hand, though.
Having spent the last twelve years as a criminal, breaking more and more personal boundaries, he's become somewhat jaded. Over the years, he developed a very loose definition of an 'innocent' and let himself stop caring when some got hurt. Still, he always tries to help, where he can. Donating money he doesn't need to help people get by, and taking jobs that don't pay nearly enough because he feels bad for the client.
He's an alcoholic. Despite his British accent and mannerisms-which his adoptive mother always wondered about, as he never lived in England-that make him seem like a gentleman to many, he spends most of his time away from work drinking. With an assortment of various brands and vintages, hundreds of bottles are displayed in his personal bar. The bar being an entire underground apartment which, otherwise, houses only a bed, a bathroom, and about five years of combat rations.
He's quite wealthy, and has developed expensive tastes. While not rich by any means, a life of crime and an unexplained inheritance when he was young has paid for a good deal of luxury. Being a super, though, he has to enjoy it far away from the spotlight of the normal world.
Magic tends to interact strangely when it interacts with him. Generally, he is effected by it like any normal person. While they can't detect or record his presence, magical abilities and constructs interact with him normally otherwise. However, ongoing magics interacting with him while his power is inactive tend to 'glitch' if he activates his shadow step. The results are, usually, neither good nor bad, just sort of odd. As such, it's hard to classify as either a feature of his power, or a weakness he has to deal with.
Standing at 5'4", Hannah is shorter than most of her peers and with a slender frame. She has waist length auburn hair, normally kept out of her face and tied in a loose bun, it has a natural curl but occasionally she will wear it poker straight. After the incident, she was left with yellow eyes like that of a snake, with a slit for an iris. She is incredibly self-conscious of it, and so continues to wear hazel coloured contacts - even if they do start to irritate her after a while. She would rather the discomfort than feel that she looks like a monster to people.
Hannah will almost always wear gloves - she is terrified of poisoning someone fatally with her touch. Her 'Toxin' outfit is a simple black bodysuit with boots, gloves, and an eye mask. She will wear clothing that shows her preference for simplicity, that said, she didn't leave it entirely unfashionable - when light strikes it in a certain way, you can see a snake-like scale pattern covering it.
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Hannah’s origin as a mutant, like many other mutants before her, was forged from a tragedy. Namely, the senseless death of her younger brother at the hands of a criminal gang.
But before we get to that - we must first understand how she got there…
A young woman with a passion for chemistry, popular, adored by her friends, and from a loving, affluent family. Her life, from the outside appeared to be as perfect a life as it could be. Hannah was a charming, prodigious student, starting her bachelors a year earlier.
While Hannah was triumphant in her life, her brother, Adam, was not. He was outcast by their family. As Hannah became more successful, he resorted to petty crimes and getting in with the wrong crowd. This escalated over the years, far into Hannah starting her career as a biochemical engineer and weapons developer.
At that time, Hannah had been working on a prototype for a non-lethal weapon that fired doses of non-toxic chemical projectiles that could subdue without harm, or harm to the environment…
When did you last see your family?
On my father's birthday. But Adam d-d-d-didn't show. My mother explained that he had f-fallen in with a tough crowd and she was w-w-worried about him...
That seems like a drastic measure to take, no?
Denver at night is still a scary place. I shouldn't have gone alone. I sh-sh-should have called someone to tell them where I was. He had reached out to me a few times for advice but I'd b-b-been so busy working. My brother was in trouble with some thugs... I had with me a prototype I'd been working on, it was a capsule but I wasn't sure the for-f-formula was right.
Sounds like that shouldn't have been on your person - you said it was top secret work…
I shouldn't have had it. It should ne-n-never have left the lab, I just... I had been planning to test it at my home lab that night... I n-n-never made it home. The f-fus-fusion saved my life though - and also ruined it.
Do you remember what happened?
I remember driving around Denver, it was rain-raining. I remember that. I eventually found Ada-Adam, he was heading into some seedy looking club with some scary looking guys.
A reckless decision, wasn't it?
I-I-In a way...
I head-headed downstairs after him, I just... I re-remember hearing arguing and then I heard a g-gun-g-gunshot…They shot my brother. I-I shouldn't have rushed in. I thought that if I broke the cap-c-capsule the gas would take them down, I could use it and it would put-p-put them out for a while.
But you didn't want to kill them?
Goodness no! I wanted to save Adam, and then I would contact the police!
So what happened after that?
They jumped me first. It was a blur, it was a big-big blur. I just rem-remember the smell of incense in the room, cigars, and whisky. It hurt when they twisted my arm-arms behind my b-ba-b-back. They didn't touch my purse but they spoke for a while. I wasn't listening…
And then what?
Th-they threw me into a pit in the back room… It was filled with sn-snakes. They were, bi-biting me and ummm, my purse. I lan-landed on it and broke the prototype and th-then a cloud of g-gas.
Russell is a liability, in my opinion.
Barely able to string a sentence together without a stammer in her interview. Constantly wringing her hands, tapping her foot. Her story is interesting enough, it checks out. We did find evidence of her accident but unfortunately no evidence remained of the chemical fusion that was left behind.
Her qualifications speak well for her. She has excelled in biological engineering and has built a steady career in it for the last decade. Her accident 3 years ago has left her out of work until we found her... Given a good "safe" environment at Caltex, the woman will thrive.
Keep her out of the way of the others, give her a lab of her own, encourage her to stay up there. Caltex could greatly use her research and her work. The original chemical fusion she had made, I want her to replicate it for us.
Keep an eye on her.
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Once a lively, and spirited young woman, she is now much more reserved - for fear that she will get too close to anyone. In the years since her change, she has limited her contact with others, and to the debilitating point where her nervousness about human contact has had her develop a stutter. Her insecurities run deep, she knows that others fear, distrust, and dislike her. She hears the names whispered, she knows that she receives cruel nicknames from those around her, and she knows they mock her, yet she remains silent...
Beneath the nerves, her spirit lies dormant. When given the chance to warm up, she has a quick and pithy sense of humour that speaks to her intelligence. She is an overly kind and generous person, often lending a listening ear to those who care to spend time with her. She is unlikely to initiate contact, and instead requires someone to gently coax her from her shell.
She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and will always act in what she feels is in the best interest for true justice - which is in part the reason she ended up with her mutations in the first place.
Name: Thomas Geoffrey Alias/Callsign: Dr. Geo Age: 92 Powers:
In general terms, Thomas has absolute control over substances that would be classified as 'dirt' or 'rocks' in the common nomenclature. Likewise, he has the ability to bend, shape, and modify both metal and wooden objects at will. When he first began his career as a hero, he was known for things like firing balls of gravel at villains, shielding himself with thick slabs of stone, and 'flying' through the air by riding a clump of dirt he was levitating. He still uses many of these methods, especially if he engages in combat, though his techniques have been somewhat refined by experience.
Over time, and through extensive study, he was able to develop more complex techniques to use through fine manipulation of his power. This includes things such as heating the metal or earth up to molten temperatures, taking advantage of his understanding of physics to create high-power static discharges, and even healing people by carefully reshaping the solid components of their body. Each of these takes time to perform, time which makes them impractical during active combat, or in the case of healing even just during a mission in general.
These are not the limits of his abilities, though; Simply things he can do on a time scale that's practical. He has attempted, with varying degrees of success, many very elaborate applications of his power. This was often with the help of others, including everything from lab assistants helping him with the mathematics, to other supers combining their ability with his to ever greater effect. However, while these experiments often yielded incredible results, most required weeks or even months to plan, and up to multiple days to actually execute.
Though he wouldn't describe it as such, the incident which gave him his powers resulted from his entire being-both physical and spiritual-fusing with a massive source of raw earth magic. As a result, in addition to his geokinesis, his natural physiology was altered in a number of ways.
Vision: Thomas's sight no longer functions on the traditional light spectrum. Instead, he now sees things in the infrared. While his mind shows him these things as the different colors of the world as he knew them before, that's not actually what he's seeing, and he knows it. While this does mean that he is essentially colorblind, any source of heat now acts as a form of light for him. His sense of depth was not altered, so he can still see contrasts of 3D shapes quite fine. He is also still capable of reading traditional books-the ink in the book holds heat differently than the paper around it, so he can just press his hand to the letters and they appear to him-but he is not able to read computer screens, which also means he can't drive.
Powerful build: Despite his appearance, Thomas is actually quite strong. He's also naturally more resilient to damage than the average person. While these levels aren't extreme, they are slightly higher than any human has naturally reached. His own research has yielded results showing a capacity to produce, optimally, 10% more force than any other human on record, and a bone and muscle density that is able to handle approximately 15% more than a healthy, non-augmented human male of his-physical-age.
Bodily requirements: While he exceeds other humans physically, he needs disproportionate amounts of food and sleep to sustain himself. In general terms, he has found that he needs much less sleep than the average person, but has much higher nutritional requirements. Specifically, he can stay awake for eight days before suffering fatigue typical of a person staying away for sixteen hours, and can stay awake for as much as a month while suffering an approximately equal scaling of fatigue. This does require additional sleep, often leaving him in an almost comatose state for up to forty-eight hours. For food, his caloric and nutritional needs are roughly twice that of someone with his height and build. As a result, he is almost constantly eating, his body fully capable of digesting and metabolizing the food as quickly as he consumes it.
Fire: While no more flammable than the average human-according to his tests, he's actually slightly less so-being in the presence of a lit fire weakens his powers. The larger the fire, and the closer it is to him, the greater the loss in strength. In general, this means he can not exert his power on anything that is actively burning, and he has difficulty using his powers when near open flames. Open flames, being an intense source of heat, can also be as blinding to him as the sun is to most average people.
Obsidian: Naturally created, large shards of volcanic glass have effects on his powers similar to open flames. Despite their composition, his powers have no effect on obsidian shards larger than the average jewelry-quality gemstone. Likewise, being around such shards hinder his powers, having the greatest effect when physically touching him. A shard roughly the size of a baseball, placed on his chest, is enough to completely disable his geokinesis. *It's important to note that manufactured-mechanically or magically-shards, as well as shards small enough to be considered sand, do not have this effect on him. In fact, his powers function as well with such material as it does with raw earth.
Weight: Thomas is a good deal heavier than he should be. At nearly four hundred pounds, even with the most modern of tools, he has been unable to identify scientifically exactly why he is so heavy. Denser bones and muscle tissue, fat cells that prioritize the storage of minerals, as well as a naturally very toned physique; All of these things play into why he would be heavier than a man of his height and build. However, none of them, together or separately, adequately explain his incredible weight.
Leyline Beacon: Thomas's powers are entirely arcane in nature, and come from a powerful connection between himself and the raw elemental magics that exist within the world. Anyone practiced in the arcane arts can easily find him if they know to look for him, and many have without even knowing he was what they were detecting. As such, many of his old villains used magic in some way, and tried to use him to power elaborate arcane rituals or constructs. Likewise, magical creatures that are attracted to arcane energy are naturally attracted to him, most often as a food source.
Thomas looks a great deal younger than he really is. That's not to say that he looks young, so much as he is simply very old. Ostensibly, he appears to be in his mid fifties, though this is due to an active attempt on his part to make himself appear older. His hair is naturally white, but his beard blooms a very healthy brown which makes him appear younger. As such, he keeps himself clean shaven. He also appears to walk somewhat hunched over, to hide his posture and his very healthy physical build. Standing at his full height, he's just over six feet tall. In general, his purposefully poor posture makes him look three to four inches shorter. Finally, he wears very thick clothing, often including his lab coat over a dress shirt and sweater vest. Underneath it all, though, he is extremely toned and muscular. This is partly due to exercise, which he believes is important to maintain quality of life, and partly due to his altered anatomy.
Equipment: 1.) Five 1-pound bags of fine grain sand 2.) Three 2-inch diameter tungsten carbide orbs 3.) One 5-pound of misc. candy 4.) Palm-sized, multi-tool measurement and atmospheric readings device, voice activated and set for text-to-speech response.
In his youth, Thomas was a bright boy with a promising future ahead of him. His great grandfather had served as a general in the military near the end of the first world war, starting just before the USA entered the war fully. This began a family lineage of servicemen, with his grand father serving during the second world war, and his father serving in the Korean war. His great grandfather and his grandfather had both come home happy to have served, treated as heroes, to begin a family life with many happy children. His own father was not so lucky. Though he did come home to a loving wife, his family had trouble understanding his mental trauma. Despite this, when they heard he'd had his first child, they happily offered whatever help they could to see the child reach his full potential. While many of them assumed this would mean a life in the military, Thomas's father encouraged him instead to follow his own goals. Instead of military training, Thomas was the first member of his family to receive a degree. Not all of them were happy about it, but they were at least proud he had what it took to receive a full doctorate in his field; Applied physics.
Thomas was in his late twenties when he received his powers. At that point, supers were all but unheard of. Certainly, people knew about them, but most of them were barely more than people in costumes who used money or talent to fight criminals. A rare few had some strange gift, but none of them were bullet proof. Of course, even the idea of magic was completely absurd to scientific minds, and hyper advanced computers were a dream in the minds of the most imaginative. Despite all that, Thomas was among the few who believed there was more to the world than beakers and barometers could measure. It took time, but after a year, he finally found a practicing physicist who agreed. Thomas needed someone to take him on as an assistant, to start his career, and this man was the only one who agreed to his view of the world; Not only did he agree, but his own ideas were even more ridiculous than Thomas's theories. It was not long before Thomas found out why. The man had discovered what Thomas would later learn was called a 'leyline.' Geographically, they were not especially important, simply places where tectonic plates far below the earth's surface pressed against each other. However, those practiced in magic knew that such places held vast reserves of elemental mana. Few could draw on that power, as the places actually close enough to the line were incredibly hazardous; Near the sea floor, inside volcanoes, even at the bottom of fissures created by massive earthquakes. At the time, though, the two physicists knew only that there was a volcano that had recently opened to the surface, and the ash coming from its smoke was very lightly radioactive. The plan was to find the source of this radiation, and harness it to create electricity. By their earliest calculations, it would be enough to keep half the world lit for decades to come. Of course, as such things always do, it failed. Thomas fell, slipping off of a steep ledge while the crew was trying to escape. The device they had brought with them to harness the power at the volcano's core had somehow triggered an eruption. When he fell, Thomas landed on the machine, breaking it open and exposing wires, which used him as part of the circuit. Days later, after the volcanic activity seemed to have ceased in the area, they returned to find him encased in a thick layer of raw tungsten. Despite how entirely impossible it should have been, he survived, breaking free of the metal cocoon right before their eyes. It wasn't long until he discovered he had the power to control earth and stone, to shape wood and steel. He took on the title 'Dr. Geo,' and became one of the first the world labeled as 'Truly Super Heroes!' He spent decades as a hero, saving people whenever he found them in trouble. Through the entire process, he managed to maintain his work as a physicist. The partner who'd originally taken him into the volcano paid him to help perform research, knowing that his powers would be a huge boon to whatever company employed them.
In the year 2015, a group approached him. They were fanatics, the very beginning of a movement of radicalism that wanted to change the world. Their leaders believed what they were trying to achieve was for the good of all mankind. The group came to him, asking Dr. Geo to use his powers to aid them in their quest for what they called 'good.' At the time, he was a man very open to ideas, and the group was at its friendliest. He heard them out, let them take him to their leaders, and listened to what they wanted him to do. Though he had been hopeful, the group proved to be just another cult, terrorists touting themselves as saviors, the heroes the earth really needed. In the end, there was nothing he could do but refuse them. While the group was certainly extremist when it came to their ideals, all they had actually done was a great deal of research. Their plan was to upset existing fault lines, to use earthquakes to destroy key cities across the world, until every country submitted to them in fear. Apart from Dr. Geo, there was no one else in the world-that he, or they, knew of-who could actually do what they were asking him to do. So, he just left. Less than a year later, they kidnapped his only daughter. The group had gained some influence since their first meeting, and had used all of it to try and force him to work for them. Thomas called in every favor he could, but they gave him only enough time to successfully do what they wanted. When the last minute had passed, and San Francisco was still standing, they shot his daughter. Warning that his wife would be next, they then went silent. It took him less than a week to track them down. Their main base of operations was the same place they had brought him, a year ago. Of course, they had set up defenses, using what technology and engineering techniques existed at the time to make their base invulnerable to his powers. That was their intent, anyway. What ended up happening was all the resistance led to a massive collapse when he finally let loose and forced it all down. The resulting crater spanned eight city blocks, and brought down dozens of buildings. After that, he went into hiding. Like his father, he suffered intense mental trauma from what he'd seen. In the aftermath of what he'd done, he stayed to help. It was like cleaning up after the worst natural disaster he'd ever seen, only without any warning. Countless people died, hundreds screaming for help, while his powers made him feel each and every one of them pass away. He saw horrors that day, visceral images that were forever burned into his mind. It took only a few weeks for them to connect him to what had happened, but by then he was-quite literally-too far underground for anyone to find. In hiding, he assured himself he ran for the safety of others. He had become dangerous, lashing out from flashbacks like his father had suffered from. The idea of those memories from his childhood, that monster he had seen unleashed, with his power to use... He convinced himself, he was hiding to protect everyone else. Really, though, it was just a convenient excuse. Deep down, he knew he was hiding so he wouldn't have to face all the people whose lives he'd destroyed.
Personality: Thomas Geoffrey is a man who carries a lot of weight on his shoulders, so others won't have to. He keeps a smile on his face whenever he can, and will listen to people tell him their troubles for as long as they care to. Being around him for even a short time, it quickly becomes evident he is a man of intellect. Despite this, he does not discourage others for what they do not know. Instead, he acts as the world's teacher, helping people better themselves whenever and however he can.
Misc Facts: A note on time: During his time, Thomas Geoffrey was considered one of the most powerful supers on the planet. Even when compared to modern supers, those who worked with him still hold this opinion. This is not because of what he can bring to a fight, but because of what he has been known to accomplish when given adequate time and resources. As a super, he exemplifies the key difference between being powerful, and being dangerous.
Magic: Thomas recognizes the existence of magic users, and understands that they perform strange rituals to manipulate energy much like that he draws upon to use his own abilities. He refuses to admit that there is not a scientifically quantifiable way to understand how the energy works, and believes adequate study could pull away the 'mystery' behind why it responds to such arcane stimulus.
Crystals: Though he hates admitting it, or even really talking about it, he has discovered that the presence of specific kinds of naturally occurring crystals can modify and amplify his powers. Even more frustratingly to him, they all affect his abilities with ways that coincide with their 'traditional' usages in mythology.