Once, there was a family.
It was not a big family, not a clan consisting of dozens of members. No, it was tiny as such things go. Three people. Mother, Father, and the Son. They loved each other as families do, argued and made up… and they were, if not quite happy… satisfied.
Immigrants through and through, they had made a home in a land far away from where their people had originated. The Father was a full citizen, having been born in the land of opportunities back when it was still that, a son and grandson of immigrants.
His own grandfather had come over to the country back when it could still be rightly and properly called the Land of Opportunity. And it had lived up to the ideal. 1950s America was the preeminent power in the world, while his own homeland, infinitely older in culture but not worth mentioning in the same breath in power, was still undergoing the teething pains of a newly liberated democracy.
Vishnu Chandra had worked hard and had done well for himself. He had then wed a good, Indian wife, and sired a son. The son he'd named Yash, in hopes he'd be a great and successful man. That had never happened, but the son, Yash, had worked just as hard as his father, and built the small shop his father had left him into a modestly, if not extremely prosperous electronics business.
It was his son, Kamal Chandra, who featured as the Dad in our little family of three. Bright, hardworking (as opposed to 'hardly working', which was what his father thought of him), he'd been a teenager when a Golden Man had emerged into the world, and in the doing of it, changed everything.
He'd become an adult in a world of Parahumans, growing with the Golden Age that had descended upon the world. He'd wanted with every breath to be one, in those days… though rather less, when he he'd seen the Age end under the fists of drunken hooligans. Such was how these things ended anyway, his father, jaded and cold for years now, had declared.
Kamal had never become a parahuman, but he was intelligent, worked hard, and was, in every way that he could manage, a good man. He'd cried when Hero died and railed at the uncaring gods when the Endbringers had emerged into existence, and with every announcement that came saying that a city had fallen to an S-class threat.
This is not his story.
Kamal's wife, the Mother in our family, was a first-generation immigrant, who had come to America after marrying him. An immensely bright woman, she had a gift for languages, and had soon found work as a Foreign Languages teacher in one of the local schools.
The city they lived in was a bright, steadily expanding metropolis on the East Coast, growing fat and rich on trade and tourism. Not a great and glorious city, but with all the tools to become such.
Then came Leviathan.
Sumati Chandra was a good woman, a sincere woman. She worked hard at her job, and every student she sent away proficient in a language apart from English was a personal joy in her life. Unlike her husband, she'd always been rather ambivalent to Parahumans. In the land she had grown up in, such things had been made into a joke, hero and villain alike dividing themselves into Garam and Thanda, Hot and Cold capes depending on how loudly they wanted to yell when wrecking things around them.
She herself had no desire to be a parahuman and wanted it lesser still with every rumor she heard about the trauma involved in the process. Nonetheless, she was compassionate and thoroughly practical, and wanted to do the best she could to leave the world.
When they city they had lived in for over a decade, where her husband had grown up and where his family had lived for decades, started to die… it was her who pushed for them to move. They had the means, there certainly was the need, and it was time to be coldly practical.
She succeeded. They moved to Boston, the city whose trade had indeed, benefited to an extent from the collapse of the Bay's docks, and set themselves up. The father sold the business in the Bay and bought a shop in Boston, even though he could never bring himself to sell the house. The woman smiled at this and prepared herself to help her family face the world with their heads held high. She was, in many ways, a very remarkable woman.
This is not her story.
Both the father and the mother doted on their son. He was young, barely seventeen in the spring of 2009, and would never agree that he was anything but a grown adult. His parents smiled in amusement, but they loved him, and he loved them, and it was all fine. He was excellent in his studies and respectable in sports. A bit shy and a bit awkward, he did the best he could.
Of course, unlike earlier days, that counted for far less. The world was a harder place than the one his parents had grown up in, and a crueler one by far. New ills had emerged into the land, and these were problems that simply working hard and trying could not solve. Everything cost more, everything broke down more. The world was under siege, and it was all they could do to hold on.
Until they couldn't. It was the mother where it started. One day, in class, she found herself suffering migraines so terrible as to make her feel like she would die. Somehow, she managed to get through it, and the next day visited a doctor.
The doctor was a busy man and almost perpetually tired. Even if he hadn't been, he wasn't very good, as a man or as a practitioner. Looking at her, he evaluated the chances of extorting some of the more profitable tests from her and found them wanting. He prescribed some pills and sent her away.
Somehow it worked for a time. Her headaches faded away; her job resumed… for a time. But even when they returned, there wasn't the old intensity. Painkillers, replaced steadily with stronger ones, became a food instead of a medicine, and things stretched on.
And then she passed out while teaching a class.
This time the doctor was a better one, and the right scans and tests were conducted. The family arrived at the hospital when they could, and the results were passed around gingerly.
That was when it all broke apart. A tumor. Inoperable, incurable for modern science.
And for anything else, too. The irony of ironies was that the greatest healer anyone knew of lived in the city they'd forsaken, and regularly spent hours healing all comers. The problem, of course, was that she didn't 'do' brains.
The family pitched in to do everything they could. The father spent money like water, uncaring of cost or what he had to sell off. The second home, the jewelry… away it all went. In the beginning he spent it at every legitimate treatment possible, then at every quack who would take it, which was all of them. But of course, it wasn't to be.
And so, the mother died. And the content, small world of the family came crashing apart. To his credit, the father held on for entire months. He saw his son through his graduation, and the last memory the son had of his father smiling was when he saw him come out of the ceremony. He hadn't made Valedictorian or Salutatorian, but he'd made it in the top 5 percentile.
That was the last good thing that happened in his life. What the son hadn't realized that seeing him through school was the only purpose that the father had had left in the world. He wasn't what one would call a weak man in the traditional sense… but he had loved his wife so very much. With her gone, and the only pressing duty ended… there remained nothing to fill the hole.
He found love again soon after. His son would have been happy for him, if it hadn't been that the Father found it on the inside of a bottle. Syringes followed soon after, and then came the gambling. Anything to make it hurt less.
The business was the first to go, carved away by the loan sharks first in terms of stock and money, and then everything else. It had been rather a well-to-do business of TVs, accessories, appliances and whatnot. The father had run it well, and by the standards of 2010 Boston, he'd traded in shockingly few stolen goods. Once the business was gone, his house came next. Seeing everything he and his wife had built with such pain and care just… gone, his creditors taking particular care to stamp over his dignity in the process… it finished off whatever remained in the man.
A few weeks after the business died, two days before his son's eighteenth birthday, the man died too, overdosing on the one last hit of cheap meth he'd managed to score.
It hit the son like a truck, one trauma after the other. And much like the father had in earlier days, he railed at the gods his family had held to. What had they done to deserve this? Why did such things happen to them, and not people who cheated others, who delighted in cruelties? The gods might have answered had they been able to. But it was a tall order, considering that they didn't… well, exist.
And so, the son set down in his life to struggle. There had been a college fund, once. It was gone now, pillaged first for his mother treatment and then for his father's gambling. The business was gone too, as was the house in Boston. All that remained was the house in Brockton Bay, under two mortgages and soon to be repossessed. The boy struggled to grasp what had happened. He was alone in all the world, barely an adult with no savings and no means of income. All that remained was a house far too full of painful memories, with a few months left before the bank came to take it away. Still he endured. For months, having turned eighteen, he drifted from one menial job to another, looking for something that would allow him to bring any hint of stability back into his life.
It wasn't to be, of course. And as the months passed, it became even clearer just how cruel the world he lived in was. It was fitting, he supposed, that it was first of April when he got the notice to vacate. It was confirmation that yes, his life was indeed a joke. But all else aside, if he wanted a roof over his head he couldn't stay in Boston. Thus, to Brockton Bay he went, returning to the broken city in hopes of finding some, any means of keeping body and soul together.
He was young end energetic, educated and prepared to work hard. Couldn't he build it all up again, like his ancestors had done before him? The boy, freshly become a man, tried to force himself to believe he could, and willed himself to try and build a life in the Bay, as his ancestors had.
This is not his story.
It is not his story because he failed, and he failed because even on the way to Brockton Bay reality was already setting in. There was nothing left for him in the world, nothing and no one. The endless, ceaseless cruelty and hopelessness of the world had taken away everything he'd ever cared for, and if he built it up again, it would take it all away again.
Amar Chandra arrived in Brockton Bay on the second of April, just as the day turned into night. And looking at the house his parents had left all those years ago drove it in once and for all. The house loomed dark and cold on the outside and looked like a mausoleum of dead dreams under sheets on the inside. There was no light, since Behemoth's 'fun' with power plants had made electricity a luxury, and Energon had done the rest. It wasn't that it couldn't be had, it was just that paying the bills was out of the realm of possibility. Not for most of the population, not just yet, but certainly for him.
Water was still on, for what it was worth. The house had some decent furniture, and a basement full of broken electronics from when his family had owned that store.
That night, the young man went into a bathtub with a knife.
The next morning, a stranger woke up in his body.
This is his story.
He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with a bleary yawn, trying to see what was going on. His neck was on the edge of the bathtub, his legs hanging over the other side of it, and both hurt. As did his arm, almost like someone… almost like someone had tried to slice it.
What the hell? Checking it he found it unblemished. It was also encrusted in something rather disgusting, which he was pretty sure was blood.
It was also blue.
With a jerk, he stood up, banging his head into the shower above. A second later, he stepped out of the bathtub in a hurry, rushing to the light switch.
He flicked it on. The he flicked it off, and then on again. Nothing happened.
"… okay…" he muttered to himself, growing more concerned by the second. Something niggled at him throughout all this, something that seemed obvious and rather important. Something like…
Since when did he have a bathtub?
Looking around, he spotted even more things weird. Shelves where there weren't any in his bathroom, no towels… it wasn't his bathroom at all.
He was in someone else's bathroom. He was in something else's bathroom, he was covered in blood, and he was Blue!
What the fuck was going on? Was this a prank? Had someone abducted him? Where was he? What was going to happen to-
The Status Effect 'Blind Panic' has been suppressed by Gamer's Mind.
He stared at the notification, all too aware of the sudden calm in his mind. He raised a hand to poke it, but the words faded away before he could connect.
With a somewhat staggered move, he stepped back into the shower. The he stepped back out, and peeled off his somewhat ripped, straining-to-tear clothes.
Getting back in, he turned the shower on, rubbing himself all over to ensure that the blood was washed off. While he did that, he thought.
Okay… so he was in a strange place, in someone's bathroom. He was covered in blood, was blue, and apparently, he had the Gamer power. The Gamer. Korean Dresden Files, except in all the ways it wasn't.
There was going to be no use to panicking and yelling his head off. He'd need to understand what was happening. Could he remember anything at all about how he came to be here?
Thinking back, he strained his mind… and he recalled rather a lot, actually. He recalled a second life, the life of Amar Keshav Chandra, son of Kamal and Sumati Chandra. Eighteen years old orphan with the saddest fucking story he'd ever heard of… and who'd stepped into this bathtub last night with every intent to make the pain cease.
He also remembered being a different boy, also Indian, with an altogether less dramatic story. He was… which one was he? Was he Amar, the boy who tried his best but simply couldn't take it? Or was he… the other person?
Well, whichever he was, he was clean now, so he'd better get out of this bathtub. Toweling off, he put his clothes back on, grimacing at how badly they fit. Both Amar and his other personality had been a couple inches short of six feet. Whatever body he was in… was not. He estimated it was 6'5, or at least 6'4. And not to be forgotten, blue.
Getting out of the bathroom, he found the rest of the house better lit with the light from the windows. Coming close to a mirror, he looked at himself. So, not only was he inky blue, he also had Targaryen silver hair, and the greenest eyes he'd ever heard of. These weren't just green, they were bad HP fanfiction green. 'Carefully cut emeralds', or 'Viridian Pools' green.
Also, was it just him or did he… no, it wasn't just him. He was fucking gorgeous. He looked like someone had combined Bruce Timm's aesthetic with the daintiest, softest bishounen style in the world.
Actually, no, he didn't look anywhere as grotesque as that sounded, but holy shit, what else could he call someone who was ripped like an athlete, but prettier than Glory Girl at her best?
And then the man paused. Glory Girl? That was from the Amar set of memories. But no… something niggled at him from the other life too. Something he'd… seen? No, something he might have read. It was fleeting, disappearing like a dream even as he tried to focus at it. What he remembered living, on the other hand, spoke volumes. Glory Girl was a cape, a parahuman who was part of New Wave. A bit heavy on the collateral damage, but one of the stars of the bay.
So, someone had abducted him, and dumped him into the body of a recent suicide and then added powers to that body? Or had he, Amar, triggered and the look and the body and the new memories were his new power?
Hm. 'Triggered', another term from Amar's side of things. More slang than a proper word, it was how people with powers were supposed to have gotten them. You 'triggered' on the worst day of your life and got powers out of it. Kind of helpful to understand how so many more of the powered seemed to become villains than heroes. Four-to-one wasn't very good figures.
But with a moment of thought… wasn't it all academic? He was here now, and that was all there was to it. Certainly, there was nothing in either of the lives he recalled that he'd like to continue intact.
Oh, sure, the other life hadn't been bad. It'd just been… alright. And he was a fairly active denizen of the internet and the various fandoms. He knew how this sort of thing was supposed to work. Of course, that had been in stories, but come on. He had the Gamer!
Well, time to get a look at things.
"Character Sheet!" he called out in the air, waiting for the notification to appear.
Frowning, he swung around wildly, pointing at the wall next to him. "Observe!" he shouted.
And nothing continued to happen.
…okay, maybe he didn't know how this sort of thing worked. How was he supposed to use the Gamer power he if he couldn't even see his own status screen?
And an instant later, a blue box erupted into the air ahead of him.
"Seriously?" he called out into the empty air. It declined to answer.
Name: Amar Keshav Chandra
Class: The Gamer
Full Recovery Period: 47.22 minutes
Full Recovery Period: 43.75 minutes
Stat Points Remaining: 0
Gamer's Body (Passive) LV Max
Grants a body that allows the user to live life like a Game.
Gamer's Mind (Passive) LV Max
Allows the user to calmly and logically think things through. Allows a peaceful state of mind. Grants Immunity to psychological status effects.
Observe [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
A skill to find the target's information. Observe is obtained and improved through continuous observation.
Unarmed Combat Mastery [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to fight without using weapons.
Bladed Weapons Mastery [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to fight using Bladed Weapons.
Ranged Weapons Mastery [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to fight using Ranged Weapons.
Illusion [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to use Illusion based magic.
Healing [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to heal others.
Pyromancy [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to wield Fire based magic.
Hydromancy [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to wield Water based magic.
Electromancy [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to wield Lightning based magic.
Geomancy [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to wield Earth based magic.
Aeromancy [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to wield Wind based magic.
Universal [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to wield spells beyond classifications.
Creation [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to create things with magic.
Summoning [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to summon other creatures and beings with magic.
Abjuration [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to use Defensive Magic.
Divination [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to use magic pertaining to information.
Mind Magic [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to use magic to affect minds.
Necromancy [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to use Death based magic.
Transmutation [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to transmute things with magic.
Evocation [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to use directly offensive magic.
Telekinesis[Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to move things without touching them.
Teleport [Basic] (Active) LV 1 Exp: 0.00%
The ability to move further than humanly possible in an instant.
Comic Book Pretty: You look like a Model, airbrushed to perfection in all circumstances. CHA +100%
Man of Mystery: You wear mystery like a stylish cloak. Provides Immunity to all abilities based on Supernatural Perception.
Special Snowflake: Provides Immunity to all hostile actions/skills/powers targeted at your powers/skills.
Beneficial Case 53: +5 to all non-mental stats
Hope Empowerment 9: Provides Bonuses to all Stats, Skills and powers based on ambient Hope and Hope induced by you.
For a moment, the man just stared. "Well" he muttered, looking at every skill from top to bottom. That looked... broken. He was aware that his mouth had fallen open, but he wasn't up to caring just then.
"I guess I'm calling myself Amar then" he eventually managed to mutter to himself. Still fiddling with the character sheet, he found that tapping a skill revealed a list of spells and sub-skills under it. The vast, overwhelming bulk of everything was greyed out due to the MP costs being somewhere in the stratosphere compared to what he had... but hot damn. He had skills. He had powers. He was a Gamer, and he had the powers of what looked like Arcane and Divine Magic from D&D, and Naruto and Harry Potter on top of it.
And other powers, on top of it. The only one unlocked was Hope Empowerment, but judging by the rest of it all...
Yeah. He could work with this.
CYOA V3 Build
Difficulty: God Mode +1
Apprentice: D&D Arcane Magic + Archive - 3
Apprentice: D&D Divine Magic + Archive - 2
Apprentice: HP Magic + Archive - 2
Apprentice: Ninja Magic + Archive - 2
Wildcard: Transcendent Physiology 3 – 1
Wildcard: Hope Empowerment 9 – 1
Wildcard: Dimensional Manipulation 5 - 1
Wildcard: Craftsmanship Magic 6 - 1
Man of Mystery-1
Comic Book Pretty-1
Cauldron Vials - 2
Wanted: E88 +1
Wanted: Merchants +1
Wanted: ABB +1
Wildbow? What's a Wildbow? +2
Geas: Maintain Character +1
Case 53: Blue Skin, Silver Hair, fit +0
Things Get Worse: Disastrous – More capes, double S-class threats +2