Apex Pharmaceuticals is a major pharmaceuticals company with many divisions, including prescription medicine as the largest but with subdivisions and subsidiary corporations that include beauty and cosmetics, industrial chemicals, and even foodstuffs. CEO Adrian Pierce has overseen the rapid expansion of the family drug company into the multi-billion dollar commercial entity that it is today.
Hidden deep behind a web of front companies and maze-like chain of ownership is Chimera Research, a small privately held scientific research company. The company has a small office presence in one of the office towers in the Trinity City Center, but its real facilities are corporate secrets and kept hidden behind facades to conceal what is really going on. At the heart of Chimera was Dr. Joshua Stone, a genius bio-geneticist who is on the cutting edge of chemically induced gene manipulation. Dr. Stone's black budget operations were one of the driving sources of breakthroughs for Apex Pharmaceuticals, but his discoveries were always carefully laundered through the corporations more legitimate subsidiaries before being marketed to the public.
Stone's final project with Chimera involved kidnapping street kids to use in experiments in human-animal genetic splicing experiments. With the methods developed Stone was able to create human-animal hybrids from loyal Apex employees as well as other successes. The first two of these were a Wolf-Man and a Bat-Man and this pair were the first encountered by the trio of heroes. In a later ' these two were joined by a Crocodile-Man, a Turtle-Man, and a Cat-Man. Another major success was the creation of flying dogs, guard dogs which were given bat-like wings. Several of these dogs escaped capture and have taken up residence in the Mount Stanley National Park north of Trinity City where they are still occasionally sighted.
- Alter Ego: Adrian Pierce
Adrian Pierce, CEO of Apex Pharmaceuticals, was dying of a degenerative disease so tasked his black budget group Chimera Research and its head scientist Dr. Joshua Stone with a way to save his life. After perfecting his human-animal genetic splicing techniques, Stone used the ultimate form of the process on Pierce, granting him attributes of several top predators like lions, sharks, wolves, and even including traits obtained by examining the stolen corpse of an alien Scourge soldier. Pierce was healed and gained a range of physical powers, but was captured by the authorities shortly after the procedure thanks to the actions of the trio of heroes and a group of street kids who had also been given powers by Stone's experiments.
The Blackthornes are an extended family of black magicians operating mainly in New England, and can trace their lineage in the Americas back to the earliest European colonies. At some point prior to the family arriving in the Colonies the Blackthornes had struck a bargain with a demonic being to grant the family magical power. The power is passed down to new generations with a pair of rituals, one performed on the children at a very young age and another when they reach adulthood, generally on or shortly after their 18th birthday. Iphigenia, aka Jen or the Hooded Sorceress of the Trinity of Heroes, is a member of the Blackthorne Family.
Leadership of the Blackthorne Family, and the bulk of the magical power, has traditionally passed down through the main family line to the oldest male of the next generation, so generally the eldest son or nephew of the current leader. The heir apparent's position is cemented during a special version of the traditional ritual performed when the family member is 18 years old and involves the sacrifice to the Family's demonic benefactor of one of the other family members of the heir's generation.
Hooded Sorceress fled the Family after learning she was to be the designated sacrifice for when her cousin, and heir to the leadership of the Blackthornes, Telemachus reached his 18th birthday. With the time approaching the Family are preparing to bring their wayward daughter back in time for the ritual, unaware that Telemachus is working with her to thwart their plans.
Known members of the Blackthorne Family are:
- Hermes Blackthorne: Uncle to Hooded Sorceress and current leader of the Blackthorne Family; father to Telemachus.
- Electra Blackthorne: The Hooded Sorceress' half-sister; with no other male children in the main line of succession this places Electra as second in line. She has been secretly conspiring to take her cousin Telemachus' place as the next leader of the Family.
- Iphigenia Blackthorne (aka Jen aka the Hooded Sorceress)
- Telemachus Blackthorne
- Deucalion Blackthorne: Father of Electra and Iphigenia, younger brother of Hermes.
- Ariadne Blackthorne: Sister of Hermes and Deucalion, aunt to Hooded Sorceress, Electra and Telemachus
Cult of the Grey Man
The Cult of the Grey Man are an occult society who worshipped the being known as the Grey Man. They began as one of many European occult societies that had been formed over the last few centuries who had learned something of the original ancient Tribe of Grey and their god and they became worshippers, seeing the Grey Man as a potential source of power. They were among those who took an interest in Richard Adair's work, but lost track of him when he fled England. It took decades, but they were able to trace him to Trinity (now Trinity City) and came here to investigate. Believing that the city held the answer to summoning the Grey Man the Cult entrenched themselves and began their work.
The Cult eventually found both halves of the key to free the Grey Man and were successful in combining them and opening the prison. Unfortunately for them the Grey Man was not what they believed and once he had been released from millennia of imprisonment he proceeded to kill most of the Cultists involved in freeing him. In the wake of the loss of much of their leadership the Cult has splintered.
The first villain the group fought, the Black Adept was an acolyte of the Cult of the Grey Man. He was responsible for a scheme to use chaos magic to locate the keys to free the Grey Man. This scheme involved placing a curse on a large number of quarters and releasing the coins into circulation through the city. One of the earliest incidents caused by one of these coins was responsible for drawing together the three superhumans who would become the Trinity of Heroes. The trio stopped the Adept's plan before it could generate enough chaos magic to serve the Cult's need, though the Adept escaped capture. For his failure the Cult murdered the Adept and dumped his body.
- Alter Ego: Arsène Krieger
Arsène Krieger was a French-German occultist and skilled alchemist who worked for Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He was one of many agents sent abroad to seek out items of magical power for the Nazi government and had traveled to Trinity City along with other agents to track down the archaeologist Dr. Richard Adair. They followed Adair into the tunnels beneath the Trinity Mounds, but accidentally triggered an ancient mechanism that trapped them and Adair in the Temple buried beneath the Mounds. One of the other agents killed Adair out of anger, removing the one person who might have known another way out. Facing death by starvation and dehydration, Krieger used his alchemy to kill the other Nazi agents and use their life force to preserve his own, putting himself into a form of suspended animation. Decades later the Cult of the Grey Man found their way into the Temple and recognized Krieger as a potential resource. They took his body and used their own magic to transfer his consciousness into a magical Golem body they had created. True to Krieger's old nickname of Dr. Arsenic, in addition to its superhuman strength his new body also had the ability to generate an arsenic-like poison at his touch. When the Cult was defeated Krieger's consciousness was transferred back into his original, still inanimate preserved body, trapping him there and both it and the Golem body were taken into custody by CHIEF.
Sometime later an accident caused Krieger's consciousness to return to the Golem body. Using knowledge he had gained from the Cult and other sources he went back into the Temple and found a way to travel to the home dimension of a powerful, evil entity where he hoped to locate a long-lost magical artifact. He was followed by the Hooded Sorceress and after a battle with her Krieger was left in the broken Golem body buried under tons of ice at the bottom of a frozen abyss in the other dimension.
- Alter Ego: Patrick Donner
Corporate raider and Trinity City native Patrick Donner gained the superhuman ability to shrink objects or people. The shrinking effect only lasted an hour or so, but this was enough for Patrick to use it for some thrill-seeking criminal activity. Patrick started using his power to steal high-end cars; he would simply shrink the car and carry it away in his pocket to another location before it returned to its normal size, then sell it to a chop shop in the city's Rust Belt area he had struck up a relationship with. Patrick's crimes attracted the attention of the Trinity of Heroes, leading to him adopting his own villain codename of Downsizer. After a confrontation with the heroes, the Downsizer was defeated and arrested.
- Alter Ego: Alexandra Carrington
Alexandra Carrington is a genius level engineer and MIT graduate who was radicalized and is now a far-left, anti-authority, anti-corporate terrorist. While doing post-graduate studies at MIT she gained access to some Top Secret government data on the advanced weaponry used by the Scourge, a result of her advisor leaving classified information open where she found it. Acting in secret she spent the next couple of years designing and building an advanced suit of mechanized power armor. When it was ready Alexandra set out to take down the autocratic patriarchy.
In her first public outing in the armor, Alexandra targeted several Wall Street firms in New York City, before disappearing. The media dubbed her Flashpoint after a speech she made during one of her attacks. Next she targeted government offices in Washington DC, again causing much destruction before escaping. The armor protected Alexandra's identity, but the heavy duty van she uses to transport the power armor has been flagged as a vehicle of interest by authorities. She came to Trinity City, planning to target many of the "Silicon Valley East" corporations that are headquartered there. She was confronted by Adrenaline and Twitch, but when Twitch learned that the "giant robot" was piloted and what Alexandra's motives were she opted to let Flashpoint escape, making it look like Adrenaline had driven the robot away.
A team of superhuman criminals, Four-Shadow was assembled by Matte Black who sought to recruit members who had powers that leant to a darkness theme. With a quartet assembled Black chose the wordplay name of Four-Shadow for his team. Matte Black's initial recruit was his sister Jennifer, who also had super powers, followed by the enigmatic Ink who he knew by reputation. As the team's first caper was planned for Trinity City, Matte Black sought local talent and was able to recruit King Coal. The team conducted a series of art robberies in the city before attracting the attention of the newly formed trio of heroes. The three heroes managed to identify the villains and track them down, leading to a confrontation where Four-Shadow were forced to flee the city without the art they had stolen. While King Coal has since resurfaced in Trinity City, none of the other three have appeared in the city since they were forced to leave.
- Alter Ego: Matthew Black
Matthew Black was a struggling artist, a painter trying (and failing) to break into the east coast art world. It is not known when his powers first manifested, but once they had he decided to take his frustrations out on the art world. Being too well known on the east coast, Black decided that Trinity City would be a suitable location for his crimes. Along with his sister he recruited Ink and King Coal and started using his connections and knowledge to identify targets. Once a target was identified Black would use his powers to provide a cover of darkness while the others dealt with the security and removed the art.
- Alter Ego: Jennifer Black
Jennifer Black is Matthew's sister and may have developed powers at the same time as him, though no details are known. Jennifer was an acrobat, which helped her adapt to her powers of flight and superspeed. She joined with her brother as part of Four-Shadow and took the name Jet Black. She would use her speed to quickly remove the art to the getaway point during the group's heists.
- Alter Ego: unknown
The history of the woman known as Ink is a mystery, including how she gained the power to transform into a malleable black-coloured form. Based on her skills, Ink had experience with breaking-and-entering and bypassing security systems prior to being recruited by Matte Black into Four-Shadow.
- Alter Ego: Raymond King
Raymond King, the man who would become King Coal, was a thief working for the Welsh Mob in Trinity City. He developed the power to change into a super strong rock-like form. Being a superhuman criminal was a relatively new vocation, but Raymond's connections with the Mob got him hired on by Matte Black to be part of his Four-Shadow crew, and it was Black who gave Raymond his King Coal moniker. After being on the run since the heroes thwarted Four-Shadow's art heist getaway, Raymond has now found his way back to his old hometown and went back to working for the Welsh Mob, needing to repay a debt to them. He worked with Redline to knock over an armored car, but the trio of heroes were able to track him down and defeat him. Coal is currently incarcerated in a CHIEF facility.
- Alter Ego: None
The Wave that struck the Earth several years ago had crossed the planet before. Millennia ago, before recorded history, the Wave (now called the Primal Wave by researchers who have deduced the event) struck and transformed several early humans into powerful superhumans, many of whom may have inspired the gods of ancient myths. The Grey Man was one of the first and most powerful superhumans of this early era and was also one of the most evil. The Grey Man built an empire with conquered people in what is now part of the Amazon jungle. The Sky Warrior, another superhuman from an advanced civilization (possibly the inspiration behind the legends of Atlantis or perhaps Hy-Brasil) eventually confronted the Grey Man in a great battle. The Grey Man was too powerful to be destroyed, but the Sky Warrior did manage to imprison him. The key to the prison was in two parts, and over the millennia these were lost. The modern-day Cult of the Grey Man spent years tracking down both parts of the key and eventually recovered both in Trinity City. They used the key to release the Grey Man, thinking he was a god who would reward them. Instead the Grey Man killed the Cultists present at his release and started to cause chaos around Trinity City. The Trinity of Heroes attempted to contain the Grey Man, but when it became clear he was too powerful for them to handle Twitch was able to contact the Protectors who rushed to the scene and drove the Grey Man away. The Grey Man has since gone to ground in the Amazon, seeking out the ruins of his once great empire before he decides on his next move.
- Alter Ego: Jake Stroman
Jake Stroman is another Trinity City native and former soldier who had the served in the Battle of New York and like both Adrenaline and Sandstorm he developed powers while on deployment after the war. As Hardcase he can transform himself into living steel, giving him armored skin, superhuman strength, and the ability to fire steel projectiles. He had gone AWOL after developing his powers and spent several years as a mercenary overseas before deciding to return home to Trinity City. He used his knowledge of the Army base outside the city to steal several weapons that he intended to sell on the black market for quick cash. Stroman had not done a good job of concealing his identity and was soon tracked down by the authorities. This led to a violent confrontation with the police and CHIEF before the Trinity of Heroes arrived on the scene and were able to stop Hardcase's rampage. He is now in CHIEF custody.
- Alter Ego: Eduardo Comoroto
Eduardo (Eddie) Comoroto was a veteran enforcer for the east coast mobs who developed the power to manifest intense cold and create and manipulate ice constructs. He used his powers to become a high-priced hitman, earning the nickname "Icebox". Eddie was sent to Trinity City to take out the duo of Dusk and Reverie. He tracked the two down but his attack on them was interrupted by the Trinity of Heroes and he was defeated by Adrenaline and handed over to the authorities.
- Alter Ego: Paul Asherman
Paul Asherman is a physicist and businessman who is a senior executive at the Wolf Cove Nuclear Plant outside of Trinity. When attempting to secretly destroy evidence ahead of a government inspection he was exposed to radiation from a rate isotope. The isotope turned Asherman into a radioactive man, powers he can suppress with concentration but if it slips he manifests a radioactive aura that can be deadly to anyone around him. Asherman studied his new condition and discovered that certain crystalline structures could absorb the energy he gives off and would allow him to control his powers. These kinds of crystals were extermely rare, but Asherman's business connections tipped him off to a rare collection of meteoric gems, part of an item called the Stars of El-Akir being brought into the city in advance of a showing at the Natural Sciences Museum. A desperate Asherman used his powers to steal these gems from the bank vault.
With his only concern being getting the Stars of El-Akir for the gems, which Asherman removed from the gold settings and crushed down to line some clothing. Needing to dispose of the gold, he sought out a fence, who recognized Asherman as somewhat naïve and planned on blackmailing the man, not realizing that this would put his own life in danger. The blackmailer, Rhys Jenkins, pushed his luck and Asherman had reached the end of his patience. At what would be their final meeting, Asherman gave Jenkins a warning to end it and when Jenkins refused Asherman killed him. Panicking afterwards, Asherman clumsily disposed of the body (in the victim's own car) in Lake Kirby. The radioactivity was detected and the car recovered by the Trinity of Heroes. With the clues they found they were able to track down Asherman and stop him. He is now in CHIEF custody.
These are the last of the Tribe of Grey, descendants of the people who had served the Grey Man many thousands of years earlier. The Cherokee called them the Moon-Eyed People, but deceased archaeologist Richard Adair described them as like the Morlocks from H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. Millennia ago, after the defeat of their master the Grey Man, his followers were driven out. Over the millennia the Followers of the Grey Man were driven further and further north, finally reaching North America and settling near where Trinity City now stands. Even here they continued to try and spread evil and gain enough power to return to the Lost Shrine and free the Grey Man. The last of the Tribe of Grey were apparently wiped out for good sometime around 1000 CE by a coalition of neighboring Native American tribes.
When the Tribe of Grey had reached the Trinity area they had already been on the run and hunted for centuries. Even at their inception as servants of the Grey Man they had favored the darkness and the underground, so by this point in time the members of the Tribe had become pale creatures with large eyes, accustomed to avoiding the sunlight and moving about in the dark. Worse still, in the absence of their god the Tribe had turned to other beings from the Spirit World. One such being was Ithaqua, a Devourer entity also called the Wendigo by some Native American tribes. Under the influence of this Corruptor many of the Tribe were further transformed into vampire-like cannibals that fed on the life force of humans by the time the remnants of the Tribe had reached their final destination. It was this evil, creatures that the tribes called the Moon-Eyed People, that drove the nearby tribes to band together and strike to wipe out the Tribe of Grey over a thousand years ago.
What these tribes did not realize was that some of the Moon-Eyed People had survived and retreated deep underground, taking refuge in a cavern far below the Temple they had built to their lost god below what are now called the Trinity Mounds. This was where the last of the Moon-Eyed People hid away and where they slumbered until the cavern was uncovered by the villainous Dr. Arsenic, who was seeking a way to travel to the otherdimensional home of Ithaqua. The Trinity of Heroes were faced with the awoken Morlocks, including some that managed to escape to the surface and threaten Trinity City. After some effort the remaining Morlocks were either destroyed or trapped back in their cavern deep beneath the Mounds where they slumber until awakened again.
- Alter Ego: Tommy Garcia
Tommy Garcia was one of the top street racers in Trinity City, a natural driver with a knack for all things automotive. Then one day after an intense race and near crash Tommy suddenly discovered that he had some strange connection to cars. It was like he could almost talk to them, and the cars would listen. He could command a car to speed up, slow down, turn, or stop and it just would. Tommy started using his newfound abilities to give himself an even bigger edge in street races. He racked up win after win, but the other racers started getting suspicious about the strange luck Tommy seemed to be having of late. Now no one in Trinity would race him anymore, taking away his primary source of income. He worked with King Coal as the getaway driver when the latter robbed an armored car and has gone into hiding after attracting the attention of the Trinity of Heroes.
Reverie and Dusk
- Alter Egos: Paula van Zandt and Katrina Chow
Dusk and Reverie are a duo originally from New York City. They found each other after the alien invasion, living on the streets, and both fell in with local criminal organizations. Paula eventually became a prostitute and Katrina a low-level thief. Their powers manifested a couple of years ago, and they decided to get out from under the thumb of those who had been using them. They got their bosses arrested and left the Big Apple and have been making their way from city to city, refining their skill with their powers and upping their game in stealing. The lovers started working towards making themselves rich, planning to then retire somewhere tropical. Unfortunately the two women have also earned a few enemies, especially the owner of a casino they took in Atlantic City.
The duo traveled to Trinity City with plans to make a big score. Unfortunately the east coast mob linked the pair to the Atlantic City casino incident and sent out assassins to make an example out of the women. The first few assassins were not aware of what the duo were capable of, however, and Reverie was able to use her powers to alert the authorities to the presence of the hitmen in Trinity City, leading to them being arrested. This had the unintended effect of alerting the Trinity of Heroes who also identified the pair and started looking for them. The duo's target wound up being a charity gala jewelry exhibit, where Dusk was posing as one of the wait staff and used her shadow manipulation powers to remove the jewelry from the display cases while Reverie used her illusion projection power to make it appear the items were still there. The two got away with the stolen jewlery but were tracked down by the heroes. More concerned with the trouble the pair were causing with their presence than the robbery itself, the Trinity let Reverie and Dusk go with the loot when it became clear they planned to use the money to leave the country and start new lives.
- Alter Ego: Garrett (Gary) Sandstrüm
Garrett (Gary) Sandstrüm is a Trinity City native and a former US Army soldier who served in the same Army Company during the One Week War as Adrenaline. Garrett also developed powers, in his case weather control and the ability to heal himself by draining the life force of other people. After leaving the military Garrett went to work for a military contractor where he developed the contacts he would use in his current career as a weapons smuggler. Since developing his powers he has kept them a relative secret but uses them to his advantage. He crossed paths with the Trinity of Heroes when he stole some experimental drone technology from a military research company in Trinity City. The stolen goods were recovered by the heroes but Sandstorm escaped capture and is still at large.
Those few who have seen Shub-Internet's true form and survived babble about "tendrils", "eyes beyond counting", and "part octopus, part computer". When appearing via computer screen or other electronic device, typical chanes to the normal interface include writhing icons, non-human fonts, and a sickly green color (even on monochrome displays). Often the screen appears deeper than normal. Shub-Internet is also sometimes called the eNigma, or the Whisperer in the Net.
Shub-Internet is the personification of all evil and malice in electronic networks. It is at the root of every network slowdown, every dropped connection, and every catastrophic power loss. It is also known as the Avatar of Line Noise, the Beast of a Thousand Processes, the Eater of Characters, the Imp of Call Waiting, and the Lag Monster.
It originated in the days of telegraphy, from the shade of a murdered telegraph operator allegedly named Shubert. The shade encountered something from beyond our universe and the new entity spent decades crawling through the telecommunications lines causing havoc. It fed on frustration caused by missed connections and garbled messages; and would interfere with calls for assistance. The Special Research Office (SRO) of the 1930s became aware of Shub's existence and sought to stop it. They learned that it could not be destroyed, but they could trap it. The Pentagon was constructed as a prison. The creature remained trapped there until the advent of ARPANET (the predecessor to the Internet) when the military systems were connected the creature escaped and became Shub-Internet.
Shub-Internet has fed and grown more powerful alongside the Internet. It attempts to entice individuals to remain online, to the point of starvation. Now it seeks to manifest physically. Shub-Internet has become powerful enough to drain the souls of individuals through network connections, turning the victims' bodies into mindless drones called Zero Zombies. It built a small army of Zero Zombies and is used them to construct it a body deep under the communications hub of Trinity City. The Trinity of Heroes, with the help of Telemachus Blackthorne, destroyed the body with an electromagnetic pulse, sending Shub-Internet back into the far reaches of the Internet where it remains a distant but threatening presence.
Zero zombies are the undead of the computer age. They are created when Shub-Internet targets a person who is using the Internet and drains their soul through the computer. The person's body lives and they become a servant to the Shub-Internet. The body can roam free as a zero zombie, but typically seeks out more computer hardware or stays by the computer it was created at to protect it. The Zero Zombie feeds on its connectivity to computer networks and starved of this the bodies will become more animalistic and follow an instinct to seek out a connection. If a connection cannot be established the body eventually withers and dies. Most of the Zero Zombies in Trinity City died in this manner when the heroes destroyed the body they were building for the Shub-Internet and they were left trapped in the city's underground with no network connection. Some managed to reach the surface and are still wandering the streets, attracted to Internet cafes and other sources of network connections to stay animated.
- Alter Ego: Lester Parsons
Lester Parsons is a college student whose powers manifested while he was high on marijuana. Lester was seemingly unaware that he had transformed into a giant super-strong stone-like being and, feeling the munchies, caused a panic when he went to a nearby mall to get food. The Trinity of Heroes intervened and, after discovering Lester's additional power of causing people nearby to enter a mental state similar to a marijuana high, they were able to induce him to transform back to his normal form. He is currently in CHIEF custody and was recently used by them in an effort to stop the villain Hardcase.