Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Centurions Universe Realm


The third major setting for my erotica takes place in what appears to be a fully-realized comic book reality, where superheroes with all sorts of back stories and powersets exist, and any number of crazy events take place. Initially conceived as a “generic” superhero world, similar to Marvel or DC, in reality, I never really fleshed it out at all, content with little snippets of stories that don’t even properly explain the setting.

In hindsight, I wish I’d picked something a lot less elaborate; the Centurions are designed for multiple levels of adventure, but basically start at “save an entire country” to “save the entire galaxy.” Now, if I want to keep doing superhero erotica, I’m kind of stuck with the Centurions, since I don’t want to have to re-establish yet another setting just for some more side-snippets.

Except, of course, I have not touched the Centurions in years anyway, and I realized that since I never really did explain anything about the setting, I realized the perfect way to fill the gaps. Why not just cheat with another set-up I already invented as an alternative setting for the Sex Mage World: what if the Centurions Universe isn’t a whole universe at all, but a Fae Lord Realm?

I already explained how the Fae Realm, the Fae, the Fae Lords and their personal little Realms work in the Dellissa’s World article, but in brief: the ethereal reality of the Fae exists in a state of pure existential potential. It is a universe perpetually in a state of being un-formed, but, its essence can be molded by a powerful sapient mind. While most Fae are just little nodes of energy with no real form or mind, they are drawn to the sapience of other creatures, and can adapt an identity when they are summoned, or stumble into, to a physical world, such as Earth or Civero. When they return to the Fae Realm, they lose their identity and dissolve.

Fae Lords are powerful Fae creatures that retain sapience and form when they return to the Fae Realm, becoming, in essence, a truly independent being. However, even these beings will be slowly eaten away by their home reality, and thus in order to maintain their form, they must mold a reality around themselves, using their power and influence to create a “bubble” of existence within the Fae Realm. Within this bubble, they can create an actual world that more resembles something we know as a reality. This reality may be familiar to us, or may be completely alien, but still actually follows a set of physical laws, instead of endless not-yet-existence that most of the Fae Realm consists of.

The Centurions Universe is, unlike most Realms, actually a joint project by several Fae Lords to create a superhero universe based on fictional concepts from Earth. Rather than blatantly copy a single pre-existing world, the Fae Lords created their own “original” reality, using the idea of the Centurions as their baseline.

It’s not known when this was actually done, as the Fae Realm doesn’t really have time as we know it, and Fae Lord Realms can operate at whatever time scales the Lords wish. The Centurions Universe seems to have a history stretching back at least as long as Earth’s, since that is what it was based on, and certain entities and worlds within the Realm claim even older origins. However, it is definitely known that the Fae Lords got the idea for this project by seeing superhero comics from Earth.

Interestingly, the creation of the project was so spectacular, that ripples of the concept echoed across the veils of dimensions, showing sapient minds in other universes glimpses of their new world through dreams and visions. Thus, this may have influenced the concept of “superheroes” across human history. Perhaps the reason ancient humans may have invented the old gods and demigods and mythical heroes and monsters, and eventually pulp heroes and superheroes, was because of the Centurions Universe coming into existence. With the Fae Realm, such a cyclical time loop of inspirations is certainly possible.

Indeed, this influence was so substantial, that the Centurions themselves actually became a comic book property on Earth and Civero. Of course, whether any of the characters or events in either world’s comic books are in anyway accurate to the Realm is difficult to tell. Given the shifting nature of the Centurion’s own reality, it’s unlikely to be a consistent match for long.

As Fae Realms go, the Centurions Universe is unprecedented in scale, being a rough sphere one hundred thousand miles across. Within this sphere is mostly “empty” space, the center of which is a planet just like our Earth. Orbiting this world is a moon and a moon-sized star, which functions as the Sun. Stars and other planets also appear to exist in this world, but in fact, are simply illusions appearing the inside of the great bubble of reality the planet is housed in. However, it is a perfect illusion that can fool even advanced science with it’s astronomical precision. Even the moon and sun appear to operate on a heliocentric model, instead of the geocentric one it actually is.

At the end of this miniature universe is an impenetrable wall that warps space, sending anyone heading into it back the way they came without them deliberately turning around. Should anyone somehow circumvent this barrier, they will be dumped into the Fae Realm, and likely be destroyed by the not-yet-existence that the Realm is made of. Then again, depending on the powers they have as a superhero or supervillain, they might not have a problem surviving, or even manipulating their immediate surroundings in the Realm for themselves, if only temporarily.

Unlike most Fae Realms, Earth in this case is an actual replica of the entire planet, as well as its Moon, albeit it dotted with numerous exotic locations that can’t be found on our Earth. Such locations may include a hidden “underworld”, a tropical region of the Antarctic that holds ancient creatures of the past, underwater cities built with the advanced science of lost civilizations, hidden societies of talking animals, ancient ruins built by pre-history alien visitors, encampments of monsters and demons from other dimensions, exotic and mysterious uncharted islands, breathable atmosphere on the moon, etc. Essentially, if a plot-inducing trope or setting cliché exists in pulp adventure stories or superhero comics, something like it probably exists in the Centurion’s Earth somewhere, at some point. The biggest and most blatant element of this, of course, is the existence of the superheroes and supervillains themselves.

And yet, somehow, with all this crazy, exotic stuff existing, with the super powered shenanigans going on, the majority of the world manages to mostly resemble of our modern Earth. Sometimes it resembles our world as of a few decades ago, other times it may resemble our world as it might be a few decades from now. Either way, the existence of aliens, magic, and super technology strangely never seems to radically impact human progress, history, or day to day living all that much.

As such, bizarre as it may seem, human history on Earth generally resembles that of our real world, even when it wouldn’t really make sense to. Somehow, whenever there were visitations from aliens and gods in the past, some major event got rid of them all so human society could advance into what we would recognize today, relatively unimpeded. Somehow, when scientific geniuses invent radical new technologies that could revolutionize the course of human civilization, something always gets in the way of making such technologies common place. A mundane status quo must be maintained so as to make the grandiose adventures of the superhumans seem all the more glamorous, harrowing, and amazing. And to make things even more strange, the details of such things aren’t always consistent. While no one on Earth, is aware of any sudden changes, alterations to the setting can occur fairly often.

To an outsider able to observe the world, the history of the Centurions Universe is downright confusing, as it is subject to change by the whims of the Fae Lords, who love to experiment with new ideas. In this way, the universe is subjected to the sorts of infamous reboots and retcons that plague many long-running superhero publications. While the Fae Lords must all agree with one another to do any large-scale radical changes, small alternations of the setting or to a specific heroes backstory occur here and there. Overall, the Centurions Universe is on something of a time loop. Approximately every ten years, the Fae Lords do an overhaul of the setting, updating or downgrading it, altering the general tone of the world, swapping histories around, and usually starting the whole thing over. Veteran superheroes return to being rookies, while dead characters are revived and reinterpreted. New characters are added to the world and given a chance to make a mark, while unpopular ones are erased from existence.

Other worlds do not exist in this Realm, but superheroes and villains find themselves going off planet with some frequency. Be it through teleportation, sub-space travel, Faster Than Light ships, etc, superhumans find themselves on other worlds at least a few times in their heroic or villainous careers.

Such worlds are actually another layer of illusion. The Moon is often the staging ground for such excursions, radically altered by the Fae Lords into whatever form it needs to take to look like another planet, although from Earth, it will still appear as a normal moon. Once the superhumans are finished with their task, the Moon is restored to it's normal dusty ball surrounded by vacuum. Several of these worlds are held in a sort of back-up state in small hidden bubbles deep within the Moon's surface, to make them easy to reform.

In other cases, the superhumans are instead transported to other, much smaller Fae Realms, pocket dimensions adjacent to the Centurions Realm. In this latter case, this is usually what accounts for "magical" dimensions such as Heaven and Hell, as opposed to the extra-terrestrial worlds. These realms may be temporary, dissolved when they have served their purpose, or may belong to other Fae Lords who are amused by the sudden appearance of colorful new visitors and decide to play along.

Some of the aliens and magical beings on Earth among the superhuman community claim to have come from these other planets and realms, but all are either lying outright, or are being influenced by false memories.

Most intelligent alien species are quite humanoid, however exotic they may look, and use equivalents to Earth technologies, albeit more advanced, or stranger in form. Their societies are also close enough humans that even if an Earthling was stranded in the middle of one, they could reasonably figure things out via context. However, even then, most alien races have easy means of universal translation, so communication is almost never an issue.

Most intelligent magical species resemble creatures of Earth mythology, and use magic systems based on Earth concepts. Likewise, they too can easily communicate with others via translation magic.

There are a few truly alien locations, beings, and mysteries that would completely boggle the mind of your average, or even highly intelligent person. Some, however, are very occasionally seeded into the world, just to spice things up for the heroes, villains, and adventurers.

Generally speaking, outer space in the Centurions Universe is more survivable and more convenient to travel through than on Earth. The millions of complications and risks that exist in our world seem largely circumvented. Exactly how “safe” space can be has varied from time to time, but generally speaking, there is no threat of high radiation bands anywhere, it’s possible to survive in the vacuum unprotected for a couple minutes (especially during a dramatic escape or rescue), micrometeoroids aren’t an issue, and space-faring technology just seems overall easier to build and more reliable to use. Of course, there isn't really anywhere to go other than the Moon, unless the Fae Lords arrange otherwise.

As seen in Dellissa’s Sex Mage Island, the majority of a Fae Lord Realm’s inhabitants tend to be either Pantomimes (pre-programmed mystical constructs that resemble living creatures, but aren’t actually sentient, and tend to comprise a great bulk of “background characters” in a world) or Lesser Fae (less powerful Fae creatures who are dependent on existing worlds to obtain and maintain an identity, and who fulfill roles to such a degree of dedication, that they essentially forget they aren’t really the being they are pretending to be).

The Centurions Universe once again proves to be unprecedented in the sheer number of actual real beings from the material realm that Earth and Civero are a part of. Nearly the entire population of their faux-Earth are real humans stolen from Earth or Civero. This is firstly because they simply need that many sapients to properly anchor their world's reality due to it's size, and secondly because it's already difficult enough to trick super geniuses, psychics, and master sorcerers that they are in a real universe without every non-superhuman they encounter giving away the secret.

How exactly the Fae managed to just up and steal billions of humans without anyone on Earth noticing, is unknown. It’s possible that they have yanked people from all across human history, which may account for a great many still unsolved single or mass human disappearances. It is also possible that only a few hundred people were stolen, and then mass-cloned, with the clones all cosmetically and genetically altered into new people. Within their own realms, the Fae Lords are as good as omnipotent, so anything is really possible, especially with several working in tandom.

Now, all that said, technically the vast majority of the Centurion Universe inhabitants are still Pantomimes and Lesser Fae. However, Pantomimes account for all other species in the world, with lesser Fae playing the roles of aliens, magical creatures, and other non-human sapients found on Earth.

At least two to three million humans exhibit superhuman powers. They can be natural-born mutants, psychics, mutations created from toxic or nuclear accidents, cyborgs, mad scientists, witches, human/alien or human/supernatural hybrids, etc. “Superhumans” who are Earth-allied aliens or magical creatures are almost always Lesser Fae, pretending to be so, although again, they sink into their roles so completely, they essentially forget they aren’t the thing they are pretending to be.

The life of a superhuman is full of adventure. The superhumans are the stars of the universe, the whole reason the Realm was created, and almost all of them become wrapped up in exotic, high-stakes action at one point or another. While a good deal of superhumans may remain neutral for most of their lives, inevitably, the acquisition of super powers means at least one major, and/or several minor, events will drag the superhuman into a fateful conflict.

A small percentage of these superhumans will take on a lifestyle of heroism or villainy. If the superhumans are the stars, than the superheroes and supervillains are the main characters of the setting. Superheroes and Supervillains are remarkable, even among other superhumans, because of the power of their conviction, and because the narrative laws of the universe give great weight to their decisions and actions.

This is not to say that they are one-dimensional. First and foremost, these people are superhumans. They have all the foils and flaws that humanity brings. Their morality is not strictly black and white (at least, not in most versions of the world). However, their great destinies and amazing powers give them a force of persona, a force of conviction, that bolsters them to become living legends.

Superheroes and supervillains do not bend against the mundane, are not dissuaded by the more petty set-backs and indignities of reality, and can shake off the trauma of terrible events far more easily. More than anything, they embody the Will to Power: a superhero or supervillain will stand, to the very last breath, against the entire world, for what they know is right or for the sake of their ambitions. Against impossible odds, they may still, somehow, someway, achieve victory. This is not always guaranteed, of course, but it’s worth noting that sometimes, not even death will stop a hero or villain from making one last push. So powerful is this influence, that reality itself may bend to turn the odds in their favor against more mundane enemies.

Now, just imagine what happens when a superhero and supervillain, both with an equal Will to Power, come into conflict? In many ways, the physical and mental battles these beings perform with their powers is just symbolic of the sheer force of Will the two are engaging in. While it’s not particularly likely that a Spider-Man level hero has a chance of directly defeating a Superman level villain, over the course of their battle, should the less-powerful hero’s Will be stronger, circumstances may contrive to grant advantages or opportunities to give him a fair shot at defeating the much more powerful villain.

(Incidentally, this is also why some superheroes or villains are capable of resisting or putting up a fight against things they shouldn't. A "normal human" superhero that somehow manages not to be liquefied by a punch from a super strong enemy, instead only catching a glancing blow. An even more glaring example would be a superhero that can somehow fight telepathic mind control or spiritual possession, despite not having an ounce of psychic or mystical powers of their own.)

This is literally a fundamental force of the Centurions Universe Realm, although no one in the Realm knows this. And this power can even be carried with them, to a limited degree, to other worlds as well. Should a human superhero or villain from the Realm find themselves on Earth or Civero, they will find that their powers can still mostly function, and that even the crushing limitations of “normal” reality bares down on them less than it does the native inhabitants. A superhero or supervillain from the Centurions Universe should never, under any circumstances, be underestimated, as their conviction can literally bend the odds in their favor.

The main notable “gimmick” in this universe, as superhero worlds go, is the formation of the Centurions, a large organization composed of the strongest and most experienced superheroes, all coming together into a single network of ten teams of ten. While other smaller-time heroes and teams do exist, the Centurions are the team that handles the big-time threats, and they are the team almost everyone aspires to join someday.

Of course, this also means they are the team all the villains tend to go after first when revenge is on the mind, or they attempt pre-emptive strikes on the heroes. The main point of the Centurions network, other than to better cover territory and share information, was so that if any one team of heroes gets into trouble, at least a few others are there to help rescue them. Likewise, every team has at least one, sometimes two, heroes whose talents or skills fall under one of several important Archetypes, to ensure they all have their bases covered. This includes having at least one Physical Powerhouse, one Gadgeteer, one Sorcerer, one Psychic, one Martial Arts Expert, one Elemental, one Speedster or Teleporter, etc.

Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Theta, Lambda, and Sigma Teams are considered “city-to-country” level groups in terms of threat scale any one of them can handle. Alpha and Omega teams are each considered “continental” scale and consist of the most powerful of the heroes. These Teams will join forces as needed, to easily reach “planetary” or “solar system” scale. They have even, on occasion, saved the entire “galaxy” with the help of more heroes from Earth, and alliances with heroes from other worlds. It is largely because of the Centurions that the Will to Power effect favors the heroes, with so many “good” people outnumbering the major villains, and ensuring that even if the villains have occasional victories, they will never manage to fully conquer or destroy the world.

Certain members of the Alpha and Omega teams, and a few of their enemies, are aware that they are all living in a Fae Lord Realm, but they have chosen not to reveal this to their fellows. Their world is generally stable, the big retcons aside, and considering that billions of people, humans and Lesser Fae, have been living here for who knows how long, it probably wouldn’t really solve anything to try and escape. Besides, where could they even send an entire planet full of people, without the help of the Fae Lords to just build them another world again? Besides, a world of endless adventure at least gives people a sense of genuine purpose that is usually lacking in most realities.

Of course, a few of the heroes and villains are themselves the Fae Lords in their favored guises. Obviously, they don’t reveal this, and even their own allies who are aware of the Realm don’t actually know who the Fae Lords are. And they never will, as far as the Lords are concerned.

Ten Fae Lords are known to have had a hand in creating the Centurions Universe. At least five more have joined their ranks since its creation, and three have left or died, resulting in their “currently” being twelve Fae Lords running the show. Almost all of them take a role as significant members of the superhero and supervillain communities, or as leaders of the “alien” and “magical” realms.

Zalim takes the form of a powerful Archangel, dressed in long robes, who came to Earth to drive away evil demons and deadly monsters. He is currently a member of the Centurions Alpha Team. The actual “character” of Zalim is usually a puppet construct the Fae Lord operates from afar, but actual threats to the Realm will prompt him to make a direct appearance.

Mutro takes the form of a hulking insectoid-lizard alien creature, who rules the hive planet Mutus. His powerful legions of monstrous troops appear as roiling masses of heavily mutated humanoids, mockeries of flesh with alien mind-sets. Mutusians are one of the more blatantly inhuman creatures of the realm.

Helfyre is the self-proclaimed Lord of Hell, and while he is known to shape-shift into various forms, his default form is of the classic, horned and hoof-footed devil figure. He leads a seemingly endless legion of demons, devils, and hell beasts.

A humanoid giant with four-arms and the head of an elephant. He is worshipped in parts of India and China as a living god of good fortune and wisdom, performing minor miracles as he travels the Asian continent. He is one of the few neutral “superhumans” and a master of martial arts. Several prominent heroes and villains renowned for their combat prowess have trained under him.

Taking the form of a blue-skinned merman who can shift from human-sized to whale-sized, Mantara is the self-proclaimed “King of the Seas”, and his powers include immense strength, control of water and air, and telepathic command of all sea-life. A brooding figure, he has battled both heroes and villains who dare to plunder his oceans of ancient artifacts and deep mysteries that should remain buried.

Grubu is a living mass of sludge the size of a city, who is the guardian deity of the Mud Men, earth elementals that rise from caves systems and tar pits on Earth, but who supposedly come from the “Elemental Plane of Mud.”

Mekaton takes the form of a powerful humanoid robot, a living machine that embodies the archetype of the robot supervillain who wishes to eradicate all life for being “too chaotic.” Although said to have been “created on Earth”, Mekaton supposedly rules a small moon of an alien gas giant, which he has converted into a giant robotic city. Powered by mad science devices, Mekaton is a frighteningly efficient and callous villain, and yet, the Fae Lord always manages to secretly sabotage his own efforts so he never actually wins.

A Grim Reaper like figure, who represents the cosmic force of Death. The Harrow takes no sides, but has been known to make special arrangements with heroes and villains, and is the reason some deceased people end up coming back to life.

An “honorary” Fae Lord, Master Mage is actually one of the Maji, the god-like sorcerers that once ruled Civero. During the Dark War, the Maji known as Astarion battled the traitorous Maji Zane. Zane managed to banish Asterion into the Fae Realm. While distance doesn’t really apply to the raw form of the Fae Realm, Asterion was so disoriented by the spell that he lost track of Civero and was unable to find a way to return. The Maji being half-human/half-Fae Lord to begin with, he managed to survive in the Fae Realm, but his exposure slowly degraded his human physicality, until he basically was a Fae Lord in full.

Asterion would have eventually degraded into a normal Lesser Fae and completely lost his form, power, and sentience, but before he completely lost his mind, he stumbled upon the Centurions Universe. There, he was able to refashion himself into a human sorcerer, at the cost of much of his original Maji power. That said, he still counts as a Fae Lord to the others, and even by human standards, his is easily one of top three to five most powerful superhumans on Earth. Currently, he is a member of the Alpha Team, and is the Centurions’ foremost mystic expert.

Another “honorary” Fae Lord, Onyx is a creation of Temael, the Dark God. Temael, a living dimension, has always been at odds with the Fae Realm, and has occasionally cast his creations into it, to ruin anything they touch. Onyx was one such creation, a Darkness Elemental, who discovered the Centurions Universe as his first target.

But then, Onyx, separated from his Great and Wondrous Lord by several dimensional layers, found himself fully cut off from his Creator. Moreover, as he contemplated where to start with his destruction, he found himself growing more and more fascinated with the world the Fae Lords had created. By the time the Lords realized he was in their world, and gathered together to destroy him, Onyx found himself doing what no other child or acolyte of Temael had done before: he defied his God.

This is something that is literally impossible for Temael’s creations to do. Loyalty to Him is hard coded into the very being of every entity Temael creates or takes under His wing. And yet, in the Centurions Universe, the Will to Power manifested in Onyx, and enabled him to do the impossible. Onyx allowed his essence to be re-adapted into a Fae entity by the other Lords, and then joined the Centurions’ Alpha Team.

Originally a supervillain, and now more of an anti-hero, Bandit takes the form of a superhuman with the power to replicate the abilities of up to ten other superhumans at once. Bandit actually was a superhuman born on Earth, who encountered Baelor, one of the original ten Fae Lords. The nature of Bandit’s powers allowed him to replicate Baelor’s reality warping powers, and this actually mutated Bandit into a new Fae Lord. Bandit has opted to keep the true nature of the world a secret, as he is partially invested in keeping the world going. He makes the most of it by selling his services as a high-powered mercenary, but will also help the heroes out in the event of a big crisis.

A Fae Lord who once ruled her own realm of Aevir, a fantasy world where winged humans of several tribes, based on their wing colors, lived in alternating periods of peace and war. Crotia and her favored Lesser Fae played the Kings and Queens of these various tribes, with Crotia favoring the role of Queen of the Crow Tribe. In this guise, the Kings and Queens enjoyed pitting their armies and resources against one another like an elaborate game of chess.

However, her world was destroyed by one of Temael’s great creatures, and Crotia barely escaped back into the Fae Realm. While drifting and dissolving into the void, she stumbled upon Dellissa’s World. Dellissa had no interest in harboring her, but decided to refer her back to the Centurions Universe, leading her to there.

Crotia now "rules" the planet Aevir, a science fiction take on her old realm. This world, when manifested, holds a unified society of the winged people, and they act as Earth’s main official contact with alien races, and a tenuous ally during “interstellar” conflicts.

DELLISSA (Moved Out)
Dellissa took the form of a Pixie fairy who represented the Queen of the Fairies. Fairies, in this case, being the many species of small magical beings like pixies, brownies, jack frosts, elves, gnomes, etc., not the actual Fae of the Fae Realm. Dellissa’s intent was to oversee the regulation of spirit- and nature-based magic.

Then Jahi showed up out of no where, randomly dumped into their Realm by a banishment spell. Dellissa helped her fellow Fae Lords defeat the lascivious demon-goddess, stripping away the core of her divine power, and locking it away in a tiny pocket-dimension prison called Yggdra’s tomb. Dellissa, however, found Jahi to be an endlessly fascinating creature, and appealed for her semi-mortal self to be allowed to exist as a villain in the world. The other Fae Lords, having no fear of Jahi actually significantly doing any damage, agreed, altering Jahi’s memories so she didn’t realize where she was, believing she was actually still in the Material Universe.

Dellissa followed Jahi around, sometimes as a sidekick, other times invisibly, delighting at her female dominant erotic exploits. Dellissa was so enamored with the concept that when Jahi finally escaped back to the Material Universe, Dellissa left the Centurions Universe as well, and decided to create her own unique Fae Lord Realm, the Sex Mage Island.

BAELOR (Depowered)
Baelor used to take the form of a norse-style giant warrior, who would challenge powerful heroes and villains to battle. His encounter with Bandit greatly weakened him, however, as Bandit’s replication of his Fae Lord powers actually drained him to the point that he was reduced to a Lesser Fae. Baelor still lives, but is no longer a Fae Lord, and has forgotten he ever was one. The other Fae Lords don’t see this as a particular problem. It is the fate of all Fae Lords to eventually degrade back into Lesser Fae and fade into the Fae Realm, and Baelor’s place on that cycle just came earlier than expected. Baelor now lives a relatively peaceful life as a trucker.

XYX (Destroyed)
The first of the Fae Lords added after the Realm’s creation, Xyx more or less drifted in after another Realm of elemental chaos collapsed from instability. Taking the form of a roiling mass of lightning and teeth, Xyx proved to be a little too over-eager in providing a threat to the world. Fancying himself as an unconquerable monster, he actually got so carried away, he wiped out nearly half the human population, and came close to destroying the Earth. The other Fae Lords would not stand for this sort of recklessness threatening all they built, so they dropped their guises long enough to destroy Xyx completely, then undid all the death and destruction he caused, as well as erased everyone’s memories of the event.

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