Friday, 3 April 2015

Geek - City of Heroes: The Rikti War - Prelude

Here is the first part of City of Heroes: The Rikti War. If you wondering what on earth that is, have a looksy at this post.  Enjoy!


     Paragon City.  Home to the largest population of Meta Humans on Earth. Most were just like everyone else, they had jobs, families and lived in relative normality. Some took advantage of the skills Meta genetics had given them. Those born stronger had a predisposition to working in private security or construction. Those born faster would take up admin work, accounting or sports. Every one of them had to be registered for a Security Level. That way their potential was recorded and could be monitored. Action was only taken if something went wrong. Other than that intervention, they were left to get on with their lives, just like anyone else. A rarity were those Metas born with powers that could only lead them on one path; becoming a Super Hero. Paragon City had no shortage of Super Heroes, so many so it had earned itself the fond nickname of the City of Heroes.  It was a great nickname and one that earned their economy millions thanks to tourism.  But it wasn't all positive.  Paragon City also had no shortage of villains; those not content to live a normal life who, no matter their Threat Level, would use it to their advantage and commit as many criminal acts as possible.  Despite the frequent acts of Meta crime, the destruction of public property, the huge sentient robots that roamed free and the even larger sentient and lethal plant life, for a good fifty years, Heroes and Villains had lived in a balance, normal Humans had lived alongside Meta Humans.  It was just how things were in the City of Heroes.  But that had all started to change.

     A lot had happened in the last year. The Freedom Phalanx, Earth’s finest Super Group of Heroes, had left through an inter-dimensional portal to fight their most dangerous battle yet against an incomprehensible force. The Earth mourned. No one knew if they’d come back. But they knew it was something that had to be done. If the Freedom Phalanx didn’t win, the beings they went to confront would end up coming to Earth one way or another. It didn’t take long for people to feel their absence. The Paragon Times once described it as the city feeling like Metropolis without Superman. Gotham without Batman. There were plenty of other Heroes still on the streets, all out fighting the fight, but without the city’s figurehead, without the Freedom Phalanx, something was left feeling empty. Jain Acheson knew the sensation all too well; what it felt like to feel empty. As part of a Meta human Marine unit, he’d taken the same path as the Freedom Phalanx. He’d gone to another dimension and left everything behind to a world empty of Heroes. He’d come back, but that emptiness had stayed with him. Jain came back a different man. He came back to his wife and family. He’d held them in his arms. He’d played father and husband. But something had changed. It boiled to the surface, that anger and emptiness he carried with him, the day his wife, Tara Sinclair, had been hit in her car by a getaway vehicle carrying a group of Skulls from a bank robbery. He’d pulled her from the wreckage and held her until help came. Then he’d turned his rage on the Skulls and hospitalised each one of them; months of rage at missing embracing Tara when she found out she was carrying his child, at missing Tabby growing on the scans, at missing Sophie’s first day at school and at the realisation he’d left them alone in a world more dangerous than anyone could comprehend. Jain was sent to prison for that day and sentenced to a new form of anger management therapy created especially for traumatised Meta Humans, like him. He’d responded to it well, thriving under the guidance of his counsellor, Ria Da Silva. After just a couple of months he felt like a new man. He felt in control of his life and when he was finally released he agreed to leave his old, empty life behind and become a founding member of the group that could fill the void left by the Freedom Phalanx. He would wear his costume again and Frozen Phoenix would become part of White7.

     White7 were celebrated by the world. Seven hand-picked Super Heroes. The cream of the crop, ready to defend the people of Earth from any threat. Jain was the happiest he’d been in his life. He didn’t see the heartbreak he left in his wake. He left Tara. He rarely saw his children. He took a new woman to his bed; a White7 member named Nurse. For him, everything was just as it should be, for one reason and one reason only. Doctor Ria Da Silva told him that was the way it should be and it made him feel better. Every therapy session made him believe it more and more until there was nothing else but his new life and White7. A chance encounter saw an old friend stepping in, Taylor Di La Conti, a Meta Marine like him. Taylor was a psychic. He saw through the lies Ria’s abilities had planted into his brain. He broke Jain and Nurse free of the bonds of White7. Jain saw the truth and it nearly destroyed him. He swore to help and do anything he could to find out why a doctor would create a Super Group seen as the height of Meta Human perfection for seemingly no real reason. He swore to stay with White7, to live the lie and to prove he was the man he knew in his heart he could be.

     A couple of months later, phase 1 of Ria Da Silva’s plan was complete. The security of the nation now rested solely in the hands of White7. The President had signed the new Amendment that had initially rocked the nation, but had gained unprecedented support within mere weeks.  It was an Amendment that ensured second class citizenship to all Meta Humans and passed all matters of national security to Ria Da Silva and her perfected Super Group; Metas under full control of what the country believed to be a normal human. Metas that acted in the best interest of their country. Metas that didn’t wrack up huge collateral damage bills. Metas that the whole of America could be proud of; all seven of them. She kept White7 in line behind closed doors. She was a Projector, the most dangerous and rare of psychics. Projectors were one in a million psychics, and psychics were one in over five hundred thousand people. They were known to be able to put images and ideas in people’s heads. With a wrong thought they could do far more harm than good. Paragon City was home to all 4 known projectors; a girl with a new identity who had told her boyfriend to “go jump off a bridge” in an argument an hour before he’d been rescued trying to throw himself into the harbour bay from a city flyover, a young meta marine named Taylor Di La Conti with potential more than skill, an infamous villain named Pyrerain who drove a lawyer to eternal madness before his death a decade ago, and a young girl named Rihanna who had disappeared from her Meta training before she could be fully classified. That young girl, Ria as she went by now, was a month into being the most powerful person in the United States. Though no one really knew it but her. Over the years she had honed her powers to spin a web of influence that now spread to every public figure and military commander in the continental US. She’d seen to it that Meta Humans had become effectively outlawed. Every single one had to be registered at first, at about the time Jain Acheson had been imprisoned. That had made for a good example for why Metas should be controlled. After that, she began a subtle campaign that had seen to all Super Groups eventually being disbanded but hers, the use of Meta powers made a criminal offense and the most powerful of Meta Humans imprisoned in the Ziggurat Prison. 

    The massive political overhaul had meant no one had really noticed her allies rising in power either. The Vanguard had become more visible by the day; at first with more posters proclaiming Earth for Humans, a powerful message when faced with the “terrifying prospect of what these Metas can really do”, then they began the round up; helping the Paragon Police Department and forces all over the country arrest any Metas caught using their powers. Now they patrolled the streets as enforcers armed with suppression array weapons courtesy of Crey Manufacturing, the world’s largest distributer of technology. With the Vanguard and the Crey keeping the city safe, there was no need for anything else. Nothing else but figureheads to fill the void left behind by the Freedom Phalanx. It made for a pretty political dance and Ria was the best damn dancer the world had ever seen. She had even been there the day the mayor had signed the papers to deactivate the War Walls around Paragon City. After all, with no Meta Humans to be a threat, the inter-dimensional Rikti fleet would have no reason to return and start another war. And even if they did, Vanguard and White7 would keep everyone safe. At least that’s what the carefully crafted articles and new specials told everyone. 

     Ria marvelled at what she’d accomplished. All of that in under 3 years. Sure, there’d been some setbacks. There’d been a recent break out at the Zig orchestrated by an underground rebel group of ex-superheroes, but they were nothing White7 couldn’t handle. Although, they weren’t really White7 any more. The loose cannon of the group; Jain Acheson had gone rogue some time after she’d realised his mental conditioning wasn’t working. She had no idea how. He was all brawn and very little brain, but somehow her programming had never quite taken as strong a hold as it had with the others. It didn’t matter. He’d screwed up every relationship he’d ever had in his life in his time with White7. He’d destroyed his long standing friendships with the Outlaw Stars, his original Super Group, tearing them apart and he’d ended his marriage to Tara Sinclair. Ria was confident that even if he went crawling back to them and their rag tag bunch of scum, wasters and criminals they’d never trust him again. And then there was WhiteAlpha, her self-improving Artificial Intelligence that ran White7’s base of operations. Her core programming had been stolen at the same time Jain had broken free from her, but not before any information that could be of use had been scrambled in her memory banks. They’d never be able to decode any of it in time, not without the Gilliam program, and he’d long been deactivated. No, Ria knew, that despite some hiccups, everything was going to work out. 

     She stood in Atlas Park and gazed up at the green glow in the sky and smiled. “It is just a weather phenomenon, Aurora Borealis appearing too far south because of the damage to the atmosphere that weather Controllers had caused over the years”. “The Rikti portals were much greener” “much bluer” “opened much faster than that” No one suspected a thing. No one knew that in less than an hour’s time “Aurora Borealis” would tear open and spew the largest Rikti invasion fleet over Paragon City mankind had ever known. No one but her and her perfected six remaining members of the newly reborn White7. They waited for her in their base, getting used to their new, genetically enhanced bodies. Earth for Humans, that’s how the saying goes. Real Humans. Not the weak, pathetic creatures that built their skyscrapers and drive throughs. The real Humans. The Rikti.

Clicky for Chapter 1!

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