Double Cross: The Infinity Code
When the Renegade Virus goes “active,” it grants its host supernatural powers. Over the last twenty years, experts have divided these manifestations into twelve broad symptomatic groups known as “Syndromes.”
The twelve Syndromes are:
Angel Halo: This Syndrome gives its bearer control over light and illumination, as well as the ability to enhance their own senses to superhuman levels. Named for the “halo” of light that often surrounds them as they use their powers.
Balor: Characters with this Syndrome can generate an “eye of darkness,” an artificial black hole that allows them to control gravity and spatial relationships. Named for the Celtic god with an evil eye.
Black Dog: Gives control over electricity. Black Dogs can generate powerful bursts of lightning or control machines by touch. Can also gain working cybernetic limbs, powering them with their internal electricity. Named for the British legend of the black hounds that come ahead of storms.
Bram Stoker: Gives control over blood—his own or that of others. Stokers can heal their own wounds or turn their own blood into a weapon. Powerful Stokers can boil the blood in an enemy’s veins. Named for the author of Dracula.
Chimaera: The ability to assume beast-like traits, such as growing scales or natural claws and fangs. Chimaerae are the physically strongest Overed, able to use their powers to become supernaturally strong and durable. Named for the hybrid beast of Greek mythology.
Exile: Can manipulate the elasticity and hardness of his own body, giving him the ability to stretch his limbs, become effectively boneless, or to use his hair and nails as weapons. Named for Hiruko, the boneless child of the gods in Japanese myth who was exiled for his deformity.
Hanuman: Incredible speed and dexterity, as well as the ability to manipulate sound waves. Named for the Hindu monkey god.
Morpheus: Control over physical matter, allowing a character to transmute objects—often without regard to mass or weight. A character with this Syndrome can also “read” objects, learning about their history and composition by touch. Named for the Greek god of dreams.
Neumann: Turns its host into a veritable human computer, capable of lightning-fast calculations and deductions, as well as near-perfect control of his own body and emotions. Named for the mathematician John von Neumann.
Orcus: A host with this Syndrome becomes the metaphorical king of his domain. An Orcus can control the very laws of physics within a limited radius of themselves (their “domain”), in which they can create guardians, control people and animals, and more. Named for the Roman god of the Underworld, and the idea that an Orcus prefers “to reign in Hell.”
Salamandra: The control of temperature, letting a character generate burning heat or freezing cold, as well as enduring such extremes. Named for the mythological Greek fire lizard.
Solaris: Those afflicted with Solaris can use their own bodies as chemistry labs. A Solaris can generate pheromones to alter others’ moods, turn his spit into poison, or make his blood an antidote; they can heal by touch and bolster allies against harm. Named for an alien planet in Stanislaw Lem’s novel of the same name.
Even within a Syndrome, the manifestations of the Renegade Virus can be varied. Some Salamandra have an affinity for fire, while others use exclusively cold powers, and some use both equally.
Some individuals manifest traits of multiple Syndromes, giving them access to a wider variety of powers. It has been noted that infected with access to only one Syndrome—called Purebreeds—are generally much more powerful than Crossbreeds, though whether that is because of focus, inclination, or predisposition, none can say.
A rare manifestation of the virus creates Tribreeds, individuals demonstrating the symptoms and powers of three different Syndromes. Such persons rarely have as much talent for controlling their powers as other Overeds, and are normally notably deficient in one of their three paths.
Where a Syndrome is a strain of the Renegade Virus, powers might be thought of as individual “symptoms.” In the strictest sense, an Angel Halo’s ability to generate a beam of light powerful enough to burn through a cinderblock is just the visible manifestation of a disease, the same way that influenza generates a fever and coughing fits. The fact that powers are useful symptoms has tempted more than one poor fool toward turning into a Gjaum.
Some powers are in effect more or less constantly, a permanent “gift” of the Renegade Virus. Such powers do not increase a character’s Encroachment Rate, instead being assumed to be part of their “base Encroachment.” Others can be activated through conscious effort, by releasing the willpower that the individual is using to hold the virus in check. Using these active powers always advances the Encroachment of the virus—some only a little, others a lot.
Powers take on a variety of forms. Some Syndromes generate symptoms that are more aggressive, allowing the host to attack with extensions of his abilities. Others are defensive, letting their host endure terrible punishment. Some are far more esoteric, turning the host into a living dynamo, or a chemical factory, or summoning miniature black holes. The only common denominator is that all of the Syndromes can make their hosts terribly lethal to ordinary humans.
One of the most common powers available to virtually all Overeds and Gjaums is called Warding. This power allows a Renegade-active host to send out a pulse that disables, kills, or sends fleeing all non-R+ individuals within range. The exact manifestation of the Warding depends on the individual in question, but this potent ability is one of the reasons that the Overed have been able to remain out of sight for so long, even with their great powers and their proclivity for violent conflict. Even Overed who have the power sometimes choose to not use it, however, since its use acts like a huge ringing dinner bell to any Gjaums in the area.
Generally speaking, an Overed’s resistance to harm will regenerate them from even apparent death (a benefit that the Overed call resurrection) so long as their body remains mostly in one piece and the Renegade Virus has not been somehow purged from their system. The most common method of permanently killing an Overed is decapitation, which is usually enough to overcome their fast healing, but some require more extreme measures, such as immolation or dissolution with acid. Gjaums are generally even harder to kill, since the Renegade Virus lives on in every cell of their body.