This is part of a series of French superhumans, for those who want that.
Then there are other characters, with more average power levels.
Like most of the French Gendarmerie characters, la Dixième is complex and with complicated abilities. These are not intended as stock characters, but as something more experimental.
- Real Name: Stéphanie Trung Pham.
- Known Relatives: Van Pham (mother), Michel Pham (father, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base Of Operations: Paris.
- Height: 5’6’ (1.67m). Weight: 113 lbs. (51 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.
Powers and Abilities
The Tenth can shear and reconstruct reality through her art. Past manipulations have included :
- Song inducing irresistible emotions in anyone hearing it (in DC Heroes terms, Broadcast Empath).
- Resculpting buildings through concentration and hand motions (Matter Manipulation).
- Modern dance inducing long range teleportation of the people she dances around.
- Tribal dance making her invulnerable and impossible to restrain as long as she keeps dancing (Enchantment to STR and BOD).
- Acting out scenes compelling sapientsCapable of intelligent reasoning, animals and raw matter around her to conform to her imaginary story (various Controls).
- Slam poetry conjuring large volumes of living, intelligent flame (Fire animation).
- Erasing a demon from existence by deconstructing and critiquing its narrative based on a few key words (Disintegration).
- She has repeatedly displayed the ability to mime a rectangular camera frame with her thumbs and indexes and “freeze frame” whatever was going on in front of her (Time control).
She is also probably the greatest living artist in the world. But the public can only see watered down, selected samples of her work due to government censorship. She seems able to express herself through any medium and any form of art, and convey a multitude of meanings and impressions – often at once.
Pham is in top physical shape — being a dancer — and is a vicious, angry hand-to-hand combatant. She attributes this occasional brutality and resilience to pain to having been dead for a while.
Mrs. L. awoke in an unusual state of consciousness. Everything was clear and tense like a whip made out of glass. She had found a second subject. Better, she had found *the* Subject. The dream was very clear. “I died in India”, she whispered, the last recursive sentence from her dream.
She started scribbling drawings and words from her dream before it would evaporate. A young French woman of South-eastern Asian descent, dead in India within the last two years.
How hard could it be for a woman such as she, with resources such as hers, to locate the Subject ?
Mrs. L. made a few phone calls, setting obscure strands of her powerful web of corporate contacts into motion. Soon a group of Burmese mercenaries parachuted near a village in Kashmir, looking for a treacherous ravine where the accident had reportedly taken place.
Moving along the plateau under cover of the night, these professionals located the site within three days. Their doctor and two weapons specialists rappelled down the steep, narrow cliffs to reach the car’s wreck.
Somehow, the corpse was nearly intact after two years. Within hours a Blackhawk from a private security firm was flying nap of earth to meet the Burmese team. Winching in the doctor and the secured corpse, it dropped enough food for the rest of the team to discreetly trek out of the area.
The Blackhawk touched down at a makeshift airfield in Rajouri to rapidly transfer its load to a Dassault private jet headed for France.
Mrs. L. inspected the corpse in a hidden operating theatre near Lyon. It had been parachuted near one of her private properties. The girl in the bloodstained, raggedy clothes had arrived.
Gently stroking the naked cadaver, she appreciated what little reconstruction work had to be done by her surgeons. You could almost swear that the Subject was just asleep, aside maybe from the pallor.
As Mrs. L. personally prepared the fluid and mixed it with her colloid blood, she knew this would soon cease to be an illusion, to become the plain truth.
All these years behind windows
Stéphanie awoke in an unusual state of consciousness. Everything was fragmented, fuzzy, indistinct. As if two images of her field of vision had been jammed together. Her identity unclear, her body familiar yet distant, her sensations off-palette and off-key. “It’s all going to be OK”, she kept telling herself.
The images from the crash, the trip before that, her life, her parents were low-resolution vignettes from a distant transmitter.
She knew that the place was called The Loft. Which was weird because it wasn’t really a loft. More like a gigantic apartment, with an impossible number of rooms. The work of the interior decorators was exquisite, each room a delicate variation on a sophisticated theme unfolding as one kept walking from room to room in a given direction.
Each of the airy, well-lit rooms, many with windows with a view over the roofs of Paris, was rich in sensations – fragrances, fabrics, soft music… It was like an artfully displayed private art museum where raw materials were as common as finished œuvres.
Stéphanie soon found enough fabric and sewing equipment to cover herself, and rooms with well-stocked kitchens with perpetually fresh ingredients. How the clothes and food came from out of her dexterous hands was amazing. How easy yet unnatural it was to whimsically conceive new clothes, and dishes and, well, anything.
She fell in love for a bit with one of the precious violins in one of the musk-scented rooms, before she decided she preferred the sophisticated computer program allowing her to create virtual actors with finger gestures.
It took almost a week to realize there was somebody else in The Loft. With the sheer size of the place, it was hard to tell.
Stéphanie’s immediate instinct was to hide deep in The Loft – the idea of somebody or something else being around in this weird non-place provoked unbearable anxiety.
Those feelings were hard to overcome, but while erasing all traces of her presence she kept running into subtle signs that somebody else was around. Forcing herself to investigate, she eventually found the other.
With blind crosses sweeping the tables
Stéphanie had mostly been expecting some sort of ghost, which Valérie wasn’t. She was just this small, cute brunette with big eyes, curly hair and a vaguely Jewish air, wearing subdued men’s clothing.
The cheerful yet somewhat timid Valérie seemed far less apprehensive than Stéphanie about making contact. She had been there for a while, and felt lonely. The two women quickly became friends.
At first, Stéphanie was taken aback when Valérie tried to explain why she was in The Loft. Her tentative, confused story was that she was cursed to stay here until she could finish the geography textbook of her boyfriend. It was a used high-school book with most of its pages now loose that she carried around in a leather briefcase.
She was uncertain of who her boyfriend was and why she was unable to read the book, but otherwise didn’t seem particularly insane. And unlike Stéphanie, she at least had a story to explain why she was here.
A door into the faked
It was Valérie who found the door one week after they met. They ravenously got outside, using the credit cards left in the foyer and going out with a vengeance. After much clubbing, shopping around and enjoying themselves, though, it quietly became obvious that it didn’t really change anything.
They shared a secret in the existence of The Loft, their hidden home, making Paris but an extension of The Loft. Besides, some things were subtly off, the number six seeming to be everywhere. Stéphanie grew to think that “Paris” was actually some sort of simulation, but refrained from mentioning it.
Valérie then told her that she had known about the exit all along. As Stéphanie demanded to know why she never told, the timid Valérie demonstrated that neither of them could get farther than a few kilometres from The Loft.
Even walking straight ahead, taking a taxi, riding the subway, would always, always bring them back to the same street corner and the door to the Loft.
Dragging Valérie along, Stéphanie tried to escape The Loft a dozen times. But she always found herself facing the characteristic dark glass façade of the Loft.
And myself tracking over empty ground
Valérie awoke in an unusual state of consciousness. Everything was clear and tense. Stéphanie found her corpse in the bathroom the morning after. She had slit her own wrists. The leather briefcase was empty at her side. She never found the geography textbook.
The visions started when Valérie’s corpse disappeared during night. The Loft was full of ghosts. It had always been but she couldn’t sense them until know. Flickering, hazy images of women singing dirges or acting out fuzzy, fragmented pantomimes.
She listened to them, watched them, thinking they might be linked to Valérie. What she did learn was different. The visions showed her how to restructure reality with her will, with her art.
Nearly driven mad by the visions, she started practising her new craft – song, dance, sculptures, stories that meant so much they would ripple through reality and impose her feverish vision.
Animals I never saw
Marianne Nemo awoke in an unusual state of consciousness. Everything smelled like smoke and some African dish she couldn’t place. It was her again, the witch woman.
“Long daughter”, the madwoman said in her mind, “you must promise me again you will never try to use my vision gift, for surely you have inherited it. And if you use it it will drive you mad, madder than everything except me, your long grandmother.”
Every single time, the woman would make her promise. What did she know ? Or was she just insane ? “I promise, long mum.” She preferred to play along and be cool with everybody down the ancestry line, even the weird ones and the non-human ones.
“Long granddaughter, I saw this in your time. A young woman who killed herself and her death echoing down the river. She was sacrificed in a perverse passion play, long daughter. A slow ritual dance intended to create power. Poor thing.”
Okay, so the witch woman wanted to report a crime. She’d come to the right place. Marianne fumbled around to boot her Gendarmerie laptop up. “Okay, long mother. Could you please start by describing the victim ?”. The red-orange Ubuntu circle appeared on the laptop’s screen.
The voice came back after a small feeling of emptiness. “She was White”, she said authoritatively, as if that were enough.
Military law enforcement
Mrs. L. intensely disliked the man. He was not the kind she was used to dealing with – he felt more like a cunning peasant than a smooth player.
Still, she knew how to gauge men, and it was obvious that the affable, debonair 40-something man had very direct backing from the French government. He had no bodyguard, and it seemed obvious he didn’t expect to have any trouble getting out of the tower alive.
“Your Paris operation is over, madame.” he said flatly. “ESIGN is currently taking control of the area and will use force against any interference or resistance. The government does not intend to infringe on your good name or to create trouble – provided you do not create difficulties for us, of course. May I suggest we all forget the existence of this… place as ladies and gentlemen of good standing ? It would be so much easier that way for all concerned.”
Mrs. L. knew not to press the issue. The government’s black-clad stormtroopers had taken the Subject from her right as she blossomed. And she was pretty certain that the person behind this was the woman she hated the most.
I with no voice
Stéphanie awoke in an unusual state of consciousness. Her eyes were still red and aching from crying.
The two men in black, with all their guns and body armour, their black fatigues, their samurai-like helmets and ninja hoods, who had silently come into her room and watched her impassively, were gone. Instead there was a woman in her 30s, sitting on a backward chair and wearing some sort of uniform.
“Hey.” She had ashey blonde hair and a tanned face with lots of small lines, like a surfer or a mountaineer. She looked nice and strong, with rich grey eyes and a warm voice.
“So, I’m Marianne. We found you, sweetie. It’s all going to be OK. They can’t hurt you anymore or keep you there now. I’m here and it’s all going to be OK. The bad shit is over.”
Délégation aux Affaires Culturelles Spéciales
The DACS (Department of Special Cultural Affairs) is a tiny department within the vast Ministry of Culture. Which is the government arm tasked with facilitating and encouraging cultural expression and education.
It is managed by the elderly public servant only known as Monsieur H. (that’s what his ID card says – “Monsieur H.”).
The staff consists of two aged administrative assistants, Rose-Marie and Anne-Laurence, and a seemingly superhumanly strong and impervious helper, Jean-Cyril. Every single helper of Monsieur H. was born on the 4th of April in the town of Rivière-Salée in Martinique. As were all previous helpers since the founding of the DACS in 1961.
Monsieur H. — a tidy balding man well into his 90s and wearing an expensive suit — is in charge of assessing the cultural impact of discoveries having to do with superhuman activities.
His routine consists of locating linguists to translate Atlantean documents, negotiating a budget to sponsor sentient light sculptures from two mutant sisters in Toulouse, assessing the possible impact of versions of the Bible from parallel universes and whether they should be published or kept in the extensive “special section” at the Bibliothèque Nationale (“National Library”) known as l’Enfer (“Hell”), etc.
All-purpose cultural man
Monsieur H. is an encyclopaedic scholar of the arts and sciences, as well as an ancient man from a long-gone era. He possesses a rare sense of cynicism and wisdom rolled into one, and has proved essentially impervious to sanity-damaging and similar mental effects. His unfazable nature seems superhuman.
After it was established by an ESIGN squad that “The Loft”, the place where the Tenth was found, posed little physical danger but could represent a significant mental hazard, the slowly-ambulating Monsieur H. became point man in assessing the artistic content therein.
After careful study and long pondering, he eventually qualified the place and all creations of its two inhabitants a weapon of mass destruction. His tests clearly demonstrated that the social and psychological impact of much of the art at The Loft presented a clear danger to the masses, liable by its sheer power of emotional significance and ontological relevance to provoke mass hysteria.
Up with censorship
Although the Tenth was initially mad with rage at the thought the government would keep most of her work under lock, key and armed guard, Monsieur H. reached out to her. He explained in compassionate terms what would happened if most of her songs were played, most of her sculpting and paintings were exposed or if her scripts were ever shot.
The Tenth has come to highly regard and respect the unflappable, elderly bureaucrat – who is, after all, her only public and thus her reason for living. Monsieur H. spends much of his free time “disarming” many of of the Tenth’s creations in various media and, with her approval, publishing watered down, less gripping variations of her work under a number of aliases.
Some of those aliases, such as the singer “Steph Blaque”, have proved extremely successful in Francophone countries.
Stéphanie, whose parents were both North Vietnamese, is a beautiful woman in her late 20s.
She tends to dress in sharp, light colours and wear hand-crafted, self-designed clothes and accessories. She often wears a black choker with a small golden crucifix hung by a tiny chain.
She also enjoys wearing a variety of hand-crafted sunglasses with pastel-coloured lenses.
One of her eyes is greener than the other. She once “explained” (scare quotes) that it’s a David Bowie homage.
The Tenth is a lively, creative young Parisian. She radiates poise and confidence, and walks proudly. She enjoys going out and is perpetually juggling with a broad variety of artistic endeavours, though she is sworn to keep them a secret.
She’s voluble and sophisticated, an adept conversationalist, and dresses and behaves for effect. She’s had to renounce fame and recognition, but obviously enjoys attention.
Although she’s bright and likeable, her experiences have left something of a dark side, and she has a stubborn streak a mile wide. She’s also quite emotional, and the combination of both factors can make her hard on friendships and dooms her love life.
When emotionally wounded, she can lash out in unpredictable, dangerous ways as her artistic inspiration turns blood-red and savage. When Stéphanie becomes angry she can be downright deadly.
A sensitive, la Dixième is highly aware of a surprising range of paranormal events going on through Western Europe and the world. Since this can be unsettling and hard on her nerves, she feels compelled to intervene to right those situations whenever they go too far.
She receives advice from both Monsieur H. and Marianne, and has operated several times along with ESIGN commandos. Her power, unique abilities, presence, temper and contacts make her a player in the world of the paranormal.
Pham greatly respects the two mother figures of the French superhuman community, Marianne and Dr. Madeleine Moreau-Levy, the later of whom helped her master her powers. Moreau-Levy has declined to fully explain what the Tenth was, where her powers came from and what was the exact nature of the experiment conducted on her, though.
Stéphanie prefers not knowing and concentrating on her art.
Other universes Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in other fictional settings).
The universe for the Gendarmerie characters is kept purposefully vague. There are hints of Wildstorm (post-human operatives being activated, superhuman (para)military units) and DC (the Kryptonian-ish power suite).
It could easily be Marvel-ified by replacing powers activation by Xavier-style training to teach mutants to properly use their superhuman abilities.
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 05||Str: 02||Bod: 04|
|Int: 06||Wil: 05||Min: 09|
|Inf: 09||Aur: 07||Spi: 11|
|Init: 020||HP: 060|
Awareness: 14, Magic sense*: 06, Sorcery: 14
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Sorcery has no AV – use the Artist skill as AV instead (+0).
- Sorcery must have an art-related theme (-1).
Acrobatics (Athletics): 04, Animal handling: 04, Artist (Actor/mime, architect, cook, dancer/choreographer, musician/singer/composer, painter/artist, photographer/director, sculptor/jeweller/woodworker, tailor/fashion maven, writer/poet): 11, Occultist (Create artefacts, identify artefact, premonition): 06
Scholar (Art history and philosophy).
ESIGN (Gendarmerie superhuman squad, Low), Dr. Madeleine Moreau-Levy (Low), Marianne (High), Monsieur H. (High).
MPI (see Personality).
Source of Character: Homemade .
Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Darci.