From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Author’s Note: Character portrait courtesy of long-time friend, KVB.
Six years ago…
“Stan… I’ve been selected as a Lieutenant candidate.” Tamara Franks, fellow Centurion, wasted little time in breaking the news when she stepped through Stan’s door. Her tone was matter of fact and almost apologetic.
Stan Montgomery Scott closed the door behind his girlfriend/squad-mate, both stunned, shocked, and elated at (what he perceived as) her good news, “Tam! That’s great! It’s what you’ve always wanted!” The tall, blonde mage-cop hugged the woman enthusiastically.
Tamara’s return hug was initially not as enthusiastic as his… hesitant even, but then she returned the hug tightly before letting go and stepping back, finding Stan looking at her with a puzzled look. Unfortunately, neither of them had been schooled in any sort of mystical telepathy or empathy, but her expression and her posture were clear signs something was wrong.
“Tam?” Stan took a step forward, “What’s wrong? This’s something you’ve been dreaming of since we’ve known each other. You’ve got the natural mystic talent to be a Sorcerer Supreme. What’s up?”
The woman looked away, settling her eyes on Stan’s C4 Centurion uniform jacket and pentacle badge for a moment, then looked back to him, “It is. I do want this. But… damn it, Stan… look… we both love what we do. We’re good at it, you and I, likely the best at getting the rogue wizard elements like the Circle off the streets. Problem is, when you become a Lieutenant candidate, you’re removed from your current squad, and transferred to another.”
Stan shrugged, that was common protocol. The Council didn’t want to take chances with a ranking officer involved with one of their squad subordinates. Taking her hand, he spoke gently “So? No big deal. When you’re done with your commission, I’ll put in to transfer to your unit.”
“It doesn’t and CAN’T work that way and you know it!” Tamara tugged her hand from his and folded her arms tightly, “Its no secret among the ranks of our relationship. We haven’t exactly been discreet or hush-hush. Do you really think the upper echelons are going to approve such a transfer?”
Stan was a bit dumbfounded… she was right of course, “So… what’re you saying?” He already had a notion of where this conversation was headed… the fact that Tamara hadn’t taken off her coat was a big clue that she didn’t intend to stay long.
“I have to make a choice... and so do you. ” She looked away from him, continuing to speak, “I can either take the commission and continue my career, or turn it down and stay with you. Conversely, you can halt your career, and stay with me while I pursue mine.” Her dark eyes came back to the man then.
There it was.
Now Stan clearly understood what she was saying, “I… see.” He drew a breath in attempt to shove down the growing cold wave of fear within his gut, he really didn’t like where this conversation seemed to be going “So… what do you wanna do, Tam?”
Tamara briskly paced over to where Stan’s uniform jacket hung, grabbing it and shoving the panel with the pentacle badge in his direction, “Tell me… would you give up what you are, what you do, what you love doing for me?”
Ouch… that stung. He looked down then back up at the woman, “It’s what we do, Tam… and we’re both good at it. Very damn good. That, and other things.” He couldn’t answer her question.
“Right. We are. And I’d never ask nor expect you to give this up for me... and I believe you’d not ask the same of me.” She let jacket drop, then paced slowly toward him, letting her hand rest on his chest, “And that’s the problem. If we’re going to continue being good at our jobs, and improving, then… we… our careers are going to take us in different directions.” She looked down with her last words. They’d been painful for her to say.
“Tam…” he put his hands on her shoulders, “There’re ways around...”
She pushed back, shaking her head, “No, there isn’t. Not without one of us giving up what we do best, what we love doing… besides each other. I need to focus to further my skills. I can’t be worrying about if you’re okay without me there to protect your back. And I won’t have you worrying same about me, not totally focused on taking down the spell-slinging criminals. I couldn’t live with knowing you were killed, distracted because of me.”
Stan let his hands fall by his side, “I see… “ he drew a breath to steady his words… it worked, mostly, “I… don’t wanna be a barrier to your desires either, Tam.” What he wanted to do was say to hell with the system, and hold onto her. “So… I guess yer gonna take the commission?”
Tamara nodded, “Yes.” She stepped in close, rose on her toes to kiss him very briefly, “Good luck, Stan… stay alive. Understand?”
He nodded, clenching his jaw for a moment to stem threatening tears, “You, too.”
Tamara paced quickly out the door before her own tears came down… leaving Stan alone in his apartment.
The C4 Centurion squad - Stan’s squad - lined up just a block away from its intended target. They were all clad in their enforcer uniforms... some carried staves, some rods, some guns, but they all carried magic. Stan however carried no weapon openly... Stan’s forte’ was Kinetimancy... the ability to tap into motion, however slight, and use it to fuel his magic. Willpower gave his magic form, and certain parts of his riot gear helped him focus and channel that power.
“This is it, men.” The Lieutenant - whom Stan addressed as “L-T” - intoned. “The reports are accurate. This shanty is a hide-out for new Circle recruits. Remember... some of their magics are just as potent if not more so than those you have.”
The squad’s members nodded almost in unison. It would not be the first time this very unit of Centurions went toe-to-toe, spell-to-spell with rogue wizard elements. The Centurions were ruthlessly efficient in taking down such mystic criminals and bringing them before the Council for justice.
“Scott.” LT jerked his chin at Stan, “You’re on point.”
Stan nodded once, curtly. He was to be the first through the door. Not unusual, really... with his skill in kinetimancy, breaking down doors made him the obvious choice as the squad’s battering-ram. He was also likely the best hand-to-hand combatant on the squad, save maybe for the LT. When you can take your very own movement, amplify it with a good dose of will power and direct it home... Stan’s magic was an almost perfect compliment to his fighting style.
Like night-blue shadows, the squad moved as a single body up to the entry point. Stan took his position beside the door, pausing for the others to stack up for entry. “Go.” LT hissed quietly.
Stan cleared his mind, focused his will to reach out and sense, touch, then gather the literal energies of the molecules of air moving in the night’s breeze, focused those energies through his bracer... and shattered the door completely off its hinges with a single blow from his gauntleted fist.
The squad flowed in like dark blue liquid, fanning out and moving room to room through the hovel. Nothing encountered as yet, then the ear-comm flared to life with a whispered summons, “Here... trace the signal.” Another of the squad had found something.
They gathered at the dilapidated doorway where the signal drew them. The other squad member pointed to the flickering glowing light beyond. Moving closer, they took positions where they each could peer through pocked holes in the wall at the scene beyond.
Kids. Street urchins, actually. This hovel was their home apparently... none of them could have been more than twelve years old... fourteen at the most. There were a dozen or so. Stan guessed their ages to be maybe young as eight.
What the hell? This wasn’t any Circle hide-out. These homeless kids were using what feeble magic they had some control over to eek out a living for the lot of them... evidenced by the small fireball one young girl rolled between her hands while another boy turned a rat on a make-shift spit.
Magic use, in this dimension, was as common as gun-ownership.It wasn’t illegal to use magic just like it wasn’t illegal to own a gun. How one used their magic (guns) decided the legality or illegality.
A small commotion sounded in the farther part of the room, where magic was felt to stir, and an older - perhaps 12 - boy stepped from out of nowhere into the room, triumphantly holding up two loaves of bread. The other kids flocked to the new arrival, reaching for the bread, which the boy who brought such started to divide it out.
“LT...” Stan whispered and pointed at the scene before the magi-police squad, “... I think we gotta faulty report. They’re just kids... there’s no evidence of any Circle activity here. No runes, no altars, nothing.”
The Lieutenant shook his head, “No... the info’s good. We have the right place. Remember... the Circle can and does use deception from time to time. We need to at least question...” LT’s eyes suddenly went wide, “... what the hell is that?” He jabbed a finger toward the gathering of the children.
The boy who’d ported in held up a ceremonial dagger. The design, the runes... every Centurion there had seen similar in the hands of Circle wizards, apprentices, and acolytes... some had even been cut or stabbed by such.
Stan stared at the blade. Likely the boy had found the thing and was going to pawn it for money to help their little clan by food and clothing, “LT, maybe they...” Stan never got to finish his thought.
“Imminent danger!” LT shouted, and stabbed his arm in the direction of the kids startled by the outcry, “Deadly Force authorized. MOVE!”
The well oiled magical machine that they were, the Centurions streamed in the room upon the startled and now scattering kids. Bolts and bullets of various powers and colors blasted out from Stan’s squad-mates, tearing into the children’s attempted retreat. Young limbs and small bodies were blasted or riddled asunder by the efficient onslaught of the well trained, well practiced magicops.
This wasn’t a bust... not a shakedown... this was slaughter!
“NO!!!” Stan shook off his initial shock, then stepped up, confronting his commander, “LT! Stop this! These are kids for chrissakes! They aren’t thugs!”
LT looked hard at Stan, not quite meeting the younger man’s eyes, “Council’s orders. That means they are your orders. Do your duty, Scott.” LT jerked his chin in the direction of the carnage.
Stan spared a look at his team-mates killing... no... slaughtering the street urchins with ruthless efficiency. Teeth gritting, he clenched his fist, tapping into the surge of energy and motion about him, “Fuck the Council. And fuck you too!” Stan landed a blow that launched LT backward, shattering through two walls of the building and into the street. He gathered more energy, willpower giving it direction and form, and launched after the LT.
LT’s uniform was enchanted to withstand different sorts of impacting forces. Seeing Stan leaping at him, LT kicked upward from his prone position, catching Stan squarely in the chest. Stan twisted as he fell, rolling through his fall and tapped that motion for energy, and channeled it into his bracer, creating a limited, circular field of energy... a shield.
Just in time too, as LT unleashed a bolt of heated energy from each hand. Stan brought up his mystic shield to catch one bolt and deflected it easily, the other missed by a laughable amount. Stan grinned inwardly... perhaps his blow had off-balanced LT more than he thought. His fleeting celebration was short lived, now refocusing on the anger at his commander ordering the slaughter of kids. Kids!
Stan lauched himself again, plowing a fierce kinetic blow across LT’s jaw. Blood and teeth flew from the other man’s mouth as the squad leader was knocked down yet again. Stan couldn’t believe it... he was taking on LT and winning!
Stan stalked slowly toward the fallen man, one hand wriggling fingers as the other tapped into that motion and started building yet another kinetic blast, “Call off the squad, LT. NOW!” He growled, his anger and outrage started to color his energies a deepening blue.
LT spat out another bloody tooth, “You over-eager, idealistic fool. You had potential, Scott. Welcome to how things really are.” LT’s eyes shifted beyond the younger man at... something.
Stan spared a glance back... then froze at what he saw... a shimmering, swirling, tubular portal literally carved out of thin air... starting from nowhere, and seemingly going nowhere... But Stan knew exactly where it went... or at least through... the Nevernever. Stan snarled, “You can’t get away that easily, LT. You’re not going anywhere.” He spun back around to find the LT had recovered and closed the gap between the two of them.
Stan felt wind leave his body under the force of the blow from LT’s knee driving hard into his solar plexus, “You got that right, Scott.” The LT growled, snapping Stan’s head to one side with a crashing blow to the jaw, “I’m not... but YOU are.”
Magical energy swirled about the LT as he took a step back into a braced stance. It gathered around LT’s hands with a rapidly growing bright red light. “Good-bye, Scott.” LT’s fists slammed forward in unison into Stan’s chest.
Stan had just enough coherence to muster a counter-shield preventing the LT’s magically enhanced blow from tearing a hole through his body armor and torso, but not enough to stop the force of the blow. Stan flew away from the impact as if shot from a cannon... and directly into the swirling portal.
As the portal through the Nevernever to... somewhere consumed him, as his consciousness faded with his dimming sight, he heard the screams and wails of the street urchins growing softer with volume... fading in the distance. He wanted to scream at his inadequacy to protect those innocents. He wanted to cry in mourning for their deaths. But his consciousness was not going to allow such. Not right now.
“MAGI office, Azuria speaking.” the petite woman answered her phone.
“Azuria.... Dr Burrows at Portal Corporation.” the man paused, “We’ve come across something that you may be interested in. Can you come to our offices?”
Azuria lifted a skeptical eyebrow, “Doctor... you can simply file any pathways to mystical worlds for our office to review and investigate at discretion. We have a process in place. What makes this out of the ordinary that requires me to visit your facility?”
“You will have to see for yourself. Please make haste.” the Doctor hung up then.
“Bastard.” Azuria hissed. Informing her assistant she’d be out of the office for a bit, she grabbed her things and headed toward Portal Corp’s facility. “This better be damn good.”
Like most of the Initiative, Stan carries a gemstone (mounted in a ring) that corresponds to an identical stone set within a mystical wheel within the groups base, shielded from sight. The Wheel allows those with twin stones (one on the person, one in the mystic wheel) to contact each other via magical telepathy/empathy. Thoughts become understood as words spoken when the possessor sends out messages. With a little focus, the possessor can project thoughts/words to the Wheel, which in turn ‘speaks’ to all those possessing a stone (Super Group channel), voluntarily link to other’s stones in close proximity (Team Channel) or reach out and commune with an individual (/tell).
Stan’s uniform is a modified design of that worn during his service as a Centurion. When his original gear began to malfunction (see below) due to differences in magical resonance and paradigm, he commissioned a new set be made, more in line with supporting his new found powers (see below). His uniform affords him a measure of protection from elements, impacts, poisons without hampering his agility and fighting style. His gauntlets and boots have re-enforced plates to augment his baton/MMA fighting style.
His police baton has several runes carved along the length, providing him focus for his magic, mainly to channel his kinetic force spells (see below) to augment his strikes.
When Stan first came to Primal Earth from his home Shard, he was skilled in using the magic of Kinetomancy – where the wizard taps into motion and uses that force to augment blows and strikes, sometimes at a distance.
While some practitioners of that art tended to use the magic in a broader sense, Stan used his magic to keep the force gathered close to him. In this way, he could greatly augment his physical strikes, kicks, and strength, literally make a shield of pure mystical energy and use it as a gladiator might, and keep the energy close about his body, channeled through his uniform to counter incoming physical blows with an equal force outward, dependent on his concentration.
Due to the drastic difference in magical resonances between his home Shard Earth and Primal Earth, Stan’s techno-mage gear began to deteriorate. It became harder and harder for him to channel will and power through the gear until his gear finally just became inert, failing totally.
One of his teammates, Deborah Blackmane, showed Stan that the magic was his all along, not something he needed his gear to use. With some re-training, Deborah guided Stan to discover his Entropic Sight, giving him the ability to see weak points in objects, but more importantly, his opponents. She also showed him that being able to see weakness in his opponents, he could detect weaknesses in their attacks, and in that, better defend or dodge them.
But most importantly, Deborah showed Stan that he didn’t have to rely on his tech gear to work his magic. He possessed the power all along. He now had to apply it in a different way, channeling his Kinetomancy talent through his police baton, rather than through his tech-mage gear.
Right before Stan’s gear utterly failed him, Stan’s girlfriend (?), Janet Rose Soft Sting, hit him with a supercharged healing spell when he didn’t require any healing. This had the effect of triggering a latent mystical recuperative talent that makes Stan recover from wounds at a phenomenal rate. Though not impervious to wounds totally, it would take a substantial hit causing more damage than his healing ability could compensate to drop him. While true wizards age slower and heal quicker than humans, Stan’s ability (thanks to Janet) is many-fold beyond that.
Contacts / Known Associates
The Initiative (Dresdenphiles) http://www.benham-esl.com/dresdenphiles/ )
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