The Quartet

Once, they were four explorers, second only to the Tellrans in terms of pushing back the boundaries of human experience and knowledge. But a hunger for power corrupted all but one of them, and they now seek only their own aggrandisement.

Alastair Reeve met Cassandra Leyland while they were both post-grad students at Berkeley. She was attracted to his genius, open charm and brooding temper; he to her intellectual brilliance and rarefied, almost cosmic view of the world. Their relationship was stormy and sometimes scandalous, but their ambitions complemented each other, and their intellects fitted so well together that they came to depend on each other. Disaster - or destiny - struck during a test firing of their next-generation particle accelerator. They were bombarded by unknown energies, and Alastair felt his body starting to disintegrate, falling into microscopic pieces. Cassandra reached out in desperation - and somehow created a forcefield that encased his body, holding his molecules together. Over the next few months as Alastair gradually learned to control his structure, Cassandra kept the forcefield up almost constantly. Due to the intimacy that developed, they decided to get married.

The newly-wed and newly-empowered couple set out to conduct more research and explorations, having been inspired by a lecture by Prof. Jonah Steele about how little we really understood our own world. They retained the services of Kate Steiner, a famous field scientist and expedition logistics expert from the Max Planck Institute, to handle their practical needs. For transport and security, Cassandra's younger brother William Leyland decided to tag along, which Alastair encouraged against Cassandra's reservations. Alastair Reeve took on the name Dr. Diffusion, and Cassandra Leyland-Reeve eventually followed suit, calling herself Dr. Differential.

The quartet's explorer's initial missions met with a great deal of success. The mapped an underwater city off the coast of Costa Rica; sent a probe into Swedenborgian-Heim-Dröscher space, providing the first verifiable evidence of the existence of ghost-like entities; and uncovered a mist-shrouded tomb-island much like mythical Avalon. It was here they drew the attention of a man called Mordred Young, who would become a major thorn in their sides for years to come. The first inkling of things to come came during an expedition into the heart of the Sahara, to test a hunch that several of the ancient, abandoned cities they had discovered were in fact linked by a common heritage. Deep in the ruins of what became called the Lost Metropolis, pursued by Young, Dr. Diffusion found an amulet that seethed with power. Unable to activate it or unravel his secrets, he had a burst of temper and smashed it into the wall. It bounced off, and struck Kate Steiner - in a blast of arcane power, she was transformed into a giant, rocky monster. Seeing uncomfortable similarities in what had happened to her and Alastair, Dr. Differential worked hard to cure her friend. Diffusion, however, seemed more interested in investigating rather than alleviating the curse, a fact that caused many rows between the couple.

Following more adventures, the quartet set out to investigate an unusual asteroid that had taken up orbit around the Earth. En-route, they found themselves caught in some kind of energy storm. Upon investigation, this turned out to be a fight between insubstantial beings of light and darkness. While three of them tried to pull out of the battle, William Leyland sneaked outside and attacked one of the energy beings, somehow absorbing it into his body. Using his new powers, he helped free the ship, and they continued on to the asteroid.

The asteroid turned out to be a cerean colony-rock, largely hollowed out and full of structures. As they explored, Cassandra noted that all the inhabitants had been killed by powerful toxins; ones she knew were made by her husband. She confronted him, and learned to his horror that this, and many other events of the past years were orchestrated by his hand.

After the accident that had changed him and Cassandra, Reeve had begun designing a perfect life for them. They would need superpowered friends and kin (Kate and William, who had agreed, reluctantly and willingly, respectively, to the plan), a home (the asteroid-base), and a child. Here, Diffusion explained that he had already selected a young superhero and heroine to be their son and daughter, and was already arranging for them to be orphaned, kidnapped and brainwashed - including the son of their adversary, Mordred Young. Differential was horrified by this, and did all in her power to stop her three former friends. Their combined strength was too much for her, and she fled back to Earth in time to save the targeted children - though not, sadly, their families. Since then, she has devoted much of her life to stopping Dr. Diffusion's plans and trying to repair some of the damage he has done.

The Quartet (they continued to call themselves this, even when they only had three members) is still dedicated to investigating the world, but now with an overt eye towards power, control and acquisition. They have had many run ins with the Ministry of Extraplanetary Technology and Project Flotsam over these goals, and Dr. Diffusion has developed a personal grudge against both groups, and will often go out of his way to damage their interests.

The Quartet has been known to work with many factions, including Triland, the Ariadne Compact, the Second Renaissance, and various supervillain teams. In some ways, their moral ambivalence makes them excellent go-betweens for the more ideological and disagreeable parties.

Threat Ratings

GTR: Prime; Life & Limb: Prime; Property: Prime.

Group Membership

The three current members of the Quartet (and the android replacement for the one that rebuked them). Various fronts and shell corporations employ many more however, and Dr. Diffusion is one of the most proficient builders of robots and cyborgs in the world, providing them with almost unlimited mechanical support units.

Bases/Centres of Operations

The Quartet's main headquarters is the orbiting cerean asteroid-city they call the Homestead. It is equipped with potent phasic stealth technology, making it impossible to track or locate, and contains the Quartet's labs and personal rooms. It is also houses the sword belonging to the late Mordred Young, which it is believed may be Excalibur or the Sword in the Stone itself. The Quartet maintain many other secret lairs around the world.

Leaders/Notable Members

Dr. Diffusion

The Ghanese-born Alastair Reeve achieved his first engineering degree when he was fourteen, and has developed his skills considerably since then. His genius and expertise is undeniable, particularly in engineering, computer science, robotics and chemistry. Under the friendly, almost kindly façade he maintains, a sadistic heart beats, one willing to destroy as many lives as necessary to satisfy his desire for power and his limitless intellectual curiosity. He is a short, dark skinned man with greying hair, and tends to dress conservatively in muted blues and greys.

His power is complete control over the density and coherence of his molecular structure. This lets him, amongst other things, ignore almost any attack by dispersing around it and reforming, slip through microscopic gaps, and stretch parts of himself to exert force at a great distance. He can also, with some difficulty, control the molecules of others, deforming or destroying them utterly.

Cassandroid

After Cassandra's 'betrayal', Diffusion set about creating a replacement to stand in her place; whether out of obsessive need to cling to his original plan, or to salve his wounded pride is unknown. The Cassandroid looks very similar to Dr. Differential (perhaps slightly idealised, having passed through the lens of his besotted brain), but with black hair. It serves mainly as Diffusion's bodyguard and someone to bounce ideas off (and, allegedly, his concubine). Dr. Differential loathes what she sees as a mockery of her, and sincerely wishes it destroyed.

The Cassandroid is built to be stronger and faster than a human, and is made of resilient alloys and polymers. Its positronic brain is closely modeled on Cassandra Leyland-Reeve's, though over time it has grown more independent and strives to create an identify for itself separate from its master's wife. The Cassandroid is equipped with a range of weapon systems and utility modules to support the Quartet.

William Nebula

When Dr. Diffusion discovered the beings known as fire demons in the Earth's outer radiation belts, he approached William Leyland with the idea of 'taming' one and harnessing its power. The young man agreed, and when the Quartet was on their mission to the orbiting asteroid, he slipped outside to communicate with the fire demons. He was able to dupe one of them into merging with him by offering his aid, but he then trapped it inside his body using his own well-honed willpower. William (taking the surname Nebula to reflect the shimmering colours of his energy field with the fire demon's presence) is a handsome, fashionable, vain man who is content to revel in drink, women and other vices while serving as Diffusion's messenger, spy and hatchetman.

The fire demons are benevolent energy beings native to the magnetosphere and Van Allen radiation belts. William enslaved the one that merged with him, granting himself the ability to manipulate its bioetheric plasma energy to fly, launch deadly fire bolts, influence other energy fields and grant vitality to either living or inanimate objects. The fire demon suffers terribly bound to the youth's dark intentions, but cannot free itself.

Monolith

Kate Steiner initially studied zoology, but found her interests lay more in the expeditions than the science they did. Dr. Reeve contacted her after she had led several pioneering research missions, including to the deep Antarctic and along a wide swathe of a buffalo herd's migration path. She soon adapted to the often strange logistical requirements of the two geniuses and their experiments; there's no one better at figuring out how to get a cyclotron though a foot-wide tunnel and across an alligator-infested swamp.

Transformed by the amulet Diffusion found, Kate Steiner became a mute, eight-foot juggernaut with stony flesh studded with crystals that flare brightly when struck. She is bitter and depressed by her condition, and William needles her about it frequently. She's very willing to let her frustrations out in massive physical violence.

Former Member, Now Chief Opponent, Dr. Differential

Cassandra Leyland-Reeve was always the only person that could match Alastair, both emotionally and intellectually. Her level-headed intelligence balanced his tempestuous genius, an her powers make her one of the few able to deal with him as Dr. Diffusion. If she had a weakness, it was blindness to the faults of those around her; a flaw she has sadly had to learn to compensate for, making her seem overly critical. Other superheroes often see her as an acid-tongued aunt-figure, always ready to point out the gaps in their technique and holes in their logic and morality. Dr. Differential travels widely, moving to combat the Quartet's latest agenda, though she has from time to time settled in a particular city to serve as a local defender for a time.

Her powers, combined with her scientific skills and philosophical sophistication make her roughly the equal of any of the Primacy, but she has always declined to join the organisation. Her ability is the creation and control of invisible forcefields - which she does with enormous finesse. Her speciality is in using porous and semi-permeable fields as filters to separate and contain different materials, allowing her to divide a pile of salt and sugar with one sweep; cleanse toxins from the air or even circulating blood; prevent the hot particles of an explosion from spreading while allowing cooler air molecules to circulate; and trap the notoriously elusive Dr. Diffusion.

Galactic
Heroic The Journeymen
Villainous The Quartet
Neutral/Civilian
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