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Phrozen wrote:The A-Squad: The Second
After General Venom slipped from JWIII clutches, JWIII having his maker's memories decided to take an ace out of the General's hands and formed his own A-Squad.
American Avenger II
One of JWIII androids. Pretty similar to the original American Avenger except the killing is kept away from the other team members since they aren't the hardened criminals that the original A-Squad was.
Though he dresses in traditional Huli fashion, he is the most well read and perhaps intelligent member of the team. He is a voracious reader and takes a real interest in people. Though his specialty isn't in science or engineering. He prefers philosophy and economics. He can also insult you in any language of your choosing.
Kyle actually doesn't like Ultimatum of all the Patriots, mainly because when they first met Ultimatum said 'Hey aren't you Captain Tetanus'.
Jameika Greene is probably either crazy or has a death wish. Jameika always wanted to be a pilot, being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes put a clamp on being a professional pilot. That didn't stop her, by hook or crook she became a crop dusting pilot. All the better to emulate her hero, Baron Manfred von Richthofen. While crop dusting Jameika practiced all the aerial tricks that he read about. Stalls, barrel rolls , cobra rolls, and extremely low flying all with the chance that Jacob could go hypoglycemic at any time.
Aspara is bright, bubbly, and wears her heart on her sleeve. Though she is smart, she can be a bit scatter brained at times. She can fly and alter her density to be as wispy as a light cloud or as hard as a diamond. This grants her a degree of super strength and durability when in harder density. The real reason Aspara joined the team is to rebel against her parents. Aspara is really the emotional center of the team.
He who fights crime with the power of rock. No, really. Distortion is a 6'5" punk rocker with his multicolored liberty spikes adding another 7 inches to his height. Pierced, tattooed and dressed in a spiked leather jacket, plaid pants, and combat boots Distortion cuts an intimidating profile. Slung over his shoulder is a beat up stratocaster. This is the source of his powers and playing power chords on it can produce many effects. Sonic blasts, bursts of light and color, and vertigo inducing wails are just some of the tricks it can do. Distortion is brash, anti-authority, and confrontational.
After it was revealed to the public just who they were really working for, the A-Squad attacked any HoS installation they could find. They destroyed American Avenger II. They soon came in contact with the Patriots who feared that they might turn into another Psychotic 7. Suffice to say the two teams didn't start off on the right few feet.
greycrusader wrote:As promised, more on the history of the Praetorian Guardsmen, the once notorious superteam of Apartheid South Africa!
Commander Cannonshot: Cannonshot was also vain, greedy, and more than a bit cruel, if not truly sadistic. He rarely gave defeated enemies the chance to surrender, and even when he did, fallen foes more often than not had to endure a bit of excess punishment from his metal jacketed fists. Like his teammate Bunker, Commander Cannonshot was a wanted man in many African nations, as he spent his earlier years doing mercenary work across the continent in places such as Angola and the Congo.
Charles Phipps wrote:
It helps that JWIII actually has the kind of "eccentric millionaire patron of superheroes" reputation George Timons had. How airtight is it? Pretty airtight since he's actually helped a few superheroes WITH NO DOWNSIDE.
(As much as it pains him)
Evil or good guy with control codes?
I like him. A nice use of an underused area of the world.
Yes, the 90s were a bad time to grow up for revering Ultimatum too since the early Ultimatum also came off as incredibly STUPID. Still, a nice reminder that most children of the 90s considered the Patriots to be heroes of a bygone era.
Oddly, they'd probably recognize Valkyrie, Angel Girl, Black Wing II, and Lucien Drake as the only active heroes of "their" era.
I like her! An excellent use of a common ailment. I also like the Richtofen angles. He's got a surprisingly large superhero following.
Ah, the team heart. I like her already.
Amusingly, I can see Amplitude's kids going after him just for the sake of having a themed villain to fight. Poor Amplitude, himself, is now getting too old for the profession (all the drugs and beatings he's taken haven't helped his career).
Excellent character and I think the team will work out well. I love how it ended.
*Besides The Justicars of the era - Aquarius, Black Wing, Robin Hood, Sampson, with Red Jaguar unquestionably foremost amongst them. In many ways the Fall of the Praetorian Guard was his finest hour - it was also effectively the first occasion on which The Justicars pursued a mission entirely seperate from the support of The Patriots (who admittedly disliked the Apartheid Regime as heartily as any, but who were reluctant to set the precedent of a Regime Change mandated by Superhumans).
As a note, the team which removed the Pratorian Guard from the equation during the Collapse of Apartheid are often simply known as The People's Team: the modern Southern Cross Seven claim descent from this unlikely collection of Freedom Fighters, Champions of the Oppressed and old Lefties.
South Africa's superhuman program was quite advanced, in some ways surpassing the United States. This is due to a private agreement between Project: Icarus and South Africa. In the end, of course, the White Sorcerer took it over completely and replaced all of P:I's personnel with his own.
*One of the few nations South Africa had been able to keep something like normal diplomatic relations with after the imposition of Apartheid.
Thankfully, the Red Jaguar destroyed almost all of the fruits of their research before it became a super power of superhumans.
PHANTOM threw fire on the group as did UNITY, both groups serving as bugbears to the government and Anti-Government forces.
Likewise, the early International Crime League made a fortune in the proliferation of drugs as well as weapons. The ICL, of course, never cared WHO they were selling too.
Disturbingly, almost no Metamen were ever recorded as being born in South Africa. Those few who did and became superheroes or supervillains or terrorist/freedom fighters (the line was blurry in places) are VERY interested in investigating it.
Ironically, the Monster Brigade itself eventually rebelled against the Comrade due to being sentient beings created by the WS using the late Doctor Moreau's research.
The WS, a.k.a Julius Fauntnaroy, was smart enough to realize that whites had no particular advantage cultural or genetic-wise but had a Hitler-esque plan to eradicate regular baseline humanity and replace it with superhumans of his own creation ruling over a slave caste similarly engineered for his needs. Of course, he himself would be the keystone of this new race.
So yes, the WS is responsible for a few of the "omnicidal genocide" plans of the past. He's responsible for some of the few zombie plagues HED! has suffered.
It should be noted the Praetorian Guard didn't just fight communists, terrorists, and oppress blacks. Though you'd be forgiven if you believed that.
The group actually did have some very heroic moments where they ended up thwarting a Tsavong Invasion of the South African government (you think they only invaded the USA and England?), a full-scale D-Day like invasion of the Merrow from the Sea, and fought regularly against superpowered pirates backed by PHANTOM.
Of course, they didn't get much repeat business since South Africa liberally employed the death penalty with supervillains.
Bizarrely, General Venom's book, New Freedom actually created a bunch of African terrorist groups similar to the House of Serpents too. General Venom rarely knew about any of them but they often ended up with HOS equipment sold to them by the Red Spider.
What a breath of vile air. Good show.
For the most part, South Africa has forgiven Springbok the first and he's actually worked in close coordination with the country's rising superhuman populace as well as his successor.
He's even gotten to don his mask a couple of more times.
It should come as no surprise the Grayhaven family's African branch fought them on numerous occasions.
(To be fair, Lord Grayhaven is quite clear that despite what liberties Burroughs took - he actually routinely fought alongside Africans of equal ability to himself. He considers what happens to Captain Africa's bloodline a crying shame as well).
She was offered membership with the Patriots but turned it down, considering that she had more work to do in South Africa.
Ah, what an excellent story.
One important aspect about the Praetorian Guardsmen was the sheer longevity of the team.
They coordinated (and soon incorporated) champions from Allied colonial states (most especially Rhodesia)
Though technically dubbed the South African Special Defensemen (by some dull bueracrat), they were more commonly known as Praetor's Pride, after their leader Jerome "Preator John" Shieldsmith, a famed S.A. military hero and guerilla fighter.
Following the end of the Second World War, the S.A. government showed surprising foresight in NOT disbanding the team, but instead going further to organize, train, equip, and back the group with official sanction and public relations/propaganda support.
Most of the truly heinous activities were committed by The Lawful League, which was composed of cold-blooded murderers, diehard racists who considered non-whites to be subhuman, unrepentant meta-criminals coerced or cajoled into service, and real monsters (mostly brain-damaged aberrations caused by flawed super-soldier experiments). Also nick-named the Eugenics Brigade, Brute League, and Bloodletting Legion, they ranked among the more fearsome supherhumans in African history. It is telling the White Warlock and Balm were the only known Preatorian Guardsmen members who also served with the Lawful League (the White Sorcerer led both teams at various points!)
A brute with tungsten-hard skin and massive fists which could dent tank armor, Bunker was decked out in patriotic South African colors, but was not a native Afrikaaner. His actual nationality was never known, but he was a wanted criminal across most of Africa for war crimes, murder, grand theft, and numerous other felonies. While a foul-mouthed and obnoxious racist, Bunker could be almost disturbingly soft-spoken and well-behaved around women and children, even if they were black.
Bunker was about as bad as a Praetorian Guardsman got to be without being moved to the Eugenics Brigade (aside from Balm and the White Warlock), as he would cheerfully murder, loot, pillage, and raze for fun and pay. But even he had standards-Bunker drew the line at killing children or women (so long as they were non-combatants), disdained torture, and considered rape to be "beneath him, or any REAL man". He was an unrepentant racist, and engaged in filthy racial pejoratives, but really did not white people better than anyone else (meaning he was an obnoxious bully to everyone). Bunker could turn on the charm when needed, even displaying a crude form of gallantry, though this was nearly sarcastic. His good looks and easygoing demeanor made up for much.
The daughter of the famed WW II hero Commander Orange, she was the oldest and longest serving member of the team, having served alongside her father as the Orange Girl (and later Orange Maiden). Enhanced strength, durability, and reflexes complimented a limited power to manipulate her personal density and gravity (allowing her to '"fly" and deliver jackhammer hard blows). She was a child of privilege and convinced of white superiority mostly due to upbringing. While mostly a decent sort otherwise, Orange Matron could be ill-tempered, especially as she grew older and began losing her youthful looks and sex appeal; her metaman condition was progressive, and she grew more muscular, more imposing, and nearly crimson hued as time went on, which mader her white supremacist government handlers quite uncomfortable. Longtime lover of Commander Cannonshot.Orange Matron was of similar character, though she was less pleasant company: her privileged upbringing had left her a bit spoiled and haughty (family wealth, father was a national hero and a polymath genius), but her relative dullness in comparision to the brilliant Captain Orange, coupled with her ongoing physical changes, left her insecure and defensive. Orange Matron was aware her mutations would have counted as "genetic damage" and resulted in segregation or exile had she been a true metaman, rather than her powers being induced by her father's pharmaceutical elixer. She went out of her way to be kind to minority children and senior citizens, but in a smug, patronizing manner. Her temperment was better so long as she was getting along well with Commander Canonshot.
The original South African Blackwing counterpart was a brave and even noble character, but also committed to perserving the cruel apartheid regime. He was convinced that black Africans were not "ready" to govern themselves, and would turn his homeland into a failed Marxist state if they were allowed to rule. Rooivalk was a master of urban combat and counter-insurgency, as well as superbly trained helicopter pilot, fighter, marksman, and athlete. His arsenal included many Blackwing-inspired gadgets, a gliding cape, one-man chopper, conventional firearms, and PHANTOM-supplied weapons.
Rooivalk (though granted, he was the best of the bunch) didn't engage in needless brutality, spew racist epithets at his foes, or terrorize civilians among the minority population. The first "Red Kestrel" was in some ways an honorable man-physically brave, true to his sworn word, courteous and amiable. Both during his past as a highly decorated military non-com and then as a police officer, he acted to reduce corruption and needless violence. But still, Rooivalk I believed non-whites were generally inferior by birth (though they were "individual exceptions"), African blacks were too uncivilized to govern themselves, and most people needed to be ruled by a strong hand. Ironically, he thought of American blacks as superior to those of his own nation, and enjoyed much of African-American culture, especially jazz.
A brilliant designer and engineer, Sky Chief piloted an airship which might best be described as flying gunwing, with enough firepower to quell a riot in a heartbeat. The craft was dubbed "Red Skies", while his souped-up, armored hovercar was "Rolling Thunder" (it had a sonic cannon mounted on the hood). No slouch as an athlete or hand to hand fighter, Sky Chief was nonetheless the team's transport and gadget man. A closeted homosexual, his racism was of the genteel, intellectually rationalized variety, but he rarely felt guilt over any of his actions taken to defend minority white rule. He was very generous to "agreeable" blacks and coloureds, due to noblesse obligee and a rather offensive condescension. Unknown to most, Sky Chief was a distant relative to the German science hero Captain Mors, and had adopted his infamous ancestor's tech for gravity-defying purposes.
Sky Chief was not really any more or less prejudiced than any typical ruling South African, though so staunchly anti-communist he viewed the entire ANC, Nelson Mandela, and other "agitators" to be merely "Marxist and Soviet dupes"; he was dedicated to maintaining the status quo. Despite technically being a "coloured", as his maternal grandfather was the Indian science-hero Dr. Astro-vee, Sky Chief was officially considered "white" (the family's money and engineering prominence factored into this) and never empathized with the oppressed populations. He made a conscious effort to live up to his "heroic legacy", and acted in a self-consciously "noble" manner. This cut against his natural personality traits, as he was arrogant, officious, and self-centered by nature (Sky Chief's paternal lineage run through the notorious Harry Flashman line). His homosexuality was tolerated by the other Praetorians and the S.A. government because of his usefullness, though Bunker and Cannonshot chronically taunted him about the matter.
A legacy member (as the son of the Golden Age Cannonballer), the "Ballistic Battler" was a tall, handsome, and dashing figure, the gleaming gold and crimson metal mesh of his costume matched by only by his brilliant smile. He was legitimately brave and loyal to his teammates, as well as a cool head in extreme situations. While something of a daredevil by nature, the Commander was bright enough to tone down his flamboyance in combat and serve as a team player. He was often the Praetorian's spokeman, as he was a natural in front of cameras and microphones.
Cannonshot was also vain, greedy, and more than a bit cruel, if not truly sadistic. He rarely gave defeated enemies the chance to surrender, and even when he did, fallen foes more often than not had to endure a bit of excess punishment from his metal jacketed fists. Like his teammate Bunker, Commander Cannonshot was a wanted man in many African nations, as he spent his earlier years doing mercenary work across the continent in places such as Angola and the Congo. Despite his father's reputation as a WW II hero, the Commander grew up nearly penniless due to the older man's alcoholism and gambling; he learned early on that heroic reputations alone do not put food on the table. He served with the Praetorians because the pay was right, the S.A. government shielded him from international law, and collateral damage against blacks and "coloureds" (any other racial minorities) was mostly ignored.
Though seen as a womanizer, Commander Cannonshot (who later eanred a promotion to Captain) actually had a long-term monogamous relationship with the Orange Matron, though she was two decades older. He first got involved with the Orange Free State province's favorite daughter because of the Matron's political connections and family holdings, but found there was undeniable chemistry between them. For her part, the Orange Matron enjoyed having him, both as eye candy and the kind of "real man" she had come to idolize during World War II. For her father's part, the stalwart Captain Orange (by then a retired politico turned successful businessman) always saw Cannonshot as a bit of punk and poseur, disliking the exaggerated bravado and preening; still, the thrice-married Captain Orange recognized his daughter's otherwise limited romantic prospects.
Commander Cannonshot was one of the few confirmed metamen on the Praetorian Guard, though his powers were really just more fully realized versions of his late father's: wingless flight, enhanced durability, and the ability to project a "flying wedge" of supercompressed air. As time went on, not even his metahuman skin and metal mesh costume afforded enough protection from his divebomb flights, so S.A. surgeons reinforced his skeleton with chrome steel, making him a human cannonball indeed.
Commander Cannonshot was a fairly nasty piece of work, especially as he considered any civilians who MIGHT have aided dissidents, insurrectionists, or terrorists to be legitimate targets. But he possessed enough morality to intervene against outright needless murder or carnage. He was certainly heroic when it came to defending the white population against crime, accidents, terrorism and natural disasters as well.
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