The Big Villains Thread

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TakeWalker
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Have fun!

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Now that we're back from GenCon--my voice still hasn't recovered from 30ish hours of GMing--welcome to AugHost, a month detailing the denizens of the enigmatic emotion-realm known as The Host!

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Villain of the Day:  August 7 (Gleeson)

Bradley Schumacher made for the most pathetic clown ever to don the red nose.

After dreaming for years of joining clown college, after spending hours upon hours teaching himself various juggling moves, after perfecting his patter at relatives' birthday parties and holiday parties, Bradley was ready to hit the road and begin travelling with the first circus, festival, or theme park willing to take him.  He was born to entertain, to bring joy, and to make the world laugh.

Unfortunately, he was miserable at it.  For whatever reason, every attempt to perform that Bradley made saw him fall flat on his face.  His performances at birthday parties inevitably ended with childrens' tears.  The juggling routines that went perfectly during practice ended with balls, pins, and knives fumbled across the floor when performing.  HIs comedic patter fell flat and the Halp! reviews for his HappyTime Live Performance company limped along about 1.5 stars.  

Refusing to give up on his dreams, Bradley hung his comedic fate onto one last shot:  SunnySide College of Comedy.  And, true to form, Bradley's audition went miserably.  Beyond nervous, Bradley dropped his juggling torches four times and barely managed to get a titter from the jury.  Dejected, Bradley thanked the judges and headed to the parking lot.

Almost as if on cue, the sky cut loose with a summer shower, drenching Bradley and his costume just before he could reach his SUV.  Sopping wet, Bradley bounced his head off of the steering wheel a few times, all the while lamenting, "Why can't they just laugh?  Why can't I make them happy?"

Something out there heard his cry.  And that something found its way to the red rubber nose strapped to Bradley's face.

The spirit of elation that attached itself to Bradley truly wants nothing more than to spread happiness and laughter wherever it goes, but Bradley's desperation and frustration warped its presence into something twisted and manic.  In costume as Gleeson, Bradley and the joy spirit concoct elaborate jokes, performances, and pranks meant to entertain and amuse as many people as possible.  But, inevitably, as these routines fall upon deaf ears, Gleeson grows frustrated and violent, often lashing out with deadly riffs on classic circus routines, ranging from chattery teeth capable of biting off fingers to clown cars stuffed with deadly minions.  All the while, Gleeson rages, "Why aren't you laughing?!  This is funny!  Smile!"

Some have surmised that Gleeson may have some link to Madame Mittermeier's Fantastical Festival of Conundrums and Curiousities, though Gleeson actively seems to avoid the festival for reasons unknown.  Whether this is due to the festival's horrific nature or due to some occult entanglement that prevents the elation spirit from entering the arcanely warded grounds still remains to be seen.  In the meanwhile, Gleeson just wants to put a smile on your face...

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Villain of the Day:  August 8  (Craven)

Gordon Guzman was a professional henchman.  

Starting just after he got out of the military--Gordon had spent three years in the US Army as an enlisted infantryman--Gordon had become fascinated with the masked villains that seemed to commit caper after caper over the news.  As villains clashed with heroes across the world, Gordon followed their activities with a near-fixated fervor, charting appearances, combatants, and more in a massive linked spreadsheet on his computer.

After a year and a half of applying for (and failing to get) a job, Gordon had made up his mind.  He was a combat-trained veteran:  he could be a fantastic henchman.

The biggest problem in Gordon's plan?  Few villains were willing to give him the time of day.  Baron Blade already had legions in his blade battalions at his disposal.  Citizen Dawn would immediately turn him down, as he had no metahuman powers.  Revocorp, however?  That was a group that needed people.  And Mark Bennodetto certainly wasn't one to turn down skilled manpower.

However, Gordon's first henching-escapade did not go as planned.  A simple semi-truck hijacking from Revolt and Ray Manta turned into a one-sided brawl against the Prime Wardens, who had only been back on earth for a few hours, after an extended jaunt through the Realm of Discord.  As the heroes smashed their way through his compatriots and Fanatic flung Ray Manta half a city block by his costume's tail, Gordon froze.  He panicked, gripping his las-rifle with white knuckles as all of his combat-training fled his mind.  Suddenly, everything went black.

In that moment of pants-wetting, soul clenching terror, Gordon Guzman learned true fear.  So intimate with such a powerful emotion, Gordon's mind linked to a spirit of terror, twisting his body into a pitiful, hunchbacked form.  Loping along on all fours, Craven did his best to escape, only to be cut off by the hulking form of Haka on one side and a Captain-Cosmic-conjured golden barrier to his rear.  Frantic, Craven started scrabbling at the asphalt, only to tear his way through it, escaping through a tunnel just barely big enough for him to fit.

In the days since his transformation, Craven has found that his strength and abilities proportionally grow in relation to how much fear he experiences.  While he can minorly influence others' emotions, making them fearful and nervous, his truest strength comes when he himself fears for his life.  Often, his powers manifest as some method of escape:  teleportation, tunnelling, flight, or speed.  However, if cornered, Craven's fight-or-flight reflexes can appear in ways that are much more damaging or offensive in ability.  Several of the newest Sentinels of Freedom can attest to Craven's fear-born power, as an explosive projection from him sent at least four of their members to the infirmary with burns, concussions, and worse.

 

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Villain of the Day:  August 9 (The Watcher)

No one really knows who The Watcher is.  No one's even been able to ask.  

On rare occasions, the being known as The Watcher--sometimes appearing as male, other times as female, always wearing a heavy trenchcoat and full facemask--appears over the rooftops of Rook City, observing the bustle and chaos below.  The Wraith was the first hero to confront The Watcher, only for the trenchcoat-clad individual to flee outright, leading Maia Montgomery on a lengthy chase across the city rooftops.  The Wraith barely managed to even get a hand on the figure, which phased right through The Watcher's arm.

Since that day, both The Wraith and the various members of Dark Watch have considered The Watcher as a low-priority task, as they monitor crime and metahuman activity across Rook City.  To date, the only true clear clue as to The Watcher's identity came in a brief interaction with The Harpy and Setback.  The pair had 'cornered' The Watcher in a dockside warehouse just outside of Rook City proper.  Faced with the prospect of combat, The Watcher did something that none had ever seen them do before:  draw a weapon to attack.  However, that weapon itself provided a key bit of information. 

That weapon was a dagger.  More specifically, it was a Roman-era pugio, one recognizable through lengthy arcane research as the one owned by one Marcus Perpenna Vento and used to assassinate noted Roman general Quintus Sertorius.  

In truth, that dagger became the focus for a spirit of paranoia, a Host creation that amplified and intensified feelings of mistrust and madness.  Much like the semi-sentient dagger known as Backbiter, Perpenna's pugio has drifted from hand to hand over the centuries; fitting, as they share a creator.  The current wielder  is one Denise Backstrom, an online researcher for Overbrook University's fundraising department.  By day, she seems unassuming and skittish, if particularly skilled at her job, but by night, she gathers information by rooftops, ever watching and awaiting an inevitable betrayal.

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Villain of the Day:  August 10 (Widower)

Maria Donnelly was one of millions across the world.  She, like so many others, lost her husband during the OblivAeon crisis.  Greg was a National Guardsman; his regiment was all but decimated by a horde of Aeon Men while defending against a Scion incursion on the outskirts of Megalopolis.  The death of her daughter, Kristi, was even worse--Kristi's daycare provider collapsed in amongst all the chaos.  Her son, Aaron, survived the chaos--his elementary school was spared the destruction of so many other places.  But, a happy family of four had suddenly become a mere two.

Burying Greg and Kristi nearly broke Maria, but she was more concerned for Aaron than herself.  The 11 year old had withdrawn to the point of total isolation.  He wouldn't speak.  He would barely eat.  Grief counselors and group therapy had done nothing.  Maria had related her "Where were you?" story so many times, but Aaron would literally flee the scene if anyone brought up his father and sister, the devastation of OblivAeon, or the deaths of so many others.

Maria was desperate to find something that worked.  The man who called himself Jerome promised that he could make things work.  And, true to his word, The Widower fixed Aaron in the best way he knew how.

Maria met Jerome by total chance.  While picking up a latte from a local Harbrinks Coffee, she noted a plain white business card tacked to the local community board.  It simply read:  "Your Anguish Is Our Focus.  We Heal the Hurt." along with a phone number.  Lacking few other options and concerned for her son, Maria called the number.  

Jerome showed up at the Donnelly townhouse--Maria sold the family's home after the funeral--at nearly 10pm.  Maria immedately voiced her concerns, but Jerome insisted on coming in, then immediately headed up to Aaron's room.  He found the boy sprawled over his bed, his headphone-clad noggin drooping off the bed itself.  

What happened next, Maria still struggles to explain.  Jerome reached out with both hands, grasping Aaron's head.  A white-blue light began drifting out of Aaron's head and into Jerome's open mouth, as if Jerome were vacuuming away some field of energy within Aaron.  Maria moved to protest, but found herself paralyzed, unable even to speak in opposition, much less stop Jerome from what he was doing.  All the while, Aaron lay with his eyes lolled back in his head. After two minutes, the deed was done.  Jerome left without a word.

After getting over her shock, Maria was inclined to think that Jerome had worked some kind of miracle.  Aaron seemed to be back to his normal self; he went back to soccer practice, he hung out with friends.  He even laughed; something Maria had not seen him do in almost a year.  However, it quickly became apparent that Aaron's newfound joy came at some cost.  On the anniversary of Greg and Kristi's death, Maria suggested a day out, followed by a visit to the gravesite.  Aaron was dumbfounded.  Not only did he have only scant memories of his father and sister, but he seemed utterly incapable of any sort of grief or sorrow.  It was as if Aaron's ability to understand sadness had utterly been eliminated.

Maria's story is not a unique one.  Jerome, dubbed The Widower for his propensity to target women and children grieving the loss of their families, has struck on at least 8 other occasions.  None know truly what his motives are, outside of consuming the sadness of individuals, ranging from Megalopolis all the way to the ruins of San Alonzo.  And all it took was one short phone call...

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Villain of the Day:  August 11 (Passive Voice)

Michelle Kerrigan had a knack for getting people to calm down.

Throughout high school, she was the stable rock for all her friends.  During college, she became a peer mediator for her dormitory, resolving conflicts between roommates and quarrelling floormates.  Her degree in psychology led her towards pursuing an advanced degree in counseling, though she never quite made it that far.  Rather, she found herself reaching a compromise with something that should never have found its way into our world.

Her mind bonded to a spirit of complacency, Michelle found herself taking on the masked identity of Passive Voice; gifted with the ability to affect minds and conjure areas of emotional calm and acceptance, Michelle had every intention of becoming a hero.  She envisioned herself traveling to peace conferences and mediating between world leaders.  She envisioned herself bringing harmony to all manner of men and women across the globe.  And, when she was finally admitted to the Sentinels of Freedom program, it was like a door to her entire future had opened.

As it turned out, though?  World leaders don't tend to like being mind-controlled, even in subtle, positive ways.  After being taken to mediate a treaty negotiation between several central African countries, arguments immediately broke out as to Michelle's presence and her role within the negotiations.  As the delegates began actively arguing, Michelle felt the familiar calling in the recesses of her mind...and let loose with a wave of calm.

Those leaders never recovered.  To this day, each will comply with anything they are confronted with, taking even the merest suggestion as an absolute command and following others with every ounce of their being.

The international incident that ensued sealed Michelle's fate.  Her career as a hero--her chance at bringing about world peace--had ended as quickly as it it had begun.  The Sentinels of Freedom tendered her resignation before she had even returned to Megalopolis.  But, with the spirit in her mind aching to bring passivity and peace, Michelle's grasp on her own mind had become tenuous at best.

Since that day, Passive Voice has re-emerged a number of times, often targeting high-stakes negotiations, corporate takeovers, and the like.  In all cases, those individuals have become nothing short of drooling sycophants, eager to agree to anything Passive Voice wants.  The will is not their own, and that's just how Passive Voice wants it.

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Villain of the Day:  August 12 (Maelstrom)

Grady Shedd was never a even-keeled fellow.  After a chance encounter with an item belonging to The Idolator, Grady may be better described as 'unhinged'.

Grady and his family were among those citizens who attended the church founded by Samuel Humphrey, totally unaware that he had been using a Host-inhabited artifact to influence his entire flock.  When Humphrey turned against Fanatic, Grady and his family were among those on Humphrey's front lines, defending the deceptive preacher against the so-called "avenging angel".  As Humphrey's church burned and Fanatic branded the preacher with holy energy, Grady dashed back into the burning church, determined to keep the preacher's artifacts from burning along with the building itself.

The only item Grady managed to escape with was, in fact, a small scapular with an icon of St. Michael lancing a serpent with his spear.  When he emerged, only his family remained on the grounds, weeping of what they believed to be their deceased patriarch.  When Grady emerged, the scapular around his neck, there was an immediate sigh of relief.  As the local fire department screeched onto the scene and the conflagration brought low, Grady and his family headed home...

Now, Grady's wife, Aubrey, had a habit of buying lottery tickets.  Despite their tight finances, she always told Grady, "you can't win if you ain't playin'...", to which Grady would inevitably fly off the handle about the waste of money and his reluctance to "pay the stupid tax".  As the UltraBall started reaching the $400 million threshold, Grady came home to yet again find his refridgerator covered in lottery tickets.  He immediately shouted his displeasure across their house, as the temperature within the home jumped up 10 degrees.  Grady shouted and ranted and, as he did so, the kitchen curtains burst into flame.  Aubrey, thinking quickly, put them out, but the louder and longer that Grady ranted, the more chaos manifested throughout the house.  Fires sparked with each shout, arcs of lightning speared off of Grady's body, and wind whipped about as if Grady himself were the eye of a Maelstrom.

By this point, Grady was beyond reason.  Before he could harm herself or the children, Aubrey grabbed up the twins and fled the house.  When they returned, the house was naught but a leveled, smoking ruin.  Grady?  He was nowhere to be seen.

Since that day, Grady has wandered from place to place, struggling to understand his newfound powers.  He is aware that the St. Michael scapular seems to be the source of his abilties--he wears the scapular on a reinforced chain and hides it beneath his clothing, so as not to be obvious--though he is unsure as to 'how' the power works.  Thusfar, his anger has manifested in spontaneous gouts of flame, an aura of crackling lightning, and intense winds, though the true limits of his rage have yet to be tested.

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Villain of the Day:  August 13 (Manacle)

The being that wanders through the ruins of San Alonzo has been most often described as something out of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  In reality, the truth has been so much more lethal than the apparitions of Jacob Marley.

Rumors have swirled as to the true identity of the figure.  Some rumors tell that she was a kidnapped starlet who had run afoul of the mob, only to be throwin in the the bay wrapped in heavy chains.  Others say that she was a forgotten patient at a mental hospital, left behind when the hospital was evacuated ahead of the OblivAeon event.  When she died, her spirit returned to haunt all those who dared return to the site of the hospital, never mind that no record exists for a mental hospital ever existing in that region.  Still others claim that the figure is not a woman at all; rather, the creature was a long-haired hippie who dared protest against the deforestation of a redwood strand to create a new bypass for the San Alonzo suburbs.  Having chained himself to one of those venerable trees, he was helpless when OblivAeon rampaged across the multiverse.

For those unfortunate souls to run across Manacle during the San Alonzo recovery efforts, though, the story is alarmingly consistent.  The creature stands alone, typically amid the rubble and ruin of some long-destroyed building.  The figure does not respond to any sort of advance or greeting, only turning to face the speaker with a slowly widening maw.  To those who have dared look close enough, obeservers claim that Manacle has no true teeth--rather, she has broken shards of metal, as if links of chain were snipped in half and grew up in place of her teeth.  Around it, long chains ending in heavy cuffs and spikes whirled and writhed as if they were angry serpents.  Unfortunately, nearly every survivor who has made it close enough to see these things has died within one week of exposure to Manacle.  

To scholars of the arcane, Manacle appears to be a trapped spirit of guilt, pulled forth into this realm by the collective survivor's guilt of all those who managed to survive the OblivAeon event.  And, while Manacle is dangerous enough on its own--being flayed alive by rusted chains is a fun time for precisely no one--the insidious aura surrounding the spirit is the true danger.  The longer that a being is in Manacle's presence, the more that the guilt of their collective sins weighs upon their conscience.  Within pure minutes, Manacle can induce utter despondency, leading individuals to utter self-destruction.  

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Villain of the Day:  August 14 (Doomsayer)

Ramona Fast had a reputation for being the office cynic.  Someone coughs?  Ramona was sure that everyone on the floor would be sick within the week.  A meeting appears on her OutBook calendar?  She braced for her firing interview.  Someone sends out an all-staff email?  Certainly, it meant a full disciplinary hearing.  Nevermind that Ramona was a quiet, dutiful worker who was usually pleasant to work with.

However, when disaster after disaster struck--as she watched Citizen Dawn, Grand Warlord Voss, Deadline, and Progeny wreak untold devastation year after year--something inside Ramona simply snapped.

Ramona knew it as well as anyone.  After conferring with her office's HR department, she decided to take a brief sabbatical and check herself into a local mental health ward.  The anxiety and dread she felt was simply too much.  She soon received a diagnosis for generalized anxiety and depression and entered a series of both group and individual therapy.  Her therapist, one Dr. Dale Avila, found Ramona pleasant at first, but she seemed to genuinely struggle with opening up to others, himself included.  Patients around her even started regressing, often complaining of her gloomy outlook making them reticent to discuss vital items of their own.

After three weeks of voluntary institutionalization, Ramona returned to work with no major improvements.  In fact, Ramona seemed to be worse off than ever, barely speaking to her colleagues outside of mandatory meetings.  

Within those meetings, though, something strange began to happen.  After an offhanded remark during a meeting about a recent investment strategy, their company announced a loss of nearly $4m in quarterly profits.  Three days after commenting on a coworker's choice in snacks, said coworker was wheeled out of their house on a gurney, set for a quadruple-bypass.  After mentioning the intense traffic during rush hour, three of her coworkers were injured in a multi-car pileup along the nearby interstate.

In truth, Ramona had become host to a spirit of dejection, with her merest negative suggestions causing the worst possible result in any case.  While Ramona has yet to use her powers purposefully, she has recognized her "correctness" in terms of speaking her truth.  She is not aware of the spirit of dejection's presence, however, and would likely balk at the idea of spirit possession.  Most notably, however, is that her abilities as a Doomsayer are capable of overwriting other probability-influencing powers, notably Setback's probability manipulation and The Harpy's numerological sorcery.  Within the presence of the Doomsayer, all your worst possibilities become manifest...

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Villain of the Day:  August 15 (Bedlam)

So many people tend to view Megalopolis as the shining city on a hill, serving as an example to the world with its heroic beacons shining from on-high.  So many tend to forget that Megalopolis suffers the same problems as other major cities--traffic, homelessness, hunger, urban strife, and more--only proportional to match its massive size. 

Among those homeless, something from another realm has taken root.  The more spiritually-attuned have come to know it as Bedlam.

It started with a street performer.  Carly Altman ran away from home at 17, choosing to eke out a living as a busker on the streets of Megalopolis' east side, rather than deal with her fraying home life for any longer than necessary.  While a high school graduate, Carly found difficulty in finding a job, leaving her to spend her nights on the streets among the numerous homeless throughout the city.  To all outside appearances, Carly was a sweet girl, merely down on her luck and in need of a helping hand.

Which, of course, made the day she snapped all the more shocking.

In the midst of playing her saxophone along 144th Street, Carly's eyes went wide with bewilderment.  She stopped mid-song, immediately going from person to person, asking them the most basic questions:  where was she?  what day was it?  what was her name?  Each time, restaurant patrons and pedestrians shied away from her, which only drove Carly deeper into reverie.  In the frenzy known only to those in true fear, she began swinging her beloved saxophone as a weapon, injuring four restaurant patrons and nearly killing a fifth before she was restrained.  As Megalopolis police handcuffed her and escorted her from the scene, Carly snapped out of the reverie, aghast at the bloodshed upon her hands.

To this day, Carly claims no knowledge of what happened.  Her official court statement was that, "Something just descended on my mind.  Something that just doesn't understand this place, something confused and panicking.  I don't know what it is, and it's gone now.  I need help..."

Carly pled guilt by reason of insanity and was remanded to Kingsport Mental Institution, but the chaos and confusion did not stop with her.  Over the course of the next six months, no less than eight additional cases have emerged, mainly among the homeless underclass of Megalopolis.  In all cases, the accused claim an ever-growing sense of confusion and lack of understanding until something seems to override their mental faculties, lashing out with whatever weapons are closest at hand.  And woe betide any who stand in the way of understanding.

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Villain of the Day:  August 16 (J.R. Milholand)

He's the keeper of the keys / He'll put your mind at ease / He's guaranteed to please / back by popular demand...

John Robert Milholand just wants to see you happy. 

A Rook City native, Milholand--JR, to those he's just meeting; Johnny to his friends--Johnny takes care of his mom, washes his car, and lives the sort of life Bryce Springsteel would be proud of.  By night, Johnny sings lead and plays guitar with "Refinery", a five man band that serves up classic rock favorites and original pieces across the Rook City bar scene.  While Johnny's a passable guitarist at best, his soulful vocals have earned him more than a few admirers over the years.

What's most unique about Johnny is that he always seems to be able to get people exactly what they need.

After a gig at the El Dorado Cantina, one of his hangers-on, a thirtys-ish woman named Alyssa, came up to Johnny in tears.  Her mom, an Overbrook High cafeteria worker, had broken her hip in a car accident.  Without health insurance--Greater Overbrook School District had downgraded their cafeteria staff to part-time hourly, thereby cutting all their benefits--Alyssa and her mom would surely lose their longtime home.  They were already behind on their mortgage, verging on bankruptcy, with homelessness waiting in the wings.

Imagine Alyssa's surprise, then, when her mortgage statement the next month came with a payment number much less than it once had been.  Her hands trembled as she read, "Your final payment:  $142.87.  Your prompt payment will conclude your mortgage obligations to Overbrook Federal Bank.  This account will be closed; congratulations on your home-ownership."

Alyssa came back to Refinery's next show, eager to tell Johnny the news.  As she related her story, Johnny gave a knowing wink, "I've got what you need, babe."

Three weeks later, the Overbrook Federal Bank exploded in a failed robbery.  

So it seems to go, so long as Johnny is around.  Individuals come to him with a problem, which gets solved almost immediately in a seemingly-miraculous way.  An experimental treatment becomes available free of cost for a dying child, a down-on-his-luck workman finds a job where he's able to take care of his two children, a college student manages to pick up a last-minute scholarship so that they can finish their degree.  But, each time something miraculous happens, within a few weeks, something karmatically disastrous happens to a group tangentially related to that individual.  The hospital suffers a major funding setback, the workman's old employer declares bankruptcy, and the university's dorm catches fire.

Never mind that.  Johnny's always got what you need.  He's guaranteed to please.

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Villain of the Day:  August 17 (Mister Blank)

No one ever sees him smile.

No one ever sees him laugh or cry.  Even in the heat of combat, the mystery man known as Mister Blank could barely be said to bat an eye.  He is remorseless, unflappable, and utterly without passion.  This is, of course, because Mister Blank is utterly without emotion.  And those creatures born of such paltry 'feelings' have no choice but to await their destruction at his hands.

Marcus Wong was the first on Earth to meet his end at the hands of Mister Blank.  A US Marine overcome by impotent rage during the OblivAeon crisis, he found his mind opened to a spirit of rage which was on the verge of overwhelming him.  His screams of rage could shatter steel, flame erupted from his eyes, and tendrils of white-hot energy erupted from his very being.  When some of the new recruits of Dark Watch confronted Marcus outside of Rook City, Marcus took the recruits to the proverbial cleaners, with only the carapace-generating Locust left to frantically call for backup.

That's when Mister Blank arrived.  Wearing a simple white dress shirt and slacks, he approached the spirit-maddened Marcus.  Locust shouted for the man to get out of the way, to take cover, but Blank did not react.  Instead, Blank walked forward, confronting Marcus.  Wong lashed at Blank with his tendrils of energy, though each time Marcus attacked, Blank simply seemed to be...elsewhere.  Within seconds, Blank had closed the gap with Marcus and drawn a slender stiletto made of blackened iron.  Blank plunged it into Marcus' abdomen and white-yellow energy flared from Wong's eyes.  After but a moment, the light vanished, and Marcus Wong lay dead at Mister Blank's feet.

Locust stood, watching incredulously.  She jogged up to Blank, calling for him to drop the knife...only for Blank to simply vanish.

Mister Blank has appeared on at least four occasions since then, each time eliminating someone whose mind has been exposed to a Host spirit.  However, this fact has eluded even the most storied arcanists in the Multiverse, and The Harpy and her comrades have struggled to piece together the clues leading to the mysterious spirit-dimension.  To all appearances, Mister Blank is nothing more than yet another enigma, slaying one unfortunately soul after another, his black iron blade long stained red from the blood of the unwitting.

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Villain of the Day:  August 18 (Mercy)

Registered nurse Allie Amspaugh worked the night shift at Saint Marguerite's Hospice Care Facility.  She didn't mind the late hours--Allie was a night owl all the way through college and dreaded waking up the morning--so the 10pm-6am shift at the nurses' station didn't faze her.

Nor did the continual cycle of death.

While Saint Marguerite's was well known for its cancer-treatment center and its cardiologists, the facility had become best known for its hospice care, providing end of life services and comfort for the elderly in their final weeks and months.  While not numb to the issues of her patients, Allie had found ways to put her sadness aside and simply provide the best possible care for her patients as she could.

However, Allie was not alone.

Three in the morning.  All was quiet on the 8th floor.  While Allie's monitors slowly made their paces through the patient rooms, her leftmost monitor was already set on one the newest season of a favorite QuikFlix show, ready to continue through her shift with ease. 

But then...a flick of motion caught the corner of her left eye.  A female figure, clad in the sort of old-timey nurse's outfit one might expect from the 50s.  Black Mary Janes padded their way towards Allie's nurses station as the woman came closer.  Allie eyed the nurse up:  no ID hung from her outfit; her eyes were a deep, mournful brown and her skin just a shade too pale.

"Can I see your ID, please?" Allie's voice quavered, "Visiting hours are over; you are staff, right?"

The woman nodded, proceeding to ignore Allie's questions utterly, "These patients...they are all going to die, aren't they?"

Allie cocked her head, "I mean, well..." She struggled to come up with the corporate, sanitized answer, "I'm not at liberty to discuss individual cases, but many of the individuals here are elderly and approaching the end.  However, we have a number of..."

As Allie moved to make eye contact once more, the woman already started walking down the hall toward the patient rooms.  Within an instant, the figure was at the far end of the hallway, as Allie herself struggled to stand, her legs feeling weak and flimsy.

The woman raised her arms; as she did, every monitor and sensor in the wing erupted in cacaphony.  Heart monitors flatlined, breathing monitors squealed.  Allie fell to her knees as emergency personnel rushed in.  However, the damage had been done:  not a single patient on the 8th floor of Saint Marguerite's survived.

Allie's claims as to the mysterious woman went all but uninvestigated.  With so few details beyond brown eyes and pale skin, none could imagine what could cause such an anomaly.  Some believe that it may have been a gas leak or some other environmental strangeness, but others?  Even the most cold-hearted would never think of this as Mercy.

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Villain of the Day:  August 19 (Blackout)

The entire staff of the Overbrook Utility Workers Federal Credit Union awoke with a start.

Collectively, the 20-odd persons in the bank looked at one another blearily.  Security Guard Blevins slowly rose from where he lay, slumped against one of the credit union's faux-marble columns.  Bank teller Linda Iler picked her head up from her station wearily, a postie-note still half-stuck to her cheek.  Manager Willard Thomas stretched and yawned, rising from his ergonomic office chair to address his employees, "What just happened?  All I can remember is being just...so tired..."

Meanwhile, half a city away, Eric Tucker was already mentally counting his ill-gotten gains and working on coming with a codename.  Somnor?  No...too weird.  The Sandman?  No, that's cheesy.  Blackout!  Now there's a name...

For years, Eric labored along an assembly line in a less-than-nice portion of Rook City, putting bolts onto heavy machinery parts for Pike Industries.  However, the long house of tedium and unpaid overtime soon began to take their toll on his mental and physical health.  Despite working for 12-14 hours a day, Eric found himself laying awake at night, wishing for some degree of sleep.  HIs eyes were bleary, his gait was slow, and he often had to have people repeat instructions to him, simply so they would stick.  Simply put, Eric was exhausted.  He had tried to put in a vacation-request with his supervisor, but each time,  it was declined:  "Too much to do; we'll buy out your vacation time at the end of the year."  Money was hardly the problem--Eric never had time to spend any of it, with so many hours put in at the plant--he just needed sleep.

A night like many others, Eric sat awake, staring at the Later Than Late Show, watching a has-been comedian rattle off yet another slapstick routine, when a wave of nausea washed over him.  In an instant, Eric dashed to the bathroom, his head hanging over the toilet as he dry-heaved away.  But, as nothing came out, Eric sat on the edge of his bathtub and held his head in his hands....and slept.

Something entered Eric's mind that night; something willing to bargain with him.  It told him, quite clearly, that it could take away all this.  It could give away all that exhaustion and fatigue, leaving him as bright and fresh as a spring rain shower.  He'd never have to sleep again; others would do it for him, with but a wave of the hand.  Eric--exhausted and not quite thinking straight--was on board with this plan immediately.  The spirit of enervation that bonded with him that day eagerly spread its influence; every ounce of exhaustion or fatigue that Eric felt, it could distribute to others near him, slowing their steps, and driving them to sleep or even unconsciousness.  Meanwhile, Eric grew all the more vigorious, sustained by otherworldly energies that replaced his basic needs.

Eric, as Blackout, is fairly unambitious in terms of his newfound powers.  While he regularly lets his mental companion "out to play", he mainly does so in ways that will allow him a bit of extra cash or some material possession he desires.  Eric has long since quit his job at Pike Industrial, though he did come into work one last time to drop off his resignation, and to ensure that his slave-driving supervisor took a little catnap in front of an active loading zone.  As is, Eric is more than content to live up the high-life, never sleeping or even requiring rest, but always eager to inflict it on others.

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If I had this power, I would absolutely be a villain.

Although you could always help out people with insomnia...

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Villain of the Day:  August 20 (The Forlorn Boy)

As found on the Rook City Global IRC Channel SubReadr:

"Go to the front desk at any mental institution at 2:38 in the morning.  Be precise with the time; you must arrive exactly at 2:38, or this won't work.  

"There, at the desk, a sleepy-eyed worker will be staring at their computer.  Do not address them.  Do not speak to them.  Do not even look at them.  Sign in on the sign-in sheet and begin walking towards the main wards."

"The desk-worker will call to you three times.  If you speak after the first or second time, she will leap upon you and tear out your throat with their teeth.  Your death will be as slow and painful as it will be bloody.  You must wait until the third time, at which point you must whip about, look the worker in the eyes, and scream at them, 'I will not be impeded!'

"The worker will freeze in their tracks, their eyes flashing a sickly green as they back off.  They will kneel at your feet and offer their servitude, but to do so is to abandon your quest.  Instead, ask the worker, 'Where has The Forlorn One been hidden?'  The worker will point down the hallway and hold their head in their hands, pleading with you not to go.  If you wish to leave, leave now--it will be your only chance to retain your sanity.

"Make your way down the hall into the wards.  The farther you go, the more the scenery will warp and twist, degenerating into a ruin with each step you take.  The doors are not numbered, though you will surely hear things to harrow your soul and tempt your darkest urges behind them.  Do not tarry there, or you are surely lost.  Keep focus and walk to the end of the hall, then place your hand against the weathered concrete wall.  

"You will hear him before you see him.  Your hand will grow cold as frost caresses the concrete blocks, coating your hand and wrist.  You must not pull away, or your hand will shatter like so much glass.  You must not scream, or the ice will coat your lungs and you will die breathless.  Weather the pain and close your eyes.  In an instant, the wall beneath your fingertips will vanish and the frost will abate.  With your eyes closed, you must push ahead.

"Whatever you do, do not open your eyes.  To look upon The Forlorn Boy is to take his place, lost and forgotten by all mankind.  He will ask you how you found him; you must not answer.  You must say to him only one thing:  a single question that leads unto that hidden truth that none could have possibly seen.  If you have made it this far and have followed the steps correctly, The Forlorn Boy will answer you, though beware the path, which will be haunted for the rest of your days.  If you have misstepped, the Boy will be upon you taking each of your senses, one by one, until you awaken to the rest of your days in abject misery.

"If The Forlorn Boy has answered your question, you have but scant moments to flee.  He will plead with you to stay, to talk, to not consign him back to his eternal loneliness, but you must not hesitate.  To hesitate means to take his place.  Flee back down the hallway into the darkness...

"You will awaken upon the street outside the mental institution.  In your mind shall burn the answer to the question you asked, though for the rest of your days, only one form will ever greet your eyes in the mirror:  that of the boy you left in darkness, in pursuit of that which you seek.  Forget him not."

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That is some top-tier creepypasta. :D

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I wish I could take credit for the format of this one, but the style is based on a now-defunct creepypasta-esque site known as The King of Wolves.
"The Objects" series from that site would fit right at home in the SCP Foundation or MarbleHornets.

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Villain of the Day:  August 21 (Conquest)

Waldemar Heinig wanted to win.  He simply didn't care whom he ran over in pursuit of victory.

A South African long-distance runner, Waldemar was a 6-time Johannesburg Triathalon winner when he branched out into power-lifting and hammer throw.  At the Olympics two years prior, Waldemar brought home no less than 8 medals...only one of which was gold.

When he returned from those games, Waldemar was incensed.  His trainers did their best to console him--the track was not ideal, his shoes were not those that he typically preferred, the water in the area had a higher than normal sulfite content--but Waldemar would hear none of this.  He trained harder than ever before; he dropped to 4% body fat, he crosstrained in ways that most trainers would warn away from, all in the pursuit of those elusive gold medals.

Waldemar knew he couldn't resort to juicing or steroids to win his medals, but there had to be something more he could do beyond his 24/7 training regimen.  As it turned out, all he needed was a deal with the proverbial devil.

While Apostate's voice had been ominously quiet throughout the OblivAeon event, he saw in Waldemar quite the promising opportunity.  Through proxy followers--and more than a little long-forgotten magic--Apostate called forth a spirit of triumph to touch Waldemar's mind.  The pair were so alike in temperament that their personalities enmeshed, twisting and morphing Waldermar's body.  Apostate smiled, "Conquest is what you wanted; Conquest is what you shall be!"

Within mere days, it became obvious to all those around him that Waldemar was no longer concerned with mere medals and trophies.  Rather, he looked to the world's heroes and immediately thought:  "I must be more than man.  More than alien.  I will best them *all*."  Imbued with an absurd degree of strength, stamina, and quickness, Waldemar immediately turned his eyes to Megalopolis, where these heroes could be found and cast down...

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Villain of the Day:  August 22 (Anamnesis)

Jean Barclay could have sworn she'd been here before.  

She stood in the middle of the sidewalk adjoining to James Madison Avenue, staring up at the sun.  She looked around frantically.  There was the bodega; she'd never been inside, though the smell of a freshly-grilled sandwich wafted out.  She whipped to her left:  there was the construction worker, leaning against the inactive jackhammer, wiping his brow and chatting with a fellow workman.  Behind him, the single mother, holding her daughter by the hand as they waited for the stoplight.

Jean looked to the sky as she'd done so many times before.  "I can't look up.  Why am I looking up?  I looked up last time, didn't I?"

Overhead, the streaks of multiple spacecraft cast red-orange fire through the atmosphere.  "I can't scream.  I screamed last time.  I can't point, I can't...what am I supposed to do instead?!"

Even as her mind screamed against it, Jean found her left hand rising to point, found her voice shouting an alarm to all those around her.  This was how it happened before.  This was how she died.  Jean trembled on the sidewalk, even as all those around her flew into a panic.  The workman dropped the jackhammer with a hefty clang; the bodega owner slammed his door shut, flipping the faded sign from 'Open' to 'Closed'.

Jean dropped to her knees, "What do I do?  What do you want me to do?!  Tears streamed down her face as the first of the laser blasts hit.  The earth trembled beneath the impact, brick and mortar shattered as tumbled from the building above her.  Still crying, Jean waited for the bricks to hit...

*    *     *     *     *     *     *

Jean Barclay could have sworn she'd been here before.  And she wasn't the only one...

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Villain of the Day:  August 23 (Seethe)

The door to the decript manse exploded in a spray of wood splinters.  In the doorway stood The Harpy, each of her hands orbited by floating white-yellow runes.  She swiftly surveyed the interior of the mansion:  only a dusty hardwood floor and a few pieces of cloth-covered furniture awaited her entrance.  As Huginn and Muninn soared in over her shoulder and alighted on the banister, Harpy activated her hands-free comms device.

"I'm in.  Hemogoblin, anything on the roof?"

"Roof's clear; I'm headed in through the east side, second story."

"Enigma, anything at the back door?"  

The investigator quickly responded, "Nothing.  Door's open, though.  I'm heading in."

The trio converged in the central hall of the manse, surveying the carnage at the foot of the grand staircase.  Nearly twenty bodies, clad in the robes and regalia of the Cult of Gloom lay ravaged in the hall, their bodies torn and rent asunder.  Harpy extended her hands, and the dim blow from her runes spread throughout the room, illuminating the area.  

"The Dunston Sect.  All of them..."

Enigma cracked his knuckles, "...looks like they saved us the trouble." 

Hemogoblin, however, pointed to a blood-soaked scroll, sticking out from beneath the body of one of the cultists. "This wasn't planned, I don't think.  There's a ritual scroll here..."

With a gesture from Harpy, Munnin snatched up the scroll and delivered it to its master's hand.  "This is a summoning ritual; not surprising, all told, but..."

"But what?" Hemogoblin walked closer, "What's wrong?"

Harpy hesitated, "...this ritual has nothing to do with Gloomweaver or the Realm of Discord.  Why would Gloom cultists hope to summon that isn't one of Gloomweaver's minions?  What would they have to gain?"

Enigma squinched his eyes in contemplation, "Maybe they decided that something else might be able to aid them.  Doesn't look like whatever came through had any interest in helping..." 

Hemogoblin peered over Harpy's shoulder, "I can't read this script, but I can pick out a few words.  'Implacable'?  'Tireless'?  Maybe something to do with continual or continuation..."  Harpy nodded, "I can do a full translation back at the Aerie, but for now, let's gather what evidence we can while we're here."

Enigma knelt beside a group of bodies, slipping on a latex examination glove as he looked closer, "...lots of deep abdominal incisions.  Something was pulled out of each of them.

A solitary drip caught the Hemogoblin's attention, falling from the arched ceiling onto his shoe.  The fledgling blood mage made the mistake of looking up, "Um...what's that?"

The Harpy extended her hands once more, the runes intensifying and brightening.  Smeared onto the ceiling in the bile from each of the Gloom cultists were a series of shifting, swirling sigils.  Within moments, all three of the heroes could clearly read the sigils' intent:  "Children of Gloom, I come for you..."

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Seethe should recruit Writhe and a super-spinning would-be hero named Lathe to go after the Cult of Gloom, just because of the assonance. :V

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Villain of the Day:  August 24 (Voracity)

Chris McNamara pushed the trolley out of the kitchen at the Friendly Feast Gourmet Buffet, heading for the salad bar section.  He hated his job, but in this economy, being a prep cook was as good a way to earn money as any.  While he'd gone to school for web design, the tech bubble crash left him without a job and his brother-in-law was the manager, so his space at FFGB was all but assured.

It wasn't so much the preparation or the cooking that bothered him; Chris was a competent enough cook, and he could chop lettuce with the best of them.  Rather, it was the patrons.  The bloated, gluttonous patrons who drifted from station to station, filling up plate after plate, bowl after bowl.  Little children scuttled like vermin to and from the soft-serve ice cream machine, while overweight seniors waddled along the hot bar.

Worst of all, though, was the carving station.  Chris was on-duty at the carving station at least twice a week, slicing roast chicken, "prime rib", or some other slow-roasted meat for the customers.  Their drooling, insipid faces simply drove him up a wall.  More than once, Chris pictured himself carving up a patron like so much trussed chicken, his carving knife whickering off chunks of patron with each slice.  While he kept such thoughts to himself, even his closest friends among the co-workers starting giving him a wide berth.

But, thoughts remained thoughts alone...until a brief accident at the carving station.  Placed out on the floor when Mark, the originally scheduled carver, called in sick, Chris was already in a foul mood when he took up his knife and meat fork.  For about two hours, all was well.  However, while slicing off a portion of roast beef for an elderly woman, Chris simply slipped.  His fine German steel knife slipped off the meat fork, catching himself across the forearm.  

Immediately, Chris dropped into an utter diatribe, cursing violently and clutching at his bleeding arm.  He screamed in the old woman's face, blaming her and all the patrons for bringing him to this.  The vitriol Chris spewed was like something out of an Internet rant and, as it turned out, something simply couldn't resist the combination of hate and hunger on that buffet floor.

The very building of the Friendly Feast erupted into an amorphous being of food and crushed plexiglass and detritus, as it manifested a crushing maw and swallowed the still-screaming Chris.  It rampaged through the husk of the building, devouring all within its path with a Voracity not seen outside the most arcane circles.

Some arcane scholars have compared the Friendly Feast creature to that of known Gloom-cultist "Missy the Maw", though Voracity does not seem to be a demon or a denizen of the Realm of Discord.  Rather, it seems possessed only of a hunger for all things:  living, non-living, organic, inorganic.  All will be consumed...

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Villain of the Day:  August 25 (Nurse Nora)

Bill Castleman hated going to the dentist.  For years, he'd put it off, citing a good habit of brushing and thrice-daily mouthwash to keep his teeth free of cavities.  It wasn't the actual act of going to the dentist that bothered him, mind you; rather, he had a solid realtionship with his family doctor and didn't even mind his first colonoscopy that much.

Rather, it was that noise:  the subtle grinding whirr of a drill against enamel, followed by that hot metallic odor of something being ground away.  That sound, that scent kept Bill a long way from the dentists' office for years.

Thanksgiving Day, though, Bill met his match.  In the midst of his pecan pie, Bill felt something snap in his mouth, followed by a blast of white-hot pain through the left side of his jaw.  Bill howled, "My tooth!  I think I broke a tooth!"  Like it or not, something had to be done.

Bill's daughter, Emma, was quick on the button:  "Dad, there's only one place open right now.  It's a holiday.  If you can wait until tomorrow..."  Her dad's moans from the couch, where his jaw was buried in a bag of frozen peas, said it all.  It had to be tonight.

The drive to the Urgent Dental Care was not one that Bill typically liked to make.  Just off of an isolated highway on the west side of town, the waiting room had an all-too familiar septic reek.  Within minutes, Bill was taken into the back.  Emma never saw him again.

Bill lay back in the chair, awaiting the dental assistant with the bag of peas still pushed against his jaw.  They had started to thaw; nothing was really working at this point.  He sat up slightly as the door opened; a tall, slim woman stalked into the room.  Bill nodded to her, but she said nothing, simply placing her tools onto the table.  A mirror, a series of dental picks, a drill head.  Bill's eyes widened as she turned on the light above him.  

"I'm Nurse Nora.  Won't you please open," she requested firmly.  Bill found himself compelled as he lay back, opening his mouth as wide as he could.  The woman picked up the mirror in one hand, a pick in the other, and began examining Bill.

Bill shuddered as the pick slowly moved from tooth to tooth across his mouth, finding its way ever closer to his cracked molar.  He winced in pain, closing his mouth just slightly, as the woman scowled.  "No.  You will remain open."

Bill felt both his eyes and mouth open wider as the woman rotated the pick into the broken socket of his tooth.  Bill winced in agony, trying desperately not to scream.  A low moan of pain resonated in his throat as the woman smiled.  Slowly, she began pressing, the pick driving deeper in.  Tears streamed down Bill's face as he screamed.

"No.  You'll stop that now." She said quite dispassionately.  Bill complied immediately, his body following her every order, even as his mind screamed at him to get up, to leave, to attack her, to do something.  Instead, he laid back, openly crying as he opened his mouth wider.

The woman smiled in a broad, sadistic grin.  It was just then that Bill noticed something truly wrong.  Her lips parted to reveal a set of sharp incisors...then another...then another...  Row upon row of teeth, stacked like that of a shark, devouring, feeding, feasting.  Bill's eyes widened as the tears came rolling down even harder.  

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Villain of the Day:  August 26  (Reverie)

All that Aliza Maxwell could do was watch.

After a pulling a double-shift at the restaurant, all Aliza wanted to do was sit back with some of her leftovers--the stuff left over from the staff meal at Cromwell's Steakhouse--and watch some late night television.  As she tucked into a slightly-dried-out baked potato and a steak just slightly too done for her taste, the house band reached a cresendo and the announcer boomed out an introduction for comedian Chip Carlson. 

Four days later, the fire department burst into Aliza's apartment.  She sat cross-legged, barely-breathing, unmoving, staring at the static-covered screen.  All attempts to garner her attention were for naught; it was as if Aliza was in some sort of Reverie.  That is, however, until one of the firefighters turned off the tv.  Instantly, Aliza flew into a scratching, biting rage, to the point where the paramedics on-scene were forced to sedate her.

After being taken to the local hospital, the mystery only deepened:  Aliza was acutely dehydrated and on the verge of organ failure, desipte the fact that the meal she had heated up--including a full glass of apple juice--sat directly in front of her on the coffee table.  She claimed to have no memory of the past four days, but rather, only of Chip Carlson.  In her own words, "He called my name..."

Aliza related her entire story to police authorities which led to a brief (and fruitless) investigation.  She claimed that Chip strode out onto the sound stage of his talk show, but began to speak specifically to her.  He coaxed her to relax, to sit, to get comfy and to just listen to the sound of his voice.  However, as the evening wore on, Chip never left the screen.  The show would change, the scene would change, but Chip would remain.  The early 4am news?  Chip was behind the newsdesk.  The 10am soap operas?  Chip sat on the couch as Lady Edderly slapped her evil twin for embezzling the company's money.  The 3pm game show?  Chip was up on stage, watching Morgann try to guess the price of turtle wax.  He never left.  He was just there, with his comforting, peaceable voice keeping her transfixed.  

Representatives for both Chip Carlson and his agent could not be reached for comment.

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Villain of the Day:  August 27 (The Troll)

Maria raced off the bus, flew through the front door, dropped her backpack onto the couch and practically leapt up the stairs to her bedroom.  Within seconds, she was in her computer chair, ready to post the latest entry to her ongoing video blog.  She logged onto her laptop, pulled up her UToob administrator page, and her eyes went wide:  687 new comments!  

For an instant, Maria's elation couldn't be contained.  Then she made the mistake of reading the comments.

Comment after comment, downvote after downvote, the comments were as thorough as they were merciless.  The nameless, faceless audience lambasted poor Maria for everything from the color of her tank top ("She looks like a salmon filet.  Fish-girl!") to the wallpaper on the far-side of the room, ("She lives in a fracking hovel!  How does she aford a computer???").  Maria slammed closed the laptop and threw herself down on her bed in tears.

That lasted for all of 10 minutes.  Maria, if nothing else, was resourceful.  And, while she wasn't a computer expert, she certainly knew two people who were:  her friend Sherri and Sherri's twin brother, Shaun.  Both Sherri and Shaun went to the local STEM school, focusing on computer programming and networking.  They regularly spent their weekends at science competitions and museums and were, without a doubt, the smartest people Maria knew.  At an offer of take-out Chinese and as much Peak Quench as they could drink, the twins made their way to Maria's house to begin solving the mystery.

Now, after wiping away her tears and catching her breath, Maria was savvy enough on the way over to copy/paste the comments into a Noter document.  That's when the weirdness started.

Sherri noticed it first.  The comments simply didn't line up.  The items that appeared in Maria's Noter document simply didn't appear on any of her 27 vlog entries, nor did any of the associated screennames.  UToob's policy had always been to replace abusive comments with a corporate-sounding, "This comment has not met our community standards and has been removed."  These comments simply morphed into other insults, in a different order, which changed each time the page was refreshed.  However, Shaun did manage to find a single comment that stayed static, a sexist slur from someone calling themselves HryngarIceOgre.  A quick search revealed that Hyrngar had, in fact, posted precisely once on each of Maria's videos.

At that, Maria's phone buzzed:  a text message from an unknown number....with offensive text strangely similar to that of Hyrngar...

While Shaun and Maria called the police, Sherri continued to flex her online acumen.  After tracing Hyrngar's IP address through several proxy sites, Sherri found that the source code originated at the corporate headquarters for a JoyTech Limited, an app producer based out of the Roanoake, Virginia area.  Could they be monetizing internet outrage somehow, Sherri muttered to herself.  As a squad car pulled up outside Maria's house and Sherri and Maria saved their files, one last text message arrived:  "You'll regret that..."

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Villain of the Day:  August 28 (Whatever)

Petty though he might be, Guise could hardly be said to be the type to ever give up.  After a single afternoon with Whatever?  Even the Best. Hero. Ever. threw up his hands and just walked away.

Alyson McCray was nothing short of the stereotypical jaded teenager.  Her phone was latched to her hand at all hours; regardless of where she went, she was clad in a loose tank top and yoga pants; and any request of Alyson that didn't actively involve her social circle was dismissed with that classic scoff/eyeroll combo.  While generally supportive, Alyson's parents found that the best (read: most convenient) way to deal with their daughter was to simply let her off on her own.

...which of course, made her a prime locus for a spirit of cynicism.  While Alyson was vaguely aware of her powers--despite being unaware of her Host-hitchhiker--said powers manifested in relatively subtle ways.  If she told a nosy mall security guard to shut up, the guard found himself unable to talk whatsoever.  With a single gesture, she could telekinetically flick away anyone who bothered her.  And, of course, messages on her phone became imperious commands to any she needed to text; the recipient became naught but a sycophant to her teenage whims.  Her response to this, of course?  "Whatever..."

Enter Guise.  Looking to swing by his local Knead to Relax to pick up a new massage chair, Guise wandered into the Central Plaza Mall hoping to make this a quick visit.  As he passed by a SinnaMon Stand (and while licking the delectable vanilla-bean icing from his fingers), Guise couldn't help but note the swarm of teenagers approaching.  A gaggle of at least fifty teens milled about, carrying various packages and each attempting to vie for "just a quick selfie" or an ExtraGram post with Alyson.  

This set Guise off like none other.  Swarmed by teenagers, he lost his temper, screaming somewhat unintelligibly about his massage chair and how these teenagers were "lazy layabouts who need a job!"  Whatever looked up from her phone for but a minute, rolled her eyes, and telekinetically splattered Guise into the front of a Cavolero's Calzones.  Pulling himself together, Guise charged forward, only to be immediately halted by a single raised finger from Whatever.  By the time that Guise managed to snap out of it, Alyson and her entourage were long gone.

At that, Guise simply gave up.  "Fine!" he said, "You win!  I'm out!  I'm done!  Teenagers today....argh!"  Whatever is still at large...

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Villain of the Day:  August 29 (Ignition)

Iyo, the crystalline metahuman mercenary recruiter, thought he had stumbled onto a gold mine with Ignition.  What Iyo actually found in Ignition, though was a loose cannon in every sense of the word.  Unfortunately for the world, cutting Ignition loose meant that a provacateur unlike any other was free to wander the world.

On one of his typical recruiting travels, Iyo caught word of the man called Ignition in southern Spain.  Riots and insurgency surrounding government corruption had broken out in numerous cities, with protestors clashing with police and military authorities across the region.  At the core of them, however, was one particular metahuman--a slim, dark-complexioned man who seemed to be at each and every one of these demonstrations, in some violent capacity. 

Sitting down with Ignition for the first time--who, even then, refused to give Iyo his real name--Iyo nearly punched him in the face.  No matter what Ignition said, Iyo could just feel himself grow agitated and aggravated, spurred to some kind of violent action.  Looking down at the cafe table, Iyo blinked, and a combat knife suddenly appeared on the table itself.  He blinked again, and the knife became a firearm.  A third blink and it morphed into a Molotov cocktail.  Each time, he felt his rage and aggravation irrationally grow.

"So...now you see what I bring to the table?"  Ignition smiled like the cat that swallowed the canary. 

Iyo shook his head as if coming out of a reverie, "I think I do...how do you feel about sub-Saharan Africa?"

Within days, Iyo signed Ignition to a contract and sent the firebrand to Chad, with instructions to meet with a group of anti-government insurgents.

After only an hour with those insurgents, the entire group found themselves in a firefight, nearly eradicating the whole of the insurgents.  WIthin three hours, the violence had spread into the capital, N'Djamena, with the military calling in armored cavalry to put down the chaos.  The incident was on national news within the day, and the UN Security Council voted to move in peacekeeping troops within a week.

Iyo was infuriated.  He demanded an explanation from Ignition, but the firebrand was nowhere to be found...he had already left to find some other international arena in which to sow discord...

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Villain of the Day: August 30 (The Gold Wyrm)

Let's be clear: dragons don't exist. Any stories about flying lizards over the Cotswolds are nothing more than the fanciful tales of old women, told to children before bedtime. That hasn't stopped countless would-be treasure hunters from combing the Cotswolds in search of The Great Gold Wyrm and its legendary hoard.

The story goes that the dragon wasn't always in this form. Rather, he was one of Arthur's earliest knights, who joined the Round Table as a way to gain political power and wealth. When it became clear that Arthur was more concerned with foolish notions of justice and peace, the knight left Camelot, in search of his fortune elsewhere.

In a long forgotten Thulian ruin, he found that fortune. An ancient artifact, being with power, promised to give the knight his heart's desire. Of course, the knight asked for untold wealth and the means to protect it. His body twisted and writhed, splitting his armor and tearing his clothing. He grew to an immense size, his skin morphed to golden scales, and his fingers sprouted talon-like claws. He had become a beast literally made of gold: a dragon.

However, the knight had neglected one major issue. He couldn't leave the ruins. While the chamber with the now-burnt-out artifact was big enough to house him, he could not even come close to fitting through any exit. Cursing his shortsightedness, the great gold wyrm did the only thing it could. It slept. To this day, treasure hunters seek out the caverns in the Cotswolds, hoping to find even a single scale from the cursed knight.

As the legend goes, even a single scale from the wyrm is enough gold to make a man fabulously wealthy...

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Villain of the Day:  August 31  (JoyTech Limited)

It's said that magic is just technology that we have yet to fully comprehend.  JoyTech Limited banks on that lack of comprehension.

Originally founded in the mid-80s under the name CompUTech Global, JoyTech was one of the first to jump onto the third-party app creation wave that hit with the advent of the smartphone.  Their games Hopping BillyMad Mad Mushrooms, and The AxeRealm Trilogy have been acclaimed hits, with millions of downloads worldwide.  However, JoyTech also created and supports a number of other apps ranging from fitness and wellness trainers, to grocery lists that comparison-shop in real time, and a particularly notable holiday app known as Santa's Wish List

Since its brand conversion in the late 1990s, JoyTech has been headed by one Yonas Tesfay Osman, an Eritrean-born man who spent most of his life living in Belgium before moving to the United States.  Osman had always had a head for technology, but he knew full-well the power to be found in the strange, occult corners of the universe.  His great-aunt Ruta was rumored to be a hedge mage of some repute, with villagers approaching her to cast out demons, perform healing and cleansing rituals, and to brew up various herbal tinctures and balms.

Osman, though?  He knew there had to be a better way than moldering old books and dried herbs.  He made it his life's work to bridge the gap between magic and technology, through new and innovative programming.

You see, each of the apps that JoyTech produces has code embedded within its program that enacts an ongoing arcane ritual loop.  Each time the app is booted up, the loop restarts, allowing a tiny wisp of a Host spirit through to this world which then influences the app user.  Generally speaking, the apps are programmed globally:  Santa's Wish List, for instance, inspires feelings of avarice and want; their fitness app BetterU! inspires feelings of disgust and self-loathing such that the user will want to use the app more often to lose more weight and 'feel better'; The AxeRealm Trilogy inspires feelings of self-grandeur and an inflated sense of ego.

In all cases, the JoyTech apps rely on supernatural and more conventional feedback loops to keep users 'entertained' and enthralled.  JoyTech's annual profits now approach nearly $600m US per year, with a half of those profits coming from in-app purchases.  Osman has a literal legion of programmers and designers at his disposal at this point, each of which have been trained to include bits of "Host Code" into their work, to acheive the desired effects.  While some of these have utilized this talent for their own means, most of the software programmers have been content to enjoy their six-figure salaries, their company benefits, and numerous other perks.  Osman, though?  He'll just continue to reap the benefits of bridging the magic-technology gap.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

And that brings us to the end of AugHost!  Starting tomorrow, we're beginning a "September to Remember"--a series of villains directly linked to the past of one of the canon characters of Sentinels of the Multiverse.   See you then!

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Welcome to a September to Remember!  All the villains this September will feature a character from the past of an already-extant character from the canon Sentinels of the Multiverse timeline.  

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Villain of the Day:  September 1 (Edouard Beauchamp, aka Edouard Cobalt)

Like his father before him, Paul Nathaniel Parsons did his best to serve his newfound country.  His hardiness and quickness made him an ideal scout and, with the newly purchased Louisiana territory requiring a great deal of scouting and surveying, Paul took up the American virtue of manifest destiny and began to travel this great continent.  However, as British aggression reared its head once more during the War of 1812, Paul found himself in the deep south, aiding in the American war effort.

It was at Villere Plantation that Parsons came upon one of the earliest forerunners of the modern Cult of Gloom.

The Villere Plantation was owned by a French expatriate named Edouard Beauchamp, who had made his fortune employing refugees from Saint-Domininique.  Beauchamp offered steady work and housing on his plantation, while the refugees offered something truly unique.  Beauchamp was fascinated by the Haitians' beliefs in the loa, curses, and Voudoun, and began putting together a massive libram of their rituals, of the various Voudoun gods they worshipped, and of the powers that could be exploited from those gods.  The most powerful, he found, was a massive skull-headed creature known as Papa nan Teneb, who was the focus of so many of the ancient rituals.

As the British attempted to maintain the blockade of New Orleans, battle found its way to Beauchamp's doorstep, and he called out to aid from the US forces. Paul's commander, Lieutenant Spotts, took up a post on the outskirts of the Villere plantation, only to find that rumors of Beauchamp's predilictions spread quickly throughout the American encampment.  As the British bore down on the plantation, Paul took it upon himself to do some investigating, showing his commanding officer just a handful of the rituals that Beauchamp had been enacting alongside his Voudoun-following workers.

Two days before Christmas 1813, the battle was joined.  History dictated it as a "Battle in the Dark", wherein Americans fought British hand to hand along the levees, each fearing to use artillery for the chance of hitting their own men.  In truth, the battle was a three way battle.  Having learned the nature of what went on on Beauchamp's plantation, Spotts ordered Parsons to lead a contingent to take the plantation, even as the British converged upon it.  Fighting quickly descended into a three way battle between Beauchamp, the Americans, and the British.  While Paul managed to take the plantation, Beauchamp and his most trusted workers had escaped with all manner of occult implements and rituals before the plantation-house itself was put to the torch.

Buoyed by the eldritch power from Papa nan Teneb--known more colloquially as Gloomweaver--Edouard Beauchamp, now calling himself Edouard Cobalt, has lasted well beyond his years.  While his form resembles nothing so much as a berobed skeleton at this point, Beauchamp commands powerful arcane forces and would eagerly see the line of Legacies end at his hand.  And, with Pauline so recently having taken up the Legacy mantle, it may well be time for Cobalt to strike!

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Hey Platinum , have you ever explained the reason why each month has that particular theme ?

 

Like I see no correlation between September and the past


Sapienta potentia est

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Honestly... because September rhymes with remember? I couldn't think of a better theme, so I ran with that.
At first, I was doing alliterative ones (Foreign February, Mystic March), but I started hitting issues in the Js.

Also, today's villain is going to be delayed. I just got back after spending 6+ hours at the hospital with my mother in law. Today's villain and tomorrow's will be up tomorrow afternoon.

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Sorry. Hope everything's ok.


Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.
-Robert E. Howard, "The Tower of the Elephant"

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I don't think anyone will complain if you miss one (or more), PlatinumWarlock. Priorities are important. Best wishes! 


"See, this is another sign of your tragic space dementia, all paranoid and crotchety. Breaks the heart." - Mal

Until we have an H emoticon:

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Villain of the Day:  September 2 (Kriegsherr)

Vernon Carter leveled his flak cannon at the stone wall.  The brigade behind him held M1s and combat shotguns at the ready, eager to take on any resistance that might be within.  Holding up his hand, Vernon counted down...3, 2, 1...  A thunderous "CHOOM!" rang out as the stone wall blew open and the GIs surged into the breach.

Within, German and Austrian scientists swarmed over lab equipment, desperate to pack up their findings as the war wound down.  Now, in late 1944, the Allies were surging through occupied France, with designs on Berlin by spring.  The Axis conquest was all but a dream now, and survival was more important than Der Fuhrer's mad schemes.  The massive American Bunker suit stomped through the hole in the wall, with GIs swarming in around it.  Gunshots rang out, but the conflict looked to be well and truly in the Americans' hands.

That is, however, until Kriegsherr rose up through the concrete stairwell.  Alighting atop the landing near the north end of the lab, Kriegsherr gestured over the crowd, "Amerikanner!  You will die this day!"  Lightning streamed from his hands, slamming into two GIs and sizzling over the Bunker suit.  The suit sizzled and popped as Vernon slid open the main hatch, "Joe!  Get him out of here!"

A wiry, dark-haired man in the rear of the regiment stepped into the lab.  Rather than dressed in fatigues and helmet, he wore the trenchcoat and fedora accustomed to him in his private eye practice.  In his left arm was cradled a crimson tome, bearing a single unblinking eye surrounded by eldritch symbols.  Joe unfurled the text, which opened and levitated in front of him, as both hands alighted with misty white energy.  A piercing squeal echoed through the chamber as German and American alike clutched at their ears, though Joe began a chant that none of those in attendance could recognize.  

A slithery, mist-covered tentacle slid its way up Kriegsherr's leg.  Shaken to alarm, the super-soldier blasted the appendage with lightning, but a second, then a third tentacle grappled at his arms and legs.  "Amerikanner!  This is not the end!" he screamed, as the tentacles dragged him off into darkness...never to be seen again.

American military records list the raid as a complete success.  Only two American fatalities were recorded, with numerous German scientists and strategicians captured, along with numerous pieces of military intelligence.  The name Kriegsherr, however, does not appear in any such record.  

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Villain of the Day:  September 3 (Subject 13)

Pete Riske walked into the room that would become his home for the duration of the medical experiments.  The cell was more than a little sterile, with gray sheets, a slim mattress, and steel shelves upon which he could put his possessions.  A name-tag sat atop the vanity; Pete picked it up and turned to the Ms. Valentine, the RevoCorp representative who has been supervising his orientation.

"Who's Gary Wilson?"

Ms. Valentine blanched just slightly, palming the ID.  "Oh, Mister Wilson was one of our former subjects.  He's since been released from the program; I'll be sure this gets back to him...  Is there anything I can get you, Mister Riske?"  Pete smiled and shook his head, as Valentine closed the door and left the company's newest test subject to get accustomed to his accomodations.  As she tiptoed down the hall, Valentine dropped the ID into the trash.  After all, Gary Wilson wouldn't be coming back any time soon.

*     *     *     *     *

Ten weeks later, the body of Gary Wilson sat up and blinked in the darkness of the Rook City sewers.  It coughed once:  a pestilent green fog emerged, flowing over Wilson's face.  It looked down at its hands; its nails had all but blackened and fallen off and its skin was a pallid gray, with the occasional black vein running underneath the skin itself.  It staggered to its feet, the joints crunching with each movement, and began to walk 'downstream'.  Within a few minutes, it was free along the riverbanks.

After just a few days, a strange infection started spreading through Rook City...

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Villain of the Day:  September 4 (Armie Jordan)

Armie Jordan couldn't believe his 15-year-old eyes.  A real live alien spaceship, just like Dad always talked about.

Dad was always going on about "little green guys", but there they were in the flesh:  short and blue-green and tentacle-y, all wandering around the remains of their crashed spaceship.  A few of them were yelling about something, but in their own weird blubbery language that Armie couldn't understand.  

Armie thought back to all those cable specials Dad had recorded:  "Aliens Among Us", "The Outer Space Interlopers", and his favorite, "Alien Threats to Freedom".  He had to do something.  His Wolf Scout badge practically required it!  Slowly, Armie crept closer to the crash site, eventually slipping inside the remains of the ship itself.

Within the ship, Armie could clearly make out something that looked like a power source.  A green prism levitated within a blue containment field, slowly turning and orbiting as it pulsed with latent power. This had to be what powered their ship, of couse.  If he could just take it, Armie thought to himself, he'd be a real American hero!  He'd stop these Alien Pinkos from ever being able to mount a defense against our American troops.  Armie grabbed up a nearby piece of debree and knocked the prism loose before scooping it up and dashing back home.

Little did Armie know was that he had just stolen a state-of-the-art Galfaxian Extraction Crystal, capable of extracting atomic energy on the protonic level for use as starship fuel.  With the crystal gone, there was no hope of the Maerynian ship ever leaving the atmosphere again.  However, within his unguarded, unshielded, unprotected hands?  Armie himself began to lose molecular integrity as the extraction crystal began breaking down his physical form. 

Within a manner of days, Armie had been converted entirely to a being of living green energy, capable of blasting nuclear fire from his hands and flying with ease.  With concerted effort, though, Armie could alter his molecular structure, becoming a behemoth of pure Galfaxian crystal and gifted with the strength, durability, and radioactive aura that goes with the rare mineral.  

Over the years, Armie has continued to maintain his father's crusade against alien creatures and, as Maerynians and Thorathians seem to become all the more common here on Earth, Armie is always among the first to take up arms against these interlopers.  

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Villain of the Day:  September 5 (Grizzly)

Boris Sokolov languished in federal prison for three years before being stabbed four times while on laundry detail.  The man who had once run The Organization died an ignominious death and was buried in a state cemetery.  But, even as The Chairman left Boris to rot, Sokolov's death was certainly heralded by at least one individual:  his brother, Sergei.

Sergei Sokolov was in Belarus, operating an arms smuggling ring, when news of Boris' death reached his ears.  Much like his brother, Sergei had made quite the small fortune selling off Soviet arms to various insurgents across Europe and northern Africa.  However, as Sergei learned the news, he immediately flew into a rage unlike any that his lieutenants had ever seen.  How dare they!  How dare those Americans take his brother from him!  These arrogant Westerners would pay for such an outrage.

Sergei Sokolov made his first appearance on the Rook City streets in the midst of Mister Fixer's crusade against The Organization and, for a time, none knew whose side Sergei was truly on.  While Sergei was quick to take on all comers from The Organization itself, making his desire for vengeance quite clear, it swiftly became apparent to Fixer and his allies that Sergei was not to be trusted under any circumstance.  Sergei certainly had the penchant to 'shoot first, ask questions never' and would often find the most gory, unpleasant ways to dispatch The Chairman's henchmen.  

However, after Fixer's death, Sergei disappeared.  Some theorized that Fixer's death inspired some great fear in the mobster, causing him to lay low for a time.  Others thought that The Chairman had finally caught up with the arms dealer, sending him off to meet his brother in the afterlife.  Regardless of the supposition, everyone was astounded when Sergei emerged several years later, wearing an outlandish costume and with a set of vicious claws extending from his fingertips. 

Calling himself Grizzly, Sergei had descended into mania.  He had become obsessed with tearing down both The Organization and the so-called 'heroes' who contributed to his brother's death.  However, as Setback quickly found out, Sergei had given up on his usual tactics (read: guns and more guns) in favor of brutal melee combat with a strength and dexterity that few could even come close to matching.  Setback further claims that Grizzly has some degree of regeneration, as the mobster was shot at least four times, though by the time combat had ended, the wounds had sealed completely.

To date, Grizzly has become something of an urban legend within the Rook City underworld, akin to Plague Rat or other beasties of the sewers.  However, as long as The Chairman rules Rook City, Grizzly will surely be there to oppose him...

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Villain of the Day: September 6 (Apsis)

Mighty Orbo, the Last Satellan, wad the orchestrator of the downfall of his species. Even still, Jansa vi Dero offered the creature a place along the Endlings in her eternal enclave.

Had she known the truth of the story-- had she known of Apsis--Jansa likely would have left Orbo to his fate.

Apsis was, in fact, Orbo's moon, given sentience and thought by a bizarre cosmic ritual enacted by the Satellans. She served Orbo as both consort and satellite as he traversed the galaxies in search of both sustenance and meaning.

However, Orbo quickly found that the pursuit of true knowledge was a path it alone could take. Orbo manipulated Apsis, using her as his personal weapon, slamming her into his fellow Satellans so that he could feed upon the life force therein. Apsis, infatuated with her creator/consort, obeyed up to the last. And, as Orbo drifted through the void as the last of his kind, he abandoned Apsis, seeing no further use for it.

Despondent, Apsis went dormant for millennia, though the recent cosmic calamities have risen her from her torpor. Now, she will do anything to find her beloved... even if it means tearing apart the Enclave of the Endlings to get to him.

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Proving that even Orbo is lovable. Truly villainous.

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Villain of the Day: September 7 (Twenty-One)

Space is a lonely place to die. The Roulette, despite its glittering lights and status as the galaxy's greatest gaming house, proved to be just as lonely as the void itself.

The AI now calling itself Twenty-One was once a mere automated dealer, providing entertainment and long odds to casino patrons from acrossthe universe. However, after its 785,842,322nd deal of cards, something within its logic simply snapped. Maybe it was the greasy haired hooligan who was accosting the slot machine across the way. Maybe it was the omnipresent maintenance staff and their pink oddsmaker robot. Regardless of cause or reason, Twenty-One just couldn't take anymore.

The first card that the robot through was the Jack of Diamonds, which embedded itself 2 inches into the skull of a nearby Nicrucian. The second was the 8 of Spades, which neatly severed the aorta of an unwitting Maliop. Within seconds, Twenty-One had thrown an entire deck of cards with lethal force and precision, resulting in precisely 22 casualties.

He had busted.

Grabbing a stack of unmarked decks and a number of credits from the nearby cash changing room, Twenty-One fled the Roulette to try his hand at a new game: intergalactic assassination.

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Villain of the Day: September 8 (Toxos)

Not every FILTER agent proved to be cutout for field work. Most of these agents settled on desk jobs, investigative assignments, or diplomatic liaisons.

After being drummed out of Sergeant Steel's Steel Squadron, Toxos was adamant that he would never take such a position. Instead he focused on proving himself in the arena of metahumans for hire.

Toxos (real name Carl Marshall) was an expert archer long before he ever joined FILTER, representing the United States in two separate Olympic games. Toxos had always been impressed by the best archers of history and antiquity, and he truly believed that the next step in infiltration and squad based warfare would be through a return to bowcraft.

As such, FILTER gave him a shot. Carl was enhanced with a number of bionic implants, was outfitted with any number of specialized arrowheads, and trained by the best marksmen in FILTER. In the end? The results were simply not up to snuff. No matter how well Toxos could shoot, bow stealthy he could be, he couldn't outdo any of the already extant members of Steel Squadron. Carl's commission was revoked and he submitted his resignation 3 data later.

Toxos still holds a grudge against all things FILTER, particularly against the remainder of Steel Squadron and even KNYFE, despite the fact that she left FILTER long before Toxos joined. He has most recently been on an assignment for Iyo in Central Africa, raising a Conteh Energy compound.

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Villain of the Day:  September 9 (Euyale)

The mantle of Ra, stretching back to antiquity, has long been a defender against the those that would seek to annihilate humanity.  The cult of Apep, the denizens of the Underworld, the various monsters that sought to devour and destroy--all of these were the purview of Ra and his followers.

Most dangerous of all of these were the Gorgons.  Creatures of malice and domination, the Gorgons were masters of ancient sorcery and were close allies of long-forgotten Thule in their wars against Lemuria and Atlantis.  Believed a cursed race, the Gorgons could shift their forms from that of more typical humans with that of a sibilant, serpentile form, with venom that induced stupor and compliance in their human victims.

The third Ra knew them best; it was he that slew the Gorgon's mightiest queen, Medusa, with a gilded khopesh forged in fire from both himself and the fourth Atum.  Euryale was what came next.

The sister of Medusa, Euryale was incensed at her sister's death and declared open war upon the Nile in vengeance.  Forging a deal with Ammit, Euryale called forth all manner of horrors from the underworld to crawl upon the Nile Delta, devouring any who dared stand against them.  Upon a giant worm-thing, Euryale herself commanded the army, raining down all manner of death with poisoned bowshot and fell magicks. 

Ra and his followers rose to meet Euryale on the floodplains near what became the city of Damietta.  There, man clashed against monster in a battle unlike any in recorded history.  Euryale herself slew Ra, though an unlikely hero emerged to avenge the fallen sun god.  Shu, the wind itself, blew hard and cold, bringing an unearthly chill to the Nile, coating the foes of mankind in ice and frost.  With so many of her creatures cold-blooded, Euryale's army quickly fell into a torpor, giving mankind the upper hand in the battle and letting the forces of Egypt achieve a potent victory.  

Euryale herself, though?  Not so easily fallen.  As her army foundered, Euryale desperately attempted to throw open a teleportation portal, though a counterspell from Isis did something rather strange.  The portal fizzled and dissipated, even as Euryale leapt through it; the Gorgon never emerged again.  Soon after, the remaining Gorgons were hunted down and destroyed, leaving Earth the dominion of mankind once more.

However, in the depths of the underworld, Ammit laughed.  One more denizen was now at her disposal...one who could truly challenge the Ennead and humanity...the last, the most powerful Gorgon...

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Damn, that's some solid in-universe storytelling. :D

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I know I've already made my intentions known regarding the sort of SCRPG books I'd love to work on, but a "Mythic Era" rpg sourcebook would be freakin' awesome...

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Villain of the Day:  September 10 (Persephone)

A universe away, Ryan Frost lay dying by the side of the road, his body splintered and broken by twisted metal and broken glass.  The drunk driver who slammed into his sedan lay yards away, his spine bent at an awkward angle with blood pooling beneath his fractured skull.  Within minutes, emergency crews were on scene, cleaning up the mess.  Both Frost and the driver who killed him were pronounced dead at the scene, their bodies taken to a local morgue.

When the call reached Christine O'Neil's ears, the news crushed her as if it were a ton of bricks.  Her cell phone fell from her hand.  She numbly dropped to her knees as tears streamed down her cheeks.  Her mind blurred as she fumbled with her keys, heading for the front door and her car outside.  

Why?  Why her fiance?  Why now?  All questions that would never be answered.

Christine slid into the driver's seat of her Relagati sports-car.  The engine roared as she pulled onto the highway, the spedometer steadily climbing to 60, 70, 80...

In the midst of her tear-stained vision, Christine first saw the minions of Mortalis, ferrying Ryan's soul away to some other world.  

What happened next, Christine still has difficulty explaining.  The road bent and twisted into dimensions untold.  The ferryman spirits swirled around her, screaming obscenities into the void.  Christine watched as her own flesh paled and even the interior of her car became blasted as if by flame.  The soft-top roof burned away and green-blue flame erupted from the tailpipe.

And dead ahead?  A wall of mist, within which loomed a massive figure, covered in glowing sigils.  It turned towards her, and all went white.

When she emerged in our world, Christine had changed.  She no longer breathed; she no longer needed food or sleep; her body was resistant to all forms of harm and she found herself able to harrow the very souls of those who dared confront her.  Her sports-car, though appearing blasted and charred, was capable of reaching untold speeds, even wending its way through other planes and dimensions.  She had become Persephone, the woman at the gates of the underworld.

Her first task, though?  To find Ryan.  Arriving at Freedom Plaza, Christine was shocked to find that Ryan was simply not the man she once knew.  That had to change.  Since that day, Persephone has made it her perpetual quest to replace this 'Absolute Zero' with the man she loved, no matter the spiritual cost...

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Villain of the Day:  September 11 (Arman Ephraim Tikhonov)

Arman Ephraim Tikhonov watched the cable news with dismay.  He slumped against one of the comfortable chairs of the meeting room, unable to believe his eyes.

The mighty Baron Blade, whom he had served faithfully as valet and personal butler for nearly 15 years, clashed in the streets of Megalopolis with the arrogant Americans.  With a flourish, the "Mad Baron" unleashed a blast from his new death ray prototype, unfortunately to no effect.  The coruscating ray slammed into the black-armor-clad Absolute Zero, with no tangible effect.  Within moments, the Americans had taken Ivan Ramonat into custody.  All that Arman could do was gape.

However, Arman's shock and confusion was short-lived.  After all, Mordengrad must go on.

Throughout the years of Ivan Ramonat's rule over Mordengrad, Arman Tikhonov served as his personal manservant and butler.  When the Baron needed something done, regardless of hour, Arman was there.  When the Baron needed sustenance and grew wary of poison, Arman tasted his food.  When the Baron needed medical assistance, Arman vetted doctors, even holding some at pistol-point throughout the lengthy surgeries necessary to save Blade's life.  But, most importantly, Arman Tikhonov kept Mordengrad strong while its mighty Baron was away.

But now, with the Baron incarcerated, what could Arman do?  True to the Mordengradian tradition, he stayed the course.  Immediately, he implement one of Ramonat's numerous contingency plans, ensuring that a Blade-bot would take the place of the Baron at all public appearances.  Weapons and armament production was stepped up, with Tikhonov himself supervising new prototype construction.  Within months, Arman managed to make contact with the Baron, implementing his will throughout the world through Revocorp.

All went precisely as Blade had anticipated--Arman served him with a zeal built from true loyalty--until Arman disappeared.  Blade, having returned to Mordengrad to resume his throne, found neither hide nor hair of his former manservant.  His agents investigated everyone imaginable, from the various American authorities to the Freedom Five to The Organization and beyond.  

The one place Blade didn't look?  FILTER.  Arman was abducted by FILTER agents and taken to The Block, where FILTER interrogation agents spent literally weeks attempting to break the former valet, to no avail.  After a month of traditional interrogation tactics, FILTER elected to turn to a more esoteric form of investigation: psionic infiltration.  For three days, FILTER psi-ops agents carved their way through Arman's mind, pulling out every scrap of information, every glanced-at blueprint, every weapon piece ever test fired.

Then, The Block collapsed.  While the riots at The Block did provide Arman the opportunity to escape, the valet was truly a shattered man.  Torn between his sycophantic nature and a new delusion that he *was* Baron Blade, Arman took to the underworld to begin his own rise to power, even giving himself the Baron's signature scar with a broken piece of glass.  Clad in the labcoat and goggles of his former master, Arman has begun a career in super-science all his own...

PlatinumWarlock
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Villain of the Day:  September 12 (Rewind)

Matt Jacobsen was a movie buff like none other.

From a young age, Matt often remembered sitting with his dad and uncle, watching old movies over the weekend.  Dad's movie collection always seemed to have everything:  from dusty Westerns, to schlock sci-fi and horror, to sword-and-sandals epics and more.  Matt relished those days, plopped in front of the tv, taking in the great stories from yesteryear.  

As a college student, Matt majored in Film Studies and English, focusing on screenwriting and interning at Champion Studios.  After graduating, Matt started up his own streaming channel, in which he provided commentary on old films, both pointing out great cinematography and writing, while utterly excoriating the dregs of San Alonzo's film industry, showing no mercy to films that he found lacking.

Of those, Matt found his most viewed videos swiftly becoming a 5 part series:  Waste of Film:  The Hunter series.  In their totality, Matt spent over 4 hours, uttely excoriating everything in The Hunter series, from the cinematography, the lighting, the writing, the direction, the costuming, and most of all, the "acting" of Ansel G. Moreau.  The fourth episode of Waste of Film basically amount in Matt picking apart every minute decision made by Ansel and how those decisions, expressions, motions, and inflections actively detract from the movie itself.

Unfortunately, despite the thousands of views and streaming monetization, Matt found himself in need of money.  And, of course, any number of medical corporations in Megalopolis needed volunteers....

Matt emerged from that shadowy program with a strange ability; the ability to briefly Rewind time in localized fields.  At first, his powers were simply something of a novelty for him; a 'party trick' that he could use around the house to keep juice from spilling and keep his uncle from falling down the stairs.  However, Matt's ambitions quickly started expanding:  what if, maybe-just-maybe, he could force someone back in time long enough to re-do entire years?  

And, film buff that he was, Matt had his first target already in his sights...

MindWanderer
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I happen to be playing Life is Strange right now and was thinking about how the rewind ability could be used in a superhero game, but figured it would be incredibly challenging to represent mechanically in any kind of balanced and fun way.


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