Let us celebrate, my fellow children of the light, for the dark depths of dormancy have given way to the radiant rebirth of…
…in which I use the character creation rules in the Marvel Super Heroes RPG’s Ultimate Powers Book to roll up a random batch of powers and abilities, then sit back and watch as some incredibly talented folks work their creative magic upon the quantified chaos.
This installment features a collaborative conflagration courtesy of Rusty Shackles (art) and Ken Lowery (words).
In mythologies spanning every continent and era, the story of the theft of fire looms large. Though the particulars vary, the general arc holds true: a rebellious figure steals the Light of Reason – fire – from the Divine and gifts it to mortals, a moment which serves as the flashpoint for progress and evolution… and also never-ending divine punishment.
In many myths (the Greek myth of Prometheus) the flame is more or less literal. In others (such as the forbidden fruit of the Abrahamic tradition) the flame is metaphorical. One could fill entire libraries with the stories, research and cultural theories that have sprung up around the figures in these tales.
Precious little is written about the Flame herself.
Dim memories of the past linger at the back of Flicker’s mind: of others like her, in the time before humanity. Of being chosen and raised up, and of being transformed. Who did this to her and why was lost to her several sleep-cycles ago. All that she remembers now is walking through the history of mankind, pulling great people and nations into her wake.
Where great strides have been made, where great progress needed one final shove, she was there: whispering in the right ears and granting visions to slumbering geniuses. Wherever she goes, Flicker bestows the human race with the tainted inspiration that bears the seeds of its own destruction, just as she did in the lost recesses of humanity’s past.
When the evolution she catalyzes hits critical mass, she feeds. When rapid growth metastasizes into karmic backlash – when exploration turns to colonialism and slavery, when industrial revolution creates and then rots the urban center, when modernization yields a global thermonuclear specter – she drifts into slumber until the iron of humanity’s potential turns hot again.
In the late 1990s, the mysterious Board of techno-mages that runs London-based VorTech Industries confirmed the existence of Flicker and enacted a great rite to summon and bind her to their service. As a massive tech firm and weapons contractor constantly bested by the likes of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Norman Osborn and others, the Board thought Flicker’s muse-like presence would give them the synergy they needed for true global domination.
To their minds, they were completely successful, and VorTech is now fourth in market share with all signs pointing toward positive growth. That suits Flicker fine. Adopting the persona of Eve Quince, VorTech’s charismatic new CEO and the public face of her company’s transformation, Flicker now commands international influence and staggering wealth while paying lip-service to her Board of “masters.”
Neither good nor evil, known nor truly understood, Flicker quietly positions her global assets and worldwide reach to usher in the next step of human evolution… no matter the cost.
(Amazing art by Rusty Shackles — whose work on both Insert Quarter-Bin and PalleteSwap was a huge inspiration for this feature — and words of wisdom by Ken Lowery. UPJ logo provided by Dave Lartigue.)
Are you an artist, writer, or terrifying combination of the two who’d like to try your hand at the Ultimate Powers Jam? Then drop me a line at bitter(dot)andrew(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll commence the dice to rolling!