From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|Wait, what do you mean there's a bunch of punks with this outfit in Paragon's sewers? I was going for a '90's look...|
|Real Name:||John Allen Schaeffer|
|Age:||Unknown, presumed immortal|
|Place of Birth:||Ft. Lauderdale, FL|
|Base of Operations:||Confidential|
|Known Relatives:||Stephani Addams Schaeffer (wife), Gabriella Schaeffer Tevasti (Daughter), Michael Thomas Schaeffer (Son), Rachael Brigham Schaeffer (Daughter-in-Law),|
|Manipulation and Control of One-Dimensional 'String' Physics|
|Holds multiple doctorates in Physics|
|Padded costume, H.A.N.D., Multiband radio implant|
The story of the Eidolon Stranger (or the 'Stranger) starts very far away, in another part of the Omniverse. It starts with the individual known as Shadowknight.
John Marcus Schaeffer is, of course, Shadowknight. Head of the Omniversal organization known as the Tomorrow Today Institute, that patrols the Omniversal 'boundaries' and maintains what Schaeffer and the rest of the Circle of Ouroboros sees as 'balance'. Schaeffer has absolute control over temporal flow wherever he goes, and with the Regeneratine infused into his body along with the Point Zero Recovery Station, Schaeffer is absolutely immortal. Not effectively immortal. Not functionally immortal. ABSOLUTELY immortal. He'll never die. He doesn't age, and he can't actually be injured to the point that he's unrecoverable. Immortal.
Immortal beings get bored.
So to combat this boredom, Schaeffer does what every immortal being since the beginning of time has done. He plays games. He finds organization amongst the ephemerals of the Omniverse and works within their rules to promote their viewpoints, and along the way he sometimes forgets that he's lived within his own subjective timeline for more than ten eons. With absolute control over Time, he can move anywhere in the T, Tau and Teh dimensions that he needs to be, so it's not like this game ever keeps him from doing things he should be doing elsewhere. In fact, with his complete immunity to Paradox, he can do his usual duties without ever having done them. Yes, it makes no sense to the reader. Paradox is a fallacy of logic. He's immune to Paradox, remember?
So we start with a bored immortal. And we then add a multiverse with a set of rules. A new game.
Paragon City -- the City of Heroes -- is just such a multiverse. And like most multiverses where powerful beings scheme and plot and try to amass power, it has forces within it that may one day threaten the rest of the Omniverse. The presence of the Rikti is just such one of the potential threats, albeit minor on the grand scale of things. Threats like this require action, and Shadowknight already sent monitoring agents to keep the Circle abreast of the situation, and acting agents to preserve the balance and to prevent other multiverses from invading. (There's a reason we don't see multiversal crossovers with Spider-Man, Superman and Statesman. That reason is Shadowknight and the Circle of Ouroboros.)
But even with the situation 'under control', the City of Heroes multiverse still represents a potential distraction: something to do. So Schaeffer decided he'd go into the multiverse, adopt a new persona, behave according to the rules of the multiverse and see how far he could get.
He began by observing the multiverse for quite some time. Travelling to an early point on the T time axis of the multiverse, he saw the origin of power. He watched the Gods arise, and saw them fade. He watched the events of the universe unfold. He observed dispassionately as Marcus Cole and Stephan Richter both were infused with deific energies from the nexus of power known as the Well of the Furies. To Shadowknight, it's like watching a new series on DVD -- even moreso since with the power to travel in time, it's like skipping forward to the good parts. The hard part was not phasing into reality and giving the heroes a Shadowknight-powered hand. But the upshot of this was, he knew a lot more about the multiverse than most people did.
The creation of the 'Stranger was a fairly simple process. Since he'd be limited to a small set of power, Schaeffer limited himself to gemet-scale (subquantum) energy manipulation -- essentially, controlling the one-dimensional strings that make up the physical reality that most multiverses are made from. This would allow for manipulation of gravity, one of the most powerful forces of Standard Reality, as well as quantum-based teleportation and, with SubString 'Point' manipulation, disintegration of physical matter (and reintegration as well, using a standard TTI H.A.N.D. to store energy patterns and assist in reassembly). Using a gemet-scale force field, he created the 'circuitry' needed for gemet energy control into a phased armor similar to the Chronoform armor, though since he'd be restricting himself voluntarily, the Eidolon armor wouldn't have a physical existence. The thought that he could be physically harmed was refreshing.
Next, he decided that, in order to not blow the natives' little minds, he'd assemble an actual Origin Story. After all, he didn't really want to have to explain to people where he really came from. ("Yeah, I came from Earth... different vibratory plane of existence, though. Alternate dimension, I could give you the vibratory frequency but honestly I don't want you people wandering around, you have the kind of power to mess up the place, and one of my people would have to go clean it up and kick you out, and that would just lead to bad feelings all around...") So, he'd create a plausible backstory:
So John Allen Schaeffer was a scientist from a dimension in the multiverse who 'discovered' gemet-scale energy and how to manipulate it. (It made things simple if he didn't have to change internal vocabularies.) So... how to explain why a noted scientist would go from being a theoretical scientist to an adventurer? Simple. Boredom. 'Allen' Schaeffer was bored, and decided to take his discovery 'to the street', as it were, exerting himself to become one of the Beautiful People -- superheroes. Using his higher technology, 'Allen' Schaeffer developed a suit to let him manipulate this new form of energy, but since it was a 'dangerous and new' form of energy, he didn't want to experiment in his home dimension. So he'd go to the Paragon City universe to impress the locals with his super-science. Using his super-science, he would forge himself a new identity and become a costumed adventurer. Or that was the plan, but fate intervened.
Andrew James McAllister -- Agent Effective -- was originally one of Shadowknight's monitoring agents, but did something stupid by revealing to the natives the existence of TTI molecular-level technology. Schaeffer himself took McAllister to task, stripping the Agent of the tech gear he wasn't even supposed to have in the first place. McAllister's mistake made Schaeffer realize that it would be best if he kept an eye on things going on in the Rogue Isles, rather than Paragon City. And being a 'bad guy' might be fun. Work on controlling paradimensional disturbances from the inside, and get to cause a little mayhem and some news stories. It was something different, and that's what really appealed to Schaeffer's sense of adventure. A real change of pace, just what Schaeffer was looking for. So he instead infiltrated Arachnos' records, forged himself an identity, and set about exploring the Rogue Isles a little more personally.
There are some things John Marcus Schaeffer just can't do, and one of them is be a villain.
The mental self-image he's always had of himself is that of a hero. Not necessarily because it's a romantic image, and not necessarily because it's something he likes doing. It is a romantic image, and it's something he likes doing, but ultimately he is a hero because people rely on him to do things, and he does what's needed.
The kind of power he wields on a daily basis would drive a lesser man to delusions of godhood. Which is why he exercises an almost inhuman restraint; to him, while great power calls for great responsibility, ultimate power calls for ultimate responsibility. There is no one else that Schaeffer can call on to do the things that need to be done. He has to be the savior, because he can't ask anyone else to do that kind of job.
When dealing with this kind of mental load, the need for some form of recreation is mandatory. And being able to hide under a different persona means that Schaeffer can relax and have fun. He becomes rather fun-loving and carefree in such situations, forgetting his worries while submerged in the persona.
As Eidolon Stranger, Schaeffer can't help but be a wiseacre, joking in the middle of what would normally be serious matters. He isn't doing it to be inappropriate; he's doing it to relieve tension and pressure. In situations where the jokes really aren't called for, he can be as somber and sober as needed.
Remember, to him, being the 'Stranger is recreation, not work. This is a way to have fun. He'd like for everyone to be having fun, but knows that isn't always possible. Some people are just sourpusses. Some have what they think are weighty concerns pressing upon them. And some are incapable of understanding the concept of fun. He understands this. So be it; either he can help something or he lets it go.
This is probably a rare sentiment among supervillains, and it's liable to get the 'Stranger talked about.
Science = Magic
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
-Arthur C. Clarke
With the kind of scientific development that Schaeffer has access to, there's very little that his science doesn't understand or explain. To Shadowknight and TTI technology, even magic -- mana force -- is just another form of energy, like electromagnetic force or quantum kinetic force. It can be manipulated and controlled just like light, heat or radio waves. And while the 'Stranger doesn't have the same level of energy manipulation that Shadowknight does, he still has the same level of understanding over mana-based phenomenae, and mana-based lifeforms (Paradox Reality biochemistry). To Schaeffer, his science is sufficiently advanced enough to not only appear to be magic, but to in fact be magic.
This is not to say that the Stranger's power is the same kind of magic as wish-fulfillment, such as the deity-level manipulation of physical reality. Just because he understands how to manipulate one-dimensional strings doesn't mean he can use them to make a planet in one day. He's not God. While TTI can make planets -- and in fact has -- it's a long process that requires a lot of preparation time and energy expenditure. Shadowknight can't make planets himself; it's more than a one-person job. He can wave his hand and make a planet appear, but this isn't magic, it's trickery: the planet still took time to assemble, and Shadowknight just transported it through time to appear when he waved his hand. Sleight of hand... on a planetary scale.
But there are many things the 'Stranger can do that would be considered magical. Disintegration, for example: by disassembling the one-dimensional strings that make up the ultimate makeup of an object, the 'Stranger makes it disappear without even the hint of a physical transformation (such as leftover dust, atoms or even subatomic particles). And there's many things the 'Stranger understands that could normally only be explained by 'magic': the existence of mana-based lifeforms who breathe without lungs or move without muscular structures. Even the existence of mana-based ectoplasmic-formed psionic entities (ghosts) is easily understood by the 'Stranger's science. Truly, it's sufficiently advanced technology that it's magic.
"To understand a thing is to know the manner by which might be destroyed. A fundamental understanding of the basic building-blocks of the Universe is essential, then, to the total destruction of everything."
-Foreman Domai, One Tool, One Thought (Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire)
"The substructure of the Universe regresses infinitely towards smaller and smaller components. Behind atoms we find electrons, and behind electrons, quarks. Each layer unravelled reveals new secrets, but also new mysteries."
-Academician Prokhor Zakharov, For I Have Tasted The Fruit (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri)
Weaknesses and Limitations
The 'Stranger has to play by the rules of this Universe -- if he were to show up as Shadowknight, things would just be way too easy. Forget about the temporal manipulation, forget about the military forces he could bring to bear, just wearing a Chronoform armor suit would make him godlike, and make things too simple. He's not here to feed his ego, he's here for a challenge.
"Gemet-scale string manipulation should be tricky, to say the least -- it's new to these people, even if I've been using it for two hundred years. They still think quantum is the lowest scale the universe goes to. (I shouldn't tell them about zort-scale. Might blow their minds.) So there should be some form of time lag, or maybe energy expenditure. That's it -- this stuff takes a lot of energy to perform. More than simple quantum scale manipulation. Without lots of energy, my powers don't work."
"Here's an idea. They have quantum-scale teleportation, right? Manipulating quantum energies in the early days had to be done from a certain startpoint -- no moving around while moving strings. So while the 'Stranger can teleport under his own power, having it done to him when he's not expecting it is a bad thing. Loss of power, maybe backlash. Yeah, that sounds good. Hey, maybe even nausea, though I don't want to have to throw up on demand... I think I'll wear a full facemask, give me a reason not to retch."
"Quantum energy should overload the gemet-scale manipulations. Using quantum energies on the 'Stranger should cause some form of feedback from the power overload. Kind of like Kal-El's weakness to kryptonite; it should weaken and damage the 'Stranger."
The uniform/costume that the 'Stranger wears is made up of a fleece undersuit for comfort and warmth, with a neoprene layer to insulate and keep the wearer dry. Several layers of thick impact-absorbent Kymex padding act to absorb blows and other forms of force trauma. And over this, the outer layer is made of synthetic leather, capable of self-sealing and able to resist penetration by a .45 caliber armor-piercing round. (And even with all this, the 'Stranger still manages to get hurt.]
It should be noted that Schaeffer's normal Chronoform armor is still present, but hidden while he is under the persona of the 'Stranger. The Chronoform armor is 'hidden' in a dimensional phase mode that keeps it invisible and intangible until it's needed. Schaeffer can call the armor into existence with a moment's thought -- but what would be the fun in that?
Multiband Radio Implant
The 'Stranger has been implanted with a multifrequency radio receiver and transmitter capable of receiving any radio signals, from VLF (Very Low Frequency) to UHF (Ultra-High Frequency), including cellular and television bands. Video display is broadcast directly into the optical cortex in a 'windowed' mode. A subvocal microphone implant in the mastoid bone allows for broadcast of voice. The implant also contains a molecular-crystal processor dedicated to decryption of radio signals and encryption of the 'Stranger's own signals. With this implant, the 'Stranger can listen in on even military encrypted transmissions, such as Arachnos or Longbow.
An anagram for the Holographic Adaptive Networking Device, the H.A.N.D. is a marvel of microcomputing. Using a trinary (0, 1 and 2) programming code, the H.A.N.D. is capable of low-level A.I. self-programming, though doesn't have the processing power for true sentience. It uses a skin-contact interface with projection of displays directly into the optical cortex of the wearer, who it is DNA-locked to. The H.A.N.D. allows for networking with and programming of any other binary or trinary computer. Powerful A.I.-created antivirus and firewalls prevent infiltration from other sources. Using a molecular crystal storage lattice, the solid-state device can store up to 1.5 petabytes of data and is capable of recall in a matter of picoseconds.
Schaeffer's personal H.A.N.D. is set up for support for the 'Stranger. It contains interface technology for gemet-scale reintegration of materials previously disintegrated, along with additional storage for the patterns thusly removed. This storage is not on molecular crystal, but is stored in the same dimensional phase mode as Schaeffer's personal Chronoform armor, though on a different phase frequency so as to not cause pattern conflict.
Longbow Recall Teraport Bugs
Even playing a villain, Schaeffer can't bring himself to be truly villainous. He's not about to wantonly slay opponents, and so he needs some way to remove conquered opponents from the battlefield. Enter a little device from Longbow: The Teraport Recall Bug. These little dime-sized transmitters send out a signal to Longbow Teraporters recalling the bug and whatever mass it's attached to. It's ubiquitous in Paragon City, and the 'Stranger uses it to get 'kidnap' victims to safety, to send unconscious foes to Longbow holding, and to recall downed Longbow or Wyvern agents. And thanks to a bit of modification, the Teraport Bug uses the same energy signature as the Arachnos mediport devices in the Rogue Isles, so it can't be told whether the 'Stranger is using Arachnos or Longbow technology.
TTI Molecular Medical Technology
Just because Schaeffer himself is immortal doesn't mean other people are. Schaeffer carries the high-tech cellular repair and rejuvenation medical technology for use in emergency situations. Capable of assessing DNA (or whatever the lifeform uses for a basic structural blueprint) and making biological repairs based on that pattern, this is not nanotechnology, but a chemical regeneration and recovery technology designed to work on all lifeforms based within Standard Reality biochemistries. And thanks to TTI development, the medical gear he carries with him also has Nonstandard Reality biochemistry regen/recup capability, as well as Paradox Reality biochemistry regen/recup ability.
((OOC: This isn't an explanation for the Medical pool; it's really just meant for show. After all, we play with tremendous energies here, and bystanders can get hurt easily. Suffice to say that if the target is LIVING and doesn't want to actively DIE, the 'Stranger can keep them from dying, help them recover from physical danger and even regenerate lost body parts. It's like a healing spell... on a scientific basis.))
Thomas Balor Macore is the agent of Shadowknight in Paragon City, and director of the Foundation for Tomorrow and Today. Since the 'Stranger is Shadowknight, that makes Macore his agent, though Macore doesn't know Schaeffer is wandering around the Isles disguised. He'd probably be quite surprised -- and pissed -- seeing Schaeffer's presence as a lack of faith in Macore's ability.
What James Andrew McAllister doesn't know is that he's actually a dimensionally-budded clone of Schaeffer's. He was originally supposed to be the agent in charge of preventing parauniversal crossover, but was never actually informed what he was supposed to be doing. Instead, Macore decided to make McAllister a monitoring agent. But somehow McAllister managed to get his hands on TTI molecular medical technology and a H.A.N.D. device, and managed to reveal their existence to individuals in the Rogue Isles. This is what made Schaeffer's decision to operate in the Rogue Isles rather than Paragon City. Schaeffer isn't going to tell McAllister boo; in fact, the 'Stranger is going to make it a point never to interact with Agent Effective.
In his observations of the Rogue Isles, the 'Stranger noted that these folks seem to try to be heroic in a place that has obvious need for it. Now, Schaeffer knows full well he can't really be a villain, so obviously a group like this has potential. He joined the group in order to lend support and hopefully widen his base of contacts.
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