From: Disruptor (The)

To: Oamen

RE: Opportunities

 

Per your request, I've compiled a listing of opportunities fitting your practical if simplistic criteria:

1> Profitable

2> Viable

3> Not going to get us killed/worse in the process (with captured of course being considered worse).

 

Most of these are situations I've already been aware of, but were simply beyond my "viable" tolerance limited to my own resources.  Chances are this was MUCH more information that you were initially expecting, and perhaps broader as well.  I assumed that you wouldn't have bothered seeking me out for petty jobs like robbing banks.

 

For the last several years I've been trying to get a handle on exactly how groups like VIPER continue to exist despite the pressures against them.  Initially I was surprised at the shear pervasiveness of the operations I was discovering.  Before long I realized I was actually seeing the "propwash", if you will, of several different groups.  I've run some calculations and have reason to believe I have leads on either four or five different groups -- setting aside VIPER itself.

 

PSI

The Paranormal Studies Institute was destroyed by The Protectors (the LA-based SAT superteam, but I'm sure you already knew that) over a decade ago amidst much fanfare of eliminating a group of mentalists out to take over the world.  Of course, nothing vanishes without a trace.  I've long suspected that the group's "elimination" was just a front, perhaps on the part of members that wanted to go further underground than Dr. Burkhardt was willing to.

 

I'm operating here from a simple assumption -- need-based derivatives of the supply-demand relationship.  If PSI itself actually was destroyed, some other group may well be filling the role.  While the Defiants (see below) are certainly one possibility -- if anything, I suspect they ARE filling this role on some level -- what I'm seeing is too specialized to simply be a branch of the self-styled "American Resistance."

 

People are continuing to erupt into novas, albeit not at the daily rate it sometimes seems.  Simple logic suggests that at least some portion of those eruptions involve psionic abilities.  Before the MindBender Incident statistics suggested a 1 in 13 ratio -- one of thirteen novas being psionic on some level.  There is no reason to believe this ratio is not still being met by new eruptions (although survival rate of psionics is understandably low).  However, if you believe official sources, fewer than 1 in 50 new eruptions result in a psionic.

 

I don't believe them either.  Somebody -- more likely, several somebodies -- out there are actively looking for newly erupted psionics and either killing them or co-opting them.  It stands to reason that since people can't exactly choose how they erupt, no small number of psionics feel they are unfairly put upon -- creating a demand for an alternative to the usual MS Centers for training psionics.

 

Enter a group that claims to be a legitimate but secret government group that wants to help train the newly erupted psionic in service to the United States.  Most people are actually dumb enough to fall for this, especially desperate parents that don't want their child to be the victim of a mob with torches & pitchforks (or the modern equivalent, cell-phones and cigarette lighters).  Demand, meet supply.  Me, I'd take my chances with the mob before I would the government but then my prejudices are openly stated.

 

Anyway, seems to me that PSI would follow one of two, possibly three scenarios.  One, they've got a hidden "school" somewhere where they're doing just what they claim to do -- just not for the people they claim to be working for.  There's a distant possibility, of course, that they actually ARE working for the US Government -- I doubt it, but I also doubt I need to explain why I refuse to put it passed them until I see evidence to the contrary.

 

Which brings me to the propwash.  Seems to me you wouldn't need a physical school to teach mental powers the way you do physical ones.  It also seems to me that given the subject matter, you couldn't simply hide in plain sight the way one might suspect.  This would lead me to believe that PSI (or whatever group has replaced it) may be operating on a highly mobile basis -- VIPER nest on wheels, if you will.

 

Now, the last I checked none of us are psionic.  Why do we care?  Well, obviously this group makes for a potential ally as well as a potential enemy, and maybe even both at once.  At the least, I think it serves our long-term objectives to find out exactly what's going on here.  If we can find some locally, it may help our short-term objectives as well.  One would assume people used to dealing with things like telepathy, telekinesis, and mind control have some knowledge of them -- and maybe even technological defenses against them.  I doubt they've got anything on par with a Mind Control Laser, otherwise they'd be using it...

 

The Defiants

 

You gotta love a group that uses a pun for its name.  No, really, it's in the Supervillain Union 437 handbook.  Me, I'm neither paranoid nor patriotic enough for this group's taste, but then I'm not talking about joining them.  They are an element of chaos on the superhero landscape, and there's always opportunity in chaos...

 

I'm sure you're mostly aware of this group, but rather than quiz you on what you already know I'll start from the beginning.  After MindBender came within a hair's breadth of taking over the world, the US and many other nations decided it was time to force novas to register.  President Jimmy "Peanut Brains" Carter signed the Nova Registration Act into law -- and then found himself run out of office.  We Americans *like* our vigilantes, tights and all, don't you know...  Reagan however couldn't muster enough support in Congress or the Supreme Court to actually get it thrown out.  The result was a basically toothless registration law -- you couldn't get government support without registering, but there was nothing the government could do if you didn't register.

 

Then Doctor Destroyer had to go and blow up Detroit.  Bastard.

 

Anyway, it wasn't until 1993 after President "Billy Bob" Clinton rode the tidal wave of Detroit's destruction office that the NRA got some teeth.  And what teeth they were!  Register within one month of your eruption or be considered a felon; use nova abilities after that month without registering and legally you're a traitor -- meaning if you ever become a resident of Stronghold Arizona, you'll be living in the Green Mile.  Assuming you live long enough to make it to Stronghold, given the number of registration dodgers that die "resisting arrest"...

 

Well, needless to say not everyone was part of Billy Bob's wave.  Needless to say no small number of those not everyone's were novas, and no small number of them had come of age during Reagan's patriot days.  Vowing to defy the NRA, they joined together to form what was originally called the American Resistance.  Some still call themselves that.

 

But over the years, as it became clear the public by-and-large was behind the NRA now, the American Resistance found itself far less popular than they had expected to be.  Perhaps, had they stronger leadership, they may have gotten something done.  Instead, they found themselves on the losing side of public approval and increasingly on the losing side of history.

 

Sometime between point A and today, they began calling themselves The Defiants.  You don't have to be too "in the know" to be familiar with their motto -- Ever Defiant!  Ever full of baloney, if you ask me… which you did, albeit without realizing it.

 

To say they're a product of the Paranoid 90's is being nicer than they deserve.  Many of them believe the US Government has been covertly taken over in the manner MindBender nearly succeeded at -- although of course they vary on the particulars.  Personally I think the fact that someone nearly did it that way once REDUCES the chances of someone succeeding that way, but we aren't talking about normal people here.

 

Anyway, I'm sure I'm on their "must kill" list, but I've learned some things while avoiding getting killed.  I alluded earlier to a primary point of interest earlier: the lack of strong, centralized leadership for the Defiants.  I've come to believe there are four distinct sects of the Defiants that themselves don't exactly get along.

 

The Nova Warriors are the more militant minded, favoring armed revolt against the government.  Naturally that's going to be somewhat difficult to pull off as long as the Golden Avenger is in the picture.  As such they've adopted the militia/terrorist mentality.  They are rumored to be operating out of the Pacific Northwest.  And in the Pacific NW we should leave them, if you ask me, being that these are the "kill first ask questions never" type.

 

If the Nova Warriors represent the "fight" reflex, Isla Delta represents the "flight" reflex.  Isla Delta's premise is easy enough to understand -- since it was the governments of the world that decided novas shouldn't be free, the only real recourse of novas is to become a government of their own, literally in a nation of their own.

 

You haven't been a nova long (you told me less than three months), but chances are you've at least heard of the island Destruga -- Doctor Destroyer's old base.  Existing at least 7 miles from any nation's borders, Destruga represents a perfect place for "Isla Delta" to operate from.  Unfortunately somebody else had that idea first -- Hyperion, the founder of Sanctuary.  Sanctuary, as you doubtless know, exists on the island of Destruga and has been recognized as "neutral territory".

 

The novas that are part of the Isla Delta branch of the Defiants would like to take that a step further -- they'd like for Destruga to be declared its own sovereign territory and become a nation of novas, by novas, for novas.  Hyperion, for his part, has flatly refused -- but that hasn't kept them from trying, or even doing it unofficially.  As such, the place to contact Isla Delta is going to be Destruga and Sanctuary.

 

BTW, if you go to Destruga you'll have to leave me behind. Being one of the most wanted terrorists in the entire world and widely believed to have heartlessly slaughtered Princess Diana of England, like Dr. Destroyer I'm on the short list of novas not welcomed by Sanctuary.

 

Having dealt with fight & flight, it's time to spend a paragraph on "whimper".  Yes, even the Defiants have their cowards and idiots; they call themselves "Pax Novus".  Actually believe you can accomplish social change via politics and "passive resistance".  Idiots.  Do I *really* need to waste my time explaining why they're a waste of time?

 

Which brings us to the final, forlorn bastard child of the Defiants -- which arrogantly refers to itself as the "Defiance Proper".  This group would be a joke -- if they didn't have the strongest leadership of the Defiants.  I'm using "strongest" in the literal way too; Velociraptor is rumored to be one of the twenty or so most powerful novas on the planet, and quite possibly the only American nova who would have a chance against the Golden Avenger.  Word is that they have fought to a stalemate -- GA couldn't catch VR, but VR couldn't defeat GA either.  That can't be proven, of course...

 

If we can't join 'em, why mention them?  Because there's opportunity involved.  I like to keep an eye on anyone that might find it necessary to kill me, and I've come to the conclusion that instead of operating on the East Coast as believed, the Defiance Proper is actually based, or at least has a heavy outpost, somewhere to the north of Cincinnati but probably no further than 50 miles away.

 

If it's their main base, we should probably consider moving to another part of the country.  Go ahead and call me a coward, but anybody that can hold their own against the Golden Avenger is not someone I want to take on.  If it's an outpost, they probably have resources -- including but not limited to information -- that we'll find most useful.  Of course, unlike say the Champions we can't just look up their membership on the web; we could be dealing with a GROUP of novas that could give the Golden Avenger a run for her money for all we know.  Then again, if they have that kind of firepower, why aren't they using it?

 

At the very least, sooner or later we need to know what's going on in our backyard.  That's not to say we should rush into it...

 

VIPER

 

Ah, the ever-saluting greensuits!  Where would young novas be without the snakes to beat up on, eh?

 

That's actually a good question when you stop and think about it.  These people have been trying to take over the world since 1976 publicly, and probably well before that covertly.  They're a persistent thorn in the side of nearly every publicly operating nova almost as long as you've been alive.

 

So where are they all coming from?

 

By my estimates nearly 15 million VIPER agents have either been killed or incarcerated since the group's discovery 26 years ago -- and more liberal estimates place that closer to 30 or even 40 million.  I'll tell you right now, that number is WAY higher than it should be.  Heck, the "dreaded" Iraqi army fields all of 3 million men, and only about 40,000-60,000 of those are actual loyalists.  Where are the factories churning out their equipment?  Where are they getting the raw material?

 

Setting aside all that “phantom menace” paranoia crap, there's clearly something going on here.  It may be a something someone that's actually competent could make use of.  I'm sure there's a VIPER nest or three (or a dozen) locally we could start with -- but then, I'm sure VIPER wouldn't take kindly to that.  Not that I dread their wrath, but they could be an unfortunate distraction.

 

SUPER SCHOOLS

 

I'll be brief about this one -- I have to be, I don't know nearly as much as I'd like to about this one.  Remember when I mentioned the possibility of a school for novas (especially psionics) that might be hiding in plain sight?  I wasn't just talking off the top of my head there -- there's evidence of it.  Nothing hard and physical (which is disturbing in its own way), but just enough coincidental indications that it can't be mere coincidence.

 

Let's assume for a moment that it's not PSI (although that is a very real possibility).  They'd deal mostly with newly-erupted novas, and the fact is most novas erupt in their late teens.  There has never been a documented case of nova eruption over the age of 40, in case you didn't know -- although a few of the earliest eruptions in the early 1970's have passed this mark.  Hyperion, for example, has to be in his mid-60's at least, and the Warbird has to be at least 52 (still looks 24, but that's been true since 1976).

 

There are numerous rumors of rather young men & women working together in rogue superteams (rogue as in, not PRIMUS/SAT approved) across the country.  Early attempts to pin it down suggest there could be anywhere from 4 to 17 of these groups -- although the way their rosters seem to shift, I can't be certain yet.  What's interesting is that there are 4 particular parts of the country that these groups, regardless of roster, seem to show up near.

 

Now, stop and think about the resources available here.  Information, enough to train kids in using their powers.  The equipment for that training.  The supplies necessary to run such an operation covertly (they'd have to do almost everything in-house to be as hard to find as they are).  The potential sidekicks...

 

There's one big concern -- they are entirely too good at keeping their secret(s).  To me, that screams "Mentalist!"  Even if they don't have a bald psionic headmaster in a wheelchair, whoever is running this operation would have to be a spymaster Ian Fleming would be proud of.  Of all the opportunities I’m listing here, this one by far has the highest potential reward and quite probably the highest risk as well.

 

ARGENT

 

Despite what you’ve probably heard of me, I’m not insane.  I am, however, admittedly quite petty.  I believe it’s only fair that you know right up front I have no small personal interest in this next one.

 

You see, I used to work for these bastards.

 

ARGENT began its corporate life as the Advanced Research Group in 1974.  They quickly established a reputation for the skill & inventiveness of its scientists, and quickly became one of if not the premiere government contractor.  In 1980 they tacked “Enterprises” onto their name, becoming ARGENT.

 

Then, in 1983, a whistleblower who shall remain nameless leaked information to the journalists of the Washington Post of ARGENT’s traitorous leak of defense technology to any number of America’s enemies – including but in no way limited to VIPER, Russia, China, and allegedly Dr. Destroyer himself (insert “Why would the good Doctor need it when his own technology is so advanced” crack here).  However, all the big suits in the company got just enough of a warning to flee to an unknown foreign location.

 

Unknown to the public at large, that is.  Not sure how much you know about the Middle East, but there’s a country named Awad that exists on the SE coast of the Saudi Arabian peninsula.  Sandwiched nicely between Yemen and Oman, Awad is allegedly in cahoots with Iraq.  In fact, those in the know believe Awad is the source of Iraq’s surprising weapon capabilities.

 

Without going too much into detail, I have a very personal reason for believing this.

 

Now, some analysts believe ARGENT is the source of VIPER’s seemingly endless supply chain.  I don’t buy it, and here’s why – those of us with our ears to the right pieces of ground have picked up that there’s no small amount of animosity between ARGENT and VIPER.  Some people would even have you believe there’s the beginnings of a catfight between the greenshirts and the silvershirts; a catfight that could erupt into a full-fledged and very literal gang war.

 

I can buy this for one main reason – arrogance.  If the same people are running ARGENT today as were running it in 1983, there’s a good chance they’ve come to the conclusion they can “do VIPER right”.  Innovative my ass, they’ve never had an original idea in their lives – they’ve existed from the beginning to take what others have done and do it better.

 

Amusing as it might be to play them off each other, I’m afraid neither of them will be in a hurry to call us friends.  In case you didn’t realize this, ARGENT and I don’t get along.  And VIPER, well, VIPER is VIPER.

 

There’s something else that disturbs me.  Why go after VIPER now, when they’ve had the capability at least in theory for over a decade?  Does ARGENT know something we should?  Or is all this a ruse by some puppet master to get the public even more riled up?

 

I don’t know the answers.  I don’t like it when I don’t know the answers.

 

Institute for Human Advancement

 

The IHA is the modern version of the Ku Klux Klan, except they hate novas instead of black people, Jews, and Communists.  Just between us black hats, no small number of the IHA membership and leadership hate blacks, Jews, and Communists too.  They are also alleged to beat up small puppies and work for the IRS, if you get my drift.  If you didn’t?  These aren’t nice people.  They might as well call themselves Genocide.

 

But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that the IHA wants you dead simply because you happen to have superpowers, now did you?

 

What you may need me to tell you is that the IHA has more official support than the public at large suspects.  A lot more, and I’m talking quantity as well as quality (as in, more OFFICIAL support).  No less than 15% of the seated members of the American Congress are in the back pocket of the IHA on some level – usually covertly, as the IHA’s agenda isn’t popularly accepted (insert crack about Americans loving their vigilantes again).  I doubt it exceeds 35% or they’d be making a lot more noise than they are; personally I’d peg the number around 23% although neither the conservative nor liberal figures would surprise me.

 

You may also need me to tell you that the Minuteman Project, first hinted at by then-President Ronald Reagan, is in fact reality.  Yep, genuine killer robots are out there in warehouses somewhere waiting for orders to hunt down and destroy all novas.

 

Obviously this concerns us because we’re novas and partial to not being destroyed.  So why list this amongst opportunities?  Officially, there is no technological or physiological way to discern novas from “baseline” humans.

 

Officially.  Now ask yourself, if anybody out there either has or is working their pointed heads off to find a way to detect and track down novas, wouldn’t it be these people?  Wouldn’t such a technology be a HUGE boon for an intrepid group of renegade novas, especially renegade novas with an interest in remaining renegade instead of captured?

 

Let’s be honest too, we need to wipe these folks out whenever we find them on general principal.  The question isn’t so much whether or not we should look for these folks, but rather how hard and at what kind of priority.

 

THE BFG’S

 

You also asked me what I know of the most dangerous players in the nova world.  What you’re about to read isn’t pretty, but anything you don’t know about these people could be lethal.

 

Dr. Destroyer

 

Mean sonuvabitch.  Has tried to conquer the world at least two times that we know about – supposedly getting himself killed when he blew up Detroit when it became clear the second one wasn’t going to work.  I told those morons not to believe it unless they had a corpse…  Anyway, Dr. D. is beyond any shadow of a doubt back, given his announcement to the world last month.

 

Is it the same Dr. D?  That’s a good question, and I wish I had a good answer for you.  It took the almost all of the world’s heroes – heck, and most of the VILLAINS – assembled and working together to stop him before.  We didn’t have the Golden Avenger then… but my guy instinct is he just would’ve taken her out first.

 

On the “NO” side of the table, I simply can’t see the Dr. Himself just announcing to the world that he was back just for giggles – and I don’t see the benefit in just announcing it.  On the “YES” side of the table, even if this isn’t the Dr. Himself it would have to be someone powerful enough to be able to withstand herodom assembled – or stupid enough to think he could succeed where the Dr. Himself didn’t.

 

The Golden Avenger

 

As you know, she’s technically the second person known by that name – the previous one dying during Detroit.  She’s a LOT more powerful than he ever was, something I can attest to personally.  She’s never been defeated in nova combat, although she’s never faced Dr. Destroyer.  She may be blond and beautiful, but she’s also as strong if not stronger than any nova on record and bloody near invulnerable.

 

Part of what makes the Golden Avenger so dangerous is that, at least on paper, she’s a total package (pun intended).  Her top flight speed is a closely classified secret (some rumors suggest she’s capable of faster-than-light speeds in a vacuum) but is easily among the highest known for novas.  She has enhanced senses, including at minimum impressive (nearly horizon-level) telescopic, penetrating vision and sufficient superhearing to hear a gnat fart a mile away.  She can operate in outer space without a suit.

 

She’s also smart and combat-trained enough to have been the first woman SEAL even before she erupted.  She is competent enough to run one of the three most powerful government agencies as well.  Are you getting scarred yet?

 

It’s like somebody took Nietzsche’s ideal of the Superman and put it in the body of a model.  Look, out on the runway, it’s SuperModel!  Okay, keep the “day job” jokes to yourself, I never professed to be funny…

 

Weaknesses?  I know a dozen crime bosses the world over that would pay millions to discover one.  I’ve only been in her presence once and you’ll understand if I hit the “evacuate” button the moment I realized my plan wasn’t working.  Make no mistake, I’ll do that the next time as well…

 

El Junte’

 

It’s said that one should be careful what one wishes for.  For decades, the US Government wished Fidel Castro would be overthrown by a popular revolt.  In 1987, they got their wish in the person of El Junte’.

 

We were better off with Castro, you ask me.

 

El Junte’ has survived dozens of attempts on his life by some of the most powerful and skilled assassins in the world.  The popular theory is that he’s a powerful precognitive, and possibly even a powerful psionic.  Neither would surprise me.

 

Fortunately, El Junte’ seems satisfied to rule Cuba.  He fought alongside other heroes to defeat Destroyer, but went immediately back to Cuba afterwards instead of aiding relief efforts.  Under his rule Cuba has become almost completely isolationist – and maybe that’s a good thing.

 

Caestus Pax (Fist of Peace)

 

Leader and main spokesperson for the UN’s “Team Tomorrow” (T2M) and bald as they come (allegedly he doesn’t have a hair anywhere on his body), Caestus Pax is not to be trifled with.  I have it on good authority (for reasons that shall remain nameless) that he’s not quite as strong or tough as the Golden Avenger – but he may or may not be more powerful, depending on who you believe.

 

Unlike the Golden Avenger, his powers are based on manipulating kinetic energy.  As such, for what little good it does he’s not as well defended against “energy” attacks than physical ones.  I specify that because he’s just plain hard to hurt period, with no documented vulnerabilities (just things he’s not quite as invulnerable to). 

 

He’s also a closet Anti-American who isn’t as closeted as he used to be.  There has been at least one “incident” within the last couple of years, and I have no reason to believe it’s isolated.  If tensions between the US and UN continue to tighten, a full-bore blowup is quite likely.

 

Murdoch

 

The year is 1976.  The date is July 4th.  President Gerald Ford is preparing to address the nation on the night of its bicentennial when it happens.  A mysterious man calling himself Murdoch interrupts the broadcast with an interesting screed he calls the Null Manifesto.  The broadcast continues to repeat the world over for the next week before the source is tracked down and turned off – with no signs of Murdoch.

 

Murdoch espoused a variety of the anarkist principle (not a typo) in which novas are no longer human, and therefore no longer subject to human law or human ethics.  Therefore they must join together and form their own standards, laws, and ethics.  Sounds a lot like the Isla Delta people, doesn’t it?  Difference being, Murdoch and his Teragen don’t give a blip if the rest of the world recognizes them or not.  There’s also more of a “Will to Power” ethic among the Teragen than the American Way of the Defiants.

 

Murdoch has not been seen, or heard from publicly, since the Null Manifesto.  If the Teragen (or “Terror Geeks” as the popular epithet goes) have established a nova homeland, nobody but the Teragen knows where it is.  It’s worth noting that the Teragen hasn’t been much of a factor in America, they are primarily a problem for the UN and T2M.

 

So why am I listing this shadow amongst the power players of the world?  Simple: just because he hasn’t been seen or heard from publicly doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.  I’ve had contact with the Teragen and I have reason to believe Murdoch could hold his own against anybody but Doctor Destroyer or the Golden Avenger, and he just might be able to hold it against them to.

 

It’s also not exactly unknown amongst the intelligence community that Murdoch, like Warbird, is either unaging or aging very slowly.  He seems to believe he can afford to be patient, and there’s a good chance he’s right.  That’s a disturbing concept for those of us that prefer to live in interesting times.

 

Totentaz (The Masked Death)

 

Easily the most feared nova mercenary (or elite as they are commonly known) in the world, Totentaz may be the fastest nova alive (the only nova I know of that can even compare to him is the Velociraptor).  I had the displeasure of meeting him before I “went rogue” – he’s as much of a bastard in person as I am, if that tells you anything.  He’s just of the cold-blooded, emotionless school of bastardness.

 

Totentaz works for the DeVries Agency, the premiere placement agency for elites (tail, meet dog).  He is rumored to command a nine-digit hiring fee.  There is also a rumor that the only assignment he will not undertake if paid enough would be a hit on El Junte.

 

If you have somehow lived your life without ever seeing footage of him in action, well, you haven’t watched TV much given the way DeVries uses him as a poster boy.  If we somehow found ourselves on the opposite side of a contract from him, we probably wouldn’t have time to escape.

 

The scariest thing?  I’ve heard rumors that he gets more powerful depending on who he’s fighting.  Wouldn’t be the only nova I’ve heard that rumor about, but in his case the rumor is so consistent I figure if it’s not true there’s a reason it appears to be.

 

I can only think of one potential weakness this guy has – he seems to lack a “nova attack”.  Those spears he uses are simple Questonite painted gold.  I’ve never seen him use a gun or any other kind of ranged attack beyond occasionally throwing one of his two spears.  Mind you he can rip tanks open with those things at the speed he moves…

 

Hyperion

 

One of the first publicly known novas, Hyperion is still one of the most powerful players in the nova world.  He’s probably on the low end of the names on this list, though.  At least one source suggests that his powers have begun to deteriorate at an increasing rate ever since his near-death during the Detroit incident.

 

True or not, he’s seen as the retired elder statesman of the nova population and has a lot of respect even amongst those of us with black hats.  In fact, he founded Sanctuary at least in part to give “heroes” and “villains” a place to interact and relax peaceably amongst their “own kind”.

 

I’m going to get a nasty thought you might have out of the way – yes, there are similarities between Hyperion’s statements publicly and Murdoch’s Null Manifesto.  Hyperion has also publicly denied any connection.  Believe it if you want to; personally I could see either side of that question being true.

 

This next statement sounds like something from the gossip rags, but it bears mentioning.  He and Warbird have been “connected romantically” off and on for years by outsiders, but insiders generally shrug it off with answers about how it’s “their business not yours”.  Any time people throw around non-answers like that something’s not kosher.

 

Mechanon

 

This robot appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, on the lawn of the White House in 1979 clearly stating his intention to steal the nuclear launch codes so he could destroy all organic life on Earth.  Only the combined power of the novas that would soon form the Capital Squad stopped him – allegedly destroying him in the process.

 

Not.

 

I can document 11 “arrivals” of Mechanon since then.  Each new arrival is a little more powerful than the last.  The next version will be 13, and I’m not looking forward to it.  I assisted in the battle against some of the earlier versions (4 thru 7) and it wasn’t pretty.

 

Thankfully, his programming appears to be very straightforward.  Only the last version (12) showed anything resembling subtlety, and even he ended up in a “death march” across Canada…

 

Grond

 

He’s big.  He’s one of the three strongest people on the planet – he may or may not be the strongest (he certainly claims to be).  He’s definitely one of the toughest as well, something the military learned the hard way.  He gets even stronger & tougher the angrier he gets.  He’s also dumber than a box of rocks, and is quite possibly the ugliest thing to ever claim to be born a human.

 

Oh, and he has four arms.  Never forget the extra appendages.

 

Anyways, it is believed that Grond’s current mailing address is somewhere between Mars & Jupiter, being that he was flown out there and left as debris by the Warbird the last time he appeared (they were afraid to throw him into the sun given his propensity for getting stronger & tougher).  Insurance providers breathe easier at that knowledge, but fear the day some moron brings him back…

 

OTHERS

 

There are undoubtedly other “power players” out there.  Government files give them oblique names like “Gaeamaster”, “The Sleepytime Bandit”, “Captain Kryptonite”, “Annoying Man”, and such.  There have been a number of specific hints that a powerful megalomaniac is stirring up trouble in Canada.  If my theories about the Super School are accurate, the headmaster of that school is quite likely up there as well.  The leader of any of the covert groups I mentioned might well be quite powerful as well.

 

 

OTHER INTERESTING ODDITIES

 

Finally, you asked me to let you in on anything I would expect you to know that the average person on the street probably hasn’t.  That’s one heck of a broad question, but I think I know what you meant.  It’s an interesting theoretical, really.

 

There’s a lot more in our great big world than this, but I have to start somewhere…

 

Substances of Power

 

I mentioned Questonite earlier.  You can just barely scratch it with a diamond, and it’s non-ferrous (isn’t affected by magnets).  It is also far less brittle than most metals.  The shocking part is that it is lighter than an equivalent mass of aluminum.  The only known source of Questonite are meteorite fragments from Doctor Destroyer’s first failed attempt at world takeover.

 

Thankfully, it is also far too rare for anything like bank vaults to be built using it, let alone entire buildings or small armies of robots.  Which isn’t to say there isn’t a vault or three out there that isn’t made of it, though…  It is, however, common enough to be used to make outrageously expensive tools and weapons that almost never wear out or lose their shape.

 

Far and away more common than Questonite is Kendrium.  There’s an awful lot of stuff out there that people say is made of Questonite that is in fact made of Kendrium.  It’s about three times stronger than steel, but only 5% heavier.  While ferrous, it is also less crystalline than steel – which is annoying for those times you’re trying to shatter it with well-placed vibrations or what have you.  It also means it supports its own weight structurally far better than steel can.

 

The main trick is that while Questonite is natural, Kendrium is a manufactured alloy.  The process was discovered and patented by Professor Kendrick – more commonly known as Mensa, the world’s smartest nova.  He jealously guards the secret of the process; technically the patent office shouldn’t have granted him a patent but once it’s done it’s done.  He’s made a killing off the patent though, lucky bastard…

 

Also worthy of mention is Kelvarite, the so-called “meteor miracle mineral”.  It exists only as crystalline fragments found occasionally in meteorites – research I’ve done in the past suggests that less than 20 lbs of it are known to exist on the planet.  Of that, 13 lbs comes from a single fragment that landed near London, Kentucky about four years ago.  What’s most interesting is that Kelvarite appears to either have prismatic qualities (changing colors in response to stimuli) or exist in several different varieties.  Kelvarite is rumored to have an incredible variety of uses, far too wide a variety to be taken at face value.

 

Oh, and before you ask it, yes someone (name withheld to protect the embarrassed) tried using this against the Golden Avenger.  Didn’t work, though, I guess it was too obvious.  What can I say, I read a lot of comic books when I was growing up…

 

Which brings us to “Neutronium”, allegedly the toughest substance ever discovered – and maybe the heaviest.  Enough neutronium to make a baseball bat would weigh over 500 pounds.  The name suggests that it is made of the material of neutron stars, but if that were true it would have enough gravity to destroy the planet (long story, don’t make me go there).  Nonetheless this stuff is notably tougher than Questonite or Kendrium; the one time I’m aware of someone trying to scratch one with a diamond, the diamond shattered (they are terribly brittle after all, despite that “diamonds are forever” nonsense).

 

BIG NAMES

 

UNTIL/T2M – Project Utopia

In the mid 1970’s, the United Nations decided it had been a laughing stock long enough.  For years, increasing numbers of novas had offered their services to the UN, and one day in 1977 somebody finally started answering the resumes.  The result was Team Tomorrow, the UN Superteam.

 

Now, in case you didn’t know this, the UN charter explicitly forbade it from having an armed service.  T2M was a direct violation of this.  So was UNTIL, the blatantly military arm of the UN.  Both were said to operate under the “private” Project Utopia, which answered to and was funded by the UN.  Utopia’s stated purpose was to use “the powers of today to create the perfect world tomorrow”.

 

If you’re not shivering in fear, you’re probably gagging at the banality of it.  The truth is somewhere in between.  Had it not been for the leadership and power of Caestus Pax, it probably would have collapsed under its own weight in a couple of years like every other UN program.  Unfortunately for those of us who have decided to make our way on the other side of the law, they had the power and leadership of Caestus Pax, and still do.

 

PRIMUS/SAT/FEMA – The US Response

 

In the US, though, Project Utopia was not well received.  The government swiftly reacted by forming its own group dedicated to serving and protecting the public – which it named Primus.  Today, Primus is officially the domestic branch of the armed services (replacing the national guard, which was officially disbanded in 1984).

 

Primus also decided that it needed something like the wildly popular T2M.  The result was the Superhuman America Team, or the SAT Project.  Under the SAT Project groups of up-till-then nova vigilantes were given government support and enforcement powers – of course you had to be registered under the Nova Registration Act (still toothless at the time) before you could qualify.

 

It wasn’t until 1981 though that Ronald Reagan decided to centralize all of the US’s domestic police forces under a single banner – the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.  Although it didn’t happen immediately, over the next six years FEMA absorbed (read: gobbled up) nearly ever domestic function not already under the auspices of Primus, even such heavy hitters as Social Security, the FBI (officially disbanded by the same order as the national guard in 1984), the IRS, and even the Post Office.  Officially, FEMA overrides the CIA and NSA in domestic matters.  Unofficially, word is that FEMA wants to absorb their functions as well.

 

It doesn’t take much to see that the man in charge of FEMA is one of the most powerful in the country – enough so that there have been calls to make the position an elected one.  Richard Barrington, the head of FEMA for the last twelve years, resists these calls however.  He also doesn’t like it when people call him the “Black Avenger” in an obvious play on the Golden Avenger in charge of Primus; his hatred has as much to do with the fact that he happens to be black as it does the implication that he’s a spymaster.  To this day, reporters for the Washington Post aren’t invited to any press conferences FEMA holds because of an editorial in 1991 that used the term.  Of course, the Washington Post steadfastly refuses to apologize for the statement too, and the writer that used the term is today one of their main editors (Lorianna Lokina).

 

EUROSTAR

 

It is said that for every to there is a fro.  If Project Utopia and T2M are the “to”, Eurostar is the “fro”.  Founded by Fiacho, this collection of terrorists, killers, and general troublemakers throughout Europe may be the most feared team of supervillains on the planet.  They have clashed numerous times with T2M and, oddly enough, VIPER (which they seem to have a major grudge against).  They have had limited contact with American SAT-approved teams, though – one noteworthy exception being against the Capital Gang in which Warbird killed two members of Eurostar (Bora and The Whip) and was temporarily removed from the team as a result.

 

Eurostar is still led by the “diabolical genius” Fiacho (read: megalomaniac hack).  Longtime members Durak, Mentalla, and Ultrasonique have been joined by Feuermacher, Scorpia, and Panthera.  Their agenda is simple – conquest of Europe in the short term, followed by the world – and their methods decidedly terrorist.  However, this is at least a partial “feint” to draw attention away from their subtler methods.

 

SAT TEAMS

 

Justice Battalion – formed in the wake of Detroit’s destruction, this group of super-powered friends is headquartered in the renovated Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio.  One of the distinctions of the JB is that its membership tends to be of a lower power level than normal (although it has a core of heavy hitters).  Despite its military-sounding name, it also has a considerable number of members whose powers aren’t combat-intensive; in fact, this may be the most non-combatant SAT-approved team in the US.  Hyperion was one of the founders of the Justice Battalion, and he remains an associate member.

 

Capital Gang – formed originally as an ad hoc collection to defend the White House against Mechanon, this group today lays claim as the longest continually-existing superteam in existence.  Led by the All American and claiming the Warbird among its founding & current members, it remains based in Washington.  It has a deserved reputation as the “Old Guard” of SAT-approved groups.

 

The Protectors – based in Los Angeles, this powerful collection of supers is a force to be reckoned with.  A close-knit group that has worked together for years, they have a reputation as a collection of specialists.  In terms of power, they are definitely the most powerful on average (although the Capital Gang has a couple of heavier hitters as individuals).  Many people joke that the Protectors and Justice Battalion got their names mixed up, given their respective attitudes.

 

The Champions – based in Millennium City (the former Detroit, Michigan), they are the newest and currently most popular SAT-approved team.  Having a well-deserved reputation as media darlings, they are nonetheless an effective group of novas that will only get better with experience.  While the group lacks a true heavy hitter, it also lacks any “chafe” or weak members.  They work together surprisingly well, as their surprise defeat of Mechanon 11 last year shows.  The Champions also have an odd distinction in that they seem to get along better with T2M than many other SAT-approved teams or Primus.

 

The Moderators – based in Houston, this group is the reason I made the distinction about the Capital Gang being “continually existing”.  Actually formed in 1974 as little more than a vigilante posse, the group has had its ups and downs (even going thru a “New Moderators” phase in the late 80’s).  They are (im)famous for their rivalry with Dr. Muerte and the Assessinos.  The group has come under a great deal of scrutiny because of their methods, but in a strange way that makes them all the more popular in Texas.

 

SAT “DOMESTIC DEFENDERS” (solo heroes)

 

ArachnaMan (New York) – ArachnaMan (A-Man to his friends) has had his ups and downs during his twenty-five year career, often considered a criminal and often the object of more pursuit by police than the criminals he fought.  Today he stands alongside Hyperion as one of the elder statesmen of herodom, with a reputation for taking down villains far more powerful than he himself appears to be (including Mechanon 3, something he still jokes about).  Many people credit him for being no small part of the reason “mutants” aren’t more stigmatized than they are.

 

Binary Man (Seattle, Washington) – Binary Man is a recent arrival to the world of Domestic Defenders.  He is also “sponsored” by Microsoft Corporation more than he is the city itself.  His powers are somewhat bland compared to other DD’s, but his effectiveness (and willingness to rapidly call for help) counterbalances this.

 

Kinetik (Atlanta, Georgia) – While he might not be as fast as the Velociraptor is rumored to be or Totentaz is known to be, the K-Man is nonetheless one of the fastest novas in the world.  He is also a black man who tries to make as little of that fact as possible, which has brought him into contention with some strange enemies (like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other people who make a living out of their race).

 

Jaguar (Charlotte, North Carolina) – The werekitty of justice has a good record in his state, but it might not be his state much longer.  Word is there’s some problem between him and the Charlotte City Council.  He has been seen with Solitaire and Defender several times at Sanctuary if you believe the gossip rags – he’s also been romantically attached to Sapphire.  Methinks they’re going to need a sixth seat at the Champions Roundtable…

 


SPECIFIC OPPORTUNITIES

 

Okay, enough rambling.  You want specifics, I’ll give you specifics.

 

1>     Sooner or later, we’re going to need to confirm or disprove my theory about the main (or a very major) base for the Defiants Proper being near us to the North.  REWARD LEVEL: Questionable, mostly the “something we need to do” level.  RISK LEVEL: Minimal to Extreme.  Unlike an established, public group, we have no way to know what we’re up against until we get there.  EXPECTED DIFFICULTY: No way to measure.

2>     In a similar vein, we’ll need to find out what the truth about PSI is eventually.  I actually have a couple of leads on this one locally, especially if my theory that they’re mobile is accurate.  REWARD LEVEL: Hard to gauge given the lack of information, but potentially great.  RISK LEVEL: Considerable.  I enjoy having my mind as my own property, and I’m talking about going after people who play with minds the way I do cards & dice.  EXPECTED DIFFICULTY: No way to measure.

3>     Based on estimates I’ve made from local “underground” traffic, I suspect there are no fewer than three VIPER nests in the immediate area and possibly as many as fifteen within a county or three of us.  REWARD LEVEL: Not that good, but better than turning over a bank.  RISK LEVEL: Probably the least risky proposition worth our attention, at least in the short term.  We risk acquiring an annoyingly persistent opponent though.  EXPECTED DIFFICULTY: Cakewalk.

4>     Of the four areas where the youthful superteams seem to pop up, the most likely is the New York state area.  San Francisco, St. Louis, and Las Vegas are the remaining possibilities.  In each case, however, the shear number of potential targets makes finding anything solid difficult (insert “needle in haystack” joke here).  REWARD LEVEL: Potentially the most rewarding opportunity.  RISK LEVEL: Potentially the riskiest I dare even think about.  If my theory about the schools being run by a psionic or at the very least a very effective spymaster is accurate, we’d be insane to even try it.  EXPECTED DIFFICULTY: Impossible to measure without real information, but I don’t like the prospects.  On the other hand, none of the other opportunities deserves to be compared to the potential rewards here.

5>     Want to hear something funny?  I just found out yesterday that the old local branch of ARGENT in Norwood has never been sold and is still standing.  Now, if I know ARGENT like I know ARGENT, they’re sentimental.  Taking bets that if ARGENT is in fact operating locally and prepping for war with VIPER, that old office building/factory/warehouse facility figures into the plan?  REWARD LEVEL: Not much higher than the VIPER opportunity.  The main additional potential advantage would be using the location as a base.  RISK LEVEL: See the VIPER listing.  EXPECTED DIFFICULTY: See the VIPER listing.

6>     You may have noticed the passing mention made of the large kelvarite meteor that landed near London, Kentucky.  I happen to know that part of it remains at the University of Louisville.  REWARD LEVEL: Moderate.  Kelvarite has many interesting properties we already know about, with the promise of many more.  RISK LEVEL: Last time I checked, Louisville didn’t have a Domestic Defender on an official level.  The Justice Battalion might show up, though.  EXPECTED DIFFICULTY: Low, unless something unexpected happens.

7>     I have reason to believe that one of the holding areas for the Minuteman Robots the IHA has used or is using is located north of here, near the University town of Oxford, Ohio.  The Minutemen there may be outdated models – they could be current models too.  In fact, one interpretation of the data I’m getting is that the IHA is cannibalizing older models here for resources, or perhaps performing an upgrade.  Anything we do in Oxford will have to be covert, however, as the Justice Battalion has been known to show up very quickly when villains appear there – I suspect that there’s a connection, obviously.

8>     As you obviously know from having lived in the area most of your life, the Justice Battalion – one of the SAT-approved superteams – uses a refurbished Union Terminal as its headquarters.  You may or may not know that the Union Terminal was once the main train station hub for the entire area (fully 60% of America’s troops in World War 2 made at least one stop at the Union Terminal).  What you probably don’t know is that back when the city of Cincinnati was considering a subway system, it planned to use the then-vacant terminal as the main subway hub again.  What I didn’t know until this morning is that at least some of the subway tunnels were apparently dug out.  REWARD LEVEL: Ask yourself what a superteam keeps in their base.  RISK LEVEL: Ask yourself what we’re likely to run into in a superteam base.  DIFFICULTY LEVEL: I’m talking about potentially having to fight a superteam in their own base, most likely with defenses, and you’re asking about difficulty?  Frankly if it were anybody but the Justice Battalion or the Champions I wouldn’t even think about it.

9>     Now, this one is a bit of a stretch, but I’d kick myself if I didn’t tell you about it and it turned out.  Word is there’s a reason the Champions are buddy-buddy with the UN and T2M.  In fact, some people would have you to believe the Champion base in Millennium City doubles as a covert UNTIL/T2M base!  If this could be proven, the embarrassment level would be high.  Of course we’d have to involve the “powers what is” in the discovery or they’d think it was a frame job, and for some mysterious reason I don’t think they’d be quick to buddy up with us.

10> Finally, you may find yourself wanting to try and connect with the Isla Delta branch of the Defiants on Destruga.  If so, as I said earlier you’d have to do it without me, unless you can get Hyperion to change his mind about that whole “He’s on the short list of villains I could justify killing” thing.

 

 

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