Wild Cards: The House Of Discards.
Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:28 pm
In late 1946, an telepathic alien race, the Takisians came to Earth to field test a highly advanced genetically engineered bioweapon, the Enhancer which was created in order to increase their own psionic powers that could finally give them an edge in their ongoing feuds with others of their kind.
Much to the chagrin of the Takisian geneticists, the Enhancer project was only partially successful. The virus could create new and amazing powers, but it killed most of those who were exposed to it ( On the planet of Takis, there was no concept of willing volunteers unless the experiment was a total success. The very few prisoners of House Ilkazam, the developers of the virus, sufficed though the Takisians were too arrogant to ever test the Enhancer on the non-telepathic individuals of their race, the common laborers known as the Tarhiji or “Mind blind”.) and left most of the survivors as mutated freaks. Of course they were all quickly and quietly put to death before came to term with their new found powers and deformities but the research team found that there were no more live test subjects left. This caused an quandary though not a ethical or moral one. The Takisians did not want to use the virus on themselves and devastate their own ranks. They did not want to use it as a weapon on another rival house and potentially leave the survivors with god like powers.
Testing it on the Tarhiji within their household was completely out of the question because it was considered extremely risky as some of the mind blind ‘secretly’ resented the ruling Great Houses and those who become too powerful after being infected by the virus might get lucky and escape before they can be executed as the other lab subjects were. Worse they could be tempted to disrupt and challenge the very foundations of the aristocratic society created by their betters.
Having a commoner become a god instead of the ruling classes is totally unacceptable.
However, they had put far too much time and effort into the virus to simply abandon the project. It was decided that a large scale test outside an controlled environment was needed in order to fully evaluate the virus. They chose Earth which they knew contained a genetically identical species as their testing ground. The plan was to release the virus in the upper atmosphere, exposing the whole planet to it, and then study the result
Despite the efforts of a renegade Takisian scientist soon to be named Doctor Tachyon and the pilot Robert “Jetboy” Tomlin, the extremely dangerous virus was released over New York City on September 15, 1946 and traveling through the jet stream, caused a worldwide pandemic. The viral particles, often inaccurately called “spores” is encased by a durable protein sheath and can survive almost any environmental conditions until coming into contact with a host organism. ( Humans of course. Animals and other forms of terrestrial life were not affected. )
As the virus can rewrite a subject's entire genetic structure in moments and no two beings coming out the same way, its unpredictable nature gave the virus the scientific classification of Xenovirus Takis-A but almost everyone just called it by its more common name, The Wild Card and the documented cases of the victims of the virus named in poker game vernacular. (See below).
90% of the people infected quickly die from the virus as the victim's body cannot assimilate the extreme genetic changes and most often the person dies horribly (drawing The Black Queen) as a result. Out of the surviving 10%, 9% or 90% manage to survive but suffer permanent physical deformities ranging from mild to the extremely grotesque (Jokers) though sometimes a few of them gained powers (Joker-Aces or more rarely, Jaces which rhymes with maces ), and the remaining 1% or 10% become gifted with superhuman physical or mental capabilities ranging from the useless such as growing facial hair at will (Deuces) to the powerful like receiving incredible superhuman strength and flight (Aces).
To this day, there is no known cure for the Wild Card save for the Trump Virus developed by Doctor Tachyon. The Trump also known as Xenovirus Takis-B is only successful in about twenty four percent. Forty seven percent of the time it doesn’t work at all and an appalling twenty nine percent of the time, it outright kills the patient. The New York City Jokertown Clinic only uses the trump virus as a last resort in the most severe cases where the victim has nothing to lose.
That was over seventy years ago and Wild Carders, Aces and Jokers alike, have come and gone since then. Doctor Tachyon founded a clinic in Jokertown, an seedy area in Manhattan which Jokers are forced to live although other “Jokertowns” has sprung up all over the country as well as the world. Eventually Tachyon vanished from public view and was rumored to be either dead or had somehow returned to Takis.
Unfortunately both rumors are indeed true. Tachyon returned to his home planet and took to rule his house after a bloody interplanetary war with his own psychotic grandson, Blaise. However his reforms did not suit well with other members of House Ilkazam and staging a surprise coup with the aid of House Vayawand, they killed Tachyon and all who had supported him including many members of his family.
Luckily before his death Tachyon managed to destroy the biogenetic labs along with nearly all samples of the dreaded Enhancer mutagen and research notes.
Unluckily the Takisians who now rule over House Ilkazam don’t really care as they have the means to create a new version of the Enhancer and they intend to finish what they had started seventy years ago: They would truly become as gods over the Earth’s dead dissected body...
...or will they?