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Davies' Character Thread: World of Freedom 3.2

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  • I happened to be reading the Super Friends comic that guest-starred the original Black Orchid, and got a bit inspired. Other influences include Ethan Hunt and Marvel's Paladin character, as well as some that should be obvious.


    Very little is known about the individual who operates under the alias Templar. Since 2012, he has been an active crime fighter with no permanent base of operations, occasionally working with other superheroes but never making any long-term affiliations or partnerships. He generally assumes a deep cover identity within an organization that he somehow discovers will be threatened by a criminal organization, then emerges from that identity to defeat the criminals, using powers that vary depending on the situation. (From comments he has made, it seems fairly likely that most of these discoveries are made by infiltrating criminal organizations using other false identities.) He invariably abandons his cover identity after an operation.

    Templar frequently demonstrates a rather sarcastic, wise-cracking personality, though he usually abandons such witticisms when civilian lives are in jeopardy. He also has a set of personal eccentricities more befitting a gentleman burglar than a superhero, occasionally sending announcements of his intentions to organizations that he plans to infiltrate, and leaving replica Templar crosses on the unconscious bodies of his opponents to mark his victories. He also engages in activities that disconcert more ethically-minded heroes, such as robbing the ill-gotten gains of the criminals he defeats and only occasionally donating them to charity rather than keeping them for his own purposes.

    The exact nature of his powers is as mysterious as every other aspect of his origin. He was once scanned with a mutant detecting device by agents of GENOCIDE, which indicated that he was a mutant. During that episode, however, he demonstrated that he had access to technology which could either give false positive results to that detector or completely block its scan. The other superhero with whom he's worked most often, Dr. Sane, believes that Templar's abilities are at least partially technological in nature, but isn't willing to speculate (out loud) whether he has innate powers in addition to those devices.

    Templar's most famous adventure to date involved infiltrating the minions of the Children of the Night -- Dracula, Herald Sisyphus, the Oblivion Knight and Ultimaid -- while posing as a zombie. He was able to discover their plan -- to cause the Yellowstone Caldera to cause a supervolcano eruption to banish the sun, cause global despair, make the world into an ideal capital for the Terminus, and execute Superior -- and alert various other superheroes, who barely prevented the plan's success in October of 2016. Following this episode, he and Dr. Sane worked together to ensure that the Joint Superteam Alliance's intelligence gathering network had not been compromised by Ultimaid following her defection. Despite this, he has left no means for the Freedom League or any other organization to contact him, stating "Don't call me, I'll call you."

    In at least one known future timeline, Templar will be responsible for rescuing the girl later known as Carla Zane from Scylla's robotic factory in 2018.

    Templar -- PL 11

    Abilities: STR 11/8 | STA 8 | AGL 4 | DEX 4 | FGT 8 | INT 3 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

    "I Held My Breath": Immunity 10 (life support) * 10 points
    Master of Surprise: Variable 4 (powers that haven't been used before), Continuous * 32 points
    "Nice Try, Zane": Immunity 20 (Mental Powers) * 20 points
    "Sorry, Didn't Hurt": Impervious Protection 6 * 12 points
    "Talent, Pure Talent": Morph 2 (Other People), Continuous, Deception Check Required (DC 12), Removable (–1 point), Standard Action * 5 points
    "Yes, Actually, I Can Fly, Thanks For Asking": Flight 8, Subtle * 17 points
    "You Probably Shouldn't Have Done That": Enhanced Advantage 3 (Close Attack 3); Enhanced Strength 3; Enhanced Strength 3, Limited to lifting * 12 points

    * Any or all of these may be Removable Devices, except for "Talent, Pure Talent", which already is.

    Close Attack 3, Improved Critical (Unarmed), Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Ultimate Skill (Deception), Uncanny Dodge.

    Deception 8 (+10), Expertise: Streetwise 8 (+11), Insight 6 (+8), Investigation 6 (+9), Perception 6 (+8), Ranged Combat: Throwing 4 (+8), Technology 4 (+7), Treatment 4 (+7).

    Initiative +8
    Unarmed +11 (Close Damage 11, Crit 19-20)

    Dodge 8, Parry 8, Fortitude 13, Toughness 14, Will 7.

    Totals: Abilities 78 + Powers 108 + Advantages 6 + Skills 23 + Defenses 14 = 229 points

    Justice--Motivation. Mysterious and Enigmatic. Smites The Ungodly (he usually arranges to steal from the criminals he helps to thwart). Trademark (sends calling card when possible, but always leaves a Templar cross draped around the neck of a defeated villain).
    Check out my new super hero/science fiction novel, [url=]Unbelievable: A Tale of the Exotica Chronicles[/url].


    • Author's Note: As with the Lince, I was a little surprised how well the real world history worked for what I had in mind.


      Over the course of his long life (1912-1989), Jakob Nansen told many stories about how he acquired his powers. The most common was that he got lost in an eerie blizzard, and somehow learned to control the ice and snow so that he could survive. Other tales claimed that he'd helped out a winter spirit, who gave him a blessing, or that he'd been taught the secrets of ice magic by a hidden group of hrimwisards. On those occasions when someone claimed to have heard a different tale before, he'd simply laugh and wink, then tell yet another story.

      The truth of the matter was that he had no more idea where his powers came from than anyone else did. He went to sleep one evening in December of 1938, and woke up to discover that he was covered in ice, as was every surface of the cabin where he'd slept. The ice melted as soon as he thought about how he was going to get rid of it, leaving not a drop of water behind. Jakob was bewildered by this, but soon worked out most of what he could do.

      What he couldn't work out was what to do with it. A lumberjack by trade, he had no wish to seem freakish in the sight of his fellows. He'd heard stories about people with powers fighting criminals or committing crimes themselves, but as he was an honest (if not all that truthful) man, the latter was not an option and neither was the former, given how rare crime was in the town of Nybergsund. So he kept these powers to himself, and went on living his life in peace.

      Unfortunately, peace was not to be his destiny. A bit more than a year later, Germany invaded Norway. Listening to Vidkun Quisling's radio broadcasted coup d'etat, Jakob found himself feeling a sense of terrible outrage, but still wasn't sure what he should do about it, beyond joining the army and fighting as an ordinary soldier. Two days later, when the Germans bombed Nybergsund -- as the Norwegian government had met there and rejected the invaders' demand for capitulation -- Jakob finally found himself taking action, using his powers to save lives threatened by the bombing, as well as fighting the paratroopers dropped to mop up resistance.

      In the aftermath, Jakob found himself introduced to King Haakon, who commented that things must very dire if a frost giant (Hrimthurs) was fighting on Norway's behalf. Jakob accompanied the government on their way to Molde, and then to Tromsų, continuing to act as a super-powered bodyguard for them, most notably fighting against assassination attempts overseen by Totenkopf. When the decision was made to evacuate the royal family and government to the United Kingdom, Hrimthurs -- as he was now called by nearly everyone -- reluctantly accompanied them there, as well.

      Once the royal family was secure, Jakob sought permission to train as a commando so that he could return to Norway and continue the fight. This was granted, but it soon became clear that Hrimthurs lacked the necessary killer instinct to make a good resistance fighter. Despite this, he accompanied the unit when they traveled to train in Canada's wintery conditions, and advised them on what he'd learned about fighting supersoldiers. Ultimately, he did accompany the commandos who embarked on Operation Gunnerside, following the failures of Operation Freshman, and defended the team against attacks by the Ubersoldaten known as the Valkyrie, but could not bring himself to finish the enemy off.

      After the war, Hrimthurs continued to fight crime in Norway, while also traveling to Germany to take part in the fight against the Killer Kaiser, and later to Denmark to assist in a battle against a giant reptile which was attacking Copenhagen. He found himself starting to feel his years, however, and, after King Haakon's death in 1957, he announced that he would be retiring from his heroics, and sought permission to travel abroad. King Olav granted this boon, declaring it to be the least that his nation owed its champion.

      Jakob returned to Canada, having come to love that nation during his brief time there. He finally married in 1961, and his son Haakon (usually called Hank) was born three years later. The younger Nansen did not appear to have inherited his father's powers, which suited Jakob quite nicely, as he'd become increasingly unsure whether they were truly a 'gift'. Time passed, however, and his attitude about the matter softened a bit. When he finally passed away in 1989, his body was returned to Norway, where he was given a state funeral and buried in Nybergsun.

      Haakon Nansen also married fairly late in life, with his oldest daughter born in 1995 and a younger child born in 1998. His daughter, Vikki Nansen, has inherited her grandfather's abilities and then some. Known as the Rimer Queen, she is active as a superhero in British Columbia, usually accompanied by her younger brother, who fights under the name Jacky Frost, despite having no ice-related powers.

      Hrimthurs - PL9

      Abilities: STR 7/1 | STA 2 | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 0 | AWE 1 | PRE 2

      Ice Armor: Enhanced Strength 6; Immunity 15 (cold damage, life support); Protection 8 - 35 points
      Ice Control: Array (17 points)
      • Chill: Environment 8 (extreme cold), Dynamic - 2 points
      • Ice Blast: Ranged Damage 8 - 1 points
      • Icy Snare: Ranged Affliction 8 (Resisted by Dodge; Hindered and Vulnerable, Immobile and Defenseless), Extra Condition, Limited to Two Degrees, Reversible - 17 points
      • Slick: Environment 8 (hamper movement), Dynamic - 2 points

      Skating: Speed 5 - 5 points

      Daze (Deception), Inspire, Languages 2 (Danish, English, German, Swedish, [Norwegian is native]), Power Attack, Ranged Attack 2, Taunt.

      Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+8), Deception 6 (+8), Expertise: Story-Telling 4 (+6), Expertise: Survival 8 (+8), Perception 4 (+5), Ranged Combat: Ice Control 6 (+8).

      Initiative +3
      Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 7/1)
      Ice Blast +10 (Ranged Damage 8)
      Icy Snare +10 (Ranged Affliction 8, Resisted by Dodge)

      Dodge 7, Parry 8, Fortitude 7, Toughness 10/2, Will 5.

      Totals: Abilities 34 + Powers 62 + Advantages 8 + Skills 15 + Defenses 15 = 134 points

      Patriot--Motivation. Not A Killer. Power Loss
      (intense heat). Weakness (intense heat).
      Check out my new super hero/science fiction novel, [url=]Unbelievable: A Tale of the Exotica Chronicles[/url].


      • The Rimer Queen
        and Jackie Frost

        Let's get it out of the way -- yes, she's seen the movie, no, she didn't really like it, if other people do that's fine, but it doesn't have anything to do with her or her life, she's heard every joke, several times now, but even though the cold doesn't bother her anyway, she's really really really not interested in singing that song.


        By the time Vikki Nansen was in high school, it was apparent that she'd inherited her grandfather's ice powers. Unlike him, she promptly started using them for low key crime-fighting and rescue work in her hometown of Jasper. She soon realized that her powers were much greater than those that Hrimthrus had possessed; where he'd been able to create a layer of ice beneath his feet and "skate" on it, she was able to make that ice platform take to the air, allowing her to fly. Her powers were also much more dangerous than his had been, and Vikki caused several accidents early in her career that taught her valuable lessons about patience and caution.

        While she was offered the chance to study at the Claremont Academy, neither Vikki's parents nor she herself were all that comfortable with the idea of uprooting her from the only home she'd ever known. The same was true for the invitation to join the student body of Faculty X in Toronto, plus her parents had heard the rumors. They tried to contact members of the Pacific Sentinels and interest them in mentoring her, but received only silence or polite suggestions that Vikki should wait until she was an adult. Left with no other options, Vikki decided to go it alone.

        Or at least, she went it alone until 2014, when her sis--ahem--brother, Jackie, showed up with some magic weapons and gear that he'd gotten somewhere, and insisted that he was now her sidekick. Vikki had a number of questions about these tools and the training that Jackie had apparently gotten somewhere, but her brother has dodged all of them. The gear, at least, has been identified as some of that used by the Pacific Sentinels' former member Minstrel, who disappeared more than twenty years ago. The senior members of that team have some rather pointed questions of their own that they'd like answered, and are now suspicious of Vikki as well.

        After Jackie graduated from high school (and his relationship with their father, who insists that he has two daughters, not a daughter and a son, disintegrated completely) the two siblings moved to Vancouver, where they're active as crime fighters. Their biggest case thus far has been when Vikki was contacted by the mage called Zalman to help in the Yellowstone Battle, where her cold generating abilities were stretched to the utmost in freezing the lava before it could erupt. Even with several of the most powerful mystics on Earth backing her up, that knocked her out for several days afterward, but it probably saved countless lives.

        Rimer Queen -- PL 11

        Abilities: STR 5/0 | STA 2 | AGL 4 | DEX 3 | FGT 3 | INT 2 | AWE 4 | PRE 0

        Ice Armor: Enhanced Strength 5; Immunity 15 (cold damage, life support); Impervious Toughness 12; Insubstantial 1 (snow) - 54 points
        Ice Control Basics: Enivronment 2 (3 points of effect), Selective, Quirk (can't produce heat) - 7 points
        Ice Control Techniques: Array (29 points)
        • Cold Blast: Ranged Affliction 14 (Resisted by Fortitude; Fatigued, Exhausted, Incapacitated) - 1 point
        • Ice Blast: Ranged Damage 14, Variable (cold and any physical) - 1 point
        • Ice Motion: Perception-Range Move Object 9 - 1 point
        • Ice Snare: Ranged Affliction 14 (Resisted by Dodge; Hindered and Vulnerable, Immobile and Defenseless), Extra Condition, Limited to Two Degrees, Reversible - 29 points
        • Icy Conditions: Enhanced Environment 7 (3 points of effect), Selective, Quirk (can't produce heat) - 1 point

        Ice Flight: Flight 9, Platform - 9 points

        All-Out Attack, Defensive Attack, Improved Initiative, Move-by Attack, Power Attack

        Acrobatics 2 (+6), Athletics 6 (+6), Expertise: Current Events 2 (+4), Insight 4 (+8), Intimidation 7 (+7), Perception 4 (+8), Ranged Combat: Cold Control 5 (+8), Stealth 2 (+6)

        Initiative +8
        Unarmed +3 (Close Damage 5/0)
        Cold Blast +8 (Ranged Fortitude 14)
        Ice Blast +8 (Ranged Damage 14)
        Ice Snare +8 (Ranged Affliction 14, Resisted by Dodge)

        Dodge 7, Parry 5, Fortitude 6, Toughness 12, Will 8.

        Totals: Abilities 36 + Powers 103 + Advantages 5 + Skills 16 + Defenses 13 = 173 points

        Responsibility--Motivation. Family
        (Jackie). Power Loss (intense heat). Weakness (intense heat).

        Jackie Frost -- PL 9

        Abilities: STR 1 | STA 2 | AGL 4 | DEX 4 | FGT 5 | INT 1 | AWE 1 | PRE 0

        Enchanted Bow & Arrows: Array (10 points); Easily Removable (-5 points)
        • Explosive Arrow: Ranged Burst Area Damage 3 - 1 point
        • Flare Arrow: Ranged Cumulative Affliction 5 (Resisted by Fortitude; Visually Impaired, Visually Disabled, Visually Unaware), Limited to One Sense - 1 point
        • Standard Arrow: Ranged Damage 5 - 10 points

        Cloak of Teleportation: Enhanced Defenses 6 (Dodge 3, Parry 3); Teleport 4; Removable (-3 points) - 11 points

        Sword (Strength-based Damage 3) and 2 other points of equipment as needed.

        Agile Feint, All-Out Attack, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Diehard, Equipment 1, Evasion 2, Great Endurance, Precise Attack (Ranged; Concealment), Skill Mastery (Athletics), Uncanny Dodge.

        Acrobatics 8 (+12), Athletics 6 (+7), Close Combat: Sword 5 (+10), Deception 10 (+10), Expertise: Current Events 6 (+7), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+7), Insight 4 (+5), Investigation 6 (+7), Persuasion 10 (+10), Ranged Combat: Bow 7 (+11), Stealth 6 (+10)

        Initiative +4
        Unarmed +5 (Close Damage 1)
        Sword +10 (Close Damage 4)
        Explosive Arrow -- (Ranged Burst Area Damage 3)
        Flare Arrow +11 (Ranged Fortitude 5)
        Standard Arrow +11 (Ranged Damage 5)

        Dodge 13/10, Parry 11/8, Fortitude 7, Toughness 5/2, Will 7.

        Totals: Abilities 36 + Powers 18 + Advantages 13 + Skills 37 + Defenses 20 = 124

        Thrills--Motivation. Family
        (Vikki). Prejudice (transgender). Reputation (uses stolen gear). Secret ("where did you learn how to do that?")
        Check out my new super hero/science fiction novel, [url=]Unbelievable: A Tale of the Exotica Chronicles[/url].


        • Medea

          It very rarely comes to pass that an ending does not contain the seeds of some new beginning. So it is with Medea; at the height of her greatest triumph, the downfall of Olympus, she was killed by the mysterious Arcanix, who demonstrated the still-unexplained ability to ignore her sanctuary's wards. And yet it seems that there must be a Medea ... or at least that some greater-than-mortal will demanded the presence of a similar piece on the chessboard of the world.

          Thus, five years after the end of the Olympus Delendum affair, another Medea awoke in the wreckage of that sanctuary, and looked about in confusion. The product of a very similar reality, she had been through enough revisions of that reality to realize what was amiss, and set out to learn the details of the new existence in which she found herself. All that was needed was a visit to a library, the judicious application of mind control, and a relatively brief interval spent reading newspapers.

          Much of what she learned amused her. But what she learned about herself, or the version of herself which had existed in this world until recently, honestly disturbed her. The earliest reports described her as attacking someone called Lady Liberty in 1946; she remembered encountering a similar person in that year, but they had been reluctant allies trying to prevent the Great Beast from his ultimate transcendence. Every report of her doings was like this. Many of them were things she had done, or could envision doing. But some were acts of purest madness, and her occasional moments of benevolence went utterly unremarked.

          Worst of all were things that this other Medea had admitted about herself, proudly proclaiming that she had murdered her own children. What sort of monster would do such a thing? When she had wrecked Iason's ambitions then fled, she took their son and daughter with her, taking brief refuge in Thebes under Heracles' protection, and then returning to Colchis, where her children had grown strong and beautiful, ancestors of the peoples that the Greeks had called the Medes.

          She spent the next year quietly rebuilding her sanctuary and keeping to the shadows, after it became clear to her that her attempts to return to her own world were being blocked by powers greater than her own. (Or perhaps, as some auguries indicated, could never work, as her world no longer existed.) She learned of familiar allies and familiar enemies, but chose not to seek any of them out, taking what advantage she could from the fact that everyone believed that Medea was no more. Not even the fall of the Master Mage, midway through that year of silence, inspired her to action. She took it for granted that the post would be shortly filled.

          A few months after that, Zalman became the first person to learn of Medea's return when he visited her former lair in Georgia, which adjoined her sanctuary thanks to a portal. Captured by her traps, he was somewhat startled when she invited him to take tea rather than engaging in bizarre magical tortures. (Of course, the tea was bitter enough to count as a sort of torture, but nevertheless.) After confirming that he was also a refugee from another world, she revealed her own situation to him. He ventured to offer his expertise in the matter, but she politely declined, suspecting it was a waste of time and not wanting to become indebted.

          In the end, they parted not as friends, but with respect and without enmity. As Zalman has continued to regain his powers, they have had several encounters since then, often discussing matters of mutual interest and avoiding direct conflict. Zalman confided to Charlie Graham that he hopes that he can be for Medea what Seven was for him, and help her to take a better path than the original Medea chose. At a minimum, there's reason to hope that this Medea does not just want to see the world burn.

          However, that is at least partially because she intends to rule it. The long absence of the Master Mage has made her wonder if she might be able to fill the role. If she did, she would work to bring magic more into the public awareness, making it more known and less occult or arcane, as Eldritch and his predecessors did. While her hatred of Daedelus and the technology he embodies is somewhat less than her counterpart's was, she still sees no reason that his attitudes should dominate the world as they have for far too long.

          That said, she has a larger grudge to deal with at the moment, so Daedelus and his allies are safe from her ... for now. (And she has no interest in cooperating with the so-called Crime League. That was surely her counterpart's maddest decision yet.) Whoever brought her to this world may have saved her life, but they did so by manipulating her, and so she is preparing to go to war with them. It will be the most dangerous war she has ever fought, as she will be opposing one of the greatest powers of the universe.

          For only Love could be so cruel.

          Medea -- PL 11

          Abilities: STR -1 | STA 2 | AGL 1 | DEX 1 | FGT 5 | INT 2 | AWE 4 | PRE 7

          Immortal: Immunity 3 (Aging, Disease, Poison) - 3 points
          Sorcerous Aegis: Sustained Impervious Protection 11 - 26 points
          Sorcery: Array (67 points)
          • Curse of Circe: Perception Ranged Affliction 11 (Resisted and Overcome by Will; Fatigued, Stunned, Transformed [into beasts]), Quirk (not against a target wearing moly) - 1 point
          • Hecate’s Crushing Will: Perception Ranged Damage 11, Alternate Resistance (Will), Quirk (not against a target wearing moly) - 1 point
          • Hecate’s Puppet: Perception Ranged Cumulative Affliction 11 (Resisted and Overcome by Will; Entranced, Compelled,
            Controlled). Quirk (not against a target wearing moly) - 1 point
          • Hermean Stride: Accurate Teleport 18 (1000 miles), Increased Mass 5 (1,600 lbs.) - 1 point
          • Mystic Blast: Ranged Multiattack Damage 13, Accurate 4, Variable Descriptor 2 (any magical damage effect), Quirk (not against a target wearing moly) - 1 point
          • Necromancy: Summon Ghosts 6, Broad Type, Continuous, Mental Link, Multiple Minions 3 (8 ghosts) - 67 points
          • Shadow of Life: Summon Animated Object 11, Broad Type - 1 point
          • Sorcerous Scrying: Remote Sensing (Visual and Auditory) 22 (16000 miles), Concentration, Dimensional (mythic) - 1 point

          Accurate Attack, Attractive, Defensive Attack, Diehard, Equipment 3 (Sanctum Sanctorum headquarters), Fascinate (Deception), Languages 5 (English and up to 11 others, Ancient Greek native), Ritualist, Taunt, Trance.

          Deception 10 (+17), Expertise: History 10 (+12), Expertise: Magic 16 (+18), Insight 8 (+12), Intimidation 8 (+15), Perception 8 (+12), Persuasion 8 (+15), Sleight of Hand 10 (+11), Stealth 8 (+9), Treatment 8 (+10).

          Initiative +1
          Unarmed +5 (Close Damage -1)
          Curse of Circe -- (Perception Range Will 11)
          Hecate's Crushing Will -- (Perception Range Damage 11, Resisted by Will)
          Hecate's Puppet -- (Perception Range Will 11)
          Mystic Blast +9 (Ranged Multiattack Damage 13)

          Dodge 9, Parry 7, Fortitude 7, Toughness 13/2, Will 14.

          Totals: Abilities 42 + Powers 99 + Advantages 16 + Skills 47 + Defenses 26 = 230 points

          Power--Motivation. Obligation (must plant moly once a week). Power Loss (must speak and gesture to use Sorcery or Sorcerous Aegis). Unforgiving (not as much as the other one was, but crossing her is a Very Bad Idea.)
          Last edited by Davies; 6th November 2019, 11:39 PM.
          Check out my new super hero/science fiction novel, [url=]Unbelievable: A Tale of the Exotica Chronicles[/url].


          • Trouble

            There are two distinct types of mad scientists. There is the classic example of the fellow "rejected by those fools at the institute", driven by feelings of insecurity and/or jealousy. And there is the "unaware of the consequences of their actions", driven primarily by arrogance and/or willful blindness. Rarely, if ever, do the twain meet. One time they did was in the person of Dr. Andreas Fontana. He was, by all accounts, a pleasant and genial individual, a bit boringly focused on his work. Of course, that was the impression of those unaware of precisely what that work entailed -- experimentation on human beings. It must be understood, he was not sadistic, just utterly lacking in compassion or mercy for any of his subjects. It was all just a job to him.

            Of course, even the most professional of individuals have hobbies. Dr. Fontana's hobby was, typically, an extension of his work. He would take notes on new technologies and concepts that he encountered, bring them home with him, and apply them to his personal research subject -- a nameless girl he'd acquired somewhere. When he wasn't experimenting on her, as he'd been doing since 1980, when she was around four years old, she was put in suspended animation.

            The life of this child began on September 12, 1975. Her mother was Ebony Sin, the less well-known daughter of Dr. Sin. Her father was Kent Hazzard, an American adventurer and secret agent. By the time that she was born, the relationship between her parents had ended under very acrimonious terms. It's possible that Ebony endured the pregnancy in hopes of gaining a measure of influence over her former lover, preying on his sentimental attachment to a child he'd never seen.

            She was utterly unprepared for the sentiment that she found herself feeling when the child was born. Likely as not, it was simply hormonal, rather than a true feeling animating her predator's heart. Be that as it may, she recognized it as a weakness that her own enemies could potentially use against her. So Ebony abandoned her plan to keep the child in her life. She found a childless couple in Hong Kong and had her agents contact them to offer a deal. They would raise the child in exchange for a series of substantial payments, delivered through the agencies of the Magi and so less likely to be tied to Ebony and her organization.

            Unfortunately, only the first payment was ever made. In 1979, Fa Xing-La (as she was then known) and her foster parents were caught up in one of Zeitgeist's plots, which pulled them (and many of their neighbors) out of their proper time completely. Dr. Tomorrow foiled this plot, but the child's foster parents were lost, and she ended up in the care of Fontana, who'd been employed by Zeitgeist.

            By 1987, she resembled a six-year old. It was in that year that operators from the Omega Brigade, supported by AEGIS agent Kent Hazzard, raided his laboratory. They had received reports that he did work for VIPER, and wanted to put a stop to that. Hazzard had different insturctions -- he was to find out whether Fontana would be willing to work for AEGIS. As it happened, he was, particularly as his other option was a bullet in the head. His only non-trivial requirement was that they transport the suspension module he kept in his basement to his new dwellings, so that he could continue his private research. Hazzard inquired of its contents, and Fontana cheerfully explained, in graphic detail.

            "I see," said Hazzard, and shot him dead. The official report described Fontana as "shot trying to escape." (The operators were quite happy to corroborate this story, as they'd been disgusted to find out that the guy who'd created the unholy creatures they'd fought on the way there was going to be recruited.) The self-sustaining capsule went into storage, and Hazzard did his level best to forget about it.

            In 1993, following a round of budget cuts, quite a few of the less dangerous items in AEGIS' hidden warehouses disappeared into the black market. The capsule was one of these. What with one thing and another, it was transferred between successive owners several times before any of them could examine its contents. In 1995, the most recent owners finally took the opportunity to do so.

            The girl inside was unchanged since 1985, and examination revealed exactly what Fontana had done to her. She'd been implanted with several dozen "colonies" of self-replicating nanomachines that allowed her to change the internal composition of her body -- for example, making her bones more resilient than steel -- according to her will. Combined with certain biological enhancements, she'd almost been designed to be the perfect living weapon ... which, by a happy coincidence, was exactly what her new owners wanted, as they were also the proprietors of an underground super fighting ring.

            The six-year old girl was trained in the arts of combat by some of the most unforgiving teachers on Earth, in arenas that did not allow for much in the way of mercy. Over the years, something shut off inside of her, and she stopped feeling anything -- even the joy of victory. By the time she was thirteen, and the fight club was absorbed into the Circuits Maximus, the number of her kills was approaching three figures. Her stone-faced expression (or lack therof) and taciturn behavior was oddly appealing to the audience, when contrasted with the elaborate posturing of the other fighters. Dubbed the Concrete Angel, she fought and killed and took dives, anything that she was ordered to do, without hesitation or complaint.

            Then, in 2006, Kent Hazzard came back into her life. (Neither of them was aware of their mutual history.) Observing the training sessions of the Circuits Maximus, he was impressed by her technical fighting expertise, exceptionally rare in one so young, and a bit horrified by the emptiness that he saw in her eyes. As a result, she was one of the first fighters to whom he offered his services as a trainer.

            She mutely accepted this, as she accepted everything else that happened to her. But Hazzard soon managed to elicit something that could almost pass for respect from the emotionally void fighter, after he defeated her in their first sparring session. It wasn't the defeat itself that awakened some vestige of self in her; it was what he did next. Instead of treating her defeat as a sign of personal failure on her part, he calmly explained how her technique had been insufficient to prevail, allowing her to work out how to improve it on her own. In other words, he treated her as a person, rather than a weapon, and may be the first person to ever do so.

            Soon after, they were sparring on a regular basis, and one of his other pupils remarked to him that he was making a mistake associating himself with her, because "she's trouble." Before Hazzard could rebuke his pupil, she spoke for herself: "Yes I am." In as far as anyone could recall, these were the first words that she ever spoke on her own initiative, as opposed to answering a question or a demand from someone else. Deeming this auspicious, Hazzard started to call her "Trouble".

            Then, on the eve of the Gathering, Trouble and Hazzard found themselves drawn into a conflict with a serial killer known as the Extremist, which led to Hazzard's death. Despairing, Trouble fought in the Gathering with the expectation that she was going to die. To her amazement and confusion, she not only did not meet her end, but found herself victorious and with an understanding that she would be doing a disservice to Hazzard's memory if she stopped fighting for the life he'd viewed as more important than his own.

            After her victory and escape from the Circuits Maximus, Trouble accepted the invitation to join Overpower's "Freedom League Taskforce". Her membership on the team raised perhaps the biggest stink at the Freedom League meeting where the team debuted. While none of her new colleagues were angels, none of them had anything approaching her body count. Despite this, Pseudo's insistence that she was completely sincere when she claimed that she would never voluntarily kill another sapient being, based on her willing submission to his mind probe, persuaded the League to accept her, like the others, on a probationary status. In private, Pseudo revealed to the Freedom League his belief that if she is ever responsible for the death of another sapient, she will most likely kill herself.

            In the years after that, Trouble found herself taking a variety of roles in a variety of missions. Her current long-term assignment is to monitor activity in Emerald City, posing as a fighter in the Stormfront, but she's frequently away from there on other missions. She has also developed a romantic relationship with Daedelus, in the course of training him to be a better fighter. She was saddened but not surprised when he chose to remain at the Orrery, but stunned by how happy she was when he unexpectedly returned to fight at her side during the Yellowstone Battle. Perhaps her life is worth living on its own merits, after all ...

            Trouble - PL 12

            Abilities: STR 8/5 | STA 6 | AGL 6 | DEX 6 | FGT 10 | INT 3/1 | AWE 8/4 | PRE -1

            Defensive Nanotechnology: Immunity 2 (nanotechnological effects) - 2 points
            Technomorph: Variable 9 (technological powers), Continuous, Free Action, Subtle - 91 points
            Translator: Comprehend Languages 1, Limited to Earth languages, Limited to basic phrases - 1 point

            Typical Variable Sets:
            Default: Enhanced Awareness 4; Enhanced Intellect 2; Enhanced Strength 3; Enhanced Advantages 16 (Close Attack 6, Defensive Roll 5, Eidetic Memory, Improved Critical 3 [Unarmed], Improved Initiative); Enhanced Defenses 4 (Parry 2, Dodge 2); Senses 7 (Accurate and Extended Hearing, Analytical and Extended Vision, Danger Sense, Infravision).

            Blaster: Ranged Damage 11 (Accurate 3, Extended Range, Improved Critical 3, Precise); Enhanced Defense (Dodge 4); Protection 4; Senses 7 (Accurate and Extended Hearing, Analytical and Extended Vision, Danger Sense, Infravision).

            Heavy: Enhanced Strength 7; Immunity 10 (life support); Protection 8, Impervious 12; Strength-based Damage 1.

            Martial: Strength-based Damage 1, Penetrating 3; Enhanced Agility 6; Enhanced Fighting 8; Enhanced Advantage 1 (Improved Initiative ); Impervious Toughness 6; Regeneration 5; Senses 1 (Danger Sense)

            Scout: Radio Communication 3; Morph 2 (humanoid forms); Senses 7 (Accurate and Extended Hearing, Analytical and Extended Vision, Danger Sense, Infravision); 16 points reserved for abilities useful in stealth form, such as Shrinking to appear as a small child.

            Agile Feint, All-out Attack, Assessment, Close Attack 6, Defensive Roll 5, Diehard, Eidetic Memory, Evasion, Fearless, Great Endurance, Hide in Plain Sight, Improved Critical 4 (Unarmed Strike), Improved Initiative 2, Power Attack, Skill Mastery (Insight), Takedown, Ultimate Effort (Toughness checks), Uncanny Dodge.

            Acrobatics 6 (+12), Athletics 6 (+14/+11), Expertise: Tactics 6 (+9/+7), Insight 6 (+14/+10), Intimidation 6 (+5), Perception 6 (+14/+10), Stealth 6 (+12), Technology 6 (+9/+7), Vehicles 6 (+12)

            Initiative +14/+10
            Unarmed +16 (Close Damage 8, Crit 16-20)

            Dodge 12/10, Parry 12/10, Fortitude 10, Toughness 12/6, Will 14/10

            Totals: Abilities 74 + Advantages 15 + Skills 27 + Powers 94 + Defenses 16 = 226

            Responsibility--Motivation. Relationship (Daedelus). Reputation (deadliest woman alive). Secret (Freedom League Taskforce member). Semi-Literacy.
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            • Rhiannon

              Much like one of her role models -- and occasional intimates -- Thomas Rhymer, the woman called Rhiannon has a variety of tales about her background. She was tutored in magic by her grandmother, a hidden practitioner of great power and wisdom. She is descended from the fey folk, sometimes the actual child of a Beltain ritual, sometimes a foundling whose mother is the Queen of Fairies. She is a word in a book, come to life. Many, many self-aggrandizing tales.

              The truth is that she is Ryan Wilson, the nineteen year-old daughter of an Australian office worker who migrated to the United Kingdom and an Irish traveler who didn't stick around to see his daughter born. Raised by the television, educated publicly, her life was dull and mundane until she discovered, at the age of fourteen, that she was able to change her shape for that of an animal. It's not at all clear whether this ability is magical, as she assumes. Quite possibly, she's an unwitting mutant.

              If so, then the abilities that she has gathered since then are magical. She sought out every scrap of publicly available lore, and then went delving for more. She was willing to learn from anyone who might teach her something, and was willing to do whatever it would take to get them to do so. In the process, however, she developed a reputation as an amoral and self-interested student, causing many doors to be closed to her, whether out of contempt for these traits, or because those who shared them saw no sense in encouraging a would-be rival.

              One of the few members of the UK's occult community who remained willing to help her was Aeron Gwynn, the Druid. He made a genuine effort to instill a bit of moral fiber in what knowledge he shared with Rhiannon, though he was never sure whether it was taking or whether she was just humoring him. The fact that she had the audacity to call herself by the name of a goddess pointed to the latter. On the other hand, she stopped engaging in library burglary after he tutored her.

              When she learned of Aeron's murder, she found herself unexpectedly furious, and sought out the mage Zalman in hopes of joining forces against Blackthorn. It took a few months to set up, but she played a key role in the fallen druid's capture and containment, working with Zalman and Dragoneye. In the aftermath, many doors that were formerly closed to her have opened, either out of respect for this accomplishment or fear of what she might do now.

              Rhiannon is primarily interested in gaining more magical knowledge -- not so much power, though she won't turn that down. If she were to seriously seek the position of Master Mage, as she's considered doing, it would be to gain access to the accumulated libraries of Eldrich and his predecessors. She's not a do-gooder by any stretch of the imagination, and the idea of helping someone without reward is foreign to her mindset -- but personal satisfaction, or gaining someone's good opinion, are both sometimes rewards enough for her.

              In terms of her powers, Rhiannon is right on the verge of developing her Blast Spell into a Sorcery Array, most likely adding a Sleep Affliction and a Burst Damage effect, as these are some of the most frequent power stunts. Her Wildshape is limited to extant animals that she's actually seen and studied -- just where and when she studied a giant spider is another story that changes each time she tells it -- and is much weaker than the similar abilities employed by Vanguard member Menagerie.

              Rhiannon -- PL 9

              Abilities: STR 0 | STA 2 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 2 | INT 4 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

              Blast Spell: Ranged Damage 8, Accurate 3 - 19 points
              Mystic Senses: Senses 2 (acute mystic awareness) - 2 points
              Shield Spell: Enhanced Defenses 8 (Dodge 4, Parry 4) - 8 points
              Wildshape: Variable 5, Continuous, Move Action, Limited to animal powers - 40 points

              Typical Variable Sets:
              Bear Form: Enhanced Strength 4; Growth 4; Morph 1; Protection 2; Senses 2 (acute smell, low-light vision) -- 25 points

              Hawk Form: Flight 4, Wings; Morph 1; Senses 2 (extended vision, low-light vision); Shrinking 6 -- 23 points

              Spider Form: Growth 4; Morph 1; Movement 2 (Wall-crawling 2); Protection 1; Senses 4 (acute smell, darkvision, tracking) -- 22 points

              Wolf Form: Strength-based Damage 3; Enhanced Advantage 1 (Improved Trip); Enhanced Fighting 1; Enhanced Strength 4; Morph 1; Senses 3 (acute smell, low-light vision, tracking) -- 22 points

              Defensive Roll 2, Improved Initiative, Language 2, Move-by Action, Ritualist.

              Athletics 4 (+4), Close Combat: Unarmed 8 (+10), Deception 8 (+10), Expertise: Magic 8 (+12), Expertise: Survival 4 (+8), Insight 4 (+6), Perception 6 (+8), Stealth 4 (+6).

              Initiative +6
              Unarmed +10 (Close Damage 0 or more)
              Blast Spell +8 (Ranged Damage 8)

              Dodge 11/7, Parry 11/7, Fortitude 6, Toughness 5/2, Will 11

              Totals: Abilities 32 + Powers 69 + Advantages 7 + Skills 15 + Defense 23 = 138 points

              Discovery--Motivation. Power Loss (cannot use Blast Spell or Shield Spell when unable to speak or gesture ... and can't do that while using Wildshape). Selfish and Vain.
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              • Vanessa Ashe

                2009: "I'm not going to kill you," she told the man who'd attacked her nearly two decades before. "Let me clarify that. I'm not going to kill you, now. Justice, for you, is going to be life in a tiny room, constant observation, mind-numbing labor, and waking up every day with the wonder of whether that day will be the day that I'll be coming to put you out of my misery. Just like I've spent my whole life terrified that you'd come back to finish the job with me." She activated her plasma lance right beside his head. "One day will be the day," she promised.

                And after all that, and all the work she and the Nightstalker had put into finding him, he got his ass killed in his first week in prison.

                That was the beginning of the end for Vanessa Ashe's career as the superhero Valkyrie. She found herself putting more work in at the laboratory, eventually developing a set of cybernetics to fulfill her dream of walking again without the use of her exoskeleton. The downside of them was that they were far too fragile for someone who spent a great deal of her time in combat. And so, not without mixed emotions, she retired as the Valkyrie, turning the armor and identity over to her friend and colleague Sonya Goodwin, while retaining her post as Vanguard's Deputy Director of Research and Development. When Sonya almost immediately announced that the Valkyrie was ending her affiliation with Vanguard, Vanessa was surprised, but quickly realized that this was the best way to reduce suspicions that Vanessa had ever been the Valkyrie.

                WorldTree Technologies continued to grow, though not quite as fast as Vanessa would have liked, particularly after SaneTech became one of its major competitors. She'd taken a certain measured amount of joy in being one of the first to kick Frederik Zane's first company when it was down, as she'd had the suspicion that some of its so-called designs were based on stolen work from her own company. Watching his new outfit grow into a success, especially in medical technology, was less than fun. Vanessa frequently finds herself swearing when she reads about Zane's accomplishments.

                Fortunately for her ulcer, however, she's lately been too busy for that sort of thing, with her series of very rapid promotions at Vanguard. Vanessa is very much aware that she's an entrepreneur and inventor put in the role of a diplomat and strategist, and doesn't really find her new position comfortable. Fortunately, she has a constant source of good counsel from Matron, and hopes that she's growing into the director's chair. While she might have gone along with the project to get access to resources, she's become a believer in the group's mission.

                Vanessa Ashe -- PL 8

                Abilities: STR 0 | STA 0 | AGL 1 | DEX 1 | FGT 9 | INT 8 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

                Implant Communicator:
                Senses 1 (communication link with ODIN) - 1 point

                Benefit 5 (billionaire), Connected, Eidetic Memory, Inventor, Minion 9 (ODIN), Skill Mastery (Technology).

                Expertise: Business 8 (+16), Investigation 4 (+12), Perception 8 (+10), Persuasion 6 (+8), Technology 10 (+18).

                Initiative +1
                Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 0)

                Dodge 10, Parry 9, Fortitude 3, Toughness 0, Will 6.

                Totals: Abilities 46 + Powers 1 + Advantages 17 + Skills 18 + Defense 16 = 99 points

                Responsibility--Motivation. Rivalry
                (ZANE!) Secret (former superhero). Disability (electrical damage can short out cybernetics).

                ODIN -- PL 10

                Abilities: STR -- | STA -- | AGL -- | DEX 4 | FGT -- | INT 10 | AWE 3 | PRE 1

                Computer Hacking:
                Array (20 points)
                • Signal Intercept: Remote Sensing 20 (Audio, Visual), Medium (networked surveillance feed), Move Action - 20 points
                • Signal Override: Perception Range Affliction 10 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled), Radio Communication Dependent - 1 point

                Machine: Immunity 50 (Fortitude effects, mental powers); Protection 10 - 60 points
                Wireless Transmission: Radio Communication 4, Rapid 2; Comprehend 3 (speak any language, machines); Senses 1 (communication link with Vanessa) - 28 points

                Eidetic Memory, Speed of Thought

                Expertise: Civics 6 (+16), Expertise: Current Events 6 (+16), Expertise: History 6 (+16), Expertise: Popular Culture 6 (+16), Expertise: Science 6 (+16), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+16), Technology 6 (+16)

                Initiative +10
                Computer Controlled Weaponry +4 (Ranged Damage varies)

                Dodge --, Parry --, Fortitude --, Toughness 10, Will 10

                Totals: Abilities -4 + Powers 109 + Advantages 2 + Skills 21 + Defenses 7 = 135 points
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