IT IS THE YEAR 2022… and Heroes walk among us.
One century ago, humanity began to change.
Certain people manifested impossible abilities, underwent shocking physical transformations, and turned our understanding of the universe upside down. History came to know these people as Paranormals, a name that has persevered to this day.
Soon after their appearance in history, a large group of Paranormals united to form an organization calling itself the Infinity Legion of Earth, funded by those of individual wealth and donations from host countries. This new organization found, nurtured, and trained Paranormals: honing their new abilities for good, helping them live happy lives, and, when necessary, aiding their recovery from the personal trauma brought on by their powers. In so doing, the Infinity Legion also became a global peacekeeping force whose agents wielded telekinesis, elemental powers, super strength, and more.
Using these incredible powers and standing with the support of the majority of governments on Earth, the Infinity Legion almost single-handedly fought World War 2, ended the conflict within two years, and ushered in what history books would refer to as a utopian state. For decades, the citizens of Earth enjoyed incredible access to futuristic technology, global transportation, and almost no crime.
Unfortunately for the Legion, comfort breeds complacency. Several decades ago, the Infinity Legion’s presence on earth faltered. Rumors spread that their offworld colonies on Mars and Venus were facing a threat from the unknown, and over time, more and more earthside Legionnaires were deployed to the reaches of the solar system. As staff dwindled, the Legion’s influence receded and its image as the guiding hand of a utopian planet began to fade.
In the space left by the postwar Legion, a group of mercenaries calling themselves Freelancers appeared. While the Legion was funded by donations and trade agreements from the Earth’s nations and positioned itself as a service of and for the public, the Freelancers had no such guidelines. They were skilled and ruthless, taking any job that had a large enough pot of gold at the other end of it.
Now, a fourth generation of Paranormals begins to Emerge. As the Infinity Legion struggles to maintain influence and peace while stretched paper thin, the Freelancers grow in power and influence, but find themselves bearing more responsibility than intended. Meanwhile, the number of Independent Paranormals grows every day. In a world where a single person can shake the Earth, the future is full of opportunity… and peril.
We Stand in the Shadow of the Infinity Legion
It is impossible to forget the legacy of the Infinity Legion. The Flying Fortress, a colossal structure of steel and magic, hovers over Earth. The only international newspaper still in circulation is the Legion-funded Infinity Report. Statues of their greatest heroes grace cities saved from total destruction. To be part of the Legion is to believe that being granted the powers of a Paranormal is both gift and duty; to protect the innocent from danger and horror.
The structure of the Legion has become deeply fractured of late; the vast majority of its agents have left Earth for reasons only vaguely known to a few: a war in Space rages, secret not just to the public, but also the skeleton crew remaining on Earth. Nine Legion-Generals have left Earth to hold the lines in this war, leaving the remaining three on the council behind. The infrastructure and outposts of the Legion have gradually been scaled back as they wait for the bulk of their forces to return.
It was not until the past year that the leadership of the Earthside Legion began acting on its own, changing their goal from maintenance to recruitment. This new Legion is different from its predecessor: less military, more family focused, with a youthful rebellious streak. Still, the core values of the organization stand strong as they strive to grow back to their previous strength in a world that desperately needs their protection.
The bitter rivalry that the Legion held with the Freelancers is beginning to crack, as well; with the advent of modern social media, friendships and alliances are forming from the ground up, leading to reluctant and unexpected gestures of peace.
Five Million, Up Front – and Everyone Walks Away
To be a Freelancer is to accept a binary lifestyle – on the job and off of it. The job—whatever it may be, whoever the employer is—demands total professionalism and perfection. Anything less is unacceptable. The Freelancers only recruit Heroes capable of achieving such results; they are not a charity case, nor are they interested in accepting investment projects.
The Freelancers are based out of the city state of Archaven, in Eastern Europe.The ex-villain Adam Nova runs the organization from the shadows, using former Legionnaire administrative leader Michael Cheney as his face and public voice. The most common criticism of this mercenary organization is that their only loyalty is to the almighty dollar, but a Freelancer will argue that they are particular about their clients and saving the world does not come cheap.
The Freelancers have surpassed the Legion when it comes to money, new talent, and staff. While they still lag behind when it comes to The Legion’s teleportation network, cutting-edge tech, and uncanny surveillance capabilities, their ruthless determination has allowed them to succeed where the Legion often fails. Their history is littered with war crimes and indignities, and their ‘Social Rehabilitation Program’—an ‘opportunity’ for particularly talented criminals to work off their debt to society—has been called a modern form of slavery.
Despite these black marks, most Freelancers are genuinely trying to do their best among the only people who have ever accepted them fully. The Freelancers believe that with the Legion’s attention elsewhere, they are the glue that holds together terrestrial civilization… and it’s hard to prove them wrong.
The Last Line of Defense
The Infinity Legion of Earth has always had an interest in what lies beyond the stars. Their first expedition to the moon in the 1940’s was just the first step; the Legion has since constructed moonside scientific and residential colonies, eventually founding the organization known as PHALANX to monitor and maintain the moon colonies and ensure that settlers had the best experience possible. Nathaniel Cross has led the organization since the 1980’s, striving to be open and accessible to anyone who is interested, be they Legion or Freelancer, human or paranormal.
PHALANX’s role ended up shifting as the Legion explored Mars in depth. A material, known as Catalysium was discovered on the surface of the red planet. This mysterious and versatile material acted as building block, fuel, and catalyst, allowing PHALANX to expand their colonies and create revolutionary military technology. This new technology was put to the test when Dreamlight, the moon’s capital, was raided by space pirates seeking the Legion’s secrets. The former residential and scientific haven was forced to prepare for potential war.
As PHALANX armed themselves, Legion ships around Venus began to vanish – or return, completely empty. Cross recognized that the organization would potentially need to make a final stand should the Legion fall on the borders of space – and so, they wait, and prepare.
Just a Hometown Hero, Ma’am…
Vigilantes, villains, confused teenagers, local do-gooders, and those who mistrust authority tend to find themselves all painted with the same brush sooner or later: Independent. While unaffiliated acts of heroism are outlawed by the governments of both man and paranormal, stopping Independents is easier said than done and rarely worth the effort.
Independent Paranormals reject the infrastructure of the Legion or the Freelancers – if they get injured on the job, there is no med bay waiting. Should they tackle a villain more dangerous than they can handle, there is no back up. They are constantly at risk and have little recourse if their luck runs out. The trade off for these risks is that they have complete and utter freedom. There are no big pay days, sure – but there are also no obligations, no loyalties, no expectations.
Independent heroes often end up as part of one of the larger organizations – after all, few Independent Paranormals make it to old age and everyone knows it. Nevertheless, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi, a romantic appeal to the life. It’s just you against the world, and who knows what could happen next?