Paragons - Next Gen
Paragons experience what is commonly called a “breakout” when they first manifest their paranormal potential. Breakouts seem to most often occur as a reaction to some powerful stimulus where the latent paranormal feels intense, primal emotion—terror, rage, lust—pure fight-or-flight survival instincts. A few paragons who’ve had “quiet” breakouts say they came from experiencing true bliss or through peaceful meditation, but generally breakouts are dramatic and forceful.
A breakout often happens in reaction to a situation that provokes the necessary emotions (and their associated bio-chemical reactions). In particular, near-death situations commonly trigger breakouts in latent paranormals; the powerful rush of fear, excitement, adrenaline, and such “pushes” the latent to breakout and become paranormal.
Given what is known about breakouts, some people try to deliberately trigger a breakout and become paranormal by inducing situations and feelings associated with a breakout. They figure, under the right circumstances, they will manifest paranormal powers if they have the potential (and, according to some, everyone has the potential to varying degrees). Such people are known as “origin chasers” or sometimes “sparkers,” trying to “spark” an awakening in order to become paranormal.
Unfortunately, the kinds of situations associated with breakouts can be extremely dangerous, and some origin chasers believe they have to be as genuine as possible in order to work. So a “life-threatening” situation with no risk of actual harm isn’t enough. Some origin chasers try extreme sports: Things like skydiving or bungee jumping, but self-proclaimed experts believe you have to jump out of a plane or off a bridge without a parachute or a cord to catch you, an all-or-nothing risk for glory.
Naturally each year this results in multiple deaths and in many more permanent injuries from failed breakout attempts. The darkly humorous joke this is truly “evolution in action,” but authorities and mental health professionals worry about and warn against the dangers of origin chasing, trying to educate the public about the risks of trying to provoke a breakout and the complete uncertainty regarding paranormal potential. In some cases, extreme origin chasers have been hospitalized or institutionalized for refusing to stop attempting to become paranormal and endangering themselves and others.
An extreme example of the origin chaser phenomenon is the so-called “spark party,” an event where a group of origin chasers or thrill-seekers get together and cooperate to try and provoke a paranormal breakout (and often have some fun and excitement in the process).
The typical spark party is either a group of young people (teens or early 20s) who engage in either “extreme sports” or 24-hour parties (complete with heavy drug and alcohol use) to push their endurance to the limits, or cults using either “arcane” rituals or suicide-pact methods to facilitate their “ascension” to a “higher state of being.” In all cases, the results are usually tragic, ending in one or more deaths, with the survivors psychologically scarred by the experience. Some spark parties have killed all the participants.
What’s worse, on a very rare occasion, an origin chaser or spark party is successful in producing a true paranormal. Those who study paragons believe this is simply a matter of random chance: Someone with the right paranormal potential is exposed to the necessary stimulus to breakout. The problem is there’s no way of knowing who has latent potential until a breakout actually happens, so origin chasing remains incredibly dangerous. The rare successes only encourage hopeful would-be paragons to continue pursuing their dream, even if it means risking their lives: better a slim chance to be special than a lifetime of mediocrity, they claim.
It’s apparently possible for paragons to stop being paranormal at some point, reverting to normal human beings once more. In essence, the paragon’s paranormal abilities or powers stop working; he or she loses all paranormal traits. This has come to be known as “shutting-down” and may or may not be a permanent condition. Like all things about paranormals and their abilities, the causes of a shutdown are unknown.
Apparently conditions similar to those that cause breakouts can also cause shutdowns: Extreme stress, near-death experiences, trauma, and so forth. This includes severely overtaxing a paragon’s powers or physical or mental endurance. Crises of confidence have also been known to cause shut-downs, such as a paragon dealt a severe setback or suffering from serious self-doubt.
In some cases, shutdown is temporary and the paragon’s powers return after a time, either after the removal of the triggering situation or some time later (often following rest and recuperation). In other cases, the paragon’s powers have yet to return, and the shutdown may be permanent. Some paragons have even undergone a second breakout following a major or lengthy shutdown, where they gain enhanced or even completely different paranormal powers.
Believers in the psychological aspects of paranormal powers think shutdowns are primarily psychological in nature, resulting from mental fatigue or trauma impairing a paragon’s abilities. This same theory often goes on to say that some paragons, rather than shutting-down in response to trauma, actually experience enhanced capabilities, but at the expense of the paranormal’s mental health.
These so-called “surges” have been known to result in strange phenomenon, including the paranormal’s abilities becoming aberrant or the paranormal acquiring new aberrant traits.
FREAK-OUTS AND ABERRATIONS
Sometimes, a break-out is far more traumatic than simply the acquisition or loss of control of new paranormal abilities. A so-called “freak-out” is a breakout where an individual who was previously a normal human manifests uncontrolled or abnormal “aberrant” versions of paranormal abilities, and often this has an associated physical mutation or psychological abnormality.
No-one knows why some breakouts are actually freak-outs. They aren’t sure why aberrations work like they do, why some have them and some don’t, and how they come to reflect impossibilities that shouldn’t occur if it was purely a natural evolutionary process.
Some “aberrants” take on bestial or distinctly animal-like features (despite such animals being way outside the evolutionary path of humanity). Others simply cannot fully control their powers or they have some severe associated side effects.
Being an aberrant paranormal is an incredibly difficult situation to be faced with. Society often mistreats them, especially if their physical mutation is hideous or frightening. This can, in effect, cause people to lash out and become the very monsters that others judge them to be by their appearance. Many cannot shake the belief that becoming an aberrant has something to do with the paranormal’s subconscious desires or will, and that a person who becomes something monstrous may in fact be monstrous deep down.
Other aberrations are not nearly so horrifying to common view and are treated with more dignity or even religious awe. A paranormal who finds himself suddenly with angelic wings and the ability to project a warm, glowing light may find himself the subject of religious reverence, whether he wants it or not.