Welcome back Superhero RPG fans!
(As well as those who stumbled upon this blog accidentally, children who were left unattended and wandered off, but found their way here, lost souls of the damned and extraterrestrial intelligences looking for a way to communicate with our primitive species)
You're in luck! That's right! You are just in time for my review of the latest comic book series from Champions Earth Alpha Delta-1, sure to be a smash hit: Champions: REBIRTH.
Fabulous First Issue - "Rattle Them Bones".
Our story opens on a fair, cool and sunny day at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Arcturus Mann (NPC), multi-billionaire industrialist and philanthropist is at a podium discussing Mann Industries' (a division of MANN UNLIMITED) latest innovation, the first Gravity Module Commercial Passenger Plane. This amazing shuttle can travel from New York to California in just over an hour, takes off and lands vertically, uses less fuel than conventional commercial aircraft and provides the smoothest ride you can imagine.
Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that Mann has promised to make the Gravity Module available to any interested companies for a comparatively modest fee, while making a downgraded version available on the net in a sort of Creative Commons equivalent deal. The top grade and lower grade variants are significantly different in terms of their ease of construction, some materials and power and fine control of the gravity field.
Today will be the prototype shuttle's maiden flight (OK, it's first public flight. It's already been tested a number of times). The flight will take the craft from JFK Airport to LAX, the Los Angeles World Airport. Passengers will include Mann, a number of dignitaries, heads of state, important business people and media personalities and a dozen children from the Scaramangler Foundation*.
To ensure the safety of the flight, its passengers and crew, today is also first major mission and official debut of the new Champions Superteam. The group is introduced to the public with much fanfare by Tachyon (NPC)**, a former member of the Silver Age Champions and one of the world's most beloved heroes. Released from a self-sentenced exile and cured of his dangerous, excess power, Tachyon has been chosen to be the one to guide the new team in the right direction. He calls out each name and the crowd erupts with excitement over each new hero!
Equilibrium, IMPACT, Master Builder, N*Gage, Phalanx, Silent Justice and Vanish (The PCs)!
While introducing the group, a spectral image of what appears to be a musketeer shrouded in colorless fire, and wearing a long cloak, forms above the team and watches the proceedings. When the assembled crowd points him out and cheers for the strange, ghostly visitor, Tachyon thinks quickly and introduces him as a member, calling him 'The Grey Flame' (PC).
Afterwards, as the team leaves the stage, Tachyon and Phalanx greet the phantom and ask him if one of the members of Project: UNITY asked him to attend the event. The Grey Flame simply replied, "I go where I am needed." Tachyon shrugs and going with his gut, adds the The Grey Flame to the team roster for time being.
The plan is for the majority of the team to fly aboard the grav-shuttle just as the passengers will, but ready to take action should the need arise. The only oddities are IMPACT, who will be travelling in his secret identity, a 14 year old, skinny geek kid, and Master Builder and N*Gage, who decide to travel in the craft's twin cargo holds (since all three are too large for the seats on the plane and Master Builder and N*Gage don't have to worry about cabin pressure (since they don't need to breath and are extremely tough).
The only Champions not boarding the craft will be Vanish and Tachyon. Both of the them will run ahead along the flight path of the plane. Vanish runs 681 mph and can teleport. Tachyon can travel faster than Vanish but now gets winded as it takes a lot more endurance to use his powers than it did in his youth. The two of them get a head start.
While onboard, Phalanx coordinates security efforts with Mann's own personal security detail, Silent Justice uses his psychic senses to monitor everyone's vitals and make sure they are all what they seem, IMPACT (in his true, 14 year old kid form) watches the Scaramangler kids play and talk and Equilibrium taps into his Cosmic Awareness.
All seems well as Tachyon, and then Vanish, reach the first checkpoint, somewhere in Ohio. There is a bit of ideal talk about how Vanishes power reminds Tachyon of his old friend Vector. He recommends Vanish do some research on Vector as it might help him with his own abilities. Vanish nods and seems to blow off the 'old man's' advice, but secretly takes it to heart.
Not long after the shuttle passes over checkpoint one, Equilibrium's Cosmic Awareness gives him a vision. First, he sees a small, but intensely bright, blue camp fire burning somewhere 'below him' in the distance. He feels he is moving away from the fire on the wings of a swift. Next, moths of many different shapes and sizes fly toward the fire as if in slow motion. Finally, out of a dark bank of clouds, a large carrion bird, ash grey and blood red in color, descends upon the swift with great speed.
(The Player of) Equilibrium surmises that the shuttle is the swift and the vulture or buzzard is some kind of plane that is following them. Sensors aboard the craft reveal nothing behind or above them. A cloaked plane? Possible, but few villains or villainous organizations have cloaking technology that absolute!
Realizing his partner has discovered something, Silent Justice speaks to Equilibrium telepathically. Told of what his friend has sensed, Silent Justice networks the rest of the team in and lets them know the situation. Unfortunately, Silent Justice's telepathy doesn't work on N*Gage (he's a Robot) and Grey Flame (he's...well...dead, not to put too fine a point on it). The two of them are alerted by team communicators.
IMPACT, uncomfortable around the kids even though some are his own age, is eager to spring into action. Accessing a aft ceiling hatch, he transforms into his 8 ft., pro-wrestler looking form, complete with theme music, flashing lights and distant cheers and applause. Master Builder, has come up from the cargo hold, joins him top side. IMPACT opens the hatch without thinking of the cabin pressure and wind, but luckily Master Builder is a quick thinker and was prepared for just such a situation.
Using quick hardening foam*** found in the cargo hold, Master Builder absorbs the material, transforms in a column shaped plug for the hatch and then morphs away, leaving the hardened foam in his place. With the opening now sealed tight behind them, IMPACT and Master Builder search the skies for the other aircraft. Wait! There! It may be invisible, but it still has mass and moved through a cloud. Good enough for IMPACT. He prepares to jump.
Off the top of the plane. To land on another plane. That he can't actually see.
To Be Continued...
*The Scaramangler Foundation
A major component of the setting, the Scaramangler Foundation is a US based, international relief organization that is best described as a cross between the Red Cross and Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
Basically, mutants and other young superbeings are not hated and feared, but rather viewed as people with a disability, albeit one that can potentially blow up tanks, cause storms or stop time.
A member of the Silver Age Champions, Tachyon's powers were originally the ability to absorb light energy, transform himself into a light being and 'run' at incredible speeds (actually turning into a beam of energy). This later evolved into being able to fly.
During the final mission of his team, Tachyon absorbed far too much energy from the villain Sundown and overcharged his powers. From that point forward, Tachyon could not activate his abilities without causing a solar fusion explosion, potentially endangering everyone and everything in a 1000 ft. radius.
Some years later, Tachyon served as a sort of PR/Spokesperson for Project: UNITY, becoming a major factor in swaying public opinion of superheroes back towards the positive after it was tarnished by the final mission mentioned above. While the overall opinion of superheroes had dropped, Tachyon's personal popularity had never been higher and he used that to the advantage of the entire superhero community.
One fateful day, about three years after the formation of Project: UNITY, Tachyon's sister, one of the most popular newscasters in the Western World, was kidnapped by the villain Mister Grimm. Tachyon's sister was the girlfriend of another hero, Night Force. Grimm tapped into the Project: UNITY communications system and announced he was going to kill the woman in 10 seconds. Unbeknownst to the rest of the team, Night Force was already hunting Grimm and had located his hidden island villa in the Mediterranean.
Seeing his sister in mortal danger with barely seconds to spare, Tachyon activated his powers, rocketed skyward and came down upon Grimm's location in seconds. He was too late. Grimm shot the woman and than fell dead himself, as Night Force had 'Nightarang'ed him in the back of the head, again, seconds too late.Tachyon later discovered that the activation of his powers has created a solar plasma blast that killed two Superheroes and injured three others. He pleaded guilty at a hearing and requested he be locked away in the superhuman detention facility known as Stronghold.
Tachyon remained there for years until a UNITY member named Syphon (Jeff's previous character) began visiting him and convinced Tachyon to let him try and help him. Syphon devised a way to use his own energy absorption and conversion powers to rid Tachyon of his uncontrollable, excess energy. After a couple more years of retraining and therapy, Omni and Night Force (the latter now leading Project: UNITY) asked Tachyon to train, advise and act as a liaison for the new Champions. He accepted.
Tachyon can still convert to an energy form, but only runs at Mach 1, the speed of sound. He can no longer absorb energy and as a result gets tired more quickly then he did in his youth. Although about 60 years of age, he looks closer to a man in his late 40's. He is still quite handsome, as personable as ever and has an Eidetic Memory, so he remembers the name and face of every person he has ever met.
***Flotation devices consisting of bags of rapid hardening foam were stored on the Gravity Module Shuttle. The foam, when hardened, contains thousands of tiny bubbles, enabling the packs of foam to float. I forget the name of it, but this material actually exists.