There's no telling exactly just how long things have been the way they are, although much can be traced back to 1945 after the second World War ended. The Cold War began... and then it never ended.
The Berlin Wall never fell.
The USSR has not disbanded.
All US wars have occurred and been fought and won with the same outcomes, with albeit some differences in the political justifications. Many have been instigated because both the US and the USSR have tried to ensure the other couldn't manipulate another country for their own gain.
Similarly, US and other world events are basically the same, however with different political justification and ramification.
All political figures are fictional analogues of the real-world equivalent and have been since the Cold War; the current president is not Barack Obama but instead someone of similar (though not exact) sensibilities.
As such, the military presence in the United States is hardly what most people from modern 2015 might be used to, but it's hardly without reason. Because of the extended tension between the United States and Russia, in 1984 the United States became nearly a police state, and went through a stifling era of constant surveillance, repression, and censorship. It was a dark time, and thus sparked the first age of the hero.
The first wave of imPorts arrived in 1986, and it was an imPort that first made a splash bringing the degree of government surveillance to public attention. Their silencing brought together a collaboration of efforts between the other imPorts, the native superhero populous, and a then-small-but-insurgent sect of the military and government (your current sponsors) to put a stop to this militant corruption and bring the country back to something that can be called "the Land of the Free" without too much irony. With their efforts successful as of 1990, for years the military and the heroes of America, both native and imPort, worked together in relative harmony. No draft, no police state; simply two factions with common goals to make the country -- the world -- a better place.
About five years ago, everything changed... the year 2008 is etched in blood to the history books. Seven imPorts, mostly teen heroes, died in a disaster; a USSR mastermind (with precarious allegiance to his country) threatened the United States with a Death Ray and these imPorts were sent to scout out his private island ("Death Island") for information. Unbeknownst to them, he was there, waiting, and killed them all. The US military and their heroes shortly thereafter apprehended him for good; an imPort, in a moment of weakness, executed him and were court-martialed for appearances, but no one -- not the government, the other heroes, or the native civilians -- blamed them for it, given the circumstances. They were found innocent.
A native superhero retired very publicly, accusing the military of sending the dead imPorts off on a suicide mission, accusing of them of engineering this supervillain of ping-ponging loyalties to begin with as a pawn to make the current stronghold -- again, your current sponsors -- look better and tighten their grip on the country's heroes, and of heartlessly sacrificing imPorts to make this happen.
The government countered: No, they said. Although the imPort heroes who sacrificed their lives were allied with government, so were the native heroes who are now turning around and pointing fingers. These imPorts had been, in fact, sidekicks and teammates to many native heroes, and it was these heroes who sent the imPorts on their mission (of which the military, it should be noted, has no record of) thinking that, being imPorts, they were more disposable than native heroes who cannot be resurrected from in the same way. They hadn't known of course that the Death Ray disabled the resurrection process and these imPorts would be dead for good... therein lies the tragedy, but what's done is done.
More heroes retired in outrage, and most of society viewed this as an admission of guilt: Because of the rash and selfish actions of the superheroes (well-intentioned as they may have been), seven imPorts were dead forever. The small but vocal portion of society that didn't was equally outraged, shouting "Conspiracy!" and for calls to arms... but their voices were drowned out by the majority. To side with the heroes now was not exactly considered treason, but it may as well have been. The divide between "vigilante" and "military hero" was born in this conflict, illegal or "unsettled" vs. "registered."
By 2010, many neutral countries had expressed their sympathies or allegiance to the United States in light of this and other crises, which in turn painted a target upon imPorts -- "America's Finest" -- for the US's enemies. After a few assassination attempts -- some successful -- and a few calls of "Conspiracy!" from imPorts themselves (these calls never reaches the public's ears) the government decided it was best for imPorts to go back to their home universes for their own safety while the military reorganized itself to protect both the country and the country's imPorts from foreign enemies.
Which brings us to 2015. Welcome, hero; how would you like to help save the world?
The plot of Mask or Menace is one of layers; mystery upon mystery that players and characters alike will uncover to get to the root of the real threat of this world. The past is not as dead as some will claim it is; in fact, uncovering the puzzles of history -- those that have been covered up or those that simply do not rest easily in their graves -- will be how characters arm themselves with the tools and knowledge to really save the world from a threat beyond what the military prepares them for.
The plot does have goals, milestones, and facts that will remain ingrained, but what gets uncovered, how fast, and the impact/fallout thereof is dependent on your involvement. Players will be who truly shapes and breathes life into the overarching game plot, and their choices and participation will be what effects and alters both the game's present and future. Will it be a happy journey or a sad one? An ambiguous one? Will it end at all? The future is in your hands.
For the first six months of the game, from February to July, there will be a plot event (of varying sizes) per month. Following July plot events will come at a less frequent but still regular basis. Players are encouraged to submit and enact their own player plots any time!
timeline: the story thus far
January 15th - ImPorts are pulled in from a dying universe; the first Swearing In ceremony is held.
January 22nd - Captain Holiday's nephew, Samuel “Jugar” Volaille, is murdered in a gruesome fashion. This case goes unsolved.
February 2nd - The body of a red haired woman is found under a bridge.
February 10th - Second wave of imPorts is pulled in.
16th - They are allowed to tour the Center and participate in some tests, however a power failures finds some imPorts trapped within a virtual reality program.
17th - Though now freed from the VR, a lockdown is issued under threat of nuclear strike.
18th - The threat is revealed to have been a drill to those on the premises. For those off, it's deemed a false alarm. Surprise.
April 3rd - Lucifer begins his country-wide murder spree. This guy.
April 23-24th - The Heropa Institute of Science and Technology hosts their Heropa Science and Technology Expo. An incident with chemicals causes imPorts' powers to act erratically and chaos ensues.
May 3-5th- Nonah hosts the following Swear-In Ceremony over the weekend. On the fifth, an earthquake causes the newly built monorail to collapse. Further inspection reveals explosives took down the monorail.
May 8-11th - An imPort Seminar is hosted in Miami, where imPorts are invited to talk openly about registration, heroics, their worlds, and so forth. During this four day event, spies from both the USSR and US government begin to watch imPorts.
11th - The Seminar is interrupted when it is assaulted by mechanical sharks sent by the Soviets in retaliation for the death of a certain redhead.
May 15-18th - Lucifer attempts to open a portal to return back to his universe, hecks up, and proceeds to throw a temper tantrum on the country by unleashing supernatural monsters on the population. At the end of this attack, Lucifer is captured and jailed.
June 22nd - ImPorts are invited to take part in a team building exercise in the form of paintball. The exercise is carried out on a spiritual plane and imPorts discover when shot it's not only painful, but when struck three times in game the sensation is eerily akin to dying. Winners of the game are given the opportunity to engage the Porter.
July 5-9th- NASA unveils a shuttle launch slated for the 6th, only for it to go not as planned.
5th - In anticipating of the shuttle launch, the general public is invited to a one-day clearance event at the Kennedy Space Center once more.
6th - The shuttle launches successfully at noon with shuttle crew and several imPorts aboard, however, once it reaches the Kármán line the control panels are locked down and it is thrown into the danger of crashing back down to Earth. It is revealed that Soviet spies are responsible for the sabotaging of the shuttle.
6-8th - ImPorts on board and down on Earth are able to unlock the shuttle's control panels and regain access, thus saving the shuttle from imminent disaster. Mikhail Nikolayevich Vorontsov, Inga Viktorovna Beskova, and Aleksandr Khachiyan, the three spies responsible for the ship's sabotage, are tracked and apprehended by imPorts. 9th - Investigative journalists leak the information that the apprehended spies will not be receiving a trial for their crimes. They have since been in US custody.
ImPorts who aided in either saving the shuttle or apprehending the spies are awarded for their efforts.
Following the shuttle incident, authorities across the nation tighten their security measures and run background checks on those of Russian descent, imPorts included. The US also begins turning to neutral countries for support. Some countries take the US's side, others refuse to entangle themselves in Cold War politics.
July 18-24th - The Nationwide Coalition for Youth Leadership joins with the local Rotary Club chapters to sponsor a Leadership Summer Camp in Colorado and ImPorts are invited and sponsored alongside civilians to participate.
18-22nd - Camp proceeds as normal.
22-24th - On the trip back from camp, imPorts and civilians are kidnapped by a group known as the Go-Fors and are taken to a facility with various arenas. ImPorts and civilians are left to fight for their lives against mutated animals and weaponized technology. In the meantime, via network Robin announces the missing buses and imPorts band together in search of the missing civilians and imPorts.
24th - Together, imPorts are able to break out of the facility and those who had been searching for them arrive to aid them in time.
October 10th -The Cold War grows warmer. The USSR is convinced imPorts are responsible for interference with their red-headed spy. The Washington Blotter has inexplicably gotten their hands on leaked encryptions, and somehow, a code is exposed to the public by way of thousands of flyers.
October 16th -Midterm elections roll in and imPorts who are not Registered have their weekly stipends terminated or halved. ImPort entitlements become a subject of a debate.
October 18th - Castle Rock, Maine hosts its first annual Halloween Hayride and Maze Fair, open to all. During one of the evening events, the Hornets reveal themselves and attempt to kidnap imPorts, using older models of power nullifiers to restrain and depower them. Their attempt is unsuccessful and around a dozen Hornet members are apprehended thanks to the effort of local police and imPorts, but not before a number of them reveal something to imPorts. In one particular encounter, a Hornet member mentions another group that came before the Hornets: the Vanir.
October 19th - The USSR ships remain where they are. The US government authorizes Major General Olivier Armstrong to take precautionary action. Meanwhile, news of the incident at Castle Rock hits the stands, with mixed opinions. Some believing imPorts staged their own attempted kidnapping for sympathy and others claiming they are victims. Others praise the Hornets's actions.
21st - At nighttime, a fire breaks out in the Florida Citrus Tower, Bok Tower Gardens, and bombs go off on two buses in downtown Orlando. Additional attacks occur, committed by Solf J. Kimblee. The National Historical Museum in Sofia and the Sofia Metro's red line are bombed shortly after. 22nd - ImPorts and local authorities scramble in both locations, though many are unable to reach Sofia and focus on assisting Orlando's incidents. 23rd - The media has a field day with the fact a number of imPorts provided help in Sofia rather than Orlando, stirring concern and suspicions over their allegiance to the US. 24th -The media reports the death and injury tolls for both Orlando and Sofia, with Sofia suffering the most. As a result, the Bulgarian president orders the country's borders to be closed off to imPorts, with the country angry at imPorts for their lack of assistance.
The US's reaction is much more positive, citing the support shown by imPorts in Orlando demonstrates where their loyalties truly lie.
November 7- Freddie Lounds receives and posts confidential information kept by the government after receiving it from an anonymous source. Some of the information is altered by the source and as a result, imPorts who have had their information publicly disclosed are swarmed by paparazzi and other media outlets. Concerned for their safety, the government offers protection to Registered imPorts and mobilizes an immediate investigation into the leak.
November 14 -Investigation leads imPorts and local authorities to five suspects detained in Maurtia Falls' military base.
November 30 - ImPorts discover an FBI official by the name of Walter Mayhew is responsible for the file leaks. He has since been arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
January 20-February 3rd - Bizarre lightning storms strike over De Chima, Maurtia Falls, and Nonah. These lightning strikes are suspiciously accurate and while they are fatal to non-imPorts, imPorts who find themselves struck have new and strange memories temporarily implanted, believing themselves to be somebody else until the effects wear off. As it is suspected, Hornet scientists are responsible for the lightning strikes.
23rd - At approximately 1:25 AM, the body of Ira Ditko is discovered on Cape Canaveral's beach. It appears he was drowned and was found with a high level of alcohol in his system at the time of his death. An investigation finds merchandise and personal affects belonging to imPorts Ditko appeared to have stolen. Authorities also discover communicators belonging to departed imPorts. Ten of these communicators are anonymously sent to imPorts for reasons currently undisclosed.
25th - Miguel Rodriguez, one of the Hornet members apprehended during October's Maze attack, is put on trial along with the others who had been captured. He makes a statement, explaining he joined the Hornets when it became apparent the government -- or someone -- was censoring him and removing articles he had written about the government and imPort actions. A number of articles of his mysteriously vanished and has never reappeared on any media outlet or social media. However, he deeply regretted extremist behavior he conducted with the Hornets.
31st - Matt Murdock and Lillian Crawley, following up on leads that former hero Eleni Wang is located in Greece, are able to locate her in Tyrnavos. She reveals she not only left the US due to the arising problems following the death of the teen heroes in 2008, but because another former hero, Richard Peter Wayne/Black Arrow, was murdered while attempting to investigate the Hornets. Eleni suggests the Hornets' rise in power and numbers was fueled by the imPorts leaving the world back in 2010, explaining their departure was met with polarizing opinions. Some felt it was best and others felt their so-called heroes had abandoned them, and that the government allowed this to happen.
February 1 - Two men in suits with what appear to be US badges arrive to pick up Eleni. It is learned later that these men may not have been US officials at all as the Greek police were not tipped off to US authorities being present in the area. Eleni disappears.
February 5 -ImPort Ambassador elections are held. Ira Gamagori, Mitchell Hundred, and Revan are elected in Nonah, De Chima, and Maurtia Falls respectively.
13th - February's Swear-In arranges for a holo-conference for former Captain Holiday and Miguel Rodriguez to clear up any "misinformation" and provide transparency. Miguel confirms the Hornets are responsible for the monorail bombing in Nonah. Peter Narga, head of the Lif Foundation, is raised as suspicious by Holiday but cannot confirm for what reasons.
Back in Heropa, the imPort prison is bombed by several Hornet members who flee the scene. ImPorts are able to apprehend them and receive information about the Hornets' "hive" being located in Charlevoix. They also heavily imply they have former native heroes working alongside them and a plan to take out imPorts once and for all. ImPorts also discover a plot to commit a robbery in the city of De Chima and receive confirmation during the Orlando bombings a former hero, Veronica Conway/Nitestar, is a member of the Hornets and was responsible for the murder of a security guard in the building.
Unbeknownst to imPorts, in all the pandemonium in Heropa they are infected with an airborne contagion planted in the explosives. The "Sting Virus" overwrites imPort personality and replaces it with a Hornet "mind clone", forcing them to commit crimes against one another or locals.
15th - ImPort Kitty Jones makes an attempt to infiltrate the Hornets on her own. This attempt backfires when the Hornets discover she is an imPort and they kidnap her, stashing her in their hive in Charlevoix. Kitty discovers she is not the Hornets' only prisoner; they are holding former hero Liana Greenwood/Rocket Gal and Eleni Wang/Athena. Liana has been held for months, having gone undercover with the Hornets to try and take them down from the inside. The two US officials who recovered Eleni in Greece are revealed to be Hornets, afraid Eleni might have had information on them she was going to spill to imPorts.
18th - ImPorts split into groups to dismantle the Hornets and their operation once and for all. One group strikes their hive in Charlevoix, recovering Kitty Jones, Eleni Wang and Liana Greenwood safely. They encounter two other former heroes in the ensuing battle who have long since joined the Hornets' cause: Benjamin Braunstein/The Shield and Simone Lee/Bluebird. Both of them escape before they can be apprehended.
In De Chima, imPorts encounter Bianca Medina/Ironess and a number of other Hornets attempting to stage a robbery of generators, planning to use them to build city-wide nullifying tech against the imPorts. They are all apprehended at the end.
In Nonah, a smaller group tracks down Veronica Conway/Nitestar and assist in her formal arrest.
With the dismantling of the hive, the arrests of the Hornets and freeing of former heroes, imPorts are hailed as heroes by locals nation-wide.
24th - Those infected by the Virus Sting/Hornet mind clones have them triggered and their personalities are overtaken by individual Hornet members. Chaos breaks out in the city of Heropa. ImPorts are forced to fight one another while struggling to put out fires, prevent property destruction and murder. At Cape Canaveral's base, Annie Leonhart who has also been infected, attacks the Porter lab resulting in the near destruction of the lab and death of several military and lab personnel, including the head Porter scientist Dr. Moira Nomos.
27th - ImPorts are cured of the virus via their own means or the nanites in their bodies. The US government denounces the Hornet attacks and pardons imPorts for a crime they did not consciously commit. Around the world, US allies praise imPorts for the dismantling of the Hornets while those allied or sympathetic toward the USSR are convinced the US has little to no control over "dangerous superhuman weapons". Reconstruction begins immediately in Heropa and other cities that were damaged in the attacks. Eleni Wang returns to Greece and Liana Greenwood is left in hospital care, close to her family.
March 24 - De Chima's imPort Ambassador Mitchell Hundred receives approval to install security cameras in high-crime areas in the city. This is not greeted with much enthusiasm from the public.
April 3 - Solf J. Kimblee plants bombs at an airport in New York. ImPorts are able to deactivate the bombs before detonation. Kimblee is apprehended.
23rd - An imPort dragon, Crematia, is infected and proceeds to rampage. A dozen locals are killed during her virus-induced attack.
25th - A band of imPorts are able to put an end to the dragon's rampage. Crematia is killed. During this time imPorts are able to create and begin administering a cure for the virus.
30th - The virus ceases spreading and those once infected are cured. The virus kills a total of twenty locals.
May 1 -Operation Archangel, a crime-fighting campaign whose aim is to tackle the corruption in Maurtia Falls, begins.
May 17-18 - Melkor raises an army of undead in Maurtia Falls, promptly setting fire to two blocks of the city. ImPorts once again band together and fend off the zombies, apprehending Melkor.
May 23-24 - Hank Pym accidentally unleashes blob-like, flesh-eating monsters. The situation is handled quickly, however twenty-three locals are killed during the attacks.
May 25 - Secretary of Defense Lacey Chases makes an announcement regarding traveling abroad, the Federal Government granting Registered imPorts official charge of handling Unsettled Vigilante cases and about ex-Captain Holiday's discharge from psychiatric care.
1-3 - Exposure to the ring of Pestilence, wielded unwittingly by Frederick Chilton, makes imPorts fall into a deep sleep in a shared dreamscape, ranging from fanciful to horrific.
3-5 - Exposure to the ring of War, wielded unwittingly by Jeff Winger, triggers anger and hallucinations in affected imPorts, causing them to behave in erratic, violent ways towards both the native population and their fellow imPorts.
5-7 - Exposure to the ring of Famine, wielded willingly by Raina, makes imPorts give into the compulsive urges that they usually keep restrained.