The New Ghosts

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Invictus
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The New Ghosts

Post by Invictus » Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:55 pm

The New Ghosts

Recently, details have come to light regarding the mysterious Fourth Department of the General Staff Headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army of China and the equally mysterious single unit attached to it, the 14th Rapid Reaction Operational Group. It is now quite clear that this is no ordinary military unit, but a force of metahuman paramilitary operatives under the direct control of the Central Military Commission, China’s highest military organ. They are also believed to be the true identity behind a concerning influx of unidentified metahumans onto the international military scene, organized Chinese agents long nicknamed as the ‘New Ghosts.’

The history of metahuman activity in the People’s Republic of China stretches back before its very founding, and the names of the many heroes and martyrs lauded in its history books are well known. Metahumans, with their sometimes extraordinary abilities, have long been utilized by the government not only for their propaganda worth as heroes of socialism, but above all for their practical value in a country technologically behind the capitalist West. The shadowy Fourth Department of the PLA HQ has been long known to exist by various intelligence sources, responsible for the monitoring and sometimes containment of the metahuman population within the PRC. Metahumans who find their way into the vast military ranks, such as Red Sun and his predecessors, are registered and attached to regular military units as the department sees fit. However, recent military modernization drives within the PLA, inspired by Western military doctrine, have mandated the creation of a self-contained, fully independent Special Forces unit comprised entirely of metahumans, which can act as a tremendous force multiplier in global, small-scale, brushfire conflicts. The formation of such a unit was one area of which the PRC had a definite advantage due to its sheer population.

Estimates of the number of metahuman operatives active within the New Ghosts ranges from 75~ to the low hundreds, although not all of them would be assigned to field operations. This count does not include members of various other elite military units attached to the New Ghosts during specific operations, nor the elite air transport units assigned to them to ensure minimum response times. The training programme of the New Ghosts is by necessity highly comprehensive and flexible, given that the unit recruits from all walks of society. The unique nature of metahuman powers is such that their wielders may be deemed too valuable not to recruit into service, even though they may be otherwise physically or mentally unfit for military service. The roster of the New Ghosts is therefore usually comprised of an eclectic mixture of untrained civilians, veteran soldiers and various exotica, all of which must be forged into an effective force capable of both extended direct action or intelligence operations. Further details about the organization of the New Ghosts are unclear, but below are brief profiles of a few of its known operatives:

'Diamond Locust'

'Pearl' – Runaway dragon princess. The youngest daughter of the Dragon King of the East, she grew tired of life in the court-in-exile that even the sovereign of all Chinese dragonkind was reduced to in the recent few centuries. In retrospect, she wasn’t the first to slip into human form and escape to dry land in a spate of curiosity, although she is so far the first not to return in contrition nor get married to some young and virtuous scholar in a cosmic meeting of fates. This may entirely be due to her being the first runaway dragon princess to encounter the modern age and savor all the delights it has to offer. On the other hand, the naïve Pearl was appalled by the injustices she witnessed in the modern world, subsequently coming to attention of the New Ghosts as an independent vigilante. After some intense mystic negotiations between the PRC government and the Dragon Court-in-exile, it was agreed that Pearl would serve in the New Ghosts as a ‘learning experience’. Even in her human form, Pearl’s physical prowess is incredible, bolstered by the monstrous amounts of qi inherent to her kind. Being a potential goddess, she also has a number of semi-divine abilities including hydrokinesis and weather manipulation on impressive scales, a complete freedom of movement underwater, cloud-riding, supernatural auras of awe and a certain amount of pull in the supernatural pecking order. She can shift into her native form as well, but having a dragon in their employ is something the New Ghosts keeps secret, passing Pearl off as an ‘ordinary’ metahuman of eighteen years. To keep Pearl on the payroll, the PLA keeps a very loose leash on her, and she spends her time wandering the world on her Vespa in a kind of permanent gap year, “chasing her missing youth” as she calls it. Her two most valuable possessions are the pearl studded in her tongue and a scarf from her mother. Generally upbeat and congenial, she is popular with her teammates even if they don’t summon her for their blacker operations.

Henry ‘Zodiac’ Gao – Former triad gangster with a checkered past and mysterious occult connections. No one is quite sure where he got the idea to tattoo the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac onto his body throughout his life, bestowing their totemic strengths to himself in some half-understood ritual. Nevertheless the superhuman abilities he has gained are genuine. From the raw endurance of the ox to the strength of the tiger, the sure-footedness of the goat to the agility of the monkey, even the enhanced hearing of the rat and the infrared senses of the snake – Gao has learned to activate and combine them practically at will. Perhaps it was his sheer versatility that made the New Ghosts arrange a fake execution and give him the chance for a new life. In any case, Feng seemed eager to leave his ruined life behind. Now he works entirely underground as a ‘Swiss knife’ agent that takes advantage of his flexible but not outstandingly impressive powers, developing a taste for guns in the process. However, there are signs that there might inadvertently be more to his powers – flashes of intuition, precognitive itches and unusual luck – that may be the unavoidable effects of replicating an entire astrology on a human body.

Wufa ‘The Monk’ of the Ash – a Shrykar Adept, part of a legacy of cooperation between the Cult of the Fire and the PLA that dates back to China’s annexation of Tibet in the 1950’s. Back then, PLA commandos joined forces with Shrykar bands in an audacious assault of the Nimaru Monastery in exchange for limited military access to Shrykar techniques and a fraction of whatever loot was to result. The attack was a failure and Chinese casualties were heavy, but a few Shrykar stuck around as ‘advisors’ for the PLA’s more covert branches. Wufa of the Ash is a veteran of the New Ghosts whose attitude is equal measures of cynicism and devil-may-care. He does not act much like a monk at all, being especially fond of drink in particular. Being drunk does not seem to inhibit his fighting prowess – in fact, it only seems to enhance it. There is a going rumor amidst Shrykar circles that he completed his Forging while utterly smashed, which may indeed explain its unusual form and Wufa’s own moniker. Unlike the vast majority of adepts who end up with solid blades, Wufa’s weapon is a double handful of dust-like metal filings, every single particle of which he can telekinetically control and charge with Nimaru energies. The dust can mingle with surrounding matter to form a blade, a dozen flying blades or any other kind of fantastic armory, if he is profligate enough with his energies. Indeed, the flexible configuration of his Forging allows him an incredible variety of tactics in combat. Combined with a mastery of Shrykar abilities, he is among the foremost assassins that the New Ghosts can field.

‘Judge’ Han Yuchang – A career police detective, the gruff and unassuming man is actually the son of ‘The Lightning Judge’ Han Tang, the Hero of the Revolution who was later disgraced during the PRC’s political tumults. He has fully inherited his father’s powers of mental inquisition and refined them to a new level during his stressful career. However, his father’s fall and subsequent death left Han with no desire to seek recognition – he did his best to conceal and deny his powers and play his part as the penitent and devoted Party member. But he was also a devoted policeman, and there were occasions where he simply had to use everything at his disposal to solve crimes and save lives. While terribly conflicted inside, he was able to disguise the achievements of his powers as brilliant detective work, quickly gaining fame and enemies. This delicate balance couldn’t weather the growing danger to his family and the increasing attention he came under from the authorities, so discreetly he made himself known. The New Ghosts offered him a relatively simple deal – in return for protection, a high-paying job and the political rehabilitation of his late father, he was to be the cadre of the unit, keeping the other members in line with his formidable mental powers. Han is a skilled detective and marksman whose powerful psychic powers extend beyond communication. He can read and modify the deepest memories of his targets, or simply tear their minds apart and leave their bodies catatonic. Mental domination also comes easily to him – he can completely control the actions of many people at once, limited only by his moral compulsions. For ultimately, Han is a man who believes in justice, and who knows where his current path will take him.

‘Ghost General’ Duan Qianxuan – General Duan’s code name is fairly direct – he is a ghost; and he is a commander of men. In the annals of history and memory, Duan’s army was little more than a footnote, a foolish Han Dynasty general from before the birth of Christ who swore an oath that his expedition would not return until he had conquered the distant western country of Da Qin for the Emperor. General Duan’s quest was doomed from the beginning, as the Han could barely project military power across Central Asia at that time, beset as they were by the nomadic Xiongnu; nor could his elite but small cavalry force actually hope to prevail against its target, as Da Qin was what the Han name for the mighty Roman Empire. Five thousand riders perished in the sands of the Gobi and the steppes of Khwarazm, their bones buried and their names forgotten. But the oath General Duan and his troops underwent was too powerful: even after death it bound their spirits to the mortal plane until they could complete their task. However, this power was in turn bound to the General’s sword with which the blood oath was sworn – as long as the sword was not wielded, the ghosts found that they could not act either. Helplessly, the general and his army waited in their phantom limbo for two millennia, returning only to Chinese hands after a series of fortuitous archaeological digs, hauntings and auctions. Now, Duan is mortified that his oath can never be fulfilled, but he is determined to continue his military duty as penance. A swing of Duan’s sword summons up to five thousand ghostly horsemen armed with spear and bow, intangible and inhumanly swift.

'Glass Asura' Li Lien– Antediluvian cyborg of mysterious origins. While there are more experienced veterans who have served longer in practical terms, Li Lien is chronologically the oldest member of the New Ghosts in service, owing to how he was trapped in the distant past during a particularly difficult mission. To prevent the dark sorcerer Ominous Rex from awakening the dreaded Black Mulians in a trans-temporal ritual, the New Ghosts ‘borrowed’ the Chrono-Kremlin and hurtled back eight thousand years to combat the problem at the source. While they succeeded in thwarting Ominous Rex after a desperate battle, it was such a close-run thing that many of the team were not able to return to the present in time. Li had regenerative powers and his surviving teammates thought he alone had a slight chance of survival, but after the debriefing everyone was surprised to detect Li’s psychic signature somewhere in Lop Nur, Xinjiang. There, they found him alive but interred in an ancient tomb complex which the returning Ghosts swore up and down never existed before, yet was present in all official records. When they dug him back out, they found something had modified Li beyond almost all recognition – thin and richly decorated porcelain masked his withered flesh like burial vestments, while some of his limbs had been replaced by fully articulate prosthetics made of impossibly thin glass, in which a weird light flowed. His organs had similarly been removed and replaced with a similar lattice of tubes and jars, all with the same substance inside. But most importantly, he had been alive and conscious all the time for eight thousand years – although his memory was unavoidably hazy. A huge recovery and examination process began on Li, and the result was that the prosthetic ‘glass’ could simply be described as quintessence, while the fire-like substance within was as close as it got to pure energy. With his implants, Li could manipulate the structure of the universe itself by adjusting the flow of empyrean fire in his tubes, manipulating gravity, creating wormholes and even rending space itself. But with every motion, the esoteric energy that animates him appears to be using itself up…

Stephen ‘Fat Tiger’ Yuan – China’s true king? Early republican warlord Yuan Shikai only managed to be Emperor for a hundred days, fueled by his megalomania and military stranglehold over the fledging Republic of China. Deposed and reviled for this seizure of power, it was widely seen as the last futile spasm of monarchy in a modernizing nation. What few realized was that however brief his reign may be, some attenuated sort of legitimacy was nevertheless passed on through the traditional rituals of dynastic transfer that Yuan conducted. Tenuous as Yuan’s last dynasty was, his descendents remained the sole surviving thread of imperial power amidst the tides of republicanism and communism, a symbolic claim that remained unchanged in character since the First Emperor of Qin laid down the foundations of a unified China. And with this claim came the potential to command the First Emperor’s secret burial guard, the Terracotta Corps. Of course, there are many more people of royal blood which would have qualified if the army didn’t also require the jade seals the New Ghosts recovered from the First Emperor’s tomb to activate. As a candidate, Stephen Yuan is an eminently controllable man, a gourmet and restaurant tycoon with no big ambitions other than wealth and good food. With the jade seals and the right rituals, terracotta soldiers can un-meld from the ground with their burial weapons in their hands; although they can easily be instructed to use modern weaponry. Seemingly inexhaustible in numbers, the weakest link in the Terracotta Corps is their commander, who otherwise has no special abilities. In fact, Duan is the one who requires all sorts of protection during New Ghosts operations, but his normality can offer a bit of outside perspective.

*New* 'The Witch of Film' Thirteen Tam - A meta-actress, whose powers make a mockery of the difference between actual and filmic reality. With a simple change of costume and mannerisms, she can assume identities convincing enough to fool the universe itself. She can also transform props into their genuine counterparts for short periods, and vice versa. Some limitations do apply - enough scrutiny can compromise her disguise, as well as becoming a character whose purported influence reaches too far. As useful as it would have been, Tam is also not very good at creating action-movie sequences, although that is an issue of personal preference more than suspension of disbelief. Due to her ever-shifting range of guises, her real origins and habits are practically unknown, as is whatever hold the New Ghosts have on her to make her a serving member. Perhaps she simply craves the excitement of becoming whoever she likes, and the espionage missions of the New Ghosts provide the perfect opportunity for it. Thirteen Tam has access to 'The Backstage', a small pocket dimension filled with costumes and props as well as a few amenities. Her disguises tend to degrade over extended sessions unless she uses the room to rest and fix her makeup. It always opens into the real world through a hidden door in the background, and only she can perceive and open the entrance at will. This room seems to be the source of much of her power, or it may simply be a physical manifestation of it.

The New Ghosts carry out a variety of missions worldwide, but their pressing priority is combating the large number of metahuman vigilantes and criminals that operate outside the law in China, collectively referred to as the ‘Gentlemen’.

Notes: Finally, a comprehensive roster. One member is still pending, to be added once I've settled on her concept.
Last edited by Invictus on Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Siege » Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:20 pm

I love these guys, particularly Pearl (yay dragons!) and Glass. I wonder what their rogues gallery would look like - I doubt the average meta would want to mess with the New Ghosts.
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:35 pm

SiegeTank wrote:I wonder what their rogues gallery would look like -
Dude. These guys are meant for our guy!

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;)

I love 'em. Between this and the New Adventures of Rey Quirino, I think Siege's hankering for non-USA centric American action will soon be slaked with a taste of pure awesome!

Siege's already covered Pearl and Glass (crystal skull head!), but I'd like to mention how awesome the Judge is. He's like an Inquisitor from 40k, but in China! Probably taking on weirdo Falun Gong cultists and other nasties straight out of the Asian Horror genre, including weirdo-eyed Doublevision dudes, and etcetera. I like him - totally awesome. You could write a whole series on his exploits. And him taking on that malevolent mandarin, Mr. Li! Oh, how cool can that be?

Noir, mang. Sino Tech-Noir!

Fat Tiger, he's also another favorite. Sure, he has the relatively quaint ability to summon expendable Terracotta warriors, but that's okay. I think he'll be their... logistics expert. If he owns Dimsum chains all over the world, along with more affluent restaurants, he can conceivably be their go-to guy when it comes to social-infiltration. Giving the Ghosts aliases to blend in with high-society as they go James Bonding and drinking martinis and whatnot.

He'd also give them free food!

He's also fat. So he's awesome :lol:
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Ford Prefect » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:57 am

Naturally, my favoruite is Pearl (it's a boy thing), however there is something to be said for all these characters. Because I'm lazy and drunk with power, I will not. I am pleased you managed to get powers out of some of the more difficult animals of the Zodiac.
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Invictus » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:17 am

Keep in mind that these guys don't always work as the same team. Only Gao and Han might get sent to infiltrate and destroy a politically backed drug ring, for example, while you won't see Pearl and Diamond Locust getting sent to deal with outbreak of WWII-era IJA ghosts or Duan and Wufa getting deployed to repel kaiju attacks on the coast.
"This explanation posits that external observation leads to the collapse of the quantum wave function. This is another expression of reactionary idealism, and it's indeed the most brazen expression."
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Invictus » Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:07 am

The last member of the New Ghosts is finally up! I don't know why I put it off for so long.
"This explanation posits that external observation leads to the collapse of the quantum wave function. This is another expression of reactionary idealism, and it's indeed the most brazen expression."
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REBUILD OF COMIX STAGE 1 - Rey Quirino Versus the Dark Heart of the Philippines
"...a literary atrocity against the senses..." - Ford

REBUILD OF COMIX STAGE 2 - Advent Rey Returns: REVERGELTUNG
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Ford Prefect » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:34 am

I'm very impressed. I know we can always rely on you for more estoric abiltiies and backgrounds.
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:22 am

I like it! It's really interesting - a woman who can turn herself into fictitious characters? She'd be awesomely guilty pleasure if she took on cheesier roles. But if she was more into serious Academy Awards winning stuff, man, that would also be some really awesome stuff if executed well.

How to do that, though, I've got no idea.

I wonder if there's ever a time she's "off-character". Or if she's just that damn good a metahuman method actor? 8-)


I think both Fatty and Ghost General could've like known Jurgen Baccara. Because Baccara frequents Fatty's restaurants, and because Baccara was also in Ancient China learning calligraphy and treasure fleet cartography.
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Ford Prefect » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:27 pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:a woman who can turn herself into fictitious characters?
Yes, but not int he way you think it works.
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Re: The New Ghosts

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:48 pm

Basically, if she says she's a septic tank cleaner, then reality will warp itself so that she WILL be a septic tank cleaner as long as she wants reality to make her a septic tank cleaner or something.

An illusionist!
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