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.