The Big Villains Thread

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Villain of the Day:  June 29  (Nimue)

Her story has been told throughout Arthurian legend, echoing down from the earliest of chronicles.  Geoffrey of Monmouth spoke of her as a fairy queen and ruler of the paradisiacal isle of Avalon.  The earliest Welsh historians referred to her as a chwyfleian, a "wanderer of pale countenance", who lured those bold enough to approach her to their deaths.

Most, however, know Nimue as the seductress and murderess of Merlin.  In truth, she was only was able to slay one Merlin:  the magus known as Myrddin Wyllt, who aided Arthur in raising the castle at Camelot and establishing the Knights of the Round Table.  However, Merlin is no person, but rather a title, passed from sorcerer to sorcerer, denoting the most gifted in the ways of the mystic arts.  She ensorcelled that Merlin, sealing him away to die within a cave near the English/Welsh border.  Nimue went on to aid those who fought against Arthur's court, eventually leading to both Arthur's and Mordred's death at Camlann.  The title of Merlin lay dormant for decades, until claimed by George Monck, the Duke of Albemarle, in 1661.

Nimue has continued to live for centuries, siphoning bits of the life essence away from Myrddin Wyllt and other occultists she has captured and entombed over the decades and centuries.  She simultaneously holds a great lust for, and a great hatred of magicians in any form, seeing them as nothing more than tools to sate her immortality.  However, when she became aware that she was not the only creature of her time to live until this strange new era, she quickly reached out to the vagabond known as Vortigern of Kent.  The pair have become fast acquaintances (and occasionally more...), as Vortigern uses his destructive antics to lure out arcanely-gifted heroes, whom Nimue can trap and feed upon.

However, for those willing to risk their very souls, Nimue can serve as a repository of occult and mystic lore.  She knows many long-hidden secrets, such as the forge upon which Excalibur was hammered, the location of the Sangraal, and the three entrances to Nilbog.  However, few who ever consult with Nimue emerge from her island as they entered...

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Villain of the Day:  June 30  (The Pagemistress)

Agatha DeCarlo loved being a librarian.  Sort of.

She loved being around books.  She loved the smell of pages and bound leather.  She loved reading in the big comfy chairs in the east reading room.  She loved roaming the stacks in the archives, surrounded by stack after stack of bound books.  She loved the simple joy of sitting down with a glass of cold-brewed coffee and engrossing herself in some other world.

What she didn't love was the people.  The constant chattering.  The children running back and forth within the stacks with their grubby fingers.  The pudgy housewives asking where they could find the newest bodice-ripper.  The whinging teenagers, complaining about the research papers they had procrastinated on.  The utterly useless volunteers, who couldn't be trusted to find anything in the stacks if their lives depended on it.

Let there be no mistake.  Agatha was a misanthrope, through and through.  Her coworkers detested working with her, but even after her shifts would end, Agatha would stay on, drinking her coffee and reading from the stacks.  But when one of those 'inept' volunteers stumbled upon Agatha's greatest shame--the fact that she had stolen tens of thousands of the library's books, hoarding them for herself in her house.  While the library did not press charges against Agatha, they did confiscate their lost books and fire the angry woman, who cursed the whole group the entire time.

However, little did that library staff know, but Agatha's daily cold-brewed coffee served to be something more.  In this age of miracles and madness, a particle of that mysterious Isoflux Alpha made its way into her drink, leaving the old woman...changed.  

When The Pagemistress first arrived on the scene, her old place of employment was totally unprepared for what was happening.  The three-story library was first besieged by flying monkeys, straight out of that Oz book.  As the Miriam, the head librarian, went to call animal control, she found her office all but gone, replaced with a fiery furnace room which belched toxic smoke and searing flame.  The library entire had turned into a funhouse of literary allusions, each room reflecting one of Agatha's favorite books.  Agatha had been gifted with the power to summon constructs, lifted directly from the pages of any novel within her proximity.

When heroes arrived on the scene, believing themselves to be in the midst of another Dreamer event, they were stunned to find a 60-year-old woman, lounging in the midst of the chaos, sipping on a coffee, totally unaware of their prescence.  When confronted, Agatha played the fool, allowing the heroes to escort her "to safety" even as she maintained her hold on the constructs, battling the heroes (and her former co-workers all the while).  Only after Agatha had fled into the bustle of Megalopolis did anyone piece together that she might have been behind anything.

However, Agatha recently received a most wonderful birthday present from her great-niece/god-daughter:  a brand new e-reader, loaded with all of her favorite open-domain books...

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And, with that, we come to the end of Homage June! 

You know what?  It's hot out.  Damned hot.  It's over 85 degrees outside as I'm writing this, well after sunset.  It's high time we did something about this heat!  Tomorrow, we start Elemental July:  a month of characters who control, manipulate, summon, or become the forces of nature itself!

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Welcome to Elemental July, wherein we feature characters capable of controlling the very elements around them!

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Villain of the Day:  July 1 (Heatsink)

Alberto Silva hated his job.

A line cook at a counter-service noodle joint, he spent every day of his working life in front of either an infrared burner, boiling noodles or sauteeing sausage, or in front of a heat lamp, dropping off food for the counter clerks to dish up into the hapless masses after a cheap meal and sub-standard italian food.

However, a seemingly normal night behind the line triggered a permanent change for Alberto.  While working one of the infrared burners, a short in the electrical line caused the burner to flare.  Instinctively, Arturo reached to pull the pan from the heat, which surged with heat and electricity.  Something in that shock triggered a change in Arturo's bioelectrical system; he could use his bioelectrical system as a conduit to change ambient electrical energy into pure infrared radiation.  At first, Arturo could hardly notice, though the other line cooks often complained of the heat within the kitchen while Arturo was working.  

All that changed, though, came on a single fateful night while Arturo was working the late shift.  While he cleaned up the line, three thugs in ski masks burst through the door, demanding the register.  One of them held Christine, the register girl, at gunpoint while the others cleaned out the register and the restaurant safe.  Flying into a rage, heat seared from Arturo's hands and eyes, slamming into the crooks in tangible beams.  Within seconds, he had not only incapacitated the crooks, but had also increased the ambient temperature of the store itself to over 140 degrees.  Both Christine and their manager, Rudolf, were slumped over, passed out from heat exhaustion.

In that very instant, Arturo made a decision that has shaped the rest of his life.  Glancing around nervously, he grabbed the bag of cash that the robbers had so hastily compiled, and he dashed into the night.

Since that fateful evening, Arturo has made his mark, knocking off liquor stores, mini-marts, and other convenience stores under the street name of Heatsink.  When confronted by police, he has managed to escape each and every time, with officers often suffering from severe burns and heat stroke.  Ironically, the only time Heatsink has ever been approached by a hero, it was maybe the worst possible hero suited to apprehending a heat-based hero:  Absolute Zero.  As quickly as Ryan could sling ice and frost, Arturo dispersed it with naught but a gesture and a wave of heat.  Taking cover, Absolute Zero called in for backup, but by that time, Arturo was well and truly gone.

That chance encounter, however, has only emboldened Heatsink in his efforts, and he has actively begun seeking out other profit-motivated villains with which can ally.  The world has truly yet to see the true capacity of what Heatsink is capable of...

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Villain of the Day:  June 2 (The Sculptor)

The first art student to go missing was Deanna Kahl.  A biochemistry student at Megalopolis State University, Deanna always had a nose for a 'side-hustle'.  She filled out surveys for the psychology department at $5 a pop, she had a 5-star rating as an Ultra driver across campus, and she worked in two separate campus offices.   When the art department called for models at the rate of $50/hour, Deanna jumped at the chance.

Now, Deanna had no major issues with her body and wasn't afraid to go nude, so when an additional opportunity came up, written in plain Times New Roman font and tacked to the art department corkboard, she immediately called the number.

Deanna's body was not found for sixteen days, until a life-size limestone statue of Deanna appeared on the quad, with her corpse draped across the statue's lifeless arms.  Crime scene investigators and foresnsic analysts determined that Deanna was suffocated slowly, with a residue of sand covering her entire body.  Not a hand was laid on her; Deanna's body showed no signs of trauma beyond that of her suffocation.  However, something was particularly notable about the statue of her:  the stone Deanna was entirely bereft of sculptor's markings.  No chisel, no mason's tools had touched the stone.  Even the lone inscription at the base of the statue--"Beauty forever immortalized"--seemed to have been pressed into the limestone as if someone had written in wet concrete with their finger.  But even then, the limestone was structually solid--a masterpiece, assembled if someone had shaped the very stone like clay.

Since that first incident, The Sculptor has struck on at least four occasions.  In each case, a model disappears; within two weeks, a masterpiece-sculpture made of solid, uncut stone appears alongside the corpse of the missing model.  Each sculpture bears that same dread appellation, "Beauty forever immortalized".  

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>tfw Ultra drivers :D

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Villain of the Day:  July 3 (The Wet Bandit)

Rook City police, as per usual, were baffled.

However, this crime seemed to actually have a mystery behind it, as opposed to the RCPD's usual "shrug and walk away" strategy, typically on the take from the Chairman and his flunkies.  

The stage?  The Overbrook Museum of Natural History.  The objects in question?  A series of rare geodes, harboring a notable hexahedral quartz crystal formation seen only in some of the deepest parts of the earth.  The twist?  The the floor surrounding the entire geology wing was soaked in water, as if a pipe had burst above the wing, drenching the whole area.  However, no such leak existed.

Rather, as a private investigator later found out, the robbery came at the hands of--as the RCPD called her, named after that terrible Macauley Culkin movie--The Wet Bandit.  However, when The Night Hunter first encountered her, breaking into an industrial diamond-making firm, he was hardly prepared for what he found. 

The so-called Wet Bandit appeared to be a nude or near-nude woman, with long flowing hair...though her body, hair, and every part of her was made of free flowing water.  Shouting a 'stop!' from the neighboring rooftop, Ansel watched as her liquid form slithered across the rooftop and bodily slammed into him, nearly knocking him from the roof entirely.  Then, just as quickly, she flowed off into some crevice, disappearing from sight.  By the time Ansel had pulled himself back atop the roof, she was gone.

However, the case had been cracked and a lure was set.  Working with Dark Watch, Ansel set up another rare gem exhibit at a similar museum and waited.  Sure enough, the Wet Bandit appeared, literally flowing into the museum through the museum's water main.  As she made her move, The Night Hunter, Expatriette, and The Harpy made their move.  However, after the first salvo of liquid nitrogen rounds, something strange happened.  The Wet Bandit turned, peered quizzically at Expatriette and asked, "Amanda?!"  But as Expatriette made to reply, the Wet Bandit disappeared.

Since that day, Expatriette has pored over her voluminous files on the Citizens of the Sun, trying to figure out who might have become the Wet Bandit, though she's reached no true conclusion.  The mystery of the Wet Bandit's true identity remains just that:  a mystery.

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I guess she's not Calypso, then. :B

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Villain of the Day:  July 4 (Sparkler)

Gwendolyn Fineman loved fireworks.  The bright colors, the smell of charcoal and ozone on a warm summer night.  But most of all, she loved that sound.  The whistle of a Roman candle as it streaked across the sky; the quick pop and crackle of a bottle rocket; and the thunderous *CHOOM* of a mortar shell as it exploded across the sky.  Above all others, she loved the grand finale:  that momentous cacophony when the midnight sky became as daylight and the darkness itself gave way to an apocalypse of light.

In hindsight, that should have been the first tip-off that Gwen wasn't quite right.

By sixteen, Gwen had been in juvenile hall no less than four times on fire-related charges, includin an arson charge surrounding a neighbors' garage, which swiftly spread to their house.  Gwen's parents had no idea of what could be done; therapy hadn't helped her, incarceration did nothing.  Worse, Gwen seemed to revel in the chaos and carnage her fires had caused.  But worst of all?  Gwen had a secret that she had managed to keep from everyone the entire time.  Gwen was a metahuman.

As far back as age 8, Gwen had the ability to charge items with pyrokinetic energy, causing them to overload in a phenomenal burst of red-purple flame.  She had become her very own fireworks show, a living Sparkler.  The larger the object--or, alternatively, the longer she manipulated the object--the larger and more damaging the burst would become.  The Sanders' garage was the first time she'd ignited anything larger than a breadbox--this time, she'd snuck in and detonated Mr. Sanders' prized '68 Masterati.

Upon reaching 18, Gwen's records have been expunged, but more than a few villainous organizations have managed to piece together exactly how Gwen had managed to start all of these fires as well as what the true nature of the the fires entailed.  To date, Gwen has taken jobs for CRETIN, TALOS, and the Slaughterhouse Six, accruing a small fortune in mercenary jobs.  One of her favorite tricks is to use a ball-launcher--the long, flexible piece of plastic typically used to throw balls for dogs in the park--to launch incindiary projectiles much farther than she can typically throw.  Sparkler is still at large, bombastic costume and all, though her bombastic nature surely won't keep her out of the spotlight for long.

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Villain of the Day:  July 5 (Blowhard)

Reginald "Reggie" Milligan made his living on the airwaves.  For years, he'd been a right-wing commentator on a Megalopolis-area AM radio station, though he had finally signed a contract on ZM's "National Liberator" station, giving him his first real big break.

Now, Reggie had always made his bones with the most outlandish of political theories.  These ranged from liberal anarchists raiding a chain of sandwich shops to steal provolone cheese to the embezzlement of funds from Megalopolis infrastructure in order to fund a series of low-freqency broadcast antennas meant to manipulate the brain waves of citizens in preparation for a Maenarian invasion.  Needless to say, Reggie was the laughing stock of any outside of the most feverish of right-wing patriots.

With the opening of a new GLOBAL station in northern Megalopolis, Reggie was more than prepared to stage a protest outside the new location.  What he didn't bank on was a freak rainstorm, much less one that just so happened to contain a particle of Isoflux Alpha.

Standing in the rain, ranting and raving about left-wing conspiracies, Reggie was astounded as his mouth burst forth in a massive torrent of wind.  The louder and faster he ranted, the stronger the force of the wind.  Within moments, Reggie's tirade burst forth in hurricane-force winds, capable of shearing off trees and shattering windows.  As dignitaries and well-wishers fled the scene, Reggie continued his onslaught, hurling insults and wind in equal measure.

Since that day, Reggie has made his powers available to all manner of right-wing forces, including a number of known villains, including White Noise and The Survivalist.  While not subtle by any stretch of the imagination, that Blowhard always has a great deal to say.

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Villain of the Day:  June 6 (Sponge)

Tim Ellis didn't plan on ever turning his unique abilities into a supervillainy, but it just so happened that it provided him quite the methodology.

You see, Tim was something of a human Sponge.  If he focused, Tim could absorb a massive amount of liquid--the current upper limits of Tim's powers are still yet unknown; the largest amount absorbed comprised the entirety of the Lindsay Chipman Reservoir, though he could only hold that much for a few minutes before releasing it.  Tim could hold that liquid within himself (or, more accurately, within a self-contained paradimensional space), then expel it at a later time.  Further, he could control the expulsion at any rate, from a slow trickle to a powerful geyser.  For years, this was a simply party trick for friends and family.  

However, a friend of a friend caught wind of Tim's party trick and offered him a deal he couldn't refuse:  absorb a still of homemade moonshine and walk it across state lines, so that it could be bottled.  Tim, having been eyeing up a new car for a while, and the three thousand dollars he was offered would make for a an ideal down payment.  Of course, with his unique abilities, this sort of smuggling was as discreet as one could ever imagine, and as easy as a Sunday drive.  These routes become a once-weekly outings, with sizable payouts each time.  

And, that's where Tim's greed got the better of him.  Under his street name of Sponge, Tim became the foremost in criminal smuggling.  Anything even remotely liquid could be transported across state and national borders with none the wiser, as Tim racked up the frequent flyer miles.  Within months, Tim had quit his day job, living the high life during the week, and spending his weekends ferrying illegal alcohol, narcotics, and more across borders.  After his first year, he had smuggled his first batch of rocket fuel, his first bioweaponry agent ("That one gave me a bit of heartburn, I'll be honest."), and his first batch of napalm.  It was on the last of those when he came into conflict with GLOBAL for the first time.  That incident led to the horrific burning deaths of fifteen GLOBAL agents before Sponge and his handlers made their escape.  While Sponge is now on their radar, Tim's non-descript appearance and lack of an official criminal record have led him to be difficult to track...

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Villain of the Day:  July 7 (Excavator)

So many villains, so many secret societies...how do they manage to create bases, bunkers, hideaways, and strongholds?  The answer, of course, is Excavator.

Sandra McGinnis always was a touch jealous of those with 'true' superhuman abilities.  While born with the extraordinary ability to shape and re-crystallize earthen materials, she found that her abilities worked much too slowly to be of much use in combat.  Rather, her abilities seemed utterly useless for anything beyond parlor tricks.

That is, until she met Sean Dougal.  Sean was a contractor with a major San Alonzo-based construction firm who had come into contact with Sandra shortly after her high school graduation.  He offered her quite the deal:  change her major to architecture, complete her coursework and certifications, and she could walk into a job as head architect with his firm.  Sandra was confused until Sean escorted her around one of the work-sites for his constrution firm.  As they walked, he illustrated, "Excavation takes days, with all this equipment.  Then we need to pour footers; that's four trucks, over the course of a full week.  Then concrete pillars...all of which you could do in a day or two."

Sandra's eyes lit up.  Over the course of the next four years, she excelled in her coursework, graduating magna cum laude and with all manner of academic honors.  When she joined Sphinx Construction, she was the talk of the company....until the layoffs came.  After it became apparent that Sandra's talents all but replaced dozens of workers, Sphinx found themselves rolling in both profits and jobs, easily able to undercut any other construction or excavation bid in the region.  That, of course, is when the protests started.  The construction workers' union filed a civil suit against Sphinx for eliminating so many jobs, claiming that doing so violated the terms of their extant collective bargaining agreement.  Sphinx countered, arguing that Sandra was able to provide a service not replicable by any of the given workers, though it was clear that the writing was on the wall.  Sandra was given a hefty severance package, but found herself blackballed within the construction industry.

Operating as an independent contractor, Sandra proceeded to hire herself out to private individuals as an excavator, but she quickly grew frustrated with such work.  One job--a bomb shelter for a somewhat off-his-rocker doomsday prepper--piqued her interest, but that was a brief foray.  However, not long afterwards, another individual called, asking about the possibility of a bunker.  Then another, regarding the foundations for a castle in the Pacific Northwest.  Then, an underground laboratory space.  One after another, the job offers rolled in, and The Excavator, as she came to be known, became a very rich woman.

Sandra will be the first to admit.  She's hardly a threat and she's not interested in fighting anyone.  What her clients do or don't do with their new homes was entirely up to them.  She's purely the architect of destruction.

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Villain of the Day:  July 8 (Shifter)

Progeny's deadly march from Rook City to Megalopolis caused irrevocable damage and a staggering loss of life.  When Progeny was finally defeated, while facing down a veritable legion of Earth's heroes, his head rocketed off into the cosmos, leading to a chase across the galaxy as KNYFE attempted to finally destroy the OblivAeon-spawned scion.

Dani Delaney had a front row seat to that climactic fight.  A Megalopolis native for years, Dani found themselves trapped in their apartment as the city itself shook with the thunder of battle.  Thinking quickly, Dani made for a fire escape, only to have that escape plummet three stories and nearly shake them off to a messy death.  Barely making it to the ground, Dani found themselves not 10 feet away from the battle itself, as the heroes landed their final onslaught.

Dani was among the first to congratulate the heroes, as Progeny's body steamed and dissipated away on the ground.  As police, fire, and paramedic crews rushed in, the liquid body of Progeny washed away...at least as far as anyone could tell.  Dani, however, learned otherwise.  Unwittingly, she had walked right through a puddle of Progeny-ooze, with molecules of it almost instantly retreating into their skin.

Shifter's appearance a few years after the OblivAeon affair was more than startling, due to its similarity to Progeny.  However, Shifter had several notable differences:  firstly, Shifter could not seem to remain in any given elemental form for more than 30 seconds to a minute.  Most often, Shifter would manifest several elemental forms at once:  its right arm would be surrounded in flame, while its left was oversized and rocky.  Within seconds, the stone had shifted to mist, and then to noxious fumes, while the right became as ice.  

However, Felicia Parsons was present for both fights...and she remembered Dani.  Calling out, she attempted to convince Dani into returning to their normal form.  She succeeded...for a moment.  Dani's face emerged from the constantly shifting elements, as they fell to their knees, crying.  "Please, help me..." Dani sobbed, "I can't stop.  I just want to be me again..."

Shifter fled the scene as the influence of the cosmic-madness overtook Dani once more.  The Sentinels of Freedom attempted to follow, but lost them in Megalopolis' labyrinthine sewer system.  Neither Shifter nor Dani has been seen since.

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Neeeeaaaaat. :D

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Villain of the Day: July 9 (The Man in the Ice)

He first appeared as the Greenland glaciers gave way. Almost imperceptible within a massive mound of floating sea ice, The Man in the Ice floats across the Arctic Seas, with no motion, no destination, no hint of who he is or what he might be doing.

Scientists who have studied the iceberg note that he has demonstrable life signs. His heart beats once every 3 minutes. He does not breathe, but he has blinked. Twice. However every effort to study him in depth meets with failure: storms, shipwrecks, madness and despair all cloud the various efforts to excavate The Man in the Ice.

Some have surmised that the Man is cursed, with several sorcerers noting a set of nigh-untranslatable runes carved in the underside of the ice. While the full passage had no known translation, one word has made it through. In a form of the ancient Lemurian, the ice is emblazoned with the word "Heretic".

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(Sorry on the short one yesterday--I've been under the weather since Sunday...)

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Villain of the Day: July 10 (Refractor)

Dr. Thomas Dowell was an invisible man.

An opthamologist by day, Thomas spent his days sitting in the dark, asking patients whether 1 or 2 were clearer, whether they could see the farmhouse out in the distance, or to read the fourth line down.  Every day blurred together.  He had no hobbies, no major love interests, no children.  His friends had scattered across the country.  He drove a gray sedan which blended right into traffic, and his fifteen minute commute often passed with no incidents.  Even his lunch was bland, often turkey and provolone on white, with just a touch of mayo.

As such, it may not be that surprisingly that Thomas actually became invisible.  That Tuesday--a cloudless winter day, with a cold and biting wind, Thomas drove into his office and began setting up his equipment.  However, this Tuesday, his assistant came walked in, glanced around the room, then left, calling "Dr. Dowell?  Dr. Dowell, did you leave?"  Thomas poked his head out of the door, claiming (truthfully) to have been within the entire time.   Daria shook her head, "I could have sworn that your exam room was empty...I was just in there."

That whole day, light seemed to work strangely around Dowell.  While diliting a patient's eyes, the light from his pocket flashlight bent around his fingers, almost like a pair of brass knuckles.  While on a break between patients, he stared intently at his desk lamp, which began to focus its light to the point where it caused a notepad on his desk to burst into flame.  Thomas had, in fact, become a human Refractor, able to bend and manipulate light with but a thought.

With newfound power in hand, Thomas' life became anything except normal.  Rather, Thomas became riotous and borderline-manic.  His powers enabled him to focus light down to a laser-like focus capable of dealing damage, warp and distort light to disorient opponents, and (if he stood particularly still) refract light around himself to become invisible.  For once in his life, Thomas had something that set him apart.  Reveling in his new life, Thomas immediately thought to join the Citizens of the Sun--"they're different, just like me!  They're beyond normality!"--but Citizen Dawn's defeat at Insula Primalis made that an impossibility.  However, as Hammer and Anvil begin recruiting once more in the wake of OblivAeon, Refractor may seek them out sooner than later.

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Hope you feel better today!

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I am, thank you. Don't ask me how I ended up with a sinus infection in July, but I'm pretty well over it now.

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Villain of the Day:  July 11 (Iniquity)

As he walks, he casts no shadow.  That's how you can tell him apart, they say.

The creature known as Iniquity was first located following a rash of disappearances at Kingsport State University.  Professor Arnold Madigan, chair of the anthropology department, had gone missing, along with a number of his graduate students.  While some believed this to be some sort of strange, spur-of-the-moment field trip, administration had other ideas.  And, when Emily Zarkonen was found four days later on the campus lawn, screaming about some creature eating the shadows, a manhunt for Madigan and the remaining students began in earnest.

Madigan's body was never found.  However, one by one, the graduate students began trickling in over the course of the next few weeks.  Not one of them, Emily included, cast any shadow.

From the students' testimony, detectives began to piece together what had happened.  Some black-cloaked creature, all too many teeth and claws, had kept them in a system of caverns underneath the Kingsport area.  Therein, over the course of a week, it subjected the students and Madigan to a psychic hellscape, inducing their worst fears over and over again.  Even on solid ground once more, Emily trembled with each step, as if she were about to fall from high tightrope.  Another student, JaRog, constantly scratched at his arms, claiming that he could feel something crawling just under their skin.  

Realizing the strangeness and esoteric nature of the crime, the Kingsport PD turned the case over to Dark Watch, who in turn set The Harpy on the case.  While no sorcerous record exists that details Iniquity itself, several texts link the human shadow to that of an alternate-self linked directly to human fears and insecurities.  Were a creature to directly feed upon those shadows, the arcane power available to the eater would be incalculable.  What's more, though, The Harpy detected something truly anomalous.  Madigan's anthropological work, which his graduate students had been assisting with, dealt with a sect of the Cult of Gloom believed wiped out during the late 1500s.  Atop Madigan's syllabus itself, though?  None other than an English translation of the Grimoire of Curses...

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Villain of the Day:  July 12 (Firewalker)

Heidi Brennan was hardly the ordinary girl next door.  Raised by circus performers with the Ledbetter Brothers Three Ring Extravaganza, her parents spent the majority of any given year on tour.  As such, Heidi spent her days around lion-tamers, trapeeze artists, and juggling clowns.  Her parents, Frank and Becca, though, were fire eaters.  They performed various vapor tricks, such as blowing fireballs, extinguishing flames, fire-twirling, and "The Exotic Wonder of India:  the Crossing of Coals!"

While Heidi was given a traditional education, she knew she was ready to enter the family business.  As early as 14, she was fitted for a purple-sequinned leotard and started learning to walk across hot coals.  Now, while Frank and Becca, kept safety a highest priority, it quickly became apparent that something was particularly strange about Heidi.  Despite near daily exposure to open flame, she never blistered, her hair never charred, and she never received so much as a flash burn.  Heidi seemed completely impervious to flame.

At seventeen, Heidi joined her parents act on a trial basis and became an instant hit.  Her skill with the so-called "dragonstaff" and fire whips left audiences in awe, and her ability to dance and perform on the hottest fiery coals left audiences agog.  However, he piece-de-resistance became the trick she became best known for:  Heidi could leap literally into a roaring bonfire and emerge, completely unharmed, in a similar fire elsewhere.  Heidi was a literal Firewalker, able to teleport through open flames.

However, despite her impressive performances, Heidi alone was not enough to save the Ledbetter Extravaganza.  Owing massive debts to The Organization, who fronted the Ledbetter brothers money to legitimately purchase exotic circus animals, the circus declared bankruptcy.  However, that alone was not enough for The Chairman and his enforcers.  Both Gregg and Clark Ledbetter were found dead in a mysterious car accident three months after the bankruptcy, with another of their associates found dead of a heroin overdose a month after that.

Heidi was incensed.  Rage burned in her, hotter than any flame spun within her hands.  Her parents did their best to talk her down, to get a normal job, to leave the past behind, but Heidi was consumed.  Striking out on her own, the Firewalker has become a noted arsonist throughout Rook City, directly targeting areas frequented by Organization thugs.  Firewalker has been accosted by heroes on a number of occasions, though her stage training with various weapons, plus her tendency to confront these heroes within the still-burning target sites, has kept her on the lam for months on end.  Currently, The Chairman has set a $2m bounty on the Firewalker's life; it may only be a matter of time until Heidi's dreams go up in smoke.

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Villain of the Day:  July 13 (Antaeus)

He claims to be one of the original Atlanteans, trapped and slumbering within a sphere of water deep within the bowels of now-ruined Atlantis.  He brooks no shame in his deeds, building a temple to the sea god Poseidon with the skulls of Atlanteans, Lemurians, and Thulians alike.  

He calls himself Antaeus.

Mythology remembers Antaeus as an opponent of Heracles, who confronted the belabored hero while Hercules sought the path to the Garden of the Hesperides.  Antaeus challenged Heracles, as he had with so many other travelers, to a wrestling contest.  Legend tells that, over the course of the match, Heracles learned Antaeus' secret:  by lifting the warrior off the ground, Antaeus lost contact with the earth, from which he drew his phenomenal strength.  Throughout antiquity, statues of Heracles lifting and crushing Antaeus to death featured across the Old World.  

Naturally, the fact that Antaeus still exists in this brave new world stands as testament to the fact that legend is not always based on truth.

On the rare occasions where Antaeus has emerged in the modern world, he inevitably seeks out the largest, the strongest, and the most physically powerful heroes he could possibly challenge.  Haka fought Antaeus to a standstill in the Ruins of Atlantis before Harka's disappearance, though the sudden appearance of a kraken disrupted the clash, allowing Antaeus to escape.  Since that day, Antaeus has grappled with Fanatic, Legacy, KNYFE, and The Hippo at various points, with the only clear victory for either side coming with Antaeus triumphing over The Hippo.  On all occasions, the longer that Antaeus stays in contact with earth, soil, or stone, the stronger he grows.  With some degree of effort, Antaeus can even armor himself with earth, covering himself in a rock-like carapace which exponentially increases his durability.

In recent days, some of the Sentinels of Freedom historians have suggested the possibility of seeking out Antaeus to serve as a resource:  that he might be able to provide true, accurate information as to the fall of Atlantis and its wars with Lemuria and Thule.  However, it is not likely that Antaeus would be willing to simply 'discuss' the ancient empires in any capacity...at least not unless he could be bested in a challenge!

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Meh, I'll stick with the original.


Sentinels Statistics Project -- Statistics updated daily!

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TakeWalker
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Man, everyone beats the Hippo, that don't make you special! :V

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Hence the only clear victory... :p

Besides, my dude is the actual Antaeus; threat other one is just a statue come to life. It'd get smashed posthaste!

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Villain of the Day: July 14 (Toxic)

Outside of a single incident with The Naturalist and Akash'Thriya, Professor Pollution has always been something of a laughingstock within the rogues gallery of the Multiverse. While her powers are formidable (and could be devastating inthe right hands), her general ineptitude for villainy and the outright absurdity of her plans ("really, you want to steal the whole Atlantic Ocean? The whole thing?) have led her to continual prison time and a number of hero-based concussions.

No longer.

After a long prison stint, Pollution decided that the true difficulty with her plans had been the lack of assistance. Toxic was her answer to this. Chartering a boat to the middle of the Pacific, Pollution enacted a ritual purchased from Hermetic atop the great mound of plastic floating in the ocean. The ritual, which would normally summon a water elemental, was corrupted by Pollution and the region of the summoning. Rather than a flowing blue elemental, Toxic emerged as a lurching, dripping monstrosity which gave off a stench that could make a pig farmer run for the toilet.

Toxic made its first appearance with Pollution in Rook City not long after the OblivAeon event ended, as Pollution sought to take advantage of the carnage by stealing a rare set of radioactive isotopes from a local chemistry laboratory. When Dark Watch showed up on the scene, things seemed to be going as per usual for Professor Pollution, up until Toxic charged through a wall, flinging Mister Fixer across the building and sending Expatriette soaring for cover from a corrosive spray. Setback, as his wont, charged ahead, only to find himself neck deep in the filth and excrement that made up Toxic. Pollution made her escape and, as Dark Watch regrouped to renew the assault, Toxic flowed away down a staff toilet.

Since that day, Pollution and her new partner have made several successful heists, leaving their targets a stinking, reeking mess afterwards. There may be more dangerous villains in the multiverse, but few are certainly as foul...

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Today's villain of the day: With a taste of your lips I'm on a riiiiide~

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Leave Britney alone!!! ;)

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Y'know, I had just gotten that song out of my head this morning. >:V

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Villain of the Day:  July 15 (Wrest)

Tatiana Malloy never intended to rob that first bank.  She didn't even take anything that day.  But once the press gets hold of a metahuman ability like hers, hype and tabloid publicity did her the kind of favor that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

You see, Tatiana hated going to the bank.  While she was perfectly fine with Central United Trust's online service, she found herself having to go into the bank in person each month to move funds from her business savings account--Tatiana turned her side hobby of crochet into a semi-profitable Squeetzy store--over to her personal checking account.  No matter the hour, the bank always seemed to move as slow as possible, with pensioners filling out forms and listening to canned spiels about reverse mortgages, and some inevitable fool in front of her who wanted to cash in a massive jar of change.  That Thursday, though, Tatiana's frustrations just seemed to boil up around her.  Her boss saddled her with an unwanted project, Jerry from the third floor had taken her lunch by accident, and the bank was simply taking longer than ever.  Fuming, Tatiana tried to play a game on her phone, tried to inventory her yarn from memory, but nothing seemed to abate her anger.

That's when the vault door ripped itself off its hinges and soared towards her.  Reflexively, Tatiana threw up an arm as she dropped to the floor and covered her heard.  The vault door simply hovered above her arm, as faint blue discs of energy flickered above her fingertips.  Standing up, she found that she was able to move aside the steel door with ease...until one of the cashiers slammed his hand into the alarm button.  "No!  I'm not doing this on purpose!  I'm not stealing anything!" Tatiana protested, turning to face the cashier.  As she did so, though, the vault door spun away from her, slamming through three walls and into the exterior brick facade of the Groovie Smoothie store next door.  Crying in panic, Tatiana ran.

Now on the run from police, Tatiana took the first bus out of town, heading for her parents' Colorado ranch.  While her parents were at their summer home in Boca, Tatiana knew that she could find some privacy and let things settle down while she figured out what was really going on.  As it turned out, the stress of her bank encounter had unlocked a dormant metagene in her, allowing her to channel her natural bioelectricity into highly focused magnetic fields.  Such a field, as she soon realized, could be used to Wrest a vault door from its hinges, repulse metallic projectiles, and even turn herself into a living railgun, capable of guiding even the simplest objects into a deadly missile.

Already on the run, Tatiana took stock of her situation.  The press in Megalopolis were all over her already; headlines read "Central United Falls Beneath Metahuman Mayhem", with the surveillance footage showing her from the rear, holding the vault door aloft with her newfound power.  At that point, a decision needed to be made.  She could turn herself into the authorities, take responsibility for the carnage at Central United Trust, and likely get locked away for years....or she could steer into the skid.  The Colorado Springs bank where Wrest first appeared never knew what hit it; even when police arrived on scene, they found themselves under a phenomenal barrage of swirling, stinging nickels which beat upon them like a summer hailstorm.  Tatiana made her escape that day with over $600,000 in cash.  Four more banks came in swift succession, followed by a technologies lab and a private vault.  A new metahuman criminal was born...

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Villain of the Day:  July 16 (Pallor)

To be clear, the creature currently referred to as Pallor has no known name.  Every believed investigative lead, every arcane scrying, every scientific testing, have all led to precisely nowhere.  Pallor's true identity remains a mystery.

With that said, there are a number patterns that have emerged upon Pallor's continued appearances, which has kept the case open as to this strange being.

Pallor appears as a featureless hominid with a vaguely feminine form made up entirely of wispy grey-black ash.  It is most often sighted roaming through areas of intense devastation, particularly those brought on by fires or radiation.  Pallor has been sighted a number of times in the ruins of San Alonzo, in burned out buildings in Rook City, and even in the foundation of the former Freedom Tower.  

If undisturbed, Pallor does not regard anyone who observes it.  It simply walks (floats?) through the area, pacing as if looking for something.  If disturbed, however, Pallor shrieks with an unearthly noise and immediately moves to attack any interloper.  While Pallor is incorporeal, it manifests gale force winds laden with choking, biting ash and soot capable of choking the life out of anyone lacking protection.  Pallor rarely attacks for longer than a few minutes, before fleeing into the wind, utterly discorporating before it can be trapped or incapacitated.

Some have theorized that Pallor might be some sort of ghost or otherworldly entity, the truth is actually somewhat stranger.  Pallor is actually no less than four separate alternate universe individuals, conflated together as realities began merging through the OblivAeon event.  Pallor's ever-shifting consciousness continually morphs between The Morrigan (a warrior-woman who channels the might of a Celtic amulet), Sirocco (an aerokinetic who joined her reality's Freedom Seven, Mistwalker (an infiltration expert and thief, held in the Freedom Nine's power-dampening cells), and Doug Berhold, a bystander trapped beneath a girder when a nearby building collapsed.  Because of this conflation, readings and scrying have been utterly fruitless.  Were someone to learn Pallor's true nature, perhaps this strange elemental creature may yet be separated into its portioned individuals...

VGBM
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Good thing that technology villain I forgot to write a couple months ago happens to fit here too.

Lampyridae

It started with a problem, and a solution.

In the wake of OblivAeon, when Megalopolis was facing its energy crisis, Isabell Klein, full-time science teacher and part-time inventor, beleived she could be the one to fix it. It just so happened that one of the many invention ideas she worked on in her spare time was one that conserved energy by alternating between thermal and electric. High on the idea that she could be the person who saved the city, she took a leave of absense from the school and began working on her project full-time. While the Freedom Five was off fighting robots or whatever, Isabell got her first prototype working and recieved permission from City Hall to test it out. Not one to waste time, she hooked it right up to the main powergrid, switched it on, and was knocked unconscious from the resulting explosion.

There were no faults in her design, but the moment she turned it on happened to be the same exact moment that Akash'flora connected her roots to the power grid and started flooding it with void energy, overloading the machine and having a strange effect on Isabell herself. When the machine blew up, the void energy somehow "transferred" its function onto Isabell's body, giving her the ability to generate heat and electricity at will.

When she came to and realized all this, she was furious. Not because her only prototype of revolutionary technology was destroyed, not because the past several months she spent working with no pay was wasted, but because some "magic tree" had upstaged what should've been her moment! Isabell, however, was an opportunist, and with these new powers she had a new job lined up for her. If she wasn't gonna be famous as an inventor, she could always become famous as Lampyridae (pronounced lam-peer-i-dee), a master of fire and lightning, and antagonist to any and all magic users.

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Villain of the Day:  July 17 (Asphalt)

Francis T. Alvarado was always bad to the bone.

Once a long-haul truck driver, T-Rich was fired by his parent shipping company after he nearly came to blows with a warehouse dock supervisor.  After punching a hole in his own boss's office door, T-Rich stormed off on his low-rider, more than ready for a long stint of highway riding.  Driving--whether in his big rig, his pickup, or astride his low-rider--was T-Rich's one true passion.  He couldn't get enough.

That Friday afternoon, though, was a humid, sticky one.  Morning rain had made the road a touch slick, though T-Rich was more than capable of handling the roads.  What he didn't count on handling, however, was the road spray.

T-Rich raged as a sedan cut him off, spraying him down with leftover road spray.  And, as it ever seems to do, that road spray just so happened to contain a particle of the enigmatic Isoflux Alpha.  T-Rich opened up the throttle on his motorcycle, roaring up beside the offending sedan and began pounding on the window.  As he fumed, his clenched fist became grey-black and stony, smashing through the sedan's window with ease.  Panicking, the sedan-driver pulled away off a nearby exit ramp as T-Rich pulled to a stop on the shoulder, looking incredulously at his hands.  

The Isoflux Alpha particle in that road spray interacted with T-Rich's biology, transforming him into a being of living Asphalt, providing him proportionate strength and durability.  After making it home, T-Rich found that he could repress or release this form at will, appearing in his normal guise for an indefinite amount of time.  

Naturally, T-Rich's temper made this newfound power into a lethal weapon.  While his local biker gang, the Northtown Outriders, was always prone to drunken violence, T-Rich took command of them and began shaping them into a full-on, violent mercenary company.  Since that day, T-Rich has turned his talents and his resources towards other villains, often hiring out his gang as hired muscle or as armed smugglers.  Asphalt himself takes on particularly high-volatility jobs, and is quick to personally taken on any would-be heroes who would interrupt the job.  When he's paid well, Asphalt is loyal and stalwart as one could want; when the cash runs out, you can be sure that T-Rich and his crew will be back on the road.

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Villain of the Day:  July 18 (Smokescreen)

Bettina Orsolya never thought much of her powers.  That is, until she became a mercenary.

Raised in what is now Macedonia, Bettina grew up in the heart of the Balkan conflicts.  Her childhood was continually interrupted by vicious street-fighting, UN evacuations, and ration days.  Each day where she managed to make it to school, put together a reasonable dinner, and sleep in her own bed was a victory.  In amidst the chaos, Bettina's metahuman abilities--she could hypercondense the water vapor in the air, forming a dense, opaque fog--went almost unrecognized all the way through her 20s.

Bettina's brother, Sergey, knew better.  Sergey was a mercenary with the Kings of Sabor, a group allied with the Serbian government during the Balkan conflicts.  As the conflict raged on and the UN became involved, the Kings of Sabor were desperate for new recruits.  Enter Iyo the Crystalline Man, the known metahuman recruiting agent.  After consulting with Sergey and his commander, Iyo came to approach Bettina with quite the offer.

Four days later, Smokescreen made her first appearance on the battlefield.  She became living cover for her brother and his allies, swirling fog and mist into the Bosnian ranks, making them easy pickings for the more-combative mercenaries.  Better than any smoke grenade, Bettina could shape the cover over time, spreading it through buildings, up and down stairwells, and into inaccessible areas.  With focus and practice, she soon became able to carry dust and debris into her summoned fog, turning it into a churning, choking miasma capable of incapacitating those without proper lung protection.  While creating such a fog is slow and not particularly damaging, Bettina's mastery of her powers has made the Kings of Sabor a force to be reckoned with.

Alongside her unpowered allies (and a few other metahuman recruits), Smokescreen has become a more than capable combatant in both ranged and hand-to-hand combat.  And, if unchecked, the Kings of Sabor may become a destablilizing force the world over.

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Villain of the Day:  July 19 (Fester)

Matt Denning hated vegetables.

As a child, his mother continually insisted that he down every last green bit on his plate, regardless of whether he liked it or no.  Never mind that Mom's favored method of cooking vegetables was simply to put them in a sauce pan, toss a few pats of butter on them, and let them sit until they became a gray-green mush; Matt was going to eat those vegetables or he simply wasn't going to leave the table.

As such, Matt developed an intense dislike for any sort of vegetables.  Broccoli made him gag, brussels sprouts turned his stomach, and asparagus?  Just don't ask about asparagus.

Imagine, then, Mom's surprise when, while Matt was playing out in the yard, every piece of grass upon which Matt sat wilted and began to decompose.  If he climbed a tree, he would leave behind handprints of decay in his wake, in each branch he touched.  After being examined by numerous doctors, none truly understood what happened.  It wasn't until Matt became a teenager, whereupon his powers intensified exponentially.  Matt could decay and rot any plant life within the vicinity with but a thought, turning fresh produce into rotted paste in naught but seconds.

For quite a while, Matt's "party trick" was simply the province of teenage vandalism.  A simple stroll through a farmer's market could turn an enjoyable Saturday morning into a gag-inducing miasma, which amused Matt to no end.  After his mother asked him to please, look into some kind of power-dampener or the like, Matt amped up his efforts, targeting farmers for extortion.  He threatened to annihilate entire fields of crops, unless those farmers paid him handsome monthly sums.  Taking the name Fester, Matt made thousands of dollars at a clip, through his agricultural extortion racket.

While this low-grade villainy rarely comes into conflict with most superheroes, despite Matt's unique powerset, it was only through the intervention of Green Grocer that Fester ended up appearing on the Sentinels' radar.  Incensed upon hearing underworld rumors of Fester's destruction of a massive soybean farm, Green Grocer tracked down Fester, engaging him in battle at a regional corn festival.  The ensuring destruction leveled the festival, though heroes were able to contain the combat and prevent any significant loss of life.  However, both Green Grocer and Fester escaped; their feud will certainly come to a head once more...

TakeWalker
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"He's sullen."
 
"He's furtive."
 
"Backstabbing."
 
"He sulks."
 
"I suspect him."
 
"You're unbalanced."
 
"And I hate him. By God, you're right! He is Fester!"

PlatinumWarlock
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All he needs is a light bulb and a black cassock. :P

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Villain of the Day:  July 20 (Black Hole)

Robin Molina was born to be a supervillain; it just took her a while to make it happen.

Ever the loner during school, Robin spent most of her time sketching landscapes or writing out lengthy fan-fiction about the various heroes and villains that seemed to be an omnipresent presence in Megalopolis.  Of all the villains that plagued the city, though, Robin was fascinated most by Citizen Dawn and her legion of metahuman followers.  She imagined herself marching as a Citizen of the Sun, roaming the hall's of Dawn's Insula Primalis fortress, and commanding power and awe.

The problem was...she had no superpowers.

That is, until a chance encounter with a man named Moriarty.  After serving him for three days in a row at the Dad's Restaurant where she worked, Robin accidentally left her notebook on the counter near Moriarty while she went into the kitchen to pick up several orders.  When she returned, she found him scanning through one of her recent stories, smirking.  "Dawn allying with Baron Blade?" Moriarty smiled, "As if either of their egos would permit them such an endeavor.  No vision.  No sense of practicality."

Robin froze.  This man spoke as if he knew these people.  As if they were peers or friends.  "Do you...know...these people?"

Moriarty smiled, not answering.  He paid his bill, tipped rather heavily, under which he left a nearly-blank business card, marked only with a phone number.

Three days later, Robin disappeared.  One year to the day after that, Black Hole made her first appearance.

No one seems to know from where Black Hole's powers stem, though her utter brutality and the zeal with which she uses her powers nearly brought about the deaths of four new recruits to the Sentinels of Freedom in a skirmish outside of a Georgia army base.  At first, reports seemed to indicate that Black Hole had a degree of telekinesis, but the truth of her abilities were both stranger and deadlier.  Black Hole seems to have the abilty to eliminate or simply eradicate air within a localized region, creating areas of intense vacuum capable of pulling a person from their feet, flinging objects across rooms, or outright suffocating her foes by preventing any oxygen from reaching their lungs. 

By creating these null fields, she was able to incapacitate several base guards with but a moment of thought, tear the roof from the bunker in which they were stationed, and sling it like a discus towards an oncoming personnel carrier.  While her encounter with the Sentinels of Freedom was minimal, Black Hole flung Starlight nearly a quarter mile away, left Silver Sparrow an unconscious, breathless heap near the front gates, and pinned Freefall and Ki-Rin beneath the aforementioned bunker roof.  What she stole from the base is still anyone's guess, as none of the Sentinels got a good look at any items carried by Black Hole and the military has been particularly tight-lipped as to what was going on in the base at all.  

Black Hole has since reappeared a number of times, each time at a military base or some other location of great strategic import.  However, detaining her has been a task no hero has managed to date.

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Villain of the Day: July 21 (Stormbringer)

The being calling itself Stormbringer would likely have looked much different, had The PageMistress actually read Moorcock's seminal fantasy series instead of just skimming the front cover.

The nascent hero group calling themselves the Eldritch Alliance first encountered Stormbringer when attacking a coven of vampires under the Court of Blood. Little did the Eldritch Alliance know, though, that Relict Dorothea had intended to meet with The PageMistress that midnight to discuss the transfer of a series of tomes on blood magic written by the sixth Merlin, Charles Webster Leadbeater.

When the Eldritch Alliance burst in, PageMistress conjured the first being she could pull from her tablet: an albino warrior holding a jet black sword aloft. Of course, she thought, Stormbringer... he controls lightning... What PageMistress didn't bargain, for however, was the interaction between her abilities and the ambient blood magic in the area. Instead of merely creating a fictional simulacrum, PageMistress had conjured a fully functional being of blood magic and arcane power.... totally in thrall to Dorothea. The warrior leapt to attack the Eldritch Alliance, flinging blasts of lightning and screaming a battle cry for "blood and souls to my dark lord Arioch!"

While both the PageMistress and the Eldritch Alliance fled the scene, Stormbringer has remained, a blood simulacrum of the fictional warrior, in complete thrall to the Court of Blood, whom it serves as an omnipresent bodyguard. Apart from its likeness and a few cursory details, it has no true similarity to the tales of fiction. The PageMistress would love to have such a defender of her own back, but all attempts to replicate the occurrence have ended in failure...despite her actually sitting down to actually read the books this time.

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Villain of the Day:   July 22 (*Name Unknown to Human Tongue*, called Ashes)

The citizens of Magmaria have managed to maintain a tenuous peace with the surface world, despite continual incursions by would-be conquerors, villains and other interlopers.  Each time, an alliance of surface heroes and Magmarian peacekeepers have managed to beat back the invasion, saving both species of Earth.

The being currently codenamed Ashes would see all that come crashing down.

A xenophobic, genocidal maniac, Ashes watched as Baron Blade attempted to tap into the core of the earth, hoping to cause a global volcanic eruption.  Blade's plans were thwarted, but much of Blade's technology remained, albeit in a broken form.  Ashes immediately set to work, stealing the various drilling devices and beginning to establish an anti-surface cult of personality.  While Ashes itself does not stand as the 'face' of its own movement, it manipulates the full group behind the scenes, subtly moving the Magmarian people against the surface.

However, Ashes plan is not one of Magmarian supremacy.  Rather, it is one of annihilation.  Ashes has retrofitted Baron Blade's devices such that, if it completes its research, Ashes will be able to shunt the thermal energy of Earth's inner core into space, via a massive 'chute' of energy.  The Earth's core, so cooled, would utterly devastate both the planet's overall climate, but also its magnetic field, effectively 'demagnetizing' the core.  Should his plans reach fruition, Ashes' plan would not only destroy all life on Earth's surface, but also destroy all of Magmarian society.  Ashes' anti-surface cult has no knowledge of the second part of this plan; they have been sold the plan on the basis of conquering the surface in the name of Magmaria.  

Few clues exist as to this strange plan, but the one person who may know the most about it is the equally-genocidal villain, Fissure.  Fissure, however, wants nothing more than the utter destruction of Magmaria, though this may be yet another case where "the enemy of my enemy is my friend..."

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Villain of the Day:  July 23 (Sumac)

Park Ranger Nathan Wilkes loved the outdoors.  He grew up in a family of hikers, spent his summer vacations at camp, and went to college for biology and ecological management.  His greatest love was nothing short of wandering through the American wilderness, getting a glimpse at some vista that only few had ever managed to see.  He'd through-hiked the Appalachian Trail on four separate occasions, once in the middle of Hurricane Ida.  To say that Wilkes loved nature was an understatement.

As you can imagine, though, the devastation left behind in recent years, from Deadline, Progeny, and OblivAeon, had left Wilkes in something of a stupor.  Nearly every one of his waking moments was spent in some sort of recovery effort, whether helping to contain a ruptured oil pipeline, fundraising at some preservation society dinner, or protesting for more government funding.  Between all these, Nathan was exhausted.  His friends could tell, his girlfriend could tell, and most of all, his boss could tell.

As such, supervisor Mary commanded:  "Vacation.  Mandatory.  Two weeks.  And if I see pictures of you anywhere remotely natural on your Instant-Gram, you're fired.  Go do one of those escape rooms or something; take your girlfriend out somewhere that's not vegan."  Much to his chagrin, Wilkes replied.

However, during that vacation, his life took a drastic turn.  Defying his boss's orders, Nathan went on an extended hike through the Laurel Mountains, whereupon he found the strangest glowing meteorite in a patch of poison sumac.  As he approached, he made to touch the rock...and that's when everything went black.  Aida, Nathan's girlfriend, found him several hours later and called EMS Express; Nathan awoke in a county hospital in quarentine, his body covered in the telltale blotches of poison sumac.

Over the next few weeks, Nathan found himself changed.  His body, not even remotely damaged by the toxic leaves of the sumac, had actually absorbed and stored the toxin, allowing him to exude it through his exposed skin.   However, the OblivAeon shard which changed him also changed his mind.  Nathan's zeal to protect nature and return the world to its original form became a mania.  Divesting himself of all worldly possessions, Nathan--now calling himself Sumac--began to travel the world, absorbing all manner of plant and animal toxins and laying waste to any who would defile the environment.

Of late, Sumac has become intensely fixated on Akash'Thriya, viewing her as something of a perfect, deific being.  Torn between romantic and religious love for the ancient earth spirit, Sumac has traveled to Megalopolis, ready to serve the massive Akash'Flora tree....whether it wants a servant or not.

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So he hasn't quite reached the "civilization is a defilement of the natural order" stage yet, huh?

PlatinumWarlock
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He's working on it, slowly but surely...

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Villain of the Day:  July 24 (Scaedukex)

The ancient relics of lost Atlantis, Thule, and Lemuria have always provided a tempting prize for any daring (or foolhardy) enough to seek out such forbidden places.  Genevieve Nelson, the current host for the Scaedukex, has already paid the for her greed countless times over.

A deep-sea researcher working as part of a team investigating the ruins of Atlantis, Genevieve was constantly fascinated by the links between Atlantis and its rumored otherdimensional counterparts.  While the expedition to Atlantis was made with all possible precautions, given the volatile and esoteric nature of Atlantean architecture, particularly in its ruined state.  All researchers were paired off, with mandatory fifteen minute check-ins and constant walkie-talkie channels open.

All that, and it still wasn't enough.

Pulled through a momentary portal, Genevieve found herself shunted outside the Atlantis ruins, subjected to the crushing depth and darkness of the sea.  Realizing she had but seconds to survive, Genevieve grasped for anything that might allow her to get back inside before her scant breath ran out.  What she grabbed, however, was something she should have left well enough alone.

Her hands wrapped around a rod of onyx, with almost imperceptible carvings covering every inch of its surface.  As she swung against the Atlantean crystal dome, the rod pulled her straight through the crystal, as if utterly intangible.  However, as she landed on the floor of a previously-undiscovered room, the rod itself began its suppression of her mind.  Within seconds, Genevieve was no more.  The Scaedukex had taken her.

To the best determination of the world's heroes, The Scaedukex seems to be a malevolent force capable of utilzing and manipulating shadow as if a tangible force.  Heroes have reported seeing Scaedkex, in Genevieve's general silhouette, blast bolts of darkness, teleport through areas of darkness, wrap shadow around herself to move through tiny cracks and crevices, and blind unsuspecting targets.  Further, the darkness conjured by the Scaedkex seems to bear all the crushing pressure of the deep sea, capable of breaking bones and suffocating those who would face it.

Only only one occasion has the Scaedukex rod had been removed from Genevieve's hand.  Within seconds, she had regained her normal form, breathing deep her freedom....for a single instance.  As The Harpy moved to approach Genevieve to offer aid, the shadows coalesced around the Scaedukex rod, slamming it into her sternum...instinctively she reached to stop it and, as her hand made contact with it once more, the Scaedkex took control, fleeing the scene entirely.  Genevieve can be freed, at least temporarily...but on a permanent basis, no one knows.

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Villain of the Day:  July 25 (Bilious)

Neal Calderon wasn't exactly the most popular fellow around his Rook City accounting office.  His cubicle was continually a mess of used food wrappers and crumpled papers.  His female coworkers complained of leering stares and his continually shrinking personal bubble.  His male coworkers complained of the sour smell that seemed to accompany him everywhere and the off-color commentary that earned Neal more than a few visits to the human resources office.

Neal took this all in stride, as it turns out.  While he wasn't particularly one for personal change or growth, he easily shrugged off such accusations as mere 'trolling' and that these people didn't know the real him.  As it turns out, no one knew the real him.  

Unbeknownst to his coworkers or anyone in his family, Neal had a side job.  His expertise in accounting had earned him the eye of The Chairman, who was sure that he could use someone like Neal to 'cook the books', so to speak.  As such, Neal began spending his evenings working out of a Pike Industries warehouse, tweaking Excel spreadsheets and strategizing market moves to ensure the best investments for his new employers.

In doing so, though, something changed in Neal.  Whatever fumes or remnants that were left in that warehouse interacted with Neal's biochemistry in some strange way, transforming him.  When Neal exhaled after a long session at the computer, his breath emerged as a column of yellow-brown, corrosive fumes, which ate right through the warehouse wall.  Stunned, Neal fell from his chair.  Rising to his feet, he tried again:  a thin stream of breath projected across the room, sizzling through the steel of the warehouse wall.

Of course, The Chairman never loses track of an asset.  He promoted Neal within the Organization, putting him in charge of a number of major illicit financial affairs.  Under the code-name Bilious, Neal supervises a number of illegal gambling dens, dogfighting rings, and bare-knuckles boxing fights.   On the rare occasions where Neal has been confronted, his newfound gaseous ability has managed to allow him to escape each and every time. 

However, in recent weeks, Bilious has found that his grip on his powers--strong since the outset--has become somewhat tenuous.  His body, as well, has been exuding the yellow-brown corrosive mist that he once only exhaled.  Could it be that Bilious may discorporate entirely?  Or, worse, what if his entire body disperses into that foul miasma?

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Villain of the Day:  July 26 (Anthracite)

"You load 16 tons / what do you get? / Another day older / Lord, and deeper in debt..."

The being that wrenched itself out of the Morgantown-area coal mine left a trail of destruction in its wake. 

The Red Garrett Mining Company was already reeling in the face of an ongoing labor strike, as the company's mineworkers shared their dissatisfaction with the company's cuts to the miners' health plans and opted against providing the requested 4% cost of living pay increase.  Between the stalled mining efforts during the OblivAeon events and the now-two-week long strike, Red Garrett's staring down the barrel of a third straight year of corporate losses.

The being that emerged from that mine had no care for such mortal matters.  It was interested in only in carnage.

In the midst of a break in the striking--many of the workers had opted to grab a quick lunch at some of the local food trucks--a grey-black fist slammed up through the concrete of the mine entrance, sending shrapnel in all directions.  Two massive black fists ripped apart the earth, pulling up a hominid figure seemingly made of coal.  The creature rampaged through the mine entrance, leaving massive craters in the earth as it walked, crumpling trucks and mining equipment as it passed.  

Police on scene immediately moved to intercept the creature, drawing sidearms and radioing for backup, as the workers scattered.  As the first few bullets landed, the creature's eyes flared with the familiar red-orange glow of embers.  The creature barreled forward, smashing through a police cruiser, tossing it aside as if it were so much detritus.  But, with each stride it made, the creature glowed redder and hotter until it burst aflame!

Heroes arrived on scene within minutes, but by the time they arrived, the only being still extant in the Red Garrett Mining Company was Anthracite, still glowing red-hot.  Bodies littered the mine entrance as Anthracite continued to smash an already-splintered piece of mining equipment.  Combat against Anthracite proved to be particularly difficult, as its flaming exterior seemed to prevent a number of energy-based assaults, while its rocky body proved resistant to all but the most devastating melee attacks.  However, the heroes managed to lure Anthracite back into the mine proper and collapsed the mine atop it, sealing it within.

Unfortunately, doing so may have sealed Morgantown's fate.  Geologists have detected significant thermal activity in the coal veins running under the whole city; effectively, the coal upon which the area was built has caught fire.  The Sentinels of Freedom have already taken heat (pun not intended) for training-based indiscretions, though their confrontation with Anthracite may well result in a whole city requiring evacuation...

As for what Anthracite is or where it came from?  None seem to know.  Some have theorized that it might be some kind of Magmarian enforcer, though Magmarians are never seen so close to the surface and are capable of communication.  Others have surmised that Anthracite is some sort of arcane guardian or golem, though no investigation has yet been made as to the truth of this theory.  Ideally, the world has seen the last of Anthracite.

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Villain of the Day:  July 27 (James Keller)

The metahuman-repressor holding cells beneath Freedom Plaza are a war-crime waiting to happen.

Not two cells down from Squall--the comatose, snowstorm-summoning Omega from Greenland--sits a sullen young man.  He spends most of his day slumped against the walls of his cell, aimlessly drawing in a sketchpad.  He spends at least an hour each singing; Johnny Cash and Tom Petty are particular favorites, though he also has an affinity for 90s-era alternative.  The power-dampener collar and and cuffs around his neck and wrists often chafe him, so he applies moisturizer beneath each at least 4 times a day.

His name is James Keller and if Meredith Stinson is to be believed, he will destroy the world.

James, yet another metahuman in the wake of OblivAeon, subconsciously manipulates the weak nuclear force in an exponentially expanding radius around him.  Were his powers to be unchecked, the nucleus of every atom surrounding James would speed towards radioactive decay, disintegrating everyone and everything in an ever-expanding circle around him.  

In what surely brooked some diagreement amongst the storied heroes, The Freedom Five collected James at the request of his mother, a leukemia patient who believed something was wrong with her son and was unable to care for him as she approached her deathbed.  Upon significant medical testing, the group isolated James in his family home.  The entire surrounding neighborhood had already become a massive radioactive hotbed, with ambient radiation levels well exceeding the safe limits for humans.

James was taken, his powers nullified, and every person in a sixteen block vicinity of James' home was relocated. 

James' mother has since died, though the controvery of James' seeming "disappearance" has not gone unnoticed by the residents of his former neighborhood.  Led by Morris McMahon, the residents have already filed a class-action lawsuit against the Freedom Five's negligence in the neighboorhood, and their lawyer is already prepping subpoenas to the various F5 members to determine exactly what has happened that fateful day and what happened to James.

Right now, James is unaware.  But, more than anything, he wants to be free.  And if someone were to give him the means of escape, the whole world may suffer the consequences.

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Villain of the Day:  July 28 (Coronal)

International intelligence agencies have identified him as Brian Wilhite, a native of San Alonzo whose body was identified and interred in a Southern California mausoleum.  Who he claims to be, however, is another matter.  Rather, he goes by Coronal, and claims that he is the son of Citizen Dawn.

Coronal first appeared in the wake of the Progeny event, during a routine aerial patrol over Insula Primalis.  Heroes were forced into evasive action as a bolt of brilliant, coruscating energy whirled up from the ruins of the Citadel of the Sun, disabling the right engine of their aircraft.  After making a (relatively) safe landing, the group entered the ruins, only to find a blond haired boy of no more than 14, sitting atop the shattered throne once held by Dawn Cohen herself.  At first, heroes believed that Coronal was perhaps some holdover Citizen--a minion of Dawn's that had come back to reclaim some relic or piece of technology left behind in the wake of the battles that sundered the Citizens of the Sun.  However, as battle was engaged, this swiftly appeared not to be the case.

Rather, Coronal appears to have full mastery of his powers, utilizing ultraviolet and infrared light as weapons and even charging up his entire body until he becomes a blinding, luminous being.  However, it appears that Coronal can--much like Dawn herself--only hold such a form for a short time before reverting to his normal, organic form.  In truth, the similarities between Dawn's power-set and Coronals are numerous, though Coronal seems to have no ability to animate dead tissue, nor does he have any ability to energize or vitalize his compatriots.  However, his mastery of solar radiation has extended to that of searing, blinding blasts, capable of igniting flammable materials in an instant.

Upon Coronal's appearance, Citizen Dawn was confronted at the nearest opportunity and has, strangely, denied ever siring a son.  While Dawn has lied and deceived about a great many things, the likelihood of her turning down a powerful metahuman heir seems unlikely.  In practice, Dawn has shown herself to want nothing to do with Coronal, outright denying any link between the two.  However, the evidence to link the two seems overwhelming...perhaps only the cosmos knows the truth.

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Villain of the Day:  July 29 (Bloom)

Eliza Harkins never thought much of plants, until they became her best friends. 

A longtime native of Megalopolis, Eliza's botanical experiences were often relegated to the occasional jog through Centennial Park or the occasional brunch at Hibiscus, the restaurant adjoining to the Megalopolis Botanical Gardens.  However, as the Akash'Flora tree rose through the center of the city, Eliza found herself at the heart of the chaos, with her apartment building literally rent in twain by the massive trees.  As vines and trees cracked the concrete and twisted the steel of her building, Eliza was sure that she was dead.  The limbs closed in around her, sharp spines pierced her flesh, and she prepared for the end.

But the growing stopped.  Eliza, borderline-impaled upon the branches of Akash'Flora, lay trapped in her apartment for two days until fire and rescue managed to extricate her from the branches.  She spent over four weeks in the hospital recovering from her injuries, and another six months on disability.

It wasn't until Eliza went back to work, though, that her powers first manifested.  When coming back to her office, Eliza found a number of flower arrangements across her desk, most in various states of rot and decay.  Reaching out to clear off her desk and return to her once-upon-a-time routine, the potted begonia on her desk glowed with a faint green shimmer.  In but a few seconds, the plants grew from a withered brown stalk to a fully bloomed floral arrangement.  Eliza jumped back, holding the pot at arm's length.  Within minutes, every pot in the office was in full bloom, with vines trailing across her desk chair and buds bursting over her cubicle wall.

Alarmed, Eliza made for the elevator and a breath of fresh air outside.  The green glow had abated, but as she leaned against a tree, the radiance returned as the tree split the concrete, growing from a mere sapling into a massive behemoth in mere moments.  Bloom had sprouted.

Eliza hadn't intended to become a villain, but it was only after she was approached by the Argent Adept, the Naturalist, and Akash'Thriya that she began to use her powers offensively.  Drake attempted to explain that something had happened when Eliza was impaled upon Akash'Flora's branches--that a measure of the tree's power had infused itself in her and that it needed to be returned immediately.  Eliza disagreed, with words at first, then with a lash of vines that nearly snapped the virtuoso's neck.  While the heroic trio tried to reason with Eliza, she was beyond the capacity of reason.  She planned to keep her accidentally-stolen powers, no matter the cost.

Since that day, Bloom has been sighted in a number of locations, mostly offering her services to villains planning to take on the aforementioned natural trio.  While she has no real compunctions towards villainy--no nefarious plots, no intent to do harm to any outside Drake, Conteh, and Akash'Thriya--Bloom has made a life for herself as a natural mercenary for hire, with every plant in the vicinity as a weapon, waiting to be grown.

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Villain of the Day:  July 30 (The Rain Man)

Before the storm comes, there's a baking, stagnant heat.  The sort of heat that just intensifies and deepens as the days go one.  The sort of heat that, after the first few days, starts to affect your mood.  Starts to make you irritable and short-tempered.  Hot under the collar.  That's when the storm breaks.

The people of Blue Pastures, Iowa know this phenomenon all too well.  Two years ago, they were paid a visit by The Rain Man.

Very few of the residents of Blue Pastures remembers much about the fellow they now call The Rain Man.  Choctaw County Sheriff Jerry Stane claims that he shared a cup of coffee with the fellow--a non-descript brunette fellow, dressed in a long black raincoat and purple wellies--over at Millie's Lunch 'Em Rite.  Homemaker Sherilynn Bowers claims that he stopped by her daughter's lemonade stand, where he gave little Sheila a whole dollar for the 25 cent cup of sugar water.  At all times, he was affable and pleasant, but always seemed to manipulate the persons he spoke to into venting their frustrations and anger, usually about neighbors or coworkers.

For Jerry Stane, that was one of his deputies, the "damned incompetent" Horace Garfunkle.  For Sherilynn, that was the mother of Sheila's friend Mae, who was "a heinous witch".  After nearly a week of baking heat and subtle influence from The Rain Man, the residents of Blue Pastures were at each others' throats.

Then, the lightning came.  A low rumble sounded across the horizon.  The humidity seemed to rise to a cresendo as The Rain Man strode right down the middle of Maple Street, his purple wellies squelching with each step.  

A shot rang out from the police station, then three more.  Deputy Garfunkle lay across his desk in a pool of rapidly spreading blood.  Mae Hensworthy gagged and clutched at her throat, not realizing the secret ingredients that Sherilynn had dropped into those snickerdoodles.  All across town, neighbor turned against neighbor, with the body count steadily rising as a cacaphonous peal of thunder cracked against the sky and the rain finally came pouring down.

And, standing before the old white gazebo at the town center, The Rain Man stood and raised his arms to the heavens...and simply vanished, searching for another town in need of rain.

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Great aesthetics. :D

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Villain of the Day:  July 31 (The Meteorologists)

The arrival of the Maerynian people on the plant Earth was a relatively unheralded result.  The appearance of the hero known as Tempest brought suspicion from some, but most didn't even bat an eye at another metahuman willing to take up arms against the likes of Baron Blade and Citizen Dawn.  Even the establishment of the Maerynian refuge on Plavu'Col was relatively unheralded, with its isolationist population and its distance from most other human-inhabited settlements.

The Meteorologists, however?  They saw opportunity when it knocked.

Originally starting as a small geoscience affiliation--the International Association of Meteorology and Geosciences, as it was known on its journal title--the very concept of the weather-manipulating Maerynian species seemed an utterly foreign concept to them.  The very idea that an individual could disrupt global weather systems seemed impossible.  And yet, Tempest existed, as did his alien allies.  Something had to be done.

Dr. David Holston had an idea of what that something had to be.  Chartering a fishing boat into the Atlantic, Holston did the unthinkable.  He captured a live Maerynian, known as K'nn Da'Laas.  With the assistance of several nefarious allies in the scientific community, Holston began to experiment on his subject, eventually isolating the portions of the alien's brain responsible for its phenomenal metahuman abilities.  And, while he was no engineer, he certainly had enough contacts to begin the assembly of a rig designed to replicate the same metahuman powers.  Within months, Holston had a working piece of headgear, turning him to the Meteorologists' first atmokineticist.

Since that day, Holston has gathered a legion of disgruntled scientists, geologists, and researchers to his cause, as he and his group attempt to unlock humankind's mastery of the weather.  Taking up in an abaondoned weather station off the coast of Massachusetts, The Meteorologists have worked tirelessly to continue replication of Maerynian powersets, ranging from lightning-channeling harnesses and rain-summoning headgear, to ice cannons and tornado projectors.  Their crowning achievement, though?  A device that, when completed, will cause a snowstorm capable of covering approximately 2/5 of the Earth.  In just a few days, the ability to destroy entire nations will be in the hands of a mad weatherman...

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

And with that, we reach the end of Elemental July.  Definitely a hot one, that!

As some of you might have guessed, I will be taking another break to attend GenCon.  As such, there will be no Villain of the Day until Tuesday, August 7th, at which point we will begin AugHost--a month of villains tied to the engimatic emotion-beings known as The Host.

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