In the land that knows no pardon.

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Venezuelan Presidential Election

Venezuelan Elections

I will keep this as short and simple as possible.

There will be elections for the President of Venezuela. Voting will start on the 7th of August and conclude on the 10th of August. Whoever wins will become the IC President of Venezuela.

Does this mean Venezuela is no longer an empire? No. Venezuela is still an empire, OOCly owned by me. The concept is simply being adapted for public management. Think.. Gothic City. I created and own the thread but there have been mayors and police commissioners and so forth for years without my involvement.

The same concept is being extended to Venezuela. Anyone who wants to run for President of the Shogunate will have the opportunity to do so. Their powers and responsibilities will be the same as those outlined in the CVnU Political rules.

Does that mean Venezuela has 'opted in' to the Political Rules? Not technically, no. Why not? Because when a location 'opts in' it must adhere to the 'Real Life Canon' of a location. In Venezuela's case this would erase the existence of a 100% mutant population (which doesn't exist in real life) and the existence of Vibranium which doesn't exist in real life.

So to be clear Venezuela will still be an empire, which means its canon is still controlled by 'Empire holder fiat'; it still has Vibranium, it is still a nation with a mutant population and still has access to certain minor levels of super-science. Essentially the canon that has been created over the years with Venezuela will not change.

Instead it is IC leadership that will change. For example the new President of Venezuela could declare war on the USA but he couldn't make up a robot army and invade with that because ICly Venezuela doesn't have that much 'super science'. Nor could he make up an army of ten thousand omega level telepaths because, again, Venezuela doesn't have that many omega level mutants in canon.

However he or she could look at the Shogunate account for the canon military of Venezuela and use that. And he or she could look at the Shogunate account for the canon demographics, GDP and resources of Venezuela and use those things. So- much like being the Mayor of Gothic where one has access to the canon resources of Gothic (like a corrupt police department) but cannot fabricate radical canon changes at will (like making up an army of Superman clones one Wednesday.)

That doesn't mean that nothing 'unrealistic' can happen. Venezuela is a comic book nation. IThe President is free to do things that a comic book President would do, such as create super soldiers (Captain America), mutant clones/experiments (Weapon X) or build themselves a suit of Vibranium armor (Black Panther) without even asking me. Just keep in mind that Venezuela is inspired more by comic books like Captain America, Wolverine, Batman and the X-Men and that Venezuelan NPCs and tech level should never overshadow PCs. Ultimately the RPG section is about player characters, not non-player characters.

Should no one run for President than the nation will come under 'NPC' control, the same as other locations like the NYC thread or countries that are largely populated and run by NPCs, such as China and Russia.

TL;DR: Venezuelan canon will remain intact but you can run for President and control the government if you want.

~The Shogun, logging off for the last time :-) (So don't PM this account!)

It's time for the next chapter.
It's time for the next chapter.


STRIKE and Mickey-Mike

Shogunate Palace, Research Wing

Ivana threw open the door to Arrachtech's lab, guitar in one hand, bottle of wine in the other. "Is party time!"

There was no response. She looked around. A handful of lab techs looked back, shifting awkwardly in the silence.

"Where is 'Tach?"

"He isn't here today Ma'am. Something about scanning a dimensional weak spot in the Bermuda Triangle."

"..Okay. Is fine." Ivana plopped down on a lap stool and pointed at the nearest lap tech. Freckled, red haired; he gulped. "You. Have seat. Drink wine. Make.. small talks."

He set, stiff as a board and fumbled when Ivana tossed him the bottle of wine, almost dropping it. Ivana poked at a pistol-like gizmo with a barrel wrapped in wires that glowed fuschia which laid upon the workbench beside them.

"STO-..I mean please do not touch that Ma'am! Graviton beam technology is still highly unstable!"

A sigh. "Okay. So." She turned her blue eyes on the lap tech. "What is name?"

"Mike. I mean, Michael, but my friends call me Mickey."

"Mickey-Mike." Ivana picked up her guitar and strummed a few cords. Slowly the typical workplace commotion returned as the collection of super-scientists went back to their, but muted, strained. "This good name."

Silence stretched out. Michael tugged at the cork on the wine bottle until he finally yanked it free, splashing wine across his lapcoat.

"...this part where you speak thoughts, Mickey-Mike."

"Umm... alright." He tipped the wine bottle back, taking several gulps. "Umm... the situation with STRIKE seems resolved. I assume that's good, right?"

Ivana brightened. "Da. Is good. STRIKE have much money, much tech. But bad diplomacy. Lose Equalizer and America with much quickness."

"Oh! I heard the Amercians sent an ambassador."

"Is true. Diplomatic relations.. how you say.. re-establish. I talk to President. Talk to Secretary of Explosions."

"..Secretary of.. explosions?"

"Figure of speech. America have too many secretary. Everyone secretary of something."

He took another long swig of the wine, cheeks flushing and stiff posture relaxing.

"If I might ask Ma'am, how was this diplomatic maneuver accomplished?"

"Is simple. STRIKE.. modern. Much tech. Ship that fly. Plasma gun. They.. bureaucracy. Leaders are bureaucrat. Not warrior. They count. Count tech. Count money. Count soldier number. This is bureaucrat job. This how-" She tapped a finger against her head. "-mind think."

"They count their side. They count mine. They weigh one, against other." An upturned palm moved up and down as if holding a heavy weight. "When weight favor them, they think 'attack!'. When it not, they not want fight."

"So I call President. He mutant. We have.. connection. Common cause. Not like human; not natural enemy. We agree to make no war. He not attack, or give money to attacker. This threaten STRIKE purse string. Take money away, no year-end bonus. No vacation. No pay raise. Budget become small. This bureaucrat nightmare. So. They count and weigh. They count Equalizer against them. They weigh lose of America money and damage to ship against benefit of attack. Benefit very small. So they make peace."

Absently playing a few cords on the guitar and staring into the distance, deep in thought. "This good decision short term. Bad long term. They play chicken and blink. Quit at first sign of difficulty. Now, respect gone. Now path to beat them known. Heroes doubt resolve of STRIKE, join Equalizer instead. Recruitment problem."

Michael had a lot more wine at this point and was looking much more relaxed. "Interesting! Its a shame the war never started, you know. I have been working on several prototypes that I think you would have loved."


"Absolutely! In fact just yesterday I had the idea of inverting the tachyon matrix with a Fleischer loop! The Shaller feedback should produce a localized high energy burst that-" Ivana's eyes glazed over.

-Five minutes later-

"-then I thought 'Gosh Mickey, why don't you just harmonize the astral quantum with the spooky conduit!' And when I tried it, gee, you should have seen the, please don't touch that, way the needle jumped on the, don't touch that either, electrum dial! That's when I thought 'Eureka! Now all I have to do is-"

Ivana cut him off. "Okay okay. I get picture." Pressing both palms toward him in a 'stop' gesture as she stood.

"You very good at science. But this not work." Holding her guitar in one hand she patted his curly red hair with the other. "Take day off."

"Umm... okay. I mean, yes Ma'am."

Whistling tonelessly Ivana made her exit. There had to be -someone- who knew where Arrachtach was. "Before I lose mind of boringness." She muttered.


Achilles and Hector

Clínica Avila Hospital, Caracas

The air was cool. The hospital was still, the quiet only broken by the beeping of a heart monitor. On the bed lay a blue furred mutant, swathed in bandages, and beside him set the absolute ruler of the worlds only mutant nation.

She tossed her boots up onto the the rail of his hospital bed. Tattooed fingers opened a worn copy of Moby-Dick and read to him.

“ 'There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.' ”

Ivana paused to turn the page and a blue eyelid cracked open.

"Ah, the eloquent prose of Herman Melville."

She looked up at him, a grin crossing her face and bleeding into her eyes like the glow of sunrise warming the clouds. "More like the pretentious babble."

He pushed himself up on his elbows. "You must learn to appreciate the flower of English literature."

She brandished the novel. "This thing is nine hundred pages. Hell of a long book for a fishing trip. Do they even catch the whale?"

"I do not entirely recall, at the present."

"Yeah you didn't finish it did you. You got bored after six hundred pages of nothing and just pretended you'd read it."

"Pfft. I will have you know, I have a most demanding schedule."

"Uh huh." She grinned at him. "I missed you, by the way."

He grinned back. "No great quantity of time has elapsed, I hope?"

"Twenty eight days." Six hours and about twenty two minutes.

"Oh dear. Have I missed a great deal?"

"Little bit. Shawn is out of reach for now. Gothic is Gothicing. Abigail is the new Raysh Al Shaytan of the League of Shadows."

"Abigail? My, that is most intriguing. Most intriguing indeed."

"Yeah." Ivana stared out the window, gaze distant.

"There is some nuance to the situation, I assume?"

"Oh yeah. She really pisses me off."

Arrachtach chuffed with quiet laughter. "Achilles and Hector were never the best of friends."

"I'm not Achilles. Abigail isn't Hector." She frowned and tossed his book to him. "This isn't a story. Its life and I can't stand the self-righteous bitch."

"But you are Achilles. You won an empire with a knife throw. You are Achilles, and Alexander and King Author. Abigail is Prometheus. She is Odysseus. She's a no one from London who traveled around the world with a bow and arrow, and fought with Ivana and Charlemagne. She has stolen fire from the gods. Blinded Cyclops. And it is a story. Its the greatest story ever told. We call it life."

Ivana fell silent, staring out the window at the stars amid the darkness. "I miss Amaranth. He was better at this."

"My dear, Aramanth was a man aware of his own myth. He wore his legend like a cloak. You do not wear anything; you are simply you. A naked blade of rage and pain and will."

A snort. "Yeah, I remember. Amaranth. The man. The myth. The legend. How can I live up to that shit?"

"Be who you are. Live your own legend. You did seize a throne with a knife throw, did you not?"

"That's the problem. I'm the Shogun because I threw a knife. What the hell does that have to do with leading the mutant people?"

"But you were the one with the will to throw it."

"..yeah. Maybe. Still, anyone could have thrown that knife."

"When Amaranth laid siege to the Knightfall's Kamelot his allies did the fighting while Amaranth shot Quintus in the back. That is what legends are -really- made of. A shot in the back. A thrown knife. It is only later they become something more. The deed itself is only the seed."

A comfortable silence fell. Ivana watched the stars, blue eyes far away. Arrachtach read.

"Well. Ready to get out of here?" The Shogun broke the silence after half an hour.

"Indeed. Most ready and eager."

She rose and helped him out of the bed. "You know, sometimes you are a smart guy."

"Sometimes? Gee. How will I live with this honor."

"Shadup." She elbowed him in the ribs as they walked out the door, both smiling.


A Day in the Life

Imperial Palace, Venezuela

The night before bookshelves had been added to the Shogun's quarters. She had her parents books and diaries delivered, now that she could see again.

Absently she lifted one of her mothers diaries from the shelf and turned to the page dated with the day of her birth.

Name: Shirzad Date: November 3, 1980

My daughter was born today. Seven pounds, two ounces. I am very tired.

We named her Ivana.

As I held her for the first time I felt nothing. I do not love her. I cannot describe the horror of this sensation.

The entry ended there. Ivana closed the book and placed it back on the shelf. She knew already.

A block of nutrient cubes set on the glass table in the center of her room. She ate exactly five, her usual breakfast. Brushed her teeth. Showered.

It was Friday and there was an intelligence briefing. She put on her armor, a daily routine. Boots. Utility belt. Breastplate. Knives and a red cloak.

There was a pad of yellow note paper on her dresser. She tucked it under her arm. After the hacking attack she didn't keep electronic notes anymore.

The sunrise glowed through the bay window, casting the room into golds and reds as Ivana walked toward the door.

She doubled over as if struck, the notebook tumbling from her fingers. She groaned involuntary; the sound animalistic, low and thick. Knees half buckled she lost her balance and her shoulder fell into the wall. Breath heaving and ragged she leaned against the cold granite, pressing clenched fists to her face.

Time passed. Her breath stabilized. Her body uncoiled and her shoulders straightened. Armor scraped against stone as she set, leaning her back against the wall.

She dialed Arrachtach. It went to voicemail: 'Greetings and salutations. I am presently unavailable however should you inform me of your identity and the nature of your business I shall endeavor to contact you with all appropriate haste.'


Ivana smiled. She hung up and called back. Over and over, until the sun had fully risen above the horizon.

Then she collected her notebook and went.


The Purge: Raid Epilogue

Clínica Avila Hospital, Caracas

The room was silent save for the beeping of the heart rate monitor. Ivana tossed her helmet into one of the seats as she walked to the bed.

Arrachtach was still. His eyes were closed. White bandages wrapped his blue fur. His broad chest rose and fell. Ivana reached down and interlaced the fingers of her armored hand with his great blue paw. She didn't say anything, just stood beside him and held his hand.

They had both been hurt before. Ivana, many times. Renegades, outlaws, freedom fighters, they had lived on the run for decades. Ivana remembered watching a pool of her blood soak through a dirty mattress after Kolkata. Arrachtach had pulled fourteen bullets out of her with tweezers, a spoon, pliers and a pot of boiling water.

This was new though, she thought looking around at the well equipped hospital. The best equipment money could buy. Staff trained to deal with mutant physiology. Doctors who specialized in traumatic injury.

She pulled up a chair and set down, taking hold of Arrachtach's hand again. She knew she'd be in this room again. At bedside or on the bed. Someday one of them would bury the other. The Shogun didn't look forward to it but it was inevitable. Eventually the odds would catch up with them.

Behind her the door opened, flooding the room with the sounds of the hospital. Respirators and hushed voices and a trolleys wheels on tile.

The Shogun sniffed the antiseptic hospital air. "Skysword." She said, identifying her visitor. "Speak."

"Ma'am. Surveillance footage and scans of latent psychic residue are in. It was a Savage. Shawn, we believe. Rafael is disabled as well. The doctors don't know when, or if, he will recover."

"I see." She was quiet for a time. "Alright. Put the word out. Supervillains. Heroes for hire. Metahuman mercenaries. Anyone, mutant or otherwise. We're hiring and we're going to take the fight to the Savages. Its time to exterminate the virus of Shawn Savage."


The Purge: Prologue

Imperial Palace, Venezuela

The sun had fully risen. Its warm glow filled the sky out the window that ran the entire length of the conference room. Ivana entered the room and set at the head of the table.

To her left, far down the lengthy table set Arrachtach. Laptops and scribbled notes covered the mahogany table in front of him in a half moon of clutter. His white labcoat was stained with chemicals and ink. The blue furred mutant looked up, smiled and pushed his round glasses up on the end of his nose with a sapphire claw.

At her right set a tall, broad shouldered man. A thick mustache covered his upper lip and he was almost completely bald. The solid, thick bones of his face framed stern brown eyes. His broad shoulders squared as he stood at attention and saluted.

"No need for that." Ivana tapped the edge of her brow in a casual return salute, brushing aside the formalities. "Begin when you're ready Charles."

No Caption Provided

"Yes ma'am." He stood and drew a presentation clicker from the breast pocket of his navy blue dress uniform. Click. A projector splashed an image on the far wall.

"Shawn Savage. We've had him under level six surveillance for eighteen months now because of the weaponization potential of his scientific work. Breakthroughs could accelerate the Ghost Rider protocol and project Apollo."

"During a routine psychic snapscan we noticed something unusual on the epsilon markers."

Ivana spoke. "And what did you find?"

"Readings that indicate thought generation in planck time."

The Shogun's brow furrowed and Arrachtach leaned forward.

"If that is true.." The blue mutant said.

"Yessir. Its quantum neural activity. A quantum brain."

"Goddamn." Ivana snapped. "Full spectrum?"

"Yes ma'am. He never deviated. He's thinking faster than the speed of light, all the time. We can't measure how fast without a deeper scan. Obviously-"

"Suicide for the telepath." Ivana said.

"When they filed their findings it triggered an automated high threat alarm. So here I am, giving you this briefing. If I might ask ma'am, why? What is so important about this information? Does it have anything to do with Ghost Rider or Apollo?"

"No." Ivana waved an armored hand. "Nothing to do with Ghost Rider. Apollo either." She paused, contemplating. "Arrachtach, go ahead and fill him in."

The sapphire fur of the mutant rippled as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and asking. "Have you ever heard of a philosophical zombie, per chance?"

"No sir." Charles returned to his seat, unscrewing a bottle of water and sipping while Arrachtach talked.

"It is quite simple really. A philosophical zombie is a being that is essentially a being that lacks qualla or consciousness but is indistinguishable from a living being in every other fashion."

"They have no interior lives. They do not feel pain. They do not feel fear. Or love. Or hope or joy or any other emotion or experience whatsoever. They are machines, the same as a laptop or a cellphone is a machine."

"They imitate a human or mutant being with absolute perfection. When they are burned they cry out in pain. When they are wounded in matters of love they morn. When they lose loved ones they grieve. When their children are born they celebrate. But they feel nothing. They only imitate the behavior that stems from a feeling. They do not even think; they calculate."

"Alright. But what does that have to do with his quantum brain?"

"Everything commander, everything. Your brain, my brain, Ivana's brain, they are all made out of the same physical elements. Neurotransmitters. Synapses. Chemical and electrical impulses. These physical processes constitute qualla, or the experience of things. The 'blueness' of blue or the 'coldness' of cold. For example dopamine and serotonin are virtually entirely responsible for the feeling of happiness. If those two chemicals were to be removed from your mind you would literally never experience sensations of happiness, joy, satisfaction or pleasure."

"The same is true of other experiences. The sensation of, say, this table, is physically located inside your brain. If I were to surgically remove the portions of your brain that 'governed' the sensation of this table then that qualla, that experience would be forever gone from your mind. The physical and the mental are inextricably linked commander. The mind and the brain are one and the same."

"Now take this 'Shawn Savage'. His mind is constructed of particles held in superposition. From the superposition of these particles he calculates, solving formula and algorithms. But he does not experience. He does not feel. He cannot. The physical elements are simply not there. He can no more feel than a fish can fly or a bird can breath under the ocean. He does not even think, not really. He can no more think than can your cell phone. Performing mathematical operations at a great speed is not, and never can be, thought."

"Instead he calculates. He calculates some unfathomably vast social formula and from it he derives reactions that seem human to even the closest observer."

"Its a cruel joke, I'll give you that. But why is it our problem?"

Ivana said. "Because its a mutation. One the Strigidae have encountered before. There is every chance this 'Shawn Savage' will pass the mutation on to its children. And its children will have children themselves and pass it on again. They will reproduce at a greater rate that mutant kind because their social algorithms are perfect. They will attract more romantic partners and are likely to have more children with said partners. And again and again and again, slowly spreading through the mutant population until real mutants are completely replaced by these automatons."

"The last mutant alive won't even know it. We'll be wiped out from within. Replaced by biological machines wearing our faces."

"Quite right. It is not a mutant. It is a retrovirus inside the body of the mutant species, slowly replacing the DNA of the host species with its own until the host becomes the parasite." Arrachtach said.

"That is why Q-brains are classified as Extinction II threats. The extermination of the species is slow but inevitable unless detected and eliminated."

Ivana stood. "Draw up a purge order commander. Shawn Savage has to die."


Born Again

The Cavern

Their was no breeze. The air was chilled. It stank with mold. Steam rose from the pit.

The seven secret masters knelt before the hidden throne.

The Shogun rose from its pitted iron frame. Scar-lined fingers worked the buckles of her armor. She disrobed, setting the vibranium plates aside and striding to the edge of the pit. She removed her cloak.

Nude she stepped into the bubbling liquid. It burned inside her bones and hummed inside her empty eyes.

And then there was pain that was more than pain. It was the pain of life and the pain of growth. The pain of the reversal of decay. It was the pain of moving against The Order of Things. It was the pain of denying time, of returning to a time you had already been.

She refused to scream.

The Order of Things was a one way street. You moved forward through time. Period. Even should you travel backwards in time you still aged. Time travel only changed your starting point. You still moved forward in time from your arrival time.

But in the pit what was old was made new again. What was broken was made whole. What time and space had done was undone.

White hot coals of fire burned in her eye sockets. Life replaced death as the pit reversed order. Terrible, terrible life. Life that should not be. Life that was wrong.

Light entered Ivana's world of perpetual darkness like the spear of a god. Where once there was a pitiless void now rested a pair of deep blue eyes.

The scars of a thousand battles were erased. Post concussion syndrome healed in a heartbeat. The ravages of age: gone.

Ivana shook with the vitality of youth. And more-- a vast and terrible energy, a madness, the afterproduct of a universal truth denied infused her. Cosmic entropy.

Only an adamatine will saved her from madness.

But it took something from her. As she become more, she also become less. As it has always been, as it would always be and inside of a heartbeat she knew that her bloodbending and shadow walking were irrecoverably lost. She was stripped of her connection to all things mystical, to all magical energies, to all chi and ki and aura and spirit.

It was a terrible price for a terrible deed and once done it could not be undone.

No Caption Provided

The hands of time turned back and as Ivana climbed from the bubbling pit golden liquid dripped from her body; a body restored to the prime of its life.

The greatest power was returned to her; the power of youth.

She collected her cloak. The seven secret masters did not speak. They were there only to witness the abomination of the Mysteries. To see what should not be seen.

Ivana armored herself once more.

Her kingdom awaited.