“Shortly before Christmas, 2019. While out shopping for gifts for their parents, two sharp youngsters stumbled on a bunch of folks who just don’t smell right. They weren’t right. They were Cen agents, human animal hybrids utterly loyal to their creators.
These kids being on scene saved the west coast of North America a lot of heartache. When the word went out what they’d been caught with, the mages up and down the west coast, from Los Angeles to Denver, stood ready. And, in a flurry, a hundred nukes we thrown through dimensional portals to land on our doorstep. But our mages were ready. They kicked them back and slammed the portals shut. Made for a lot of unhappy hybrids, wherever they went off.” He grinned wryly, scratching his bald head.
“Things didn’t go so well back east. Magic still hadn’t gotten the acceptance it had in the west. The infections had spread from this coast, so the easterners hadn’t as long to learn to deal with monsters and freaks in their midst. And magic scared the crap out of them. The bible belt nearly had a collective coronary. Heh, heh.”
The old man chuckles, pats his jacket absently, then sighs. “Ain’t never gonna get used to the cigarette ban. Can’t believe you can smoke dope but not cigarettes. Then again, dope doesn’t cause cancer.” He shakes his head. “True story.
“So… the east coast had been utterly destroyed. Low radiation bombs, from what we were told, but I wouldn’t want to take my grandchildren sightseeing through those parts, if you know what I’m saying. Not if I want great-grandchildren.
The Cen took Omaha, then swept north and south from there, moving forward until they reached the base of the Rockies. That’s when they settled in for the winter. Nothing lived behind them that didn’t glow already, and if they had their way they’d consume everything in their path until they reached our sea.
We only communicated sporadically with posts overseas. Thankfully there were supers and magi everywhere, more or less. Everybody had a fighting chance. And everybody knew–you fuck a super or a mage, you might come up with the power too. Fucking for humanity. It might kill you, but if it didn’t…
Truth be told, by the time the war came along most people had quit dying from the plagues. Most of the ones dying of disease those days were the kind that come back. Everybody else just hung on for dear life.
The plagues killed a lot of people, but there were a lot of people cheering them anyway. They made us stronger, they said. Sounded like Nazi shit to me. As it turned out, I wasn’t alone. Anyone who tried pushing around ordinary folk usually ate some recoil. As I was one of those ordinary folk at the time, I appreciated the backup. I ain’t a coward. I’ll stand up to a superhuman type. But those trolls? Or a vamp? Or how ’bout a ‘thrope? Uh-uh. I’ll leave the monsters to fight each other.
Anyway… We’d all heard how the Cen hated magic. True story. Apparently they like things that fly even less than they like magic. Their anti-aircraft weapons are scary as fuck. They targeted our satellites in orbit. That’s why our communication grid went to hell so fast. They hit them as they came through the gates. Along with any aircraft that came within fifty miles of airspace they claimed.
We had no way to flank them. Oh, a few of our flying heroes could get over there, but so what? Then we skirmish them on both their borders? They had enough people for that, believe me. Of course, I was just a lousy Sergeant. No one listened to me.”
He snorts. “People. Never thought I’d call ’em that. Anyhooch, I gotta mosey on home to my Jamie. Going to be a cold night and we like to bundle close. Happy holidays to you all.”
From Memories of the Cen War
by Tagai Hava
(Interview with 1st Sergeant Matthew O’Bannon, Earth Defense Forces).
In between one breath and the next
for me, in this land beyond,
was yet a year passed back home
My family grew, laughed, and cried
Certain I had died
But I dined and danced beyond the veil
In what seemed
but a single passing night
Valhalla, Avalon, the Blessed Isles, Paradise, Heaven, the Courts of Faerie. The dimensional construct now known as Starhaven has been featured in many mythologies, tales thrown down around a campfire, of experiences in a place no mortal could quite comprehend.
Time stands still in a static universe. Starhaven is a construct so large that no valid estimates of its size actually exist. Attempts to circumnavigate the colossal structure in spacecraft have come to naught. Those who have attempted it just loose their way and end up back where they started. Even computers and mapping devices come up short.
Starhaven is broken up into several sections, each accessible to the others via teleporter pads in each region. There is no other known way to get from one section to another otherwise.
The regions now seem well designed to serve the function impressed upon them by the Interworld Agencies as a clearing house for equipment, agents, and other resources, as well as several common areas for entertainment and housing.
The Starhaven Bazaar itself takes up one whole section and is, in general, a mercantile free-for all. If it exists, you’ll likely find it somewhere at the Bazaar. The Bazaar itself is run by a merchant’s guild, who is in turn represented on the Immortal High Court.
Violence is frowned upon, but generally tolerated as long as intentions don’t run toward the deadly. These days the law, such as it is, will be enforced by the Phoenix Squad, 50 of the fiercest mortal fighters on Starhaven, backed up by the Immortal Dedra Phoenix.
In case of an outside attack they can shut down the worldgates and remain unmolested for as long as they leave them down. There is only one rift between Starhaven and the outside universes, and thus that single rift can be taken down.
(This is not strictly true, however certain the Starhaven Agency Manuals might say otherwise. On more than one occasion an externally activated rift and gate was able to breach the outer defenses. Each time the interlopers were driven off).
The Sections of Starhaven are as follows:
Agency: The offices and classrooms of the primary Interworld Agencies, including a good portion of their internal R&D operations.
Housing: Divided by agency. Family, individual, and co-hab units.
Entertainment: Cinemas, concert halls, Practice yards and shooting ranges. Swimming pools, museums, virtual zoo,
Magitech Commercial: Magitech Bank, the original Magitech Lounge, The Magitech Outlet, Havoc’s Ye Old and New Weapon Shoppe.
Magitech Private: Housing for members of Magitech and Mirage. Artificer’s labs.
Medical Section. Helix Headquarters plus R&D and medical facilities.
High Court: ArchAngel’s apartments, Phoenix team barracks. High Court Chambers. Other immortal apartments/suites.
Worldgate: The only way on and off Starhaven.
(Note: Kids are generally raised off Starhaven, at least a good part of the time. They do not age if they remain within the dimensional rift where Starhaven exists. It is not unusual for way stations on backwater Earths to be staffed by a whole family. It provides early training for the young and allows them a chance to actually grow older).
So there are a lot of different Agencies populating my universe. From the ones on Earth back before the War, to those fighting the Cen, to the ones scrambling to put the pieces back together afterward. And then you have the Interworld agencies. They’re a whole different ballgame altogether.
When they first got wind of the effects of Loki’s Sin, mortal and immortal alike scrambled to hold things together. People were dying like flies, and many of the ones who survived were being changed. Into superhumans, if they were lucky. Into other things if they weren’t.
From goblins to trolls, the powers-that-be had their hands full. It was then, with the aid of eccentric billionaire Deryk Shea, they managed to cobble together an agency to police this sort of thing. Well, a few agencies, really. You had LEOPARD, which was made up of the law enforcement officers of the Preternatural Action Response Division. And you had MAD, or the Magical Activities Division. Both were under the authority of the newly commissioned Paranormal Affairs Commission.
Other nation-states had their own responses, of course, some of them not so… progressive as had the United States. Superheroes were old hat to Americans. We invented the breed, they said.
The leadership of and MAD passed between the hands of Raven and Amanda Keening-Grey half a dozen times, while her husband Ben did the same with the leadership of LEOPARD.
Athena took over the PAC when it was thought that Deryk Shea had died, and, as he saw it, ran it into the ground in a futile effort to chase down one of their greatest assets. It was probably this, which she clearly saw as a betrayal, that eventually led her to leave Earth for Starhaven on Artificer’s heels.
Likely Deryk Shea didn’t care for losing both a valued employee–however misguided–and his best research scientist.
It was initially the children of Ben Dalmas and Amanda Keening-Grey that interrupted the first attack of the Cen War and gave them all precious warning to save the west coast from the nuclear attacks. The east coast wasn’t so fortunate. Some politicians had grown so fearful of preternaturals and paranormals that they’d all but chased them off the east coast, out of the bible belt, and all the way up against the Pacific Ocean.
The Cen nukes destroyed the east coast even as they gated through into the center of the country. They’d apparently planned on waiting out the radiation and claiming the country sea to glowing sea. They’d apparently been very displeased to find magic afoot and had devised a final solution. Which magic foiled.
At this point all other agencies dissolved into the Earth Defense Force. Which was basically anyone with a weapon or a power willing to take the fight to the Cen and their hybrids.
Those who’ve read my books know who Raven is. If ordinary vampires scare humans, he’s what scares the vampires. Invisible, undetectable, and deadly accurate with his twin pistols. A perfect shot into a vampire’s eye is death. And Raven delivers it time and time again.
They’re afraid of him, all right. As well they should be.
And what about his buddy Ben? The werewolf? What’s his calling card look like? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to have a look.
Some of the mages had a rather… cavalier attitude toward the sensitivities of the non-magical public. This was adopted as the official placard and badge of the office described hereon.