Written by Thefirstone :: [Wednesday, 05 February 2020 05:53] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 08 February 2020 11:29]
The most prominent superhero team on the planet is the Paragons.They are generally, but not exclusively, the first to respond to global threats. However, the governments and/or militaries of most countries have superhumans who answer to them, and independent superheroes also exist, although the area they cover varies.
San Francisco has Team Millenium, which falls into a mix of those categories, in that they are funded by the United States government, but operate exclusively in San Francisco with little to no direct oversight. They are so named due to all being late high school to college-aged, although they were each required to test out to actually join. One morning two weeks after that night in Central Park, they were responding to a hostage situation at Pier 39. Well, considering that the criminals were a small gang outfitted with low-rating powered armor and backed by equally low-rating combat robots, the only two members of Team Millenium that the team at large deemed it necessary to send were the twins, Maria and Marco, publicly known as Positive and Negative (or jointly as the Polarity Twins). In fact, if either Positive’s magnetic powers or Negative’s electrical powers didn’t require them to be holding hands (Well, any skin-to-skin contact, but that was their default) to use them, they were willing to bet one of them could do it alone, but their powers did require them to be together, so they took each other’s hands, used magnetic propulsion to fly to the scene of the crime, and shorted out the power suits and smashed the robots to pieces. As the city’s Supercriminal Arrest and Containment Force pulled up to take the criminals into custody, Positive stopped to answer her phone, which had started ringing during the fight. “Hello?”
“Positive, it’s Greenhouse,” her teammate began, a slight anxiety in their voice, “Titania’s here. She’s asking for you.”
“Titania from the Paragons?”
Positive relayed this information to her brother, and they returned to the small office building that had been converted into Team Millenium’s base at top speed. They found their teammates-Greenhouse, Hive and Scrounger-in the conference room, along with Titania as promised.
Titania had always claimed to be “queen of the Green Court of the Fae,” and the rest of the Paragons had always backed that up. This was Team Millenium’s first time seeing her face-to-face, and they had to admit she definitely looked the part. She stood about eight feet tall, dressed in form-fitting plate armor made of some sort of light green, opaque, crystalline material. Her skin, or at least what they could see of it, was flawless, and her figure was well-proportioned. She had deep, sparkling green eyes. Instead of hair, a cluster of leafy vines grew from her scalp all the way down to the floor.
“You… You wanted to see me, ma’am?” Positive asked, stammering slightly.
“Yes. We can’t talk about why here, but I’ve been asked to take you to the Sanctum as quickly as possible.”
“And my brother?”
“He’ll have to stay here.”
“Because we need to discuss something top secret.”
“But our powers—”
“Don’t work unless you’re together. We’re well aware of that, Negative. Don’t worry, you have my word-and I can’t break my word- that she’ll be back by the end of the day, and if anything happens to her while she’s gone, my teammates and I will protect her.”
Titania lead Positive to a nearby park, and into a cluster of trees. Except instead of the cluster she’d seen from outside-and inside every previous time she’d been there, Positive found herself and her escort in a gigantic old growth forest. She wasn’t sure how long they were there, only that they speedwalked between trees too tall to see the top of until they were emerging from another cluster of trees in what turned out to be Central Park. From there they walked to the United Nations, where the Sanctum was located.
At Titania’s instruction, Positive took the elevator to the building’s top floor, went all the way to the end of the hall, and entered a large office. She was greeted by the Emissary, and sat down across from her at the desk.
“You want anything to drink?”
“What do you have?”
“Pepsi, cocoa, green tea, water—”
“Just water, please.”
Sitting on the other side of the desk was a woman with curly red hair that reached down to her shoulders, bright, sparkling blue eyes and a thin, toned and moderately curvy frame with somewhat large breasts. She wore a floor-length yellow cape and a white, form-fitting bodysuit with black rubber gloves and boots. There was a blue insignia on the stomach of the suit, a combination of a lowercase E and the cross-and-circle “female” symbol. She reached into a drawer and handed Positive a bottled water, which the latter didn’t even touch.
Of course, the Emissary-a woman strong enough to lift the building they were in with one hand, probably able to be at ground zero of a nuke without a scratch, fast enough to get from Earth to the moon in seconds, and in general probably several orders of magnitude more powerful than all of Team Millenium combined-was intimidating, even if she didn’t look like it, but that wasn’t what Positive was having trouble with. First of all, if she ever met the leader of the Paragons in person she’d always thought it would be under vastly different circumstances. Second of all, being apart from her twin had always made her anxious, and the rest of the situation wasn’t helping. At some point she realized that the Emissary had asked her a question: “Sorry, can you repeat that?”
“How familiar are you with mythology?”
Positive had no idea what she’d expected the Emissary to say, but that wasn’t it. “Kind of. I mean, I know about, like, Hercules and Thor and stuff. Why?”
“What if I told you it was all true?”
There was a long, awkward pause. “What?!”
“The gods worshipped by the various ancient civilizations-the Greeks, the Norse, the Egyptians, the Aztecs, etcetera etcetera-are all real.” Another long pause, before she continued. “Well, my husband has another, very technical term for them, but I can never remember it.”
“Ubersapient theme-associative extradimensional Clarke-level intelligences,” said a third person as the office door opened, admitting Doc Mach, Titania, Druid, Sentinel, the Jovian Justicar, and Miss Raven. The Emissary got up and joined them.
Positive, unsure what else to do, followed as they walked back down the hall and to the elevator. The Emissary activated a handprint scanner and a panel opened below the destination buttons, revealing several more. She pressed one.
“I understand this is a lot to take in,” Miss Raven said as the elevator began its descent, “We’ll answer any questions you have as accurately as we can.”
“Well, first of all, there are so many different creation stories, how does that work?”
“If it wasn’t already clear,” Doc Mach replied, I don’t believe the UTAEDCLIs actually qualify as gods.”
“He’s always been stubborn about that,” Druid said, rolling his eyes. “He may be right, or one story may be true while the rest are lies. Hell, there are some magi who say all of them are equally true at the same time.”
“How does that—”
“What does this have to do with me?”
“At some point,” Miss Raven said, “The gods abandoned Earth. We don’t know why, and we don’t know exactly when, but they all agreed to stop getting involved with humanity. But they also agreed that each pantheon would get one human Champion, endowed with a fragment of power from each god in that pantheon. The exact abilities depend on the pantheon, but each Champion can only access them in a special transformation state, and in terms of modern Neohuman ratings, all Champions are in the A range. The upper A range. For thousands of years the Champions have existed, with the power transferring to a new host when the current one dies. Part of our job is to monitor them and make sure that power doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.”
Positive had what felt like thousands of questions, and settled for: “So how do you know who gets the power when it changes hands?”
“With a bunch of stupid rules we have to—”
The red and white armored hero pouted, retorting, “Hey, don’t get mad ‘cause I’m right!”
Druid sighed. “Anyway, the rules are complex, but our knowledge of them combined with my magic is generally enough to keep track. The first and foremost rule is that the recipient has to be descended from people who historically worshipped the corresponding gods. However, two weeks ago, the Greek Champion was attacked and killed. Whoever was responsible must have powerful magic of their own, because I was unable to identify them. I was, however, able to deduce that they took her power for themselves in a manner that bypasses the usual restrictions. Three days later, the Egyptian Champion was murdered in his apartment by the same person the same way.
“Both were stabbed to death, most likely with a magical weapon.”
“Why are you telling me any of this?”
The elevator was dead silent for a moment before Titania spoke up: “Well, obviously the Champions are being targeted by someone who knows who and where they are. The current-I’m not gonna bother trying to pronounce the term, but the Aztec Champion-is very old. For five years, she’s been under our care in this facility. And she’s asked that her successor be you. There is a way to willingly transfer a Champion’s power to an eligible candidate in a controlled situation, but the donor always dies.”
Positive stammered for over a minute before finally getting something out: “But I can’t just be responsible for killing someone!”
“You wouldn’t be. She literally asked for it.”
“Can I at least meet her first?”