NPCs of Note A-F
Akasha - LE Human Female Walking Ka Necromancer 24/Soul Eater 10
Theme Song: Gimme the Prize, Queen
to thee, O Ra, at thy tremendous rising!
With these words, the soul of the scribe Ani prepares for the journey to the hall of Osiris, where his heart will be weighed against the feather of Ma'at, the standard of truth. It is a journey Akasha should have made long ago.
Foul magics enabled her to trap her own soul within her dead body, preventing it from being judged (for it would surely have been eaten by the Devourer of Souls). Once free from the danger of eternal nothingness, further magics gave her ka, her astral body, physical form. Now, she is eternal, incorruptable, and almost invulnerable. Like all Walking Ka, she can only be destroyed if the Canopic Jar containing her heart is shattered, which would release her soul for a long-overdue judgement.
Akasha is at least 6,000 years old and is no longer even remotely human, mentally or emotionally. To preserve her powers and keep her soul from escaping its confinement, she consumes the souls and life energy of others. After prolonged, intense spellcasting, Akasha may appear aged and haggerd. This condition lasts until she can consume enough souls to replenish her magic reserves and revitalize herself.
Akasha rarely speaks out loud except in combat; many of her most powerful offensive spells require only a single word to cast. She has made two spells permanent on herself, both of which are triggered vocally. She can employ wail of the banshee and crushing hand as spell-like abilities, once per round in combat. Like all Walkiing Ka, she has 25/holy damage reduction. If her Ka body is ever destroyed, she will reform at the next sunrise, unchanged. Only the destructuon of her Canopic Jar can permanently destroy her.
Alfred - LG Drow Male Monk 11
Theme Song: Theme from The Last Dragon,
Barry Gordy's 'The Last Dragon'
Alfred Yazzie grew up on his family's horse ranch on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. He spent most of his 19 years as the living embodiment of the "98-pound weakling" featured in Charles Atlas's classic advertisements. Bigger boys were constantly picking on him even after his parents started taking him to martial arts classes. Many small, shy children develop self-confidence and improve their social skills through the martial arts; Alfred's parents hoped the classes would help him as well. Alfred did gain a good measure of self-confidence and a little muscle as a result of his studies. The rest of his parents' plan went unfulfilled.
Alfred's father had learned much about martial arts schools while stationed in Okinawa in the early '80s. His DI had told him that, should he decide to study the fighting arts during his tour, he should pay attention to the first thing he saw when entering a school. If it was a trophy case or pictures of the students in tournaments, he should turn around and walk out. If, however, the school greeted visitors with beautiful things and works of art, then he should enter. Since your DI is The Voice Of God On Earth, Dennis Yazzie listened well. He found (of course!) that his DI was correct. When it came time to choose a school for Alfred, he applied the same standard.
The only teacher that passed the test, lived anywhere near the reservation, and taught anything other than tournament fighting was an exiled Chinese political dissident who ran a Buddhist contemplative retreat. He was a Shaolin priest and human rights activist who had no regard for tournament fighting. Alfred was a good student, both of the fighting arts and of the Noble Eightfold Path.
By the time Alfred entered high school, he was the equivalent of a 3rd Dan black belt, though he held no actual ranking (his teacher being firmly in the "a belt is for holding up your pants" school). He was also a pacifist and a devout Buddhist, neither of which won him many friends. He still looked the part of the "98-pound weakling" despite regular workouts and working on his family's horse ranch. He had learned to shrug off insults and taunts with good humor. He had only needed to use his fighting skills once, when a longtime bully had jumped him with a pool cue. Alfred broke the cue in two places and put his attacker into an arm lock before the other boy knew what was happening. Alfred held him until the tribal police arrived, then declined to press charges and walked away.
When the Change hit, Alfred immediately began feeling the effects. His clothes were too tight, his bed was too small, and his hair was turning white. His transformation was noticeable on Saturday morning; by Saturday night it was complete. He was over a foot taller and had almost tripled in mass, all of it solid muscle. He had the physique of a champion bodybuilder - a champion Elvin bodybuilder. Obsidian skin and ivory hair made him look incredibly intimidating, but his transformation had not affected his personality. He was still a quiet pacifist; he just didn't get teased as much.
He continued to work on his parent's ranch and to study Shaolin with his teacher. His old tormentors slowly began to tease and abuse him again. Alfred laughed off their jibes and came to regard their taunts as having the same impact on his life as prairie dog barks. He would probably still be working on the ranch if the party had not come to the reservation to find a home for Rhiannon the Maker, an autistic little girl with the power to create anything she wanted out of thin air. Rhiannon was sent to stay on a remote horse ranch, and Alfred was invited to come with the party. He wasn't sure he wanted to go, but Olivia gave him a rousing recruitment pitch. When they emerged from the Scoobymobile several hours later, his parents were waiting with his clothes and some personal effects packed. His mother fussed over him and his father told him to be careful. Alfred couldn't figure out why his father seemed so overjoyed but his father's happiness was reason enough for him to be happy, so he joined his father in exuberant well-wishing. Dennis waved again as the Scoobymobile headed out, ecstatic that all those nagging, unvoiced worries about his son's sexual orientation had been firmly put to rest.
Alfred has an encyclopedic knowledge of television and movie trivia.
For a time he idolized the character of Ed Chigliak on Northern Exposure
and strove to imitate his speech and voice. He was very successful and
now scarcely realizes he's doing it. He is good with horses and has some
skill with silversmithing. He has a great deal of knowledge about the
legends and traditions of the tribes of the desert southwest. He has built
a small Buddhist shrine in a grove near the House and teaches Tai Chi
to those who aren't up to Morag's Mok'bara lessons.
"Hold thy tongue. This be a house of veneration of the Angel of Death, plain and simple. Thou shalt be humble and respectful here, English, if thou truly seeks to petition Death to favor thee."
Brother Aaron is an old-order Amish shopkeeper in Montrose Free Zone. His business would give his brethren fits, though; he is the most well-stocked arms merchant on the Western Slope.
He sees weapons and war as the sacred gifts of the Angel of Death, and believes that Death has been exalted over all others in the Host. Where he got this idea no one knows; Brother Aaron simply states it as a fact and will neither elaborate nor engage in discussion.
Some residents of Montrose believe he used to be a "black ops" weapon designer before the Change. He is able to rig up or repair Azrael cyber interfaces, gauss weapons, and is more than passing familiar with particle beam weaponry and other ultra-high-tech items. He also knows very little about farming and less about running a business. People who know the Amish well can tell quickly that Brother Aaron is not truly Amish, but most are wise enough not to challenge him on the subject.
He was born and raised in Dos Cabezas, Arizona. His father ran an auto salvage yard and his mother made "authentic hand-crafted native American" silver jewelry that she sold on consignment at local souvenir stands. She reasoned that she could call herself "Native American" by virtue of having been born in Provo.
He dropped out of school at 15 and took a job scrounging parts in his father's salvage yard, and worked there until he was drafted to go to Vietnam at 19. He burned his draft notice and dropped out of sight.
He took a job as a roustabout in a traveling carnival, and it was here that his psionic talents began to surface. He acquired a reputation as a skilled masseur, capable of relieving almost any form of strain or soft-tissue injury. The carnival's mentalist took note of his skill and soon convinced him to give psychic surgery a try. Charlie did, and was an immediate hit. He soon became a fixture in the sideshow, doing healings, psychic surgery, and Tarot readings. Only he and the mentalist knew that his act was for real.
He became involved with Project Looking Glass after doing a surprisingly accurate reading for a Looking Glass administrator during a show in Virginia. The administrator was intrigued by his accuracy and asked the FBI to find out who he was. Charlie's draft evasion immediately came up and he was arrested before the carnival left the area.
The government offered to drop the draft evasion charges against him if he went to work for Looking Glass. He looked at the amount of money they were willing to pay him and the prospect of spending a number of years in prison at Leavenworth and agreed immediately. He was considered a flight risk, and so became one of the few permanent residents of the Groom Lake facility.
His first mentors were German occultists brought over to the United States during Operation Besom, an offshoot of Operation Paperclip. They taught him greater control over his abilities, how to draw and store power, and how to direct the energy he had raised. The government tried to isolate the energy he used to direct a person's tissues to begin regenerating, and they were partially successful. Their intention was to discover a "healing ray" that could repair an injury at a distance. What they actually discovered was the technology that would make Zaphod a reality, almost three decades later.
During this time, Charlie became more and more addicted to energy work. He found a spot in the Rhyolite Hills that afforded him a glorious view of the atomic testing range and frequently stole away to watch the underground tests. He knew it was dangerous, but his growing healing ability made him reckless. He did pick up a dangerous dose of radiation a few times, which he easily healed. His watchers knew what he was doing, and considered it to be part of the ongoing research.
Charlie started unconsciously injuring himself in order to have access to Zaphod's early prototypes. He presented it as further research, thinking he was manipulating his minders into allowing him his fix. Again, his minders watched and recorded their observations without comment.
An outside observer might have thought Charlie just as much a prisoner at Groom Lake as he would have been at Leavenworth. He left the facility less than a dozen times in close to 40 years, mostly for funerals. When he did leave, he was escorted by at least two security officers at all times. Looking Glass treated him well, though. He got to see all the first-run movies he wanted in one of the base's auditoriums, his quarters were nicer than his parent's house, and the food was better than his own cooking ever was. The government even flew in professional ladies for him from time to time.
Beyond all that was the lure of the machine, and of the power it charged him with. Once Zaphod was finally completed, he became a constant presence in the control and operations center, silently feeding off of the wayward energy of raw creativity. He and most of the other Looking Glass participants learned to create things from pure imagination, and many bizarre practical jokes were played and responded to. It was this ability that saved his life when Groom Lake died.
Charlie had gotten charged up early in the morning, and set off for his Rhyolite Hills retreat with a picnic basket for three. He got settled, and then used his stored power to create two short-lived simulacra of his favorite porn stars. He was in mid-debauch when things started falling apart, and it wasn't until much later in the day that he realized something was wrong. He stayed out in the hills until the next day. When he returned, everyone was dead and the Grays were poking around the ruins.
Charlie tried to bury the dead, but the first person he tried to pick up was partially resurrected by his touch. He kept screaming from the pain of his unhealed, mortal wounds, but would not die until Charlie cut his head off. Charlie resolved not do that again. With some practice on birds and small animals, he learned to raise the dead, and he and the Grays began trying to undo the damage of February 20th.
Today, Charlie is in high demand as a body sculptor. While there are other body sculptors in Las Vegas, Charlie is without peer for speed and ability. He still raises the dead of Manzanar, but his new passion is crafting perfect breasts and buttocks for the Las Vegas porn industry.
The first rule you must keep in mind when dealing with Coyote is this: trickery and deceit are as much a part of him as his skin is. Trust nothing he does and less of what he says, but always bear in mind that he can and will tell the truth when it suits him - although, if he is telling the truth, it is often a smoke screen to cover up a greater lie.
Coyote is not humanity's enemy, however. To hear him tell it, he has been mankind's one and only true friend since Creator made the world. He brought mankind fire, after all, when all the other spirits thought it was too dangerous for Man to have. Coyote alone thought Man could be trusted. The Creator made Man to be curious, and so it's Creator's fault Man has made so many interesting toys, not Coyote's!
Coyote would much rather entertain beautiful young women and drink heavily than discuss philosophy or science, so getting answers out of him about where he is from and what he wants is difficult at best. Most of the information gathered about him comes from times when he was very drunk and had resorted to bragging to groups of young women in hopes of being invited in to their beds.
He has said that he was always here, and that he had never left; at the same time, he has also commented about how much he had missed the company of young mortal women and strong drink. He says that he has been bringing more secrets from the next world to different humans for some time, although he denies that he was involved with the Essex Phenomenon in any way. Several times he has said that the Change was the fault of Man, only to contradict himself after a few bottles of Tequila and say, "These things happen. You see it when you believe it."
On one occasion, a mythology student cornered him and launched into a detailed and tedious monolog about divine figures appearing under different names and descriptions to all the people of the earth. Coyote let him finish, and then looked at him with alcohol-blurred eyes. "Did you have a question in there somewhere?"
"Yes," said the student. "I did. Did you ever appear in the modern world under any names we would recognize?"
"Yes." Said Coyote.
"Who were you, " cried the student., with visions of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and Gandhi dancing in his head.
Coyote looked at him with utmost seriousness for a few moments, and then replied, "Bugs Bunny".
As the student was foundering around for an answer, Coyote gathered up a group of young ladies and disappeared into the night - only to be found alone the next morning, floating on his back in a hot tub filled with lime Jell-O. The young ladies were all in their rooms, remembering nothing after they went into the night.
Coyote can be a wonderful party guest or a persistent annoyance that just won't leave, depending on his mood and how those around him react to his antics. The best way to get rid of him is to hide the alcohol and hope he gets bored. Becoming angry or upset will just encourage him. He is perfectly capable of being serious and giving good advice to serious problems when he wants to; the trick is to convince him that the issue is a grand injustice or moral wrong that needs to be righted. He loves seeing himself as a crusading hero and champion of the oppressed - that was, after all, how he came to steal fire for Man in the first place.
If you can convince him to help you right a terrible wrong, he will lend you his full support - at least, unless you pass a wet T-shirt contest or overturned beer truck on the way.
Jim Finney grew up in a sweltering mobile home in Charleston, South Carolina. His parents were both High School dropouts and unskilled workers, but they knew the value of an education and drove him relentlessly to excel in school. By the time he entered High School, he was an established 'A' student with a record free of disciplinary issues.
He began working on the school paper at the urging of his favorite history teacher and discovered that he loved journalism. He was editing the paper and producing a public access news show on the local cable network in his junior year when his father was injured on the job. Workman's Comp paid for the physical therapy, but as the time lost from work stretched from weeks into months, the family was forced to use the money set aside for Jim's college tuition to survive.
Although he had been accepted into Dartmouth, Jim was facing the reality that graduation was only weeks away, and that his dreams of a Broadcasting degree were all but unattainable. Scholarships were elusive, and his family's medical bills and existing debt ruled out student loans. Then, a week from graduation, everything changed.
A career counselor had slipped Jim's name to an Army recruiter, who immediately called his latest prospect. The recruiter promised Jim an assignment with Armed Forces Radio - they were always looking for talented writers, and were exploring an MOS as a web designer. He could get valuable experience as a correspondent, earn money for college, take classes while serving, and be able to provide for his parents while doing it. He signed up before anyone knew what he was considering, and shipped out to Ft. Leonard Wood right after graduation.
Of course, the recruiter's reality check bounced, and Private 'Dallas' Finney could do nothing but stare at his duty assignment: drug war operations as part of Joint Task Force 6 out of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Jim enjoyed some parts of it, but all too often their mission would lose focus and become oriented towards detecting and intercepting illegal immigrants rather than drug shipments.
One dark evening in July 2004, Jim and his unit intercepted a truck loaded with $22 million worth of crack. The smugglers opened up on the patrol with AK-47s, killing half of the patrol and the Lieutenant commanding it. Jim was hit in the side, but survived. He grabbed an AT4 antitank rocket launcher and blew the smugglers back to Cartagena.
In the aftermath, he received several commendations and the Purple Heart, along with some extensive therapy. Although his actions were completely within the Rules of Engagement, he began drinking heavily and went into a severe depression. He was reassigned to a desk job and ordered into counseling. He requested a transfer to a non-combat post, but was denied. In December of 2004, he was reassigned back to JTF-6 at the direction of the Task Force's new CO. Jim found himself being pushed back into combat situations on the front lines of drug interdiction. The situation was getting out of control, and JTF-6 walked into an ambush early in the morning of February 13, 2005.
The business associates of the smugglers Jim had dispatched the year before had been spoiling for payback, but they took their time and did it right. They set up a phony truck wreck, making it look like a coyote loaded with undocumented workers had lost control of his van and gone off the road. The JTF-6 patrol stopped to evaluate the situation & render aid if needed. They were so busy being good Samaritans they forgot to be good soldiers.
When the smoke cleared, two JTF-6 members were dead. The survivors were all wounded, some badly. Jim remembered nothing of the incident. The other survivors, however, remembered Jim crouching behind the burning remains of his vehicle, mowing down their attackers with an M-60. He and another soldier held off the attackers long enough for the patrol to get the dead and wounded out of the burning vehicles and under cover.
Jim was released from the hospital in time to be transferred to Colorado with the rest of his unit. They were told that they were being deployed to help contain an outbreak of a terrorist biowarfare agent. The JTF-6 troops were split up and assigned to different patrols for the duration of the emergency. His new CO, Capt. Sylvia Connors, came across as a cold-blooded, fanatical super-patriot. The fact that she was also an NSA spook didn't endear her to him, either. He began watching her carefully. He still considered himself to be an investigative reporter, and her fanatical devotion to carrying out highly questionable orders made him want to expose her and the conspiracy she was supporting.
As it turned out, they were on the same side, each believing the other to be an NSA loyalist.
Survival meant killing, and Jim got to be very good at it. Too good, as a matter of fact. He began to like it, and to look forward to it. He tried very hard to suppress that side of himself; he did not want to think of himself as a cold-blooded killer. His DI had nicknamed him "Dallas" in Basic, and Dallas became the personification of his killer instinct. Dallas was a machine. Dallas was a professional killer. Dallas did it. Jim wouldn't hurt anyone - Jim is a reporter! Reporters report the news, not make it. Jim is a peaceful, neutral observer. Dallas is the bloodthirsty berserker .
When Conners surrendered her command to the Kingdom of the Outlands, Dallas was firmly in charge. His hatred of the NDR was clean and decent and pure. They were put on this Earth to die by his hand - it was God's will and His divine Plan. The rest of the patrol just gave him a little room and let him do his thing. He was very good at keeping the patrol alive, and they knew that.
Dallas may have won the battle against the Overlord of the Bellagio, but Jim is keeping the demesne running from day to day. Jim has started to become the dominant personality again, running his entertainment empire wisely and well. Dallas sees it as some R&R - he's having a good time, and is ready for redeployment at a moment's notice.
Debbie Nicks was an only child, living with her parents in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was an average student - not an outcast, but not part of the popular crowd either. She had a few close friends, male and female. They hung out, listened to music, went to movies, shopped, and gamed together. Her parents would have been shocked to know that 'the gang' occasionally indulged in beer supplied by one of the girls, or marijuana supplied by one of the boys. Debbie was 13, a good student, and a good girl that stayed out of trouble. It never occurred to them that she had a part of her life she kept hidden from them.
On the eve of the Change, Debbie and her family were in Grand Junction. Her Uncle Morty had just died of lung cancer from a lifetime two pack a day habit, and the entire family was gathered for the funeral. Debbie's father Jeff was a still in a fog the day they left to return home. He wasn't quite sure what he was going to do without his brother. Sylvia, Debbie's mom, had to give him a nudge to pull over when they reached the roadblock at the Eisenhower Tunnel. Sylvia turned the radio up and started scanning stations, hoping to hear some news while they waited in line.
Debbie was getting a little antsy as they sat in the car waiting. Given that nothing was moving as far as they could see, Sylvia told her to bundle up good and walk around for a little bit - just stay out of the road and keep the car in sight. Debbie had knelt down to get a closer look at what turned out to be a broken silver bracelet when she noticed men in uniforms walking up to her family's car.
Jeff was a little puzzled when a soldier rapped on the window for him to roll it down, and then asked him and Sylvia to step out of the car. Their jackets said they were NSA. They spoke of a hantavirus situation and requested that both of them submit to blood tests. Sure. After all, it's a matter of public safety. Right?
Jeff was pronounced fine, and was turning to wave Debbie over, when the world stopped. Sylvia was told to step away from the car. She was scared, and was only reaching to Jeff for comfort when the guns came out. The sight of cold metal cleared the last of the fog from Jeff's mind, but far too late. He was demanding to know by what authority . when shots rang out and two bodies fell heavily to the ground.
Debbie couldn't quite believe it. Her parents were sprawled on the ground and there was blood everywhere. She bit her lip so hard it bled, but somehow managed to sneak back into the forest without anyone seeing her. If asked later, she could not tell you how long she ran stumbling through the trees. All she could think about was that her parents would want her to do whatever it took to stay alive.
Near midnight, starving, lost, and half-frozen from the arctic cold of the Continental Divide in February, she found a ski patrol emergency shelter. It had food, blankets, and cooking gear. It also had a radio. What she heard on it convinced her she should not let anyone find her. She ate some soup and cried herself to sleep.
The next day she moved on. She took as much as she could carry and headed south. Two days later, she found what she had been looking for: one of the many derelict cabins, relics of the pioneer days, that dot the high Rockies. She hid in there for shelter, eating MREs, dried apples out of a tin, and melting snow for water. She listened to the radio until the broadcasts stopped, a week later. The radio's batteries died the next day. She made plans to move on - her food was running out, and the high country had lost its charm.
She had been sleeping fitfully when someone shook her gently. She jerked awake, looking up at a woman in uniform. Something stopped her from running from the first friendly face she'd seen since her childhood so abruptly ended.
"I'm Captain Connors," the dark skinned woman told her. "You're going with us."
Debbie learned that Captain Connors and her men were with the NSA, but for some reason the woman was shielding her from the rest of her patrol. Debbie didn't understand the sometimes hateful and sometimes frightened looks she received from the soldiers she traveled with, until she was finally shown a mirror. Ebony skin. White hair. Red eyes. Pointed ears. She'd turned into a dark elf. Why hadn't she noticed before?
Connors and her patrol were looking for shelter - there was a storm coming. Dallas and O'Bannon located a house that looked empty; Connors decided it was a better option than a decrepit, 150 year-old shack. They moved out.
It turned out to be the right decision. The storm lasted almost 30 days, and took three lives. When it was over, Connors decided to head for the nearest city: Montrose.
They were in Montrose Free Zone resupplying when Debbie saw another woman that looked just like her. She hardly dared breathe when the woman went up to Captain Connors. "How much for the girl?" Debbie stared straight ahead, ears buzzing, as the two bartered for her. Finally she was passed to the intense looking woman. "Hi. My name's Olivia, and no one's ever going to hurt you again."
Today, Debbie is an outgoing, irrepressible young woman of 18. The ritual that transformed the house aged and matured her; only a handful of people know that chronologically she is only 14. She is the Alpha bad girl of the Kingdom's teenagers, and seems determined to out-Olivia Olivia in everything but body count. She has been reprimanded by Malcolm and Isadore for "squandering" supplies on rave parties, and her taste for sheer, skintight clothes and shotgun-washed leathers makes boys drool and parents wince.
On the good side, she keeps the teens in line, and directs their rebellion into carefully controlled outlets. Her inherently Machiavellian drow instincts tell her that the teens would be more of a problem without her to serve as both lightning rod and herd dog for them.
She loves Olivia and Connors both, as the best adoptive mothers she could have hoped for. She keeps the broken silver bracelet that saved her life in a shrine to the memory of her parents, along with her school ID and some family photos she had in her fanny pack. Sometimes she sees the ghost of her mother watching her in the mirror. Her mother smiles and blows her a kiss, and always says the same thing:
"Stay alive. No matter what it takes, stay alive!"
Good girls listen to their mothers.