I confess, I love the character. And as with most character that I love - be they my own or otherwise - I tend to imagine her in just about anything.
This has resulted in many different versions of Soul running around - in large part because I'm an avid role-player.
Mutants&Masterminds: Easily one of my favorite RPG systems, M&M allows for fast-paced superheroics. So when I got invited to a play-by-post game in the Freedom City setting...Well, here's the character sheet:
Energy Blast +13 (Power Feats:
Accurate 3, Affects Insubstantial, Homing, Ricochet)
Energy Blast +10 (Power Feat:
Affect Insubstantial; Extra: Area (Cone))
Mind Shield +4
Morph +6 (only one form)
Force-Field +5 (Impervious +5)
Castle Nexus (Headquarter): Toughness
8, Large, Isolated (within Pocket Dimension), Workshop, Pool, Living
Space, Power System, Fire Prevention System, Security System, Defense
System, Library, Laboratory
Responsibility (Still a teenager, lives
with family, goes to school), Secret (maintains secret identity)
Strengths: Kindness, thirst for
knowledge, willingness to make the best of any situation
Weaknesses: Shyness, over-worrying
Bio: The daughter of a journalist and a
housewife, Jillian Clark was a precocious girl. She began reading
books on her own before entering first grade, and developed many an
intellectual interest. This resulted in her being a bit of a walking
encyclopedia...but also a bit of an introverted loner. She's had few
friends over the years, and wasn't usually bothered by it too much.
She was content to be left alone with her interests.
Then, early in 10th grade,
came Lisa Fenton. Jillian had actually known Lisa for years, as they
lived in the same block; they had just never gotten any closer than
the occasional hello. But come 10th grade, they ended up
as classmates; Lisa, who was lagging behind in several disciplines,
ended up asking her neighbor for assistance. Jillian gladly helped.
Within a couple of months, Lisa's grades had vastly improved, and she
had become as close a friend as Jillian had at the time.
It was this closeness that allowed
Jillian to finally notice the clues. The fear and sadness hidden
behind Lisa's facade of cheerfulness. The frequent injuries justified
as accidents. That, and much more, led Jillian to understand the ugly
truth about her friend's father.
Jill had read philosophical texts. She
had pondered ethical problems. But this was her first encounter with
serious "evil" in real life. Though it took her weeks to
gather the courage to act, she ended up confronting Mr Fenton in his
own home. The confrontation escalated into an angry shouting match,
until Mr Fenton finally snapped and hit the fifteen-year-old girl.
The Fenton home, due to local
topography, had a flight of stairs leading up to its main doorway.
Knocked back by the hit, Jill ended up falling all the way down those
stairs, gravely injuring her head. She was not conscious as the
ambulance rushed her to the hospital.
What Jill experienced then fit the
description of some NDEs. She found herself rising out of her body,
flying toward a light. The light revealed a gate. But just as she was
about to go through the gate, she stopped. A thought had occurred to
her: The gate was showing no sign of going anywhere...but she had no
guarantee she could come back to examine her present location.
It was thus intellectual curiosity that
led her to examine her surroundings in what might be called astral
form, instead of proceeding through the gate to wherever it let. Her
investigation taught her quite a lot about the nature of the world
she lived in – an understanding of the arcane no library book could
Absorbed as she was in her research,
she had little notion of time. Then, one day, she somehow stumbled
upon her body. Her perception of the physical world was sketchy at
best, but this part she could see clearly. It was only then that the
full realization of her situation finally sank in. As fascinating as
her investigation of this place was...as curious as she was about
what lie beyond the gate...she didn't want to die. She didn't want
her family to grieve. And she most certainly didn't want to abandon
She tried to force herself back into
She succeeded, waking up from three
months of coma on a hospital bed.
After the initial reunion with her
family, she caught up on the events since her hospitalization. Lisa's
father was in jail; Lisa herself had been placed with her parents for
the immediate future. The arrangement suited both girls fine.
But the memories of her time out of her
body remained with her, together with all that she had learned. She
began experimenting – and found herself quite successful, to her
half-surprise. She had acquired full-fledged magical powers.
Over the weeks that followed, every
moment alone was spent experimenting. She could fly. She could change
her appearance. She could create both energy and matter. She could
watch remote locations. She could move things from a distance. She
could open portals in the fabric of space. She could heal. She could
even open a gateway to a pocket dimension.
It was in that pocket dimension that
she took it upon herself to build Castle Nexus – a mansion of sort,
where she could experiment for hours without interference. Castle
Nexus became her home away from home.
All along, she ad kept everything
completely secret. By now, however, she felt it might be more than
time to reveal everything to her parents and best friend...
...But then came Mother Aurora – or,
as Jill eventually came to refer to her, "the pink bitch in the
sky" (though her first impressions were more positive, not to
say filled with awe). A mysterious cosmic entity, Mother Aurora
claimed she was to offer Jill guidance in the use of her powers, and
sent her on a mission to stop Downfall, a demonic villain up to no
good in another area of Freedom City. Taking a page from superheroes
of all stripes, Jill chose to fight in a new identity – "Soul",
which she turned into with a simple morphing spell to change her
features and clothes. This was the first time in her life she was in
a real fight, and Downfall almost killed her – she only survived a
blast from the demon by opening a gate between herself and the blast,
sending the latter into outer space (a defensive tactic she had to
improvise on the fly, but which she would afterwards use regularly).
Finally forcing the demon to retreat after telekinetically dropping a
truck on him, she made herself scarce before the authorities could
ask any questions. Mother Aurora informed her that there would be
many more foes for her to fight, and that the fate of countless
innocents (if not the Earth itself) would be in the balance. Despite
how terrifying the first fight had been for her, Jill agreed to keep
doing this – ever since the events with Lisa, she was taking the
responsibility to help and protect others pretty seriously.
Soul has faced many challenges in the
weeks that have passed since then. She has fought against Downfall
and several other mystical baddies, learning to wield her powers
offensively and rely on increasingly clever tactics. She has done her
best to keep the whole thing a secret, as she doesn't really look
forward to her parents' worried reaction if they knew about her
activities...Nevertheless, she has decided to share the secret with
Lisa, feeling she needed at least ONE confidant. She has taken her on
several visits to Castle Nexus, and told her everything about her
adventures, though she absolutely refuses to let her get anywhere
close to the fights themselves. She has had a few run-ins with the
authorities, especially when defeating villains that COULD be
arrested; she has done her best to cooperate without revealing her
Personality: Very smart, introverted,
snarky, sarcastic. Not very sociable, but well-meaning, very honest,
with a marked preference for order over chaos. Think of her as the
love child of Ami Mizuno and Alex Williams – I'm trying to play her
as the epitome of Lawful Good.
Relevant NPCs: Jill's parents are
relatively normal folks. Her father's an average journalist who's
encouraged her reading from an early age, and made certain she
followed the news among her many other interests. Her mother's a
housewife whose social skills were apparently not transmitted to her
daughter, and is very active in the community.
Lisa Fenton, her friend and surrogate
sister, has used cheerfulness to hide her home situation for years
(think of the early Mary-Jane Watson). Following the events described
above, she's come to really adore Jill – perhaps more than she
ought to (Jill suspects that, while she was in a coma, Lisa's come to
feel guilty over her situation, especially given as she was living
with Jill's parents. It could be that Lisa's perception of Jill has
become one of unquestioning admiration – which Jill suspect might
be ultimately unhealthy).
Mother Aurora is, in a sense, a cosmic
vigilante – a self-appointed guardian of the world. While she IS
opposing the schemes of some rather nasty entities out there, Jill is
gradually realizing that Aurora's not all that great either – she
is very arrogant, and has no problem whatsoever with stepping all
over the freedom of mortals in order to protect them. She seems to be
gearing up for some kind of big showdown, and Jill suspects that she,
herself, is considered expendable.
Villains encountered so far have
included the demon Downfall (hell-powered soul stealer), various
cronies of his, Twilight (a society of mystics who seem to be willing
to go to any length to amass more power), and Eric Masterson (a
businessman with ties to the occult. Think of him as a magic-wielding
Later on, I made a lower-powered version of the character for a campaign set in Claremont Academy (a school for teenage superheroes, essentially). Unfortunately, the campaign fizzled after the intro...
Big Eyes Small Mouth: It's a system designed to emulate anime, but...personally, I'm not terribly fond of it. I am, however, fond of the game I've been playing in it - For the Spirit of Creation. Which gave us the Soul of Reason, the Scion of Science - Erin Watson! She also gets several character vignettes. You might notice that neither of these "Souls", despite sharing many similarities with the one from the story, are Japanese. Dunno...In those contexts, that would have felt forced to me.
Princess: The Hopeful: A fan-made game designed specifically for magical girls. I jumped on the opportunity to play-test it (you can find it in the Links page). Once again, I made an Erin Watson - this time, a Champion of the Queen of Diamonds. Her character sheet at the latest:
Name: Erin Watson.
Concept: Scientifically-Minded Defender of Truth and Justice
Background: The daughter of a journalist and a housewife, Erin has generally led a quiet, drama-free life. While highly intelligent, she is also very introverted, and as such has spent more time with books than with people.
Then, at one point, she developed an interest in science and technology...
"Erin? Wanna play together?"
The nine-year old girl looked up. The Turner twins, Ed and Lilly. They were occasional playmates during recess. "Sure, coming!"
"...You didn't want to play this morning," Ed couldn't help but note.
"I hadn't finished the book yet."
While the Turners didn't find that answer very satisfying, they didn't push further. Alex was sick all week long, they wanted a third playmate, and Erin was nice most of the time, so why question it?
"All right, I'll be the princess this time," said Lilliy; "you'll be the knights who rescue me again?"
And so the game went as usual.
Later that day, Erin's reading schedule came up in a talk with her father.
"You've finished 'The Hobbit' already? Why am I not surprised?"
"Fun books read fast."
Mr. Watson smiled. "That they do. Anyway, since I expected you to be done with it, I stopped by the library. Here," he handed her a large book with an ornately-illustrated cover, titled 'From the Earth to the Moon'; "I read it when I was a few years older than you, but I think you'll enjoy it."
"Also...It's not a storybook, but you might want to take a look at this" he showed her another hardcover, titled 'My Very First Science Book'.
She looked at it, puzzled, and took it to her room. On her bed, she looked at the first book. From the cover and title alone, it sounded fun. Hopefully it'd make for a good week-end.
But the other book...She wasn't sure what to make of it. She decided to take a peak...
"So you see, when I put the small block on this end of the ruler, it tips over and pushes up the big block! The big block is heavier of course, but because the fulcrum is so much closer to the big block, it means the small one pushes down a looong way to push the big one up even a little. It's a first-class lever!"
Mrs. Watson smiled with amusement at her daughter's rudimentary science demonstration. She had been rather enthusiastic about such things all week-end.
Come Monday, Alex joined Erin and Ed as the trio of heroic knights set to rescue princess Lilly.
"The evil witch has me imprisoned in the tower!"
"But we'll rescue you - with potential energy!" vowed Erin.
"Potential energy! See, we'll get big springs, attach them to our shoes, and then jump higher and higher until we reach the top of the tower!"
This was fun enough at first. A week later, however...
"The evil witch is attacking us with spells!"
"I'm OK! I have the sword in the stone, it protects me from magic!"
"And I've figured out a theory of magic and built an anti-magic field generator!"
"You can't do that! It's magic!"
"I can too! My theory works!"
"Nu-huh! It's magic! You can't build machines against it!"
"Sure you can! Science can do anything!"
"Erin, you do this all the time! It's not fun anymore! You're ruining the magic! And you're always taking about energy and electricity and all that boring junk!"
"Science isn't boring!"
"Yes it is!"
"Is not! Is not at all!"
"Erin sweety...How would you like to go to the Turners' this after-noon?"
"Not today, mom. I've got SCIENCE to do!"
"Yeah! I've got some copper wire, an electric battery, and a compass. I'm going to redirect the North!"
"Have fun, sweety..."
As Erin went on to her lab/room, Mrs. Watson looked at her husband. "You think we're raising the next Marie Curie?"
He chuckled. "Looks like it. She's so going to the science museum for her birthday."
Erin's attitude wasn't just an interest in science per se, but rather a love of reason in general; a faith that the universe, ultimately, made sense. This belief would become a central part of her mindset for years to come.
Though Erin always did well in school and never got in trouble, her parents were concerned by her lack of social and physical activities. Various attempts to get her involved in a sport or another failed, until they made her join an archery club.
So, how was it today?" asked Mrs Watson as she drove her daughter home.
"OK, I guess. Scored a pretty good bullseye."
Mrs Watson sighed internally. Erin was, perhaps, not displaying much enthusiasm for the archery club...But "OK, I guess" was still a huge improvement compared to the attempts to make her join the track team.
Early in high school, her parents convinced her to join the debate team. Aside from polishing her social skills a bit, this had the effect of exposing her to other people's thought processes to a greater degree than ever before.
"And that's why the only things that really matter are watching out for your family, your friends, and yourself", Claire concluded. "The rules don't matter; everybody breaks them, and they only exist to benefit those who make them anyway. So called higher principles don't matter; when the shit really hits the fan, we're only going to care about ourselves and those close to us. In the end, the best you can do is watch out for yourself and yours."
Erin couldn't stop thinking about Claire's words as she walked home. It was terribly disturbing - what started as a positive message about caring for those you loved ultimately turned into a philosophy of amoral tribalism. What's worse, the rest of the debate team seemed to agree.
How could anybody think like that?
No. Wrong question.
How could she disprove it, in a manner they would understand?
Next week, Erin showed the debate team the video she had made:
"It was all done anonymously. After I gave the Starbucks employee the money, he would simply tell the following customers that someone had paid for upcoming commissions in advance. Sure, it may have cost me a month's allowance, but I believe the results speak for themselves: Those looks of happy surprise on each person's face, and the bright mood that was spread, were certainly worth a few dozen bucks.
Last week, it was said that we should just watch out for those close to us, and to Hell with everyone else. I disagree. If we decide we can mistreat others...then what can we say in our defense when they do the same to us? This world can only be Hell on Earth if we do not treat each other with kindness and respect. You may say that others do not treat you that well themselves, but...well, someone has to start.
And, yes, that usually means respecting the rules. Again, I must take myself as an example. I am a teenage girl, physically weak, never carrying a weapon of any sort. I often walk alone in a city with millions of inhabitants. Why is it that I can do so without any number of predators ganging up to hurt, to rob, to...take advantage of me?
Because we live in a mostly civilized society with rule of law, that's why. We have the police to enforce the law, yes, but they're too few - what really keeps society in one piece is that most people show the bare basic respect for the law. That's why it's possible to live here. That's why this world isn't a living hell."
Erin wasn't sure everyone was convinced by her presentation. But she had, to the very least, sown the seeds that could, potentially, burgeon into the kind of idealism she herself believed in.
She could only hope.
Though she never became a social butterfly, Erin did start showing more interest in the world around her. As a result, she became more aware of the suffering in it - be it in her neighborhood, in her school, or in the world at large.
It made sense, after all. The world had no fail-safe mechanism to watch over people's well-being.
It made no sense, however, to stand by idly and let it happen.
"Don't get me wrong, honey," Mr Watson said; "I'm proud of the fact you can make money from web-design. When I was your age, I got my extra allowance interning for the newspaper. And I'm also proud of the fact you're donating to charity. But...Shouldn't you save more for yourself? I know we put some money aside for college, but still. You need to think of your future."
"I am putting 10% aside, dad," she replied without looking away from the monitor; "and let's be honest: Those folks need it waaaaay more than me. And truth be told? I'm pretty excited about this micro-credit charity. It's such a brilliant idea!"
"Well, I'm not saying it isn't..."
"It's like that old saying about giving a man a fish, or teaching him how to fish. This is more like lending him the money to buy a fishing pole!"
"Rrrrright. Well, it's your money..."
"You know, I'll just forward you the website. Heck, maybe you could write an article about it!"
"...I'll see. Anyway...We were thinking of visiting grandma this week-end."
"Saturday or Sunday? Or do you mean both?"
"Haven't decided yet."
"I'm voting Sunday. I promised Claire and Brad to tutor them in math this Saturday."
My name is Erin Watson, and it amazes me that I am not freaking out right now.
Just a few hours ago, I was a (relatively) normal teenage girl. My biggest concerns were the classmates I was tutoring in math, the micro-credit charity I've been helping, and the website I had to finish coding by next week.
Then I saw the mugging. I had to DO something, and before I knew it, I...transformed.
It's so WEIRD. I can't even begin to guess where this new costume came from (short of the set of a science-fiction movie). That's not to say that it looks BAD...It looks like what I WOULD be wearing if I had zero insecurities. It kinda has a "The Techno-Princess from Planet X" vibe to it. And the staff? Somehow, I just KNEW it was a weapon, and how to use it. I also "knew" it was non-lethal, but...I wasn't confident enough in that newfound knowledge to just blast indiscriminately at escaping thugs.
And now I have these other girls telling me that, like them, I am a "noble" from a "Kingdom" that existed as a utopia of sorts, at least until the world got rebooted by the "Darkness". It all sounds a bit fantastic. So does what's been happening to me, but that does not automatically make their own claims accurate. I'm not saying they're lying, or even wrong, but I'd sure love to check their sources.
But, like I said earlier? What amazes me is that I am not freaking out right now. I SHOULD, given everything that's happening. But from the very moment I've transformed, things have been...easier to take in stride, I guess. I FEEL stronger, mentally - like I can take on any crazy thing this world can throw at me. There are things I've long known intellectually that I suddenly feel EMOTIONALLY: For years, I've understood that we live in an ordered universe that obeys strict logical rules. Whereas some people see that as a trap, I see that as a wonder: It means that everything can be understood. It means that everything can be analyzed. It means that any problem can be SOLVED. I've known that for a long time. I knew it was a very, very good thing.
But now, I can FEEL it. Instead of just being information in my head, it feels like a radiant power source in my soul. Despite how disoriented I am right now, I nevertheless feel confident that I WILL make sense of it all - because ultimately, the world cannot stop making sense.
My name is Erin Watson, and I am a Princess. I'm going to figure out what that means.
"Hey." Erin wasn't QUITE as confident as she wanted to sound, but she was determined to see this through. "Huh? Oh, hey." Dirk vaguely recognized Erin as one of the girls from school. He didn't remember ever talking to her before, so why was she starting now? "Do you have a minute?" "I'm not going anywhere, why?" "Well...I've heard a couple things." From the teachers, mostly - she was on good enough terms with most of them to ask around. "...What kind of things?" "Things along the lines of you flunking math." And most subjects, really. Dirk's behavior was getting more anti-social every year, and his decreasing interest in school was just one of several symptoms. His posture got a bit more defensive. "So what?" She weighed her words carefully. She'd prepared for this conversation, and figured this would be the hard part. "So, well...with math, if you start losing it at one point, you can't catch up the next part, because it builds on the earlier lessons you didn't get. Vicious circle and all that. But if you understand the current lesson, THEN the next one becomes easy." "Yeah, so?" He sounded a bit more annoyed than he actually felt. It was none of her business, but for some reason, her presence was...soothing. "If I actually cared about this stuff, I'd pay attention." "If you didn't care about this stuff AT ALL, you wouldn't even turn up answer sheets on tests." That remark left him at loss for words for a few seconds. Long enough for her to go on: "You need to figure out what we're learning NOW, if you want to be able to keep up later. And I've looked around; tutors don't come cheap." "I never said anything about tutors!" "Well, no. They can take ten dollars per hour." He paused again. Just where was this weird girl trying to go with this? "Thing is..." she said, "I don't NEED ten dollars per hour. I've got this after-school job that covers my allowance needs just fine." "Wait, wait, hold it. Are you saying you want to tutor me?" "I'm saying I'm cheaper than other tutors." "You just said you didn't need money." "Which means that if I help you - REALLY help you, I mean - you'll owe me a favor instead." He blinked. "What kind of favor are you talking about?" "Eh, we'll see. Not like you couldn't refuse anyway." He considered the weird offer for a moment. "Eh, buzz off. I don't need this headache." She forced herself to stare him straight in the eyes. "The way I see it, Dirk... It's like this: You can go back to whichever pressing concerns you have," he stiffened at the subdued sarcasm, "fall asleep listening to the math teacher babble nonsense, and hopefully score an E+ on the next test... Or you can take a couple hours this week to go over this stuff with me, and then have the next lesson actually make sense. Those couple hours now can save you many, many more hours of frustration over the rest of the year - and, come on. Nothing you say will convince me you LIKE failing tests." Dirk considered. The girl's insistence on tutoring him was weirding him out a bit. He didn't really care enough about school stuff to get a freaking TUTOR. Brushing the whole thing off seemed like the obvious choice. Except... Except that what she said made sense. And for some reason...when he was talking to her, this whole school thing sounded less like a hassle, and more like a challenge. What the heck. There were worse ways to spend an hour than with a girl who wanted to help you.
"So you see," Erin explained, "if that applies to x, it pretty much HAS to apply to y, too." "Yeah, yeah, I get it." Dirk wouldn't actually admit it, but he had caught himself ALMOST feeling enthusiastic a few times. This was his third tutoring session with Erin, and when she explained this stuff, it actually MADE SENSE. It felt oddly liberating - instead of random nonsense on a blackboard, it was a set of simple rules that were pretty logical in the end. He could UNDERSTAND it - and today's math class had indeed been a lot less sleep-inducing as a result. Erin glanced at her watch. "Well, I gotta run, but we can continue tomorrow at the same time, if you're free." "Sure, thanks." "I'll also bring the science books. If you don't mind going over that, too." "Huh? Uh, OK, sure." She smiled. "Glad to help, though you DO owe me a favor for this." He paused. She hadn't mentioned the favor thing since he'd agreed to her tutoring; he'd pretty much forgotten about it. Still, he DID owe her one. "Yeah, I guess. Anything you need help with?" "As a matter of fact..." She let her words hang in the air for a moment. "There's this one thing I need you to do for me." "Yyyyes...?" "I need you to advertise." "Advertise?" "Yeah. I need your help convincing more people to let me tutor them." He raised his eyebrows. "Um, why?" "Dirk, look at it this way." She inhaled deeply. "Our school isn't exactly the best in town. Lots of us have problems. Sometimes big ones. And often, that leads to more problems at school. Plenty of our classmates...well, they start lagging behind, which causes them to lose interest, which causes further lagging. And I think, well, I think that's a shame. I think I can help people with that, at least a little. So I need your help helping." After Dirk agreed and they both went home, she smiled to herself. Back in the Dreamlands, back at the Academy, the more experienced "Nobles" had explained to her about her Echo - how her very presence could help people focus on solving their problems. Naturally, she had started thinking of ways to apply it for the greater good. Helping out poor students and troubled teens from her school? That seemed like a worthwhile application.
Erin checked her phone. An SMS from Dirk - he had convinced another one of his friends to join her tutoring sessions.
She smiled. Her growing circle of 'students' was doing well (Dirk of all people getting an A on his algebra test had made some noise), and expanding. With her help, these guys were doing better in classes, and perhaps even enjoying them a little. And this kind of thing had immense impact on a teenager - when you did well in school and expanded your mind, it could completely change your views in life. Troubled teens got actual HOPE for the future.
She was doing some good. And that thought gave her some courage, which she was really going to need for what was about to come.
"Mom, dad, I'm home!" Yeah, she was home...and only a day earlier, she had survived not one, but two fights with a monster built out of clay, magic, and self-righteous hate. Survived bullet wounds and third-degree burns. Had the most difficult, exhausting day of her entire life - and then got magically healed, leaving not a single physical trace of the ordeal. Yeah, returning home wasn't something she took for granted anymore. "Aaaaand...We need to talk." Understatement.
Soon enough, she had the undivided attention of both parental units. "What is the matter, sweetie?"
She hesitated. "Ah...You might want to sit down." She paused. "It's gonna be a bit long."
Mr. and Mrs. Watson both sat down, exchanging nervous glances. Erin had never been a problematic daughter, but...
She took a deep breath. "Consider this...science-fictional idea, if you will. Imagine a... perfect world. Well, perfect isn't the right word of it... Imagine the best possible world. A world where Love Conquers All, where everything works out for the best in the end, where safety and happiness are the norm. Imagine that this word - let's call it 'The Kingdom' - had this connection to the physical incarnation of the concept of Hope. Call it 'The Light'. Still with me so far?"
"Erin... What exactly is the matter with this fairy tale?" asked her increasingly confused father.
"I'm going somewhere with this, believe me.
Anyway. Within that Kingdom, there would have been people who managed to cultivate their own connection to the Light. Which made them sorta messianic figures - walking, talking avatars of hope, who could channel this Light and do all sorts of nifty miracles. They would have been the 'Nobility' of the Kingdom, so to speak."
"Wait, 'nobility'? Was that hereditary?"
"Not as such. You were a Noble because you had a special connection to the Light, not because anyone in your family was. It wasn't about social class... More like about being a Buddha, Jesus & Mister Rogers sandwich. And those Nobles were the ones protecting the Kingdom, making sure it remained this utopian world."
"...Are you trying to write a fantasy book?"
She snorted. "Not exactly. But like I said, I'm going somewhere with this.
So. You have this all-but-perfect Kingdom, the Light that inspires its goodness, and the Nobles who maintain it thanks to their link to the Light.
Then, at one point, things abruptly go pear-shaped. Some form of metaphysical Darkness - some form of cosmic mish-mash of fear and corruption - manages to reset all of reality so that there is no connection between the Light and the world, the Nobles fall to the minions of the Darkness, and the Kingdom is obliterated. After this Cataclysm, the world goes topsy-turvy, and what's left in the end is a reality that's been rebooted without all the hope and glory and utopia that used to be the norm. In other words, the Darkness turns the Kingdom into OUR world."
"That sounds like a pretty negative view of our world."
"Oh, I'm not saying the world is bad... but, it COULD be one heckuva lot better.
Which is kind of the idea: After enough time passes, the Light starts shining on the world again... in small doses. So you start having Princesses showing up, and..."
"You know, the Nobles."
"What, no Princes?"
"Sure, them too. Sorry. Anyway, you have these people on Earth developing this new connection to the Light, becoming Nobles, and trying to use their newfound powers to fix the world. Spreading hope, helping the helpless, healing the sick, fighting off the Darkness. That's the general premise."
She paused. Her parents considered for a moment. "I've heard worse story premises," her father said eventually, "but what does it have to do with anything?"
Erin took another deep breath. "Well...this is the important part. It's not a story." She took a step forward, and declared: "To make sense of it all: The Soul of Reason!"
Her parents watched, wide-eyed, as their daughter transformed in a flash of light. The futuristic-looking armored girl gave them a sheepish smile. "Mom. Dad. I'm a Princess."
Coming to term with the new development wasn't easy. Erin had some explaining to do.
"So, you use this... 'Inner Light'... to do impossible things."
"Well, they're not really impossible, since I'm doing them. Kind of like how instant transatlantic communication is impossible, unless you have radio or some equivalent."
"So, what? It's a new technology?"
"I don't think that's the right term. More like, tapping into a metaphysical power source. It's hard to explain. It's KINDA a technology if you use a broad enough definition, I guess."
"And how long has this been going on?"
"Less than two weeks. I actually got these powers at the same time as another girl in the area, and we've got a small group working together now..."
"Wait, a group? Who ARE these people?"
"There's a hospital nurse, a med student... Normal people like me who forged a connection to capital-H Hope."
"And what exactly have you been doing?"
"Ah... Well, we've mostly been trying to save the hospital. So, we've been gathering information on a corrupt businessman who's trying to sink it (we've already forwarded the evidence to the police), trying to stop the gangs from causing trouble..." she figured talks of Goalenu, Changelings, and Alhambran Princes would be best saved for another time.
"Wait, GANGS? You've been..."
"Calm down. Princess powers, remember? This armor can deflect bullets." Which didn't necessarily mean it would every time, but...
"Erin, this... this is insane. You're still in high school, for God's sake! You're not supposed to be out there risking your life like police! You..."
"Not 'police' so much as 'superheroes'. Mom... This isn't a HOBBY. This is something that NEEDS TO BE DONE.
Look around you. Look at the neighborhood, at the world. How many times have you wanted to change it for the better?
Well, I CAN change it for the better. I have this... this incredible power at my fingertips. I can walk into a blazing inferno and walk out unharmed. I can inspire hope in the desperate. I can FEEL supernatural threats lurking around. I can take down armed thugs with efficiency that a SWAT team would envy. I can solve problems of superhuman complexity." Granted, she was making it sound a bit more impressive than it was for now, but... "In short, I am a Princess, and I have the power to shine the Light into the world. I have already made several lives far, far better - and I intend to keep doing so. Because if I don't, who will?"
The talk lasted for a while longer, but overall, she felt she had 'won' the discussion. Her parents now knew the truth, and weren't outright forbidding her to keep working with the nakama. Not having to lie to them was a load off her mind.
Of course, she still needed to tell them about the other aspects of the job. About the Dreamlands; about the various supernatural crazies out there. About the Changelings, and the current security problem ("Gotta ask Jack or Daniel to break in", she reminded herself). And there was of course the upcoming confrontation with the Alhambran Prince.
But, all things considered? She was feeling hopeful. Capital-H Hopeful, even. The hospital was all but saved. The cell of Storms was out of the game. Her classmates were doing better. The world was going to be saved.
And on a more personal level, she had dealt with pain, fear, danger, moral difficulties... and felt that she had acquitted herself rather well. There was Hope. There was Light - no longer the new, hard-to-understand presence in her soul she had felt in those first days of her Blossoming, but a strong, powerful source of energy, confidence and goodness.
She was Erin Watson, the Soul of Reason, Champion of Diamonds.
She would bring Light to the World of Darkness.
Appearance: In her mundane state, Erin looks like an unremarkable teenager. She's not particularly unattractive, but doesn't put much effort into her appearance, either. Her black hair is shoulder-length, her eyes brown, and her clothes largely practical.
In her transformed state, Erin becomes a technological angel. Her clothes are replaced with a silver uniform that can't seem to decide if it's a dress or an armor; for that matter, it seems unable to decide if it's solid or liquid, constantly flowing with her movements so as not to get in her way even as it shields her. The Omni-Visor covers her eyes, and she is likely to hold the BoomStaff in her hands.
Dexterity: 3 (+1)
Resolve: 2 (+1)
Computers: 3; Specialty: Internet
Crafts: 2; Specialty: Electronics (Experiments with mechanics and electronics in her parents' basement.)
Drive: 2 (Got her driver's licence and all.)
Firearms: 2 (+1) (Specialty: BoomStaff)
Persuasion: 3; Specialty: Motivational Speeches
Willpower: 5 (+1)
Inner Light: 2
Circle of Lights **
Language * (Spanish classes in school.)
Resources * (Allowance aside, she does the occasional freelance web-design job to earn extra money. Most of which she then loans to micro-credit charity.)
Orisons: (I noticed we're supposed to take 3 at character creation. The Omni-Visor doubles as her Emblem here.)
The BoomStaff: This Regalia takes the form of a black, gold-tipped high-tech staff (think Nanoha's Raging Heart). It projects concussive blasts, and has an automatic aim-correction function.
Roll: Dexterity+Firearms+3 (B)
The Omni-Visor: This phylactery looks like a pair of sunglasses most of the times. After Transformation, however, it takes the form of a futuristic visor that covers the upper half of her face.
This is easily the least-powered among these versions, I believe. That's to be expected, considering the setting.
Others: Though I haven't used them, I've created a few other versions, including one with the "Senshi: The Merchandising" system. I actually have a "Soul" character in Champions Online. And that's without getting into all the situations where I've merely imagined the character (or, for that matter, several other characters from "Saga of Soul"). There is, naturally, a difference in tone. The Freedom City campaign was grand superheroics, and their Soul was someone who had grown up in a world full of superheroes. The Spirit of Creation game has probably been the most light-hearted one, which probably shows in this version of Soul too. The playtest for "Princess: The Hopeful" takes place in a far bleaker world, and their Soul has to face a world that has very little hope in it... And then, of course, we have Eriko Watanabe. A bit similar to all those other versions. A bit different. And going to develop over time, if I have my way.