Mira came along much later. I got involved with a game called Champions, where players make up heroes and their characteristics and then have battles and adventures and campaigns.

Long ago, a group of comic-fiend friends had fallen in love with the name Captain Mercaptan. There was the echo effect of the name, and its allusion to "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck" (... O captain, my captain ...). Best by far, though, was the fact we'd just learned in chemistry: that if you replace the oxygen atom in an alcohol with a sulfur atom, you get a substance called a mercaptan; and that mercaptans are the stink of the skunk.

Champions arrived - and Captain Mercaptan was brought forth into the wider world. He was fun, but I wanted a character who'd be sheer power; and so, I created Mira.

Embla Wednesday was born to Norwegian parents in 1978. She grew up in the lakes region of Twinopolis, and went to a Free School where her teachers spanned the range from mystic hippie to hard-edged techno. She learned meditation, starting with breath control; she could stay underwater for an hour at a time, but seldom did because of social repercussions. She wandered freely over the entire city, preserved from harm by an innate sensitivity to her surroundings.

When the school got its first computer terminal (with programs submitted on punch-tape and results returned the next day) she learned to turn her mind inward, free from the distractions of the outside world, and program inside her own head. The programs ran.

An Altair came to school, then a 16K Apple. One day, faced with a difficult problem, she withdrew into herself while seated at the keyboard -- and found herself able to contact the computer mentally. Her studies changed, blending the ancient Arts of Mind with the new Science of Computing. Though primitive, the computer was many times faster; though slow, she was many times more sophisticated. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

Her sensitivity became a two-way street. Through computer augmented symbolic manipulation, she could perceive and affect the world about her with clarity and power. She didn't want to turn that off at the end of the day. In jewelry class, she made necklaces and bangles of microcircuits. "Just like her," her classmates said, and thought nothing of it; but slowly, she was crafting Power. The priests of Egypt built pyramids of stone to gather the Great Energies and control them. Lamas of Tibet built their windwheels of air and sunlight. Embla went beyond their insights to pure flow of energy and symbol.

Her senses came to her first. The air around her swam with messages. She heard radio signals; learned to sort and understand them. Television filled her mind with pictures. From the east came the tak - tak - tak of the airport radar as its beam swept by. When lightning flared, the roaring of static filled her mind as the flash filled her eyes.

Not all discoveries were pleasant. A bus ride left her sick and shaking, after it passed within yards of a construction site with workers using arc-welders.

Her abilities widened as her knowledge grew and technology created ever-more-powerful circuits. She had to live with limitations: even the fastest microprocessors could manipulate symbols only so fast, and the greater the power, the greater the power drain.

She meditated, both with and without computer enhancement. Without enhancement, she learned to levitate; with enhancement, to fly. She read books of ancient lore. The secrets of gods and demons and djinn did not speak to her; the laws of similarity and contagion did. She learned natural magics, based on rune and chant and ritual -- ritual designed to persuade not gods, but magician and universe, that the desired action was the only reasonable one.

She graduated; and building knowledge and power, built also a reputation with computers. It suited her. She was too busy with discovery to be fully "normal", and programmers are not expected to be normal. She bought one of the old cottages near Linden Hills, by Lake Harriet, and became a shepherdess of computers; guiding them over the Gordian Knots of recursive logic with an ease that left her colleagues amazed. She worked when she wanted, always had money. She was alone, she was filled with the world; she was content.

A man came to her. He was tall and strong, a scientist; and he needed control circuitry and programs. He was building his way to power and flight along the ways of matter as she was along the ways of energy and knowledge. He later became known as Rocketking; but that was some years after they began their stormy -- but satisfying -- relationship.

Powers and Limitations

Techno-mystic powers. At base, she is a yogi -- breath control, command over basic body processes, levitation. With computer enhancement, she can perceive and affect electromagnetic processes: read and control computers, receive and transmit radio signals. Symbolic manipulation, enhanced by microprocessor speed, helps her perform symbolic magic. The most fundamental aspects of this are flight, the ability to control objects at a distance (a kind of telekinesis) and the ability to forbid harmful objects or forces from directly affecting her.

Electromagnetic radiation degrades her powers: first her receiving ability is jammed, then her transmitting ability. If the EM field is VERY strong, she starts getting bit errors in processing, which will affect complicated powers such as telekinesis first, then flight, then her forcefield defenses.

Since her enhancements need electricity, she can't operate at full power for more than four hours without a recharge. A safety cutoff powers down her equipment when hit by overwhelming EMP, leaving her little more than a yogi. She can modify her technological powers by changing programs and equipment.

She wears a cybernetic skullcap as the base of a blonde wig. Her real hair is cut short. Since the skullcap emits EM radiation like all computers, she can be detected by those able to "hear" radio waves. She has a number of skullcaps, some shielded against radio waves. These latter cut down her emissions, render her less sensitive to outside interference, and lose her electromagnetic powers. She uses them when she suspects she'll run up against heavy EMI.