Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shadowcat and Wolverine Take Center Stage

I feel like this was a good week. Sure, I still don't have any prose written, but dang, did I ever have tons of brainstorm sessions over the past week. Every work break I was writing something down; so that's a bit exciting.

Poor Phfylburt. He and Hubby both had a LOOOOONG read first thing in the morning thanks to all that brainstorming. The biggest thing I was working on was the build of the two rooms that combined would have been the X-Men Danger Room. Yes, last week I stated that I figured out how I was going to separate the room in to it's two main features: customizable physical obstacles and traps, and a fully immersive holographic generator.

The holographic generator I decided to call The Orb; at least, as the working title for it.

I'm still trying to figure out what to call the other room; the one with the tiles that can stretch in order to form landscapes and the like. I think the working title I gave Hubby and Phfyl was "The Building Room" since you can "build" the obstacle course.... Super lame. Need to rethink that one; definitely.

Anyway, I also stated last week that I needed to figure out what an orphanage for Glitches would need such advanced training for; and why they would set up a sort of "task force" similar to the X-Men. I wanted it to be a different enough reason that it isn't just a rewrite of X-Men. This lead me to the headmaster and headmistress of the Xavier school in X-Future: Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde and Logan "Wolverine".

I was curious as to why they would set up such a tech-heavy and advanced training facility. Sure, it could just easily be justified as "They need it to safely train power control", but at the same time, I feel there could have been a much more low-tech way of training the kids.

Then my mind wandered to a narrator opening the first comic book by explaining what Glitches are and how they are being treated; yada-yada. I probably won't use this exposition-heavy opening, but letting my narrator start off the book like that tends to give me more and more information about the world I'm building. For instance, back when I wasn't sure what to rename mutants, this same narrator was relaying over how people would comment about how there was some sort of "glitch" in the DNA, causing the mutations. That's when it hit me that people would therefore just start calling mutants Glitches; plus it fit well with the psuedo-cyberpunk categorizing of them that Hubby helped figure out.

Well, not only did this nameless female narrator - who may or may not be either Lia or Willow; can't tell - help me figure out what to call mutants, but she also helped me understand why The Orb and Building Room were made.

During her exposition of the world they all live in, she told me about the government snatching up Glitches. Usually the homeless ones so that no one would notice them missing. If they got caught they would justify it as a way to "keep the streets clean of vagabonds" or that they are trying to find help for these Glitches; providing them with shelter, food, and assistance with their powers. Yet, anyone who didn't blindly believe the propaganda would know the truth; the government was experimenting on these abducted Glitches.

The government wanted to know how they ticked. How is it that only some people mutated? What was the connection? What determined the powers? How did the powers work? Could normal humans be mutated in to these Super People via genetic manipulation? Could a Super Glitch be "bred"? Could mutation be a submissive gene, leaving "normal" people as carriers? Could Glitches become weaponized? Can they be "cured" of their powers? What is the most effective way to shut them down?

Experiments were performed on the usually harmless and weak-powered Glitches that became homeless either through average means - mental problems, drug/gambling abuse, jobless - or teens being abandoned by their parents. The more "dangerous" Glitches used for experimentation usually came through the prisons. Either there would be a claim that the Glitch had to go to a Powers-Only facility in order to properly detain the criminal, or the Glitch would be deemed "executed" so no one would wonder where it went to. The inspiration for that second bit I totally blame on re-watching Fullmetal Alchemist; the same plot device happened about 1/2 way through the series.

Anyway, back to my world and the X-Future characters.

Namely, Phfylburt's first character.

Lucas Kinney's backstory had him as the biological child of Wolverine's clone Laura, AKA - X-23. The sheer fact that a clone was able to give birth to someone caught the attention of some major organizations that wished to study, experiment on, and possibly weaponize Kinney. These organizations were SHIELD, HYDRA, and The Weapon-X Program. Laura and Lucas spent years of his adolescence on the lam in hopes of staying hidden from these organizations.

Now, since I didn't want the messiness of explaining away Laura as a clone - or why Logan was cloned in the first place - and I didn't want to have to rework original versions of all three of those organizations, I decided to use the government as a whole for this part of Lucas' life.

Although X-23 is still alive in our continuity, Phfyfl has never really used her in his role playing. Probably because Kinney was in his late 20s when we started up our game. What tough-as-nails, 20-something male interacts with his mom all that frequently? Especially when the man his mom was cloned from is right there as a sort of parental figure. Anyway, since I'm avoiding the whole "cloning" bit, and since Lucas' mom doesn't really play a heavy role in his overall character, I could easily write her out of the comic reboot. Kinney would therefore just be another orphaned Glitch.

I'm still determining if he was abandoned like so many others, or if his parents were killed; probably due to a hate crime.

Point is, Kinney was on his own, living on the streets. The government scooped him up - mainly because this was before Kitty started up the orphanage - and started experimenting on him. At some point, and for some reason I have yet to figure out, Wolverine broke in to the facility and released the Glitches. Kinney was the only child left in the lab, and had nowhere else to go but back out on to the streets. Logan decided he'd take Lucas in as a ward.

With the age difference - ignoring that Logan doesn't really age anymore, and so he's actually WAY older than he appears - I was thinking that Wolverine and Kinney formed a similar "adoptive family" dynamic as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. In other words: Logan was both a sort of father-figure, and older-brother-figure.

Both Phfyl and I really like this new take on Kinney's backstory because it still keeps the "pseudo-related" dynamic between the two of them. He plays that off well in the X-Future boards. Although, I am going to miss Kinney playfully calling Wolverine "Grandpa". Logan finding Lucas in a lab also allows for the "Kinney was captured and experimented on" backstory that seems crucial to his character as well.

Alright. All of this was a nice world build and character re-write. However, what does any of this have to do with The Orb or Building Room?

Well, after Logan saved and adopted Lucas, he became fixated on the idea of training Glitches to protect themselves from the normal humans. That way the tragedy and cruelty of that lab wouldn't repeat itself. In other words, the whole reason such intense training facilities were built was so Wolverine could help Glitches prepare for the worst.

When Kitty decided to open up the orphanage, Logan went to her with his idea for The Orb and Building Room, and wanted her to set aside enough of the estate she bought so that those two facilities could be built. This way, she could take in the lost children, and Wolverine could train them to hold their own.

As I mentally role played the conversation between the two of them, Kitty brought up a valid concern. The government was already harsh on Glitches. What would happen if they caught wind of Glitches training to fight against an oppressive government? At the very least, Kitty would probably be shut down as an anti-patriotic facility. At worst, the government would find it an aggressive tactic and terrorist training. They'd plow the whole place down. Bringing more violence to their door.

Because of that fear of bringing military action to her doorstep, Kitty denied Logan's request. If he wanted to build the training facility, he'd have to do it alone and off her property. It was a way to protect the children.

So Wolverine ends up building the facilities under the guise of an arcade; at least, that's the working concept for it. He uses the Building Room to create mazes or laser-tag/paintball bunkers or any other physical obstacle course for kids. He uses The Orb - which is actually a room with about a dozen of them - as generic Virtual Reality games. The government won't have any flags going up because it's just an advanced gaming business. However, either he has a separate VIP section where Kitty's students can train - their student IDs would be the VIP cards - or he opens the arcade up after-hours for training. I'm not sure which idea I prefer. Probably the After Hours one because then he wouldn't have to have enough money to build and run TWO of each of those rooms.

Although he wouldn't be fighting Sentinels, Chayse would still be able to use The Orb to recreate his one scene from X-Future. The best part is that Kitty would now be even MORE upset than she was before, because now her son is participating in what she believes to be a very dangerous activity if the government found out. This could create so much chaos and conflict in the reboot: Kitty vs Chayse, Kitty vs Logan, Kitty vs Student Body, etc.

This arcade can also be used when Devon's loyalty was in question. Willow can still be the one commenting about it: "Wait, you haven't tried out The Orb yet? You totally need to!" What makes it even better is that in X-Future Willow actually drags Devon to Wolverine's room to inform Logan that Devon had no clue what the Danger Room was. So dragging him to the arcade to let Wolverine know that Devon had no clue about The Orb could be a nice parallel. Then, either Logan - who isn't sure if he can trust Devon - or the Orb's AI can create the pivotal sequence.

As I was relaying this concept over to Phfyl to see his thoughts on the matter, more information sort of sprang up. He asked simple questions, and my fingers sort of answered before I could fully figure it out myself. What a fantastic way to be a Medium when writing!

The first big discovery was that obviously Logan and Kitty are no longer co-running the school like they do in X-Future. Apparently, they are going to have a dynamic similar to Xavier and Magneto in canon X-Men: friends who are at odds with each other due to their differing views on how to achieve Mutant Rights. I toned down "Magneto" a bit though. Instead of considering Glitches to be the next evolution - a superior human that should rule over normal humans - Logan also just wishes for equality between Glitch and Norm alike. So - as I mentioned to Phfyl - it would be set up more like if Xavier only ever just ran the school, and the X-Men were Magneto's team. The school would provide sanctuary, training of powers, and peaceful demonstration that not all mutants need to be feared or hated. Then there would be the near-militant-trained taskforce whose purpose would be to protect humans from the dangerous glitches - or other supernatural dangers - save glitches from human cruelty, and fight for equality. However, instead of the two being housed on the same estate - the taskforce also working as guardians of those training still - the two forces would be separate: Kitty's orphanage and Logan's arcade/training facility.

I still wanted the reboot equivalent of the X-Men around to fight The Brotherhood - which has become more of a violent street gang - as well as protect the students. I just needed to figure out what the connection would be between Kitty and Wolverine.

There's always the option that Logan just wanted to help Glitches his own gruff way, and went to Kitty as a stranger after hearing about her orphanage. I'm kind of "meh" about this idea.

Another option is that they are just friends, however they are already so similar to Xavier and Magneto now. Did I really want to pile more on by having the two of them be clashing friends too? Besides, having them just be friends seems so cliche and boring.

So I thought "maybe they're related?"

I tried it out as both "cousins, or some other semi-distant relative" and "siblings." The cousins idea seemed too convoluted, and only had one true plus side to it. The siblings idea was definitely the stronger option out of the two, but there was one major issue I had with it. Namely, if Kitty and Logan were siblings, than Kinney would be Chayse's adoptive cousin. I felt it would change the dynamic between Chayse and Kinney; being so close to each other. Kinney would no longer just be a very-respected teacher. I wasn't sure I wanted that change. The only plus side to the cousins concept instead? That Kitty and Logan would still be related without Kinney and Chayse being so close to each other; family-wise.

The last option I could think of seems to be the best one so far: Former Lovers.

They started drifting due to their differing views on how to handle the mistreatment of Glitches. I'm not sure if this drifting is before or after Wolverine takes Kinney in. I feel like that would be a nice catalyst, but at the same time I would think that would make Shadowcat try harder to find Lucas a "safer home" after the split; maybe trying to take care of him herself? So I sort of think that maybe Logan breaks in to the facility and saves Lucas AFTER the break-up. Maybe the catalyst was that Kitty wouldn't join him on the raid?

Anyway, the way I see their views on the subject is as follows:
  • Kitty is very much like Xavier in her view of "Humanity is just scared. If we show them there is nothing to fear they will begin to accept us." Which is why she does humanitarian things such as build the orphanage, but she won't allow training that would teach the kids how to protect themselves against the normal humans or the government as a whole. She's a more maternal figure when it comes to other Glitches.
  • Logan is a lot more gruff. He's jaded - especially after saving Kinney - and while he too wishes for a world where Glitches and Norms can co-exist, he's more realistic. He knows that there will be government abductions and experimentation, and he knows that there will be hate crimes. He knows the best defense is a good offense. He wants Glitches to be trained in extreme cases of self defense to protect themselves. He's almost like a military leader or intense self-defense coach in regards to the other Glitches.
Kitty finds Logan's views too pessimistic, aggressive, and provocative.
Logan finds Kitty's views too optimistic, passive, and complaisant.

Even with the split - and probable super heated arguments leading up to said break-up - the two remained friends. They realize that they are aiming for the same goal, just not on the same path.

A short time later, Kitty met Gambit and the two fell in love. Logan - who just isn't Wolverine without some sort of lingering feelings/unrequited love - is jealous of Gambit, but is still sociable with him for Kitty's sake. This lingering flame for Kitty is one of the reasons he tries so hard to protect the school/orphanage.

I'm just waiting to hear back on Hubby and Phfyl's opinions on all of that. Well, at least a better opinion than "Too Long; Didn't Read. Will Read Later."

In the meantime, I guess I need to switch gears and really focus on building my Brujah character if I want to bring her in to the vampire game this Saturday. TOTALLY meant to work on her during our "off" week, but with a 13-hr day last Saturday and my mind being overrun with X-Future, I totally forgot about poor Lottie.

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