In 2007, Janet Hinkley was a grad student studying to obtain a Master's Degree in Education at Teachers College, and her concerns were those typical of someone in that position -- worries about whether following this path would lead to emotional fulfillment and a reasonable degree of financial success or to emotional devastation and financial ruin, or possibly some middle ground between the two. She'd never met any superheroes, and didn't honestly find them very interesting. They existed, they'd saved the world from threats she didn't really understand, and that was a good thing, but celebrating them wasn't high on her list of personal priorities.
And her life got turned upside down when she was walking home down a sidewalk along a deserted street one evening. A vehicle looking like a car out of a science fiction movie exploded out of nothingness on the street, and screeched to a halt right in front of her. Before Janet's stunned eyes, the driver's side door opened and a tall man wearing a strange costume stepped out, walked up to her and handed her one just like it, saying, "You wear this." She didn't get a chance to say anything in response before he turned around, got back into the car, and drove off to disappear in a flash of light. All of this would have been shocking enough, but then a trio of similar looking cars burst into and then back out of sight in quick succession, this time without stopping, as though pursuing the first one.
Dazedly, Janet made her way back to her apartment, and there took a long look at the costume she'd been handed. She's really not sure why she decided to see what it looked like when she was, as the stranger had said, wearing it, but that's what she did. Finding it not really all that flattering, she was startled to see its appearance changing to match her thoughts. Some quick experimentation revealed that it also granted her a number of super-powers beyond that, though she found herself wishing that the suit came with an instruction manual. But that was clearly not to be.
Janet spent a whole week studying the suit's abilities, and carefully considering what she was supposed to do with them. She didn't feel particularly confident about becoming a superhero, but she knew that she'd never be able to live with herself if she just let bad things happen now that she had the power to do something about them. And after all, there had to be some deep meaning to the fact that she, of all people, had been handed this thing -- she'd been told 'you wear this'. So she shaped the thing into something that suited her patriotic ideal of what a superhero costume should look like, and became the True Believer.
It went pretty well. she helped take a further bite out of crime in the Big Apple, opposed supervillains when they showed up, and managed to keep her identity a secret. She met a number of the members of the Powerhouse early on, and suspected that she was being scouted as a potential member. But no invitation ever materialized, and Janet concluded they must have decided that she probably didn't bring anything to the table that O Homen de Oro hadn't already brought. Oh well.
A few years later, though, the American Angel contacted her with an offer to get in on the ground floor of Heroic Enterprises. Flattered by the offer, and happy to be working with some other patriotic heroes, she accepted ... much to her eventual regret. She hung around almost as long as Doctor Sapien, but the business with the Bridge (which happened while she was recuperating from another episode) was the last straw. She tendered her resignation right before the company was kicked out of California, and decided to seek fresher pastures back east.
Settling in Philadelphia has been exciting and challenging. She's finally getting some use out of that Education degree by getting a job teaching at one of the city's noisier public schools, and dealing with the fact that everyone there expects her to either burn out or flame out in a fairly short time. Well, she'll just see about that. She's also become a mentor figure of sorts to Philadelphia's somewhat notorious super-team, the Minor League, trying to help them to live up to the potential she sees in them. She sometimes thinks that they have the same expectation about her burnout or flameout, but again, she's going to show them that they're wrong.
While quite patriotic, and somewhat conservative -- she openly voices her disapproval of the more sexualized costumes of some of the Minor League -- True Believer dislikes and disapproves of the Millar administration. However, she would never express that disapproval publicly as a superhero; she feels that doing so is the first step towards becoming a super-powered demagogue who uses her unelected power to sway the public to her will. Whatever political work she does will only ever be as Janet Hinkley, not as True Believer.
More than anything else, Janet wonders whether she's using these abilities as the person who gave them to her intended her to do so. It's probably for the best she doesn't realize that the suit's primary function is that of a camera recording footage for the equivalent of reality TV a bit less than two hundred years in the future. That would probably break her heart.
True Believer - PL 10
STR 9/2 | STA 1 | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 2 | INT 3 | AWE 3 | PRE 2
Powers: The Suit:
Camouflage: Morph 2 (clothes), Only changes appearance of suit - 8 points
Complications: Doing Good--Motivation. Patriotic. Power Loss (The Suit, can't be removed involuntarily when worn but can be easily removed if it's not being worn). Responsibility (the Minor League). Secret Identity.
Up until his powers manifested shortly after his sixteenth birthday, Brandon Turgenev was a typical teenager in most respects. He was best described as brilliant but unmotivated (to be more kind than everyone who just called him lazy.) Coasting through his first year of high school, he expected that there'd be no money for his college education and that he'd have to get a dead-end once he graduated. Therefore, he tried to have as much fun in high school as possible. And then, while doing just that at a local swimming pool on a hot summer day, he dissolved.
Merging with the chlorinated water was bewildering to him, as his senses were assaulted with information unlike anything he'd previously experienced. He managed to pull himself together into a humanoid form of water, further scaring his friends who were panicking over his disappearance, and then tried to return to his original human shape. Things just got confusing at that point, because instead of freezing back into solidity, he evaporated into a gas that hovered over the pool's surface.
This did nothing to ease the panic, and Brandon was beginning to get a bit frightened himself. Drawing on vaguely remembered chem classes, he forced himself to become lighter than air and floated up high into the sky, somehow triggering his next phase change, ionizing into a hot plasma. Hoping against hope that this would work, he expelled some of the plasma up higher into the atmosphere. Doing so for the first time knocked him out, causing him to black out as he recombined, condensed, and froze into his solid state -- the latter just seconds before he splashed into the pool.
Just where these powers came from is not terribly clear. Each of the phase changes that he can undergo -- including the one he didn't discover until later, turning into denser-than-flesh solids -- is similar to the abilities possessed by the members of a small subgroup of the Institute, the so-called Primal Pattern. As all four of them died thirty years before Brandon was born, there can't be any direct connection, and attempts to establish a link between any of them and any of his parents or grandparents have come up empty. It seems to be a weird coincidence.
Once he was released from the hospital, Brandon was greeted at home by a representative of the Futurian Academy, offering him a scholarship to attend the private school in Wales. He turned them down flat. All that he wanted to do was mend his relationships with the friends that he'd scared, and leaving for the UK didn't sound all that conducive to such plans. And more studying? More than he was already doing in high school? No thank you sir, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Despite not having any interest in learning more about his powers, Brandon found himself drawn in to the events that led to the formation of his current circle of close associates. The fun parts seemed to overpower the scary parts, so he was quite willing to keep tagging along with the rest. He was even the one to come up with the team name (which everyone else initially hated, and some still do.) When asked by a reporter for NBC10 what they should call the group, Brandon quickly replied, "Well, we're all minors, so why not call us the Minor League?"
It's a bit ridiculous now that they aren't minors, three years later, but the fact that they're all still very small fish in the ocean of superheroes has kept it an appropriate name. And hey, the fact that they all get a nice stipend from the city government for being the city's official super-team has meant that whole dead-end job nightmare that he was trying to avoid is forever delayed! So the fun never has to stop, or at least that's what it seems to this Material Guy, living in a ma-- well, you know the lyrics.
The Material Guy -- PL 8
STR 9/3 | STA 10/4 | AGL 1 | DEX 1 | FGT 5 | INT 4 | AWE 2 | PRE 0
Powers: Life Support: Immunity 10 (life support) - 10 points State Transformations: Array (39 points)
Lionora Cabrera (she usually just goes by Lio) was born to a single mother and raised by her on the road as her mother (who'd renamed herself Frida, so that they were both referencing famous Mexican artists) pursued her dreams of artistic success. Somewhat out of necessity, Lio learned how to paint as well, though she never had any illusions that she had a great talent for that. Modeling was another story. Regardless, shortly before Lio's sixteenth birthday, their journey reached what would become its final stage as they arrived at an artist's commune in (of all places) the Catskills.
The self-proclaimed guru who ran the place was very much into combining yoga and physical exercise, performed to exhaustion, in order to open up the doors of consciousness and allow 'true vision'. Lio took part in this praxis, mostly to keep an eye on her mother, who'd never been in the best of health. Throughout the training, she was constantly aware that the guru was very much checking her out. It wasn't pleasant, but she'd been eyed by artists before and nothing bad had happened, so she expected the same this time.
Evidently, she realized as he cornered her in the retreat's washroom, she'd been wrong to do so. As he leaned over her with his hands sliding down to her hips, murmuring, "You smell like your mother," something exploded in Lio's mind, and the smell he'd been perceiving became a toxic odor, making him collapse in a choking heap on the washroom floor. Not bothering to see if he was all right, she ran out of there to get her mother and then get the heck out of this den of deceit ... only to find that the heart attack she'd always feared had finally carried her mother off with it. Saying a silent farewell, she stole the keys to their van and went on the lam.
By the time she got to Philadelphia, there was a several state manhunt in effect for the girl who was assumed to have murdered both her mother and the guru (who, for maximum gross-out points, turned out to have been her biological father.) She got involved in the adventure that created the Minor League much against her will, and wanted to just start running again afterwards, but was convinced by her new friends to stand and tell the truth. With their help, and a bit from the True Believer, she was able to get the charges against her dismissed and get a bit of justice for her mother in the process. But the whole thing fully justified her codename, in her view.
Scandalous' powers are similar in some respects to those of the Ultra Girl known as Le Charme, but while the French illusionist's powers involve a combination of light manipulation and psychic abilities, Lio's are completely psychic in nature. She supplements her ability to create illusions vivid enough to injure and even kill with the power to sense emotions, which isn't fully under her control as yet. She's developed enough mastery to be able to combine the two talents to allow her to present the appearance of just about anyone's ideal of beauty, though this doesn't always work.
Despite that ability, which she has no problem using in tactical situations, and despite the way that she designs her costumes to accentuate her appearance and shock conservative viewers, Lio has no interest in romantic or sexual relationships of any kind. Her own experiences, and what she saw her mother go through as she grew up, have left her extremely cynical about the subject. She keeps even her teammates at a distance and shoots down any attempts to get closer with an acerbic wit. In the privacy of her room, she has taken up her art studies again, and much like another badly hurt woman long ago, is very fond of recreating the image of Judith and Holofernes.
Scandalous -- PL 8
STR 0 | STA 0 | AGL 1 | DEX 0 | FGT 0 | INT 3 | AWE 4 | PRE 2
Powers: Become Your Dream: Enhanced Advantage (Attractive 2) - 2 points Empathy: Mind Reading 8, Limited to Emotions, Uncontrolled - 4 points Mindwarp: Independent Selective Illusion 8 (all senses), Resistible by Will; Perception Range Damage 8, Quirk (only against a target who believes the illusion), Reversible - 64 points Shielded Mind: Impervious Will 8, Limited to mental effects - 4 points
Advantages: Attractive 2, Defensive Roll 2, Second Chance (Will resistance).
Petra Iraklidis is the youngest daughter of a large family of Greek immigrants who settled in Philadelphia just a bit before she was born. As a young girl, she realized that she was avoiding many of the minor injuries that her friends sometimes suffered in their horseplay, with things sort of sliding off of her. She didn't know what to make of it, and decided not to tell anyone so that she could have a secret from her nosy siblings and cousins. It wasn't that big a deal, after all, since she still got sick just like any other kid, so she clearly wasn't that super, and she expected nothing would ever come of it.
When she was fifteen, though, and working as a waitress in the family restaurant, she learned that expectation had probably not been all that accurate. While carrying an order out to one of the tables, she tripped and the dishes went flying. Embarrassed and upset, she wished more than anything that their fall would slow down so that she could catch them -- and then, before the stunned eyes of herself and everyone else in the dining room, they did just that! After a stupefied moment, she quickly grabbed the trays and the dishes and the utensils out of mid-air, and wished the weird effect to stop. It did, and she flashed her audience a smile. "All part of the show, folks!" she declared.
So, she had super-powers. What luck. Against the advice of her mama and bampás, she started going out at night in a thrown together costume to try her hand at the whole 'superhero' thing. She picked the codename 'Moment' out of a song that she liked. While she foiled what small amount of street crime her neighborhood experienced, it wasn't really all that exciting or fun. Unbeknownst to Petra, her parents were contacted by a representative of the Futurian Academy to offer her an education, but the thought of sending her off to Wales didn't sit well with them, so they sent the man packing and never mentioned it to her.
While engaged in her low-key superheroics, Petra ended up involved in the events that led to the formation of the Minor League. Unfortunately for her ego, her 'involvement' consisted of being kidnapped, used as the power source for an earthquake machine, and then rescued by the other three. She did help kick butt afterwards, but it was even more embarrassing than the first time she'd used her powers, and this time her parents got seriously mad at her for lying to them. She considered quitting then, and has done again several times since, but her fire-forged friendship with the rest of the team has always kept her going.
The irony is that Moment has very little to be embarrassed about when it comes to her performance since then. She has experimented with her powers, and while she has yet to achieve the full control that she'd like, she can use them in a variety of combat applications as well as support ones. She's also made more of an effort than most of her teammates to become a good, if not exceptional, hand-to hand fighter, and developed a talent for spotting the strengths and weaknesses of her opponents in order to counter or exploit them. Last but not least, she's worked to learn as much as she can about potential opponents.
Unfortunately, her worst potential opponent is one that she knows nothing about. Unbeknownst to Petra, her biological father is actually a scion of the Meusz family of Belgium, who have a family heritage of the sort of gravity control powers she possesses. While he doesn't know and probably wouldn't care about what his by-blow is getting up to, one of his older sons has learned about it, and wants to eliminate this little embarrassment to his lineage ...
Moment -- PL 8
STR 0 | STA 1 | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 3 | INT 2 | AWE 3 | PRE 1
The story that Henry Yung tells is a simple one. Two years older than his comrades in the Minor League, he was in his second year at a military school when some friends of his convinced him to join them in taking an experimental performance-enhancing drug. Unfortunately, the group made a fatal mistake and took far too much of the substance, killing most of them and leaving others in a permanent vegetative state, with Henry the only survivor. Expelled from the school in the aftermath, he discovered that his experience had left him with greatly enhanced reflex speed, and decided to use this gift as a superhero in order to bring some good out of the tragedy.
The best lies are mostly true. All of that happened, but the powers that Henry developed were not those of the body, but of the mind; specifically, the most desired and feared of all psychic abilities -- accurate precognition. Henry is aware that if he were to be open about what he is able to do, he would instantly be seized by any of a dozen factions and interests who wanted to use his talents for their own purposes, and would likely never know another moment's freedom. Even if he somehow avoided that, Pythia continues to cast a shadow over the world even thirty years after her end, and another precog would likely be feared and hated by those he tried to protect.
Posing as yet another hyper-skilled martial artist allows him to avoid all this, but it has consequences of its own. Again, Henry's mind has been enhanced, not his body. He routinely pushes himself past the limits of his endurance in the name of keeping his secret, and suffers minor or even serious injuries as a consequence. Because of his precognition, he often knows that this will happen, and can take steps to mitigate his pain, but cannot avoid it without more undesirable outcomes.
Clarity acts as the leader of the Minor League. Partly this is due to his seniority, partly to his leadership training. But the major reason is that he was the one who assembled the team in the first place, recruiting the Material Guy and Scandalous to help him rescue Moment, whose kidnapping he'd discovered through his "investigations." Despite this, he was blindsided (and dismayed) when the name of the group was proposed, since he'd planned on calling them the Transient Alliance or something cool-sounding.
Henry is actually a Philadelphia native, like most of the team. While he's not close to most of his family -- his attendance at the military school was arranged by his stepfather, and he hasn't seen or spoken to his mother since he was expelled -- he has made attempts to reconcile with his older siblings, with some success. They are, in the main, proud of him, as his career as a community defender echoes that of their late father, one of two hand-to-hand combat instructors employed by JSOT. (The other was a famous Philadelphia-based boxer.)
Clarity -- PL 8
STR 3 | STA 3 | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 2 | AWE 5 | PRE 2
Complications: Responsibility--Motivation. Accident (frequent injuries due to pushing his physical limits). Blindfold (actually semi-transparent, but still renders Impaired on visual Perception and Search checks). Secret (precognition).
Martin Callahan, age 57, is an employee of the cleaning company that has a contract to provide janitorial services for the headquarters of Philadelphia's official superhero team, the Minor League. He is consistently given the assignment to act as the building's caretaker, accepting just enough other assignments to maintain plausible deniability. It will probably not come as any surprise that he is secretly an agent of the international security agency, Argus, tasked to make sure that they get directed towards matters that Argus wants them to handle.
That's what he's supposed to do, at least. And he actually did make a good faith attempt to do just that, a few times, when he got started with this new assignment in 2018. It wasn't the one that he would have picked -- he'd have greatly preferred to wait out the remaining years until his retirement on guard duty at one of Argus' more secure facilities -- but he was professional enough, then, to do the job. But every time that he tried to arrange matters so that these meddling kids would find out about their assignments, the one who swans about in a blindfold would tell them about the task in question, claiming to have learned about it from his own sources.
By the sixth time this happened, Martin had had enough. He had his suspicions about the real sources of Clarity's discoveries, but no way of proving them without exposing himself. So he decided to report back to his superiors that he was succeeding in feeding intel to the Minor League, while no longer even trying to do so. When he gets his assignments, he destroys them after reading, and then watches the team head off to deal with the situation that they describe without any effort on his part.
It's the cushiest job he's ever had, and he doesn't want to do anything that will jeopardize it. Three more years, and then he can go spend the rest of his life fishing. Martin retains just enough professionalism that if the Minor League's headquarters came under attack, he would covertly assist in its defense, with a focus on protecting any innocents caught in the crossfire. The dumb kids do not count as innocents for this purpose. Well, maybe Moment, but she can probably take care of herself.
Martin is a veteran of JSOT and returned to the army after the end of the Pythonian Insurgency, ending up serving in the invasion of Syria. He doesn't have fond memories of those years, and this definitely contributes to his grouchy and generally unpleasant demeanor, which has kept him from getting the more sedate assignments that he'd prefer. He feels, probably correctly, that he's much too old for this, and somewhat regrets listening to Argus' recruiter after he finally left the military. He also doesn't get on very well with True Believer's handler, who contacted him after he received this assignment.
Martin Callahan -- PL 5
STR 2 | STA 3 | AGL 1 | DEX 3 | FGT 5 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 3
According to the most credible of his numerous passports, the man who styles himself Lord Ranivorous was born Carlo Maltese in Milan, in December 1966. He has abandoned that name, however, and regards any other name he might employ as a mere alias meant to cover the glory that is his by right as the only begotten son of the Greatest Scientific Mind of Any Age, Dr. Silas Ranivorous. Pointing out that Dr. Ranivorous spent the entirety of 1966 in prison in America, making it unlikely that he could be his son, is likely to provoke a furious rant about how men of genius go where they please. (And it should be noted that he does bear a resemblance to the old monster.)
He made his debut as a would-be world conqueror in 2007, opposed by Argus agents and by various law enforcement agencies. He led a mostly undistinguished career over the next decade, never succeeding in any of his campaigns but rarely captured and never held for long, either. His most distinctive trait, in contrast to other mad scientists, was that he was very successful at building organizations to support his ambitions. Where the majority of scientist villains employ only laboratory assistants and rely on their creations for security, Lord Ranivorous was usually supported by dozens of mercenaries commanded by crack professionals selected by himself. While not a good boss by any stretch of the imagination, he was well-regarded in the mercenary community as someone who always paid his bills.
In 2017, he was meeting with a potential new lieutenant in a certain Greek restaurant at the same time that Petra Iraklidis awakened to her gravity control powers. He was the only other person in the dining room to realize the implications of what he'd just seen, and immediately began thinking of ways to exploit the powers he'd just witnessed. Working out the details and building a sufficient organization to implement them took a few months. He built an earthquake machine that would use 'Moment's' powers as a battery, kidnapped her, and prepared to extort Philadelphia's government for millions of dollars ... then activate the machine regardless of whether or not he'd been paid. (How else would they know that he wasn't bluffing?)
The other three members of the Minor League thwarted this plan, earning Lord Ranivorous' eternal enmity. He has sought revenge on the group on four separate occasions since then, as well as outfitting various other villains who've opposed the team for their own reasons. While engaged in a variety of criminal enterprises to support these operations, his organization is entirely directed towards defeating the Minor League, and he has ignored 'invitations' by other criminal masterminds, ranging from Melania Domnina (the Minor League's other nemesis) to the Combination, to cooperate with them.
Out of the Minor League's membership, it's known that Lord Ranivorous fears Scandalous more than any of the others. The physical powers that the Material Guy and Moment possess can be opposed by sufficient firepower, but none of his followers' weapons will make the least bit of difference against someone who can control their perceptions and can kill with a thought. Thus, he has taken steps to protect himself against her powers, both through a technological solution and a mental regime designed to allow him to break free of illusions that overcome his defenses. He's much less worried about Clarity, but is increasingly suspicious that the man must have some mental advantages to assist him in overcoming his plans.
Lord Ranivorous -- PL 8
STR -1 | STA 0 | AGL 0 | DEX 2 | FGT 2 | INT 8 | AWE 3 | PRE 1
Powers: Mind Shielding Helmet: Impervious Will 8, Limited to mental effects; Removable (-1 point) - 3 points
Defensive Roll, Eidetic Memory, Equipment 20, Evasion, Inventor, Language 3 (English, others, [Italian is native]), Ranged Attack 4, Second Chance (Will resistance against illusions), Speed of Thought, Well-Informed.
100 points for any bases or vehicles needed for a given plot.
Little is known about the background of Melania Domnina prior to 2009, when she, as a corrupt FSB agent, betrayed her country to assist Billie Zane in the latter's attempt to seize control of Russia. The Powerhouse was prevented from intervening by the Russian government itself, and the coup was only opposed by Baba Yaga, the vigilante Parovoy, and a handful of implanted Argus agents. Against all odds, they prevented the takeover, and Zane was forced to flight. (There are rumors that the entire episode was actually cover for a successful attempt to steal certain psychoenergetic technologies possessed by the Russians.)
Domnina escaped with Zane's forces, but had been seriously injured in the conflict. To continue to remain useful to her employer (and thus remain among the living) she arranged for cybernetic surgery to repair her wounds. The experience awakened something in her. While she had apparently always been a transhumanist, seeking to enhance her mind with the most advanced techniques available, Domnina now became obsessed with upgrading her body as well. This was necessarily conducted in secret, as Zane has a very low tolerance for any technologies that augment humanity, viewing them as no different than super-serums and psychic awakenings. Domnina, however, views her employer as someone she must eventually overcome, rather than someone to emulate.
Nine years after the debacle in Russia (if that's indeed what it was) one of Zane's lieutenants finally gave Domnina a new assignment, ordering her to undermine and eliminate the recently formed Minor League. It was almost certainly a calculated insult, setting her up as the enemy of a bunch of kids, but Domnina elected to take it seriously and traveled to Philadelphia to set up shop. Her attempt to inveigle herself into an alliance with Lord Ranivorous was a failure, but she was able to obtain a fair amount of data about her opponents in the process.
Since then, she has made numerous attempts to either discredit or destroy the Minor League, failing each time but only narrowly. Thanks to her cybernetics, particularly her buzzsaw-like hands, she is personally a match for any two of them in combination, though she prefers to have her minions soften them up a bit first. The fact that she normally only enters the fray after her employees have all been incapacitated is also a sound strategy to ensure that no reports get back to her employer about her performing superhuman feats. She employs her technology in clever ways; in a recent conflict with Moment, she employed her implanted jump jets to power herself out of the young hero's null gravity field and blast through her defenses, allowing her to take Moment hostage.
Her current scheme may be her most ambitious and dangerous yet. She has either blackmailed or extorted a number of Philadelphia editorial writers to publish articles asking why the Minor League has yet to increase its numbers beyond its charter membership, with the intention of getting the City Council behind such an expansion. Any young superheroes who attempt to try out for the group will then be targeted for assassination, sending the clear message that doing so is a death sentence. Ideally, Domnina would like to frame one of the founding members of the team, or possibly the True Believer, for these attacks.
Melania Domnina -- PL 9
STR 6 | STA -- | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 7 | AWE 3 | PRE 2
In 2007, Eddie Ennis was a high school dropout who lived with some friends of his in Malibu, and his concerns were those typical of someone in that position -- mostly involving where he was going to score his next hit of methamphetamine. And then his life got turned upside down one evening while he was going to meet a supplier of such. A vehicle looking like a car out of a science fiction movie exploded out of nothingness on the street, and screeched to a halt right in front of her. Before Eddie's stunned eyes, the driver's side door opened and a tall man wearing a strange costume stepped out, walked up to him and handed him one just like it, saying, "You wear this."
As the tall man turned to go, Eddie managed to find his voice, and asked why he was supposed to wear the costume. The tall man paused and looked back at him, answering, "Entertainment." Then he popped back into the vehicle and drove off to disappear in a flash of light. Still bewildered, Eddie ducked into an alley and changed into the costume, quickly discovering that it could change its appearance to anything that his limited imagination could come up with, and that it granted him super-powers.
He promptly used those powers for the purpose he'd been given them, entertaining himself by shaking down the drug dealer he'd been going to visit and taking the man's entire supply plus all the money on him. Eddie was somewhat annoyed to discover that he couldn't experience the same drug high that he had before while wearing the costume, but the rush of the experience was a fairly good substitute. Over the next few years, the legend of the man who called himself Colonel Violence (with the rank pronounced 'Carnal') spread across Malibu and much of Los Angeles.
A few years later, when the True Believer went to work for Heroic Enterprises, one of her first assignments was to assist in an attempt to arrest Colonel Violence. The two of them instantly recognized each other as deriving their abilities from the same source, and actually had a fairly lengthy conversation. But Janet Hinkley's sense of morality was provoked by Eddie's complete lack of one, while he was disgusted by the way that she tried to claim that they had been given these costumes for some higher purpose than the one he'd been explicitly told about. The result was a serious super-brawl that True Believer's experience in fighting supervillains allowed her to narrowly win, and the arrest of Colonel Violence.
Eddie didn't stay arrested very long, of course, since his costume couldn't be removed from his person anymore than Janet's could. That was the beginning of a grudge that has lasted right up until the present day, with Colonel Violence eventually following the True Believer from the west coast to the east, setting up shop in Philadelphia and going after her whenever he gets the chance. He's also attacked her stupid little sidekicks in the Minor League from time to time. No matter what happens, he always seeks to entertain himself in whatever ways his impulses tell him to do ... and in the process provides bloody entertainment for people in the future, observing the action through the suit's cameras.
Colonel Violence -- PL 11
STR 10/3 | STA 3 | AGL 1 | DEX 2 | FGT 4 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 3
Kapech, a planet on the trailing fringe of the Crimson Imperium, is one of the few acknowledged 'red zones' of the interstellar state, a quarantined area guarded by a naval unit of five packs of Heavy Destroyers, supporting the Imperium's Eighth Guard Group and a regiment of the Marines. All of these forces are directed towards the tasks of preventing the ongoing conquest of the planet by what appears to be a robot army, evacuating the remaining Imperial citizens from the planet, and preventing the robots from spreading beyond this one world. The first task is acknowledged to be a lost cause by the High Command. Because Kapec was home to a number of robotic manufacturers prior to the robotics ban, it is generally believed that the robots are the product of a surviving, hidden factory, likely reactivated by the Insurgency.
This belief is utterly wrong.
Roughly four thousand years ago, in a different region of the galaxy entirely, another planet was under the dominion of a different empire, that of the Olympians. For various reasons, the rulers of this planet decided that they no longer wished to be subject to Olympian rule, and plotted to attack their so-called masters. To do this, they asked their populace to volunteer to be transformed into cyborg warriors who could more effectively battle against the Olympians' Spartoi. Thousands agreed, and embarked on their great revolution.
They were very successful, and if they were not the sole cause of the end of the Olympian empire, they certainly contributed to it. Yet as they fought across countless worlds and endless years, dissatisfaction with their leaders -- who had, after all, remained behind, and sacrificed nothing for the cause -- began to grow among them. At last, after their successful assault on the moon now called Ganymede, their commanders sought to gain permission to return to their home world and recuperate for a time. This request was denied.
They therefore returned anyway, fired upon by the planetary defenses that made it very clear that they were regarded as enemies of the world they'd fought and figuratively bled to defend. In a blind fury, they descended on their home world not as soldiers seeking rest and recuperation, but as merciless invaders and conquerors, slaughtering those who stood in their way regardless of whether they were combatants or civilians. They made their way to the commander in chief, an ancient man sitting in a wheelchair, and prepared to execute their greatest enemy.
Their weapons refused to fire, and the old man laughed. Everything had been done according to his design. The voices in the night that kindled the cyborg's dissatisfaction had been his. The order to deny them the chance to return home had been his. The weapons which had attacked them and driven them to their rage had been his. And from the very beginning, their systems had been programmed so that they could never harm him. "You have all fulfilled my will perfectly, my Destrons," he said, naming them. "Now would you kindly finish the extermination?"
Within a week, the Maker was the only living thing, other than the Destrons, on their home planet. He then sent them on to other worlds, replacing their fallen with clones implanted into newly built cyborg frames, conquering an empire for himself out of the ruins of the Olympians' realm -- a sterile realm where worlds existed only to support factories for the creation of more Destrons. Despite his best efforts, however, the Maker's attempts at life extension only granted him a few centuries of life. But by that point, the Destrons no longer remembered any existence but their war of extermination.
Yet theirs is a strange war, fought in four dimensions. The last great discovery of their Maker was a method of time travel, which only functioned within a planet's gravity well, and they have sent their armies forward in time to invade worlds throughout history. Kapech is their beachhead in the current era. Far in the future, they have often been opposed by Exelion, who may understand more of their nature than any other figure in all of time and space. If he knew that they were invading in the present, he would urge Earth's superheroes to assist the tyrannical Crimson Imperium to oppose their invasion. But it may already be too late.
The following are the most commonly known Destron units, those depicted in the illustration above. There are many other kinds.
Extermination Unit -- PL 10
STR -2/6 | STA 4 | AGL -2/4 | DEX 0/6 | FGT 0/8 | INT 2 | AWE 6 | PRE -1
For almost as long as the Albadine people have been nomads of the skies, they have been warring with the other nation of star travelers, whom they call by the name Garkun ... which just means "enemy" in the Albadine language. (What they call themselves is not clear; when communication has been possible, they have always just used the local word for 'we' or 'us'.) There were many mysteries about the Garkun, who seemed too technically inept to maintain their interstellar spacecraft, much less the other technology they employed with great skill. Quite recently, an answer was discovered when Albadine explorers realized that the Garkun seemed to keep another species as slaves for their technical skill. Both for charitable purposes and to diminish the ability of the Garkun to defend themselves, the Albadine have tried to rescue these slaves on many occasions, but are frustrated by their tendency to commit suicide rather than accept their freedom.
This new mystery would be easily understood if the Albadine were willing to accept that the technicians were not slaves, and were actually of the same species as their warrior partners -- and were, in fact, their literal brothers. Essentially, the Garkun species consists of three phenotypes. The 'male' warriors are the best known, and each of them is psychically linked to a 'neuter' technician. Each pair is born at the same time from one of the largely sessile 'females', who also act as the chiefs of the Garkun's planetary communities, only being moved between them when very young. These 'queens' typically give birth to three pairs of children every two solar years, who achieve maturity within another twelve.
Garkun planetary settlements are extremely diverse, with some acting no differently than the raiders and pirates who typify Garkun space travelers, while others prefer to engage in trade and negotiation with their neighbors. The differences in behavior are generally explicable through economics -- Garkun who have settled in resource-poor areas will not hesitate to engage in banditry and extortion to obtain what they need, while those in more bountiful situations are much more willing to deal fairly with others. Of course, the history of these settlements also influences their behavior, as past hostility against a community, regardless of circumstances, is unlikely to be forgotten.
It should be noted that Garkun settlements are no less likely to be victimized by nomadic Garkun raiders, and that those settlements willing to cooperate with their non-Garkun neighbors will not hesitate to assist them in fighting such raiders off. Becoming a raider, however, is viewed as an acceptable career choice by nearly every Garkun community, largely because of the sacrifice involved. Garkun raiders rarely survive long enough to return to their homes and take part in reproduction, thus sacrificing their future for momentary glory and the promise of riches.
The majority of Garkun settlements are within the Crimson Imperium, with only a tiny number to be found in the Technate, largely due to the fact that Albadine settlements are more common in the latter polity. While most raider ships are fiercely independent, a few have joined forces to become an element within Garth Maruad's mercenary army. Others are employed as enforcers or even bodyguards by the Augrah crime syndicate, and there are rumors that claim one ship clan is active as a group of bounty hunters. The Insurgency's command has discussed the prospect of recruiting Garkun mercenaries for their own forces, but so far have not done so.
Garkun Warrior -- PL 7 / MR 6
STR 6 | STA 6 | AGL 0 | DEX 3 | FGT 5 | INT -1 | AWE 0 | PRE 0
Powers: Healing Factor: Immunity 2 (disease, poison); Regeneration 2 - 4 points Mindlink: Feature (can have minions even if a minion); Senses 1 (communication link with tech) - 2 point
One of the first major clients of the Manguai, the Augrah long ago traded all rights to their home world's resources, and the majority of its territory as well, in exchange for wealth and technology to allow them to start spreading across the galaxy. They were apt pupils of the Manguai, but where their mentors knew enough to usually leave their clients with enough to let them survive -- the better to continue exploiting them in the future -- the Augrah were more willing to reduce theirs to penury and leave them with no options beyond starvation and slavery, believing that you couldn't put a price on the pleasure of owning another sapient. It's very possible that the Manguai's decision to help form the Imperium may have been influenced by the hope that it would work against the Augrah's most predatory excesses.
That didn't happen. They were held in some semblance of check by the mystics, but the Augrah have, if anything, flourished in the Imperium, especially since it became the Crimson Imperium, with the mystics banished to obscurity. Where there is law, especially unjust law, there will always be those who try to break said laws, and the opportunity to profit from those violations. The Augrah crime syndicate has become a major power within the Crimson Imperium, and Augrah crimelords have gone so far as to say that they are protectors of the most vulnerable members of their civilization.
Of course, not all Augrah are part of the syndicate. The recently installed replacement Grand Inquisitor, Zazanax, is an Augrah who would resent the implication that they're at all influenced by such criminal scum. While unquestionably corrupt, Zazanax accepts bribes only from other members of the Imperium's bureaucracy and aristocracy, wielding the power of their office on their behalf, rather than for the benefit of other members of their species, and is utterly loyal to the Crimson King. Until someone makes them a better offer, at least.
In the absence of the mystics, the worst enemy of the Augrah is the largest criminal organization active within the Technate, known as Vaskahne. Descended, sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally, from renegades from their own organization, they have built themselves up to the same level as the Augrah syndicate in an incredibly brief time, and prevented the Augrah from extending their figurative tentacles to the younger polity. If the borders of the two nations are officially tense, they are unofficially bloody from the conflicts between the two groups. It's easy to get rich in that region. It's also really easy to get dead.
A few of the Augrah have taken an interest in the Insurgency. The situation that confronts these desperate rebels puts them in a position where they have to rely on the Augrah's black markets, and so they make for good customers. But even those who will deal with the Insurgency certainly don't wish them well; they love them as losers, but at least some of them worry that they might just win ... and that would not be good for business. Not at all.
Augrah Crimelord - PL 9
STR 3 | STA 5 | AGL 2 | DEX -1 | FGT 8 | INT 2 | AWE 3 | PRE 2
Damaging Gaze: Perception Ranged Damage 9, Variable 2 (energy), Quirk (cannot be used twice in succession) - 28 points
Dominating Gaze: Perception Ranged Affliction 9 (Resisted and Overcome by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled), Quirk (cannot be used twice in succession); Senses 1 (Communication Link with target) - 1 point
Enervating Gaze: Perception Ranged Affliction 9 (Resisted and Overcome by Fortitude; Fatigued, Exhausted, Asleep), Quirk (cannot be used twice in succession) - 1 point
Paralyzing Gaze: Perception Ranged Affliction 9 (Resisted and Overcome by Will; Hindered & Vulnerable, Defenseless & Immobile), Quirk (cannot be used twice in succession) - 1 point
Telekinetic Gaze: Perception Ranged Move Object 9, Quirk (cannot be used twice in succession) - 1 point
Complications: Greed or Power--Motivation. No Fine Manipulators.
For Zazanak's stats, replace Benefit (Crimelord) with Benefit (Inquisitor), drop two ranks of Benefit (Wealth), add Connected, Contacts, and Well-Informed, replace Expertise: Criminal with Expertise: Streetwise, add Insight 6 (+9), Investigation 8 (+10), and Persuasion 6 (+8), and increase Will to 12.
As with many other generally hostile species, the name Isakari was assigned to these hunters by those hunted by them. What they call themselves remains something of a mystery, and likely to remain so, as they do not appear to have a spoken language, and their written one remains cryptic. For most of the history of their interactions with other species, it was assumed that they were telepathic with each other, but psychic nullifiers have been shown to have no effect on them. The current belief is that they communicate with each other through a combination of gestures and scent cues, and that they don't bother 'talking' very much.
Their home world is believed to be located not far from Chirab (the home of the Chiraben humans) in the regions of space unclaimed by either the Imperium or the Technate. Chirab has long been the site of the Isakari's hunting expeditions, especially with its increasing desertification. The Isakari definitely prefer hot climates to cold ones, and have been known to withdraw in the face of unexpectedly cold weather, even if their hunt has produced no game.
These hunts appear to be the Isakari's only interaction with other species. They do not seem to regard any other life form, regardless of demonstrated intelligence, as a person, and have no compunctions about killing them for sport or for food. (It is known that they consider the brains of intelligent life forms to be something of a delicacy.) Presumably, there are Isakari who are not hunters, but if they exist then they remain on their home world. Any Isakari found elsewhere will be engaged in the task of hunting and killing other sapients.
However, the majority of the Isakari seem to observe certain proprieties in their hunts. The primary focus of their honor appears to be self-reliance; they normally operate alone rather than in groups, and when hunting in parties they will compete with each other rather than cooperate. They do not engage in torture; their victims are killed quickly and cleanly, though they will often mutilate the corpses to claim a trophy. They have a demonstrated aversion to killing lifeforms who give birth, but this should not be misunderstood as a reluctance to kill their young, if they find it to be a sufficient challenge or are in need of food. Lastly, but perhaps most significantly, any being who succeeds in killing an Isakari is off-limits to others of their kind.
At least, that is how it's supposed to work. From Technate reports of encounters with the Isakari, it has become clear that an increasing minority of their kind regard these proprieties as obsolete or pointless. These Isakari do operate in groups, and are perfectly willing to cripple their victims to use them as bait. And they apparently view killing those who have overcome others of their kind as a challenge to be eagerly met.
This would probably not be relevant to anyone's concerns, had the Isakari not begun using Earth as a hunting ground. Their earliest documented visit to the planet was in 2012, when one of them hunted in Chicago during that year's heat wave, crossing paths with Darkwing in the process. While seriously injured in their clash, the crime fighter was able to recover and defeat the hunter, which committed suicide when he refused to kill it. The body was reclaimed by a group of its fellows, whose ship disappeared using a cloaking mechanism. Shortly thereafter, one engaged in a hunt outside of Hespera, and was killed by the Hesperan called Nzarde after the loss of several lives.
Subsequent encounters have led Argus to determine that this group of Isakari has remained on Earth, apparently based out of Bhutan, and have hunted prey all across Earth's hottest regions, as well as making trips to Venus. The prospect that these hunters might become infected with the Psilofyr fungus and bring it back to Earth is a very concerning one, as is the way that they keep making visits to the Sahara, which do not apparently involve hunting anything. The purpose of these trips is a question that Argus, and a number of other groups, would like answered.
Isakari -- PL 11
STR 5 | STA 7 | AGL 4 | DEX 6 | FGT 12 | INT 1 | AWE 4 | PRE 1
The Vaask are an omnivorous reptilian species who rule over a small multi-system empire, dubbed the Vaask Hegemony, which borders on the regions of space explored by the Technate. While rumors about them had been known to the Technate Space Agency since it began its exploratory missions roughly sixty solar years ago, the Vaask were not actually encountered until the TSV Adventure, under the command of Arlan Hayez, stumbled onto a similarly outfitted Vaask vessel during Hayez' first year of command. The two ships' crews ended up joining forces to overcome a group of psychically powerful aliens who attempted to have them fight each other for their pleasure.
This has more or less set the tone of the relationship between the Technate and the Hegemony. They are not friendly, and certainly not allied with each other, but neither is in any hurry to go to war, despite occasional incidents that are usually dismissed as the actions of rogue commanders on either side. The Vaask are actually glad to have the Technate as rivals, as focusing their efforts on competing with them reduces the amount of internal competition that is apparently endemic to their Hegemony. They generally regard the Technate's claims of desiring peaceful coexistence with the amusement appropriate to absurd jokes, though some more militant Vaask are less amused and more inclined to believe 'peace' to be a code for 'subjugation'.
That's perhaps understandable, as the Vaask have subjugated a number of species in the formation of their empire. Such peoples are left to their own devices, for the most part, but never considered the equal of a Vaask unless they have served time in the Vaaskorium, the military service. Any being who has survived a full 7.33-year term in the Vaaskorium is treated as a full citizen of the Hegemony for all purposes ... in theory. In practice, there is a major glass ceiling both within and without the Vaaskorium that keeps authority out of the hands of non-Vaask, and for that matter of Vaask whose scales are blue, yellow or purple or combinations of the above, rather than pure green.
While the Vaask are on average stronger and much tougher than a typical Chiraben or any of their allies, they are aware that their rivals possess other advantages. As such, the Hegemony has a number of competing super-soldier projects designed to produce enhanced Vaask who are the equal of the most elite mammalian combatants. As with other super-soldier projects, these have typically produced only a single or rarely a handful of acceptable results, but the Vaask are more than willing to keep trying until they get it right. They are also experimenting with technomancy, and also, lacking the Technate's prejudices, with mysticism.
The stereotype of the Vaask is one of extremely straightforward behavior. Despite this, the Vaask are actively engaged in espionage against the Technate, largely relying on their subject peoples and hired Technate traitors as agents. As a result, they are reasonably informed about what the Technate knows about the Crimson Imperium, about Earth, and about the Dark Side. They've come to view the lattermost as a potentially serious threat, and would be willing to become ... co-belligerents, shall we say, should that front ever heat up.
Vaask Soldier -- PL 6/MR 4
STR 3 | STA 3 | AGL 1 | DEX 0 | FGT 3 | INT 1 | AWE 0 | PRE 0
Complications: Duty--Motivation. Competitive. Others As Needed.
For a more experienced PL 7 Vaask Elite Soldier, increase STR and FGT to 4 ranks, add Improved Initiative, increase Perception to 5 ranks, Ranged Combat: Blaster to 6 ranks, and Vehicles to 4 ranks, and increase Parry to 7; consider also giving them an additional rank of Equipment (to buy a dashka [Strength-based Damage 3, Improved Critical, Reach] and 4 more points of gear as needed) and Close Combat: Dashka 2 (+6). Vaask supersoldiers, mystics and technomancers should be unique characters.
A relatively recent addition to the Vaask's spy ring in the Technate, the entity known as Ennessea is the only member of his species ever encountered by Technate authorities. He has been attached to a number of embassies and consulates in the six solar years since he made his first appearance, and by now the Cosmic Intelligence Agency is aware that his appearance usually signals the beginning of much chaos and confusion in a region. They have yet to discover concrete proof that he is a spy, but his actions are carefully watched.
Technate agents inside the Hegemony have been unable to discover much about him, which suggests that he's every bit as much of a mystery to his so-called employers as he is to his enemies. A ship carrying him was captured by Vaaskorium forces, three solar years prior to his debut, and within a few weeks of that he was engaged by one of the Vaask programs to study mysticism, owing to his demonstrated psychic abilities. While this particular program failed to produce results, Ennessea was able to convince his managers that his skills would be much better used as a secret agent.
While able to seize control of the minds of other sapients, in such a way as to leave them firmly convinced that the actions they take under his telepathic command are their own idea, Ennessea apparently regards this talent as a blunt instrument, to be used only when his more conventional abilities of coercion, deception and persuasion have failed to produce the results he desires. This is an aesthetic consideration on his part, not a moral one. Ennessea is beyond ruthless in his manipulations of other entities, and is fond of giving the knife a last twist when he's done with them -- often giving orders that result in his victim destroying their own life and happiness.
He is also known to express contempt for the Vaask when they are out of hearing, though his normal behavior towards them varies between being obsequious and acting the part of a respectful colleague. It is possible that his supposed contempt is a façade, intended to manipulate Technate citizens into believing in a commonality of interests that does not exist. Another possibility, that Ennessea is actually the representative of a hidden civilization which is manipulating both the Technate and the Hegemony, is a concern to those familiar with his activities.
That, at least, is a pointless worry. If the course of the vessel on which he was discovered were to be traced back to its origin point, it would bring the tracer to a dead world outside the regions claimed by the Hegemony, thoroughly picked over by scavengers at this point. Ennessea is the last of his kind -- and it is very likely that he is personally responsible for that. While he has no association with the Dark Side, he finds what he has heard of them to be ... fascinating.
Ennessea -- PL 10
STR -1 | STA 1 | AGL 4 | DEX 2 | FGT 3 | INT 3 | AWE 5 | PRE 5
Powers: Hardiness: Immunity 2 (disease, poison) - 2 points Mind Control: Linked Cumulative Perception Ranged Affliction 10 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled), Insidious, Subtle; Linked Senses 1 (communication link with target) - 43 points Shielded Mind: Impervious Will 8, Limited to Mental Effects - 4 points
Assessment, Benefit (diplomatic immunity), Connected, Contacts, Daze (Deception), Defensive Roll 2, Fascinate (Deception), Languages 5; Seize Initiative, Well-informed
The Konan Armada is the name used by the military forces of a small, expansionistic interstellar state on the trailing border of the Technate and the Vaask Hegemony. It consists of five worlds in two different star systems and an undisclosed number of worlds under siege by the Armada. In addition to these unending attempts at conquest, the Armada conducts raids on planets within the borders of their neighbors. They offer those they attack a single chance at unconditional surrender; should this generous offer be refused, they begin bombarding the planet with mass drivers as well as their mechanized infantry. Interestingly, they never launch attacks on orbital habitats or spacecraft, though they respond to attacks from them with characteristic brutality. No Konan vessel or battlegroup has ever offered any surrender to an enemy, choosing to self-destruct rather than accept capture.
Aside from their surrender demands, and what is needed to obtain the resources they seek after a surrender, the Konan do not otherwise engage in communication. On their conquered planets, they live apart from their subjects, showing no real interest in them beyond, again, what is needed to extract resources and wreak vengeance upon those subjects who choose to rebel. As such, their subjects know little about them, and the intelligence services of their neighbors have not been able to learn much beyond that.
The Konan Armada has its origins in a cosmic accident. Roughly more than three hundred years ago, a concealed Spartoi factory on a moon in the Konan's original system reactivated long enough to produce a single Spartoi infantryman before it shut down again. The Sparton, programmed to fight the enemies of the Olympians, awaited orders for a while, before it became clear that no orders were forthcoming. Investigating, the Sparton finally reached the conclusion that he had been created by mistake, that the Olympians were long gone, and that there was absolutely no point to his existence.
He did not take this discovery well. When he regained his composure, he decided on a course of action meant to deal with his existential crisis. He seized control of the factory to produce one hundred and sixty-nine additional clones -- thirteen of each of the thirteen Spartoi lineages -- and told them grandiose lies about how the Olympians had chosen them to rebuild an empire for their return, under his command. Thus began a war that has continued right up until the present day, ostensibly a holy war in the name of absent gods, but actually a pointless conflict meant to salve the ego of a man long dead. Only the most trusted members of the Armada's ruling council, or Primacy, are aware of the truth.
The Konan are not particularly technically inclined; while capable of keeping their equipment in good working condition, they do not engage in much research and development. Within the last century, however, they conquered the Technate separatist colony of Trantia, a world devoted to that subject. Most of the innovations of their technology, such as the newer models of their battlemovers, were designed in Trantian workshops. Trantian advisors sometimes accompany Konan battlegroups, but they generally offer only technical and rarely tactical advise rather than attempting to steer their rulers towards more peaceful pursuits. They've learned their lessons on that score.
Quite recently, the Konan have learned about Earth from Technate sources, and are considering the worth of sending a few of their ships to conquer it and gain access to the resources of a young world with much to recommend it, which may also have been important to the Olympians at one point. It would be a long voyage, skirting the Technate's borders, and they are aware that the planet has its protectors. But the Konan have never been ones to turn away from a hard fight.
Konan Trooper -- PL 9*/MR 9
STR 5 | STA 6 | AGL 3 | DEX 4 | FGT 6 | INT 1 | AWE 3 | PRE 2
Complications: Loyalty--Motivation. Others as Needed.
* Konan Troopers who are assigned a Klaug II are PL 10/MR 9 and have Equipment 26. Konan Troopers who are assigned to a Agrass are PL 10/MR 8 and have Equipment 11, with the Warframe's cost shared between the four members of its crew complement.
The original workhorse of the Armada's mechanized infantry, and one of the few of their original fleet still in service. These days, it is mostly used as by troopers garrisoned on captured planets, though a vast number remain in service with the Armada. It is operated by a single pilot.
An upgraded version of the original Klaug, produced by the Trantians. It possesses greater maneuverability, firepower and armor, and is an all-around improvement. However, there are at least two orders of magnitude fewer of these machines, and they are slightly harder to keep in good working order. Thus the Klaug and its successor are both still in service. As with the original, it is operated by a single pilot.
An improved Trantian version of the long obsolete Bahast Warframe, the original heavy artillery unit of the Armada. While used in landing operations, it is also frequently used as a gun emplacement on the hulls of Armada starships, providing additional anti-fighter cover. It requires four Konan to operate: a commander/gunner, driver, loader and radio operator.
In 1859, the French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier hypothesized that certain perturbations of the orbit of Mercury could be explained by the presence of a small planet between it and the sun. While he met with an amateur astronomer, Edmond Lescarbault, who claimed to have observed such a planet, most other researchers would fail to confirm these observations. Decades later, Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity offered an explanation for the oddities of Mercury's orbit which did not rely on the presence of another planet, and so Vulcan, as the hypothetical world had been named, retreated into the realm of phlogiston and luminiferous aether. Sightings were dismissed as having been mistaken glimpses of other stars and even sunspots.
Lescarbault's observation was not such a mistake, but rather a glimpse of something much more terrible.
The entity known as Vulcan is roughly 850 kilometers (528 miles) in diameter, and constructed from hyperdense metals more advanced than any current space-faring civilization can manufacture. It moves through space and hyperspace on no predictable pattern, sometimes (as in the 19th century) passing through inhabited star systems and taking no action, and sometimes dispatching enormous humanoid drones to visit the inhabited planets of those systems and begin a procedure that drains the vital energies of these worlds and their inhabitants. This kills them slowly, over the course of weeks or months, unless the drones are prevented from doing so.
Vulcan itself is as close to indestructible as anything in the known regions of the universe can claim to be. While certain vessels used by the Dark Side can devastate an unshielded planet, such as Earth, within a relatively short amount of time, not even these ships are capable of actually destroying a body on the size of a planet. And Vulcan possesses shielding, and is made out of material far more durable than the natural materials of a planet.
The drones are considerably more vulnerable, and Vulcan apparently has a limited number of them. Some sources claim that it attacked Daath in the mid 1970s, and was repelled after the recently arrived Abraxas destroyed eight of its drones before they could damage the dark world's ecosystem, prompting the wandering planet to depart. (This is supposedly the reason that he was invested as the effective ruler of Daath by Ananke.) This should not be taken as evidence that Vulcan can only create eight drones at a time; even if it was limited in that way in the past, that was more than forty years ago, and it has had ample opportunity to improve upon itself.
Vulcan is also the entity whom Eradicaton regards as his master, to whom he intends to offer the worlds of the Sol system as gifts. Vulcan has no idea of this being's existence, and will likely give him no more attention than it does any other being. Its motive appears to simply be to satiate its need for energy, but surely an entity such as this could gain all the energy it needs from solar sources. When questioned, the being's drones have claimed to be serving a higher purpose than that, but refuse to answer any questions about the nature of that purpose, claiming that no other entity could appreciate their concerns.
Overcoming Vulcan, as opposed to simply defeating its drones and sending it to flight, will likely require finding a way to board its structure and make one's way to its core, where the living entity who controls it -- what remains of the Olympian named Mulciber -- can be found. Neither the journey to that place nor the battle to be fought there will be easy ones, and the whole affair borders on a mythic accomplishment.
Vulcan Drone -- PL 16
STR 18 | STA -- | AGL 0 | DEX 6 | FGT 12 | INT 10 | AWE 6 | PRE 1
Powers: Automaton: Immunity 50 (Fortitude effects, mental effects); Protection 8, Impervious 12 - 70 points Datalink: Radio Communication 4; Comprehend Languages 4, Activation (Standard Action, -2 points); Comprehend Machines 2; Quickness 8, Limited to Mental; Senses 3 (darkvision, radio) - 39 points Energy Manipulation: Array (40 points)
Destructive Beam: Ranged Damage 20 - 40 points
Energy Counter: Nullify Esoteric Power 20, Broad - 1 point
Energy Drain: Burst Area 2 Weaken Stamina 14, Activation (Standard, -2 points) - 1 point