As you explore through this wiki, several terms and phrases appear with frequency. Some of these words represent slang, others refer to technology, types of individuals, or events. The more important and common terms are described below.
Altered: Describes a human who has undergone permanent alteration in some way through the use of nanotechnology, genetic manipulation, cybernetics, magic, or some-thing else. This is different from a mutant, an individual born with significant differences in his DNA from human baseline. Certain corporations and organizations specialize in creating altered meta-humans, such as the BioMed Tech Corporation.
Barrier: The region between trans-dimensional dominions. Some researchers believe the Barrier resembles outer space, while others believe it somehow intersects with our dreams and nightmares. Regardless, humanity knows little about this unusual realm. The creation of a gateway breaches the Barrier, after which time the Barrier struggles to repair the rift. The act of opening a hole in the Barrier requires tremendous amounts of enegy.
Codename: The majority of metahumans who choose to use their powers make use of a codename, much in the same way that combat pilots operate under codenames. This is done for a variety of reasons. First, a codename is often better to use than one’s real identity; many metahumans prefer to maintain a secret identity. Second, codenames prove less confusing and more memorable in combat or other stressful situations. Third, a metahuman who does not pick a codename will inevitably be assigned one by the media, and it rarely is a codename he will appreciate.
Many codenames sound, by themselves, somewhat melodramatic, but such has become accepted practice. Some codenames are descriptive, while others represent little more than an inside joke.
Costume: Metahumans fighting in World War II first began the tradition of wearing bright, colorful, or unusual costumes. These “uniforms” set these superheroes apart from the average soldiers, and served to raise morale and draw attention of the enemy.
After WWII, costumes remained an ongoing tradition. Superheroes, whether in the employ of government or operating independently, wore costumes or uniforms to highlight their status and for dramatic effect.
Demon: Slang term that describes any sentient creature from another dominion. A demon need not be ugly or evil, and may even appear as a normal human. Local populaces often use “demon” interchangeably with “foreigner” or “alien.” Dimensional travelers can and do elicit strong reactions amongst a dominion’s inhabitants. Not to be confused with the villainous organization known as DEMON.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS): A branch of the United States government. Originally formed by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to deal with the growing worldwide terrorist threat, the DHS now has considerable jurisdiction over meta-human affairs.
The DHS maintains the impressive Meta-Human Registry, a database of meta-human, paranormal, and supernatural activity over the past 60 years.
Dominion: An alternate universe accessed through a gateway. To date, scientists have documented 23 distinct dominions separate from Earth’s.
Future Solider Program (FSP): A U.S. military research and design program initiated in 1982 to build the latest generation of soldier. The goal is to create the world’s deadliest soldiers through technology and genetic manipulation. Many companies have pursued this elusive prize (often referred to as the “F prize”) with mixed results. Some of these “super soldiers” have turned out to be nothing more than psychotic ex-criminals with violent tendencies. Other volunteers have turned into genetic horrors straight out of a Stephen King novel.
CrossTech Industries, BioMedTech, and WarTech, Inc. have proven most successful in this program. Of these corporations, BioMedTech has had the greatest number of successes, but also some of the most spectacular (and dangerous) failures.
Increasingly, the government, public, and the media have balked at the tremendous amounts of money that continues to pour into the FSP. The director of the FSP, Gentry Tremaine, nonetheless enjoys widespread support in the current administration. His oft-stated comment is that the next war will be “genetic, not nuclear.” Speaking before a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Mr. Tremaine stated, “Every industrialized nation in the world, whether it admits it or not, has or is establishing a program to produce metahumans at will. These men and women will be the soldiers of the future. They will be the weapons with which we fight the next war. If we lose this arms race, we become nothing more than a third-rate superpower at best. We cannot stand idly by and allow terrorist states such as North Korea and Iran to construct armies of supermen—we must be prepared.”
The FSP has also produced a staggering array of technological systems, including super-computers, armored battlesuits, weapons, satellites, offensive weapons, and the like. WarTech leads the field in producing technological weapons, while CrossTech has been the most successful at producing computers, vehicles, and satellites.
Gateway: A trans-dimensional portal cutting through the Barrier from one dominion to another. A gateway exists as an anchored, stable two-way door of virtually any size, although most gateways remain less than 100 feet across in diameter due to the tremendous energy demands involved. Travel through a gateway is typically instantaneous, although disorienting for the inexperienced.
A gateway is different from a Rift. A rift represents a brief, often accidental, hole in the Barrier. Because the Barrier regenerates, a typical rift closes within a few seconds to minutes.
Dominion Technologies, Inc. stands as the sole entity responsible for constructing gateways on Earth, and they maintain a virtual monopoly on the technology involved, much to the chagrin of many governments and other corporations.
Gateway: If the appearance of metahumans changed human history forever, the discovery of “gateway” technology has had an equally profound effect on the course of events. Indeed, the use of gateways may well prove crucial to Earth’s survival, or it may prove the most disastrous discovery ever made.
In its current parlance, the term “gateway” describes a door from one dimension to another, similar in concept to a wormhole in space, but this connection traverses the space between dimensions. By stepping through a gateway, an individual could travel from this world to another, parallel world, or to a dimension unlike anything a human being could comprehend.
Discovery of the first gateway was entirely accidental; indeed, it is possible the first manmade gateway occurred without anyone’s realization, although we may never know for certain.
The first known manmade gateway appeared during the Project Gnome nuclear weapon test on December 10th, 1961. This test, the first to take place beyond the Nevada Test Site, detonated a 3.1 kiloton nuclear weapon underground. Although the detonation was supposed to seal itself, something bizarre occurred. Instead of collapsing the ground, the explosion left behind a brief dimensional rift.
The scientists observing the blast recorded the existence of the rift, but had no explanation for what it was or why it formed. The discovery sparked tremendous controversy. The dominant theory suggested that the explosion formed a split-second transdimensional “tear” at ground zero. Based on the evidence available, such a rip in the dimensional barrier lasted for less than a tenth of a second before collapsing. During that time, small quantities of matter entered the rift and left this world, with a commensurate release of energy into this world.
As the nuclear tests continued and grew in scope, a secret cadre of U.S. scientists observed and studied gateway formation. Due to the tremendous energy released by a detonation, their ability to collect data remained limited. Nonetheless, they understood the basic concept involved – the sudden conversion of matter to energy formed an opening from this reality into some other reality. Could this “rift” be created intentionally and, more important, could they stabilize it for any length of time?
Incursion: An invasion from one dominion into another, or the appearance of a major disturbance originating from a different dominion. Most often, the term applies to intrusions into Earth from other dimensions. One of the most spectacular incursions ever recorded occurred in 2006 and involved a flight of dragons. The largest recorded incursion to date was the Terminus Incursion of 1990.
Magic: Does magic exist? This question receives many different answers, depending on the speaker and their beliefs and knowledge. At one time not long ago, scientists and people of education scoffed at such a notion; magic was nothing but ignorance and foolish superstition.
With the advent of gateways, however, the truth becomes somewhat blurred. Based on the available evidence, it appears that a form of “magic” does indeed exist – “magic” meaning a force that so far eludes explanation. How magic works, why it works, and the other details all remain a mystery. To date, the laws of physics have failed to explain magic or how it functions.
Mystery or not, superstition or not, there are nonetheless individuals who perform deeds that can only be classified as magic. Whether “magic” is connected to quantum mechanics or something even less understood, it exists and affects the world.
At present, only a few people native to Earth know how to use magic to any degree. Creatures from other dimensions apparently possess greater capacity or ability to understand and control magic.
Magic also manifests in other ways, including the apparent existence of vampires, werewolves, dragons, ghosts, and other supposedly supernatural phenomenon.
Masks: One of many terms used to describe meta-human vigilantes and agents, a reference to a mask or similar head covering to protect a meta’s secret identity. Other terms include, but are not limited to, aberrants, capes, freaks, and supers.
Mecha: A term that originated from Japanese manga and anime to describe stories with large, mobile robot war machines. The term has entered common usage and typically refers to armored battle suits, man portable tank units, and robotic security devices. With the appearance of increasingly powerful meta-humans, numerous corporations have constructed and sold mecha defense systems. Numerous cities, corporations, government institutions, and even wealthy households now employ mecha units for security, defense, and as deterrents.
Meta-human: The official accepted name for humans with superhuman powers, regardless of the source. A meta-human may have powers or abilities from genetics, technology, magic, or other. Over 80% of meta-humans originate from possessing the Daedalus virus.
Metahuman Registration Act: Passed in 1952, the MHRA required all metahumans either register with the U.S. government or be treated as enemies of the state. In the midst of Cold War fears and worries about the Soviet Union, many people in and out of government believed that unregistered metahumans posed a serious threat to national security. Senator Joe McCarthy, during his drive to expose communists in government, also worked hard to expose communists amongst the metahuman population. As a result, dozens of metahumans went to prison for either being unregistered, being communist, or both.
Enforcement of the MHRA faded during the 1960s as the U.S. government faced other problems. In many cases, the government tacitly allowed unregistered metahumans in exchange for their assistance during the Vietnam conflict. Throughout the 1970s and early 80s, the MHRA was little more than a hollow shell.
After the Terminus invasion in 1993, the MHRA was revived for different reasons. At the height of the invasion, the U.S. government desperately needed metahuman assistance in several key areas. Ultimately, metahumans helped stop the invasion and defeat Terminus. Afterwards, the government wanted to maintain tabs on all metahumans. Thus, the MHRA became a form of selective service. The government maintains metahuman registration for two reasons: 1) to know the overall abilities and location of metahumans in case of emergency or national threat, and 2) to know what types of metahumans may pose a security risk to the country.
At present, the Department of Metahuman Affairs (DoMHA) maintains the metahuman registry database, and is responsible for locating and tracking metahumans in the U.S. and around the world.
Mundanes: One of many terms used to describe standard Earth humans, i.e., humans without meta-human powers, traits, or potential. Other common terms include “normals” and “flats.”
Mutant: In the realm of meta-humans, a mutant is a human born with significant genetic variations from the human genome. These mutations have led to the development of unusual powers and abilities. The largest percentage of meta-humans are mutants.
Mythologicals: A slang term used to describe creatures from other dominions analogous to mythical Earth creatures. Examples include vampires, werewolves, dragons, and ghosts. Many sociologists theorize that many Earth myths originated with creatures from other dimensions, creatures that visited Earth.
Posse Comitatus: A Latin term meaning “county force.” Originally, the term referred to common law and the formation of local militia to deal with problems. In the age of meta-humans, many meta-groups and organizations cite posse comitatus as the legal precedent for conducting vigilante crime fighting. Because of the existence of many dangerous and rogue meta-humans, there remains some logic behind this concept.
Psionic: A term used to describe mental-based meta-human powers and abilities such as telekinesis and telepathy. At one time, such abilities were considered unlikely. Today, the existence of psionic abilities stands as proven fact.
Registry Act: In 1951, the U.S. Congress passed the Registry Act (also known as the Bidwell-McCarthy Act). The act came into being after the revelation that a Soviet meta-human undercover agent helped two individuals (Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess) defect to Moscow. These individuals provided vital information to Moscow regarding the atom bomb.
The Registry Act required all meta-humans to register with the Federal government or risk arrest. Furthermore, the act provided strict penalties for meta-humans who injured civilians, interfered with official acts, or risked national security. Despite the growing presence of meta-humans, the Registry Act remains valid and enforced.
Rift: A rift represents a temporary tear in the fabric between dimensions. A rift functions much like a man-made gateway with several differences. First, a rift appears as a result of high-yield matter-energy conversions. Second, a rift remains unstable and temporary. Finally, a rift can sometimes pull nearby matter into it when first opened. Some countries and organizations without access to stable gateways make use of rifts for dimensional travel. A rift is fundamentally a dangerous, flawed, and unpredictable event, and should be treated with extreme caution.
Street Level: A phrase used to describe vigilante crimefighters. A “street level” vigilante often relies on skill, training, and devices rather than meta-human powers and abilities. The Raven and the Lurker are examples of two such crimefighters. Most law enforcement agencies disapprove of vigilantism.
Strike Force: A euphemism used to describe government-sanctioned meta-human groups. Most governments maintain their own meta-human units, both overt and covert, for conducting missions related to national security. At present, the U.S., China, and Russia possess the greatest number of these strike force units.
Supergroup: Many meta-humans band together in groups for common safety, protection, or to pursue a common goal. Although the media often divides these into “superhero” and “supervillain” groups, a more accurate categorization would denote a group’s patron or mission. Many groups enjoy government funding or sanction. Other groups possess corporate funding. A few groups band together without outside support. Most groups congregate around major metropolitan areas.
Threat Level: A code system using certain letters of the Greek alphabet. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security established the system to describe the approximate danger or threat level a meta-human poses in a given situation. The levels include (from least serious to most): Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Epsilon, Zeta, Omicron, Sigma, Upsilon, and Omega. An Alpha level threat represents a minor incident, while an “Omega” level threat represents an extinction-level danger to Earth (and beyond).
Transdimensional Harmonics: The under-lying theory for gateway technology. According to the theory, creating a transdimensional portal involves manipulating energy harmonics at the quantum level. The process demands extraordinary levels of energy, and the expense involved in constructing a permanent gateway is enough to bankrupt most small countries. At present, Dominion Technologies, Inc., holds a virtual worldwide monopoly on stable gateway construction. DTI works closely with civilian governments when deciding where to open a gateway.
Turing Computer: Popularly known as an “artificial intelligence (AI),” a Turing computer possesses self-awareness, the capacity to learn, and the capacity to evolve. Once only a dream of science fiction enthusiastics, artificial intelligence has become reality. Several corporations now construct AIs, including Paragon Innovation Industries, Inc. The term comes from the Turing Test, established by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper entitled, “Computing machinery and intelligence.”
UNISON: The United Nations International Superhuman Oversight Network (UNISON) is a U.N.
task force with the mandate to locate and track metahuman activity around the world. UNISON maintains several branches, including a special forces unit, a metahuman task unit (with rotating membership from different U.N. member nations), and a logistics & support unit. UNISON operates throughout the world, but traditionally only where permitted. If a country refuses access to UNISON, then the organization must abide by that nation’s decision.
When necessary, UNISON acts like a metahuman police force. At times, they combat metahuman threats. At other times, they deal with rogue, out of control, or unstable metahumans.
The United States rarely permits UNISON to operate within its national borders. In the U.S., DoMHA performs the functions that UNISON performs.
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