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Multiple Settings Novel Comics Cinematic Universe | Optimistic-Realist Superhero RP | Interest Check


One Time Luck
Hi! This is an idea known either as Metapowers or the Novel Comics Multiverse. The complete list of "primary layer" inspirations are Marvel Comics and the MCU, DC Comics, Sentinel Comics (which is actually a fictional comic book company that doubles as the setting for the Sentinels of the Multiverse TCG and the Sentinel Comics RPG), The Powerpuff Girls, the Big Hero 6 movie, Kid Cosmic and the Sonic Courage, Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Soon I Will Be Invincible, Narbonic and P.S. 238, but the "secondary layer" inspirations are divided by the time period in the setting's fictional history and the retro-futurism those periods saw in real life.

This is half an "Interest Check", half an actual signup. If you can't think of a character yet, just post that you're interested and I'll wait until you've put something together to start the RP.

Like Sentinel Comics, Novel Comics is a fictional (and extradimensional) comic book publisher who records the story of the RP in its comics. In the last 15 years they've rebooted their entire multiverse with the Novel Comics Cinematic Universe, which does have an accompanying comic book shared universe but bases the majority of its revenue on self-contained movies about singular events in the Novel Comics canon.

I spent several days fleshing out the setting to an insane degree, and MisterEightySix has spent another several days editing it. The setting now has an extensive history going back to the 19th century (earlier if you count proto-superheroes, Geniuses, various magic users and mythological entities), but - other than a few token NPC superheroes and supervillains - I've left out actual characters so that you (yes, YOU!) can populate it with characters that have backstories going back as far back as you want. Just keep in mind that this setting's immortality-induced "comic book aging" only goes back to the 1800s unless your character is a demigod or vampire or something. (Information on Ambrose, the substance that causes this phenomenon, can be found below in the description of the Brass Age, as well as in the profiles of Dr. Eternity and Desmond Bates.)

First, a word of warning: Superheroes have always been political in one way or another depending on the era, so it's okay for your characters to have political opinions and even political motivations, but if in-character banter turns into player-on-player bickering, you're going too far and I'll be leaving the response to that disruptive behavior up to the moderators. My personal views (and the views of my co-GM) lie in the middle of a lot of extremes, with some degree of liberal bias, but... let's just say there's a reason the list of antagonists in this RP includes both white supremacists like Mr. Whittier or the Preacher and misandrist self-proclaimed "feminists" like Lioness or Ashen Witch.

Aside from Laika (the Soviet space dog, who is sort of a legacy character from an earlier incarnation of Metapowers), all characters in the setting must be fictional. That means nobody can use a real historical figure (though obscure historical figures can be given lazy name changes like "Henry Dreyfuss" --> "Dreyfus Henryson"), and nobody is allowed to use a fictional character that they don't own the copyright to. While you can create characters based on people you know IRL (including self-inserts), it's probably a bad idea to have your characters live where you currently live, and giving them the names of the real people they're based on is also not allowed. On the other hand, all locations must use real names - no Gotham City or Angel Grove here.

Here's what you need to know to create a contemporary rookie superhero/supervillain without reading the full history of the NCCU (Timeline One):
1. Superheroes and military forces can travel long distances very quickly by using computers and the internet (or rather, Cyberspace and the Metaverse) as teleporters. This is to give the RP a global scale.
2. Space colonies on the Moon, Venus and Mars have existed since the 1970s. However, the world lost contact with them in December of 2008 when global financial collapse and the subsequent in-universe "Great Regression" made the world's governments completely unable to provide them with any funding or resources. The colonies are considered lost for now, but the truth is less grim and a lot more entertaining. You'll have to wait and see.
3. Spectator sports are treated very differently. See "Sports and Supers" if you intend to mention them.
4. Gods are known to exist, so the word atheist instead means people who don't believe in afterlives or astral planes.
5. The world runs on "Comic Book Time", where characters don't age to keep the stories modern. The existence of Ambrose and other methods of gaining immortality (both biological and absolute) mean that this also includes characters who otherwise have no powers.
6. The RP always takes place in the current year, even when that doesn't sync with the characters' perceived passage of time, and yes, even when some of the characters have traveled to a different time period. Technology and world events may progress faster in the story as a result.
7. You are required to read "Current Events of the NCCU: 2019-2022", which describes the present day in the setting, but don't worry, it's short.
8. Player characters who become superheroes/supervillains must have a reasonable "power level"; see levels 0 through 4 of the TV Tropes Super Weight scale, and also make sure to read how the Super Weight scale works because there's a reason "Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?" is a thing.

Finally, keep in mind that, although people in the setting have died in the past, and though there have been some very dark time periods based on either real life events or trends in fiction at the time (including the Ages of Comic Books in particular), the setting is supposed to be optimistic from the start of the RP onwards. Not every battle has to have a happy ending, but there should be no meaningless death of innocents (especially kids - I am very firm on this!) and any Big Damn Crisis War Crossover Events should end with the world being saved (and not just as a Pyrrhic victory). Obviously, as one of the GMs, I play a big part in enforcing that, but please don't try to defy it to the point that a retcon has to be made. To be fair, multiple afterlives (called astral planes) exist as the homes of the departed, at least one for each continent and one for the oceans, but these are undetectable by scientific instruments (including those made by Geniuses, with the sole exception of a few long since scrapped devices the Preacher made) and thus considered myth by most modern humans.

Characters with tragic backstories are allowed, but characters whose personality or actions can be summed up as "edgy for the sake of edgy" are not allowed, and will result in you being kicked out. That means things like:
-Teleporting behind other people's characters to kill them before they get an opportunity to respond,
-Redirecting a space laser from a big city to their own hometown because "nobody there loved me",
-Sacrificing innocent people to save their love interest without even considering trying to find another way, or
-Otherwise doing something to another person's character or a non-powered NPC which is blatantly unfair, permanently debilitating, and/or needlessly cruel.

Aside from that, all you need is their hero name, their real name (optional if you can give a reasonable explanation), an image or physical description of their secret identity, an image or physical description of their hero identity, and their backstory from shortly before they got their metapower(s) to the present day (and feel free to be as brief and/or mysterious, or as detailed, as you want). In addition, while you can't use a copyrighted character you don't own, you can create a character that is clearly based on your favorite fictional character or whatever character or historical figure has caught your imagination. As long as the resulting character complies with everything above, go wild!

If you need help thinking of a character concept that isn't just your favorite hero under another name, try inverting the details of some of that character's key traits or backstory events. See the list of "Characters Mentioned in the History of the NCCU" for examples.

Last thing: You can create up to two main characters (two heroes, or a hero and sidekick, or anything you can think of), three secondary characters (friends, their boss, a love interest... or two... ...etc.), and as many members of your main characters' Rogues Gallery (list of arch-nemeses and arch-rivals) as you can think of. However, both main characters must have backstories, and you can only control one member of their combined Rogues Galleries per story arc.

2019-Present: Connectivity War (also Zombies)
The aesthetic(s) of the current era has yet to truly be defined, although unfortunately Corporate Memphis is a strong candidate.

In 2019 a remarkably intelligent zombie virus emerged from contaminated meat at a butcher market in China. Causing a disease known as ZOVID-19 (short for Zombie Virus Disease 2019), victims brains fall into a coma and the quasi-sentient virus takes control of the body, seeking to spread itself by biting, scratching, sneezing, coughing, spitting, vomiting, leaving human waste in heavily-trafficked areas (ew), sharing needles with hard drug users (for some reason), romancing or seducing people (well, drunk people and/or people with no common sense; also, no, intercourse CANNOT be described in a backstory or during play), and in rare cases - mainly those of dying individuals in possession of organ donor cards - committing suicide.

The virus was never fully contained. A worldwide lockdown slowed the virus' spread for the next two years until it could later be vaccinated in 2021, but 6.6 million people worldwide were eaten by zombies, and 633 million have been permanently afflicted with organ damage and neuropathy following infection, even after eventually recovering from the virus' control.

As expected, superheroes and Geniuses proved critical to saving the world from the zombie plague, with heroes globally providing food via rooftops or windows to ordinary people trapped indoors by the hordes of zombies. For Geniuses and everyone else, including heroes who were either too vulnerable to the zombies or simply off-duty, the world went fully online. Everything, and I mean everything, was done in the Metaverse. While the experience proved that despite advances in VR, nobody wants to live in a world where everything smells like your house and abandoned children's playgrounds would become archaeological dig sites in 2000 years, the changes this made to the workplace were already self-evident. Before ZOVID, nobody was allowed to work at home because it supposedly couldn't be done effectively. After, it became clear the only reason people with office jobs still drove to work was because middle management realized Cyberspace would make their high-paying and mostly effortless jobs obsolete.

By late 2022, ZOVID is well under control, but the world seems teetering on the edge of all-out collapse. Rumors persist among astronomy fans that the space colonies found ways to survive, and the Martian colonies are claimed to even be building a huge warship for purposes unknown.

The world has been in tough times before. WWII, the Cyberpunk 80s, the Dark Age of Metapowers, 9/11, the Great Regression. None match the danger faced by the world in the New 20s, but then, none were brought together by the threat of a common enemy like ZOVID and King Card have done, and none have had the decades of historical experience in the role of metapowers in protecting the world. Perhaps in time, a new generation of heroes can lead the world into a brighter future.

An era of mad Geniuses, gaslamp fantasy and steam-powered tech inspired by Girl Genius and the works of Jules Verne. Also known as the Pulp Age, Gilded Age or Platinum Age (though the lattermost only retroactively), due to the creation of newspaper comics, pulp serials and penny dreadfuls containing stories based on the adventures of metapowers. Fictional counterparts to famous Geniuses, as well as adventurer archaeologists and recently-revealed cryptids of the era were often the protagonists of such works. The Gilded Age of Metapowers was a label applied to the era erroneously, equating it with the Gilded Age of the 19th century. The Platinum Age was called such from the Silver Age onwards in reference to the newspaper comics in particular.

The first Genius, Dr. Clockwork, created the current timeline (also called Timeline One) in 1809, by traveling forward in time to the year 1909, then using his knowledge of the future to change the course of history. In the original timeline, known as Timeline Zero (or as we would call it, the Novel Comics Universe), he discovered that Earth would eventually be sterilized in 1906, three years before his arrival, by the impact of an asteroid made of massive quantities of lead, mercury, arsenic, cyanide, and radioactive elements. His time travel suit kept him safe from the toxic environment, allowing him to recover or document countless steampunk and dieselpunk technologies before returning to 1809 to reverse-engineer his findings.

The first superhero, Geisha, began her career during this period, but did not become well-known in the wider world until the Golden Age. However, halfway across the world in Greece, the ancient gods Hades and Hermes, though not active as superheroes during this period, became known to the world after the discovery of the Greek Underworld hidden beneath Mount Olympus. The Greek gods had taken shelter in the Underworld after the fall of Roman polytheism, and he and Hades were the only members of their pantheon still receiving some form of worship to sustain them before the Underworld was discovered.

Perhaps most importantly, this is also when biological immortality was discovered, supplying an in-universe explanation as to why Comic Book Time is in effect. Dr. Hoover Wilson, known today as Dr. Eternity, was one of the many Geniuses who advanced the technology of the era following Dr. Clockwork's return from the future. When the ancient vampire Al-Khaled, now going by the name Desmond Bates, came to him seeking a treatment for the ravages of vampiric hunger, he not only discovered the root cause of vampirism, but also isolated Ambrose from Desmond's blood as a by-product of his research, enabling it to be synthesized in a laboratory.

Think "what if the Great Depression was so terrible because it was basically Metropolis?"

Despite the general misfortune of the era (including WWII, the Holocaust, and general Nazi superscience weapons of inhumane nature), this was an era of new beginnings. The first American metapowers, Strongman and Florida Man, began their careers during the Great Depression, soon to be followed by a number of imitators. Though many of these upstarts retired after realizing how hard being a superhero actually is, eventually there were enough of these so-named "super-heroes" that by the beginning of the Second World War, several of them, including Libertas ("The All-American Giantess") and the aforementioned Florida Man, were publicly backed by the United States government.

This is also when the first "Super-Insurance Measures" were implemented. To this day, most superheroes and superhero teams are funded by the insurance industry, who fund the construction of their headquarters and equipment. Because the individuals and groups they sponsor use the funding to thwart supervillains and avert natural disasters, the corporations, in turn, are able to ethically avoid paying out for damages that might otherwise occur from hurricanes, asteroid impacts, and giant robot gorillas.

Pre-War Fallout's general appearance is a good example of this era's aesthetic.

Known as "the 50s" despite lasting 20 years, the first half of this period saw a marked decline in superheroes. The few new metapowers that did emerge were extremely noteworthy, however, and a great number of the more permanent superheroes in America were among them. As if to make up for the decline, the latter 10 years of the period experienced a sudden surge in superheroes, which started after Best Friend (formerly Laika... yes, that Laika), considered both the first Soviet superhero and the first non-human superhero, gained her psychic powers from COSMIC RAYS! (Sorry, it's a running joke.) Some believe Laika's return to Earth was responsible for this event in some way, but so far there is little evidence to support this theory.

Because the boom in new metapowered individuals, both in America and worldwide, also produced more supervillains, the Cosmic Code was introduced in 1954. This put limits on the behavior of every metapowered individual, including (but not limited to) superheroes, Geniuses, wizards, vampires and demigods, by penalty of the combined military force of every signatory nation, which included (but again, was not limited to) every NATO nation, Japan, the USSR, and Australia. The Code didn't actually reduce supervillain activity at all, only driving it underground, but after it was instituted, the majority of less morally-grounded superheroes quickly decided to play nice (well, nicer) or retired permanently, cementing the Code's existence for several decades.

The Cosmic Code also required metapowers in signatory nations to register with their local law enforcement jurisdiction before using their metapowers. The Code allowed and encouraged the use of an alias and did not require one to give their real name (or "secret identity") or reveal their real face, but having multiple aliases (in the sense of having multiple hero names and costumes in such a way as to deceive the public) was punishable by law.

Thunderbirds and 2001: A Space Odyssey are good examples of this era's appearance.

Also known as "the 60s", this era was a somewhat turbulent one. Aside from issues seen in our world like the Cuban Missile Crisis, Counter-Culture and the Vietnam War, this is when America decided that, yes, the moon (at least, the Sea of Tranquility) was American soil. It was also when the Soviets constructed the first Orbital Hyper-Nuclear Offensive (OHNO) platform, although said acronym was coined by the American military for their take on orbital nuclear weapons, and the Soviet name for the platforms was actually a complicated string of words in Cyrillic.

Like the majority of marginalized people, many metapowers began experimenting with psychoactive substances (including cannabis, psychedelic mushrooms and LSD) in this period, resulting in the Silver Age being a lot more... silly... than the name Silver Age would imply. In fact, it was colloquially referred to as the Silly Age of Metapowers by contemporary observers.

For visualizing this era's designs, Supertrain, The Big Bus, and the original Westworld film are good examples, or the original Star Wars trilogy if you have trouble picturing that. Rollerwave is a good look at the era's aesthetic, though the dystopian aspects of the movies that inspired it (Rollerball and Death Race 2000) don't apply to the Bronze Age of Metapowers.

Known as "the 70s", this era was the beginning of meltdown-proof nuclear reactors, which in our own world are still in their planning stages as of 2022. Several designs were proposed for use in America in response to the oil crisis, including state-of-the-art power plants and even nuclear-powered cars, but these were too difficult to downscale to the size of an engine block, and a nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979, worse than the real life one, brought a lot of fear about nuclear power. As a result, only a few plants were constructed during this time, and the nuclear-powered car project was abandoned, exacerbating the oil crisis until the early 80s. Thankfully, the new reactors' reliability was confirmed in 1978: One of the plants, built the previous year, went runaway without experiencing a meltdown, largely due to its molten-salt cooling system, which relied entirely on the laws of physics instead of mechanical safety measures that could potentially malfunction.

Of course, Three Mile Island proved that, even in the NCCU, getting superpowers from radiation is a one-in-a-million scenario. This is the origin of the Nuclear Family, an African-American family living near the plant, who gained superpowers from exposure to the ionizing radiation thanks to a rare genetic quirk that none of the other survivors possessed. The Nuclear Family's existence, minority status, and endorsement by Strongman (who took a hiatus from being a superhero to undertake humanitarian efforts in ghettos across America after the success of his historic campaign to dismantle the KKK) was the final nail in the coffin for the Jim Crow laws and the triumphant roar of civil rights movements in America.

Speaking of advanced technologies, the first cybernetics prototypes were developed by Big Blue Industries (the in-universe counterpart to IBM) in the 70s, but production versions would only become available (as medical prostheses) in 1980. This technology would continue to develop at a steady rate for at least the next 50 years, but unfortunately there is little to say on the technology as it existed during this period.

Meanwhile, the Golden Age of Psionics, a field about as far removed as you can get from physics and robotics, began in American intelligence and military circles. Until the beginning of the 70s, Laika was the only psionic metapower in the world, and the USSR considered her a matter of national pride. Once the CIA discovered Lucas Walker, the first American psionic, the US military secretly kidnapped him and began studying the new form of metapower intensely, hoping to use it in the Cold War and abuse it to control their population. Fortunately, most of those recruited to study psionic individuals were troubled by the methods being employed and the intended uses, even among those who joined the program purely for the money or academic clout, and as the CIA and military employed several Geniuses in their psionic research programs, they were forced to follow the Cosmic Code once the program was revealed to the public.

In 1969, days after the completion of Apollo 11, a missile was sent from the dark side of the moon by an unknown party to strike the city of Jerusalem. The Golem, the sole Israeli government-sponsored metapower, was dispatched (or rather, it "decided") to destroy the missile using an angelic bow and arrow, but although it was able to detonate its target's TNT-loaded warhead, the physical remains of the missile crashed into a residential neighborhood of Jerusalem two minutes later with the force of a meteor shower, destroying several buildings and killing approximately 200 people. An investigation revealed the missile had been created by the long-rumored and infamous Lunar Nazis (you know, the ones that escaped to the moon just before Nazi Germany fell - those Lunar Nazis), who would be exterminated five years later in 1974 by "The Golem's Mighty Swing", a low-yield nuclear rocket created in a cooperative effort between Israel, West Germany, America and the USSR.

In 1970, inquiries discovered that the heroes and Geniuses involved in trying to stop the Nazi missile (which traveled for several days before reaching Earth) had several occasions where a viable solution was available, but would have broken the Cosmic Code. However, the one argument against removing the Code, that less morally-grounded metapowers would try to become licensed as superheroes, was well-founded. As a result, the Cosmic Code was revised in 1971.

A few new "fad" superheroes appeared in America in the Bronze Age, such as Discotech (a disco and 70's supercomputer themed gynoid heroine), Jacknife (a North American hero who used a lot of trucker slang and, unlike most heroes, didn't seem to have a home city), and The Scavenger (best described as "a Mad Max extra turned slightly edgy superhero"). The Scavenger claimed to be from the future and was trying to prevent the end of the world, and it was later found that he was from a timeline where the Cold War went hot in 1979, which was made into a separate universe as a result of him being flung back through time and triggering a butterfly effect.

Discotech self-terminated when disco died as a genre, turning out to be very thin-skinned when a teenager ridiculed her in the early 80s. (Actually, the teen's words exposed her secret identity and were downright cruel, so maybe "thin-skinned" is the wrong word.) Jacknife retired in the late 80s, both from heroism and from truck driving (his secret identity) as he was born in the 50s and had made a personal choice to not have immortality; a lifelong smoker, he passed away in 2002 from lung cancer. The Scavenger returned to his home timeline in 1980, bringing with him a team of humanitarian scientists, the backing of the main timeline's US military, and terraforming tech to restore the biosphere of his timeline. He pops by to say hi and defeat supervillains every so often.

Last, but far from least, this is when space colonies first took off. The American lunar base and the Soviet airship colonies of Venus were both constructed in the 1970s.

Works such as Blade Runner, Neuromancer, TRON and Robocop show how new buildings and technologies evolved in this era. Watchmen and Hellboy describe the lives of metapowers at the time, though Automan and Knight Rider show how metapowers took advantage of or got their powers from Cyberspace.

"The 80s" started off when a supervillain Genius known as the Preacher created a new base in Africa to avoid the Cosmic Code without having to hide. Motivated by bigotry, the Preacher created Synthetic Immunophage Nanites, a type of nanomachine designed to destroy white blood cells, which could be transmitted via blood or intercourse. This artificial plague is also colloquially called SIN for short - an apt name, considering it was created to target drug addicts, homosexuals, and other demographics that someone as stringent as the Preacher would consider "sinful".

Prototypes of the nanites were released into blood banks in Africa as trial runs, until one particular "strain" proved itself hardy enough to resist the human body's defenses. Samples of this strain were then transported to America, where it was covertly distributed to drug users in Miami and San Francisco via contaminated samples of a nanite-based liquid hallucinogen nicknamed "poke". Drug use was common among the gay community at that time, so the Preacher's acolytes spread televised propaganda to prey on people's fear and hatred of both groups, claiming that SIN was "a punishment from God to smite the sinners". When it was found that SIN had vulnerabilities which made it medically treatable and unable to infect people with cybernetic implants, the Preacher created SIN 2.0 in 1985 to patch the vulnerabilities and distributed it once more, though by that time the disease was widespread enough that people were taking precautions to prevent its spread.

Aside from the creation of medical cybernetics (meant for use by amputees), the 1980s saw the dawn of Cyberspace. The MolecuLaser (or ML) drive used special lasers to convert physical objects into digital ones and back again, allowing them to be stored on cassette tapes or floppy disks. This technology also enabled people to be "beamed" into a virtual environment, which was essentially a smaller, isolated version of what is now called Cyberspace. The "online" section of Cyberspace, which is now called the Metaverse, did not have a name at the time, and only consisted of a handful of popular nodes and a few dozen invite-only ones until the mid-1990s.

The first Virtual Reality platform was the TanaCom, released in Japan in 1983, and its counterpart, the TanaCorp Entertainment System, released in NATO nations in 1985. These systems used a built-in ML drive and special cartridges to create virtual game environments for up to two people at a time, with each player having a separate cartridge. The slots used to hold TES cartridges also featured integrated arrays of redundant Emergency Molecular Shunts, which would forcibly de-digitize both players if the console was damaged or turned off. This system proved safe enough that the only casualty to date was reported in 2014, and safety ratings improved with each successive console until the release of the Tana Skip in 2017, which made such features obsolete thanks to its revolutionary SoulScanner, Henshin and OneiroMask technologies.

ML drives can make use of Cyberspace to teleport someone from one location to another, but this uses so much bandwidth that it can cause network outages for other users. The only people who use them in this way are Geniuses (who bypassed this issue by piggybacking on network trunks used by universities), wealthy individuals with dedicated lines, and government-funded organizations such as the military, emergency services, and superheroes registered with the Cosmic Code Authority. (In the 80s, this was even more limited, as developing nations had no access to Cyberspace, and travel between NATO and Warsaw Pact nations was banned.) Put simply, if a superhero could travel long distances faster than a Concorde and was neither a Genius nor registered, it was a sure sign their secret identity was basically Bruce Wayne.

Actual superheroes in the Iron Age needed all that previous context to be described. Adjusting the Cosmic Code had beneficial effects throughout the 1970s, but once the 80s proved to favor corrupt corporations and supervillains over the average person, it had a two-fold and stagflation-like effect. The adjusted Code wasn't loose enough to allow morally-grounded superheroes and Geniuses to triumph over evil anymore, but at the same time it was loose enough that mentally-unwell or corrupt metapowered individuals could do far more damage and get away with it. The result was a problem nobody knew how to solve anymore: The paradoxical question of "Who watches the Watchmen?". This led to the 1989 revision of the Cosmic Code, as well as the various troubles faced by TanaCorp in the 90s.

Finally, space. America's lunar colonies continued to expand, and the first Martian colony was started by the USA in 1982. The Martian colony's mineral rights were sold to a Japanese corporation the following year, leading to TanaCorp's infamous "New Life in the Off-World Colonies" ads. Meanwhile, the USSR found it increasingly difficult to fund their Venusian airship colonies; after the fall of Soviet Communism, the Russian Federation would sell their Venusian airship fleet piece by piece to other countries throughout the 1990s. One airship went to every Warsaw Pact member state (Russia retained two), two went to Japan (one of which was partly owned by TanaCorp), one went to Canada, and the remaining three went to America.

Snow Crash, Hackers and - funnily enough - Batman Beyond are the primary inspirations for this period.

SIN was finally identified in the 90s, leading to the capture of the Preacher and the elimination of his propaganda agents. It took a few more years for the effect of the propaganda to fade due to lingering prejudices, but the process was sped up considerably by three revelations. First, a study proved that SIN could be transmitted via childbirth. Second, the effects of the SIN epidemic in Africa were conclusively linked to the Preacher's trial runs. Finally, news broke that SIN had spread to numerous figures of some influence, none of whom were explicitly homosexual - including several famous actors, a well-known basketball player, a US senator, and a high-ranking member of the Catholic church.

Space technology continued to improve, with the Moon, Mars and Venus colonies gradually expanding during this period, but most of the exceptionally noteworthy accomplishments occurred in the field of Cyberspace technology instead.

Back on Earth, TanaCorp released two new products. One was the Super TanaCorp Entertainment System (STES), released in Japan in 1990 and elsewhere in 1991. The STES used an updated version of the TES ML Drive, capable of storing each player in their cartridge indefinitely in the event that all Emergency Molecular Shunts failed. The other was the GameHUD, an Augmented Reality headset, which was initially released in 1989 but only saw a global release in 1990. The GameHUD was bulky, expensive, and lacked a color display, but its comparative portability and long battery life kept it popular throughout the Dark Age of Metapowers.

Shortly after releasing the STES, charges of Anti-Trust during the shelf life of the original TES were brought against TanaCorp in the US. Soon after, the mechanical failure of a construction mecha in the American Martian colony nearly ended in tragedy, with the colony's schoolchildren only saved from atmospheric decompression by the work of three Geniuses (one of which died in the rescue effort) and one incredibly bright cyborg (who also died in the rescue effort). In 1993, TanaCorp was found 100% at fault for the failure of the mecha and the insufficient reinforcement of the dome protecting the colony's school. The company lost the mineral rights for the colony, and was forced to co-develop the Holoscan Drive Add-On for the STES in cooperation with Rady Technologies, leading to a pair of infamous contract issues with Rady and Robertson Electronics.

In 1989, Dega (originally an arcade game manufacturer known as Defense Games) released the Dega Nemesis, the first standalone VR system not made by TanaSoft. Its aggressive advertising campaign and competitive software library, including Cosmix Zone - the first VR game that allowed the player to experience being a superhero - ended TanaCorp's monopoly on standalone VR Games. Later additions to the Nemesis would not be so successful: Its long-hyped Holoscan Drive Add-On was released alongside a number of games which featured increased resolution, and was mandatory to play them. Many consumers saw the whole deal as an excuse to make people buy a new piece of hardware, and the small library of high-resolution games made it difficult to justify the cost. (Wait, did I say "add-on"? I meant "add-ons" - Dega of Japan and Dega of America both released different iterations of the device, in different parts of the world, at the same time, under the same circumstance, using the same technology. This caused Dega to accidentally cannibalize its own market, and poisoned the Nemesis' reputation in its later years.

The world was finally improving after the near-dystopia of the 80s, but the public image of superheroes only got worse. From '89 to '95, the misgivings against new superheroes ranged from the mundane (the overabundance of "tacky" pouches and belts on superheroes' uniforms), to the concerning (firearm use becoming so common among superheroes that it was impossible to ensure such weapons were mere props or otherwise in compliance with the Cosmic Code), to the unacceptable (unsolved murders with clear metapowered involvement reaching an all-time high). In 1996, the signatory nations of the Cosmic Code, which now included Russia, decided that they'd had enough, and introduced a frightening new proposal: If the superhero community didn't clean up its act inside of one year, all metapowered individuals would be required to reveal their real identities and enter military service, or else be deemed criminals and arrested or killed on sight. By 1997, the vast majority of "heroes" who had signed up in the previous 7 years had either retired or "mysteriously disappeared", a trend which undercover police officers claim was the result of organized crime syndicates taking the matter into their own hands.

Finally, following the collapse of the USSR, restrictions on teleportation loosened. Direct travel between NATO members and former Warsaw Pact states became permitted, and the qualifications for superheroes to do so during emergencies became less rigorous.

Y2K Aesthetic, Gen-X Soft Club, and sci-fi contemporary to the period - such as the Jet Set Radio series, The Matrix franchise, MegaMan Battle Network, Pokémon, the original Halo, and Cubix: Robots for Everyone - define the look of this "lost decade".

Aside from TanaCorp's Voxel 64 and GameHUD Color, the first few years of this era saw the true beginning of the "VR Wars" with the release of the Dega Andromeda, and the creation and release of the Rady GameBrain from the technology originally meant for the STES Holoscan Add-On. The Voxel 64 continued to use MolecuLaser technology, while the Andromeda and GameBrain had moved on to Holoscan systems. Later, the Dega Dreamwave introduced the first OneiroMask interface (only to be discontinued despite its popularity due to Dega having financial troubles), the GameBrain 2 came with the first affordable Metaverse-ready Holodex Drive (an upgraded Holoscan Drive with the ability to design a custom Cyberspace avatar), the TanaCorp Tesseract failed to attract VR game developers, and the MicroDyne BlackBox succeeded entirely because of an exclusive killer app VR game called Dyson.

Computer use was on the rise in this era as well. In 1998, Quill Computers held the first of many press conferences, where Quill's co-founder sisters Jo Stevens and Wanda Stevens introduced the qTop 63, the first All-in-One computer terminal. It included a Holoscan Drive and the first built-in Cyberspace modem, and is well-remembered for its stylish translucent plastic shell. Quill's second-generation qTop 64, released in 2002, included a Holodex Drive and a non-sentient AI Assistant called a Navigator (who are often customized to look vaguely like superheroes), and featured a distinctive robotic swivel-arm shape which lent it the nickname of the "qLamp".

The Y2K era was generally prosperous, but two major events marked the era and its transition to the next:

On January 1, 2000 at midnight, the predicted Y2K Bug wreaked havoc on computer systems worldwide. Fortunately, banks had to keep paper backups of all digital records, the few airplanes that were affected glided to the nearest airports safely, nuclear power plants had been meltdown-proof since the early 90s, and in general, software had been upgraded to prevent the most dire predictions made. However, the bug forced a shutdown on every computer running a MicroDyne operating system. All versions of MD-SOS (MicroDyne Standard OS) and Frames (1.0, 2.0, 3.14, 95, 96 and 98) released at the time were affected, leading to worldwide Cyberspace outages that took between 12 hours and 3 days to resolve in a given region. Once the world had recovered from Y2K outages, the Metaverse bubble then burst over the period of two years, with the burst ending in 2002.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, several planes were hijacked by mysterious individuals who claimed to be working for a supervillain called Precipice. Each plane and the passengers on board were rescued by superheroes (or in one case, a Genius onboard the flight). It was assumed that the day had been saved, but that same afternoon, an unknown force hijacked global TV broadcasts for several minutes, showing computer-generated footage of a disembodied head with with blond hair and sunglasses floating in front of a colorful background. The head introduced himself as Precipice and claimed responsibility for the hijackings, but rather than gloat or make demands, he instead broadcast footage taken via concealed cameras the hijackers had been wearing. The shocking footage revealed that the individuals who had saved the planes had acted with varying degrees of unprofessional conduct, performing acts of extreme violence and directly endangering the lives of the passengers they had been trying to save. Precipice stated calmly that superheroes had now proven themselves to lack the moral fortitude to be trusted, and that his actions were a necessary evil to show the world how close it was to the edge. The broadcast ended immediately thereafter, and to this day, the person or persons who were truly behind the Precipice broadcast have never been found.

In the aftermath, the heroes who responded had their actions put under intense scrutiny. They argued that their actions were justified, given the extreme stress of the circumstances, and that, since the hijackers had attempted to roll the planes and crash them into the ground, it was a miracle that the hijackers and two pilots were the only casualties. Once the public, the metapowered community, and the US government had completed their investigations, consensus eventually sided with them, but one hero was barred from the Cosmic Code Registry in the aftermath, and three others retired shortly afterward, remarking that "Precipice was right about one thing: We need to do better, and if we can't, then we need to stop putting people's lives at risk."

See TV Tropes' article on Everything is an iPod in the Future here.

A period of overspeculation in the real-estate and loan markets occurred during this period, leading to reckless spending, even more reckless lending practices, and an entire globalized economy built on the illusion of economic growth and stability. This would ultimately lead to collapse, but until then, corporations that produced consumer goods or entertainment took everyone for a ride with cheap entertainment and prestigious but hollow brands.

Reality television was everywhere during this time: Shows like Uncharted Island, The Scholarship, and especially America's Next Top Hero made anybody who had money (or was willing to do anything to get some) into a celebrity at the low, low price of their integrity. Less scrupulous metapowers latched onto the fame for as long as they could, taking sponsorship deals from whatever company would pay them to increase the demand for new products in the eyes of impressionable teenagers. The opportunity faded when Trophy Wives of Los Angeles aired and the Kashkao family somehow got famous for being famous, but by then, the damage had already been done.

Speaking of wealth, this period also saw the first time a wealthy superhero revealed their secret identity. The armored hero Technetium came forward as Anthony Ross, CEO of Mingl Inc. (and owner of Techne Motors as of 2022) after he rescued a motorist who had collided with him while he was wearing the Technetium armor. The car being driven by the injured party was made of an advanced plastic of Chinese manufacture, but the materials had been improperly implemented in its construction and were heavily damaged by impact from the expensive and rigorously-tested alloys used in the Technetium suit, necessitating a recall and a lengthy court case. Whether Ross paid the hospital bills as a genuine act of goodwill or a means of saving face after being involved in an international incident is debatable, but it did give him a cleaner image for a few years.

During this era, teleportation via Cyberspace for superheroes was at its peak. With a seemingly booming economy and a equally booming supply of supervillains, the need for diverse and far-flung locations to have cyberportation became paramount, and the tech sector was eager to comply with constant construction of high-bandwidth lines to basically everywhere on Earth. Only the Lunar and extraplanetary colonies were out of reach.

Unfortunately for interstellar colonies, funding to space colonization actually decreased at this time. The past decade's financial investments had yielded little in advancements to space-bound technology, and many were bullish of space colonization being sustainable in the forseeable future. The crash of a NASA space shuttle and decommissioning of the others led to an era where only the Soviet knock-off of the NASA shuttle (supplied by post-Soviet Russia) was able to transport astronauts to Station Alpha (the in-universe equivalent of the ISS, but much bigger and with artificial gravity provided by centrifugal force).

The era came crashing down when the Great Regression essentially destroyed the modern economy, leaving airlines unable to buy fuel (most freight began being shipped via seaports, trucks and rail) and the world recovering from the loss of the entire banking industry. The Regression lasted for so long that it contributed to supply chain issues during the ZOVID-19 pandemic, is still ongoing as of 2022, and may end up being contiguous with the next once-a-decade financial crisis.

...the qBot, an adorable cube-shaped robot made by Quill that would sing your music collection to you. It's basically WALL-E and EVE's post-credits baby!
...the MicroDyne Zume, a tough-looking robot that would sing your music collection to you and allow you to exchange songs with other nearby Zume owners wirelessly, but failed due to Quill's superior pedigree and backlash from major record labels in the form of anti-piracy lawsuits targeted at Zume owners; aside from exchanging songs, Zume owners had to pirate digital music or rip music holoscans to obtain music, while qPod owners were forced to use qTunes (later renamed to Quill Music) to download songs and only qBot and qTop owners could use qTunes at the time.
...the TanaCorp DX, a line of AR goggles relying on new Henshin technology to provide the user's avatar. The original DX was the first AR device to feature two separate lenses and hand-tracking, but was a bulky, unappealing thing shaped like a fighter pilot's helmet. The DX Lite (shaped like swim goggles) and DX Eyes (shaped like traditional glasses) had much smaller and substantially more appealing designs.
...the Rady GameBrain Goggles, whose apparent success was attributed to appealing more to the teenage and adult demographics due to their apparent "street cred". The original unit was shaped like deep-sea diving goggles, the first revision like ski goggles, and by the time of the final revision took the form of expensive-looking sunglasses. However, the GBG made heavy use of a proprietary Holodex-derived offshoot technology instead of a Henshin avatar, which drained the battery in an uncomfortably short amount of time. Combined with the DX's appeal to the casual user, the GameBrain's sales slowed to a point where the DX overtook its market share.
...the qTop 65, the first qTop to ditch the translucent plastic and the first All-in-One computer to rely entirely on Holodex with no 2D display.
...the Lokia BR1-CK, a "PDA Phone" with a keyboard, blue plastic casing and a legendary battery life and durability that made it the subject of internet memes in the 2010s. Other similar Lokia products gained a comparable reputation due to Lokia's design philosophy, but never close enough to be the BR1-CK's peer.
...the BlueBerry line of business AR glasses; having one of these meant you probably made six figures a year.
...the Rady GameBrain 3, MicroDyne BlackBox 360, both using competing technologies. The former used a SoulScanner Drive, while the latter used a 4D Holodex Drive. While the BlackBox was more successful in and of itself, the SoulScanner Drive won out as a VR Drive while the 4D Holodex has been consigned to history's dustbin (but has also been a big influence for drive-less SoulScanner tech). ...the TanaCorp Qii, which despite looking like a strangely-designed Quill knock-off product, boasted a then-exciting control method known as a ThinCap which allowed the player to control VR games using daydreams or while asleep. Called a gimmick once the novelty wore off, it nevertheless became the basis of the modern OneiroMask technology.

See the Aesthetics Wiki's article on Frutiger Aero here.

The aesthetic made possible by "nanoglass" is best seen IRL in Windows XP through 7. The "Rococopunk" and "Biodieselpunk" looks are terms I use to describe the numerous dystopian films and novels made in the mid-2010s that were imitating The Hunger Games; I really don't like YA Dystopias, but they seem to fit the idea of what people in the 2010s thought the future would be like. Rococopunk is 18th century clothing and architecture, but with Augmented Reality eyeglasses, as well as ornate but futuristic transport vehicles, and isn't so much a literary/cinematic punk genre as it is shorthand for "evil rich people who are holding society back for their own benefit". Biodieselpunk is a mixture of Biopunk (like Gattaca) and Dieselpunk (like Dark City or Metropolis), that ranges from merely exploring the combined themes of social and genetic engineering seen in Divergent, The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games with no implications of aesthetic from either, to a full-on mix of both genres' appearance as seen in BioShock and BioShock 2. While I'm not a fan of Heroes/Heroes Reborn or My Hero Academia, and never finished reading Homestuck, they should probably be the main inspirations for superhero activity in this era.

What was the Great Regression? Well, it actually wasn't nearly as bad for the average person's wellbeing as the Great Depression, but the complete loss of banks led to a worldwide economic flatline. Governments were forced to temporarily suspend all public services to jump-start the dying economy, and even after the recovery began there were clear signs that something was amiss - for example, that the wealthy had somehow come out of the situation even wealthier, and had isolated themselves in whatever locations were both luxurious and safe from the vengeance of the impoverished masses. Corporations made massive layoffs or simply halted doing business overnight, causing the unemployment rate in the USA to rise to a staggering 34.8% in 2009 not seen since the ~54% unemployment rate of the 1930s. (For the record, the highest unemployment rate ever recorded in real life was 24.9% during the Great Depression, and the highest during the 2010s Recession was ~10%.) The situation in America was so bad that the minimum wage was slashed by half, just to ensure people could have some form of income, and income tax was temporarily suspended.

Obviously, this kind of tragedy was replicated across the developed world, and the developing world often ducked out of the global economy entirely just to avoid a return to foreigner-controlled slavery. Consumer technology, in order to fit the budget of people who could no longer afford luxuries, was exclusively produced in China and regressed in many ways to designs and features which had been obsolete since at least 2006, with VR being temporarily outright replaced by cheaper technologies like smartphones and datapads, giving the crisis its name of "The Great Regression".

"Modernist Rococo" became a popular fashion among the wealthy during the Great Regression, while Biodieselpunk was the primary construction aesthetic of non-luxury buildings in this time period. Both styles made use of nanoglass (later known as smartglass) and Navigators for computer interfaces during the worst years of the Great Regression, when Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality became unaffordable luxuries for most. Smartphones and datapads such as Quill's qTalk and qPad and their Gynoid OS competitors used nanoglass extensively. Conversely, qBots and Drone DJs fell out of use during this period, and were replaced by holograms of Navigators emitted by nanoglass devices.

Surprisingly, superheroes actually experienced the best days of the Renaissance of Metapowers around this point, thanks to selfless life-saving initiatives like the New Orleans Unofficial Post-Katrina Aid Program and the Water Elemental Aid Program. While such events were tragic and most heroes wished the incidents never happened, it did set a precedent that superheroes could be trusted to try and do the right thing when push came to shove. Sadly, these initiatives were only necessary because of a new trend among supervillains: Going into politics. The governor of Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina was a "reformed" supervillain, who refused the federal government's offer to send the National Guard so that he could take sole credit for all government aid. The contamination of the public water works in Flint, Michigan was ordered by a local "businessman" to test the viability of controlling people by restricting access to fresh water. Even the reality TV show host turned supervillain King Card announced that he planned to run for the office of President in the next election - an election which he somehow won, sparking unrest and conspiracy theories for years to come.

As people became more invested in the day-to-day struggles of superheroes, they soon became extremely aware of just how un-fun it was to be a superhero, or even just a civilian metapower, in a world that marginalizes them. Sure, it seems like you have everything - powers, adventure, fame - but powers don't mean acceptance, adventure can lead to tragedy, and being famous isn't the same as being valued. Your body might give out at the worst possible time, your motives are always being questioned even when people expect the world of you, you can't always know when you're making the right choice (especially when that choice means leading a double life), and worst of all, sometimes good deeds go unnoticed if the news is more interested in a grim headline or a partisan fluff piece.

In the field of computing, Quill stopped numbering its qTops but started releasing a higher-numbered qTalk each year. The Qii Mu released in 2012, featuring a pair of bulky goggles that served as a combination of SoulScanner-based Virtual Reality, Henshin-based Augmented Reality, and an Oneirotech mode for backwards compatibility with the ThinCap - with the caveat that the goggles had to be used in close range to the base module to function, despite being completely wireless. The Rady GameBrain 4 was a relatively conservative standalone VR system, with a game library mostly shared with Frames-based gaming computers and its competitor, the BlackBox One, which once and for all redefined VR Standalone systems as long-lasting budget gaming computers, rather than being considered a separate category of machine as they were before.

Cyberportation for superheroes became more in demand during the era, but without a healthy economy, supply could not match that demand. Waiting queues extended to up to 24 hours between request and arrival, dragging transfer speeds down to rates not seen since the early 90s. Cyberspace also suffered, as Navigators were phased out in favor of Search Hubs like Gander and Ping during the early days of the Regression, only for Search results to be manipulated by billionaires and supervillains (for what little difference there still was between the two). At their lowest point, these once-reliable hubs were reduced to only providing a handful of results for a given query, most of which were centralized wiki databases or social media nodes.

The biggest tragedy of the era was the loss of contact with all space colonies except those on Luna. Without Earth's former boom economy and once-benevolent governments to support them, they were presumed dead. American and Russian lunar colonies were sold outright to the People's Republic of China, which for all intents and purposes seemed to be the rising new global superpower of the era.

See the Aesthetics Wiki's article on Cyber Minimalism here.

As the economy began functioning again (for a certain definition of the word) based on a Cryptocurrency bubble and a debt-based slow-motion death spiral, the Metaverse had been reduced from a thriving universe in Cyberspace to the fractured remains of the pre-Recession Metaverse and a couple dozen social media hubs. Even tech startups tended to only have basic information on their public relations pages. In fact, about the only noteworthy new release of technology was the introduction of TanaCorp's revolutionary Tana Skip, a set of goggles featuring previously unheard-of Extended Reality (or XR) capabilities.

But if you're reading this part, you're most likely not interested in the latest gadgets. No, you're here to read about the dark parasite of hypocrisy and tribalism that burst messily from the chest of the superhero community after lingering inside it like a tapeworm for the better part of half a decade. That's a long story, but it all began when Silver Swan, a prominent member of the California branch of the Metapowers Guild, revealed to the press that Stratosphere, the branch leader, had been using his position to solicit "favors" from her and other female applicants for years under the threat of blacklisting them. This news would shake people's faith in their heroes to its very core, and sure enough, interested parties would swoop in like vultures to pick apart what remained.

Turmoil spread throughout the superhero community, with many other young heroines revealing that they too had been taken advantage of, subjected to discrimination, and blackmailed into silence by men of high standing in the Guild. As a result, there were mass resignations - with several new all-female vigilante groups composed of former Guild members springing up overnight in protest - and the California branch of the Guild was restructured entirely in the hope of promoting increased diversity among its members. While an admirable goal in theory, this push toward political correctness also resulted in Lioness, a long-time member of an all-female team called the Valkyries, being forcibly appointed to replace Stratosphere in 2015 by order of the U.S. government, a mistake that has had far-reaching consequences ever since.

Lioness is infamous among superheroes, including her own teammates, for being an uncompromising hothead with a (quite often literally) black-and-white idea of good and evil defined entirely by a person's outward physical traits instead of their actions. Without her more level-headed comrades to keep her worst tendencies in check, she quickly turned her newfound authority against her own colleagues, infamously declaring that the age of "toxic supermen" was over and embarking on a crusade against established ideals of heroism, which she saw as outdated, "white-male-centric", and unsalvageable. Others who shared her worldview steadily began ingraining themselves into Guild branches all across the United States, and those who disagreed, or even just saw their methods as misguided, kept quiet for fear of being singled out and having their careers "canceled" - which ironically was no better than being subjected to the same discrimination that had started everything in the first place.

Things came to a head when Dan Ryuzaki, better known as the Folding Man, was expelled from the Guild's Hawaiian branch amid accusations that he had used his powers to secretly take compromising photos of his female teammates during his early career. His wife and fellow hero, Hokulani Ryuzaki, also known as Tidewinder, came to his defense with proof that the photos in question were the work of the disgraced former Guild member Micron, who had been arrested years prior for blackmailing U.S. congressmen and selling state secrets. Instead of admitting to their mistake, the Guild expelled Tidewinder as well, and spread a disinformation campaign against her and her husband to compromise their ability to challenge the Guild's "enlightened" new status quo. The duo now lead an underground counter-movement dedicated to rooting out the corruption infecting the Guild, hoping to one day shatter its false veneer of inclusivity and remind the world that heroes are about more than just the labels they give themselves.

Things were no better on the other side of the aisle. "Former" supervillain King Card hired a marketing company which had illegally been storing the aggregate data of every social media network, giving him unprecedented leverage in his election campaign and even in his rise to the Republican presidential candidate over the saner (if only mildly so) alternatives. His individually-targeted, deepfake campaign ads and their false claims led to an FBI investigation of his opposing candidate (who eventually was cleared of all charges), and convinced a large number of American voters to vote for him based on his promise to "Bring Back the American Way". Vast numbers of political and corporate crimes are confirmed to have been committed by Card prior to the 2016 election as of 2022, up to and including electoral fraud, but by that point it was too late to prevent him from being sworn into office.

Card was not re-elected in 2020, but true to his supervillain aspirations, he convinced his most radical supporters to attempt a coup before his term ended. When that failed, he incapacitated the military aide carrying the Nuclear Football and tried to order a mass launch of all of America's nuclear weapons, including the Orbital Hyper-Nuclear Offensive platforms, preferring to destroy the whole world rather than give up his power and face justice. Unfortunately for him, he had forgotten which of the launch codes was genuine and attempted to try them all, only to be narrowly stopped by Florida Man with presumably only seconds left to spare. Card now sits in a supermax prison under complete isolation, awaiting execution for his many, many crimes against the United States and humanity as a whole.

Following Card's arrest, the world was hoping to breathe easy for a while with the threat of nuclear annihilation averted. But the plot threads are always moving, and in 2019, a remarkably intelligent virus emerged which would ravage the world for the next two years...

The aesthetic(s) of the current era has yet to truly be defined, although unfortunately Corporate Memphis is a strong candidate.

In 2019 a remarkably intelligent zombie virus emerged from contaminated meat at a butcher market in China. Causing a disease known as ZOVID-19 (short for Zombie Virus Disease 2019), victims brains fall into a coma and the quasi-sentient virus takes control of the body, seeking to spread itself by biting, scratching, sneezing, coughing, spitting, vomiting, leaving human waste in heavily-trafficked areas (ew), sharing needles with hard drug users (for some reason), romancing or seducing people (well, drunk people and/or people with no common sense; also, no, intercourse CANNOT be described in a backstory or during play), and in rare cases - mainly those of dying individuals in possession of organ donor cards - committing suicide.

The virus was never fully contained. A worldwide lockdown slowed the virus' spread for the next two years until it could later be vaccinated in 2021, but 6.6 million people worldwide were eaten by zombies, and 633 million have been permanently afflicted with organ damage and neuropathy following infection, even after eventually recovering from the virus' control.

As expected, superheroes and Geniuses proved critical to saving the world from the zombie plague, with heroes globally providing food via rooftops or windows to ordinary people trapped indoors by the hordes of zombies. For Geniuses and everyone else, including heroes who were either too vulnerable to the zombies or simply off-duty, the world went fully online. Everything, and I mean everything, was done in the Metaverse. While the experience proved that despite advances in VR, nobody wants to live in a world where everything smells like your house and abandoned children's playgrounds would become archaeological dig sites in 2000 years, the changes this made to the workplace were already self-evident. Before ZOVID, nobody was allowed to work at home because it supposedly couldn't be done effectively. After, it became clear the only reason people with office jobs still drove to work was because middle management realized Cyberspace would make their high-paying and mostly effortless jobs obsolete.

By late 2022, ZOVID is well under control, but the world seems teetering on the edge of all-out collapse. Rumors persist among astronomy fans that the space colonies found ways to survive, and the Martian colonies are claimed to even be building a huge warship for purposes unknown.

The world has been in tough times before. WWII, the Cyberpunk 80s, the Dark Age of Metapowers, 9/11, the Great Regression. None match the danger faced by the world in the New 20s, but then, none were brought together by the threat of a common enemy like ZOVID and King Card have done, and none have had the decades of historical experience in the role of metapowers in protecting the world. Perhaps in time, a new generation of heroes can lead the world into a brighter future.

The existence of metapowers throws a real wrench into the gears of organized sports from the beginning. Due to the many, many ways a muggle can end up as a metapower, it is impossible to tell with 100% certainty that a person claiming to be a muggle is not, in fact, just hiding them. It's also not 100% possible to guarantee that someone who appears (or even claims) to be a Genius isn't just extremely intelligent (true Geniuses are capable of getting a right answer to an engineering or computing problem on the first try every time, but a muggle with greater actual intelligence could solve the same set of problems in a shorter time and/or with better results, despite making a few mistakes), and a surprising number of highly intelligent muggles later became Geniuses).

While ancient sports like the Mayan Ball Game or the Greek Olympics decided to simply allow it in order to allow gods and demigods to grace the ceremonies, and such informal sports of the Early Modern period as the Eton Wall Game (started in 1717) didn't and don't bother to worry about it, sports as a real life concept are exclusively played informally, with land occupied by dedicated stadiums, sports fields and hockey rinks instead used as superhero team headquarters, superhero training facilities or hangars for giant mecha.

The only exceptions are...
VR Sports Tournaments, which can grant all players virtual superpowers, see at the very bottom of this section for a description.
Golfing, which is, as in real life, mostly played by rich white guys as "wagers" which decide business deals.
The NAGL Metabowl, basically the Super Bowl. The North American Gridiron League is different in that it discourages (but does not discriminate against or say no to) muggles signing up for the Metabowl. Muggles who do are usually either well-armed with gadgets, a badass normal (potentially with martial arts training), both of the above, or a reckless fool. The Metabowl also does not allow individual players to sign sponsorship deals, though entire teams and the Metabowl committee for the year's tournament can and often do sponsor consumer products or services. It is held at basically the same time as the real life Super Bowl, and has been held on the exact same years.
High School/College Football exists, but started much later due to its inability to determine whether someone is a metapower. Why did it start at all? Well...

In-universe Sports Comics, including Sports Manga, are the Novel Comics Universe's equivalent to the pirate comics in Watchmen. After the release of a widely popular story in an American comic book in the 1930s, the idea of a world where professional gladiator-style sports tournaments held on a national or larger scale could exist thanks to advances in metapower-detection technology (which never came to pass) was born. By the 1950s, when it was clear metapowers would never be universally detectable, the idea came to be that all sports comics took place in "real life but without metapowers". This was part of a continuity reboot for the largest comics publisher at the time, and (as you're probably starting to suspect) somehow perfectly depicted IRL professional sports and athletes, featured in graphic novels such as...

..."The Modern Olympics", whose issues were only released on leap years - later every two years, interspaced for the Leap Year "Summer Olympics" and the new "Winter Olympics".
...The "Super Bowl I" anthology and its annual sequels that have the Roman numeral bumped up by one each year it gets published.
...The deconstructive "Tour de France" bike race comic about how even in a world that has no supertech or powers, people will find ways to cheat with whatever tech they do have.
...The "National Hockey League", a Canadian-made comic about "what if, in sports world, our country's most popular informal sport had its own Super Bowl?"
..."Basketball", a Sports Manga about a sport - created informally by a white P.E. schoolteacher to get his impoverished inner city students to actually do exercise during PhysEd - that went on to become an icon of ghetto life and black culture in-universe as a result. Rather than featuring a tournament, the comic focuses mainly on individual informal players, though it is of course mentioned that the NBA exists to be like similar sports tournaments throughout the "Sports Comic Shared Universe".
..."NASCAR: Stock Car Racing", "Formula One" and its prequel series like "Formula 2000", and "Tales from the Off-Road Rally Races" are basically the Big Three of car racing comics.
..."Tennis" is actually not a comic book at all, but the first VR game (produced in the 1970s). First advertised in sports comic books, "Tennis" was described as taking place in the Sports Comics Shared Universe and was the name of the titular sport invented in the 19th Century. Of course, this being a 1970s VR game, the backstory is only referenced in magazine ads and in the game's paper manual, rather than in-game where the only things that happen are scorekeeping and the movement of the players and the ball.

As you can guess, a lot of facts about sports IRL are just considered genre conventions in the NCCU, though there seems to be a strange fixation with exotic underwear-like clothes (for both genders, but it's oddly more common in sports comics about male sports teams, giving the whole sports comics industry some vaguely homoerotic implications). Steroids are basically "Super Serum that makes you stronger but also less of a man, so to speak". Cheerleader outfits are no more eyepopping to seasoned readers than the average fantasy bard's goofy getup, despite how clearly they emphasize "certain attributes" of women. Skin-tight swimsuits - from early shoulder-strapped suits to bikinis to speedos - and swim goggles, while originally considered slightly risque in the case of the former, became real life swimwear products in the NCCU. Even jock-straps and cups, which are never actually shown in official sports comics (though Japanese knock-off comics managed to define their actual look), are described in a way that portrays them as part of a character's protection gear as much as existing as fanservice to the reader.

Non-fanservice genre conventions include...

...Winning by one point, or even at the last second.
...A player got injured or too old and had to retire because not having super-medicine sucks.
...The old friend of a main character who went to high school with them and was on the school sports team for the comic's chosen sport, but got a career-destroying injury during a game of said sport.
...A Gridiron/American Football player who gets a Football Scholarship.
...The tragic car crash of the previous two ideas, where the Football injury means the Scholarship is nullified and the player can't go to college.
...extensive protective gear, not just those related to protecting "certain attributes" of a soft and sensitive nature, but the entire body - often so that players can crash into each other in brutal and otherwise injury-inducing fashion.
...hockey and football comics having a grim reveal that the aforementioned collisions lead to brain rot, despite all the protective gear, because "Death By A Thousand Bumps" is just as bad for the brain as the "Chunky Salsa Rule".
...baseball being a slow-burn type of game that often bores less-dedicated readers.
...somewhat hilarious thirty car pileups in NASCAR that only result in minor injuries due to the car's design.
...extremely gruesome car crashes followed by the car bursting into flames with the driver trapped inside in F1, used as a means of killing off a character for drama purposes.
...and, of course, the idea that athletes are as famous in the Sports Comics Shared Universe (and of course IRL) as superheroes are in the NCCU.
...inversely, that athletes from Sports Comics are as world-famous in the NCCU as Superman and other fictional superheroes are IRL.

Additionally, there's a single comic which ignores and does not take place in the Sports Comics Shared Universe, an urban fantasy sports comic by in-universe comic book author Kate Jenna Gatling (K.J. Gatling) called "Quidwitch Throughout the Ages". In the urban fantasy setting, superscience and superheroes don't exist, but magic secretly does and is hidden from ordinary people by an ancient, partly benevolent but partly corrupt, wizard conspiracy. That's just an excuse plot, though...

The comic is actually about teenage girls competing in a global tournament of a sport called Quidwitch, which is played by players called "witches". Players of Quidwitch must be female because only women can form bonds with and ride the magic broomsticks that are required for the sports' typical three-dimensional playing field (for some reason). Five players are assigned to each team, often leading to the players forming an acronym for the team based on the first letter of each of their names, and actual games of Quidwitch resemble WWII aerial dogfighting (complete with magical projectiles). Male magic users, or "wizards", with athletic inclinations usually play a completely different sport called Tinball of which little is shown.

Apparently, in the canon of Quidwitch, it is possible to drink a potion that swaps your gender over the course of a single minute (though the result is permanent, and the transformation process extremely painful). In fact, the ancient wizard conspiracy requires such potions to have a safety additive that prevents its effects in anyone who hasn't finished puberty (and nullifies the "it's permanent" part for that attempt so that it doesn't cause such a potion to not work later in life), as well as educating teenagers about the difference between "choice of the soul" (Gatling's "no such thing as fate" equivalent to how real gay people are born gay) and peer pressure regarding sexuality.

Wizards and witches consider sex as well as love a "choice of the soul" rather than a simple mental choice. In real life terms, Gatling's heroic characters believe "being gay, trans, asexual or even straight is like choosing your favorite Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter or what college degree to take, it defines your preferences and options going forward but there's no wrong answer" rather than "being gay is a choice made by sexual deviants, asexuals don't exist, and only straight people are virtuous". Even the villains of her works, if they care about sexuality at all, believe that people are "fated to be straight, or gay, or transgender; if that makes them miserable, it is through no fault of their own, but nothing can help them as it is and always has been their fate to suffer" - as you can imagine, the primary problems with this are believing you can determine someone's fate, whether that be out of arrogance and hubris or simply believing in pseudomagical/pseudoscientific methods of divination that have been conclusively proven to be as accurate as flipping a coin. Much like with Trolls from Homestuck IRL, fans of Quidwich took this idea of "choice of the soul" and ran with it, sometimes twisting the message that "organizations and groups shouldn't control people's private lives" into "I'm allowed to be a shitty person because there are no wrong choices".

Of course, IRL and even in the NCCU there's plenty of evidence that sexuality is determined by biological factors, not psychological choices, which Gatling is ignoring (whether for storytelling purposes or because she actually believes them). That said, aside from the good anti-authoritarianism, anti-classist/caste, and pro-skepticism-within-reason message, Gatling has a point; Biologically-determined sexuality could, hypothetically, be "cured" - for lack of a better ominously ironic term - by modifying a person's biological makeup. In that sense, being of a given sexuality really is a choice of the soul as much as a biological trait, like preferring chocolate ice cream over strawberry. Those who are currently trying to get everyone to eat strawberry ice cream when buying ice cream by penalty of torture, will someday be trying to force everyone to have their taste buds or brain modified to hate every flavor of ice cream except strawberry.

It should be noted that any post-pubescent wizard or witch who knows for certain that they're comfortable with their birth gender will drink a potion meant to transform a member of the opposite gender into their own, making their original gender permanent in an instant. Unlike changing their gender, confirming their original gender is painless due to there being no physical changes - as you can imagine, having almost your entire body from your physical attractiveness to your reproductive organs to the chromosomes in your cells replaced or translated to the opposing gender would probably be incredibly painful to bear for even a single minute.

As you can guess, this is all just to justify K.J. Gatling referencing her own newfound support for the trans community, including the idea that a born-wizard who realizes (s)he is transgender can play Quidwitch after the gender change. While this moral lesson is handled well in and of itself in her comics as described above, Gatling's public relations in the regular world aren't so spotless due to accusations ranging from "former Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist" to "racist anti-racism hypocrite" to "a lesbian who just wanted an excuse to draw girls in short skirts riding phallic objects". Knowing what we know about Gatling, instead of the limited scope afforded to characters in the NCCU, the worst-case scenario is that despite advising everyone to be skeptical enough to do basic factchecking, she could be a hypocrite who dismissed or is ignorant of the evidence pointing towards biologically-determined sexuality and honestly believes that sexuality is purely a choice. That said, that's the worst-case scenario, it doesn't mean K.J. Gatling - a fictional counterpart - is as bad as or worse than J.K. Rowling's actual shortcomings, but the idea of a supervillain who used to be a famous writer/artist threatening the world because she believes something without questioning becomes more appetizing to the plot every time the real thing says something extremist in nature.

Finally, it should be noted that sports video games and eSports are basically the same thing, except the former (called "Sports Virtual Realities") is limited to a VR system's local Cyberspace and can be paused, while the latter (just called eSports) is often played live in a dedicated node. This also means that eSports are like if real sports could only be played in VR, instead of being like IRL action strategy games such as Starcraft or League of Legends. American College Football was the first to hold eSport tournaments in the Metaverse. High School Football, while limited to Texas, also holds eSports tournaments. All equivalents to real life professional sports are held in the Metaverse, mostly inspired by Sports Comics.

A 19th Century English tinker who was struck by lightning while trying to fix the town clock. The lightning, surprisingly, didn't kill him, and in fact made him the first Genius of the Brass Age.

He technically is from an alternate timeline, but from his perspective, it'd be more accurate to say that it's everyone else who's from an alternate timeline. In 1809 of Timeline Zero, he built a suit of powered armor that doubled as a sealed environmental suit and as a time machine. To test the device, he made a maiden voyage 100 years into the future, the year 1909.

What he found was tragic. In 1906 of Timeline Zero, an asteroid made up of huge amounts of various substances - all of which are highly toxic to life on Earth - collided with the Earth. The result was a complete sterilization of the planet, with the corpses of everyone and everything that died being only slightly decomposed at most - the vast majority of lost souls were untouched by microbes, scavengers and arthropods. While crops were inedible due to contamination, they simply appeared dehydrated. The unblemished remains of marine life had created a layer of bodies on the surface of coastal waters.

Unable to save anyone or anything, Dr. Clockwork gathered newspaper articles, small technological devices, and a few cultural artifacts such as sheets of music. Then he intensely studied any piece of technology he didn't recognize and recorded his new knowledge into a journal, before returning to the year 1809. Little did he know that the timeline had already diverged due to his return.

Once he'd destroyed the time machine, he set about reproducing the technology he found, and began the Brass Age of Metapowers.

Dr. Clockwork's real name has been lost to time (actually it's Quentin Thorpe, but you don't know that), but a memorial to him in London says he died in 1887. Due to nobody remembering how or when the memorial was erected, and that nobody's ever seen him in the astral planes, it's quite possible that he lives to this very day.

Geisha is a mysterious woman in a porcelain mask and a kimono. Assumed to be a Japanese citizen from birth, the origins of the person behind the mask have never been discovered. A wild rumor is that she was awakened from a magical coma by a Samurai who found an ancient temple built by the Empire of Atlantis.

She is considered the first Superhero, as well as the one who defined the phrase "early superheroes used supervillain tactics"; Many heroes and benevolent Geniuses before the Cosmic Code had minions, secret bases, non-lethal superweapons and complicated gambits as their primary tools of influence, rather than a set of physical powers that could be used to personally prevent natural disasters or restrain/beat up supervillains. In fact, during the Brass and Golden Ages, metapowers with godlike or demigod-like abilities were called "freakshows" and considered potentially dangerous.

Her story begins in 1930, when she first appeared after convincing the villainous (but never lethal) master thief The Flying Fox to become a more Robin Hood-esque person. A few months later, the Japanese military defeated the invading Kaiju known as the Ravenous Oni. Specifically, Geisha is a very powerful Empath who was able to gain the trust of, and successfully coordinate, the troops sent to defeat the creature after said troops initially failed on their own.

Once the Empire of Japan entered WWII, she became heavily involved in the Japanese government and military... and the American government and military simultaneously, with neither side of the conflict finding out until she made them aware.

She warned the Emperor about the foolishness of attacking America just before the Pearl Harbor raid, but was ignored. It was then that she became a little more hands-on. She sent ninjas to warn and save the lives of two American soldiers named Jack and Pete, who would go on to be recruited by the NSA due to Geisha's uncharacteristic "interest" in them (she also sent them numerous communications).

Once the war was about to end and Project Trinity had been tested, she revealed a lot of her secret knowledge of both sides and convinced Japan and America to agree on a special meeting. Hiroshima was evacuated, and several members of the Military Council as well as Geisha herself observed from a safe distance as the city was destroyed by the first and only atomic bombing in world history. She told her countrymen that the Americans had one more bomb as well as the capacity to make more. Japan surrendered soon after, and were pleasantly surprised at how merciful the peace agreement was.

Geisha is still alive today, mostly involved in keeping Japan and Korea (the nation was unified in the 90s, long story) safe from the increasingly powerful Chinese government.

Her motivations have been speculated on for decades, often mistaken for sociopathic puppetmastery, but in truth it's rather simple. She's an Empath. Aside from knowing how to be charismatic (or less charitably, manipulative), she feels the emotions of everyone directly around her and by extention the people they have strong relationships with. This sense of emotions isn't simply dismissed by her mind, she truly wants to ensure everyone around her is spared from unnecessary pain, both for their sake and for her own. For if the world were to experience a truly great loss, she would be the first to grieve and the one to grieve most heavily.

Hades, Prince of the Underworld, is the Greek God who governs death and everything associated with it. He's also an adorable and cheerful little scamp who named his giant three-headed puppy "Spot" and has his minions build a theme park for the souls of the innocent and virtuous. His reputation hasn't been treated with respect, by the other Greek Gods, by the Roman people, by Christianity, and especially not by the modern world, but surprisingly he takes it all in stride.

Hades gets annoyed at being called "Pluto", but the worst he'll do is send your soul to "the Cornfield" for a day. The Cornfield, like the Underworld, is actually an astral realm, supposedly once ruled by the Aztec Goddess Chicomecōātl (who may have been Persephone in disguise, or her Aztec "countergod"), and is better known as Tlaltícpac due to being considered a part of the Earth. As an Earthlike realm with plenty of edible corn, no real dangers, and a few untouched Aztec farmer's homes scattered around, you should be okay in Tlaltícpac while Hades giggles childishly in your temporary absense.

The one thing he does take seriously, and perhaps the reason he was so feared, is the fate of evil souls. Those wretched entities who were cruel to others and selfish in their goals in life get tossed into the Tartarus, a giant bubbling cauldron filled with a stew consisting of magma and the meat off the bones of the wicked souls who will continuously provide themselves as an ingredient in the stew. Hades claims it was once a pit of primordial darkness where living shackles would bind and torture the evil beings inside, but over time it has changed forms before mysteriously settling on the cauldron and stew during the Middle Ages. The stew in question is used solely to feed Cerberus/Spot, who is a picky eater and basically won't eat anything else. Nobody else - even those that could eat liquid magma like Hermes or Hades can - will touch the stuff, due to its overwhelming aura of disgust that causes reflexive vomiting in anyone foolish enough to raise a spoonful towards their lips.

For a time during the 80s, Hades decided to try his hand at being a superhero. Most supervillains and petty crooks laughed at the concept of a child wearing a wooden crown, a tattered cape and a ragged toga telling them "stop or you'll be sorry!". The laughter quickly ceased when he snapped his fingers, and he and his foes' souls were in the Underworld, the evildoers standing in the palms of his hands at barely inches tall. He gave them an ultimatum, to go back to the mortal world and turn their lives around, or be dog chow for all the terrible things they'd done. To our knowledge, everyone chose the former and stuck with it.

Hades got bored pretty quickly of scaring mortals into being good people ("plus it was kinda mean") and decided to leave that kind of thing up to his older (or at least, older-looking) nephew...

Hermes, Divine Messenger of Messengers, is the Greek God who governs messages, communications, languages and basically anything that can be used to store or move information. Which, if you really think about it, is basically everything. Including the Metaverse. Especially the Metaverse.

He provided venture capital to MicroDyne, Quill, TanaCorp and Rady, in return for said companies signing a divine contract that says the organizations must become conduits of Hermes' divine power. in addition, many government and international initiatives that led to the present day Metaverse came about when Hermes bribed or blackmailed corrupt officials that believed something like the Metaverse would prove "bad for business" or "too liberating for the peasants" and intended to obstruct it... until the God forced them to change their plans. Hermes considers the Metaverse one of his greatest creations-by-proxy.

Oddly, he may or may not be behind the New Testament of the Bible, though he has stated publicly that he considers present-day Christianity to be a perversion of the messages found in Holy texts of the Arabian Peninsula.

Similarly, he had a cooperative relationship with Savitr, the Hindu God of "Speed" and one of the many psychopomps who formed a pact with Hades. Hermes and Savitr met each other in the Underworld while escorting virtuous souls. For centuries they were good friends, and in 1905, when both became aware that something dangerous was on the horizon for humanity, Savitr and Hermes were on a tram in Germany, discussing how to prepare the world to be saved or to save itself.

As they were talking, in ancient Hebrew to avoid evesdropping, the Jewish man across the aisle tried to listen in; while unable to fully understand the conversation, he had a burst of inspiration from the words he recognized. The man wrote down his conclusions in a series of math formulas in a notepad, and would later publish them in a scientific journal as "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".

The other kicker was that, whatever happened to Hermes and Savitr shortly after that, it led to Savitr's heroic sacrifice in 1906 to prevent the asteroid which killed the Earth in Timeline Zero from doing the same in Timeline One. Most people had stopped believing in Savitr by that point, and Gods in general were getting rarer every year. Only four people would come to Savitr's burial, Hermes (who grieved for two decades afterwards), Hades (who cried like a kid who had just lost an older brother), Shiva (the Hindu God of Death and Destruction, who of course considered Savitr a colleague, employee and friend), and the Genius who had been on the tram the previous year. The mathematician had already been smart, but it was the discovery of Special Relativity that led Hermes back to him to grant him Genius status, and it just so happened that Savitr - rather than actually being the "God of Speed" - was the personification of what we now consider "the scientific definition of energy" as seen through the eyes of ancient Hindu mythology.

Unlike his younger uncle Hades, who treats the name Pluto like he's being teased, Hermes considers his Roman name (Mercury) a badge of honor. In particular, he keeps one of the New York Central Railroad "Mercury" streamlined trains (which was the work of industrial designer Dreyfus Henryson in the Novel Comics universe) in a pocket universe, viewing the matching steam locomotive, tender and passenger cars as a work of art more worthy of the name than himself (which is saying something because he loves trains in general). He isn't particularly attached to the planet Mercury, but that might be because he tried to convince humans to name the planets after the Egyptian pantheon and still calls the sun Ra the Sky God to this day.

Aside from these hobbies, Hermes is tasked with delivering metapowers to those who reveal world-changing and life-improving discoveries to the general public. This doesn't happen as often as you'd think, thus why he has so many hobbies.

In the present day, Hermes is also known as a superhero, most notably for saving the passengers of one of the hijacked planes on 9/11, and for helping to brace the passengers of a Chinese high speed train just before an earthquake-induced derailment (which prevented the deaths of everyone on board). He currently has a strong relationship with the Shenlong, the dragon-emperors of the Chinese afterlife that represent the ability of humans to alter their landscape dramatically, and is secretly trying to influence the CCP into dismantling the Great Firewall of China.

The discovery of Ambrose, a sugar that - aside from not needing to be broken down by insulin due to being flushed out of the body after enhancing cellular processes - allows animals to repair the damaged telomeres of their DNA (and thus reverses the primary cause of aging, granting biological immortality) among a few other minor but net positive side effects, was made by Dr. Hoover Wilson in 1888.

Since then, other methods of repairing telomeres have become available, but Ambrosi-Cola served as the immortality elixer of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Its replacement is due to it requiring unending repeat doses to continue being effective. The formula was improved several times, and 2022 Ambrosi lasts 10 years - give or take a few months - compared to the "up to 2 years" (usually less than a year) of the first Ambrosi-Cola recipe.

As for the source of Ambrose, it was discovered when a vampire - Desmond Bates - came to Dr. Wilson hoping to be cured of his condition. Aside from discovering that vampires had to drink human blood due to the inability for their bodies to produce the blood protein known today as PCDH11X, he discovered that the Human Vampirogenic Arcanovirus (HVA) had evolved to cause HVA-positive individuals to produce Ambrose as a method of prolonging the lives of infectees and thus the chance of spreading infection. Being a type of arcane retrovirus, HVA rapidly causes infectees to mutate into their vampiric form, and the change is, so far, irreversible. However, the need to feed on blood can be treated thanks to the creation of genetically-engineered retroviruses, which have the beneficial effect of rewriting a vampire's altered DNA just enough to restore the ability to produce PCDH11X.

In short, he discovered the sources of vampirism and the mechanism that would eventually be used to cure its negative effects. He noted this down twice, went to the local post office and sent one copy of the notes to Cambridge (of which he was a graduate). Seconds after the letter was sent to be sorted, Dr. Wilson was approached by a postman identifying himself as "Hermes".

Hermes said that Dr. Wilson had made such an important discovery that Hoover had just been blessed with the ability to reincarnate if killed, except unlike in religious descriptions of reincarnation, his new body would rise from the old one like a phoenix from the ashes... and also congratulations on curing death. (The more important discovery had, in fact, been the cause of vampirism.) The apocryphal quote "I was wondering when humans would discover how we stay young." has been attributed to that moment.

Dr. Eternity, as he has become known, is currently on his 12th incarnation. He travels the world studying cryptids and other metapowered entities whose origins have been primarily recorded in - and shrouded by - mythology.

An ancient vampire lord who has been around since at least the Islamic Renaissance, Al-Khaled was turned after being fed upon and left for dead by a now long-dead vampire queen of Indian origin. Unlike most vampires, who were inducted to the masquerade shortly after being turned (due to infection by Human Vampirogenic Arcanovirus being essentially a one-in-fifty-thousand chance), the vampire queen was discovered mid-feeding and driven off by Al-Khaled's family.

With no contact with the bad peer influences of the masquerade, Desmond kept his human moral standards as much as the disease would allow. He primarily fed on elderly people (who he explained his situation to, and got consent from, beforehand) to prevent the "curse" from ruining the life of someone with many years ahead of them, and later on chimpanzees (when available).

He teamed up with various vampire hunters throughout history, as well as becoming a mythological figure in his own right (the "demigod of blood lovers"), but was rarely able to settle down due to his condition. One of his most painful memories is when he was chased out of a Slavic village after being discovered, his sadness due to falling deeply in love with a local woman who he would never get the chance to see again.

In the mid-19th Century he moved to London, cultivating a reputation as "Desmond Bates", a mysterious nobleman and "passionate lover", among the aristocracy. He had found that eating rare steak before feeding prevented the "curse" from infecting the "victim"; furthermore, while he didn't reveal that he was a vampire to the one night stands he picked up, he did introduce any willing women to the practice now known as "hickeys" while giving them the time of their lives.

This came to a more truly happy ending when Desmond fell in love with an English noblewoman named Elizabeth. Instead of feeding on her and disappearing in the night like he'd done with so many temporary lovers, he stayed hungry and remained by her side until morning, trying to figure out why he was feeling something he hadn't felt in a very long time. Realizing he could never live with it if he didn't confess his love to her, he explained everything, fully expecting her to be horrified and hate him.

Instead, she confessed it was mutual (plus she may or may not have had a weird blood fetish, but that's an entire other can of worms and doesn't invalidate their romantic relationship) and asked if he could turn her so they could be together forever. Desmond explained that, though he could, it would be a mostly hollow and dangerous existence. After all, he - like all vampires - only came out at sundown and in heavy clothes because the sun blistered his skin, and even with each other to rely on, they would quickly drift away from humanity unless they forced themselves to care about the people around them. Not to mention that he was nomadic by necessity to prevent anyone from realizing he didn't age.

It was then that she surprised him with a second possibility. Elizabeth introduced him to a friend of her father, Dr. Hoover Wilson, a biochemist and borderline Genius who was the cutting edge of his field. With Dr. Wilson's help, Desmond hoped to cure his vampirism.

Though the cause of vampirism was discovered by Dr. Wilson, it would remain untreatable for decades, but unexpectedly, the opposite of Desmond's intent happened. Dr. Wilson also discovered that vampirism and immortality in vampires had separate - though both symptomatic - causes, and isolated the source of immortality. Within years, Ambrose - and later Ambrosi-Cola Immortality Elixir - made Desmond no different than the average human, giving him and his bride a place in society.

Al-Khaled/Desmond Bates is neither a superhero nor a supervillain, preferring a relatively quiet life with his wife in an unknown Swiss mountain chateau, though he is about as famous as figures like Geisha or Strongman due to being the source of human immortality.

Strongman may or may not be a reincarnation or redemptive second life of the Biblical figure Samson, according to Shiva (Hindu goddess of Destruction and widow of the Hindu God of Rebirth). His verifiable origins start with the Barnaby Family Circus in the early 20th Century, where he was originally an exhibit called "The World's Strongest Boy" due to his seemingly infinite strength. As he aged from his late teens into his adult years, he took on the title "Strongman, the Human Pillar" and grew his original iconic waxed moustache.

The circus was a good influence on him. The ringmaster taught him not to discriminate against the strange or foreign, especially concerning people. The fortune teller taught him that power without responsibility is just bullying and arrogance. The midgets raised him as family, the lion tamer gave him respect and kindness towards animals, the clown troupe taught him how to laugh at himself and his mistakes. The many, many patrons of the circus included a few people who also taught him important life lessons. Even the circus owners, Mr. and Mrs. Barnaby and the other Barnaby brother ("Uncle Barnaby" as Strongman called him), taught Strongman about the difference between benevolent capitalism and predatory capitalism.

The circus disbanded during the Great Depression, as Hollywood movies began to eat into their profit margins. Strongman then went around the country as a hobo, helping the poor and learning about America's many regional cultures. It was during this time period that he initially learned about slavery of African-Americans, which he was disgusted by, but at the time considered himself powerless to stop it.

Mrs. Barnaby told him on her deathbed that - though her and her husband had been unable to raise him - she was proud of who her son had become without her direct influence or the knowledge of who his parents were.

Since then, Strongman has changed his facial hair numerous times, but has remained a paragon of humanity. His biggest success, in his own eyes, was taking down the Ku Klux Klan and providing assistance to African-American and Asian-American communities in 1946...

During the process of dealing a devastating blow to the reputation of the KKK and bigots in general, he revealed that the reason his parents and uncle hid their relation to him for so long was because his paternal grandfather was a famous (then-controversial) freedman and his paternal grandmother was a wealthy white woman in "forbidden" love with the freedman. The Barnaby family's reputation had left them ridiculed if not vilified by society, despite Grandma Barnaby having been born to relative wealth, and forced them to make their living by running the then-failing Texas Travelling Circus left to Grandma Barnaby by her father (an "undignified" source of income and the sole inheritance she ever recieved). Strongman's parents didn't wish for him to grow up with the stigma of the family name, but in the end that stigma was left an empty shell after it collided with his stellar reputation to expose the hypocrisy and cruelty of racism.

Also known as "Florida Man, the American Dionysus", Bernard was an Irish immigrant who came to the then-tiny city of Miami by trans-Atlantic crossing in the 1920s. He was a teenager at the time, but had been having vivid and surreal dreams for as long as he could remember. Once he became an adult and started drinking, he was grateful he was a happy drunk because he quickly discovered a troubling fact about himself; When less than sober, he gained superpowers that seemed to have very little rhyme or reason.

For example, his secret 'freakshow' powers were revealed to the public while he was impaired; he saw a little girl with her mother, and a tropical storm on the horizon, while walking home from the bar one afternoon. The girl was unexpectedly torn from her mothers arms by a burst of wind, to which Bernard responded by literally shadowboxing the hurricane and punching it into mist from where he stood. He then dived to catch the falling girl, successfully saved her, and promptly passed out as the mother was screaming about "devil worshippers".

He awoke tied to a cross as an angry mod waited to burn him at the stake, the girl's mother apparently convinced he'd only saved her daughter so the girl would owe her soul to the devil. Protected only by the local Judge, who was unsuccessfully trying to convince them that "we don't burn witches in America", Bernard, when questioned, admitted he'd somehow stopped the hurricane and rescued the girl, and that he didn't know how he got his abilities. It was then that another individual approached; John Davis, a well-respected churchgoer who owned Florida's biggest insurance company.

John, a die-hard believer in capitalism and a devout Christian, came to Bernard's defense in a financially-practical and theologically-accurate way. The storm he'd stopped was more than just a storm (the local newspapers had reported on it with days-old information) but a hurricane which his entire company was worried would bankrupt them. Bernard's bizarre actions had not only saved lives, but also hundreds of thousands of dollars in structual damage to buildings and countless jobs. Not to mention, the power to do what Bernard had done was - according to scripture - not something the Lord would ever allow the devil to have access to, so clearly Bernard was blessed by some divine means. The fact that he had used it for good, instead of to become a Communist overlord (which would have been considered the height of evil anywhere in America at the time) proved to the mob that his motives were morally sound.

The crowd, placated, asked why Bernard hadn't defended himself. "I’ve been drinking for years... because I want to forget that I’m a freak and no one will miss me if I die." was the response.

John proposed something to prove to Bernard and the public that that wasn't true. It would be far cheaper to equip "super-heroes" (a term coined by John Davis in-universe) with the tools needed to prevent natural disasters and human conflicts, than to pay out for the damages inflicted by natural disasters, supervillains and even ordinary wars.

The next day, the front page headline in the New York Rag was Florida Man Literally Punches Out Yankee Hurricane! The name stuck. This was how Florida Man began.

While emancipation occurred at the end of the American Civil War, slavery itself in America was not banned until 1942 (yes, even IRL!). Whenever a black person was charged with a crime, they would be forced to work in a chain gang or on a plantation (yes, even before going to court) and the slave owners would often simply ignore the results of their trial entirely, keeping the slave whether they were found guilty (which was often a result of prejudice rather than actual guilt) or proven innocent.

It was in this context that Florida Man's first and most short-lived arch-nemesis appeared. The Black Menace was an African-American man in an outfit resembling a Mexican wrestler's costume, who robbed banks and armored cars using his incredible speed and strength. While he was willing to knock out guards, often giving them concussions, he never purposefully killed anyone for then-unknown reasons (the newspapers portrayed the Black Menace as a brute and his victims surviving due to blind luck).

Florida Man tracked down and caught the Black Menace while he was escaping with millions after one particularly successful bank robbery. Catching the "supervillain" in a warehouse, Florida Man - a typical white American in 1930s Florida - was prepared for a fight to the death with a barbarian. Instead, the Black Menace immediately surrendered, dropped the bags of cash he'd been carrying, and begged "Before you kill me, please promise me one thing. If you're truly a hero, please save my family."

Surprised by the villain's actions, Florida Man hid the Black Menace, within a makeshift fort (the kind kids make out of pillows) made of shipping crates, from the police officers that arrived soon after, claiming that the Black Menace had ditched the cash and given him the slip (the bags of money were so heavy and numerous that Florida Man planned to return them himself, a decision that turned out to save the Black Menace's family). Once the police were gone, the two had a discussion to be on the same page.

The Black Menace was actually Benjamin Smith, a "negro" accused of breaking a "sundown law" (a law against a victimless crime specifically created just to allow police to arrest black people) and put to work on a tobacco plantation while awaiting trial. When the plantation owner, Mr. Whittier, found out that Benjamin had metapowers, Whittier kidnapped the entire Smith Family and threatened to kill them all if Benjamin didn't become the Black Menace and use his powers to make the plantation owner rich.

Realizing who the true villain was, Florida Man agreed to help. Benjamin enacted a gambit that resulted in the Smith family being freed from their kidnapper, and Whittier's plan exposed to the public. However, the story was not picked up by newspapers and Whittier's good reputation seemed it would remain intact.

Then evidence (false evidence, but this was a slave owner) began to appear that Whittier was the Black Menace. Rumors became "facts", and the story emerged that Mr. Whittier had put on blackface and used an experimental serum to gain superpowers, in order to rob banks without getting caught. The very idea that an icon of white supremacy would sink to the depths of a negro just to make himself richer than he already was ruined Whittier's reputation and led to his arrest. The planted evidence was so thorough (and sourced from the real events) that Whittier was convicted and sent to prison, where he was killed by a fellow prisoner with racist beliefs who felt insulted to be in prison with someone as "negro-like" as Whittier.

Florida Man Catches Plantation Owner Using Blackface to Rob Banks! was a famous headline from the era.

The Smith family returned to their normal lives, and Benjamin would later reappear in the 70s as the superhero Black Justice, who focused on saving black lives but also on apprehending black criminals and supervillains. Florida Man only revealed what really happened with the Black Menace in the 2010s, when several incidents occurred of white police officers shooting African-Americans who hadn't committed any crimes (including two infamous cases; one where a 12 year old boy was arrested - despite it being illegal to arrest minors - and beaten, and the other where a young man was suffocated to death when a police officer kneeled on the man's neck - which was filmed live by nearby caucasians who also tried to save the man but were threatened away at gunpoint by two other white police officers).

Florida Man still considers the Black Menace incident a personal turning point. Before then, he was indifferent to African-Americans at best, and believed a few stereotypes at worst. Afterwards, he radically changed his view of people, with the first public sign of this being the famous "all men are created morally equal" speech upon gaining government sponsorship.

After the Pearl Harbor raid, Florida Man was given an official government sponsorship by the US Military, making him the second government-sponsored superhero. He eventually ended the sponsorship in the 80s after the Impeachment of then-President Dick Trader, but still tries to follow American ideals to this day.

Bedlow's Oyster Island (known from the 1870s until 1956 as Bedloe's Island, and since 1956 as Liberty Island) was an important food source for the Lenape Native Americans. At some point before European contact, they or another Native American people undertook a protective ritual at low tide once a year for a very long time; oral tradition among the Lenape in-universe is that an Elder had a vision where she was told by the spirits of the land and sea that the island would be critical to saving the land in its times of greatest need.

Though these annual rituals stopped before European contact, the powerful magic remained. Even when it was turned into a British Aristocrat's summer residence. Even when it was housing for Tory refugees during the Revolutionary War. Even when the oyster bed was destroyed by land reclimation in the 1870s. Especially when Fort Wood was constructed there from 1806 to 1811.

The protective magics, finding their purpose for the first time in the Fort, began working towards their intended ends. The effect was two-fold; protect all Native Americans from cultural extinction, and keep the land free (regardless of what that land was called or who the majority of residents were).

Fort Wood itself didn't last as long as the magic within it, but it didn't matter. The magics subconsciously convinced allies of America to give the ritual's effects a new host; The Statue of Liberty. Though built out of copper, the Statue's materials were mined from the Earth, and as any arcane scholar or cryptozoologist will tell you, Giants are creatures synonymous with the Earth.

In 1933, a gorilla used for animal research at an Ivy League College was exposed to an experimental shrink ray. The ray had the exact opposite of intended effect; the gorilla grew to an enormous size and began rampaging across New England, apparently looking for something. After arriving at New York despite the military's best efforts, the gorilla started climbing the Empire State Building and swatting at Air Force biplanes flying overhead.

At that moment, the Statue of Liberty itself came to life, its copper and other manmade metal materials turning into flesh and cloth. Libertas, the All-American Giantess, had been born. She waded through the waters of New York Harbor and carefully tiptoed between cars through the streets of Manhattan, and confronted the enormous gorilla. She calmed it down, convinced it to climb off the damaged skyscraper before the building was unrecoverable, and then spoke to it in a language whose identity is unknown to this day.

As it turned out, the gorilla was female and a mother. Her child, who she hadn't realized was still normal-sized, was back at the college unharmed. Distressed by her baby being "missing", she had checked every plausible hiding space - large buildings - for her offspring and eventually spotted New York from the top of a radio tower in Conneticut.

With the huge gorilla at peace, scientists were able to return her to normal size two days later. In the meantime, the gorilla (revealed to be named Candy by her keepers because she liked taffy and chocolate) and Libertas posed for pictures and got to know the locals, who were amazed by the enormous size of both females.

Once the crisis was over, Libertas explained she would return whenever America or its allies needed her, walked back into the water and waded across the New York Harbor to Bedloe's Island, and stood back on the base where she had started. Her flesh and clothes turned back to copper and other metals, and remained so until WWII.

One would expect that anyone inside the statue, which had stairs and elevators and even a balcony on the torch, would have suffered a horrible fate during Libertas' transformation, but once she returned to her pedastol and became a statue again, those who had been inside were found fully intact and no worse for wear. They remembered touring or otherwise inhabiting the Statue of Liberty, and then suddenly being engulfed in soft and comfortable sheets and pillows before becoming impossibly tired and falling asleep. For the period in which they were missing, they claimed to have found themselves aboard a small fleet of Greek sailing vessels around an Oyster flat, in a landscape that would have been famiiar, had not the Manhattan skyline and all signs of European colonization - or indeed even Native American presence - disappeared. (The realm was eventually confirmed as the Emerald Earth, an astral plane that consists of a dreamlike Earth where the works of sentient beings never existed and technology/magic brought in and left by foreign entities disappears when the importers leave.)

Since then, Libertas has only appeared when America - or at least the New York metropolitan area - is in grave danger that she is the best candidate to protect them from.

The only being to exist in both real life and the NCCU, Laika was a mongrel from the streets of Moscow chosen to be the first animal to be sent into space. In real life, she tragically died from overheating a few hours after takeoff when the capsule's cooling system failed, and her survival was considered all but impossible in the first place (they planned to painlessly euthanize her once all the mission goals had been achieved, as there was no way for her to survive re-entry).

But this is a Silver Age superhero origin story! So, once sent up into space in an unshieled capsule, Laika was exposed to (say it with me!) COSMIC RAYS (yup!) that gave her psionic powers.

She then repaired the cooling system, manipulated the capsule's retrothrusters to cause the capsule to return to "home", and used levitation and telekinesis to survive re-entry and the capsule's plunge into the Moskva river near St. Basil's Cathedral.

A young Russian boy with his mother saw the capsule's arrival, and the appearance of a friendly dog that walked on air and spoke to humans via telepathy. Hello! I am Laika! I brought back your spaceship! her mind projected to everyone nearby.

The boy was the first to ask "Our spaceship?", to which Laika responded by turning to the river and telepathically lifting Sputnik 2 out of the water to gently place it on the ground. She then returned to the ground herself, approached the boy and his mother, and let him pet her while licking his hand and arms. Thank you! You taste like salt licks!

Of course, the USSR were quick to make the telepathic dog, their first superhero, a national hero and source of propaganda. The somewhat Orwellian-sounding name "Best Friend" came from an early propaganda film she starred in. She retained her innocence but quickly realized that the people of the USSR were being duped by a government that was exploiting them, and was a big influence on the bloodless collapse of the USSR.

Currently she is helping to defend Ukraine from Russian invasion, and has starred in several online videos funded by various world governments for the purposes of revealing the truth about the war to the Russian people. The current Premier of Russia, who initiated the war to cement his name in history, has begun a smear campaign calling Laika a traitor to her country for doing this, but this has met with little success, and support for the Russian government's actions is slowly but surely falling. Besides, who could resist that face?

Unlike in real life, where the Three Mile Island incident has caused no incidents of cancer or radiation poisoning among the general public, the in-universe Three Mile Island disaster was severe enough that people living within close range of the plant received various levels of radiation. For most this was treatable, for a few it was fatal... and then there was the Adams.

The Adams were an African-American family living fairly close to the plant. Some of their neighbours received radiation doses bad enough to give them Acute Radiation Syndrome, and by what could have been the worst stroke of bad luck in the entire disaster, the entire Adams family received enough radiation that they should have been the worst-hit cases, even compared to the nuclear plant's workers. Instead, the doctors were baffled that they had somehown shrugged off enough radiation to kill everyone in the area twice over.

The mystery thickened when every member of the Adams household started displaying metapowers of some sort, a mystery that was only solved in the 90s when it was discovered that a rare gene inherited through both parent's African ancestry (a gene that was still uncommon even among African-American and Native African individuals) made their DNA pre-disposed to develop a metapower from high radiation doses while protecting their genes from being damaged by ionizing radiation.

The family's story was picked up by the news, including TIME Magazine which ran a special issue with them on the cover as "The Nuclear Family: An Undeniable Case Against White Supremacy".

The actual individuals who were the members of the Adams household are...

Professor Molecule a.k.a Adam Adams, the father, who ended up with the power to manipulate the structure of molecules in large numbers; he can prevent someone from being poisoned, turn water into air, produce carbon nanotubes, and many other things. As a chemistry teacher at the local high school, his mastery over his ability is incredible.

Greenthumb a.k.a Eve Adams, the mother, who has the power to communicate with plants. As it turns out, large plants - anything as big as small grasses or larger, especially trees - are 100% pseudo-brain, and thus unexpectedly intelligent. She also learned from plants that mycelium (mushrooms) are even more intelligent, possibly rivalling or even exceeding a single human, but for reasons unknown Eve is unable to communicate with fungi.

Firetamer a.k.a Julie Adams, the eldest daughter, who has control over fire. She became a firewoman after graduating high school, and has saved countless lives by using her ability to stamp out fires in residential buildings and workplaces.

Aperture a.k.a Jana Adams, the youngest daughter, who can form a pair of connected portals on walls using an intuitive knowledge of African Shamanistic magic.

Rick Adams, the youngest son, who was on a school field trip during the incident. Despite this, while staying in a shelter with his family shortly after the disaster, he received a letter from a mysterious organization that, according to the letter, was apparently a secret branch of the US Navy and the source of the long time rumors of the "Men in Black". According to the letter, an experiment of unknown nature involving a supernatural artifact had shown that he would be the organization's leader when he grew up, and to prepare himself by applying himself to his school studies, as well as to politics and martial arts.

It took a while, but after ~30 years and the loss of his hair (his father also lost his hair relatively early, before even living near Three Mile Island) and one of his eyes (stabbed while defending his friends during a mugging), Rick did in fact become the leader of an intelligence operation in the US Navy called the Anomaly Detainment Corps, founded in 1947 when the US Air Force's Project Mogul - a series of high-altitude balloons used to detect Soviet nuclear tests - was exposed to the world in the infamous "Roswell UFO crash". The actual nature of the crash was mostly mundane, if cutting-edge for the time, and was given a cover story in the local newspaper in Roswell, of being a "crashed flying saucer", that continues to fuel conspiracy theories to this day. However, there was one problem... The crashed polyethylene balloon's payload, a bunch of sensors in a box, now also contained a mysterious technological artifact of unknown origin. While said entity would eventually be revealed to be a time-displaced consumer quadcopter drone from the mid-2010s (though how it ended up inside a military project from 1947 remains unsolved), many other inexplicable objects appeared over the years, and the ADC would remain dedicated to tracking, understanding and - in worst-case scenarios - containing these artifacts of unknown supernatural or extraterrestrial origin until today.

Lucas Walker was the bored teenage nephew of an Oklahoma farmer in the 1970s. One night, a glowing space rock landed in one of the farm's fields, and he approached the object to look at it. He poked it with a stick, and the rock suddenly vanished, leaving him wondering if he just imagined it.

He went back to bed, and that night he had a strange dream. In it, he was told by the rock that it was a message sent by the long-dead inhabitants of a barren but mineral-rich moon called Creludar, where a species known as Grundans discovered arcane metallurgy and created advanced technologies. Unfortunately, it was not to last.

Their protector goddess, the Space Genie, suddenly disappeared while flying over Creludar's largest city in what is known as the Flash of Death. Afterward, much of Creludar's technology and magic stopped functioning properly. What little remained of their great achievements was devoured by the planet eater known as The Chrome Googolplex, except the "GeoMail" message that Lucas recieved and its "attachment"; psionic powers called the Mooncast.

Shortly after waking up the next morning, Lucas hears voices downstairs; his aunt and uncle, and several strangers saying threatening things. He sneaks out through the side-window, peers through the kitchen window, and sees some men in black suits demanding to see Lucas. When his aunt and uncle refuse, the men grab them, blindfold them and tie them up before shoving the two into the back of a black sedan and driving away.

However, Lucas' aunt and uncle left a clue: A mysterious address somewhere in Washington, D.C.

Together with his friends - the motorhead Peter Soles, the messy-haired metalhead Charlie "Chewback" Baxter, Lucas' female cousin Lana (who has a twin sister named Lora with a much less adventurous personality), and Peter's van "Aluminum Vulcan" which functions way better than it looks (and has detailing; of a elf babe in a skimpy slave outfit and her orc captor on the left side, and of a halfling character from a fantasy novel holding a sword made of light on the right side) - they travel from Oklahoma to D.C.

At the address, they met Wong Kinobi, a retired Chinese-Japanese-American man. It turns out he knows where the men would have taken her, and the trip is extended, as long as Lucas agrees to one condition. Wong is secretly a retired superhero, but his metapower was only an enhancement to his already prodigious martial arts skills. Once Lucas' aunt and uncle were safe, Wong wanted Lucas to train under him so that the old man could pass on his extensive knowledge and skill, and then - with luck - see Lucas win an illegal metapower fighting tournament held in a supervillain's Himalayan lair once every decade. (But that's a story for another time!)

Long story short, Lucas discovers his father is the director of the CIA and a pseudo-supervillain called Chromelord who travels to planets to set in motion events that will make the Chrome Googolplex aware of an inhabited planet, and gets captured by said father. Then his friends rescue him, and they overhear from a phone conversation between Chromelord and an unknown person that the Chrome Googolplex is on-route to Earth to devour it, and for Chromelord to use his position to prevent Earth from defending itself. Lucas and his friends drive to Florida, steal a space shuttle from Cape Canaveral, enter hyperspace (which is actually less than the speed of light in the NCCU) before the US Military can shoot them down, and send a laser into the Chrome Googolplex's highly-visible but well-defended weak point using the power of the Mooncast. Roll credits.

Other events soon followed; since Chromelord wasn't dead, he decided to become an actual supervillain now that his planet eater master was gone. After capturing Lucas for the CIA, he lets the agency take care of the actual imprisonment and experiment on his son, while also trying to convince Lucas via telepathy to break free using "the Dark Side of the Mooncast" and then to "join me, and together we can rule the solar system".

Fortunately for Lucas and for the length of his backstory, this is when the experiments being done on him and a few other psionics - known as "Project MK Ultra" - were exposed to the public by the science personnel doing the experiments.

In the aftermath, Lucas and his friends went to college and had lives of their own, but are still close friends to this day. Lana became a diplomat and married Peter, while Lana's twin Lora (you forgot, didn't you?) became an actress and married Charlie. Lucas worked for NASA until the loss of contact with all the space colonies in the 2010s; he was on one of the American airship colonies of Venus when the economic crash happened and hasn't been heard from since.

The Golem was discovered in 1924, at an archaological dig site in Mandatory Palestine, by a British research team. It immediately came to life, still functioning after an unknown but lengthy period of time, and walked a short distance from the dig site before producing a sword made of light and standing guard over the site.

In the ensuing decades, many discoveries were made about it. It wasn't sentient, but it did have the ancient Hebrew word for "protect" eched into a clay tablet that - to modern eyes - was inserted into the back of its head like a video game cartridge. It wielded Angelic weapons - a sword and shield, but also a bow and arrow - that were indestructible and surprisingly powerful. It was carbon-dated to around 2000 years before it was excavated. Finally, its solid granite body regenerates; so fast, in fact, that - even though you can permanently chip pieces off of it easily - for all intents and purposes it is indestructible.

What "protect" would mean seems to be arbitrary. It has protected Jewish artifacts, and was the entity that killed the Nazi supervillain leader known as Der Eisenführer (moments before the Allied forces busted down his office door, no less; what was left of the villain had been literally mashed into a bloody slime by the Golem's stone fists). It also stopped the missile launched by the Lunar Nazis in the 1970s. On the other hand, it has protected all sorts of people and things that are foreign to Israel, including surprising examples like a school of Palestinian children and a German rocket scientist who had worked for the Nazis (said scientist would later go on to assist the American space program, incidentally).

The Golem was given to the Israeli government in 1950, since it was basically impossible to keep it in a museum or research lab once its purpose had been redirected to a new ward, and no other government wanted to take responsibility for tracking the damn thing.

The Golem remains mysterious in many ways to this day, and the fate of Der Eisenführer is still considered a cautionary tale about the Golem. Technically it's a superhero, but those who succeed in their intent to destroy/kill what the Golem is trying to protect quickly find out that it brutally avenges any lost wards, with the original need for such brutality (or even if it was necessary at all) lost to time. Being that it's a mindless magical robot that protects things without the free will to question why it acts, it's not exactly in a position to reveal the answers to our many questions.

Discotech was the first sentient, free-willed "robot" - she was actually the first "automaton", a mechanical being with a mind of its own, but that word had been co-opted by the inventors of various true robots to describe their creations back in the Brass Age, leading to both "robot" and "automaton" having muddled definitions. While in actuality she was genderless, her feminine body affirmed the idea that she was a woman, thus the word "Gynoid".

Created by TanaCorp in 1971 as DISCOS-1, she was the reason Japan was the first nation to add free-willed machines to the legal definition of personhood.

After her creator, Dr. Tomoki Tanaka, was killed by a lab assistant he discovered committing corporate espionage, she became a superhero out of a sense of responsibility; the information the lab assistant was stealing was the blueprints of DISCOS-1 herself, and she wondered if he would have lived if she had never been built.

She never gained much attention as the dancing gynoid superheroine Discotech, but she preferred it that way. As far as the world knew, she had been damaged beyond repair by the same lab assistant who killed Dr. Tanaka, thanks to faking her own death with the incomplete and mindless body of her never-finished, identical younger sister DISCOS-2.

In 1981, after saving San Francisco from the rogue "AI Mayor" prototype CITISYS, she was confronted by locals about all the damage that had been done (most people assumed she had been vandalizing CITISYS-enabled infrastructure, rather than saving people from the murderous AI controlling the devices). She explained the situation, and due to CITISYS' erratic behavior since its activation and the fact that the company which created CITISYS was founded by a supposedly reformed evil Genius that few trusted, almost everyone believed her, though it was no less of a Cassandra Truth considering what they originally assumed they had seen.

The exception was a then-teenaged Michael Mitchelson, who was a huge fanboy of the CITISYS concept and didn't want to admit it might have (at best) gone horribly wrong. Unfortunately, Michael had deduced Discotech's true identity because he did a report for his science class about her in middle school. He accused her of being a liar, revealed her identity, said she'd murdered her creator, and to top it all off said that Disco was dead and she was obsolete.

The crowd didn't even have the chance to chastise him before Discotech deleted her own mind; she was lifeless before she even hit the ground.

Michael still regrets his accusations to this day, and despite being acquitted in his trial, he honestly believed he was a murderer for years. In addition, he saw what TanaCorp became after Tomoki Tanaka's son took over...

While Kirito Tanaka had been making unethical business descisions for years when Discotech died, Michael's trial revealed that Discotech kept a paper notebook (in case her internal hard drive brain was ever damaged beyond repair) with multiple mentions of gathering evidence of Kirito's wrongdoings. However, the notebook was found in her hideout, which the San Francisco Police Department were ordered to search two hours before the officers actually arrived; normally a reasonable delay, but in this case the hideout had been ransacked by persons unknown and the evidence Discotech had apparently been collecting was conspicuously absent. With her gone, TanaCorp would become the most feared and ruthless megacorp of the 1980s, something Michael Mitchelson still feels responsible for.

Trucker. Husband. Father. Superhero. Smoker. Jacknife will go down in history as one of the most unexpectedly brilliant superheroes of all time.

Truckers aren't the first people you think of when you think "secret identity", but he managed to make it work. By alternating between hauling high-value cargo and spending a day or two in a specific city between runs, he not only became a superhero when not working but was able to keep being one even after most members of his extensive rogues gallery discovered his real name. After all, you can't kill what you can't find, and with his career lasting from 1972 to 1989, he was a plastic needle in an America-sized haystack.

Due to his transitory, nomadic lifestyle, very little is known about his actual career. That being said, no record exists anywhere in America, Canada or Mexico of Jacknife ever breaking the Cosmic Code, and he registered himself as a superhero in over 3000 municipal and regional law enforcement jurisdictions across North America.

His actual appearance was fairly standard. Born in Texas, Jack Tucker wore a trucker's cap, flannel shirt, jeans and steel-toes boots while hauling, but wore a cowboy hat, aviator shades, denim jacket, tanned leather pants and cowboy boots as Jacknife, with both identities sporting an iconic horseshoe moustache. Even his powers are often underestimated...

Jack discovered as a teenager that he had the uncanny ability to never miss when throwing knives, and even had the inexplicable capacity to decide exactly how the knife affected its target. He usually disarmed his foes by having the handle of a knife smack their hand. If they were fighting unarmed, the handle would collide with the back of their knee to knock them down. If they were male and either proved to be especially treacherous in combat (one such guy pushed his fellow minion into the line of fire) or had been sexually harassing a woman (or, in a couple cases, a very feminine-looking drag queen; Jacknife didn't discriminate), the handle of one of Jacknife's weapons would hit them in the groin as a clear message.

Jacknife only used lethal force when a foe was being outright cruel, even going so far as to not kill (merely disarm) someone who was threatening to kill an innocent bystander and to turn murderers in to the police rather than invoking the Insufficient Self Defense rule in the Cosmic Code. (The Insufficient Self Defense rule states that if a superhero is no more durable than a non-metapowered human, lethal force by a criminal can be responded to with lethal force by the superhero.) Cruelty that was worthy of being punished with dismemberment or death in his eyes was usually already a war crime, a form of torture, or a crime against humanity in the eyes of the law.

Jack Tucker retired from both his careers in 1989. He lost his wife when he was 23, and while he agreed with the general consensus that everyone was entitled to the option of staying young as long as they wanted, he felt that immortality wasn't the right choice for him personally. As a result of that and his smoking habit, he had aged to the point that he knew he had to retire. He wrote about some of his experiences as a superhero in a newspaper column in the early 90s.

As a lifelong smoker, Jack was not surprised to learn he had lung cancer in the mid-90s. When asked about smoking shortly afterwards by an elementary school class (it was career day), he had some important words for them...

"When I found out I had lung cancer, my only thought was that I was glad I'd been lucky enough to live to 44. I don't even look 44, I look 72. I honestly don't mind dyin' so early if it means I'll see Charlotte again, but then that's my whole problem. Smoking is a crutch for dumb f-cks like me who want the easy way out from facing their problems." he'd said, admitting that he felt weak and stupid (the teacher probably gave him a funny look when he dropped a precision F-strike, but that's beside the point). "Please don't think of me as a superhero. Real superheroes don't choose to keep poisonin' themselves and everyone nearby. Don't be like me, kids. You can be better than that."

Jack Tucker underwent various medical treatments in the late 90s, but to little effect; the cancer spread to multiple organs.

Jack died in 2002 with his parents, daughter and younger sister Jill by his bedside. He was buried alongside his wife Charlotte.

After his death, a completed but unpublished autobiography was discovered among his belongings alongside a letter addressed to Jill stating he wanted her to publish the autobiography once he was gone.

"Knife is a Highway: The Life of Jack Tucker" was the best-selling non-fiction book of 2004 and 2005.

The Scavenger's real name is still unknown; despite pretending to reveal his name multiple times, it was a different name each time and none of them can be traced to any real person from Timeline One. What is known is that he was a part of a biker gang called Heaven's Demons in post-apocalyptic America in Timeline Two. This can be traced to the Timeline One biker gang of the same name, but the version in Timeline Two adapted to keep order and provide legitimate peace and prosperity in the wake of WWIII, while the Timeline One version remained an organized crime syndicate focused only on making money.

The Scavenger himself was going through the ruins of a military base in the year 2000, two decades after nuclear war tore the world asunder, when he discovered a strange machine created by a pre-war Genius. He accidentally activated it, and suddenly found himself in a suspiciously familiar active military base... in the year 1971.

He escaped from the base - where the military tried but failed to capture him - found a major highway, and hitched a ride to Phoenix, Arizona. (Apparently a case of mistaken identity; he lived in a small town called Phoenix, in Illinois, as a small child just before the bombs dropped.)

After getting a job and settling down, he was able to make sense of the situation and resolved to save the world from destruction, convinced that despite his presence the world still seemed headed for the same disaster. He was also having vivid visions of particular events he came to recognize as critical to the fate of the world, aiding his quest.

While never a registered superhero, the Scavenger's actions and moral code were in line with official superheroes. The mysterious motives behind his actions at the start of each gambit would always be revealed, when the actions succeeded (or failed), as well-intentioned, and the US Military eventually stopped trying to capture him and instead opened a channel of communication to help prevent the end of the world.

The deadline, 1979, came and went, and on New Years 1980 he had one last vision... of the world, untouched by radioactive oblivion, surviving a dangerous event on New Years 2000. After that his visions stopped. He spent a couple months saying goodbye and arranging to save his own world; he revealed that, in his time saving Timeline One, he'd met the Genius who produced the time machine that sent him to Timeline One in the first place. Able to return to Timeline Two with the Genius' help, he also called in a few favors from the US Military and brought Geniuses, scientists and soldiers back with him to restore Timeline Two to more livable conditions.

As of 2022, Timeline Two is well on its way to recovery, thanks in part to the Scavenger's visions returning to warn him of dangers to his home timeline. He still makes occasional visits to Timeline One to meet up with old friends and take down a supervillain or two.

A supervillain who made a show of adhering to his theme - that of an Evangelical preacher - but was far more dangerous than he sounded.

A Norwegian Genius with American citizenship who set about to prove God exists and did find proof (but never shared it), he tried to break into (and was instantly and permanently expelled from) the astral plane and urban theopolis known as New Jerusalem (capital of the Kingdom of Heaven). Realizing that he'd pissed off the Abrahamic God (an entity created when, long ago, all the polytheistic gods did a By Your Powers Combined to save the universe from Eldritch Horrorterrors) and would never have the afterlife he idealized, he swore revenge on the entire Abrahamic divinity - Angels, demons... Joshua and Satan alike - and set about trying to change the world in such a way that no one would ever get into Heaven again ("...and once no one is going to Heaven... EVERYONE WILL BE!").

He started a TV show in the early 70s on a "spiritually-minded" TV network in the United States (ripping off another such show that was broadcast at the time) where he preached about fire and brimstone and convinced his viewers to "donate" shitloads of money. He then ended the show with one last "call to arms", claiming Jesus spoke to him and said the sinners needed to be purged from the Earth, before saying a crocodile-tear-filled goodbye and disappearing backstage.

In the late 70s, the government of Cameroon sold a significant amount of land to an unnamed caucasian man, who set about building a structure resembling a truly massive cathedral. By 1980, the structure - the (former) supervillain base known as the Altar - had been completed.

Then the Preacher began his evil plan (see the section in the setting's history on the 1980s for the details), knowing full well that Cameroon was not a signatory nation of the Cosmic Code. Without the threat of being attacked by the world's strongest militaries, he was able to create his most terrifying weapon, SIN 1.0...

The Preacher originally designed Synthetic Immunophage Nanites (known at the time as "Bioguard Killer Particulates") in 1910, when he was a teenager hoping to kill the girl who had spurned his advances and her chosen lover. Without equipment to build the tiny machines (equipment that wouldn't even be invented until years later), he filed the designs away and simply poisoned the two with an undetectable toxin he created instead.

He tried to create SIN in the 1950s, but this early version (known as "Original SIN") only infected a few people. The first was an apparently randomly-chosen man in the Belgian Congo whose case was recorded in 1959, targeted while the then-yet-to-be-named supervillain was on vacation (according to him, his family had been relatively wealthy but lost their wealth in the 1960s to his father's gambling addiction). One man in Norway, whose medical case was documented in 1966, was later said by the Preacher (who may have been lying) to have been his ex-brother-in-law, an atheist. (In-universe, atheists are people who don't believe in afterlives or astral planes, rather than not believing in Gods). Another, an American teenager whose condition was also recorded in 1966, appears to have no relation to the Preacher but was confirmed as an infectee by the Preacher's notes; the supervillain took offense to him kissing a Native American girl.

Finally, in 1981, with expensive equipment and after various unethical experiments, the Preacher created SIN 1.0, and spread it to communities in the United States that he considered "ungodly and expendable souls" (the Preacher's vengeance against the Abrahamic divinity was infamously illogically paired with a desire to prove to God that he was "worthy") in an attempt to destabilize the world. Due to the chosen transmission methods, aimed more at only killing those he considered ungodly than spreading efficiently, SIN 1.0 spread slowly enough - and in ways that were easy enough to contain - that it was treatable within two years. Additionally, cybernetics were allowing people to artificially enhance their immune system, making SIN 1.0 obsolete.

In 1985, SIN 2.0 was unleashed upon the world. Able to attack cybernetics, patched against the various SIN treatments that had become available, and able to upgrade SIN 1.0 nanomachinery to the new version, the second wave proved twice as deadly. However, it retained the same methods of transmission and many of those killed were those previously infected by SIN 1.0 (mostly drug users who continued to expose themselves to transmission vectors, rather than those who were infected through intercourse). In addition, the math says that - because SIN 2.0 did not infect 100% of SIN 1.0 survivors - the new version was less widespread than the original among the Preacher's intended targets.

The Preacher didn't realize it, but the world was secretly on to him. His minions included - unknowingly to him - dozens of covert agents, double agents, undercover cops, undercover superheroes, robot body doubles built by TanaCorp, and vampire spies planted by the Sanguine Masquerade ("evil" vampires, while manipulative, consider humans as a combination of an orchard tree and someone you take home from the bar, and didn't want to find out what would happen if a vampire got infected with SIN).

In 1992, after Cameroon finally admitted they f-cked up, the world made a collective assault on the Altar. The Preacher's minions were all dispatched, and the villain himself was captured and put on trial at Nuremburg. In 1998 he was found guilty of basically everything he was charged with, and executed.

As it turns out, his story goes on a little longer than that. The Kingdom of Heaven is the collective government of all astral planes. The Preacher was put on trial by the Supreme Court of Heaven, which judges all souls who believe in the ideals of the Abrahamic faiths. It was from stories of the Preacher's trial that a few key details about the Court and Kingdom are known...

...Joshua, the ancient prophet and whose teachings Christianity is derived from (and whose Godfather, E'l, is literally the Abrahamic God), is a man with a frizzy beard and dark skin wearing rather shabby-looking clothes, who is currently the God of Heaven and serves as the defense lawyer of every soul brought before the Court. He's kind and compassionate, but too often overlooked by Western Hemisphere Christians as "some random dude" due to not matching the Renaissance renditions of him in European artwork. Aside from that, there's some pretty wild rumors (a few of them true) about the things he got up to before he died! The Preacher didn't even give him the time of day.
...Metatron, a.k.a "If God had a Text-to-Speech device", is a computer and translation engine that allows human souls to understand what E'l is trying to say. It is typically used by Enoch, the court stenographer, to record each and every trial. The Preacher considered the use of the machine an insult to his own intelligence, believing he was "smart enough to understand God's word".
...Ha-Satan, rather than being the "fallen" angel Lucifer as many have mistakenly believed, is the angelic crown prosecutor ("the prosecutor" being the meaning of the words "ha-satan"), who looks like a man in a black suit with a red tie and a goatee. While considered an angel, Ha-Satan is technically the personification of the Wrath that E'l once held; To spare humanity from the terrifying combination of anger and divine power, E'l expelled his own wrathful tendencies by creating Ha-Satan. The result was an entity that, while often angry, instead uses that anger towards discovering and pointing out the malicious actions of every soul brought before the Court, and lets his creator decide from that info whether a soul deserves the regional variant of paradise or suffering. The Preacher went on rants about how ungodly - or conspiratorial - it was to allow "the devil" into such a divine place.
...Lucifer, the camp gay favorite angel of E'l (though most angels actually can't experience libido, including him). He once tried to lead a group of angels to debate with E'l, suspecting the God was in fact a hypocrite; upon E'l explaining himself satisfactorially but with an admission of some existential dread (apparently, being the monotheistic equivalent of Captain Planet to a bunch of globally-dispersed Pantheon-leading "Planeteers" really, really sucks), Lucifer apologized and they agreed to never speak of that day again. Today, "Lucy" prepares every soul that is put on trial in the Court of Heaven for their judgement; his "makeover studio" causes the residual self-image of a person's body to be replaced by the true shape of their soul, revealing their vices (but also their virtues) so that no amount of lying can possibly hide the defendant's sins; they can try to pass it off as a crime of identical magnitude, but they cannot lessen it, cannot divert attention away from it, and can't even make it look worse than it actually is (you'd think no one would be "stupid" enough to make themselves seem worse than they actually are under divine judgement, but self-loathing and misplaced guilt can do a number on a person's self-preservation). The Preacher used a slur against him multiple times.
...also of note, despite not being relevant, is Iblis; not only are Lucifer and Ha-Satan not the same entity as each other, they are definitely not the same as Iblis, the Djinn who tried to replace God/E'l only to become the most infamous inmate of Hel (a prison for gods and other such entities who decide to use their position maliciously) and the one actually being referred to when someone in-universe says "the Devil". Iblis always, always takes the form of whatever his target has always wanted... at a price, of course. The less said about the cruel actions Iblis has enabled during his secret escapes to Earth, the better. The Preacher didn't know it, but Iblis had appeared to him when he was a teenager to offer him a way to murder the hypotenuse of his love triangle.
...last yet anything but least, E'l - the Abrahamic God Himself - has retired from governing the mortal/muggle world but is still the Court's judge. He doesn't speak so much as spout incomprehensively complex mathematical equations which must be translated into the defendant's language by Metatron. Apparently, E'l is the personification of "Omniscience", meaning that he knows... and is... every scientific truth of the Novel Comics Universe. One such truth is simply the nature of a human in a moral vacuum; despite the phrase "deliver us from evil" (which refers to the falsehood that humans start out as sinful and remain so until taught otherwise), humans start out truly neutral, and it is usually the love of a parent (or two) that puts nearly everyone on the side of good to start with. Even those who do not recieve such love naturally yearn for it, and it takes a truly unfortunate situation for any child to never recieve that, so it can be said that while a baby is not good or evil, it does want to become good. The Preacher, like most supervillains and more than one corrupt superhero, became evil because he believed he was inherently always right, something so maliciously false that E'l momentarily considered granting Ha-Satan temporary authority to punish the Preacher as Ha-Satan saw fit.

As you can guess, this is nothing like the Evangelical teachings that the Preacher latched onto in the 1960s, but even if it was, he would have essentially earned the ire of both sides of the war for the Throne of Heaven. With things being the way they are, and the Underworld being the local afterlife for Europe (including Nuremburg), you can tell exactly where the villain went. Cerberus (see Hades above) considers the Preacher's soul the tastiest part of the Tartarus Stew.

Founder of Mingl, the first social media giant, Anthony Ross was the son of a wealthy couple (Ross Arms has provided weapons to governments worldwide since at least WWI) and created Mingl while attending an prestigeous Ivy League College. This alone is pretty controversial, not the least because Mingl was supposed to be the college's new digital yearbook.

In 2008, a new hero appeared on the scene. Technetium, the Armored Man, was a mysterious individual in a suit of powered armor with a shiny white aesthetic reminiscent of Quill's product line at the time. Armed with non-lethal weaponry like zero-point energy generators, the new hero did a pretty decent job all considered... until the accident.

Mere weeks after first appearing, Technetium prevented a head-on collision between a school bus and a semi truck, which had been carrying unstable nitroglycerin to a disposal plant when its brakes had suddenly failed. Using his zero-point energy tech, he lifted the truck harmlessly into the air, let its wheels coast to a stop, and gently set it back down. Then, he turned to wave to the kids he'd saved... and was promptly hit from behind by a man driving home from work.

If you haven't read the history of the NCCU, you probably thought Technetium was killed or injured. Quite the opposite. The Technetium armor was made of advanced alloys discovered by Ross Arms (though only Anthony Ross knew this at the time, since he built it single-handedly), while the car that collided with him was made by a new car company based out of Shenzhen (a part of the Hong Kong urban area located in mainland China). The car's frame was made of an advanced plastic, but though the plastic was approved for use in automotive parts, it was originally designed to be used for the body panelling. The manufacturer of the vehicle used it as part of a composite with aluminum when designing the frame of this particular car, in order to cut costs.

The Technetium armor had a single dent in it from the sheer pressure of the vehicle tumbling directly on top of Technetium, after which he had to lift the vehicle off himself and save the man trapped inside the mangled car. It became clear in the investigation that the vehicle model was a death trap that would have to be recalled.

Technetium's reputation wouldn't have been worse for wear, if it wasn't for the fact that he had to appear in court to provide testimony. Since it was an international court for resolving situations involving foreign corporations, and the People's Republic of China was neither an American military ally nor a signatory nation of the Cosmic Code (China used its own Code, which - among other things - forced all Chinese heroes to take orders directly from the Chinese Communist Party), Technetium was forced to use his real identity to testify.

Since the Chinese car company was shut down by the CCP (who were not amused by the international incident it caused), and the driver knew Anthony had been standing in the middle of the road, Anthony decided not to take a chance of being sued and offered to pay the driver's medical bills and even build him an exosuit to compensate for the injuries sustained in the crash. Shortly afterward, he went public with his identity, knowing that keeping Technetium a secret anymore would be futile at best.

The public loved it. For once, a rich idiot with no day job was actually doing something good with his free time and money. At least, for a few years.

Technetium was more careful around cars and trucks after that point, which was probably a good thing because saving people from issues involving cars, trucks or limited access motorways somehow became a surprisingly common occurance for the Armored Man. In 2022, fed up with the dangers posed by automobiles, Anthony Ross bought the electric car company Techne Motors and initiated a software update that caused all the company's vehicles to be self-driving. The unintended issues (or, if you believe some of his less mentally stable fans, completely intended as a "final solution" to end the numerous downsides of car-centric infrastructure) that popped up from this forced update, which happened in November of 2022, are still being felt when the RP starts.

While King Card is obviously meant to be the counterpart of... a certain individual... he isn't that person or a stand-in for them.

Born in Las Vegas in the 1950s, King's early past is one of silver spoons and cunning. By the time he was 20, he owned every casino on the strip and controlled both the mob bosses and the cops. His criminal genius was outmatched only by his narcisissm, as he began forming a brand out of his family name... Card became synonymous with luxury, though infamously not in a way that implied exclusivity or quality.

As time passed, he began making mistakes because of his egotism. He became a business mogul only because he envied titans of industry, and lost money. He played golf only because he envied famous athletes, and wasted money. He became a reality TV host only because he envied celebrities, and though he became famous, behind the scenes his "patronage" only ever led to the real talent becoming his enemy. Jealous of superheroes while simultaneously dismissing them as "weak" for having morals, he decided to become a supervillain, only to be turned in to the police by the first supervillain team he went to because they knew he didn't have any powers and that he was a treacherous bastard.

He bought his way out of the charges laid and decided those supervillains... nay, the WORLD! ...would pay for "underestimating" him. His criminal genius resurfaced, and the President Evil gambit began. (Suffice to say, he began the plan because he was envious of politicians. King had always seen power as something to take from those weaker than himself... which was everyone, in his eyes... and political power was no exception.)

He actually tried to run for POTUS several times, even before hosting The Scholarship, but it was only in 2016 - thanks to various underhanded tactics and a couple of actions that are outright illegal - that he succeeded.

Familiar crimes of President Card included eliminating taxes for the rich, blacklisting Mexican superheroes from America, and selling military and intelligence secrets to American foes, not to mention impeding various investigations into his activities (both as a private citizen and as someone holding a public office) during his time in office, but he is more than just a political strawman with a paper-thin disguise. He also tried to start a war with China by outright threatening to nuke them, hired the misandrist supervillainess Ashen Witch to sow seeds of anarchy in Colombia, and had "former" minions start wildfires in Australia, on the Pacific Coast of North America, and in Brazil. He's even suspected of being involved with the in-universe version of Brexit.

He was not re-elected in 2020, but true to his supervillain aspirations he attempted to stage a coup using his most radical supporters as insurrectionists before his term came to an end. When that failed, he stole the key to the Nuclear Football, clubbed the Secret Service Agent carrying the Nuclear Football, and tried to launch all of America's nukes, including the Orbital Hyper-Nuclear Offensive platforms, to destroy the world he couldn't own; he was narrowly stopped by Florida Man, and Card is currently in a supermax prison, awaiting execution for treason, crimes against humanity and the attempted extermination of the human race.

The heiress to the Chandler family fortune, Ashley grew up in Washington D.C. and is as much a rich white person as someone can get. Her mother was an infamous mysogynist who only considered men to be a source of money and pigs who demanded intercourse in return for said money.

Easily bored by the more traditional indulgences of wealth and power, and feeling that her mother was a coward who wouldn't fight for her views, Ashley began investigating the occult to try and gain metapowers. She succeeded after summoning Invidia (the Kaiju personification of Envy) in 2004, who granted her black magic "in return for Ashley's soul" (the actual details of having your soul enthralled are a bit more complex but that's beside the point).

Ashen Witch is now a particularly hated supervillain, most surpisingly among women and especially women with knowledge of the arcane rituals of the Wicca. Her actions have propped up the idea of witch hunts enough for anti-magician sentiment to make a comeback in some places (the Southern USA chief among them). She also was revealed as working for President Card when she tried to promote a culture of anarchism in Colombia in 2017 and 2018.

It's tough being beautiful, at least according to Silvia. Her powers manifested at an extremely young age in the form of her "angelic eyes", which have silver irises lined with tiny inscriptions in an unknown language. Anyone who directly sees them experiences sheer, overwhelming beauty, which has such a potent effect on the biochemistry of the human brain that it can cure non-clinical depression (along with temporarily treating clinical depression) and on more than one occasion has actually inspired a villain to give up crime entirely to pursue a career as an artist. Her parents, realizing what she was capable of, began making a name for her by entering her in beauty pageants from the age of six, but as Silvia got older (and realized how shallow and catty her skinnier, more buxom rivals could be), she saw more value in using her eyes to bring people joy and peace of mind than in pursuing profit.

When she was 19 years old, Silvia, now Silver Swan, joined the California branch of the Metapowers Guild. People loved her, she loved them, and everything was good... until Stratosphere decided that he loved her more than anyone else and wouldn't take no for an answer. She rejected his advances at first, but his ultimatum was clear: Be his, or get blacklisted and never work as a superhero again. Soon, she discovered that she was not the only one who had been manipulated in this way, and finally came forward with her story, starting a chain reaction that rocked the superhero community to its core. She does not approve of Lioness' methods, having seen the good that the men around her have achieved as heroes, but like Stratosphere, Lioness' ultimatum is clear: Join her, or have her career canceled and never work as a superhero again.

It takes a lot for someone to fall from grace. It takes a lot more for someone to fall from grace twice in one lifetime.

Steven Wein had it all: Good looks, money, women, charisma, money, a successful acting career... oh, and money. Can't forget that. But as the years went by, his health slowly began to worsen, and so too did his reputation in Hollywood. In a one-two punch of bad luck meeting bad decisions, his latest starring role tanked at the box office, and allegations that he had been having an affair with his married co-star soured his pristine image. If all that wasn't enough, less than a month later, he found himself in the hospital - somehow, in a world of immortals, he was dying.

The doctors told Steven that he was suffering from a rare genetic condition called quasicratia - a half-developed superpower that was wreaking havoc on his body from the inside. They suggested that he enjoy the time he had left, but Steven wasn't about to be told there was nothing that could be done. He demanded that a treatment be found, and made it clear to them in no uncertain terms that money was no object. One day, he was visited by a "specialist", who made him an offer: Volunteer to test an experimental new Genius-developed drug, tailor-made (at great monetary expense, of course) for his particular physiology and genetic quirks. If it worked, it would turn him into a superhuman. If it didn't, the injection would kill him inside of an hour. You don't have to be a Genius yourself to guess how Steven responded.

Steven took full advantage of the second chance he had been given. Now calling himself Stratosphere, he burst onto the superhero scene like a bolt of lightning, marketing himself as "The Modern-Day Zeus" with the power to alter the weather in a spherical area. (Up to what limit, you ask? A reasonable one, but don't expect him to tell.) To his credit, he really did give the whole thing an honest try, but then the sponsorships and fan mail started pouring in, and before long, he'd started falling back into his old habits. Eventually, he was made head of recruitment for the California branch of the Metapowers Guild, and his steady decline into disgrace began once more.

The word no doesn't mean a lot to a man who had always gotten whatever he wanted, and his position of authority meant that he could blacklist anyone that wouldn't let him do as he pleased, including the impressionable young heroines who would do anything for a shot at the big time. Silvia Anati, the Silver Swan, wasn't the first of the women he coerced and certainly wouldn't be the last, but she was the one that never left his mind. He thought she was the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen - then again, who didn't? - and he was determined to have her all to himself. She refused his advances, unwilling to spoil the good name she had built up for herself during her time with the Guild, and in a fit of thunderous rage, he threatened to revoke her membership. So she did what he asked... and the very next day, gave the sordid details to every single newspaper in the country.

Was that last one-night stand worth sacrificing his status, his reputation, and his integrity? Probably not, but it happened anyway. Stratosphere disappeared from the public eye shortly thereafter and remains missing to this day, but ever since taking over his position, Lioness has sworn to hunt him down and bring him to justice. Well... justice as she sees it, anyway.

Leona was born in Los Angeles under less-than-ideal circumstances. Her father, a rich white doctor, had what he thought would be a one-night stand with a black hairstylist, only for her to reveal that she was pregnant and essentially blackmail him into marriage. Though Leona lived a life of luxury growing up, her father was absent most of the time, and when he wasn't, he was a physically-abusive alcoholic. She was almost exclusively raised by her mother, who put the idea into her head that men, especially white men like her father, would always abuse even the smallest amount of power.

One night, when Leona was 15 years old, her father came home more inebriated and belligerent than usual. Her parents' arguing turned to fighting, which wasn't unheard of, but when he struck her mother across the face, Leona confronted him. At that moment, her powers manifested for the first time, giving her superhuman strength, sharp claws on her fingers, and a concussive roar than sent him flying out of a second-story window. As the paramedics took him away in an ambulance, Leona's mother told her that she had done the right thing, and that "evil done to an oppressor is no evil at all", a motto which has since gone down in infamy.

The newly-christened Lioness started her vigilante career not long afterward, a career which has made her a contentious figure due to her practice of ignoring, and sometimes actively abetting, crimes committed by women against men. A few months later, she had joined the Valkyries, and ten years after that, she had become the leader of their second generation of heroines as previous members retired. Today, she is the head of the California branch of the Metapowers Guild, attempting to rebuild the public perception of superheroes according to her own black-and-white ideas of good and evil. It's possible she believes she's taking some form of vengeance on her father by doing this. Then again, it's also possible that her father rubbed off on her more than she'd care to admit...

He'll tell you that he's one of the smartest men alive, but Dan Ryuzaki is not a Genius - if he was, he wouldn't be what he is today. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Japanese-American family, he studied at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he acquired a PhD in theoretical physics by the age of 26. He and several other former students were directly responsible for an event now referred to as "The Twist", wherein a machine they had illegally constructed in a laboratory basement, intended for the purposes of studying hyperdimensional folding, suffered a catastrophic failure and exploded. Dan was the only one caught in the blast, and he was originally presumed dead, but six weeks later, he returned, claiming that he had been to the “eleventh dimension” and unlocked the secrets of folding space and time.

As his moniker implies, Dan possesses complete control over the region of space-time his body inhabits, allowing him to stretch, contort, and yes, fold his body into any shape he desires with no harm to himself. Besides the obvious benefits, it has also enabled him to consciously distort the lenses of his eyes in a way that neutralizes his lifelong nearsightedness. In addition, the gloves he wears contain a perfected version of the original machine’s spatial folding technology, allowing them to create two-way portals, though their active range is limited to about 15 feet.

Making use of his new powers and unusual technology, the Folding Man quickly became well-known among the Metapowers Guild’s Hawaiian branch, but despite his friendly and unprejudiced demeanor, his cavalier attitude of “science isn’t about why, it’s about why not” meant that others’ opinions of him were not always flattering. Thankfully, over the years, he’s become much more aware of his personal flaws, even managing to win the heart of Tidewinder, who originally argued with him incessantly, but his once-clean reputation as a hero has now been dragged through the mud by Lioness, and for the first time, he finds himself facing a problem that his powers, gadgets and intellect may not be able to solve.

Hawaiian myth states that when a person dies, their spirit may remain in the mortal world in the form of an animal. Called aumakua, these ancestral spirits watch over their descendants to bring them good fortune and protect them from disaster. When she was nineteen, Hokulani Kamealoha learned that sometimes, truth is just as fantastical as legend.

Living next to the ocean your whole life can make a person into a dreamer, and Hokulani had a dream of her own: To become a champion surfer and have her mastery of the waves recognized by the world. She practiced obsessively, and every free moment not spent atop her surfboard was spent drenched in saltwater after a fall. She had to be the best, no matter the cost, and if that meant sneaking out in the middle of the night with a storm on the horizon, well… what could possibly stop a reckless teenager? She quickly came to realize her mistake when she was knocked off of her board, caught in the roiling undertow, and dragged out to sea. But just when she thought it was all over, she saw something that she struggles to believe to this day: A gigantic octopus curling its tentacles around her and lifting her up above the waves. The octopus spoke to her in the voice of her grandfather, telling her that he had been watching her, and that Kanaloa, great god of the ocean, was so touched by her unending love for his domain that he wished to grant her a blessing. She would become Kanaloa's agent in the mortal world, sworn to protect the bounties of the sea against anyone who would exploit them, and in exchange, all the waters of the world would be at her command.

After her brush with death, Hokulani finally understood just how precious and fragile life could be. She readily accepted Kanaloa's blessing and joined the Hawaiian branch of the Metapowers Guild before even deciding on an alias. It was here that she met her future husband Dan Ryuzaki, otherwise known as the Folding Man, who suggested the name Tidewinder as a clever play on words (well, he thought it was clever, at least). His devil-may-care approach to both science and superheroics was a constant point of contention between the two, but a decade of camaraderie and saving each other's lives on a regular basis made them both into more understanding people. Today their love and respect for each other is so strong that they're considered a threat to Lioness' misandrist agenda and have both been banned from the Guild, but Tidewinder has never forgotten the promise she made to herself. To her, all life is worth protecting, and she will not stand idly by and watch a once-proud organization of heroes devolve into civil war.

Don't worry, nobody worth respecting actually calls her "Yellow Devil".

The Kingdom of Bhutan has two things going for it in-universe. One, as in real life, the monarchs of Bhutan have become progressively and refreshingly more pro-democracy since the 1950s, culminating in the country becoming a full-fledged Constitutional Monarchy - that can impeach their King with a two-thirds majority vote - in 2008. Two, something only in-universe, they're located on top of the world's largest supply of "unobtanium".

This rare material of extreme value is, in fact, a massive cache of various radioactive metals located deep under the ground of Bhutan's location in the Himalayas. It's never been mined, but it did provide Bhutan with an easy way to build futuristic cities and the world's largest meltdown-proof nuclear power plant, which accounts for 98% of the nation's total energy output (the remaining 2% being covered by wind and solar energy) and 107% of its total energy usage. Yes, that's right, Bhutan creates more energy than it uses entirely via carbon-neutral means, and is thus the world's only carbon-negative nation (even IRL, but obviously for non-fantastical reasons here in boringworld). They sell the excess energy to India.

Aside from that, Bhutan has a healthy obsession with Shenlong ("Oriental dragons"), which are called Druk in the Dzongkha language. If you're thinking "Wait, isn't that too similar to the words 'drake' and 'dragon' from Western culture?" then you've just learned about the long-extinct pan-Eurasian precursor language known to us as proto-Indo-European! Unfortunately, if proto-Indo-European cultures had a name for their language, it (like the cultures themselves) has been buried in the sands of time.

Anyway, it's unsurprising that Bhutan is known as Druk Yul ("Land of the Thunder Dragon"), and its people call themselves the Drukpa ("Dragon people"). If they were referring to Western dragons, this would be rather pretentious, however Shenglong are not meant to be taken as literal giant beasts of great power lording over humans the way Western dragons are. Rather, Shenlong are considered a living metaphor for the power of humans themselves to drastically alter their environments, and so such terms really just mean "I am Human, I am/was here."

The Dragon Queen - "Druk Gyaltsuen" in Dzongkha, the Bhutanese language - is not one person, but is a role taken by the current wife of the King of Bhutan (to date, every King of Bhutan in-universe has been a member of the Wangdruk royal family). Each Dragon Queen has been the nation's most famous superheroine since the 1960s, though her identity as the King's wife is a little-known open secret (especially to foreigners that underestimate Bhutan as "an unnoteworthy mountainous nation in Asia"). The powers of the Dragon Queen are rooted in Buddhist divine magics, which each successive queen has to learn before she can take on the role (though the basics of the culture behind said magic are known to pretty much everyone in Bhutan, ensuring a good foundation for learning). Many people in Bhutan have latent ability to use these capabilities, but so far and for reasons unknown, only the wives of the Wangdruk royal family have consistantly had this particular metapowered ability.

The current Druk Gyaltsuen is Pema Yangdon. She's a very worldly type, a skilled diplomat and a morally-grounded heroine. Her favorite hobby is beekeeping; while domesticated honey bees cannot survive in Bhutan, she knows how to harvest the hives of wild Giant honey bees that are native to the Himalayas without angering the aggressively defensive bees. As for her life outside of magic and politics, Dragon Queens are somehow aware of the fourth wall, and Pema makes an effort to keep her life private in that sense.

Now you're probably wondering "What kind of racist asshole calls a superheroine a 'yellow devil'?" The short answer is "politicians". The long answer is that politicians are so used to making deals with devils (both the metaphorical and literal kind), that when a beautiful and mysterious Asian Sorceress-Queen offers to give them their deepest desire in return for a "political favor", they take it.

The results? Well, as a heroine, what she asks such politicians for is always to the betterment of the world in general. In addition, to hold up her end of the deal, she simply grants the mark a blessing which causes them to vividly dream of their deepest desire every time they sleep. The dream isn't an illusion either, but an actual miniature astral plane that allows them to genuinely have what they asked for. That said, most politicians who she makes deals with are both corrupt and have dark secrets, traits which almost always become clearly visible to the public shortly after they play their part. Many disgraced politicians have found themselves sleeping constantly to be "awake" in their dreams and be "asleep" in life, desperate to avoid the "nightmare" of their well-deserved prison cell.

Thus, her reputation as the "yellow devil" is one of a boogeyman among the world's wealthy elite and supervillains. Even when you're evil, not every dark bargain you make is with someone who is also evil. Sometimes, every so often, an uncorrupted angel (even a metaphorical one) will make a deal to buy a rotten soul in return for something innocuous that (once again, metaphorically in this case) sets Joshua's divine plan in motion... and secures that evil soul's damnation in the process.
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Gadg8eer's Personal Characters New


One Time Luck
The year was 2005, and Oliver was a 15 year old student at Grand Forks Secondary School. While surprisingly smart and creative, he wasn't anywhere close to being able to compete with Geniuses or the smartest muggles, and had been classified as having a mental disability that made learning social interactions somewhat difficult. Though never picked on for his height, he was the shortest kid in his grade every year of elementary school, something which he didn't mind but did lead him to subconsciously overcompensate how much he would raise his voice when he felt angry or unrecognized. While the Canadian equivalent of middle/junior high/high school years had yielded height, he also gained enough weight to counter any possible gains in "respect" by his peers, and honestly came to miss the days when he wasn't viewed as large and dangerous.

Furthermore, throughout elementary school and secondary school, he had proven to simply not take people's bullshit, and would resort to violence against anyone who bullied him, whether the bullying was physical or merely verbal. This resulted in the Ministry of Education, misinterpreting his intolerence for bullying as unprovoked violence, outright demanding that he be separated from all other students from 3rd Grade forward. Despite not being homeschooled, he hadn't been in a classroom in years and was instead forced to be taught by a teacher's aide and eat lunch in whatever small corner of the schools was able to be easily converted into a tailor-made study room.

Oliver's parents were loving, caring and instilled in him a good sense of right and wrong. However, events early in his childhood led to him making a "modification" to his parent's teachings out of anger, considering revenge to be an acceptable action by a victim upon the individual who had harmed them and escaped legal repercussions, or whose harm was considered legal for any reason (even if that was because bullying was handled by school authorities and not police at the time, or - in elementary school - because the crime was committed by someone too young to be charged).

Despite this, he was and is a truly good person. Much of his anger was directed not at personal grudges (of which he had about a dozen that he tried not to think about) but current events, due to a deep empathy for those who had been subjected to injustice only for the world to hear about it on the news and seemingly consider it just a TV show. Though he later realized he was asexual in his 20s, he did stare at a female peer in secondary school for about 30 seconds as a joke and "experiment", and apologized with embarrassment when he realized it made her feel extremely uncomfortable. He didn't like doing physical work, but gladly made an effort to learn in school and to apply his knowledge of both facts and storytelling to his secret identity's career later in life. He considered himself to be no better than anyone else, even going so far as to amend his moral code by realizing that he should never, ever seek to spite a bully by hurting someone they care about. Nor would he ever allow himself to seek revenge based only upon someone being a part of a group - the targets of his vengeance had to have personally done something to harm another person, and no amount of labels, or crimes not attributed to a specific member of a group, could ever justify bigotry of any kind.

That's not to say he had no lust (in the sense of seeking fun at all times), or sloth, or pride, or gluttony, or greed. Of course he has plenty of wrath, though he realised his position once he was no longer in grade school and, combined with the extreme empathy for other children he'd always held, it led him to stop getting angry over a kid or teenager bullying him. That said, he never tolerated the behavior of kids who bully other kids, and as a superhero would at least teach such bullies what happens when an "adult" doesn't have to hold back due to a difference in size and strength when making a single "doesn't feel nice, does it?" strike to a non-sensitive area. However, he would soon discover there was a form of bad habit he would never commit, or even be able to feel like committing...

With no friends, no siblings and no extended family, Oliver spent the majority of his free time as a teenager in the Metaverse, where his avatar was originally ripped from a VR game, the protagonist of a GameBrain 2 title with steampunk and magic in it called Quark Chronicle. He was accompanied by his Navigator, WinterMan.exe - Oliver named him as a shortened form of "Web-Internet Manager", though that didn't stop Oliver from customizing WinterMan to look like an anime snowman, who hovered just above the ground and had two hovering hands gloved in winter mittens. "Oliver10" quickly gained a small reputation as a shy and mysterious lurker with a knack for quickly learning how to use VR user interfaces, including how to get through security interfaces and enter nodes or sections of nodes that teenage programmers of the 2000s thought they had made private.

It should be noted that Oliver's mother was Colombian, with a large and loving extended family in Bogota that is still very close to her, but due to immigrating to Canada when she married Oliver's father, regular contact with said family was beyond their financial means until the mid-2010s. Meanwhile, Oliver's father was only close to Oliver's paternal grandparents, uncles and aunts - both of Oliver's paternal grandparents and one of his uncles were dead when he was very young, and the remaining uncle and his wife lived in Ontario (equivalent in distance and travel cost to a Floridan's only extended family living in Alaska). This physical isolation from extended family left the three members of the Kind family to be alone every Thanksgiving dinner (celebrated in mid-October in Canada), Christmas morning and summer vacation.
A lot of this is technically based on reality, but identifying details like names, dates and cities of residence have been changed or removed. I don't recommend basing too much of your character on yourself, at least when it comes to details that could be used to identify you.

Oliver's birthday in 2005 fell on a weekday, meaning he still had to go to school. When his teacher's aide left the study room to answer a personal call, he continued doing his schoolwork, but was soon interrupted by something truly strange.

At first it felt like an earthquake, though Oliver hadn't experienced one before at the time. When the shaking had stopped, the window of the study room showed that the outside was much more dimly-lit than usual.

Looking outside, he saw what appeared to be an ancient Mesoamerican temple interior, like something out of a Brass Age adventure story. A stone throne was located in the center of the mossy and vine-covered stone room, with an elderly Native American seated in it. Oliver opened the door to look around...

The throne was surrounded by six floating objects that were seemingly made of some dark-colored, stone-like substance - each of the six objects looked out of place in the room surrounding it, and each had a different but similar appearance. The ominous-looking objects, which Oliver personally described as "what would happen if the devil made a series of abstract modern art sculptures for a corporate plaza", gave him an uneasy feeling only countered by the rest of the room's more benign look, like the place had been built to keep these obviously evil artifacts from harming anyone.

Oliver turned to the old man and nervously said hello. The Native American responded with "Hello, Oliver." - despite Oliver not having said his name - and introduced himself by a strange, hard to pronounce name (well, hard for English-speakers to pronounce) as an elder of a lost Okanagan tribe, before patiently adding "If that's hard to pronounce, you may call me Nelson". The old man then explained that this magical temple was created long ago by shamans, holy men and spiritual advisors from around the world - of which Nelson was the last remaining - to seal away the Deadly Seven, the physical forms of the seven deadly sins, each of which were locked by divine power within the vessels around them... except one, which had been freed by someone who had summoned Invidia, the personification of Envy.

Oliver: Oh, shit. Do you need me to go warn someone? We've got, like, military and superheroes to handle that.

Nelson quickly begged him not to leave, saying he had been gravely injured trying to prevent Invidia's escape, that no form of mortal science or metapower... magic, superscience, psionics and divine power alike... could stop even one of the Deadly Seven. Not unless someone "true of soul" were to be bestowed with something that would let that person fight back.

At that moment, a whisper seemed to come from one of the "vessels" containing the sealed evils, best described as a ball of spikes with barbs on each spike. I am Ira... Kill this fool. Release me, and everyone who ever wronged you will pay for what they did.

Before Nelson could respond, Oliver spoke back to it...

Oliver: If you think my wrath is just about hurting people, or that I only care about punishing people who hurt me, you obviously don't really know me.

The ball of pain gave a telepathic hiss at being rejected, but went silent.

Nelson: ...that went better than expected. I was trying to keep that one quiet, but clearly I've underestimated just how much awareness these monsters have reclaimed.

Oliver apologized, and said he should go for help to keep the monsters locked in their prisons instead of endangering anyone by hanging around the evil monoliths that clearly have ways to convince him to let them buy his soul and possess his body in a plot to destroy the world (or something equally suitable to the personifications of man's greatest evils). Once again Nelson insisted that there was no time, and that Oliver had been brought to the temple for a reason. Nelson then pointed to an object on the floor, in the spot below where one would expect the seventh sin to have been sealed in its vessel.

Nelson: That is Humanitas, the Vessel which imprisoned Invidia. As a Vessel, it is broken, now useless to hold Invidia prisoner, but it is made of pure Kindness and will provide what you need to defeat Invidia.

Oliver: Why me?

Nelson: Only those True of Soul can bear a Vessel made of a pure virtue. Those who are not True of Soul... Well, there's a reason the Vessels around us look evil despite the one you need being made of pure virtue. To be trapped inside a Vessel is to have every evil you have ever committed turned into your eternal prison, with only the incorporeal force that holds a Vessel aloft showing that what you see is just the evil being confined within.

Oliver: Yeah, but... What does "True of Soul" even mean? It better not be some cliche "You are the Chosen One" crap.

Nelson: I'm sorry, but... I don't have time... to explain. Already my... strength is... fading... quickly, you must... bear Humanitas...

Oliver walked over to the small object. It appeared to be a brown leather cap of some sort (he would later learn it was a type of Newsboy Cap called a Spitfire Cap), and had a familiar symbol on the button at the top of the hat. He momentarily glanced back at the dying old man, hesitating as he wondered whether the old man was sure Oliver was actually "true of soul" or simply guessed, before putting the hat on his head. It seemed to almost snap into place, lining up symmetrically with his head and face.

Nelson: It is done... please go... my power... cannot hold them... much longer...

The entire room began to rumble again, and Oliver quickly took the old man's advice, returning to the study room behind the door he entered through (a door which had apparently been held in a door frame magic portal thingy) and sitting down at his school desk.

The rumbling quickly stopped, after which the window once again showed the hallway outside the study room. At that moment, his teacher's aide - Beatrice Archer - came in, chastised him for "leaving while she was out" (she was worried he had gone missing, and there was a washroom attached to the study room which would have excluded that as an excuse) and then asked where he got the hat.

Oliver: ...an old man gave it to me?

Ms. Archer: Alright. Please take it off, though, its rude to wear hats indoors.

Oliver then tried to take the hat off, only to find it was the kind of magical artifact that sort of clings to you - in this case literally. Realizing his predicament, Ms. Archer sent him to the nurse's office, who tried to pull it off with no success. His parents took him to Boundary Hospital, the general hospital in Grand Forks, who were also unable to remove the hat, and the doctors there had him taken to British Columbia Children's Hospital in Vancouver by Medivac (basically an ambulance plane).

Even BC Children's Hospital was unable to remove the cap, and despite Oliver's story about getting it from an old man just outside his school (technically true), they began to suspect (correctly) that it was some form of supernatural artifact. Which, considering how dangerous some supernatural artifacts are, was a worrying thing to have in any hospital, much less one meant for children. They considered sending him off to a Metapower's Hospital in Toronto, but Oliver managed to convince them to wait until his parents arrived by car (a drive that took several hours but which they were already halfway there).

As he sat in a hospital bed, watching episodes of Action Bush (see the spoiler) on TV, Oliver experienced something akin to an earthquake for the second (third?) time in his life and in that day, but this time, it felt different from the consistent bell curves of rumbling back in Grand Forks. It felt more like the scene in Mechazoic Park with the mechanical T-Rex, though the actual motion felt like a slithering action rather than a series of stomps...

It's an in-universe cartoon about the titular ambulatory cherry bush, and his teammates...
A starship captain's toupee (named Hell Toupee) that is somehow alive and works for either the CIA, MI-6, or both.
A female Tiffany lamp - you know, the one that looks like a woman's leg - whose status as a left or right leg is inconsistent between episodes.
A sentient qTop 64 computer who launches/spits out razor-sharp optical disks at his foes.
...who are all badasses that fight an evil organization led by Hell Toupee's evil brother Pryce Toupee (who is secretly King Card's toupee!)

Soon, the episode of Action Bush was replaced with an Emergency Warning Broadcast that an unidentified Kaiju was approaching Vancouver, apparently headed toward the downtown core.

At first, Oliver nervously watched the news report as a couple superheroes arrived to stop the creature, a large green snake the size and length of a freight train. Things quickly turned south, however. Two superheroes couldn't stop this kaiju, despite both being well-experienced in fighting giant monsters. Two became five, became ten, became fifty as the kaiju arrived at the skyscrapers in Downtown Vancouver without a single attack or plan doing anything to even slow it down despite the heroes' superior numbers.

The Royal Canadian Air Force arrived and fared no better. Neither did the Canadian Armed Forces. Or the US Air Force. Or the US Army. Or Vancouver's resident Giant Mecha, Yukon Brawler. All before the kaiju had even done any property damage or killed anyone.

And then, it spoke.

Invidia: I am Invidia. Bring me your thieves and I will spare the rest of you. Refuse, or resist any further, and I will take what I want and kill the rest of you. You have one hour.

Oliver: Oh, crap.

Oliver quickly realized that yelling phrases like "Captain Novel!" or "SheZam!" did nothing. Even meditating while saying "Freaking out? Breathe it out." had no effect. Then he remembered the symbol on the button of his cap.

Oliver: How did none of the doctors wonder if pressing the power button would make this thing come off?

As you expect, pressing said power button caused him to instantly transform into his hero identity, but there was just one... "minor"... issue.

Most adolescent superheroes whose hero identity is an alternate form, discover that alternate form to be something grounded in a moral lesson. Kids who learn being an adult has responsibilities by transforming into an adult. Teenage girls who discover love is about more than dressing pretty and dating jocks by transforming into a magical princess version of themselves. Tween boys who realize girls deserve respect by transforming into a magical princess version of themselves. 10 year old boys who somehow become less bratty by transforming into various alien creatures.

This would also be true for Oliver, he just didn't know it yet. Oliver missed being a kid instead of a teenager a little bit, but by the age of 15 he was as much a teenager as he would ever be, and had pretty much resigned himself to the idea that, someday soon, he would have to stop playing VR games, get a boring office job and start a family. Of course, who could blame him for not knowing when all of these examples eventually grew up and stopped aging at around 25 years old? It wasn't like any superhero alias in history started out underage and stayed that way!

...until Oliver realized his hero form is a 10 year old kid. Sort of. The point being that it was pretty jarring at first to have to turn into a pre-teen boy every time he needed to save the world (but then what transformation to an alternate form worth its salt isn't a little disorienting?)

He didn't have time to fully take stock of his appearance while a giant evil snake was threatening the city, but he would later find that his hero form was a Toon, a term applied to metapowered entities that are subject to cartoon physics... either because they were a cartoon character brought to life, took on the traits of a cartoon character upon becoming a metapower, or had an alternate form which had the traits of a cartoon character. It also meant that, for whatever reason (since Toons can have realistic hands), his hero alias has natural-looking hands that each have only three fingers and one thumb.

This cartoon-like nature also means he has a few tricks in his arsenal...

His gloves can each produce a cartoon yo-yo from something resembling hammerspace (the place where cartoon characters pull out giant hammers and other stuff to big to logically fit where it had been stored), and his shoes can convert between resembling soccer cleats and being roller skates with wheels that are somehow not physically attached to the shoes.

His backpack is equipped with a pair of Ratling guns (called such because Gatling guns were named by a guy with the last name Ratling in-universe) that can rapidly fire an unlimited supply of foam darts, water blasts, paintball ammo, BB pellets or snowballs (though all the spent projectiles it fires mysteriously disappear when no one is looking anymore, preventing them from being an environmentalist's worst nightmare).

His AR goggles were originally just a pair of TanaCorp DX Lite goggles in a transluscent orange color that was never used in any official DX Lite unit, but in the years since they've somehow absorbed game consoles that Oliver bought to upgrade themselves, without changing their outward appearance. Currently they're a pair of Tana Skip goggles, though the release of Socket's Dream Specks will probably soon change that.

His hero alias' only other notable trait is that he's precisely 127 centimeters tall. For Americans, that's 4'2" or 50 inches. As you can guess if you try to convert those units yourself to find any miniscule numbers after the decimal point that might have been left out - since 1 inch is equal to 2.54 inches rather than a nice round number - there's probably some plot significance in 50 inches being equal to exactly 127 centimeters.

As for the giant evil snake of envy, he defeated it with his actual power, an ability to make what can only be described as "fully functional props". Using anything at all, Oliver - regardless of whether he's disguised as a childish writer that looks 25, or in the form of the cartoon kid he spends most of his time as - can easily put together an object that looks like a gadget, and works like a gadget, but can't be reverse-engineered because there's nothing to reverse-engineer; for all intents and purposes, his "gadgets" should just be movie props or toys, but function as if they're real.

These props do have a few catches. They have to resemble what they are supposed to imitate the function of, so a gun-shaped prop can't be used as a sword and a pickup truck can't be as fast as a sports car. Also, the build quality of the prop - how well its held together, how sturdy the individual pieces of the prop are, and how aesthetically pleasing it is - directly affect the performance of the prop as a gadget.

Defeating Invidia while unregistered was technically against the Cosmic Code, but considering that he was the only one that was able to stop Invidia at the time, he was only required to explain why that was the case to a couple CSIS Agents so that they knew he hadn't engineered the whole scenario himself. (You would be surprised how many supervillains tried to become "heroes" by swooping in to solve a problem that they created.) Once he had done so, Oliver was simply advised to sign up for the Cosmic Code Registry at his local police department before his next appearance and allowed to disappear from the public eye again.

Since it was his first appearance, was technically against the Cosmic Code, and was done on short notice, Oliver didn't even have a name for his hero alias at the time and thus didn't give a name to anyone or talk with any reporters. After being discharged from the hospital and returning home with his parents, he decided to call himself Gadg8eer, and in fact registered it as his Metaverse handle before registering it as his hero alias with the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment.

In the years between 2005 and 2022, Gadg8eer quickly grew more attached to his hero form than his normal body as he realized that he never really wanted to grow up in the first place - though the fact that "Oliver Kind" is only biologically immortal, while Gadg8eer soon discovered that he's pretty much indestructible (though he is easily knocked around by impacts and feels pain from high speed impacts and energy attacks like fire or electricity) and will not only survive the heat death of the universe but continue to exist forever (he can breathe in both true and false vacuum, in any gas, and in any liquid which has viscosity roughly equal to, or less than, drinkable tap water) certainly made the process easier to swallow. He discovered from using a SoulScanner in 2017 that his "hero form" was in fact the literal shape of his soul all along, explaining how he could continue to exist for eternity - all souls last forever, but most souls are unable to leave the astral planes, while his soul was made into a physical entity that could wander the universe... until the end of material existence would probably force him to join everyone else in the astral planes.

He also questioned why he would be suitable for the Vessel of Kindness when he, himself, wasn't a particularly kind person (despite his last name literally being "Kind"). It turns out that there are seven people on Earth at any given time who are True of Soul, each of which is suitable to be the bearer of a broken Vessel, and that the qualification for a specific Vessel is to be entirely void of the deadly sin which opposes the virtue the Vessel is made of. In Oliver's case, he has never tried to take another person's success for himself or stolen anything with the belief that he "deserved it more", because his very soul was, is and always will be incapable of feeling the emotion of envy.

On the other hand, Gadg8eer still grapples with his anger to this day, and out of all the Deadly Seven, the kaiju known as Ira is the one he's never been able to outright defeat despite managing to seal it away again multiple times. As for the other seven giant monsters that were trapped in that temple, only two - Pride and Greed - have managed to break free so far.

Much like he did in secondary school, Gadg8eer's "Oliver Kind" identity is somewhat overweight, closely resembling a clean-shaven George R.R. Martin whose hair hadn't turned grey (it's still a dark brown color).

Oliver is still very close to his parents, and - after a time travel mishap in 2015 that caused several people who hadn't existed before to be added to Timeline One - his older brother Vernon.

Oliver's parents don't know about his hero alias, but they are aware that he has a secret related to the hat he can't take off and are amazingly understanding. The fact that his family care so much and that he deeply cares about them definitely makes his family a potential weakness, but beware. If a supervillain or a corrupt superhero even threaten them, let alone hurt or kill them, he'll be the first metapower to not be satisfied until the perpetrator is dead in a way that they can't come back from.

Oliver's family are...
Jacob Kind, his father. Son of an electrician father and a restaurant manager mother, Jacob's career history is a long list of jobs ranging from "schoolteacher" to "bush pilot" to "oil refinery alkalation unit operator", and was the one who got Oliver into the Metaverse back in the mid-90s. A great guy, but when Oliver was younger he tended to have a temper.

Claire Kind, his mother. Her maiden name is Caridad, a family name that has been surprisingly wealthy by Colombian standards for the beter part of a century. Although her grandfather abandoned her grandmother, her parents, her siblings and she herself didn't let that teach them to be selfish. The family maid is paid well, the Caridads celebrate every birthday in the family (currently about 25 birthdays a year), and newlywed In-Laws are treated like one of the family. Claire in particular is constantly the glue keeping the Kind family together, a role that currently consists mostly of cooking and cleaning (which everyone tries to let her know they appreciate it as much as possible) but which was a lot more stressful when Oliver and Jacob were constantly butting heads.

Vernon Kind, his older brother. In 2015, Oliver woke up one morning and headed to the stairs, suddenly finding a complete stranger standing in the hallway. When the stranger said "Hey, Oliver. Were you up late last night too?" and their parents seemed to honestly believe "Vernon" had been born two years before Oliver and the two brothers were each other's closest friends, Gadg8eer knew he had to figure out what the hell was going on. Vernon, worried for his brother's mental health, insisted on coming along. Sure enough, it was more than just Oliver...

Throughout the world, an extra 10 million or so people had seemingly popped into existence overnight, and the only ones who noticed that the newcomers hadn't been there all along were those with powers of divine, demonic or eldritch origin.

As it turned out, this was because a Chinese time traveller drastically reduced the scale of a brutal suppression of protests in the People's Republic of China in mid-1989, which originally had over five million victims but was reduced to several thousand at worst, by standing in the path of and speaking to the crew of a platoon of tanks on June 5th, as well as changing/creating at least three other unrelated historical events going back as far as 1973.

Unfortunately for the time traveler, the CCP was not amused that one person changed the timeline in a way that exposed and weakened the tyranny of the Chinese government, and after determining that the timey-wimey ball wouldn't just let them completely revert the changes without serious temporal backlash that would leave the CCP even worse off, they instead opted to simply "disappear" the time traveller and scrub his name from history. Despite their efforts being mostly successful, even authoritarianism can't control history itself, and the time traveller known as "Tank Man" has been a famous figure since 1989 and long before his status as a time traveler was known.

Aside from the Deadly Seven themselves, Gadg8eer has found a few arch-villains sine 2005, most of whom are in some way tangled with the Deadly Seven. The only exception is General Shearsmann, a cyborg supersoldier and disgraced former US Army General who is responsible for the deletion of WinterMan.exe in 2008.

See the list of NPCs in the information post for more information on Ashen Witch!

While not exactly a close antagonist to Gadg8eer, this is on purpose. Ashen Witch has proven on multiple occasions that she considers Gadg8eer a serious threat to her plans, and tries to obscure her activities from him.

Their connection with each other goes back as far as 2004, when she summoned Invidia and set off the events that would lead to Gadg8eer becoming a metapower a year later, but this remained unknown to Gadg8eer until 2017, when he encountered her while he was visiting his extended family, and exposed her plot to disrupt Colombia's national government.

The following year, in 2018, Gadg8eer made another visit to his extended family (something he'd never done, with his previous two visits being over a decade apart) and was able to stop her from summoning Avaritia (Greed) into Bogota. She escaped, as always, and hasn't been seen since.

Apparently, Gadg8eer's first encounter with General Shearsmann was an event in Siberia where both were involved in trying to stop a villain's superweapon - Shearsmann immediately hated Gadg8eer for being "unwilling to allow for collateral damage", despite the fact that what Shearsmann actually means is "Gadg8eer won't sacrifice innocent lives to stop a villain", and deleted WinterMan out of spite when Gadg8eer informed the other superheroes involved that Shearsmann intended to use a nanomachine swarm to destroy the supervillain's fortress and the superweapon, even though it would certainly have killed the hostages inside.

Gadg8eer wants revenge on Shearsmann for essentially killing his only friend (a friend that didn't actually have any free will or sentience behind his programmed social behavior, but still a friend), and twice has had his revenge, only for Shearsmann to "make the books uneven again" by doing something to spite Gadg8eer.

The first time, Gadg8eer testified against him in 2008, which had resulted in Shearsmann being imprisoned in a Russian prison for 2 years (a long time to survive being in a Russian prison), and when he was released in 2010, Shearsmann deleted everything on Gadg8eer's computer at the time - which included everything "Oliver Kind" had ever written until that point - as a form of retaliation. You would think Shearsmann would chose something more terrifying, but at the time all Shearsmann knew about Gadg8eer was that he also used his hero alias as his user handle on the Metaverse.

The second time, "Oliver Kind" (rather than doing so as Gadg8eer) simply grabbed Shearsmann's wrists and shoved the former General to the ground in 2018, when Shearsmann was at a support group for metapowered individuals with troubled histories that Gadg8eer was going to join. Shearsmann proceeded to discover and then try and expose Gadg8eer's secret identity, simply in order to sue Oliver for allegedly breaking Shearsmann's wrist bones in the conflict. While Oliver was banned from the support group and put on probation for Aggravated Assault, and Shearsmann was given a restraining order against him, neither Gadg8eer's secret identity nor whether Shearsmann's wrists were actually broken could be conclusively proven in court.

Actually, that's putting it mildly. It was pretty clear to the judge that Shearsmann was faking it, but the judge never said so out loud. As for secret identities, Gadg8eer heard Shearsmann before entering the room at the support group, and instead claimed from the moment the police questioned him that he was there because of "the kind of intense and deeply embedded irritation that comes with having a cursed hat stuck on your head for over a decade".

While Gadg8eer's desire for revenge on Shearsmann is questionable, what is clear is that Shearsmann wants Gadg8eer to "stay down when he's been thrown to the floor, like a good weakling" - essentially to make things unfair and have them stay unfair - because the former General has always believed to some degree that whoever is strong enough to win a physical conflict is the one entitled to decide the fate of the loser, something that he has intensified to the degree of near-insanity after being dishonorably discharged. As of 2022, Shearsmann has gone off the radar, but rumors in the metapowered community say that he's begun building up an army to capture something known as the Connectivity Stones.

Ziggy Hawks, Evil Genius is practically Gadg8eer's polar opposite. Born in the Bronze Age of Metapowers, Ziggy was a Genius from birth. He also didn't like being restricted in any way - to him, the laws of nature, man and god were just ideas meant to keep stupid people from doing stupid things, and he most definitely wasn't stupid.

As young as 12, he created an android that resembled an older version of himself, and ran away from home to San Francisco with it. Inspired by the megacorporations of the 1980s, he created Zetasoft, a front company for his superscience projects, that was supposedly founded by the android he successfully convinced everyone was his father.

At age 13, Ziggy tried to create a "hack in reality" that would grant him godhood on par with Hades or Vishnu. Instead of the hack doing as he expected it to, Ziggy was confronted by the Archangel Raphael, who told Ziggy that he would be punished for trying to wound the universe itself for the sake of converting his soul into a deity. This punishment was to be frozen in time - to never be able to undo his mistakes, never fall asleep, and be unable to change his body in any way - until the day Ziggy learned humility.

This pissed him off to no end. Ziggy had always hated being skinny and frail, and the fact that he was stuck at the beginning of puberty was outright embarrassing. Being awake all night every night meant dwelling on his condition 24/7/365 without even being able to have dreams where things were as he wanted them to be.

Not being able to undo his mistakes proved to be in reference to time travel - Ziggy invented a time machine to warn himself about Raphael, but discovered when he activated it that it simply disappeared and left him behind. His next few time machines were piloted by paid minions of ever greater caliber, and targeted not just his biggest mistake but also other mistakes made later on, but none of them ever successfully managed to change anything.

Since then, Zetasoft went from looking like a small-time 80s software development contractor for companies that used Big Blue Industries hardware, to having the appearance of a late 90s tech bubble startup, to being the developer of a social MMO game called Maddo Motel as a cover, to creating the social network known as Nine in 2015 (where people uploaded "Nines", nine second video clips), to being an R&D company developing "Deepfake" AIs (Ziggy has evil plans involving them) today. It's had several different CEOs, all androids that secretly answer to Ziggy.

Through the Zetasoft front company, Ziggy has been secretly trying to take over the world using his preferred scientific field, computer science, for decades. For the first 25 years of Zetasoft's existence, his main arch-nemesis was Micron of the Hawaiian branch of the Metapowers Guild of America. When Micron was revealed in 2003 to have been up to his own nefarious actions, Ziggy was overjoyed to see the incredible shrinking thorn in his side gone forever, and began an ambitious 7 year plan to create something called "cryptocurrency" that, by his estimates, would let him control the world economy by 2025.

And then, in February of 2005, someone called "Oliver10" and his Navigator "WinterMan" managed to access the "blockchain" Metaverse node 3 years before it was supposed to be noticed. The node was empty at the time, still waiting for data to be written to it, but the name of the node and its shape, which strongly resembled a whitebox version of any international currency exchange found on the Metaverse, were too much information for Ziggy to risk being out there.

The problem got worse for Ziggy. He of course immediately traced the Metaverse user's connection, only to find it was owned by some internet cafe in Bogota with no way to hack the analog security cameras and no digital records of customer names. He personally flew there to check the security footage, only to find that the cafe didn't even have cameras and instead relied on heavy iron bars on the front windows. The owner's paper book of customer records did say that someone with the name "Claire K." had rented a VR unit at the appropriate time, but after that he hit a brick wall.

"Oliver10" posted about what he'd found in the strange, empty Metaverse node on a cybernautics forum a few days later. Ziggy's question as to who this "Oliver10" was remained unanswered for several months, until Gadg8eer became officially registered with the Cosmic Code Authority. People that were Metaverse enthusiasts noticed that WinterMan, the Navigator which used to accompany "Oliver10", was now exclusively working with Gadg8eer, both in the Metaverse and in the real world. Ziggy noticed too.

Ziggy cross-checked the Oliver10 handle and the Gadg8eer handle, and found that the former had stopped being used the same day the then-unnamed slayer of Invidia had first appeared in Vancouver before being de-registered the next day, with the latter first being used a couple days after. He then checked flight logs for Vancouver Intl. Airport back in February, and found ticket records for "Jacob Kind", "Clare Kind" and "Oliver Kind".

Ziggy: Aha! Clearly he lives in Vancouver!

He was sorely disappointed to find that no one named Oliver Kind lived anywhere in the Lower Mainland.

As Gadg8eer began his superhero career, Ziggy was already trying to figure out how the new hero managed to slip through the fingers of Zetasoft. However, as the development of cryptocurrency continued unimpeded and Gadg8eer seemed oblivious to the significance of the blockchain node, Ziggy soon stopped caring about the intruder and the leak, and returned most of his focus to taking over the world.

In 2008, WinterMan was deleted during the Battle of Rolostov Castle, and Gadg8eer was preoccupied with the Court Martialling of General Shearsmann. By 2013, cryptocurrencies were no longer a secret, with Zetacoin having been launched by Zetasoft in 2009, which meant that the leak from 2005 was no longer even a concern. Ziggy, who held a secret trove of Zetacoins, laughed as the speculation bubbles for cryptocurrencies grew, and was convinced his victory was all but assured.

So did everyone else. They may not have known that Ziggy existed, but everyone watched in awe as cryptocurrencies, especially Zetacoin, made the US Dollar look like trying to barter with cows. In a world where rich people were living in Modernist Rococo palaces on private islands with all the money stolen from everyone else, the middle class invested in mining or buying cryptocurrencies as a way to secure their financial future. Even other Geniuses, superheros, magic users and gods were doing it!

There were a few exceptions. Hermes didn't trust cryptocurrency from the very beginning. If Hades gave a crap about money, he wouldn't have dedicated Underworld to sheltering and entertaining the souls of the dead. The Kingdom of Heaven, which uses Karma - the cosmic, exact measurement of a person's virtuousness - as its currency, is inherently incompatible with the abstract nature of Earthly currencies including cryptocurrencies. Supervillains, being who they are, usually saw the con coming from a mile away. King Card only cared about looking wealthy, and while he had a lot of money left over from being the kingpin of Las Vegas, he spent money like water during this period and made basically no investments (bad or otherwise). Iblis, the Devil, has no need for money, and if someone sells their soul for money then Iblis can simply create briefcases full of cash or numbers in a bank account at will. And of course, some beings - like Libertas, the Golem or Best Friend - are simply not active participants in the economy in the first place.

In the case of Gadg8eer, he simply couldn't afford to buy Zetacoin by the time he noticed it was a thing. That left mining, but that too was out of reach financially. He did mine a small amount of other cryptocurrencies like Laikacoin that were low-valued at the time to see if they became more valuable later... only to lose track of his wallet keys by the time Laikacoin surged in price. Since "Oliver Kind" lived with his parents, received a disability pension, and wrote the children's novel series "K.i.D: Kids in Defiance", he wasn't interested in having more money to buy things. Not to mention that his hero form never got hungry or thirsty, and that his power let him create almost anything he might otherwise want to buy. Greed was just not his kind of sin.

And so, Ziggy had won... hadn't he?

As the barely teenage Genius looked at his screens in 2015, preparing to cash in his huge nest egg and then have his crypto-bots plunge the price of cryptocurrencies through the floor to indebt the masses to him, he started making his fatal mistake. He got greedy.

Ziggy: I wonder how much more I can make if I wait just another day?

Except that's what he said every day after that. Until finally, smaller fish in the pond realised the big fish was asleep and did their own smaller cryptocurrency pump'n'dump schemes.

Suddenly, ZOVID-19 hit - most metaverse users never invested in crypto at all, which imbalanced the distribution of currency to the point of being unable to form the basis of a functioning metaverse economy. Since national currencies couldn't purchase reasonable amounts of cryptocurrencies, and people had already been using bank accounts containing national currencies while in the Metaverse for years, Zetacoin and its immitators simply weren't adopted by the general public like early adopters had assumed they would. Because the biggest early adopters had often thought the next financial crisis would kill national currencies and leave crypto the winner by default, only to be proven wrong by the outcome of the ZOVID-19 crisis, the crypto bubble collapsed, and everything Ziggy had spent the last 15 years accumulating disappeared overnight.

It hurt a lot of other people too, especially metapowers. Insurance companies may fund heroes and teams, but that money's for building various facilities and producing their equipment. Heroes themselves usually have to hold a day job, making cryptocurrency speculation an attractive trap to fall into, and the media was all over it. Cryptocurrency Collapse Leaves Superheroes Penniless! A few famous superheroes had avoided the crash, but those that did had a power set that warned them, like Hermes or Sister Psychic. Those that weren't famous were desperate enough to risk everything on the idea that maybe their power's warning could allow them to beat the odds, and found that prophesies are a tricky thing.

...and then there was Gadg8eer. He never appeared on camera or did interviews before ZOVID-19, not even in the Metaverse, and that didn't change during or after the zombie outbreak. Despite this, word got around that he had only pulled the lever on the crypto bubble slot machine once, lost a small amount, and then stood up to walk out of the entire "Wall Street Vegas Strip" out of impatience. When the anti-jackpot hit and almost everyone was in the metaphorical "Metapower Investment Portfolio Casino" to lose everything, Gadg8eer was at the "Wall Street Vegas Convention Center" buying merch with his unspent "gambling money" instead.

Ziggy was among the first to hear about this, and he was absolutely livid. How dare this lucky bastard survive his plan unscathed while he ended up a casualty of his own gambit? How dare this pathetic nobody enjoy being too un-authoritatively short, too insignificantly small and too (ugh) adorably childlike to ever be a real man, while a true Genius like himself was cursed to eternally struggle just for trying to claim his intellectual birthright? Even after hacking Revenue Canada's database and finding out that Oliver Kind only made around $10,000 a year, the supervillain swore to take Gadg8eer for every dollar he had and ruin his reputation for making Ziggy Hawks look like a fool.

It was in that moment that a malicious voice spoke to Ziggy... I am Superbia. It is true, you are superior. Let me show you how to harness that superiority, and Gadg8eer will kneel before you. I just need a little something in return, but you won't miss it...

Gadg8eer didn't know it yet, but he is now the target of an arrogant, greedy and cruelly envious rival who shares many of his features, but only the bad ones.
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