Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Red Scare

The 1950s were a bad time for Superhumans. In 1947 several UFOs crashed landed in the western United States. While most hit New Mexico one craft fell into the Atlas Mountains. The ships belonged to a red skinned alien race known as the Grue. The ship in the mountains above Emerald City was never discovered. The New Mexico crash was originally contained by Freedom City heroes and their army allies. Only a few weeks later the Grue succeeded in infiltrating, eliminating and secretly impersonating many of the Golden Age heroes from the 1930s and 1940s as well as their military allies. After their Hidden Invasion was discovered, public perception turned on heroes, chaos reigned and the heroes of Freedom City barely thwarted an attack from space. The aftermath of the Red Scare saw a witch hunt waged by the government against real heroes, most that were never involved in the Hidden Invasion. While most of the conflict took place on the East Coast, Emerald City was not untouched by the invasion or the hysteria it caused for years after. During all this Emerald City was protected by the most unlikely heroes:

While heroes fought heroes in Freedom City a small number of Grue invaders infiltrated Emerald City looking for their lost ship. They were intercepted by a ragtag group of regular townsfolk led by a middle aged high school science teacher. Their efforts ended the Red Scare in Emerald City almost before it began and even managed to expose and defeat a Grue impersonating the Golden Age hero the Dreadnought. The Sunset Hill Irregulars membership included:

• THE PROFESSOR (Patrick Hughes): A normal, if brilliant, high school science teacher who formed an unlikely resistance against aliens after a student of his, Copernicus Oliver, brought him a Grue raygun his father wrestled off of an alien. By reverse engineering the technology Hughes and Oliver were able to create devices that allowed the Irregulars to identify and resist the Grue in any form they took. After the Red Scare the Professor eventually retired to a nursing home on Sunset Hill where he still lives today.

• THE BIG BRAIN (Copernicus Oliver): The bespectacled bookworm that secretly saved Emerald City. Copernicus used a helmet that enhanced his already impressive intellect to out maneuver the Grue invaders and eavesdrop on their telepathic communications. After the Red Scare Copernicus found brief national fame as a televised quiz bowl champion, until it was discovered he cheated to win.

• CANNERY CARL (Carl Oliver): Copernicus’ father was a dockworker and bare knuckle fighter. He didn’t share Hughes or his son’s genius but he made up for it with alien powered boxing gloves and a iron backbone. Carl died in the fight that stopped the Dreadnought and ended the Grue siege on Emerald City.

• BLONDIE (Natalie Nelson): The Olivers’ next door neighbor and high school cheerleader. Natalie turned out to be a skilled shot with a raygun. Her time with the Irregulars attracted the attention of the military. Eventually Natalie was recruited for the new organization called AEGIS as one of their first female agents. 

• NEWSIE JOE (Little Joey Nelson): Newsie Joe was a twelve year old kid with a knack for getting into trouble, an obsession with outer space and a paper route. Newsie Joe used a modified flying bicycle against the Grue and loved every minute of it. Rumors say Joe went on to be a masked vigilante.

The lone Grue spacecraft that crash landed in the Atlas Mountains did so with a little help. The ship was a prisoner transport carrying troublemakers from a dozen different worlds. In the space battle that ultimately led to the Grue falling to Earth a handful of these prisoners escaped their containment tubes and overpowered their Grue jailers causing the ship to fall out of formation with the others and crash prematurely. The four juvenile delinquents that escaped immediately went to explore the city below them. Looking for fun these Thrillseekers from Outer Space quickly learned that humans were unaccustomed to alien visitors and that the crash of the Grue ship unleashed other alien criminals into the Atlas Mountains far more ruthless and bloodthirsty than their irresponsible quartet. Ultimately the Thrillseekers did their best to recapture the other escaped prisoners and repair the Grue vessel. Eventually they headed back out into space leaving behind a few dozen undiscovered containment tubes. The original Thrillseekers were:

• CAPTAIN MASTERMIND (Lorik-Nor): The runaway crown princess of the Lor Republic, a collection of hundreds of united worlds. Lorik-Nor is a blue skinned member of the Lor race who possesses prophetic sight similar to her mother, the reigning High Prophetess of the Republic. While on Earth Lorik-Nor gained a fondness for greaser culture, sockhops and drag racing. Eventually Lorik-Nor returned to Lor space as Captain Mastermind, reluctant leader of a rebellion against the Imperium her Republic becomes.

• KARESS: A catlike androgynous humanoid kleptomaniac from the planet Zulstar. A slave on its home planet, Karess marvelled at the freedom and opportunity that the Terrans of Earth experienced. During its time with the Thrillseekers, Karess was the main motivator for recovering the more dangerous criminals released in the crash. Eventually Karess would join the Starknights’ nemesis Blackstar as one of his cosmically powered Blackguard warriors.

• THUNK WHIR: A defective robot fugitive from the mechanical planet of Xor. Thunk Whir was a peacenik from a race of transforming kill machines locked in a millennia old war. While on Earth Thunk Whir was moved by Terran machines and their ‘love’ for squishy humans. After the Thrillseekers left Earth Thunk Whir left behind a proto-module that would eventually grow into a new Terran raised Xorian.

• SQUINN: A chameleon skinned defector of the Grue Unity. Squinn never fit in with his scheming Gruen brothers and sisters and was considered a reject and traitor as a result. Squinn quickly became obsessed with early television programs of the 50s and would often shapechange into characters from his favorite shows when interacting with Terrans. It is unclear what happened to Squinn after the Thrillseekers left Earth. It is possible he remained in Emerald City.

• GREEN KNIGHT (Barney Bridge): The first Terran met by the Thrillseekers. Soon after their initial encounter Barney and Lorik-Nor began dating. Ultimately he helped the Thrillseekers repair their Gruen spacecraft and left Earth behind for greater adventures in space. Eventually Barney became the first Terran Starknight, protecting the Milky Way galaxy as the Green Knight for decades to follow.

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