...But since I don't exactly have anything better to talk about (well, I guess there's stuff, like how overworked I feel sometimes and upcoming Easter traditions and stories, but I don't feel like it and there is a time constraint in place to get a Friday blog post in while it's still actually Friday), what little I do have will be my blog for today.
Basically, today was more backstory stuff. I laid some basic stuff down: superheroes (and by extent, supervillains) have always been around in history in this setting, not being a new thing. However, their presence was scarce. Think about some of them being what we'd know as myth and folklore. As an example, Paul Bunyan would be a real superhero who had the power to become a giant but was most of the time just a normal man. Explicitly, though, NOT AllMythsAreTrue; while some superheroes and supervillains might inspire (or actually be) them, the vast majority of them are in fact the opposite, merely being inspired by the myths rather than themselves having created them.
Again, to emphasize: throughout history, superheroes have been real, but in LOW numbers. We're talking a fraction of a fraction of the population, here. It's only from World War I onwards that they begin to appear more and more consistently: during the 1900s, they go from sporadically present to continuously present, albeit in low numbers still. Around the 1940s, however, more and more began to crop up. By the 1950s, there was an explosion in the number of superheroes, and by the present, they have long-since for generations been established as a normal every-day thing.
People treat being a superhero as being no more notable than doing any other profession or hobby. It's a topic that might get an occasional, "Hmm!", in that it's an interesting factoid about the person, but it's not a groundbreaking "Cool, that's awesome!" type of thing, though if the powers of the superhero are particularly powerful (or, more usually, pragmatic and easily used for mundane utilities), they'll probably get comments on how neat/cool it is.
Like I said. Being a superhero is just part of their world. Its commonality is a relatively new thing, but no more so than our explosion in technological development, which is actually an excellent parallel: we've always been making progress, but it was only around that era that we began to explode in development and numbers, and bam, 50 years later, we've got the internet and 7 billion human lives on the planet, having accelerated our growth exponentially.
So this is all trivia. Its story relevance is in tracking down the origin of their powers. Riders are not the only magical girls (plus Gary) in existence. It's just that the Elemental Eight (as they become known as once Amy joins) are the most famous group of them, with the most prophecies tied to them, thus, why they were highly sought after and also justifying the high villain activity, in a sort-of self-fulfilling prophecy: they all gather together because they're all fighting evil that fear them gathering together, more or less.
It also is shown that if there are such prophecies about the elemental eight and they gained their powers in different ways, that must mean that they existed before and that the different ways must mean something. So I figured out what it meant. People who manifest their powers brand new (Ruby, Hannah, and later Amy) have no inherited traits. As far as they knew, their powers were the first generation, except by the fact that they're new and the others are not, it's clear that that's not the case and that somehow they must have had predecessors that they have no ties to.
For this, the solution was potentially grim: the last holders had their powers cease to exist. However, given that spirit totems are basically indestructible and there's no records of such an event occurring, the far more probable answer is that the last holders simply lost their powers and never regained them in their lifetimes, with the weapons fading out of existence until next needed, manifesting in their current hosts when called upon, each given a rebirth.
After all, there are many, many documented cases of sealed powers, and magical powers are not particularly hard to seal--nor are they hard to willingly suppress, given that a transformation is involved to invoke them. So the most probable answer is that, given superheroes tend to almost always win, the last holders of those three tokens simply lost the need to have them, and died with them still inside.
The second group of people (Whitney and one of fire/lightning) had their spirit totems directly passed to them by their predecessor. Whitney's did so explicitly, laying out his reasons for doing so, that being that a Rider ages at half the rate of a normal human once reaching maturity, so he in his 60s having fallen in love with a 30-year-old woman didn't want to outlive her and retired, passing the torch to Whitney along with many details of Riders that none of the Riders knew explicitly, although a fair amount of their powers they of course figured out by trial-and-error. (Whitney, again, has a head start on the others by a fair margin.)
The other to have their powers given to them by their predecessor was done more stealthily, though. She got a test-of-character, and her spirit totem was handed to her in the exchange, in a type of, "Your problem now, sucker!" deal, except more benevolent of course. (They're good guys, after all.) Thus, while she has an experienced spirit totem, she didn't have the mentor to go along with it, and spirit totems aren't the best at conveying these things.
This method needs no explanation, as it's fairly self-explanatory. The previous holder simply has felt the need to pass the torch onto the next generation, and willingly gives their powers up, though the method is up to their discretion.
The third and final method is instead of being given them or manifesting them, to find them. (A bit of a middle ground between the other two, actually.) Basically, what happens to Gary, the other of fire/lightning, and Sally: they were doing something, and there was this object that they were drawn to. When picking it up, it morphed into the shape of something (or morphed into said something, physically becoming it), conveyed the needed info, and bam, they were good to go.
The question of course being, if the magical spirit totem object came right then and there, how'd it get there? And I decided the answer was also potentially grim: similar to the first, it meant the previous holder had died, unable to directly name a successor, while holding onto the power...but having said power still be active. This is why it doesn't submerge into a new host to manifest later: because it's already manifested, just not chosen.
Like with the first, though, instances of magical girls dieing in battle are few and far between, so the most likely explanation is that they simply died of old age without having named a successor, having never chosen to pass their powers along and still having them even as they aged. (Though this would take about 200 years, it is in fact possible.)
So in summary, dead with powers gone, new generation manifests a reincarnation of the spirit totem that is completely new.
Dead with powers active, new generation finds spirit totem, and spirit totem morphs to match them, maintaining a much stronger amount of identity.
Alive when passing powers to the new generation, the spirit totem maintains its identity nearly completely: while still physically changing to match the new user, its base functions are nearly unchanged.
In other trivia regarding the Elemental Eight, I thought out a transformation sequence involving all eight that goes into a bit of Power Rangers, with a finishing touch of Gundam00's Trans Am in how it works:
Amy, the spirit link, asks for some time uninterrupted, basically requiring time. This is not a free transformation; it takes time and can be stopped if disturbed, thus why she needs this. And then she begins a bunch of fancy gestures. The words go something along the lines of this:
"I am the light eternal, embodiment of all good.
Holy spirits that guide me,
Please grant me the body of a tree." (A link between her and Sally forms. Sally responds, "By your will, it is done." Amy lists in a monotonous voice, 'Tree of Life synchronized.' She then continues.)
"And on this body,
Please give the armor of a warrior to me." (A link between her and Gary forms. Gary responds, "Thy wish has been granted to thee." Amy lists in a monotonous voice, 'Shining Armor synchronized.' She then continues.)
"Now safe from harm,
Let me extend that to others on my left arm." (A link between her and Hannah forms. Hannah responds, "Let you never see pain to an innocent again." Amy lists in a monotonous voice, 'Aegis Shield synchronized.' She then continues.)
The next verse would deal with the right arm, but I need to actually name fire's spirit totem for that. I named lightning's spirit totem 'Divine Bolt', though, so I have the next verse about the legs.
"With this great strength I beg,
Give me the speed to use it in my legs." (A link between her and Vili forms. Vili responds, "By the powers of the Divine, I give to you what has been mine." Amy lists in a monotonous voice, 'Divine Bolt synchronized.' She then continues.)
The next verse would be dealing with Whitney, of course, and be for the head, but I need to actually think up her spirit totem's name. The incantation continues, though,
"My body now complete,
Show my holy nature with my wings!" (A link between her and Ruby forms. There is no response from her, though, because Amy continues the chant.)
"Synchronization at 100%. TRANSFORM!
Final Form: Great Sentinel Mode activate.
To the Warriors of Light, let us unite,
Here we stand, with this our strength!"
I can post this here because I 100% guarantee the final chant I use will be vastly different than the above; it's just a rough draft that I came up with to get the idea across. If you're wondering what it does, well, basically, throughout the series, the magical girls (and Gary) have shown that Riders can synchronize their techniques on a smallscale. They can combine techniques to turn individual skills into a new skill that's more powerful.
This is them, combining all of their strengths, and giving them to each other all at once. That means all of them have access to all the others' techniques, fighting styles, and whatnot. They're linked together in their minds, more easily able to move as a unit, and they can transfer in their link powers and knowledge--for instance, Ruby can give vampire abilities to the others in Great Sentinel Mode. That's all basic stuff.
Each of their forms is changed. They now all have some form of armor over their body, their uniforms changing to reflect this. They now all have some form of shield attached to their forearm, albeit one that doesn't hinder their movements at all. They now all have a massive increase in speed and strength, basically able to move so fast as to outpace even the most elite of vampires, leaving afterimages in their wake. They additionally have increased toughness to superhuman degrees, able to withstand almost any blow without the aid of the Aegis Shield (which, again, they all have access to now) or vampiric abilities. Furthermore, they've got enhanced regenerative capabilities, quickly recovering from any injuries they DO sustain, and finally, their strongest trait, their already-superhuman levels of endurance get bumped up exponentially to the point where they can keep fighting.
Lots of upsides. Basically, it's like they all combined into a single mecha (a-la power rangers)...but instead of it being a single mecha, it's EACH of them as the mecha. It's an incredible technique--in the battle they first use it in, they were getting CREAMED. Then, after they activated it, within seconds, they had entirely and utterly smashed their opponents, overwhelming them.
The downsides, of course, being that even after discovering the technique (it's always hardest to activate it the first time; later times take less time to activate), it still isn't an instantaneous activation, so they're vulnerable while making the transition into the state. It also leaves them slightly more vulnerable to mind-related attacks: an enemy that breaks the mental bond automatically breaks the state. An additional weakness is that it does take all eight of them to get the full effect, and that's not always possible. (Fun trivia: Ruby gains the most and gives the greatest bonuses, but is the least-required for the link. Having wings is less-necessary than having arms, legs, a body, and a head. Gary, similarly, gives the least and receives the least, but his main role is in giving the link some fortitude.)
Additionally, Amy has to be the one making it, as it is her power that allows it. (Think like Octus in Sym-Bionic Titan: it doesn't work without her, because she's doing the main legwork.) Furthermore, while the technique is great for making them each unstoppable battle machines, it has a time limit, in that the link can only be maintained for so long. Furthermore, while each of them has access to the abilities of the others, and their combined magical strength is immense, their total magical strength doesn't increase. So while their physical endurance and mental endurance are at all-time highs, and their emotional endurance via reassuring each other is also quite difficult to shake, their magical endurance is no better off, and perhaps slightly less well-off: unless they coordinate VERY effectively with smart usage of it, they are liable to use more of it than normal on sheer instinct, burning through their reserves at an accelerated rate.
Should be noted additionally that the less magic they have, the shorter the time limit, even though time limit and magical reserves aren't directly tied to each other. (Think of it this way. It's basically that they can keep transformed for 250 meaningless units. Magical energy at its maximum gives a bonus of 100 meaningless units. As magical energy decreases, the number of meaningless units provided to time they can be transformed decreases as well. So it's possible for them to be entirely out of magic and still transformed, just as it is for them to be full of magic and yet run out of time.)
Basically, it's a "by all your powers combined" scenario. It is absolutely devastating, but not by any means an assurance of victory.
Soyeah, that was what I thought up. Well, them being able to enter Sentinel Mode (not yet called that) was always part of the plan, but it was today that I cooked up the details. I also thought it might be a good idea to start compiling my notes, but since I'm running out of time (it's been an hour and a half already), compiling my notes into a word file or something will have to wait until some other time. (Maybe later tonight.) Will be fun, though. I generally think up new stuff when I have the pleasure to gather up old stuff and put it all together, as it makes it much easier to go, "so what gaps do I have left to fill?", which is what I need right now.
The story's close to completion, and it is awesome.
Maybe not to you (though I hope my blog posts have sparked interest in the idea), but to me, I love it.