From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The history of Vort and his upgrades, derivatives and other assorted knock-offs is the closest thing the Circle of Jerks has to characters with serious, thought-out backstories. Rest assured that he received a stern talking-to once the others found out.
The Original Designs
In 1945, an expatriate German scientist by the name of Victor Heim arrived in Paragon City, eager to avenge the defeat of the Third Reich. To that end, he began development of the Panzer Project, described in the remains of his notes as an "experimental tank-capability personnel armor." Swiss bank accounts provided the funding, local heroes were tricked into providing the information needed to design it (after which they were quietly disposed of by Heim), and one month after his arrival the Panzer Armor was completed.
Before the armor could be deployed, however, there remained the problem of controlling it: While operating via neural interface, the sheer complexity of the controls would overwhelm a single man's brain. The solution came to Heim after perusing old news clippings from the Berlin labs: A neurologist had succeeded in reanimating the heads of men who had been decapitated via electronic circuitry. Tests with homeless pulled from the street proved this to be possible, and the search began for the one who would serve as the control unit for the Panzer Armor.
Some time later, a candidate presented itself: Daniel Mordechai, otherwise known as the Vortex. A survivor of the death camps, his strikes against the Fifth Column's actions were well-documented in the era's newspapers. An anonymous tip lead the Vortex to what he thought was the site of a Fifth assault on a government storehouse of weapons, only for him to discover too late that it was a trap set by Heim. He was captured, restrained and had his head removed by Heim before the brain was extracted and placed in the main control chamber. His bloody work done, he continued on to add the final adjustments and improvements.
Over the weeks following the Panzer Armor's completion, the scientist's personality became increasingly erratic, constantly troubled by paranoia and a lack of feeling in his limbs. Only too late did he learn the truth: The Vortex's mind was far from dormant in the armor; it - he - had been biding his time, gaining control over it. He waited until the doctor slept, then studied his research notes and manuals to learn his trade before he began sedating him and replacing his limbs with cybernetic prosthetics sheathed in the doctor's skin. In his advancing state of dementia, the doctor did not realize the true cause of the numbness he felt until the job was nearly done, at which point the Vortex advanced upon him, subdued him and replaced his brain with that in the armor, taking Heim's body as his own.
Following these events, Daniel/the Vortex/the Vortex Armor (hereafter referred to as "Vort") disappeared until early after the Rikti invasion, where he resurfaced using the moniker "The Vortex Knight."
The original Vortex Armor was designed to employ direct-energy weapons for offense and solid-state field generators for defense and propulsion, all of which were powered by a miniaturized nuclear reactor. The controls operated on a direct neural interface, with the majority of it handled by a human brain (now Dr. Heim's) to prevent overloading of the wearer's neural pathways. Unfortunately, the Vortex Armor has never been seen in action in its original state, so the exact performance specs are unknown.
Vortex KnightIn the aftermath of the Rikti War, Vort resurfaced with an overhauled suit of Vortex armor, a new weapon and a new name: The Vortex Knight. After making a name for himself (again) fighting the Fifth Column, he allied himself with the The Circle of Jerks mere days after their founding.
This disregard for traditional methods was one of the main points of conflict between him and the other, more conventional heroes, something that even the Circle of Jerks' lawyers couldn't keep at bay indefinitely. In early 2005, several high-profile vigilantes organized a raid on one of Vort's labs/warehouse bases with the intent of arresting him for his ridiculously callous attitude towards the people he was "arresting." Upon arrival, they discovered the lab in a state of ruin and the Knight suit almost entirely destroyed. A police investigation concluded the damage was due to the breakdown and subsequent explosion of a nearby retcon machine. Vort himself was nowhere to be found, leading some to (falsely) conclude that he had been killed for a while.
The Knight armor's primary method of offense consisted of a large vibroblade broadsword, oscillating at extremely high frequencies and capable of cleaving through nearly all forms of matter with little effort. While the direct-energy weapons remained, they were relegated to a secondary role as auxiliary ranged weapons.
For defense, the armor employed two distinct measures: The first was the original Vortex Armor's solid-state field generators, which had received a massive upgrade in the years since their first development. When in combat, the armor proved to be practically impenetrable when faced with conventional ballistics and hand-to-hand weaponry.
The second defensive measure was an in-built phase shifter, capable of moving the armor - and by extension, Vort - partially out of reality to avoid what little the armor couldn't handle. This also enabled him to transport himself near-instantaneously across the city as well as open up several new options in combat.
Through careful manipulation of the suit's phase matrix, Vort was capable of instantly transporting himself forward anywhere from several feet to several yards, swinging his sword through his foe as it simultaneously teleports into their body, then returning to his original position to avoid the ensuing geyser of blood and internal organs.
People really hated it when he did this in their offices.
Vortex RebornLegitimate Businessmen, which surprised precisely no one, and began working his way up the hierarchy of Arachnos. His brutal fighting style and casual disregard for human life were largely overlooked (mostly because it was the norm over there) but certain things about his operations seemed "off."
His operations in the Rogue Isles at this time were, by most villain standards, rather enigmatic: He proved to be as likely to aid heroes as villains, often leaving tips with local Longbow divisions about the movements of villains in the area. Furthermore, while he did engage in the occasional kidnapping and robbery, the abductees were usually released hours after being taken, reporting to police that Vort merely asked them a few questions, and anything stolen had an equal chance of being random trinkets or useless junk as it did of being halfway valuable. He showed little interest in robbing banks for the traditional reasons; the few times he did go along with other villains on such thefts, he merely took the contents of a few specific safe boxes. It was speculated by the people who worked with him that it was all part of some grand design, but no mention of it was made by Vort at any time.
Towards the end of 2007, Vort's new armor began malfunctioning, necessitating the acquisition and constant use of a nanotech quick-repair device, until the entire device simply ceased operations. Rather than overhaul it, Vort simply abandoned it - and with it, his operations in the Rogue Isles - and began work on another design.
When compared to the Knight armor, the Reborn design sacrifices defensive potential for in-built offensive power: The armor's gauntlets were equipped with high-yield energy discharge matrices, capable of overloading the neural centers/circuitry from the sheer force of energy, stunning them into unconsciousness. The power magnitude was also designed to be adjustable, with its magnitude ranging from "No Lasting Effects" to "Disintegrate." As a hold-over from the prior two designs, the gauntlets could also project concentrated beams of energy, albeit with significant charge-up times.
The solid-state field generators remained, albeit in a lower-powered capacity, supplemented by a thermoptic camouflage system, and the in-built phase shifter was replaced with a teleport shift framework. This enabled him to utilize stealth and the element of surprise to his advantage which, when coupled with the power output of the gauntlets, proved to be devastatingly effective.
Vort reappeared in Paragon City in late 2007, clad in yet another new suit of Vortex armor. The operations he began in the Rogue Isles were continued again, with minor alterations to account for for a more "heroic" approach (e.g., rescued kidnap victims willingly revealing their information to him, supplies grifted from stolen shipments and reported as missing or damaged). The one thing that hasn't changed is his enigmatic motives. He claims when asked that he's saving the world from unspecified future destruction, though, as it seems to be the cause celebre these days. It certainly stops people asking questions.
Much akin to how defense was sacrificed for offense with the Reborn armor, the Absolute armor is somewhat lacking in weaponry. The closest equivalent would be a coupled network of servomotors and kinetic amplifiers designed to increase the force of Vort's blows to incredible levels, easily capable of punching through even the hardest Rikti torso armor (and torsos) and stomping the ground hard enough to throw everyone around him into the air. This also has the secondary effect of enabling him to travel simply by jumping, with the suit's systems automatically adjusting the output of the legs so he hits his mark.
In a word: Cynical. He has very little regard the average person, usually assuming that they're imbeciles until proven otherwise, and while he can be rather charming and persuasive when the situation calls for it, he usually isn't unless there's something to be gained from subterfuge. He also shows a blatant disregard for local laws, even more so than the average Jerk.
In combat, Vort formerly favored a stealth-based surgical strike approach, but lately, with his new armor, has been utilizing something he calls 'Mighty Fighting' - basically, getting from Point A to Point B by punching a wide swathe of destruction through anything in the way, be it enemies, teammates, or in several cases, the walls. It is useful to note here that Point B rarely designates the objective of a mission, or even the right way to go; in practice, given the amount of sheer force, bloody-mindedness and near-unkillability that Vort brings to the table, this translates to the equivalent of throwing an extremely large bouncy ball down a maze filled with glass bottles - erratic, unpredictable, and dangerous as hell to anything in the way.. The casual observer would notice that all he seems to be doing is beating up on random people in and around Paragon City, but experts on the Nemesis Syndrome (such as Maxwell Christopher) would point to such innocuous actions as a sure sign that nefarious plans were afoot.
Technically speaking, Vortex could in fact be arrested by either Longbow or Arachnos for his actions, but considering that all Statesman/Longbow and Recluse/Arachnos really do is stand there shaking their fists at each other it's no surprise that nobody's really bothered doing anything about it. After all, Recluse is idiotically devoted to the "Destined One" plan despite it failing to pan out thousands of times and nobody seems to notice the damn Arbiter standing in Atlas Park recruiting people into a group called the Villains of Paragon, so you really can't expect either side to possess much in the way of good judgment. Or, you know, common sense.
Knowledge and Design Issues
In the fifty-odd years since his disappearance and subsequent reappearance Vort's mechanical skills have improved considerably, to the point where calling the armor "mechanical" in the standard sense would be a misnomer.
The most glaring issue with the Vortex suits would be that, due to how they're designed, they shouldn't even hold together, much less function. Vort has a tendency to employ whatever he can find (magic gems, telephone wire, someone's severed arm, etc.) to upgrade the armor even if such a component wouldn't even be considered an upgrade; most of the time it somehow manages to work. The problem is further compounded when one considers that the total mass and weight of the Vortex armor's component parts is far more than that of the whole and that the later designs were all designed to employ narrative causality as a power source.
Several engineers have tried to make sense of the schematics but all went stark raving mad upon first sight of the wiring diagrams. Those that were still halfway coherent made repeated references to the plans requiring the use of spaces unaccounted for in standard chronal-spatial models of reality. In short, his designs should not be able to exist in a four-dimensional universe, and yet they do.
Of all the Vortex suits currently accounted for, three of them were not used by Vort himself, only designed by him or one of his alternate dimension selves.
The Refined armor was originally planned to be a variant design on the Knight armor, still utilizing a human brain for the control center, before being left in the back room of a warehouse following Vort's disappearance. As luck would have it, it was discovered by an unnamed Kheldian, who in turn discovered that the neural storage unit in the armor was capable of containing it and enabling it to use the armor as a host. The Kheldian then took up the armor to fight crime, albeit in a much more legitimate manner than Vort.
Being an unfinished design, it is unknown as to what the Refined armor was capable of. What was made obvious, however, is that it was more than capable of providing an adequate conduit for the light-based powers all Kheldians seem to be capable of. The details behind these abilities are readily available at other related websites, and thus will not be touched upon here for brevity's sake.
Vort-Tan was the first (and thus far, only) non-Praetorian alternate dimension version of Vort to appear in Paragon City, hailing from a reality where all the Jerks were teenage girls.
It's probably for the best that you not think too hard about it.
The -Tan armor is, by Vort-Tan's own admission, largely unmodified from her dimension's version of the Panzer armor save for a living nictus used in lieu of the nuclear reactor. As a result, it is capable of projecting graviton clusters as an offensive weapon, inflicting grievous injury by reversing the gravitonic pull between molecules in the target.
For the times when brutal, gory force was not called for, the armor could also generate pockets of high gravity to slow or immobilize foes. The density of said pockets could be increased to incredible levels, enough so to "fold" time-space and generate wormholes for travel or simply dragging targets into a more advantagous position. The local manipulation of gravity could also be used to increase the density of the air around her to such a degree that incoming attacks were slowed or deflected.
Vort-Tan also let some vague hints slip about stripping the souls from the dying, dead and soon to be dead as a means of empowering the armor, but nothing substantial has been released.
During Vort's tenure as Vortex Knight, he frequently came to the aide of several thousand citizens of Paragon City, almost all of whom were not actually in any sort of danger despite armed and armored thugs standing near them pounding their fists into their palms menacingly. There was, however, one exception: Aoi Mirahara. Child of a local cybernetics developer, she was kidnapped by Freakshow in an attempt to pressure her father into turning over the designs he was working on. To show that they meant business, they cut off both her legs below the knees and sent them to her with a note stating that he'd get the rest of her in one week. The state in which he'd get her would be dependent on his actions.
Upon hearing of this, Vort quickly tracked them down and responded in a fashion that he deemed appropriate for the situation.
While Aoi was in the hospital Vort visited her frequently as Daniel Mordechai, keeping her company as she recovered. The two forged an unusual friendship, with Aoi confiding in Vort that she wished she could do for others what the hero who saved her did for him. There are some who would say that Vort's heart grew three sizes that day, but ultimately this is hyperbole; being mostly cybernetic, Vort doesn't even have a heart. He was kind of moved by it, though.
The day before she was to be released from the hospital, Aoi awoke to find all the staff on the floor unconscious with a strange suit of armor about her size standing in the corner of her room.
From there, the story practically writes itself.
The Sakura armor could be seen as a "sister" to the Knight design, as both possess near-identical frameworks and rely on high-frequency vibroblade armaments (in Sakura's case, a katana). However, while the Knight design had a solid-state field generators for defense, the Sakura was covered with ablative armor plates that negated damage to the main body by breaking away upon impact; when in proximity of suitable amounts of raw materials, the armor's systems were capable of creating and replenishing plates to replace those that were lost. As the armor could use practically anything - including armor and equipment carried by people the wearer was fighting - this made it remarkably difficult to inflict a significant, lasting degree of damage.
In lieu of a human brain and nuclear reactor, the Sakura armor's functions were controlled by an array of specialized processors designed by Vort and powered by a miniaturized fusion reactor. In addition to controlling most of the armor's functions, the processors also ran a "smart" melee guidance system that moved itself - and by extension, her - as a way of training her via neuromuscular facilitation. As her skills improved, the amount of guidance the system provided scaled itself back, forcing her to rely more and more on her own abilities.
- ↑ Some people just have no sense of humor.
- ↑ Rather portentously, Vort himself had gone on record to say, "nobody stays dead in this damn city; that's just how it is."
- ↑ He usually isn't.
- ↑ What's surprising is that it's presumably common enough to warrant its own entry in the DSM IV-TR medical handbook.
- ↑ It took them two weeks to hose the remains of the Freaks out of the warehouse, and it still reeks of blood to this day.
- ↑ Bludgeoned into unconsciousness, technically, but there weren't any lasting injuries; no blood, no foul.
You have no idea as to how much work this took. Shit, half these guys didn't even have backstories to speak of until I came along. If you fuck with it and do anything less than turn it into a shining example of all that is awesome I will personally eat your eyes.