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!

MindWanderer
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Meh, I'll stick with the original.


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

PlatinumWarlock
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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...

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

PlatinumWarlock
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Leave Britney alone!!! ;)

TakeWalker
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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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