The Helping Hand is an alien technology created to empower the protectors of life throughout the cosmos, known collectively as Life Force. The Hand takes the form of a glove, gauntlet, or covering for the hand (for non-humans without manipulating members, it has a different shape). Life Force selects candidates to receive a Hand, then secretly tests them for willpower, strength of character, and commitment to life. Those who pass are given an offer: join Life Force, or return to their normal existence. To its credit, 99% of those candidates selected have accepted the offer.
Life Force fights to help life in all its forms, wherever it is threatened. But its most tenacious enemy are an interstellar band of mad scientists called Bio-Masters, who perform horrible experiments on living things, turning them into twisted cyborg weapons called Splices. Members of Life Force must protect their planets from Splices, and bring their insane creators to justice.
Each Hand has the same basic power: to strengthen, restore, or alter life energy. However, a Hand responds to the will and wishes of its wearer, and so no two Hand users are alike in their powers. They share one thing in common, at least: the Hand is a tool for creation, not destruction. Although a Hand's powers can be used to indirectly cause harm, or even kill, that is not their intended function. They are tools not of war, but of peace.
Position: Ninja. Sotiera sneaks around, imitates other people, and hides using natural camouflage.
Past: Sotiera's real name is unrevealed. Ne made contact with the others as a member of Life Force, but has not gone into more detail about nir history.
Personality: Despite being on the team, and cooperating with the others, Sotiera says very little about nemself. Even nir original sex or gender is unclear, and ne always refers to nemself using the pronouns of the shape ne is wearing. Ne seems to prefer wild hair colors and strange body modifications when wearing a conventional human form.
Powers: Sotiera's power is shapeshifting: altering nir body to resemble other people, or growing unusual limbs or body features. Ne can also adapt natural abilities from other living things, such as a biological camouflage similar to a chameleon or an octopus.
Problems: If anything, Sotiera's air of mystery works as often against nem. Ne is reluctant to share personal details or confess moments of weakness.
Notes: "Sotiera" is Greek for "savior", and is an alias of the goddess Hecate.
Position: Brute. Oni becomes big, tough, strong, and fast, and uses her physical attributes to lift, break, grab, or move stuff while taking heavy hits.
Past: Mitsuko Nemoto was always small and cute. She wore the cutest outfits, she had the cutest smile, and the boys at school would hang out with their girlfriends and sometimes ask about "the cute one". Gradually, Mitsuko got very tired of being cute. When Life Force offered her a Hand, she jumped at the chance.
Personality: Mitsuko really is a friendly, nice, good-hearted girl. Though she grows to heroic proportion, with monstrous muscles and an armored hide, she's considerate and helpful.
Powers: She enhances her own body's strength, speed and toughness with her powers, growing from a petite girl into a gigantic living power-house. As she uses more and more of her power, her body's features — skin and hair color, number of digits, etc. — can begin to fluctuate.
Problems: Mitsuko's chosen power is a result of her feelings of dismissal and belittlement. As a result, she can be too enthusiastic in applying her strength. Dignity and recognition are important to her, and being ridiculed (or simply looking ridiculous) can anger or frustrate her.
Notes: An Oni is an ogre-like creature from Japanese mythology
Position: Wizard. Vikala solves a variety of problems by summoning useful plant life.
Past: Chanthavy Phan grew up hoping for good things. She was bright, eager, and motivated. Her love of plants and her native intelligence would have made her a formidable botanist, if money or opportunity were available. Unfortunately, the rampant corruption in her homeland meant she had to study in secret, and abide by the feminine ideals expected of her.
Personality: Chanthavy wants to be a scientist, first and foremost. She wants to improve life for people in her country, but this is more abstract. Most of all, she wants to help her family and make them proud. Her desires are at odds with each other, and she works with Life Force to distract herself and perhaps gain wisdom to match her intelligence.
Powers: She is a "bio-wizard", using her power to grow and manipulate plant life of all kinds. She carries bandoliers of seeds, fungus, and sprouts on her, and uses them as tools. For example, she can create light through bioluminescent plants, raise trees as barriers or means of movement, and use fast-growing vines to swing and climb. She can cross-splice different plant attributes, creating plants that don't exist naturally.
Problems: Chanthavy has been raised to please other people, and put their concerns first. It sometimes takes some urging to break her out of that mold, and pursue her own interests. She is often slow to devise really novel uses of her plants, but she's amazing at taking others' suggestions and finding ways to make them work.
Notes: named for a "yakshini", or nature-spirit or god from Buddhist mythology.
Position: Vigilante. Nour uses animal allies to scout, track, and spy. He prefers to match wits with his enemies.
Past: Nour Nader was destined for greatness. The son of a prominent man in government, he was trained with the heirs to fortune and the scions of leadership. While his father rode in the limousine and stared at his Blackberry, Nour rode beside him and stared out the window, seeing how the less well-off toiled and sweated. He felt an instinctive empathy with the people his father's companions called 'animals' or 'beasts of the field'. When it came time for him to take a position, he took one — as a member of Life Force.
Personality: Nour is noble and aristocratic. He has a good head for business and a good eye for people. He sees himself as superior in some respects, but sees that superiority as an obligation to help his fellow men. He sees himself as both servant and master.
Powers: Horus creates bonds with animals, enhancing their bodies and replenishing their life-force. In return, they act as his allies and body-guards in the field. Horus prefers "noble" animals such as hunting birds, great cats, and so on, but is not above using such lowly creatures as mice.
Problems: Nour's attitude sometimes seems like arrogance, or verges onto it. He can get exasperated with people who don't see things from his lofty perspective, and his drive to get things done can push him into impatience when things don't move quickly enough.
Notes: named for the Egyptian god of the hunt.
Position: Paragon. Eric is difficult to injure, and constantly evolves himself into a newer, better state.
Past: Eric Brand lost his parents at a young age. He grappled with his grief in many ways, finally settling on art and music. The raw potency of the Vikings, the bloody passion of the Church, and the subjective distortions of expressionism all spoke to him. Gradually he grew out of his consuming grief, but not out of his art. When Life Force came to him, he saw it as a new medium on which to paint his stark dreams, and a way to protect others from losing loved ones.
Personality: Eric is a perfectionist, with a love of beauty — but not softness, or gentleness. Though compassionate and kind, he has a hard edge. He wants to make the world a better place, and he's not always nice about it.
Powers: Eric is an artist. He uses the Hand to reshape and perfect his own body, creating elegance of form and function rather than raw strength or capacity. His powers constantly heal any injuries he sustains, and evolving a defense against further attacks. He is capable of healing others' wounds and curing diseases. He subconsciously uses his power to direct living things away from himself if they seem harmful, making him seemingly immune to many forms of attack.
Problems: Eric's passion can make him lose sight of small details in a rush to make some grand gesture. He can be reluctant to really see people as people, rather than victims who need his help, or accessories in his great goals.
Notes: named for a Norse god.
Splices are constructed using an alien super-science similar to the Helping Hand itself. Their Bio-Master creators build transforming cyborg weapons, able to blend in, strike, then disappear. The following Splices are built to operate on Earth, and are mostly one-off experimental projects rather than mass-produced weapons.
Most of the Splices have three modes: a technological form (often a vehicle), a humanoid fighting form, and a monstrous animal form. They are constructed by enlarging and modifying a typical Earth animal, then combining it cybernetically with vehicle parts. This process is typical of Splices made for use on other planets in the galaxy.
The Helping Hand's members aren't trying to kill Splices. They were created from an innocent living thing. Instead, their goal is to weaken the creature sufficiently that they can concentrate on purging the cybernetics and war programming from its system without being attacked.
When it's not emulating a giant vampire bat, this Splice becomes a stealth aircraft or a humanoid fighter whose webbed wings allow it to glide and form protective shields. In all modes, it has a capable sonic attack.
This powerful black bear Splice is designed to be a heavy weapons platform. Its technological form is a stationary turret with its limbs bracing it, mounting a powerful cannon. Its humanoid form can use the same cannon when carefully braced. In animal form, the cannon is slung over the back and unusable, but its powerful claws and bite make up for this.
Disguised as an Earth helicopter with four rotor blades, Dragonfly can become an armored giant dragonfly with the blades as wings, or a humanoid monster with four arms, wielding the wing-blades as swords in each hand.
Scorpion can operate as a main battle tank, or unfold its tracks to become a huge scorpion with its main gun as the tail. In humanoid form, the front pincer claws become armored forearms, and the tail-gun is slung over the shoulder.
Shark disguises itself as a sleek mini-submarine, when it's not appearing as a toothy and vicious underwater predator. Its humanoid combat form uses its fins and tails as shields, and adapts the multi-layered rows of teeth into a fast-spinning chainsaw sword.
This Splice prefers stealth, guile, and manipulation to overt combat, spinning monofilament webs that can slice and cut. Its torso separates and attaches to the limbs to form a muscular motorcycle. In humanoid form, it uses its webbing to create whips, grappling aids, and swing lines.
Helping Hand has to deal with any number of threats to life, some mundane, some not:
The Helping Hand team has broad, discretionary powers to choose what to do and how to do it, within their mandate from Life Force. A truth of the universe is that not all life can be saved, and not everyone will make it. Members are encouraged to do the best they can, and save whoever they can.
A gang of terrorists has taken an office building hostage downtown. Sotiera infiltrates the office building by moving through the vents in a flexible and compact shape. Individual terrorists are isolated and knocked unconscious using natural toxins found in jellyfish stings. Sotiera uses the Hand's power to create a natural camouflage, hiding from patrols. Eventually ne might disguise nemself as one of them and infiltrate the group. Knocking the lights out, Sotiera can adapt with night vision and defeat the terrorists that are left.
A fire has broken out in a high-rise building downtown. Oni enters the building and uses her great strength and durability to lift fallen supports, escort people out of the building, and even leap directly out if a ladder can't reach high enough and lower floors are cut off. She can adapt her tissues to hold oxygen like a whale or dolphin, avoiding smoke inhalation while she works. Everyone is saved, and Oni stays behind to help rebuild the high-rise in record time.
A jet airliner has lost some of its engines and may be crashing soon. Vikala has bred a "bioship" that ingests minerals and generates methane. A complex network of internal bacteria generate enzymes to convert this into a form of jet fuel. The creature has specialized ceramic-like interior structures based on diatoms that allow it to ignite and direct this fuel for thrust. With this, she is able to reach the jet in time. She carries a supply of highly engineered spider silk and plant leaves which she uses to patch the body of the jet. Thus reinforced, the airliner glides safely to ground.
A major polluter is getting away with killing a delicate ecosystem. Using his animal companions, Horus infiltrates the man's offices and rifles through his files, or spies on his phone conversations. When the polluter's mercenary bodyguards come after him, Horus and his animals fight them off in a vicious rooftop battle. Armed with the evidence, Horus delivers the polluter to the authorities.
In a war-torn part of the world, Baldur paradrops into a village where local warlords have sent thugs to extort the villagers for food and medicine. Instead, Baldur fights them off with martial arts, avoiding every attack and seemingly supernaturally unkillable. He successfully intimidates the leader of the mercs into leaving, and arms the villagers with the weapons they leave behind. Knowing retribution is coming if he does nothing else, he takes his battle to the warlord in his compound. Ultimately what wins the day isn't martial skill, but mercy. The warlord's daughter has cancer, and Baldur convinces the man to surrender to the UN in exchange for healing her. He spends his remaining time curing diseases in the region.
Together the team discovers the truth: a Bio-Master was behind each of their individual cases. The polluter was introducing Bio-Master mutagens into the environment to create new Splice candidates. The fire was set to cover up government collusion and bribes. The terrorists were taking a whistleblower hostage, and the airliner carried a prominent scientist on his way to talk to her. The warlord was one of the potential buyers for new Splices, and the Bio-Master had promised a cancer cure as incentive. Getting their captives to talk allows the Helping Hand to track down the Bio-Master, fight through a group of new Splices, and defeat the alien. They hand their captive off to a representative of Life Force, then heal the Splices and return them to their homes.
Credit for the bioship is partially due to this post: