Being a Mutant

Being a mutant in the post-Flu era is a tricky place to be. There are, of course, those whom it never effects. Perhaps they grow a tail, or maybe they suddenly gain the ability to shoot flame across the room with their fingertips, but they quietly learn not to do it and get on with their lives. Colloquially, these are known as extranorms, people who neither embrace their abilities nor reject them.

Goobs take inspiration from the sixty years of costumed hero comics, Tv shows and movies that preceded the SME. They give themselves heroic nicknames, wear costumes, and attempt to promote themselves in the media. Goobs gather at conventions, where they sign autographs and promote their various product lines. Some attempt to engage in vigilante justice, a phenomenon that has grown steadily less common after a spate of accidental deaths during the early years of the mutant era. Costumed heroes, the so-called villains they were chasing, and innocent bystanders were hurt or killed in a series of highly publicized incidents. Now most mutants who want to fight crime join the force, and the only costumes they don are police blues. Although the occasional criminal adopts a colorful nickname and sinister-looking mask to frighten people into submission, the vast majority of goobs see themselves as good guys—or at least as inspiring representations of same. Just as some Star Trek fans bridle at the word “Trekkie”, preferring instead the vastly more complimentary “Trekker”, dedicated members of the goob sub-community consider that term a slur. They want to be called costumed personalities, or cospers for short.

Straighteners regard all mutant powers, not just the defects, as diseases, which they hope to cure. They raise funds for research toward a permanent end for their condition. As a stopgap measure, they participate in twelve-step type programs meant to suppress any urges they may feel to actually use their powers. Some straighteners ally with anti-mutant groups, like the NPL. Others fight the Neutral Parity League and its ilk, arguing that they perpetuate discrimination against people with a humiliating disease. The former group, called cleansers, believes that a cure for mutations, when it comes, should be administered to everyone, whether they like it or not. The latter group, known as electivists, espouses the hypothetical cure only for those who want it.

Expressivists are mutants (and friendly non-mutants) who advocate full civil rights for the genetically altered. The mainstream mutant rights group is the Heightened information Alliance (HiA.) This middle- of-the-road lobbying outfit avoids making waves and favors incremental legislative solutions to anti-mutant discrimination in public and private life. They take plenty of flack from the boisterous GeF, or Genetic Action Front, a loud and confrontational group who prefer non-violent civil disobedience, including demonstrations and site occupations, as their main way of demanding immediate fair treatment for their people.

In the public mind, the radical expressivists of the GEF are often confused with separatists. In fact, these radical groups regularly clash. Where expressivists want better treatment for mutants within society, separatists advocate the formation of an all-mutant state. The two main separatist organization is the Continental Nation of Mutants (CNM), who merely want to create all- mutant neighborhoods in each major city, to be run autonomously from any municipal, state or federal authority. Although both disclaim terrorism as a tactic, many of their leaders have long rap sheets for both violent protest and organized criminal activity. CNM members are known for adopting colorful nicknames inspired by their super powers, giving them a surprising commonality with goobs. Although the two separatist groups include representatives of all colors and creeds, many of their top leaders cut their teeth in ethnic or racial autonomy movements, including the Nation Of Islam, MEChA, and AIM, before acquiring superpowers and setting aside their old allegiances.

Over the past decade, some mutants have developed their own religious denomination, the Eighth-Day Church, abbreviated as 8dC. Followers are known as eighters, for short. Originally strictly Christian in its theology, the 8DC has evolved into an ecumenical movement in which various major religions are blended with a message of God’s special mission for His mutant children. Believers hold that the Ghost Flu was a revised act of creation—some even use the analogy of a firmware update—to prepare mankind for a coming period of calamity. It is the duty of eighters to shepherd the entire species through the imminent crisis. Competing prophets Bonita Moroyiannis and Gilles Tremblay offer conflicting visions on what this disaster might be. Moroyiannis, a Greek citizen, predicts an environmental cataclysm brought on by global climate change, while Tremblay, a Quebecker now resident in Mutant City, foretells an alien invasion. Each is surrounded by a small corps of zealots who continually denounce the other leader. Most eighters take a wait-and-see approach, planning to rescue mankind from whichever apocalypse rears its head.

Some mutants make an effort to intermarry only with other gene-expressives, in the hope of producing a new generation of heightened with even greater or more varied powers than are currently known. They are called strainers, after their desire to refine the mutant strain. Strainers appear within the eighter and separatist communities, but also include many heightened with no particular ideological ambitions. So far no child born of parents who were mutants at the time of conception has shown any heightened powers whatsoever—but then, they’d all be ten years old at most, and powers in children tend to manifest during puberty. Strainers predict a new wave of world-changing mutations in a few years, when the children of mutant matches develop their powers. Anamorphologists see no solid evidence for these claims.

Most mutants are apolitical; they may pay some attention to the political endorsements of the HIA, but in general try to keep their mutant status from interfering with their everyday lives. They prefer to define their identities by their ties to other interests and communities. There are mutant Republicans, mutant Democrats, mutant Scientologists, mutant Seventh- Day Adventists, mutant environmental activists, mutant tabletop gamers, and so on.

Being a Mutant

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