Interesting… This was really interesting! When Petra had ventured deeper into the caves in search of new things to eat, she’d fully expected to find fewer living things about in the depths, than she'd found in the cavern within which she’d arrived in Vecta. It was a simple matter of fact that plants – upon which this ecosystem seemed to be based – wouldn’t be able to survive without the sun, and by extension, fewer things would be found the further from the sun's light Petra stayed. Except, apparently that line of reasoning didn’t apply here in Vecta, because as Petra ventured into the dark, she found not a lack of moss, but instead a strange type of moss that persisted anyway. Namely, moss that somehow glowed.
That was really weird! Not only was the moss somehow surviving down here without the sun, but it was actively glowing, something that surely must be taking some amount of energy for the moss to achieve. Perhaps the light was a side effect of some metabolic process going on within the moss, or maybe the moss used its own light for photosynthesis – but that would still leave the question as to what exactly it was using to sustain that reaction? Petra was pretty certain it wasn’t chemoautotrophic; she’d consumed a fair few loose rocks and soil samples while exploring and thanks to Archivist she was confident that there wasn’t anything reactive enough for that to be the case. So, what could it be then?
Curiously, Petra slid over to a patch of the glowing moss, tentatively poking it with a pseudopod and suddenly things became a lot clearer to her – and also a hell of a lot more confusing. The moss was constantly releasing tiny amounts of magic! The particles were similar to those Petra had been seeing by, but where those had seemed to collect information from their surroundings, these particles instead seemed to have somehow been filled to the brim with… concepts? When Petra came in contact with the magic, she somehow saw that they were filled with ideas – things like light and nourishment and sunshine – as if those concepts were simply colours that things could have the property of being and which could be identified at a mere glance. Weirder still was that the tiny magic particles were clearly somehow expressing the concepts they contained, at least for the fleeting moments they lasted before fizzling out entirely.
Were these particles so short-lived compared to the ambient ones because they were tiny or because they were actively expending energy to do their thing? Intuitively Petra imagined the answer would be both, but to simply assume that as fact would be jumping the gun a little. If only she had the slightest clue on how to test it.
Unable to think of any clever ideas for how to further experiment with this particular sample, and confident that she’d be able to find another one even if she did think of something, Petra finally engulfed the glowing patch of moss to let Archivist have a crack at it. Apparently, the moss was simply called glowmoss – or rather that’s what its name directly translated to in English – which seemed a little uninspired to Petra, not that she was likely to do any better. As for how it actually worked, all Archivist was able to provide her with was a confirmation that the moss sustained itself through the use of magic – she wasn’t even able to confirm whether it was photosynthesizing the light it produced or somehow metabolising the mana directly.
Frustrating as it was, Petra wasn’t all that surprised to find Archivist had hit a wall; one of the first things she’d done when she’d discovered the power was adsorb a rock and try to use it to reverse engineer herself a complete understanding of particle physics. That particular test had amounted to a whole lot of nothing, in fact, she hadn’t even been able to analyse the chemistry of the rock much beyond her existing understanding of chemistry. Well, even if she could wish for more, it wasn’t like Petra was going to complain about Archivist’s limitations, the ability was still awesome after all.
After some contemplation, Petra decided to go about the cavern and collect the rest of the glowmoss. She doubted she’d find the means to crack the plant's secrets down in this cave and if Archivist was mainly limited by her own understanding as she currently suspected, it’d be good to have some samples on hand – pseudopod? – for when she was finally ready to take a crack at it. Petra was just about done gathering all the reasonably accessible glowmoss – having painstakingly manoeuvred herself up onto a raised outcropping with an audible plop – when she noticed something, or rather, several somethings moving about below her.
Petra could only describe the creatures as little green men – actually, if she were feeling particularly uncharitable, she could call them ugly, but that was beside the point. It was the first time she’d gotten a look at anything both moving and larger than a bug with Magic Sight and the effect was a little weird, to say the least. The skill did interpret motion to an extent, but apparently, that was more of an educated guess than anything, because, at the edges of the cavern where updates came less frequently, Petra noticed her vision having to make repeated adjustments where its best guesses diverged from reality between updates. Also, were the creatures searching for something?
Stretching her body out over the edge for a better view, Petra felt the exact moment she overextended her body and her centre of gravity shifted over the edge. With the odd control scheme this body operated off of Petra had no chance of reacting in time, or for that matter stopping her body from trying to further extend even as it started to fall.
How exactly had she been stupid enough to fall off ledges doing almost exactly the same stupid shit twice in a not even 24-hour period?! At least this time the fall wasn’t from quite as high, and she didn’t exactly have any internal organs to worry about hurting.
Petra landed almost dead centre in the area the little green men had fanned out to search, and with an audible splat, prompting all four of them to immediately spin around her direction and lock their gazes upon her. From the cheer that went up amongst the creatures Petra suddenly suspected the thing they’d been looking for had been her, and based on the way they advanced upon her, Petra had a sinking feeling they weren’t particularly friendly.
Thinking fast, Petra wracked her mind for a way out of this situation. She couldn’t exactly communicate in this body; even if Petra wanted to try her hand a charades, actually wrangling her body into making complex gestures would take a long time – far longer than she had to react. Well, creating pseudopods was pretty easy at least, so maybe… Petra kludged together a reflex to create several pseudopods and wave them about in the air in a manner she hoped would either communicate “I’m friendly, please don’t hurt me”, or “I’m a threat, stay away for your own good”.
If the humanoids comprehended either message, they didn’t show it or slow their approach.
What else then? Useful as it was, Archivist didn’t seem like it’d be helpful here. It’d probably be pretty intimidating if she could engulf one of the creatures and then shunt it off to wherever things went when she used Adsorption, except, even if the creatures didn’t struggle, they were large enough that Petra very much doubted she’d be able to engulf one. Also jumping to murder, even as a second resort, might be a bit much. But what if she tried to…?
Petra reproduced a clump of the glowmoss she’d consumed within her cytoplasm, causing her body to be briefly lit up by the glow. That at least gave the creatures some pause – one of them even backing up a couple of steps – though they seemed more surprised by the display than anything else. Deciding to press what little advantage she’d been able to find, Petra started flashing chunks of moss in patterns across her pseudopods in a manner that she hoped would indicate either that she was very poisonous or else that she was some sort of magical creature that it would be best to avoid messing with. After a moment’s consideration, Petra adjusted the pattern of flashes a little.
… --- … / … --- … / … --- …
She doubted creatures from this world would recognise more code, but it didn’t hurt to try right?
Consistent with other members of her cluster (see Bank Cluster) Ashley expresses a primary ability (see Instancing) alongside a secondary ability bearing aspects of her cluster mates primary abilities (see Inventory). As with 'Simulacrum' – and in all likelihood 'Collateral', Ashley is a Noctis Cape.
Primary Ability: 'Instancing'
'Tandem’s' primary power involves the creation of clones which are identical to the instance of her from which they were copied at the moment of creation, but which may diverge from there. Clones have been observed to share proprioception and awareness of each other’s thoughts and have not demonstrated notable difficulty with coordinating with one another.
'Tandem' may freely create or dismiss her clones anywhere within 24 ft. of an existing clone, up to a maximum of 3 or down to a minimum of 2. If a clone ends up further than 24 ft. from all other existing clones, it is dismissed, in the case that multiple clones would end up too far apart a random clone is dismissed. If dismissal of a clone would result in 'Tandem’s' number of active clones dropping to 1, a new clone is instantly created in a random unoccupied space within 12 ft. of 'Tandem'.
Objects weighing up to 68kg, that 'Tandem' is wearing or holding at the time she creates a clone may be duplicated with that clone – the new instance of the object is considered tied to the new clone, while the original becomes tied to the clone that was used as a template. When a clone is dismissed, objects tied to that clone disappear with them, unless that object is the last remaining instance of itself in which case it is considered 'the original' and remains. (Note: Do not have an instance of 'Tandem' consume something and then dismiss itself without first creating another clone).
It is of note that this ability is significantly morbidity limited, though unable to effect living matter other than 'Tandem' herself. In particular, 'Tandem’s' ability to clone herself, does not replicate her microbiome causing a number of Gastro-intestinal issues unless specific dietary protocol is maintained (see Tandem Diet).
Secondary Ability: 'Inventory'
'Tandem’s' secondary power involves the storage and retrieval of objects fitting within a 2.3ft radius sphere. Storage of objects requires 'Tandem' to be in physical contact with the object, however once stored an object can be returned to any location within 14 ft and in any configuration that the object in question may freely assume. Objects stored do not seem to observe the passage of time. 'Tandem' passively builds up an idea of how to use objects she has stored over time.
It is worth noting, that while 'Tandem' can attempt to retrieve items via vague parameters, she possesses no intrinsic knowledge as to the objects she is storing, making it possible for her to lose items should she forget she has stored them.
While the exact method/location by which 'Tandem' stores matter remains unidentified, it has been confirmed that 'Tandem’s' storage is shared across her various instances without duplication. Objects stored by 'Tandem’ do not seem to be notably affected by the passage of time. While this ability is morbidity limited, it does not seem to have as stringent limitations at 'Tandem’s' primary ability – objects stored by 'Tandem' appear to maintain their microbiomes.
Cross Power Interactions
Both of 'Tandem’s' abilities deal with the intersection of objects by instantaneously displacing the less massive object into the nearest available space; if this would cause a new intersection the same effect occurs, which may result in a cascading effect, though this effect always resolves to place Tandem within range of her other clones and move the least amount of matter possible.
While 'Tandem’s' Instancing and Inventory abilities bare a superficial resemblance to one another and in fact bear a number of similarities in the mechanics underlying their use, it should be noted that based on current speculation – corroborated by tinker and thinker observation – it is believed that both power utilise entirely different physics in their operation – matter replication and dimensional spaces respectively.
Note 1: As 'Tandem’s' power results in her constantly possessing multiple bodies in close proximity to one another, attempts to develop a civilian identity for the Ward have proven largely unsuccessful, even ignoring the continuing online circulation of images of 'Tandem' out of costume.
Note 2: When questioned as to the potential presence of unauthorised materials in her 'inventory' 'Tandem' routinely dodges the question or else claims that most items can be used as weapons, only denying accusations when pressed on the matter. It is subsequently, believed that 'Tandem' is carrying a number of deadly weapons in direct violation of her probation – potentially including IEDs and firearms, based on past interactions. As no evidence currently exists to prove 'Tandem’s' guilt and she has shown no intentions of using any such devices, the matter has be designated a low priority issue.
Note 3: Ashley has indicated that her instancing ability can be used to perform chemistry that would not be possible within conventional physics (see Instanced Chemistry). Ashley has been instructed not to experiment with this ability without professional oversight. Investigation into the utility of this interaction pending.
Experienced: Ashley has far more experience as a cape than is common for a ward. While Ashley has only been a parahuman for 5 years, the nature of her ability and lack of a civilian identity, have resulted in her gaining far more experience in that time than would be usual.
Power Application: Ashley has demonstrated somewhat of an obsession with the mechanics and application of parahuman abilities. In particular, Ashley has shown herself to be skilled at figuring out ways powers could theoretically be used and applying such techniques.
Disregard for Authority: Ashley has demonstrated a strong distaste for being told what to do by authority figures and has a tendency to disregard orders outright. Tends to respond more favourably when included in planning or after having orders explained, though this risks reinforcing negative behaviours and should be avoided unless compliance is paramount.
Paranoia: Ashley has displayed a somewhat concerning degree of paranoia. By her own admission she is near constantly trying to identify potential obstacles or threats and develop means to counteract them. Ashley has been observed brainstorming hazards.
As similar 'Simulacrum' was documented to exhibit similar behavioural patterns, it is possible that this behaviour is the result of personality bleed from their shared trigger or a side effect of the thinker aspect of their secondary abilities. Furthermore, based on 'Simulacrum’s' psychological profile, it is possible that Ashley fundamentally lacks the capacity to feel safe.
Disrupted Education: Did failed to attend school during the 5 years between her trigger event and joining the wards program. Ashley has significant educational deficits.
Ashley seems to have somewhat of a complex against being perceived as stupid and tends to avoid situations where such scenarios might arise.
Power Reliance: Ashley has developed somewhat of a reliance on using her powers. Solution Ashley employs almost always involve applying her abilities, even when mundane means would be standard or superior.
July 11, 2016, 2:15pm: A mass hostage situation broke out during a failed bank robbery orchestrated by MSM gang members (see Main Street Maniacs). At 4:02pm, after a protracted standoff with PRT officers, civilians Adam Witt, Alice Witt, and ███████████ were murdered by the villain 'Migraine' (see Migraine), resulting in three simultaneous civilian trigger events (see Bank Cluster). Following the trigger events, PRT trooper were able to move in and arrest the MSM capes without suffering further civilian casualties.
July 13, 2016: A recently triggered parahuman approached PRT looking for help. Parahuman was successfully inducted as a Ward and given the codename 'Simulacrum' (see Simulacrum). Later confirmed to be a member of the Bank Cluster.
July 15, 2016: PRT agents were called in to deal with a homeless parahuman child attempting to pull off a string of petty thefts. Suspect identified themselves 'Duplicate' (see Tandem) and displayed obvious parahuman abilities but made no attempt to hide their identity. Comparison with surveillance footage confirmed 'Duplicate’s' identity as the second member of the Bank Cluster, having triggered after her parents were murdered. 'Duplicate' seemed initially receptive to the idea of joining the wards but declined when informed one of her cluster mates had joined. As her crimes have consisted solely of petty misdemeanours and she has shown an aversion to violent crime, 'Duplicate' has been assessed as a low threat and recruitment is to be prioritised.
August 2, 2016: An as of yet unknown villain attacked a PRT transport vehicle transporting the villains 'Jackle Lantern' (see Jackle Lantern) and 'Migraine', resulting in the deaths of both captured villains and the transporting staff onboard. The attacking villain later identified themselves as 'Collateral' (see Collateral), during a string of violent crime. Strongly suspected to be the third member of the Bank Cluster. No attempt at recruitment made.
March 3, 2017, 1:30pm: An altercation broke out between parahumans 'Simulacrum', 'Collateral', and 'Duplicate'. The fight is believed to have been orchestrated by 'Collateral' and incurred significant damage to civilian infrastructure and resulted in the death of Ward 'Simulacrum' at the hands of 'Duplicate'. Following the incident 'Collateral' is confirmed to have fled the city, while 'Duplicate' is believed to have gone into hiding. (See Rook Street Incident)
Confessor Incident (2020): 'Duplicate' noted to have taken an active role in assisting civilians during and after the Confessor Incident.
April 26, 2021: 'Duplicate' approached 'Axom' with intentions of joining the Wards program, apparently concerned by increasing pressure from other villains to join a gang. In light of her role in assisting during the Collateral Incident, and due to her relatively clean criminal record – barring the Rook Street Incident, which has been determined to have been complicated by Kiss/Kill dynamic between involved capes.
May 1, 2021: 'Duplicate' was officially brought on as a probationary member of the Bridgewater Wards. Following this, 'Duplicate' has been provided with a costume and rebranded as 'Tandem' and reintroduced to the public.
It's more that it's what's supposed to be done but the reality of the situation often means that Wards get deployed to more dangerous situations than the PRT would like. The Protectorate in Brockton Bay was massively outnumbered after all; Empire 88 by themselves had more capes than the Protectorate and Wards combined, even before you start adding the ABB, Coil, the Merchants, the Undersiders, Faultline's Crew and the independent villains. I don't recall them every being deployed against Hookwolf, but it's been a decade since I read Worm so they might have been.
The idea isn't to keep them away from villains though. It's to make sure Wards aren't being placed into undue risk above what they are capable of or what they feel comfortable with; which is something that is going to vary from person to person and doesn't stop the Wards from throwing themselves into dangerous situations.
Having checked the wiki it looks like Vista got stabbed by Hookwolf at some point, though I couldn't find any more info than that – probably because the encounter occurred sometime pre-cannon and was only ever mentioned in passing.
Regardless it looks like Bridgewater is in an arguably worse place than Brockton Bay was at the start of Worm, so it’s probably not unreasonable to assume the PRT won’t be all that hesitant to use what few parahumans they have, at least not any more than they are in Brockton Bay. Actually, the premise seems to make it pretty clear that the PRT has thrown out pretty much anything remotely resembling the usual restrictions they place on Wards and that the Bridgewater currently has a major villain problem, so I'd wager seeing frequent combat is pretty much a given.
On a separate note anyone got any interesting concepts for characters? I've currently got a few ideas swimming about, but I'm not sure yet, probably a former villain of some sort since that's on the table.
I'm not opposed to including that stuff in the RP; the bureaucracy around Parahumans is one of the more interesting thing about the setting for me. I just meant to get across that I'm not asking to sideline the superhero stuff in favour of those things because it's "realistic" for Wards to be required to still get a full education or to be kept away from the more dangerous threats.
To be fair if memory serves, isn't the whole Wards being kept away from the more dangerous threats thing more fannon than cannon - or at the very least substantially exaggerated in fannon? If I recall correctly the Brockton Bay Wards were literally deployed against Hookwolf of all villains at some point in the past, which isn't exactly the safest thing to do.
That said, I'm personally of the opinion that having to balance the more mundane aspects of a Ward's life with the superhero shit is part of what makes them interesting.
In hindsight, I probably should have resisted the temptation to check interest checks while I still have an exam to go, but I guess this'll be occupying space in my head now. Needless to say, you have my interest.