Tales of a Dark City
The Angel of Century Bridge
Seraph (Physical Description)
Anyone with an internet connection and the interest to search something that was trending for its fifteen minutes of fame probably has some idea what they think Seraph actually looks like: tall, beautiful and clad in white with a golden aura about her, an image created by the fanciful accounts of adorable children.
If only that were the case. She’s actually no taller than average, and there is no golden light about her, nor wings nor halos nor any other such thing. She does not live up to the hype.
That’s not to say her appearance is a letdown however. Seraph appears in an honest to God full blown costume, form fitting and clearly purpose made for her. Whoever her tailor is, they’re not telling her secret identity.
She does at least wear white, though it’s more of a leotard over tights (or a sufficiently insulated, if form fitting, bodysuit in winter) than an angelic gown, and the boots and gloves are smartly accessorized with it and feature clean white trim (the winter version has faux white fur). And yes, that is in fact a cape with a large golden clasp. It would be cheesy and ridiculous like something out of an old comic book or some nerd convention… if she didn’t actually look good in it.
Her shoulder length platinum blonde hair streams out behind her as she stares ahead with intense sky blue eyes. Though there’s reasons to despise her at times, it takes chutzpah to wear that outfit and manage to look like a bad ass in it.
Usually wearing whatever was found at Goodwill that will be accepted at work, she sometimes manage to actually look okay but it’s mostly because the dumpy blonde girl is kind of cute with blue eyes and nerdy glasses. Her hair’s a lazy mess, usually tied up in one of those God-awful giant spring loaded plastic hair clips that no one who wants to be seen in public should ever use. There’s a decided lack of jewelry, make up, anything that actually costs money of any kind.
Although actually an attractive person, her unkempt and lazy appearance is just that and makes it apparent she just doesn’t care. She usually looks tired and apathetic and doesn’t seem to have much to say, like she just wants this shift to end so she can go home. How sad.
Yet to come.
Nicole Starr was a seriously average kid. Or so she thinks.
Once upon a time her family was happy and idyllic, until little Nikki saw Mommy kissing a man who wasn’t her Daddy, and immediately after saw Daddy kissing a woman who wasn’t her Mommy.
Innocent and full of virtue, she told both her parents on the other, and there was a lot of yelling and a messy divorce. Her younger brother and her mother would tell her later that it was her fault the family was destroyed, planting the seeds for a guilt complex that would fester long into adulthood.
Nicole spent most of her teens in her mother’s custody, though she spent summers with her father. Her father was the better parent, as her mother spent all her time wasting the child support and alimony she received and planting thoughts in her children’s heads that their father didn’t care about them.
Over time however, the courts drained her father’s energy to keep fighting, and the family grew apart, cold and distant from each other. The day Nicole turned 18 she was told to move out already.
Her school years were full of mediocrity. Nicole was never good at formal learning, she didn’t test well, she wasn’t a reader, etc. She always did well with anything that was hands on and kinesthetic, but anything that required constant attention was beyond her capacity to focus on. Compounding the problem her mother refused to let her try anything that cost any amount of money however small, and everyone let her slide with mediocre performance because she was just so nice and well meaning. No one really challenged her to do better.
With no guidance in life, she really didn’t understand how to find a place in the world and languished in rotten service jobs. After a couple of years of that, she put herself through a two year program to become an electrical technician, but never got a job doing same. It seemed the harder she tried the harder she failed.
Nicole however knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to help people. She just didn’t know how. She didn’t seem particularly good at it either. The truth was, she probably just needed career counseling. But she didn’t get it.
She began to fall into depression. Despite a sunny attitude about trying harder and a very clear desire to help people, she wasn’t realizing success or what she wanted to do with her life and it took a toll on her.
Then one day, after getting fired from her fast food job for allegedly sneaking a burger (she didn’t, but she lied for someone else who did who was supporting children on fast food wages), she made the drive that would change her life.
The Angel of Century Bridge
The June 2027 accident on Century Bridge was the start of the rest of her life.
In the worst mood of her life yet, Nicole was driving back to her shoddy apartment after being fired from Big Burger. She was in a strange emotional state, at once feeling like she had done the right thing by taking the blame for someone who needed the job worse than her, but also in utter despair how terrible and unfulfilling her life really was. She had felt good about herself in the moment she’d taken the fall for her fast food co-worker, but she realized she had few prospects in life to do anything better than stuff fries in a bag, and no way to realize her dream of helping others somehow.
As she drove, she wished she was something other than what she was. She’d always wanted to be a police officer but had been told she was too stupid. So she had day dreamed sometimes about being the next best thing… a superhero. She was in such a reverie when suddenly the school bus in front of her swerved, causing a chain reaction which pinned her car between the bus and the cars behind her.
The school bus driver may have caused a pile up, but no one was hurt. She sat there stunned for a moment. What a perfect twist on a horrible day, she reflected.
That’s when she saw the tanker truck coming head on, threatening to barrel right into the school bus. It was about to kill any number of children.
In that moment of dire stress, under the stress of hating herself, hating her life, and wishing she had the power to help, and a purpose she could live for, Nicole Starr’s latent MR node flared.
She burst from the roof of her car with a sudden pulse of incredible power and flew to the cables of the suspension bridge, secured a line and drug it across the lanes of traffic and pulled. The cable caught the oncoming tanker, and the leverage was enough to stop the truck to the thundering cheers of witnesses.
Of course she accidentally managed to send the truck into the water below and contaminate the bay (she at least saved the truck’s driver, who had suffered a heart attack and lost control of the vehicle), but that’s Seraph for you.
Panicking, she immediately flew home. She then crashed into a two day headache as her node finished forming.
Deva Lang would note the incident and took it upon herself to scrub any electronic records she could however, so all that survived were a few grainy images despite some onlookers shooting video of the whole episode. She was an immediate local media sensation as a result of Deva’s intervention however, because reporters were forced to gather testimony from eye witnesses, many of whom happened to be adorable children who only saw the best in their rescuer.
A six year old boy, when interviewed about what he’d seen from inside the school bus, adorably spoke the famous quote that wound up in every local news outlet and has been repeated ever since: “An angel saved us, the angel of the bridge.”
The Angel of Century Bridge was born, and this would set the tone for her future exploits.
“A Mighty Seraphim”
The new nova wasn’t seen for about two and a half weeks as Nicole Starr experimented with her new powers, devised her first costume (a white dancer’s leotard and sneakers…) and began to patrol the city, first at random.
At first she was discouraged, her hunt and peck approach was hugely inefficient, until she was contacted by a figure known as “Smoke”. Unknown to her at the time, “Smoke” was actually Deva Lang, who had taken it upon herself to mentor the newly minted nova in superheroics from afar. With some tips and a personal data device reprogrammed by “Smoke” to help her monitor police frequencies, Seraph began to patrol the city in earnest.
At first most of her efforts were more “rescue” than “crime fighting”. She stopped a family in a minivan from falling to their deaths from atop a damaged overpass. She pulled several people out of a burning tenement building. She would show up at accident scenes and clear wreckage and debris.
However as she found more and more success, she also began to encounter the dirty side of Drake City and began to fight street crime. She stopped two muggers from committing a rape-murder. She used her budding detective skills to find and capture an escaped serial killer, leaving him famously tied to a lamp post with rebar.
However it was two chance encounters that would form her career going forward. One was a chance encounter where she met the vigilante known as Inkblot, who had observed her stop the same crime he was about to intervene in. Initially impressed, he quickly realized that for all her power she was kind of an idiot who had just gotten lucky and been in the right place at the right time.
The other was a chance encounter with The Midnight Marauder, who was rescuing some children and teenagers who were being trafficked for nefarious purposes by the Bloodfangs. Unknown to him, the vampires were on to him and had set up a trap to capture him. Seraph had been slowly improving her superhero abilities and had started fighting some of the least powerful members of the gang, and happened upon the ambush.
Although her help saved his life as she absorbed a volley of gunfire meant to kill him, Mike Malone realized she really had no idea how to fight and was just relying on her powers to carry her. Being a veteran of the Hellhole, he knew this was a recipe for disaster. He set her up for “boxing lessons” at Bad Company Fitness, and Seraph to this day has no idea Mike Malone and her favorite superhero The Midnight Marauder are the same man.
With Inkblot teaching her of the dangers of Drake City and becoming a father figure as well as a mentor and The Midnight Marauder training her to control her massive strength, Seraph began to take shape. A few updates to the early costume that didn’t really support her, ahem, female anatomy didn’t hurt either.
She began to grow in media popularity again as reporters pieced together these separate incidents were likely the same vigilante at work. Deva Lang followed her closely, constantly feeding her information and keeping Nicole Starr safe as a kind of hobby.
The name “Seraph” finally came when Nicole thwarted an attempted terrorist mass shooting at a charity bruncheon hosted by a senior citizens’ community group. The exact motive was never uncovered (note, player has suggested this was a hit on one of the attendees, Dr. Bunson, who used to be a vigilante known as the Steel Sentry, but this isn’t canon unless this character is ever used in game). Although this incident wasn’t as famous as the Century Bridge accident, it was high profile and involved Seraph in serious danger as she fought several heavily armed attackers and there was an unexplained explosion because Seraph.
Amazingly none of the elderly attendees were harmed, though the property damage was astronomical, and the explosion and Deva Lang destroyed most of the evidence of what actually happened. So again the media turned to the eye witnesses.
This time the witnesses were just as adorable, as they were people’s grandparents. One particularly eloquent gentleman who was particularly excited and impassioned in the aftrmath (Dr. Bunson, player theory) described her as “a mighty seraphim” in a glowing tone, harkening back to the little boy’s description of an angel on the bridge.
That phrase too went viral in the media, was shortened and permuted, and within a month the references to “the seraphim” and “the seraph” became “Seraph”.
Post “Seraph”, Pre Watchmen
Deva Lang, as Smoke, kept an eye on Seraph as she grew her vigilante resume. She began to regularly fight and triumph over pulp level villains like White Power, and began to fight more high profile crimes like bank robberies. Her rescue efforts increased to, such as her famous efforts to clear the way for rescue workers to get to a subway train that was caught in an underground tunnel collapse. She began to become more known city wide by other abnormal actors and despite not deliberately seeking it, cultivated celebrity and a popular local image as pro-Seraph stickers, posters, T shirts and hash tags began to grow in popularity.
She intervened in an Athena University Campus incident where the nova known as Princess attacked the library. Sadly, despite Seraph’s best efforts, one student, Laura McClure, was killed.
She would later work with the mysterious Asclepian Mystere to give a terminally ill child, “Big” Joe Carrere, who was like many Drake City children, a huge fan of hers, one healthy afternoon and the power to fly just like her before he lost his battle with his terminal cancer. It was an important moment she hasn’t quite realized the significance of yet, and it cemented in her mind that “Aimee” is a far more powerful being than most other abnormals.
She uncovered a street dope dealer selling Dolli dance to 14 year olds who was a member of the Jokerz. This led to a confrontation in Hillside Asylum when Seraph flew in demanding to speak to the Jester, and the drug pusher activating a squirting flower he was wearing. Seraph had battled some of the gang members up to that point and knew it was a favored attack method of theirs, and one thing led to another and, well, that encounter didn’t go well.
She would encounter the Jester again by chance months later when they were both in civilian guises. He was posing as a homeless man begging for money for drugs, and she took pity on him. Revealing himself to her, the Jester let her in on the ruse as payment for being the first to show genuine compassion for the pitiful wretch he was portraying. Nicole revealed back she was Seraph, the two of them forged a truce. Although Seraph is still not wild about the Jokerz pushing drugs on the streets of Drake City, the Jester’s vow to police his gang not sell them to children as well as the encroaching menace of the Cryptkickers and the Bloodfangs has led her to form a sort of alliance with the gang against the greater threat.
She would also come to the aid of Nightshadow, who had been pinned in on an early mission who had signaled to Deva Lang, in her guise as Smoke, things hadn’t gone as planned and she was pinned down in an alley under fire. Not knowing what else to do, Smoke patched through to Seraph with Nightshadow’s location and instructions to get her out of there. Seraph’s arrival surprised Nightshadow’s attackers as she threw dumpsters at them, shrugged off their bullets, and lifted the cyborg out. Nightshadow became something hugely important to Nicole, her first actual friend since she’d left high school.
Seraph would also meet two of her greatest role models, American Dream and The Paragon (Kyle St. James, son of the original Paragon) in the March 2030 incident when Deva Ex Machina seized control of Jameson airport. Deva judged Seraph not ready to aid in the actual battles, but couldn’t pass up enlisting Seraph to help with the out of control planes to free up the more experienced heroes to act elsewhere at the time.
After being star struck initially to meet the famous novas, she had a short conversation with the Paragon that ended with him making a cryptic remark you could never grow as long as you were in someone else’s shadow. She would later come to wonder if her presence hadn’t prompted him to leave Drake City for a time, something she would start to feel guilty about causing.
She had some more contact with American Dream and regretted they didn’t get more chances to become better friends before the Patriot Society left Drake City. They got along rather well and Seraph wishes she’d told “Dreamy” her other name so they could have stayed in contact, but didn’t do so on the advice of “Smoke” and Inkblot.
As much as Paragon and “Dreamy” have inspired Seraph, her genuine admiration also fostered an inferiority complex with respect to them both. Subconsciously she has come to regard herself as an inferior substitute to either of them.
Significant Developments Post Watchmen
Deva Lang’s latest reformation of the Watchmen saw Seraph introduced to the group formally. Deva had a mind to recruit Seraph previously, but had decided Nicole just wasn’t seasoned enough, and didn’t want to expose Seraph to the higher profile dangers the Watchmen typically encounter.
However, recent circumstances have led a lot of the more experienced heroes to leave the Watchmen and Drake City entirely, so Seraph was, ironically, the most experienced vigilante nova available for the new roster. Ready or not, it was Seraph or no one.
Seraph was delighted to learn that Smoke was actually Deva Lang and immediately took to the AI, releasing all that pent up affection she’d had for her digital protector on Deva, whom she declared her best friend.
On an early intelligence gathering mission for the new team, Seraph and Nightshadow went to meet the Jester to see if his prophetic visions would yield any insight to the upcoming trial of the Ghoul King, a Bloodfang plot to kidnap Inkblot, and the activities of the Cryptkickers. During this visit, Seraph was accosted by Dolli who flat out asked Seraph to have sex with her. Flustered, Seraph bumbled through the conversation, trying first to explain to Dolli that it wasn’t a good idea to offer sex to relative strangers, and she unwittingly agreed to go on a date with the destructive dancing doll. This would lead to a lot of very confused thoughts in the upcoming days as Seraph couldn’t help but contemplate why the hell she’d agreed to this despite never having an interest in other women before. She was confused if she simply didn’t know her own preferences as a result of not having any kind of adult social life since leaving high school, or if Dolli’s bold display had simply played into her feelings of loneliness and led her to agree to something she wouldn’t consider if she were more emotionally balanced.
At first Seraph was thrilled to officially join the Watchmen’s roster. However an early encounter with Reverend Brimstone and Sabriel left Seraph bruised, battered and emotionally upset after Brimstone’s powers triggered her weakness to psychic attacks, festering her growing inferiority complex. She continued on, though Seraph herself was very worried she simply wasn’t a powerful enough hero to be of any use to the Watchmen.
She was then busted by Mr. Anonymous, who was working with Sargent Renee Murphy of the Drake City Police Department. Mr. Anonymous was very persuasive and Nicole agreed initially to turn herself in and dictated specific terms of surrender. This was a pivotal moment for her emotionally, as her career as Seraph had left Nicole emotionally drained. The incident with Dolli and the realization of how depressed and unhappy she’d become leading her double life (which was completely out of whack) made her see this as her chance to start over and get herself back on some kind of even footing.
However, when she revealed this to the newly assembled Watchmen with an emotional speech explaining why she was giving up, Dr. Emily Kessler’s newly erupted abilities foresaw that if he did as they agreed, Seraph would be killed by Rex Hartigan after Sargent Murphy unwittingly betrayed her. Although Seraph felt like an idiot, she agreed it was obviously bad to get killed and didn’t feel like she should honor a deal Sargent Murphy was going to break. Before she collapsed, Dr. Kessler told Seraph that turning herself in wasn’t going to actually solve the underlying problems of why she was so unhappy anyway.
In the aftermath of all this, Seraph underwent several pivotal moments of reflection. She first wandered the Watchtower depressed and feeling very stupid and hating herself when she happened upon Dr. Chimera repairing the Razorgirl gynoid and unwittingly assisted him using the skills she’d learned going to community college years ago, recalling them surprisingly well. She hadn’t realized what it was she was repairing until he revealed to her that she had helped him restore the systems of a highly advanced intelligent robot.
Dr. Chimera, realizing Seraph had a self confidence problem, then informed Seraph she would be helping him finish the repairs and he wouldn’t accept anything short of her full commitment as the Watchmen’s new technician.
It was the first time in her life she had actually accomplished something remarkable (who fixes advanced combat androids as a hobby, that’s right Seraph does) and had been held to any kind of standard instead of just ignored or disregarded.
During a quiet moment of rest, Nicole reactivated an old Dashify account she hadn’t listened to since getting superpowers, and realized listening to some of the music she’d used to listen to when she was depressed before that she was stuck in a rut of her own making. Emotionally bolstered by her introspection and Dr. Chimera’s intervention, Seraph realized Dr. Kessler was right, then got up and asked Deva to reform her a new identity as Karen Drake. She vowed she would abandon her old life as Nicole Starr and live differently and try to do different things going forward, which included the immediate decision to commit to the date she’d agreed to despite the uncertainty about her feelings. She planned to take Dolli to the Ocean Hills amusement park and a metal concert and see how it went, for good or ill.
However other more pressing matters would require Seraph’s intervention first, putting her personal development temporarily on hold.
Nicole lacks, as mentioned, academic intelligence. However she can understand complex technical concepts if it’s something she can do hands on. She is the kind of person who can completely reassemble a lawn mower but who can’t do simple algebra.
She’s also fairly creative and expressive when given the chance.
Nicole is actually quite thrifty. She salvages or scavenges nearly everything in her apartment, buys only used clothing, makes anything she needs as Seraph by hand, eats lots of rice and beans and oats and lentils, etc.