Shadow Unit



Alpha -- a normal human. (see "baseline")

Baseline -- beta slang term for a normal human, or alpha.

Beta -- a human who shows some signs of anomalous abilities or gifts, but appears to maintain control of their mental faculties. Betas have much less dramatic powers than gammas, and are limited to internal manifestations, which is to say their powers are all within their own minds, and can mimic such gifts as synesthesia, spatial genius, eidetic memory, lightning calculation, etc.

Second-stage beta -- A term Reyes coins in mid-2007. A more powerful beta; one whose manifestation is on the level of a gamma, which is to say they have undergone breakthrough and experienced an external manifestation. The difference between a second-stage beta and a gamma is that the second-stage beta is considered to be responsible for his or her own actions; a gamma is clinically insane, and may not be accountable.

Gamma -- a monster, Brady would say. The complex of host and anomaly (assuming for the moment that that paradigm is at all correct) which exists for no better purpose than to cause chaos, destruction, and pain in the world. The host may justify his or her behavior through a private mythology, or set of delusions and convictions, or he or she may operate much like a garden-variety sociopathic sadist.

Anomaly -- the it. The mysterious force or property or influence or contamination or infection causing the betas and gammas.

Host -- the individual infected by the anomaly.

Anomaloid -- a general somewhat tongue-in-cheek term for anyone demonstrating a manifestation, whether beta or gamma. (see "jammer")

"Frost? She's not an anomaloid. She's just at the extreme end of human variation."

Jammer -- beta slang term for an individual affected by the anomaly, whether beta or gamma.

"Yeah, I dunno, we got out there and the guy turned out to be a freaking garden variety sexual sadist, and not a jammer at all, do you believe it? He was feeding the horsemeat to his dogs.

"Seventeen dogs."

Jamming -- beta slang term for the act of using one's anomalous abilities. (see "slamming neurons")

Slamming neurons ("slamming") -- what betas do when they use their abilities, and increase their appetites.

Breakthrough -- the first few hours or days in which gammas or second-stage betas are in full command of their powers. A certain percentage do not make it through this period, as they use themselves up in burnout.

Burnout -- the process by which anomalous individuals can destroy themselves in very short order, especially when they are in breakthrough. A combination of starvation, glucose depletion, and major organ failure.

Conversion ("converting")-- the moment when an alpha becomes a beta or gamma.

"I'm not sure Chaz ever exactly converted, precisely. To hear him talk, he was doing this stuff when he was two. Maybe he was born creepy."

The Hunger -- Hafidha's term for the unceasing caloric demands of a beta or gamma's body. ~5000 calories a day, for maintenance, for an average-sized person. Anomaloids may have lowered body temperature or difficulty regulating their temperature (Their metabolism is more concerned with keeping their brain and intestines working than endothermy), suffer massive simple carbohydrate cravings (both the GI tract and the brain use glucose as a chief power source. An anomaloid's protein demands are no worse than a normal human's), and they may experience a seriously shortened lifespan after conversion, due to liver toxicity and other problems. Chaz theorizes that one reason the mutation hasn't taken hold previously (if it is a mutation) is that you need a post-industrial society to support these kinds of demands; in a hunter-gatherer setting, an anomaloid would stand no chance of survival.

Manifestation -- the way the the anomaly makes itself patent through a particular beta or gamma. Their "superpower". May also be used as a verb. Manifestations may be internal, affecting only the host (usually on a perceptual level), or external, allowing the host to exert powers over things or people outside him/herself. However, they are subject to the laws of thermodynamics; anomaloid "superpowers" are usually very small, localized sorts of things, rather than big dramatic effects.

"I dunno, man, he's manifesting pink Tinkerbell sparklies, and every butterfly, songbird, and bee in seven counties is buzzing around his head. Do you suppose his superpower is he's Snow fucking White?"

Mythology -- the self-imposed rules under which a host justifies and performs his or her manifestation.

UNSUB -- FBI shorthand for "unknown subject." The unidentified individual who is the target of an investigation.

Stressor -- the catastrophic inciting event usually causing a human being to embark upon a career of evil, whether they are a garden-variety alpha killer, or a gamma. (see "the crack")

The crack -- when speaking of a gamma, whatever initial damage it is that seems to have rendered the host vulnerable to the anomaly, which also (usually) provides the foundation of the host's mythology.