From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
| Defiant, Unbowed, Unbroken|
Art by Juggertha
|Archetype:||Scrapper [Brute; Stalker]|
|Security Level:||50 [50; 12]|
|Real Name:||Gideon St.John|
|Known Aliases:||The Unfettered|
|Place of Birth:||Astoria, Paragon City, Rhode Island|
|Base of Operations:||Steel Canyon, Paragon City, Rhode Island|
|Known Relatives:||Uther (great-grandfather, soul trapped); Abraham (grandfather, deceased); Maria (grandmother, status unknown); Vincent (uncle, deaceased); Magdalena (aunt); Gregory (father, deceased); Ruth (mother, deceased)|
|Superhuman Strength; Dimensional Manipulation; Emotional Manipulation; Soul Theft; Magic Use|
|Trained in esoteric hand-to-hand combat; Student of Medicine|
|No additional information available.|
"Me? I'm just like everybody else. Just another cock in the machine."
Six foot four and with the build of a professional wrestler, Gideon St.John would be hard to overlook in any other city in this world. Even in Paragon City, his physique tends to put him slightly above average, though not by enough to make a major impact on his ability to differentiate himself from his surroundings.
Inheriting a naturally pale complexion and dark green eyes from the British side of his family, a solid shot of Italian blood has graced him with thick black hair. Traditionally, Gideon gets his hair cut to chin length, though he has started to wear it slicked back rather than loose in the past year. He doesn't seem to mind that that can end up making him look rather unsavoury when paired with the wrong (or right) clothes, especially the Italian suits he favours so much.
Much to his own dismay, Gideon St.John has all the grace of an anvil. His top-heavy frame with the broad shoulders and long legs might at best make him a runway model, but never a dancer. In fact, the only amount of elegance might be found in his step, literally setting one foot before the other in a somewhat girlish manner. This does stand in stark contrast to the rest of his motions which tend to be very economic and restrained, arms held close to his body.
This holds true even when Stranglehold enters combat. Due to his ability to teleport into an enemy's proximity, he does not need to jump or run around a lot. Due to his ability to shrug off attacks, he doesn't feel the need to try and dodge them, though he will attempt to block punches.
It's an unsual day that doesn't start with a cigarette for Stranglehold. Be it in bed, be it on his way to the shower or the coffee machine. The smell therefore lingers on his person, where it mingles with whatever other scents he's sought to adorn himself with on any given day. His all-time favourite remains the crisp herbal scent of Vespucci Cologne ('Discover a new You, any day, anywhere'), considered sophisticated yet manly, though as of late, he's been favouring the headier fragrance of Hatemale After-Shave ('Love to be hated').
In normal conversation, Gideon St.John speaks with a low, steady baritone, favouring a somewhat generic New England accent with some idiosynchratically British inflections and a solid helping of multi-cultural swear words mixed in. Of particular note is that his tone height seldomly changes as he speaks, but instead he tends to create stress on words through volume and tempo shifts. Though when the mask goes over his head, his voice does change. Stranglehold's voice, surprisingly enough, tends to be warmer and smoother than Gideon's, with a smokey quality. Listening to it is akin to swallowing dark honey, with the underlying implications of hundreds of tiny sugar crystals drawing tiny little cuts across the inside of the throat.
The proper metrosexual in Gideon insist on regular waxing, and enjoys the occasional manicure and pedicure, even if (or especially because) he tends to end many of the battles in his private war that begins when he puts the mask on covered in some form of filth and in some state of disrepair.
Gideon St.John comes in two flavours, really. One style is rugged with influences taken from punk, goth and martial clothing styles, and the other is a custom-tailored Italian suit of some description. Occasion determines the flavour of clothes he'll pick as often as not. That said, even in a suit he will want to add a personal note. He'll usually forego a tie (or just sport his favourite Misfits tee, not bothering with a button-down shirt), wear steeltoe boots instead of regular shoes or find another subtle way to -in his mind- flaunt convention and prove just how 'rebellious' he is.
His 'casual' style of dress used to be far more relaxed, until he embarked on his latest romance with the Etoile Islander, Strawberry Poundcake. Ever since the young man began courting the girl, they've both discovered a heightened proclivity for black leather, chains and straps and other 'gothy' affectations.
Jewellery and other accessories obviously present another way for Gideon to add that so deeply sought after 'rebellious touch' to his appearance. In the aftermath of the Iggy Pop album, 'Skull Ring' he has taken to wearing a personalized skull ring of his own on his left hand at all times, later to be joined by a heavy unadorned ring joined to a free-hanging hoop vaguely reminiscent of a body piercing. Other than that and in spite of his general dislike of neckties, he seems to enjoy other forms of neck ornaments, from a simple length of industrial chain wrapped around the throat a few times and secured by a padlock to the kind of choke-collars one would put on an attack dog, from a simple braided leather cord pulled tight and displaying some archaic pendant to finely wrought designer necklaces, he can always be assumed to wear something around his neck. If it's not visible that's at best an indicator that he has a slender necklace tucked under his shirt.
"What's up with the barbed wire? Doesn't that hurt?"
"Nah, I got thick gloves."
"No, I mean when you hit someone."
"Well. That's the point."
-- Conversation with Dragonberry
Stranglehold does not really have a spandex costume like many other super-powered beings wear. His dress is a simple leather boilersuit meant to be worn by a motorcycle racer, combined with a pair of shitkicker boots and a balaclava. In fact, his fist 'super suit' was entirely purchased from a biker store. For the longest time, the suit he wore was midnight blue with a simple tribal design in red. On the eve of the Second Rikti Invasion however he appeared in simpler black leathers with a single silver stripe running down the sides.
In all incarnations however, he wears heavy black gloves secured tightly to his arm by lengths of barbed wire. The barbed wire surrounds his forearms, palms and knuckles, leaving only his fingers free. Of course, his own assurances aside, the barbed wire will not really make much of a difference in a fistfight. But it will make some people think twice before they care to tussle with him, and if he can make his opponents hesitate, that's good enough for him.
Gideon's shoulders, upper arms and most of his chest are covered by a series of interlinked tattoos featuring most notably starkly vibrant blues and reds. The tattoos showcase Shiva-Nataraja, the Divine Dancer, and the various aspects of his dance of destruction and creation. He also sports an intricate inch-wide blackwork tattoo at the base of his spine.
Beyond that, he claims to have at least four piercings in his body, though the only two that are somewhat discernible at a superficial glance are stuck through his nipples. The chances of him wearing some kind of adorned hoop are about even to the chances of him just wearing a simple barbell, but he won't usually leave the house without them.
- Main Article: Stranglehold's Personality
"I love being me." -- The Midnighter
Proudly claiming to have been the school bully back in high school, Gideon St.John displays more than a bit of an antisocial tendency. Quick to anger and just as quick to hold a grudge, oversexed and often just mindlessly looking for the next cheap thrill, it takes a special kind of person to even want to bother with him on a social level. Some might get in by the downward spiral's gravity like moths to the light, though most who bother seem to see something beneath the surface that he himself is ignorant of. Gideon St.John gladly accepts the monickers of bastard, lecher or worse, and does so without remorse.
As Stranglehold, he continues the trend of fulfilling common angry young man stereotypes, but seems generally more... content. He clearly feels more at home behind the tight leather and barbed wire of his "costume". On the job, Stranglehold acts with all the subtlety of a nail bomb, enjoying teleporting into the midst of his enemies and just pounding away at them until their ranks break. An admitted adrenaline junkie, the heat of battle is very obviously the place where he feels most at ease.
And then make me feel
And when Rome falls
From Rome For Douglas
Even though he himself will deny it, Gideon St.John is not an idiot. He just doesn't like to think, preferring a more direct (and ofte more violent) approach to problem-solving. If and when he manages to put his mind to a task and consider the resources at his disposal however... things tend to turn out worse than if he hadn't thought about them. Because the boy has a way of taking an idea to its logical extreme, and then plotting a direct course for that extreme.
In a casual conversation, someone once remarked on the futility of the heroes' situation in Paragon City. On how all of the enemy organizations just seemed to draw from a nigh-limitless pool of recruits. The roots for this, Gideon knew, lay in the simple fact that so many people still lived in borderline poverty. Even here in the USA. Even here in the city of heroes. And they'd follow anyone who believably promised them a better future. Sold their souls, took up arms in the name of outlived ideas, turned themselves into machines. The only way to really change that for good would be to give them an alternative. But to do that he'd have to rule the world.
Which, he considered, wasn't the worst of ideas. In fact it was so good an idea that now he entertains notions of a political career once he's finished college.
For all his projected anger, for all critical realism, Stranglehold is a kind of optimist. He believes it is thoroughly possible, even likely, for things to turn out for the better. If people are willing to get behind a cause and work for it. Who will do it, if not you? And when, if not now? And he's more than willing to get behind anything or anyone he can muster some faith in (or at least a passing attraction for).
As with most other things, he takes this idea to an extreme though, which turns out rather Crowleyesque. The human Will being superior to any other force in the universe, if applied with enough force and/or tenacity. The human Will being the paramount arbiter of wrong or right, to which all lesser notions must bow.
I know not whether Laws be right,
This too I know--and wise it were
With bars they blur the gracious moon,
The vilest deeds like poison weeds
For they starve the little frightened child
Each narrow cell in which we dwell
The brackish water that we drink
But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
With midnight always in one's heart,
And never a human voice comes near
And all men kill the thing they love,
From The Ballad of Reading Gaol
"The longer a fight lasts, the more frustrated and desperate they get -- and the more desperate they get, the stronger I become."
The product of at least two generations of interbreeding strains of the descendants of lost Mu, Gideon St.John wields magical energies with natural ease. However, his grasp on magic seems to be mostly instinctive and it is at this point questionable whether he will ever attain any deeper mysteries.
At his base level, Stranglehold is easily able to dead lift a car or dent a vault door with a single punch. He is however capable of further increasing his strength level by absorbing ambient emotions (see below). Unlike many other super-strong posthumans he is however otherwise beholden to the laws of physics. Meaning many larger objects are more likely to break apart as he attempts to lift them than to actually remain intact, even if his body can handle the weight itself.
Stranglehold moves between physical locations inside the same dimension with ease and has at times shown an instinctive grasp of his relative position in the world. By the same token, he can transport other people or objects to him in a similar fashion, but the process is apparently not a pleasant experience for living creatures.
Likewise, he shows some ability to reach sub-dimensions close to our own (such as the so-called "Shadow Shard" or the inter-dimensional dance club "Pocket D") under his own power. There is at least one verified report of him breaching the barriers to a further dimension, Omicron Zeta 5, also known as the "Minoan Empire", by himself. However, it is unknown what outside factors might have accompanied this apparent surge in abilities and the feat has since not been repeated.
As a defensive measure, Stranglehold is capable of partially or completely shunting incoming attacks out of this dimension. This is an effective defense against all known forms of energy, be they mundane, psychic as well as magical and specifically includes the kinetic damage from physical attacks.
Another major suite of powers available to Stranglehold affects the realm of emotions. It should be noted that at least on a conscious level, Gideon is by no means an Empath. He just moves (absorbs or projects) raw emotions, without actually being able to quantify or qualify his work.
Stranglehold's magic is mostly powered by negative emotions - his own or that of others. Negative in this context meaning (self-)destructive emotions. Fear, anger, despair, envy and plain old furstration all fit the bill. There is a good amount of speculation that suggests that he could draw just as much (if not more) power from positive emotions if he only allowed them to fuel him, but that Stranglehold subconsciously closes himself off to the very idea.
There is also more than cursory evidence that Stranglehold can reverse the flow of energy and project emotions outward. He has been known to make attackers hesitate or even flee his presence, or caused men to attack him with unmitigated hate and therefore reckless abandon.
The ability from which he takes his nom de guerre is Stranglehold's power over souls, by his own admission related to his Dimensional Manipulation capabilities. Other than that assertion of his, little is known over the exact workings of this portfolio of abiliies. Suffice to say that -under particular circumstances- Stranglehold is capable of literally tearing the soul from a living being and imprisoning it within himself.
Considering the overall implications of this ability, it's not something he advertises, though once the big secret is out he tends to be rather flippant about it, talking about literally 'eating' others' souls, and considering the reported reactions of people who should know (in particular, members of the Circle of Thorns) this statement doesn't veer too far from the truth of the matter.
An independent magical ability that doesn't tie into the powers Stranglehold most often exhibits, the Bloodlight is apparently some kind of magic force directly fueled by human lifeforce. As the name implies, the Bloodlight takes the form of a sanuine glow that strikes enemies with overwhelming force and searing heat. Due to the limitations placed on its use, Stranglehold used to only employ it sparingly. For the most part, it is a last resort in desperate situations.
The Teachings of Mu
The main objective of Stranglehold's recent crusade against the Cult of Mu seems to have been their knowledge of the sunken continent's ancient magics. The secrets of the crimson lightning are his by virtue of blood he claims, and he will have them. Freely given or taken by force, he's recently begun a treck across the Etoile Islands in search of the Cult's knowledge, contained in writing or in souls. While still in its infancy, his understanding is growing rapidly. Maybe by virtue of his blood, and maybe too quickly to be safe.
The Power of the Ritual
Beyond all these paths that needed to be studied but unveil themselves quite naturally, there is always that to fall back on which most people would more readily consider the proper workings of magic. According to Stranglehold, all ritual is magic and all magic is ritual. The way couples assure each other of their love, the way rivals fight their wars, so much of it is ritualized and becomes more than just an act through the power of ritual, it is virtually indistinguishable from his brand of Magic.
The Eternal Dance
The Eternal Dance is a fairly obscure Martial Art originally developed and taught in India, and shares some superficial similarities with Verum Kai Prayogam, the unarmed technique of Kalarippayattu. However, even in India the Eternal Dance is hardly a known Martial Art. The main reason for this lies in the simple fact that the true mysteries of this fighting style only reveal themselves to a practitioner awakened to the world's Magic.
On the surface, the Eternal Dance consists of controlled and precise steps to bring the practitioner into optimal positioning to apply various holds as well as palm, fist or elbow strikes to vital areas of the body. Kicks are not employed as the legs are entirely dedicated to ensuring the fighter's safe stance and optimal positioning.
It might be surmised that the fighting style's name is derived from the exact rules a practticioner's steps follow, but that is not so. In fact, the name is derived from the weaving motions of both arms that are a constant factor in the Martial Art's execution. Unlike say, a Boxer's guard, an Eternal Dancer's arms are never static and always in motion. Superficially seen, they intercept incoming attacks, bring hands and elbows in position for strikes, snake around enemy limbs for counter-attacks or simply confuse an opponent.
But as with any good mystery, the real secret lies much deeper than that. The world of full of Magic. That much is a fact. According to the teachings of the Eternal Dance, the magic is stretched across and through the world in long thin intersecting strands, not unlike the web of a spider.  The constant motion of the arms is designed and practiced in such a way as to casually gather as many of these errand strands as possible without having to actively assense them and layer them around the Martial Artist's hands. A set of magical brass knuckles.
Of course it would be an utter insult to just decry the Art as a way for an awakened magic-user to hit harder. But the sad truth of the matter is that that is pretty much the extent to which Gideon St.John could be bothered to learn and understand it. "Hit hard, strike for a soft spot" is almost the entirety of what he took home with him from his Indian exploits. Only by virtue of his innate magical potential has he managed to scratch the surface of the deeper mysteries of the Eternal Dance, such as the manipulation of another's Chakra through pressure (be it from a hard fist or a soft hand) or the unlocking of one's own Chakras to release their energy.
The Vanquisher of Obstacles is the patron of one of the first truly magical techniques practicioners of the Eternal Dance may learn. The simple philosophy is that steady effort will eventually overcome any amount of resistance. Unfolding their Manipura Chakra to gain the necessary willpower, Eternal Dancers learn to focus a massive flurry of strikes onto the same point, barely larger than the head of a pin, until it relents. Given enough ambient strands of Magic, this technique may create a localized shockwave that can cause harm to close bystanders.
"Fighting fair is for losers."
Before he took up his more esoteric fighting skills, Gideon St.John was extensively schooled in nothing that quite resembles a martial art but is quite simply everyday self-defence for people who play for keeps. The collection of various techniques commonly summarized as ATK is little more than being taught how to go for the soft spots on an opponent. And not just nerve knots or joints. The outer ear, it turns out is only very loosely attached to the body and can be torn off with just a little twist or the wrist. Similarly, the scalp on a human head is not as elastic as one would think. And so it goes.
These techniques are simple and efficient, but not pretty. Little surprise they were developed by Germans.
As an outgoing student of Medicine who has since entered PCU's special program for Forensic Pathologists, Gideon is of course capable of performing and understanding basic medical procedures. In the heat of battle, he seldomly possesses the presence of mind to actually apply anything but his understanding of an enemy's anatomy. Out of the field however, he is at least competent, though any nurse with some experience is likely to possess a better overall understanding of this field than he does.
On November 21, Gideon Vincent St.John is delivered at St. Elegius Hospital, Paragon City.
Gregory and Ruth St.John gunned down on the streets of Talos Island, their only child Gideon wounded. Their assailants are never caught and their identity remains a mystery.
After a foiled abduction attempt, the boy Gideon is extensively schooled in self defence techniques.
Citing security concerns as the main reason, Gideon St.John is enrolled in the prestigious Mallory House boarding school near Winchester, England, spending his vacation time around the British isles or continental Europe.
Gideon St.John graduates from Mallory House and boards a plane to New Delhi, India the following day, not to be heard from for the next two years.
Out of the blue, he reappears on the map, hopping from India to Europe and then across the Atlantic Ocean and home to Paragon City where he seeks to attend PCU to study Medicine. Prior to St.John's arrival, the name Stranglehold has already been haunting the inner city gang scene for at least two weeks.
On the date of his 21st birthday, Gideon inherits a humble fortune in stocks, bonds and other equity. It becomes known that when his parents inherited, they made sure their wealth kept all running costs of their son's life covered, but witheld actual control of their joint fortunes from the boy. Even now, most of the wealth is barred form him until he graduates from college.
Earlier in the year, St.John oversees the opening of the Aeon City offices of the Midian Initiative, Cap Au Diable becoming the corporation's newest regional emplacement outside of NYC, following in the wake of Paragon City, Austin, Singapore and Berlin. The office is clearly St.John's baby and he begins spending as much time as he can afford outside of College there.
The St.John Family Tree
There is no true nobility in the New World, but if there was, the St. John family would certainly count among it. Uther St. John migrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Already born into wealth and possessed of shrewd business sense, Uther St. John also was a hobby anthropologist and historian who financed the preservation of Native American culture in as far as this was still possible at that time, including expeditions all across the United States and into Mexico. Historians and biographers nowadays argue whether this was just a front for treasure hunts that laid the cornerstone for the modern-day St. John fortune, or whether Uther St. John (or his son Abraham) became involved with the mob in the times of prohibition and increased his wealth through illegal means. While it can't be disputed that in those times, many colourful figures came and went in the houses of the St. John family, the most common reading remains that Uther St. John simply was too stubborn to give up. Many stories of his adventures along the East Coast abound, some fabricated, some provable, but they all agree that Uther didn't know the meaning of giving up. If he was conned or made a bad business decision, he'd not cut his losses or seek to get even, but look for -and usually find- a way to make a profit of it nonetheless.
His son, Abraham, inherited his father's sense of business but displayed his father's faults -subdued in the old man- to an even greater extent. Born out of a liaison his father had in the Roaring Twenties, Abraham was the only child the unmarried Uther ever acknowledged. And it seemed as if that origin had left a mark on Abe, as he was usually referred to. Moreso than his father, he associated with colourful figures, and completely unlike his father, he loved to live in excess. Luckily enough for his children (and to Abe's dismay), he married a fiery Sicilian beauty, Maria Terranova who in her strictness more than made up for Abe's lack of restraint.
Maria doted on their three children, the sons Vincent and Gregory as well as her daughter Magdalena and made certain they all received proper schooling and a solid helping of confidence to help them through their lives. Gregory, the youngest of the St. John children chose to study medicine while Vincent prepared to take over the family's varied businesses. Magdalena was more of a free spirit who made good use of the freedoms that the post-war US offered a woman. She studied art and was very involved in several public rights movements later on.
Like their grandfather Uther, both Vincent and Gregory developed a taste for history, archeology and anthropology and despite their divergent careers made it a point to finance and support several prestigious digs and expeditions. The suave businessman and the philantropic doctor with their smooth smiles and polished appearances always made for a good picture and allayed all suspicions regarding their father Abe. In 1985, however, the unmarried Vincent lost his life in a car accident in New York City and since Magdalena had no interest in business per se, the family fortunte(s) fell to Gregory to control. Gregory himself had become the father of a son, Gideon, the year before and was forced to retire from his profession due to the dual demands of parenthood and overseeing the St. John businesses. Moving the company's headquarters to his adopted hometown of Paragon City he eventually took the core company to the stock market, though Gregory made sure that he and his wife Ruth retained a majority of the company's stock.
Supposedly, a few acquaintances of Gregory's father made their presence known to him in that time. Most importantly among them representatives of the Frost Cartel and assorted representatives of minor groups allied with the Cartel. As rumour has it, they were looking to legalize their operations and sought to buy into St. John's enterprises. But Gregory would have nothing of it. As one of the city's most charmed and charming sons, he must have felt untouchable.
Unfortunately, he was not.
They waited nearly a decade until an opening presented itself, but when it presented itself, they struck. Gregory and Ruth St. John were shot dead on the street on October 30th 1995, their son Gideon was also shot and left for dead, but miraculously survived. He was found by his nanny, Diana Horn, who had accompanied the family that night but had gone ahead to hail a cab for the family. Sloppy shooting as well as Ms. Horn's application of CPR were credited with Gideon St. John's survival. In the hospital, however, things became a bit clearer. Ignored by the unknown assailant of his family, the ten year old seemingly had attacked the supposed mugger. In his clenched hand, a blood-stained bushel of hair along with bloodstains and even pieces of scalp was found. Yet the boy remembered nothing and DNA sampling of skin and blood particles from the boy's hand only lead to a dead end.
Fiction: Graveyard Shift
The Campus Alliance of Preternatural (usually delivered as 'Pretentious' instead when Gideon explains the acronym) and Exemplary Students is a PCU student club dedicated to keeping the city clean. With fists, flames, arrows or whatever else is at hand. It is essentially an organization for powered students to congregate and organize themselves in. While not hugely interested in social experiments, it was a natural allegiance to forge for Gideon St.John.
What began as a practical choice did take more than one unexpected turn over time, making him friends, enemies and at least one person who has been both, often at different times, though sometimes all at once. For a short month or two, the stars aligned just right and it almost felt like a family, only for the pressure of having not just real lives but also college classes to attend and in some cases jobs to hold to tear it all apart again.
Start Spreading the Noose
Fiction: Start Spreading the Noose
The Minoan Empire
Fiction: The Minoan Empire
On Valentine's Day 2006, Stranglehold went missing. It took months until he resurfaced, literally falling into Firebase Zulu in the Shadow Shard from a hole in reality. In his own words, he had managed to push his abilities to a point where he was able to shift dimensions under his own power and found himself in a heretofore uncharted place he subsequently referred to as the Minoan Empire. This was apparently meant as both a vague allusion to the culture that may or may not have been the base to the myth of Atlantis as well as Dante's Inferno.
The dimension itself was tiny by his description, and completely uninhabited, though dotted with the ruins of a previous earth-like culture. And it took him all these months to repeat the feat that got him there in the first place, apparently finding the Shadow Shard more easily accessible than its neighbouring dimension, his home. Despite providing Portal Corporation with a general idea of how and where to look for this pocket-sized dimension, it has since not been identified with any reliable set of inter-dimensional coordinates.
- The Minoan Empire originally was a proto-dimension that directly abutted the Virtue Universe. Like a small soap bubble riding the outer shell of a larger one. Like a parasite attached to a host. For lack of a better word, it was a kind of Hell. The layers between this world and hours are in parts scarily thin, to the point where... things would leak through from the Virtue Universe into the Minoan Empire. Emotions, ideas... sometimes even entire souls if their thoughts were strong enough.
- An exact explanation for this phenomenon will likely never be found, but the windows between the worlds were apparently activated by a certain output of psychic energy, such as that produced by the dreamers of nightmares, or those caught in the throes of a vivid LSD or Absinthe experience. For this reason, the dominant species' of the Minoan Empire evolved into psychophages, literally feeding off of psychic energy. Over time they even developed the ability to subtly influence the senders of such emotions, egging them on, driving them to madness or entirely dragging human psyches into their world to feed off on.
- The ruler of this proto-dimension styled himself Minos, which gives rise to the idea that Dante Aleghieri himself was a victim of the Minoans or at least under their influence when he wrote the Divine Comedy. Of course, it is entirely possible that the exchange of ideas went the other way.
- Stranglehold arrived in the Minoan Empire due to machinations enacted by a being calling herself Salome Grant, ostensibly a Succubus masquerading as the biological daughter of a Circle of Thorns leader. Claiming to teach Gideon how to master his abilities to actually reach any dimension he wished to visit under his own power, she led him through a series of rituals which eventually left him stranded in this heretofore unknown quasi-dimension.
- It didn't take Stranglehold long to size up the lay of the land, and what its inhabitants were doing. In more than one fashion, he saw his own darkness reflected in the locals.
- Stranglehold reacted as only he would.
- He killed them all, claiming their souls and burning them to heal his wounds, keep himself awake and on his feet. Coupled with the natural emotional saturation of this world, he was surging with power fast, an angry God cutting swaths through wave after wave of gnats.
- By the time he faced down Minos himself, Stranglehold was ready to burst with power. In a flight of fancy, pathos and hubris, he spoke one sentence and then converted his entire storage of power into Bloodlight, with cataclysmic results.
- "Let there be light."
The Second Rikti Invasion
After fighting in the trenches for the first few days of the renewed Rikti assault, Stranglehold simply skips town, only reappearing shortly before the end of the massed attack runs. In the aftermath of the war, news trickle down from Vanguard command that he was apparently spearheading a volunteer corps' attack on an entrenched Rikti supply base in an undisclosed location.
- In actuality, this was not an installation used by the attacking Rikti, but in fact it was a Rikti Traditionalist nursery. The 'volunteer corps' was otherwise made up entirely of men and women currently serving life sentences or awaiting execution in one of various US prisons who were promised amnesty or conversion of their death penalty into a life sentence upon completion of the mission. The group's mission was to move a trio of unexploded Rikti bombs into the nursery and detonate the structure to make it seem like a Rikti attack. Essentially, this was a feint to ensure the Traditionalists would not side with the new wave of attackers but continue their peaceful stance toward earth.
- As expected, the mission was an utter suicide run. Like any lifeform in existence, the Rikti fought back hard and when the lives of their offspring was at stake. The only reason Stranglehold himself survived is because when it all went to hell, he claimed the souls of the remaining human 'volunteers' to power a magical chain reaction akin to the one that depopulated the Minoan Empire, directly feeding the condemned men's souls into the Bloodlight to achieve critical mass.
- Other than Stranglehold, the only publically acknowledged super-powered participants in the operation were 'Wayland Brown' a small-time weaponsmith from New York who was capable of psychometric feats and a John Doe who had been found wandering the wilds of Alaska apparently bereft of all higher thought functions. The unidentified man never showed a sign of cognizant thought in over two years and projected a psionic dampening field that made it impossible for telepaths to learn anything about him.
Fiction: How Strong?
Stranglehold does not make a habit of keeping enemies. Making them maybe; it is an endeavour he actually seems to excel at, but he often tires all too quickly of most. In a verbal spar, he is cocky enough to be untouched by most insults as they simply seem baseless and random, yet not quick-witted enough to just flay the opposition. His usual tactic is to connect with a few well-aimed low blows, then just drink in the initial explosion of an antagonist's anger and eventually just ignore them as they provide less and less sustenance or entertainment. Though should anyone manage to seriously slight him, there is a good chance that this particular relationship might end even faster, and in a more terminal fashion.
Therefore, there's really only a point in listing those closer acquaintances with whom he's either connected in friendship or at least in a close professional relationship.
is actually a more recent acquaintance. Or used to be. Two strangers passing each other by chance on a quiet night, the two apparently hit it off right away. A few hours spent chatting made them friends, a few days spent chatting lovers. Escalating each other's actions and feelings in what can only be described as some kind of feedback effect, it took him little more than a week to effectively move in with her, and from there maybe a month before the formerly eternal bachelor fell to one knee and presented her with a ring. Apparently, she accepted it and as of now, there is really no telling just how much faster or further this runaway train will go before it comes to a crashing halt, if ever.
is the one person Gideon St.John would easily consider his best friend in the world these days. Both blessed with similar mores (or the absence thereof), a certain propensity for flirting with danger and the understanding that the other is just a phone call away, the two have at times been mistaken for lovers. Which is something they might have become if not for the many other treats the world has had to offer to each of them and the fact that most people they've been involved with expected some amount of monogamy out of them.
on the other hand is something of the flipside of the coin bearing Gideon's countenance. Equally stubborn, equally self-righteous, possessed of a very clear and strict moral code, but utterly lacking a single iota of faith in anyone but herself (and maybe her wife), her relationship with Stranglehold constantly swings between that of best friends and mortal enemies.
in turn is both a good friend of his and Glitterbeam's, and while all three are devoted friends to one another, she often ends up as the butt of the other two's jokes due to her humble and shy personality. Despite the constant teasing of her two friends and her own repeated assurance that she hates them, they have so far managed to coexist without any major property damage.
and Gideon St.John have a weird relationship. There is no deep, meaningful connection between those two men, though on some level they might care very much for one another. However, their actual relationship is based on a mixture of mutual understanding, admiration for the other's work and a constant desire to one-up the other in spite of that. After all, what would the world be without caustic smokers willing to hit Pocket D just to pick on people?
on the other hand is probably everything Gideon isn't. Small of stature, extremely intelligent, witty and charming when he wants to be, the one thing the two have in common is sex. Be it with one another or anybody else who happens to get caught in their crossfire. The young man definitely has an inspiring influence on Gideon, be it through some kind of mental feedback between their powers or just the way their personalities interact.
is, in Gideon's own words, the dumbest genius ever. Of course, this comes from the fact that the man who may be the smartest being in the entire galaxy only uses a tiny piece of his brain to tend to day-to-day matters. Luckily, that particular part of Take One and Gideon St.John get along marvelously, and the unfathomable smarts of the man allow Stranglehold to dump some of his more philosophical thoughts on him between commentary on the shapely behinds of innocent bystanders.
Trivia and Miscellanny
- There is no song that Stranglehold would claim as a personal or theme song. I find however that several songs nicely set the mood for me to play the character. These include: Pushed Again by Die Toten Hosen, A Song for Douglas After he's Dead by Current 93 and Stinkfist by Tool. (Also, Thirteen by Danzig but screw me if I could find a link for that.)
- Is a declared Pansexual, citing that in this day and age, notions of species or gender had far less meaning, especially in Paragon City where you can't turn a corner without running into an alien, artificial or at least modified form of life. By his own admission, he will (try to) have intercourse with "anything that moves, and a few things that don't." And in spite of that, he seems to recently have abandoned his 'wicked ways' to spend most of his active time with a single girl. Though, tigers don't really change their stripes, do they?
- Privately rides a BMW K 1200 R motorcycle, claiming that teleporting everywhere gets boring because you never actually see the sights along the way. Has also stated that he prefers train rides to flights for the same reason.
- Has expressed a preference for Asian (especially Indian, Thai and Indonesian) foods.
- Supposedly inherited a minor fortune in stocks from his deceased parents the day he turned 21, with a further inheritance being held off until the day he graduates college.
- Works out three times a week in spite of having superpowers and tightly controls his eating, counting calories and so on.
- At the same time however, he smokes like a chimney and has indicated a proclivity for both legal and illegal substance abuse, primarily amphetamines and ECA Stack (ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin, a concoction which forces the body to shed water and burn fat).