So, this week I thought I’d give an overview of the Stars & Shadows Universe I’ve been building. This is the universe where Born a Queen is set, so it’s a superhero-based setting, and it’s very distinctly an alternate universe. I will add that nothing I’m writing here should spoil any plots for the stories in question, it’s pure setting history. I’ll likely be editing something along these lines for inclusion into the book.
Also, I focused on the United States because that’s where I live, and I doubt I could do other regions justice. I’m not saying they don’t have equally interesting stuff going on… just that I’d rather not screw it up.
It’s a commonly held belief that the emergence of superpowers was the fault of the SS in 1943. Many scholars are skeptical of these claims, but even they admit that their actions led to these powers appearing in the public eye. Whatever the case, that year the SS made the mistake of sacrificing the life of a young woman in Poenari Castle, believing it would call demons to their aid and turn the tides of the war in their favor.
Their actions woke Vladamir Drakul. Contrary to popular opinion, Vladamir was not a vampire, but a dragon, and the actions of the Nazi scientists enraged him. He raised the young woman from the dead and destroyed the interlopers, declaring Transylvania his. The offenders could do little against him, and when anti-aircraft batteries, tanks, and bombs proved ineffective, Germany ceded the battle. Yet even though Dracula’s appearance rocked the world, his was merely the first of many.
Months later, the first man called Pyroclasm by the allies took the field on Germany’s side, incinerating those who opposed him. Only through great sacrifices was he defeated, including that of a few men who showed superhuman abilities before their deaths.
More people with superhuman powers rose over the following decades from every nation, though they were few and far between. Some were heroes, others were villains. Those that followed the name of Pyroclasm attempted to keep the last remnants of the SS alive, and have persisted even to modern days. The rarity of powers came to an end on January 1st of the year 2000.
As 1999 came to a close, Stonehenge exploded with power that no one had ever imagined, rocking the countryside and the world itself as the stars shifted and warped, until the very heavens were rent asunder. Power flooded the world, and with the dawn came the changes. Atlantis rose from beneath the ocean surface, and mermaids were seen, while the top of Mount Olympus disappeared into the clouds. A handful of people took on new and fantastic forms, and ancient gateways to realms of myth and legend opened once more. To humanity’s shock, they learned that for millennia Earth had been sealed away in a pocket universe where magic and superpowers were all but impossible to use, but that night the seal had been broken.
Thirty years has passed, and the number of superhumans has skyrocketed. Seemingly every form of superpower imaginable has manifested somewhere, and not all of them for the good. One of the most notable incidents was in 2003, when the United States Congress was discussing regulation of superpowers and two villains attacked. General Mayhem and Major Disaster, both leaders of Destruction Corps, destroyed half the city and killing a large portion of the ruling parties of the country. Only the arrival of Destiny and Frostfire, two of the most powerful heroes in the world, saved the remainder, and Destiny was slain in the conflict. Fortunately the heroine appears to be immortal, having emerged once more in 2025.
The second major incident was in 2008, when a man now dubbed Megadeath attacked Salt Lake City. His sole power was to detonate on a near-nuclear scale a single time, which he used to wipe out his former religion during one of their major conferences. The vast majority of the city was destroyed, and in the aftermath it was rebuilt as Paragon City. One of the few cities built from the ground up with the aid of superhuman inventors and scientists, Paragon City is the hub of superhero activity in the western United States.
Things have changed immensely since the Advent, as the emergence of Earth into the wider universe is called. Few aliens have come calling so far, but humanity has proven to be just as fractious as ever, and while there have been many advancements in technology, many villains have arisen as well. It’s a new world, with limitless horizons, and immense dangers.
This is the world of Stars & Shadows.