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Profile: The Challenger

Real Name Lee Croxley
Aliases The Challenger Of The Impossible
Identity Secret
Occupation Planetary defender; (as Croxley) computer support assistant
Citizenship United States of America, “Fortain’s World”
Place Of Birth Unrevealed; presumed United States
Known Relatives Unnamed mother and father
Group Affiliation The Better Day Foundation
Education Unfinished college education, specialising in computers
First Appearance (As Croxley) The Traveller: A Spread Of Jacks And Queens, Prologue; (as The Challenger) The Challenger – 101 “Comes… THE CHALLENGER!” Chapter 3

History

When teenager Lee Croxley carried out his first experiment with drugs, he had no idea where it would eventually lead. Caught up in a covert police operation, Lee was the only one to face criminal action when habitual drug users and dealers escaped without charge, and although no serious charged resulted, Croxley felt deep resentment towards a police force that had tried to make an example of him to cover up their own ineptitude.

Croxley set up a website – “EyeOnThePigsty.com” – encouraging the public to look out for and report any instances of police impropriety, which enjoyed moderate support from disaffected youth. Whilst collecting evidence in New York one night, at the site of a fatal crash involving a police cruiser believed to have been pursuing a mystery motorcyclist, Croxley accidentally recorded a most bizarre event; two crime scene investigators being “erased” from existence and replaced by mysterious individuals.

Attempting to investigate this mystery, Croxley encountered several visitors from other worlds – the alien explorer known as The Traveller, his companion from another Earth, the witch , and the agent of Overlord Glitterthorn known as Gryphon. Gryphon had been sent to Lee’s world to investigate the possible presence of a “fragment” of the psychic essence of another, slain Overlord, Guixander, whilst The Traveller and Westerly had stumbled upon Lee’s world when following a mysterious energy-matter conduit, originating in interdimensional space and apparently terminating on Croxley’s world.

It was then that a shocking truth was unveiled to Croxley – his world was not a “true” Earth, but a huge artificial construct, created by forces unknown and currently under the control of an alien artist, the banelorn Durash Fortain. The planet, still under construction – the entire Pacific Ocean was nothing more than a vast crater, into which the conduit poured raw materials – was one-third populated by those “salvaged” from disasters on other, natural Earths, and two-thirds populated by synthetic “actors”, derived from alien “bio-probes” – human-shaped “biological computers”.

Fortain financed his “masterpiece” by allowing outsiders to “play” on his world, such as Mane-of-Night, the organisation known as The Darkening, and the mysterious entity known as Reignstorm – the mystery motorcyclist, who was secretly present when Croxley, The Traveller, Westerly and Gryphon confronted the artist. Recognising two of Reignstorm’s power sources as the fragments he had been sent to recover, Gryphon called in his team-mates from the Overlord task-force House Glitterthorn, and they engaged Reignstorm, but it was quickly revealed that Reignstorm’s power was having a serious, adverse effect on the planet, and the entity was only forced to retreat, taking the “shards” with him, when The Traveller manipulated the forces generated by the energy-matter conduit, and compromised Reignstorm’s connection to the artefacts.

As an indirect result of the battle against Reignstorm, Fortain’s control over his “actors” was broken, and they rebelled, imprisoning him and casting off their roles, wandering the streets and gathering data on the remaining population. During this chaos, Croxley attempted to use his website to organise people to resist any threat posed by the bio-probes, and it was at this time he came into contact with a mysterious man calling himself “Bert”, operating out of Las Vegas. Croxley drove across country to meet with Bert, and in doing so, drove into the heart of another planet-threatening conflict.

When Mane-of-Night visited “Fortain’s World”, she enlisted the services of a Miami teenager, Mariella da Silva and her all-girl street-gang The Bloody Doves, but da Silva was murdered for her involvement with Mane-of-Night by Kyrsaath a giant, two-headed “wolfman”, a servant of The Grand Tichandryx apparently temporarily under the control of The Darkening. In an attempt to right the wrong that had been done, The Grand Tichandryx sent another agent back in time to “rescue” da Silva’s mental imprint at the moment of her death, and had that imprint installed into an experimental synthetic body, derived from the technology used by the people of Shadow City to create their artificial “Shadowpets“.

The Grand Tichandryx was forced to send an unprepared Mariella back to her home-world when his base on the “theme-park” planet Wyridaen was attacked, and Mane-of-Night learned of this when she encountered the alien, his mind now inhabiting an artificial body of his own, in Shadow City. Immediately, Mane-of-Night recruited The Traveller, and went to rescue da Silva, for whose death the Mystalornan felt directly responsible – but Shadow City’s mistress, Talona, had also learned of the girl’s existence, a breach of the conditions she had set down for allowing The Grand Tichandryx to experiment with the Shadowpet technology, and she sent a super-powered agent, Mardul, to locate and destroy the “unauthorised product”.

Her memory severely compromised – she had an eleven month gap, spanning the time between her death and her release – da Silva was taken in by Bert, who was operating a sanctuary from the bio-probes at an unfinished hotel in Las Vegas, the Olympus Springs. She made a good friend during her time there – one Candice Harper – and when the two of the sneaked out at night to loot nearby fashion shops, da Silva encountered a bio-probe which, when it scanned her, triggered a “copy protection” protocol buried in the girl’s artificial brain, revealing to her the truth about her existence. da Silva fled, and the bio-probes, sensing her a valuable technology, gave chase.

At the same time, Croxley arrived at The Olympus Springs Hotel, and met Bert, a strange man who insisted on hiding most of his face, but before they could discuss the bio-probe threat in any detail, United States Air Force personnel investigating da Silva arrived, and subsequently engaged a force of bio-probes, who had come seeking Mariella, but became aggressive on sighting Bert. Bert and Croxley, who believed the bio-probes were after him, fled from the hotel as battle commenced, but a massacre was prevented by the arrival of Mane-of-Night, whose energy whip easily penetrated the artificial beings’ defences, and after speaking with Candice, the Mystalornan went in search of Mariella.

Mane-of-Night eventually found Mariella, and protected her from whole armies of bio-probes, whilst Croxley found himself drawn into an entirely different adventure as the truth about Bert was revealed – he had been an “actor” whose deletion had not been fully carried out, and Durash Fortain managed to make contact with him, using the faulty bio-probe to engineer the meeting with Croxley, and his own escape from captivity. His mind in control of Bert’s body, Fortain led Croxley to a secret hangar containing an alien space-craft, carried to Fortain’s World by the energy-matter conduit, but before that task could be commenced, The Traveller and his new companion Saluq Irinati arrived, following in Bert’s footsteps through a portal set up by Fortain. Together, they managed to secure Fortain’s release.

Fortain then convinced the group to help him reach the conduit, and use it to defeat the bio-probes, but it was actually his intention to destroy the whole planet, not wanting his great work to remain in the hands of others. The Traveller realised this, but it was Bert that stopped Fortain, sacrificing himself to drag Fortain into the energy conduit, apparently destroying them both. The Traveller then did as Fortain had promised, using the conduit to force the bio-probes to flee, and never return.

Meanwhile, Mane-of-Night had to face the threat of Talona’s agent Mardul, who had arrived on Fortain’s false Earth and was threatening the populace in his search for da Silva. Mane-of-Night defeated the “reclamation agent”, earning Mariella’s freedom in the process.

In the days following these events, Croxley set in motion a plan to secure Fortain’s other facilities, using knowledge acquired during the mind-link he employed to enable him to fly the alien space-craft. Upgrading an ordinary laptop into a portable hyper-computer, Croxley mapped out Fortain’s hidden bases, and gained access to them, using a variety of alien technologies to fashion himself a heroic identity as The Challenger. The Challenger made his first public appearance when he employed the same alien “saucer” to avert impending disaster in the form of a runaway asteroid, which he destroyed with the help of the United States Air Force, in particular Captain Christopher Brenner and Lieutenant Catherine Salieri, whom Croxley had first met at the Olympus Springs Hotel during the battle with the bio-probes.

The Challenger is now his world’s first line of defence against any and all threats to humankind, otherworldly and domestic, whilst Croxley works as a computer technician for The Better Day Foundation, a charity he secretly established, funded by Fortain’s hidden fortunes.

Height 6′
Weight145lb
Eyes Brown
Hair Red-brown

Abilities and Accessories

Lee Croxley’s laptop computer has been upgraded to such a degree that it far outstrips any other computer on Fortain’s World, granting it effectively inpenetrable protection and near limitless online capacity. His Better Day Foundation issue smart-phone has also be subject to the upgrade process, giving it the processing power of an industrial-level main-frame.

In his role as The Challenger, Croxley has access to an incredible array of technology, originating from an unknown number of worlds and realities. Most notable, and publicly recognised is The Challenger’s battle-suit, the features of which are catalogued as:

Personal Defence And Enhancement Package…
Impact, thermal, radiation and energy protection…
Enhanced strength and agility…
Multi-directional force field projection matrix, providing limited flight and telekinetic capabilities…
Light and energy deflection concealment matrix…
Enhanced sensory interface – gloves and helmet…
Direct audio and eye-line computer interface – helmet…
Touch-active computer interface – gloves…
Eyes-forward enhanced reality display – helmet…

Fortain’s “collection” is known to include examples of several radical technologies, such as spatial portals allowing instantaneous travel between storage facilities and industrial-level molecular rearrangement facilities, as well as a variety of vehicles, such as short to medium-range space-craft and hypersonic “Airborne Rapid Personal Transports” Croxley has christened “RAPTors.

Powers (Ranked 1 to 7)

Intelligence (Croxley) 3; (Challenger, with computer assistance) 5
Strength (Croxley) 2; (Challenger) 4
Speed (Croxley) 2; (Challenger) 4
Durability (Croxley) 2; (Challenger) 4
Energy Projection (Croxley) 0; (Challenger) 4
Fighting Skills (Croxley) 2; (Challenger) 4

Appearances

- The Traveller: A Spread Of Jacks And Queens
- Mane-of-Night And The Wayward Child
- The Challenger – 101 “Comes… THE CHALLENGER!”