|“|| It is a shame then, that you have come all this way to stand in my realm, just to die.|
I tried to be gracious... tried to give you a less agonizing death, but you persist. Now, you will suffer a torment unending.
I am Death Incarnate!
I am the ruler in this realm!
And if you will not die for me willingly, then I shall see death forced upon you!
Diabolique, once known as Tammy Arcanus, is a character in the MMO City of Heroes. She originally appears as one of many alternate reality versions of the game's super heroes. In Diabolique's case she is the evil version of main-reality's super-heroine, Numina. The game's main reality has come to be called "Primal Earth", while Diabolique's reality came to be called "Praetorian Earth". Diabolique is the bound soul of a deceased mage, in-service to Emperor Cole - lord of Praetoria and himself the extremist version of Primal Earth's main hero, Statesman. Diabolique is fully aware of her actions but unable to refuse direct orders. She frantically searched for sources of great power, while Cole believes these searches are for him, they are in fact the ghost acting on her own initiative trying to find magic that can break his hold over her, before he can directly order her to give such items to him. In her search, Diabolique would eventually become a blight on both realities once she finally had achieved freedom.
Dis-NuminaIn "Primal Earth", Tammy Arcanus is a mage with the secretive arcane group called The Midnight Squad A.K.A. Midnighters. The Midnighters were founded to combat the evil cultists in the Circle of Thorns, but their purpose grew and eventually keeping powerful magics out of the hands of the Circle meant hoarding it in their secured headquarters - The Midnight Club. Tammy Arcanus was the last in a long line of magi. She was introduced to the Club by Tommy Arcanus - her father. Members of the club kept it a secret even if the members themselves were active in the public. Tommy and Tammy Arcanus were first witnessed by the public when they showed up to stop a supervillain named Red-Threat. Red Threat had the power of radiation and was prepared to turn himself into an atomic bomb once it looked like he was looking at either death or a life sentence. Tammy used the only spell she knew that could even remotely stop such destruction and astrally projected herself out of her body and into Red Threat, possessing him to stop the reaction dead in it's tracks. Red-Threat was rendered comatose from the reaction combined with the spell, but as the explosion was set to go off as Tammy was possessing him, it would resume as soon as she left, so keeping the city safe, meant staying in Red-Threat's body, even as it was sent to a secured holding facility. Eventually Red-Threat would die of natural causes and Numina was freed from his body, but by then both her father and her original body had died. Tommy still exists as a haunted skull in the Midnight Club who watches the club as a true ghost, though one with no malice and thus no means of physically manifesting but happy his daughter is safe and free. The ageless Marcus Cole AKA Statesman vouched for Numina when she emerged from Red Threat's body stating she just wanted to help the city and joined him as a pseudo-ghost fighting the forces of evil.
In Praetoria things took on a different turn. Tammy was also the last in a long-family-line of Midnighters, but her father was kept so busy with his duties that she had to be self-taught in the arts of magic. Tammy took up necromancy and without a guide her experiments went awry. Tammy projected herself out of her body to become a pseudo-ghost, but she used the spell so much and purely as means of entertainment until she eventually forgot to return in-time and her mortal body died of starvation/dehydration. Feeling guilty for not being there for his daughter, Tommy Arcanus bound her spirit and tried to bring her back as a ghost. In an act of rebellion, Tammy killed her father and then raised his corpse and bound his soul as undead thralls. Unfortunately for Tammy her father's binding ritual had worked and was completed even after his mortal death. Emperor Marcus Cole heard of the renegade ghost and in investigating found the charm Tommy Arcanus had bond his daughter to. Tommy's charm acts as an anchor, without it Tammy would fade into nothing, so she never destroyed it, but it also means she must serve its possessor. With Emperor Cole, or "Tyrant" as his critics in the Restiance call him, in possession of the charm, Tammy is stuck compliant to Praetoria's tyrant.
Tyrant's MinionEmperor Cole is an Incarnate - a being imbued with a conceptual manifestation of power on a fundamental level. He had drunk from an inter-dimensional nexus point called the Well of the Furies, said to be the receptacle for the gods of old, where such powers reside when not employed by a specific god. Because of the Well Tyrant and his Primal Earth equivalent were effectively demigods, Statesman refused to become a full god for fear the Well would corrupt his judgment, in Praetoria however, Cole accepted but with that power came an extremism and lust for more power. Cole had become emperor after he fought a mad-scientist turned Incarnate named, Hamidon, an embodiment of the planet's wrath, and was showered with praise for saving the world from the ecological monster. Though Cole wishes to rebuild the ravaged world he frequently sacrifices human rights and lives in his pursuits. Cole keeps his methods secret from the general public. As Tammy is a ghost and needs to follow assignments from him, Tammy became a valuable asset for Cole. Her ability to phase-shift, turn invisible and use enchantments makes her the perfect enforcer for Cole's espionage missions.
Tammy maintains her own will, opinions, and awareness but is simply compelled to obey all direct orders given, even as she resents following them. In an effort to avoid too much suspicion from Tyrant, Tammy does not push the limits of the "direct orders" part of her binding - for fear Tyrant might start giving her more and more specific orders she can not find loopholes in. Cole is aware of Tammy's discontent, even if not of the limits of how much loyalty she does and does not owe him, and so has code-named her "Diabolique" - fancying her a sinister ghost kept under-control only thanks to him. In her original appearance before Praetoria was rounded out in Going Rogue, Diabolique was one of the many evil doppelgangers of the game's main heroes/heroine, serving Tyrant. For the original Going Rogue she was only a passing mention in the main-part of Praetoria but starts to appear in-the-ectoplasm once the heroes/villains/Praetorians are sent to/return to, Praetoria in it's First Ward region.
First Ward Arc
The First Ward is ground-zero of Hamidon's attack. It is a part of Praetoria Emperor Cole has tried to reclaim but is heavily contested by The Resistance - as well as various other competing parties. The veil between life-and-death, magic and mortal worlds is weak in the First Ward, with ghosts frequently appearing. Additionally Praetor Shalice Tilman, also known as Mother Mayhem - as the Resistance call her, has a psychic mental hospital out in the First Ward which, while secure, has attracted all manner of psychic phenomena to the region. As the First Ward is officially part of the Praetorian Empire, but Emperor Cole has given up on it, the area has become a haven for outcasts - some survivors of the Hamidon attack, others civilians who would rather take their chances in a spore covered haunted ruined city, than live under Cole's oppressive "utopia". The Resistance have been sent to try to fortify the area, protect the civilians and add stability to The First Ward as a possible fall-back position if The Resistance is ever truly in-danger of being wiped out within the walls of Praetoria formal. The Carinval of Light - the mystical branch of The Resistance, made of disbanded magic groups like The Midnighters, provide psychic cloaking for The Resistance, but are especially prominent in The First Ward as their leader Vanessa DeVore has left Praetoria to try to investigate the otherworldly aspects of The First Ward. Vanessa is not the only one looking into the psychic/spiritual phenomena though, as Diabolique has arrived for the same reason.
Players will be called to The First Ward by either Mistress Eva of the Carnival of Light, or Carter Mordesen from the Carnival of War. The Carnival of War respect Vanessa and mostly serve her, save for the fact they ignore her order for solely defensive tactics and have banded together to fight back at Cole and other threats for disbanding the former mystical safe-havens. Eva came to Talos Island in Paragon City to seek the aid of the heroes of the Primal Reality who might be sympathetic to The First Ward's plight. Carter is in Cap Au Diable, of the Rogue Isles, because it is an Arachnos territory and Resistance head, Calvin Scott, has received a formal sponsorship from Lord Recluse, head of the Rogue Isles and leader of Arachnos, as such villains are formally considered resources and invited to The First Ward to build opportunity for themselves from the remnants of a fallen society, the armed soldiers of which already see them as potential allies thanks to Lord Recluse and Calvin Scott coming to an accord. First the Monarch - leader of the Compound wants players to save his daughter, however recovering her reveals her father is dead and so she has no idea why the Monarch would want her. Returning reveals The Monarch was possessed by a shapeless transparent specter called an Apparition. After some restructuring and with new trust established towards the player the First Ward survivor compound sends them out to deal with unofficial Praetorian S.W.A.T.-team like organization of D.U.S.T. -Direct Urban Strike Team. Officially D.U.S.T. only exist for emergency situation response, but unofficially have been sent to set up office by Praetor Sinclair, as a training facility, using the survivors as live targets. Raiding the offices reveals behind closed doors, D.U.S.T. has been dealing with a broken chain of command as The Apparitions have been possessing their officers, including high-ranking overseers - thus disrupting proper protocol for operations and the outside D.U.S.T. officer were naught but confused sadists trying to come to regain some sense of control by letting out their strife on civilians. Seeing their troubles spring from an entire species of the Apparitions, the Compound point the player to look for psychic answers with Katie Douglas, a former Seer Praetorian players would have helped escape Mother's Seer Network, as her thrall, with a handful of psychics seeking refuge outside the city in The First Ward. Katie reveals the local Seer Network is infested with Apparitions, who must have possessed one of D.U.S.T.'s seer information officers and used her as a bridge to get into the psychic space of the local Seer Net. Not wanting them to spread through her entire psychic network, Praetor Tilman cut psychic nodes adjacent to The First Ward and isolate the area - leaving D.U.S.T, completely blind and beseiged from within by the belligerent specters wear their own possessed former friends. Katie astral-projects into the Net for the player to act as a psychic sponge to absorb the overlapping Apparition, she emerges possessed but with the Player able to free her by beating off the Apparitions and then finishing them when they de-possess her. Katie recovers and points the player to the medicine man, Blind Makwa, to preform a seance to consult the dead for why they are attacking the world of the living. Blind Makwa's summons spirits of the dead who reveal they are not Apparitions, the Apparitions are the restless angry spirits of the living, not the dead. With little clue how such a thing can occur Makwa sends points to a former Midnighter named Cerulean.
Cerulean still has two spells, an invisibility spell and a spell to transport himself or other into the currently zombified Midnight Club. The player must go in to the Club to retrieve artifacts for a binding ritual. Once acquired Cerulean uses the artifacts to summon and bind Diabolique. Diabolique struggles and strains against the binding but asks Cerulean what he wants with her. When Cerulean explains the situation and demands her help before he exorcises her Diabolique denies him, revealing his spell was not strong enough to contain her, but strong enough to have gotten her attention to see what was going on and she had just been pretending to bound in order to covertly pump Cerulean for information on events up to that point. The player must fight Diabolique, or rather her shade - a mystical sliver of her real spectral self. As it fades, the shade reveals she is actually in the center of The First Ward on the Westerman building - the tallest still standing structure in the First Ward. Cerulean apologizes for not being able to bind Diabolique, or "Tammy" as he still calls her by her first name from when they worked together before she slaughtered most of her friends. Before the player goes off to meet with Diabolique on her own terms, Cerulean warns players she very tricky and trusting her is his greatest regret in life, so to not bargain with her.
Diabolique is waiting on the tip top of the Westerman Building looking up at the rotating vortex of colors that are the magical energy flowing through the First Ward sky. Diabolique says the Apparitions come from the vortex. She does not know precisely where it leads, but has been catching them as they are expelled from it. Diabolique has set up a spirit snare on the Westerman building so that most of the Apparitions become her spectral thralls. She notes a few miss the center area once expelled and cause mischief to their own ends - explaining the Monarch's possession. She has however determined the Apparition's origin, if not precisely where the vortex leads - and with a spell to read the mind of one she shows players. One Apparition was once a girl with psychic potential bough into the Mother of Mercy Asylum a nice doctor she never met again led her to her room; another kind doctor came to her room to escort her to the Warden Mother Tilman, who wanted to see her to help her control her emotions and bring out her powers; Next thing the girl knew, she was lying on a table, or rather floating behind herself lying on a table and the player can see the girl is at that point, an Apparition. The doctor is stabilizing her vitals after Mother claims she has just preformed a psychic lobotomy and "cut-out" all the anguish, pain and confusion from the girl, ready to bring the de-soled girl back around as a loyal psychic thrall with next to now will of her own and a newly psychically stimulated brain. As Mother is wrapping congratulating herself and her staff on another job well done as the Apparition looks on vainly shouting for some one to notice her/it, it becomes vaguely aware of the player as an on-looker into it's memories and turns hostile. The player must destroy the Apparition freeing them from the memory and returned before Diabolique - who had made similar expeditions herself on numerous Apparitions to reveal countless tragic stories. Diabolique says she serves Cole and can not turn against him despite her very pounced desires to do so, however seeing Praetor Sinclair's troops flung into disarray and Tilmam's Seer Network shut down due to her own abominations does not hurt her and gives her a profound sense of glee at their anguish. Diabloique can not directly help them, but tells players if they can get into the Asylum to get Tilman's notes on her process in the area, they might be able to stop them once and for all. The player returns to Cerulean to use his teleportation spell to send the players into the Asylum, but needs someone who has been their before to hone-in on the location for it, which prompts a return to Katie Douglas, as a former seer. Diabolique sends the magician "Midnight Master" to back-up the players.
Sorcery and Vengeance
Midnight Master was a former apprentice in the Midnight Club who fell in obsessive love with Tammy when she joined the Midnighters. When Tammy killed the Midnighters, Midnight Master backed her up and baby-sat the Club for her. She was happy to leave the zombified Midnighters to him as empty husks for him to lord over as she made off with their spirits. The enamored necromancer arrives to cover the players' backs. With Mother's notes confirming the Apparitions are the are the emotions Mother "cuts-out" of her seers. She disposes of them, she believes they fade into nothing after being removed, but they appear to be sent to where-ever the other side of the vortex is. With the revelation the Apparitions are less true ghost than poltergeists formed from the dislodged pieces of identity of Mother's psychic thralls the player will return to Cerulean who is equally aghast. But Cerulean says he feels a powerful spell going off - at the Westerman Building, just below the vortex. Cerulean is preparing his spells to mobilize the Carnival of War, but in the mean-time they had better see what the source is. Getting to the Westerman building shows Diabolique being confronted by Sorceress Serene - member of the Ravenwing Cabal - a massive witches coven in Primal Earth, but til then unseen in Praetoria. Sorceress Serene is there to act out revenge on Diabolique for destroying her coven Diabolique states she had been bound to do so by Emperor Cole, but unlike what she did to the Midnight Club she had very few regrets. Outraged at Diabolique's lack of regret, Sorceress Serene is preforming a spell to bind her. Diabloique does not even pretend to be bound as Serene appears strong enough to actually do it if she succeeded and summons her army of Apparitions to attack Sorceress Serene. With a spell, Sorceress Serene usurps control of the Apparitions and has them turn on Diabolique then disappears with her. After the fight with the Apparitions, Midnight Master and the players meet to plan Diabolique's rescue. Midnight Master says he wants the Carnivals of Light and War to aligned with him against Sorceress Serene to rescue his beloved Diabolique. Though Vanessa DeVore is and the Carnival of Light are receptive and able to look past Midnight Master's aid in destroying the Midnight Squad, the Carnival of War is not as forgiving, and their head researcher is Cerulean. Going to Cerulean reveals he is no longer clad in blue robes but red, and the entire Carnival of War has made similar color changes and by then goes by the Carnival of Vengeance. They are talking to vaguely human-beast women calling themselves the "Talons of Vengeance" and a projection of Sorceress Selene, who had introduced the two factions. The Talons of Vengeance are corrupting the Carnival of War and making their darker sides take-over, while cherry picking the strongest and most powerful among them to fully transform into Talons of Vengeance. Cerulean is now going by "Vermilion" and is organizing an attack on the Carnival of Light to convert them with the Talons of Vengeance to his cause. Vermilion apologizes upon his defeat, saying he can see the world clearly but dies seconds after the spell is broken - the spell itself - only ending as someone lays dying. Midnight Master tells the players he has earned the Carnivals of light as his allies for the save and tells them to go to Vanessa DeVore herself to rally against Sorceress Serene.
First Ward Conclusion
Vanessa DeVore first wants to stop the troubles of the First Ward before the go after Sorceress Serene and Diabolique. The player is sent to restore the Seer Network with Katie Douglas. Vanessa regrets the underhanded tactics but insists Katie needs to act as a channeler to stabilize the Network. Katie is made the focal point of the Network and it goes back up. Katie is once again in Praetor Tilman's grip as she stands entranced as a psychic antenna to reactivate the network. Though Vanessa hates to see Katie in the state, it was necessary to reactivate the Seer Network to prevent the Apparitions from possessing anyone else and filtering out the corrupting signal of the Talons of Vengeance.
Going back to Midnight Master reveals a treasure trove of information. The Talons of Vengeance are emissaries of The Furies - the goddesses of vengeance in myth and legend. The Furies' anger only arises enough to create Talons of Vengeance in the world when sacred oaths have been broken and divine power is abused - as Emperor Cole has been abusing the Well of the Furies for petty political power along with Diabolique forsaking her oaths to the Midnighters and Ravenwing Cabal it appears the treachery of the Praetors has brought the Talon of Vengeance into being in Praetoria - focused on the First Ward. The mystical energies in the First Ward the result of the summoning. Midnight Master also tells the players and Vanessa that Serene intends to use Diabolique as sacrifice to grant her to full power of the Furies and if summoning them was enough to create the vortex, having their full power would likely widen it to obliterate all the the First Ward as it's new nexus point, rather than simply above it. When asking how to kill Diabolique to prevent the sacrifice, Midnight Master says nothing can kill her, not unless they had the talisman her father used to summon her, but it was in possession of Emperor Cole. Vanessa DeVore sends the players to the still enthralled Katie Douglas to use her astral projection to send them into Emperor Cole's palace at the center of Praetoria to get the Talisman. Waiting for them is Praetor Alexia Duncan, AKA, "Dominatrix" - Emperor Cole's grand-daughter. Dominatrix has the Talisman and offers it to the players freely, but they need to attack her first - if she is beaten-up she can manipulate her grandfather into reassigning her superior officer, Praetor White, leaving her and only her as the head of security in the city. After beating Dominatrix half-to-death she tosses the players Diabolique's amulet and waves them farewell, as Praetor White is hear charging in, it become apparent they players will not have the opportunity to finish Dominatrix off anyway.
Finally with the First Ward secured, the Apparitions and Talons of Vengeance unable to continue to possess and brainwash it's citizens, the true nature of nearly all parties revealed and the talisman used to make Diabolique a ghost in the first place, Vanessa DeVore and the players are ready to end the feud between Sorceress Serene and Diabolque once and for all, before it destroys the First Ward entirely. The Talisman is given to Midnight Master but he had given it to Sorceress Serene - apparently working with her the whole time, half to flirt with her, but mainly to give him power over his captured true love, Diabolique. When encountered Midnight Master attacks the players while Sorceress Serene gets away. Though arrogant at first, Midnight Master ends up pleading for his life and spared as player have more important affairs, getting back the talisman and stopping Sorceress Serene. Vanessa and the players hunt down Talons of Vengeance to get to their source. And eventually the ritual sight is revealed as being held in a cavern beneath the southern crags. At the ritual site, Sorceress Serene is using the Talisman to completely obliterate Diabolique and send the remnants of her soul to the Furies. At ritual Midnight Master returns and throws himself between Sorceress Serene and Diabolique to save her. Diabolique's bindings are destroyed in the explosion and she is free. Diabloquie and the players will team-up to kill Sorecress Serene once and for all.
Though Sorceress Serene is dead, as is Midnight Master and her army of enthralled Apparitions, Diabolique has what she wanted all-along, she is free of Cole's hold. But she does not intend to move on-to the afterlife, or live a quite existence, now free of any restrictions she reaches out to the Talons of Vengeance. The Talons are gathering for the awakening of a terrible God in Primal Earth, intent on visiting vengeance upon it for escaping it's binding and rebelling against the goddess who banished it's brethren. Diabolique uses the vortex to travel from Praetoria to Primal Earth. There she meets and ultimately aligns with the God the Furies had gathered to exorcise, Mot.