So once, a not very long time ago at all, Randi asked for a Magnificent Seven superhero AU for Christmas. I love trying to fit AUs into the actual show’s framework, so after rejecting a future scifi-heavy AU, I fell back on my personal druthers and wrote Assembly, which is a retelling of Ghosts of the Confederacy (the Mag7 pilot) with each of the boys having a superpower of some sort.
I really like this universe, and I want to open it up to anyone who wants to write in it. I have very few rules and no set plans, so the place is a nearly blank slate. I offer you here a few notes on each of the Seven’s powers and an idea of how and when they got them (some are purposely vague, because what fun would an open universe be if everyone’s story was already told?).
I won’t even tell you what flavor the universe is (because flavor is up to the individual authors). Gen, slash, multi. I don’t care. I’m that writer who writes the spec script and then leaves it to the studio to develop their own series around it.
Anyway, with that in mind, here are the write-ups on each boy’s powers. For the most part they are the Seven as portrayed in the show. Sort of :).
Chris Larabee (aka “The Soldier”)
(65, but appears no older than early 40s) Chris was working on his father’s farm in Indiana when the Mexican-American War started. He took off for Texas to join the US Army as it tried to push the Mexicans south of the Rio Grande. He was mortally wounded in a skirmish and was approached by the US government and a scientist named Erskine, as he lay dying in a medical tent. If he would agree to take part in their tests, they’d save his life. The offer was made to many, but few accepted.
Chris was tended by a woman named Peg Carter who had healing powers. He was then subjected to repeated potions and medicines that enhanced some of his latent abilities—he was already a fast shot, but now he could shoot and reload and shoot again with astonishing speed and accuracy (please see this article on weaponry in the Mexican-American War, as handheld weapons developed a LOT during the course of Chris’s lifetime). He also exhibits heightened hearing and smell, and accelerated healing factors. He does NOT have keener than average sight, taste, or touch.
He lost his wife and son three years before riding into Four Corners—Buck told JD that they died in a fire. Chris met Buck during the Civil War. He can drink an almost obscene amount before he gets drunk—and he has done so often, especially since said wife and child died. While he does heal very quickly, he can be, and has been, grievously injured and could certainly die if injured badly enough. He and the people who re-engineered him are unsure of how long he might live if nature were allowed to take its course.
Nathan Jackson (aka “The Healer”)
(probably in his early thirties) Nathan is a former slave who escaped through the underground railroad in his early teens, leaving behind his father and getting separated from his sisters during his flight north. Since age eight, he’s had the ability to heal other people’s wounds, but not his own, and healing takes a great deal of energy out of him. He can’t fix everything, and feels guilty for every person he can’t save.
He refuses to try to fix concussions or blows to the head (or even severe headaches like Ezra’s migraines) because, “Fixing a mind ain’t like fixing the rest of you. It don’t always work the way you want.” He has never explained why he believes this. He usually refuses to help with hangovers because he says it’s not worth his energy when the person brought it on himself.
As a child he almost only ever used his abilities on the other slaves, who kept his secret, and as an adult, he hides the miraculous healing with his knowledge of more conventional mending techniques and has always had contempt for people who set themselves up as “Miracle Healers” or faith healers, figuring they do more harm than good, giving people false hope.
Had already set up his clinic above the livery when Josiah rolled into town, got drunk, and busted up one of the saloons and himself. Healed Josiah’s wounds but was caught doing it by the mysterious older man. Josiah accepted his abilities immediately and the two became fast friends.
Josiah Sanchez (aka “The Mystic”)
(age unknown, appears mid-fifties, but there’s no telling how old he is) Josiah was a traveling preacher, raised by a missionary father. He has (or possibly had) a sister named Hannah. No mother is mentioned. When he was a young man, he was enchanted by the words of an Eastern mystic, left his restrictive and hypocritical father, and went in search of Truth. He learned magicks and tapped into powers that were intense and heady, and brought the knowledge home.
But his father condemned him as a heretic and his sister was driven mad, though since he has never mentioned her we don’t know what actually happened. Crushed by guilt, he set off into the wilderness, waiting for a sign he’d seen in a vision quest—"a tawny bird in flight, wings tipped in midnight," that would signal the end of his wandering (his death and judgement by God, he thinks).
Josiah has no latent, inborn gifts, beyond a too-curious mind. Because of his studies and the powers they unleashed, he can see the future, vaguely and in confusing dreams. He can cast a number of powerful spells (there are simple ones he can cast without having to speak a word, such as compelling Nathan to sleep with just a touch) and recognize forces both damned and divine (such as the “gold and silver strands” that bind the Seven).
More mundanely, he is very strong and possesses great endurance.
Vin Tanner (aka “The Hunter”)
(about 25-28 years old) After his mother died when he was five, Vin was given over to an orphanage that then tried to sell him into a work gang. He escaped (at what age is unclear) and lived with the Comanche and then the Kiowa until he was an adult. His wings began to grow at age eight and he was capable of flight at age ten. The Indians accepted his secret and he used his abilities to hunt for the villages. He left the Kiowa at 16 and became a buffalo- and then bounty hunter. He was lured to Tascosa by Eli Joe to be experimented on by Dr. Samson (see Dr. Samson’s Hospital below). Vin escaped, but a doctor was killed in his flight and there is a bounty of $500 on his head for the “murder.”
Vin has extremely light bones (in general he weighs a lot less than a normal man his size), eats a lot and often (like the proverbial bird), but has an incredible metabolism and is thin and rangy. He can drink most people under the table—but not Chris.
He never flies unarmed and unlike JD, he CAN fly and shoot at the same time, though not with the same amazing accuracy as he shoots when earthbound.
His wingspan is approximately 13 feet and their outer coloring is as light as buckskin with black primaries (the long feathers at the very end of the wing). Their inner coloring looks very like the layers of tawny, white, and black of an osprey or hawk (see the first image here for an idea). When relaxed, his wings fold to his back, the “wrist” at about forehead height, the dark primaries reaching the ground. Unlike avian raptors, he has extremely long metatarsals (fingers) and an extra knuckle, which allows him to fold the wings neatly on his back in such a way that they are only a slightly noticeable lump under a shirt. The position is uncomfortable, but is the one he keeps them in the majority of the time. He almost always wears his coat and is intensely afraid of being discovered, due to his treatment in Tascosa.
He prefers flying at night or in the early morning and gets antsy and cranky if he can’t unfurl his wings for a couple of days. His eyesight is exceptional, day or night, and he can sight prey from tremendous heights. He can also see slightly beyond the visible spectrum, into both the ultraviolet and infrared, allowing him to see subtle energies and thermal variations. He can see Ezra when Standish is invisible because of the difference in temperature between his skin and the area around the gambler. It’s possible that he could see JD’s manipulation of metal objects (ultraviolet would include certain magnetic resonances).
He can carry a single person in flight for short periods of time and can pick up a person or object while flying.
Buck refers to Vin as Mayhem, to which Vin only smiles. Chris equates Vin’s scent to buffalo and hawks and can smell him when he is near.
Buck Wilmington (aka “The Empath”)
(born 1835, abut forty) Buck’s empathic powers manifested at birth, but he didn’t consciously process that he had them until he was eight years old and felt the suicidal depression of a woman in his mother’s whorehouse who had just lost a child. He was able to prevent her suicide, and has, in general, spent his life reading others and giving people a push in the right direction where he can. His empathy is enhanced by skin-to-skin touch.
Buck can get completely caught up in the feelings of others, especially strong negative feelings, at which point he seeks either complete isolation or something that will allow him to blow off steam (not always safely). He met Chris in the Civil War when Chris recognized Buck’s gift and the war’s effect on him because of it. Chris has, for the most part, been a calming and centering influence on Buck, helping him to silence the emotions around him. Buck needs time to himself to block out those emotions or he tends to get on-edge and self-destructive.
Because of the nature of feelings and the fact that people can and do lie to themselves a surprising amount of the time, Buck is far from infallible. He has trouble reading Ezra and Vin specifically, because both men have chosen to force themselves to forget so many of the bad things that have happened to them.
Buck does not normally broadcast feelings the way he receives them, even when touching someone skin-to-skin, but there was one memorable campaign during the war when he was in trouble and managed to “call” Chris for help.
Ezra Standish (aka “The Trickster”)
(about 30) Ezra’s ability to turn himself invisible manifested for the first time when one of his mother’s boyfriends came at him with a pitchfork when he was six. He hid in the barn and prayed he was invisible—and silver scales grew over him and made him so.
The scales slough off and melt away in moments once shed (leading Buck to liken him to a snake at one point), and while he is invisible, Ezra’s skin is markedly cold to the touch. He can make other things invisible by touch, as well.
He has never tested how large an object he can “wrap,” but he has spent his life honing his control over the ability and practices often, to the point where he can make something as small as a single playing card disappear with ease.
The power creates debilitating headaches if he uses it too liberally, both on himself and other things (or people), and his eyesight is slightly impaired during invisibility—especially in bright sunlight. He sees in a sort of sepia tone when he's wrapped.
Chaucer, his horse, barely tolerates the scent and feel of the covering and will not allow himself to be turned invisible. He is more ornery than usual if Ezra chooses to ride him when <i>he</I> is invisible (which Ezra detests doing to the poor horse).
Chris has likened the smell of the scales to “burnt silver” and the scent of them lingers. He can locate Ezra accurately by the smell, the same way he can Vin. Vin can see the thermal variation of Ezra’s invisibility, though that ability might be hampered if the atmosphere around Standish were extremely cold.
The invisibility does not render Ezra immune to bullets, knives, or beatings, but it’s conceivable that the low temperature of the coating once saved his life from the fireball of a cannon explosion during the Civil War, as he escaped the burns that killed his companions, but not two broken bones from the concussion of the blast.
When Ezra was three his father fell ill and was seen by a “miracle healer,” who may or may not have had actual healing abilities. The elder Standish seemed completely cured, then died suddeny shortly thereafter. Ezra has never trusted a healer since.
JD Dunne (aka “The Manipulator”)
(somewhere between 18 and 21) Of all of them, save Josiah, JD is the last to come into his own. He is only now starting to understand and refine his ability to control metal objects, and his manipulations, for the most part, are instinctive—like jerking Buck’s gun from him or taking Imala’s knife away.
The very fact that the abilities are new (discovered at fifteen when he stumbled upon an assault in the master’s stable and stopped it by dropping a pitchfork from across the room) and he is green and extremely… enthusiastic make the powers dangerous and unpredictable. What he needs is someone to help him hone and focus the ability, whether that be Josiah or Chris with their age and experience, Ezra or Nathan with their focused and controlled manipulations of their own gifts, or Buck or Vin with their compassion and patience is up to you the authors.
JD has always seen his ability as freakish and is both frustrated by and afraid of what his mind can do. Add this to his unconventional childhood (bastard son of a chambermaid) and he has some problems.
The Universe in General
The world they live in is pretty much the world they lived in on the series, with the difference that they are exceptional and they are not the only ones.
”The government medical facility” (Chris doesn’t use another name for it, though presumably it had one) was a sprawling complex in rural Illinois, disguised as a large farm. It was run by Abraham Erskine and Chris and the other volunteers were brought there to be experimented on. The facility was kept secret from all but a select few senators, President Polk, who authorized its creation, and the next five presidents, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, and Lincoln. The facility was destroyed by Confederate forces in the early weeks of the Civil War, killing Erskine, Peg Carter, and virtually all the other doctors there. It was both an experimentation center and home to a number of people born with special gifts, some of whom were kept there for the safety of others, some for their own safety. There appears to be no record of how many people went through the facility during the years it was operating, nor how many abominations were created. (Again, that’s up to you all :). )
Dr. Samson’s Hospital is the experimentation facility located in the tiny town of Tascosa. Samson is obsessed with finding as many exceptionals as he can, seeing what makes them what they are, and creating a “superior genus”, a new species of human to supplant the current one. Eli Joe and others act as freak hunters for him, seeking out and in some cases luring in exceptionals for Samson to experiment on.
Terms to know: "Exceptional" is the term used by both the medical facility and Samson to describe people with special powers. Chris doesn't use the term. Vin finds it somewhat derogative. "Different" is the term that Buck and Nathan use, and the others will use it off and on. Mostly they all seem to find ways to talk around the fact that they're just plain super :).
Beyond that, populate as you see fit. I have ideas about a few things, but I’m content to write my own stories in the universe and see what stories everyone else has in mind, too!
As MOG said many moons ago: “The sandbox is for all to play in!”
So... GO PLAY!