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Mask

A slang term referring to anyone who participates in the "superhero culture".  Not all metahumans qualify as masks, and not all masks qualifiy as metahumans.
 

Mere

A derogatory slang term used by some of the more arrogant metahumans, referring to normal human beings.  Derived from the phrase "merely human".
 

The Metagene

The Metagene was discovered on August 26th, 1970, by scientists working for the US Centers for Disease Control.  The gene, which has been proven to be the ultimate source of almost all superhuman powers, is linked to the genes which control intelligence.  It is estimated that only one out of every 500000 human beings carry the metagene, and only 1 out of every 2000 great apes.  Out of those numbers, only about half  will ever manifest any sort of superhuman ability.  In addition, only about half of the people who manifest a superhuman ability will gain the kind of impressive power that marks the average superhero or supervillain.

Originally it was believed that some factor inherent in the 20th Century created the metagene in the human and ape species through brute force mutation, but the existence of such people as Turner D Century (whose metagene expressed itself in the mid-1800's) and Pharaoh (whose metagene expressed itself over 3000 years ago) have shown rather that the gene has always lain dormant within the genetic codes of both humans and apes.

Since the advent of the superbeing, people have wondered why some geographic areas appear to produce more super-powered individuals than others.  While none of the theories are necessarily exclusive of the others, two stand out.  Both are summarized below.

  • Genetic Inflexibility and Geographic Isolation as Influences in Metagene Frequency - Dr. Marta Middendorf, University of Munich:  "Over the millennia, humans have colonized a wide variety of climes, and over those years, have grown adapted to those regions.  They ventured out from those areas rarely, and in so doing - or in not so doing rather - impeded any potential evolution of their genetic structure.  Their adaptive and genetic processes - challenged only by limited climatic stimuli, the potential diversity trapped in so limited a gene pool - these people were working counter to the evolutionary process.  In essence, they may have inadvertently been making stagnant evolution and breeding the metagene out of their gene pool.

"Africa and Southeast Asia, isolated areas of Alaska and northern Canada, regions with little interaction - in every sense of the word - with the rest of the world have demonstrated lower incidences of the appearance of the metagene.  Compare this to the North American continent, particularly the United States, wherein peoples from all over the world share cultural and genetic diversity.  It is on this continent where the genetic structure has been freed from its inflexibility and the metagene best allowed to express itself.

  • The Influence of Natural and Manmade Climatic Elements on the Genetic Process - Prof. Harold X. Jackson, University of Texas at Dallas: Adaptation and evolutionís always been a reactionary process.  The heat, the cold, too much rain, too much sun - evolutionís always worked to give every life form the best fighting chance for survival.  And for the most part, itís always been a gradual process for a region.  At least until it gets that wild hair and bumps everyone up a notch on the ladder.

But thatís when we all were growing on a level playing field.  Nature used to be the only one that decided how and when we evolved.  Nature was the one that said what was going to influence our genes and how.  Now Manís putting his voice into it.  Manís been putting more and more destabilizing elements into the climate every year, and unequally across the planet.

The frequency of metahumans showing up around the world helps to substantiate this.  Third-world nations, those lowest on the industrial scale, have the lowest output of pollutants and energy emissions and the lowest appearance rate of superhumans.  Whereas nations like the United States, the most industrially aggressive nation to date, has pumped out the greatest amount of destabilizing elements and has the greatest appearance rate of metagene occurrences.

 

Metagene-Inspired Genius

One of the most common expressions of the metagene has been so-called metagene-inspired genius.  In most occurrences of this phenomena, the metagene carrier creates one specific piece of amazingly advanced technology and then never again show any sort of metagene expression.   In other cases, the metahuman inventor becomes a font of new technology.  Such technology is sometimes easily replicated by engineers and scientists, but much more often is simply baffling to anyone undertaking a study of the invention.  When it is replicatable, the inventor usually becomes very, very wealthy.
 

Metahuman

A term used to refer to anyone with superhuman powers or abilities.  Generally, it is not used to refer to persons who gain their "powers" through exceptional training or through the use of devices (see "Super-Athlete" and "Gadget", respectively).  Used interchangeably with "Superhuman".
 

Metahuman Distribution

The ten nations which have the highest rate of metagene expression per capita are, in descending order:

  • The United States

  • The People's Republic of China

  • India

  • Great Britain (including Scotland, Wales, and Ireland)

  • Germany

  • Canada

  • France

  • Japan

  • Brazil and Australia (roughly tied)

 

Metahuman Power Classifications

The United States Department of Defense divides metahumans into the following general power levels.  It should be noted that these categories are not precise, and there have been several occasions where a metahuman of one power level is generally considered to be a member of another power level.  Usually, this mistake is made in the direction of underestimating the metahuman.

  • Omega:  The Omega category is the domain of those individuals who possess truly godlike power.  These individuals seem to be capable of doing nearly anything they wish to do.  So far, only two Omega class Metahumans have ever been recorded:  The Blood Red King and Amnesty.
  • Alpha: Alpha-level metahumans are massively powerful, but have definitive limitations on their raw power.  By themselves, they can be a threat to entire teams of heroes, and they generally operate on their own.
  • Beta: The Beta category is the highest level of "mainstream" metahuman.  Most active superheroes fall somewhere into this category.
  • Gamma: On a slightly lower power scale than Betas in terms of raw power, Gamma-level metahumans can nevertheless still be a threat to an Alpha, especially if they are in groups.
  • Delta: The Delta level metahuman is at the bottom level of the mainstream metahuman.  When compared to a normal individual, a Delta-level metahuman is amazing.  When compared to a Beta, they are considerably less than impressive.  A team of Delta's could probably cause a single Beta a great deal of difficulty in a fight, but a platoon of Betas could take on a battalion of Deltas and win.
  • Epsilon: Epsilon-level metahumans sometimes have one or two useful superhuman powers, but generally they are considered jokes by the greater community of superhumans.
  • Zeta: A Zeta-level metahuman is as weak as you can get and still be considered superhuman.  In general, a Zeta has powers that don't do anything useful at all.
 

Miracle Materials

"Miracle Materials" is a phrase used to signify any material (usually created and/or discovered as product of metagene-inspired technology) that has extraordinary properties when compared to similar materials.

  • Adamantium: Carbon-diamond with its molecular chains arranged in a metallic lattice, this material is almost impossible to work or shape and must be synthesized "in place" if it is to be used at all.  To date, only simple objects have ever been created, as the synthesizing adamantium is both time-consuming and expensive.  The original sample (a three inch cube) is on display at the Smithsonian Institute.  The substance was named by its creator, fourteen year-old comic book fan and metagenius Kenneth Darby, who has yet to produce anything else of note.
  • Ballistex: This artificial fiber has chain-linked molecular bonds which allows the energy of impacts to be dispersed throughout the material rather than staying at the point of impact.  Its commonly used in body armor (bullet proof vests, military helmets, and so on) and other safety gear (including football pads and helmets).  It is lighter and more resilient than standard Kevlar.
  • Bio-Fiber: Bio-Fiber is an artificial multi-cellular colony organism that tends to grow in a film only two cells thick.  The resulting "fabric" is extremely tough for its weight and will accept dyes of a specific formulation only.  Bio-fiber possesses a small measure of cellular mobility, making a tight-fitting garment of Bio-Fiber self-fitting to a certain extent, and its natural biological defenses mean that in large part its self-cleaning.  However, it is the fabric's interaction with the exotic metabolisms of metahumans that make it truly amazing.  After a short period of acclimation, bio-fiber adapts to energetic or metamorphic powers.  Thus, a costume made of bio-fiber can stretch, grow, or shrink with its wearer, and will not be incinerated, frozen, or otherwise harmed by the energetic emissions projected by its wearer.
  • Catalyte: This rare element (probably of extraterrestrial origin) vastly increases the efficiency of nuclear reactions, so that they require much less energy to start.  Makes compact fusion reactors practical, and even allows for "cold fusion" devices.
  • Flexionite: Flexionite is made up of many metallic micro-cylinders arrayed together in sheets and bonded.  The resultant material is easily worked but once in its final form it tends to retain that form.  It is primarily used in the manufacture of vehicles.  Repair of structural damage to a car with flexionite body-panels is a matter of a minute's work by a trained mechanic.
  • Questonite: Questonite is an ultra-strong plastic.  It can be made transparent, suitable for windows in deep-sea submersibles, visors for armor, viewports in super-prison cell doors, and the like.
  • Regalloy: In its untreated form, this metal (brought to earth by the Xorn) is a dense liquid similar to mercury.  It can easily be poured into mold forms in this state, but once exposed to a chemical catalyst hardens to near unbreakability.
 

Moreau

"Moreau" is a slang term for an animal that has been genetically altered and "uplifted" into full sentience and a humanoid shape.  No one is sure where the Moreau's originated (not even they know for sure), but it is clear that someone has been doing a lot of genetic engineering out there.  As of 2009, the total number of known Moreau's worldwide hovers around 12,000.
 

Nanites

Nanites are the common name for both the nanotechnology assembler and the nanotechnology computer.  First theorized in 1959 by Dr. Richard Feynman in his now-classic lecture There's Plenty Of Room At The Bottom, nanotechnology was first seen as one of the ultimate developments of man's technological heritage.  Such machines could assemble anything that was needed in a relatively short time, then easily disassemble the same object and recycle the materials into another object, and a nanotech "doctor" could enter a human cell and repair it from the inside.  In 1984, the first perfected nanite robots were created by then doctoral-candidate Fiona Richards.

 

The Non-Human Intelligence Act

In 1980, an artificially intelligent android calling itself Adam Silicon sued its creator for  violations of civil rights.  After much debate about the nature of intelligence, the nature of life, and also after much testing of Adam Silicon, the Court ruled that any machine that could be shown to be self-aware was a person in the legal sense.

In 1981, the United States Supreme Court expanded upon the issue of non-human intelligence by ruling that sentient apes were also "people" in the legal sense.  Dealing specifically with the question of the inhabitants of Gorilla City, the case argued that since the apes who lived there had the intelligence of an adult human, he should be given the rights and privileges of an adult human, including the right to live and travel as they pleased.  Eventually the case went before the Supreme Court, which ruled that any ape that could be proven to have human levels of intelligence was a person, and thus had rights that had to be respected.  Later that same year in a supplementary ruling, the Court added that since there are some humans with intelligence far lower than the common average, and yet their rights had to be respected, it must be assumed that the definition of "human levels of intelligence" be a broad one.

In reaction to these two cases, the Congress of the United States passed the so-called Non-Human Intelligence Act, which recognized the rights and privileges of all beings with provably human intelligence.  In 1983, the United Nations General Assembly voted to make the American law a part of the UN Charter, over the protest of many member nations.  The most notable objectors were the People's Republic of  China, Italy, and Iran.

 

Nowhere, Ohio

In 1757, William Picket and Matthew Harding, two fur trappers exploring the area around what is now Mason County, Ohio, discovered a small community of white settlers.  They were living as farmers and there was ample evidence that they had been living in the area for many years.  Harding's journal records that he found gravestones in the community that dated back 150 years.  His journal also states that Harding believed the community to be older than that, though it doesn't state why.  Among other details, he reports that they had a rather simple political structure with a circle of town elders who oversaw everything.  Only one of these elders was named and he was the only resident of Nowhere, Ohio named in the journal: Thomas Butter (a.k.a. "Old Tom").  Harding, however, is known to have been somewhat of a practical joker and most historians today give little credence to his journal.  Officially, Nowhere, Ohio, is considered to have been founded circa 1700 by an early group of frontiersmen.

By all appearances, today, Nowhere, Ohio, appears to be a sleepy little town known most for its odd name and the sheer number of 4H Blue Ribbon winners it produces.  It is largely ignored by the world at large and the residents prefer it that way.  What is not known by the world at large is that Nowhere, Ohio, also contains the greatest number of active mages and mystics per capita in the world.  To shield the small town from unwanted publicity, powerful wards have been set in place that prevent nonresidents from discovering the secret.  The wards target and erase memories and other recordings that reference this secret.  Only those who are already magically inclined are immune to this effect.