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Current AGE: 20
Personal JOURNAL: be_themoon
IM & SERVICE: aim - oakashandwillow
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Current CHARACTERS: Roslyn Small | boughtabookstore
» CHARACTER INFORMATION
Character NAME: Max Kearney
Character PULL-POINT: Everything still massively sucks and has for a decade, age 31.
Character AGE: 33
Empathy. She can read and affect the basic emotions of people within around a half miles’ range of her, though she’s only able to affect them with any real accuracy within a much shorter range, about eyesight. She can induce fear, anger, relaxation, etc., most of the time without the person even being aware that something outside of their head is influencing them. Her abilities can be shielded against by anyone with some training, no psychic talent required, so long as they’re aware of the possibility. She hasn’t used these as much as she could have in the past decade or so, and as such she’s currently cautious about using them because she doesn’t have the subtlety necessary to keep people from realizing something’s messing with their heads. She is capable of developing an empathic link to one person (and only one person at a time – one must be broken before another can be formed) that allows her to read not only their emotions but almost their thoughts and certainly go back into their memories and also lets her work with their emotions much more thoroughly and delicately than otherwise, with their complete awareness of what she’s doing. It also increases the range from which she can affect them. In her world, empaths are not uncommon and this bond is used primarily between an empath and someone with a power that can be overwhelming - technopathy, superhearing or senses, etc. - as a way to keep that person grounded.
Hand to hand combat / marksmanship. Max has been training in and fighting with various forms of hand to hand combat for over a decade. Though initially primarily non lethal, she branched out in later years and can also handle a gun well enough to make a difference with it. The majority of her training styles are for close quarter and uneven combat, i.e. situations in which she’s outmatched. She's also pretty good at making bombs.
High level intellect. Basically, she’s really really smart and always has been. Aced every test she had in high school and college, could have skipped multiple grades though she chose to only skip two, has a photographic memory, an IQ somewhere just below or around genius level, and a genuine love of learning and knowledge that means she’s learned a lot over the years.
Hacking. She’s been hacking since she was thirteen, and her skill set has only increased since then. It’s one of the few non-fighting skills from her younger life that she kept up with and cultivated, and she’s extremely talented.
Engineer/mechanic. Before her life essentially went to shit, she’d obtained a double major in Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and was working as a mechanic. She’s got remarkable intuition when it comes to machines. It got labeled mechanopathy initially back home for her, but it was always questionable as to whether it was actually a power or she was just a genius with a really good eye for how machines work. It was confirmed that she didn’t have any secondary powers when she underwent a lot of testing when in prison later, so it turns out it totally is just that she’s really smart and her brain just gets how machines work.
Max’s story is set in the near future, the point which she’s taken from at age 33 being 2037. By the time she was born in 2004, metahumans had begun to crop up, slowly. By the time she was 15 they were a big deal and superheroes and vigilantes were all the rage. By the time she was 21, the government cracked down on all superheroes, vigilantes and metahumans in the United States who weren’t registered and quite a few who were. Ten years later, the fight to try and stop that was still ongoing.
Max was born to a family that was at once neither the greatest nor the worst, with one big sister. Her parents split up when she was about six due to major incompatibilities. There wasn’t anything particularly traumatic about it, no big yelling or screaming matches, but her dad moved to Chicago and Max rarely saw him after that. He came to visit twice – once when she broke her leg in elementary school, once when she graduated high school – but other than that their only real contact was the calls he made on her birthdays and Christmas.
Her mom subsequently had to take on two jobs to make sure her two daughters were provided for and could remain in her custody, so Max didn’t really see her all that much either. Once she hit middle school she started offering to take on a job of her own, but just like her older sister before her her mother forbade it. Her older sister Helen was seven years older and Max’s role model, but she moved out with her boyfriend as soon as she graduated high school so as to not be a burden on her mom. Max realized she had empathy at a very young age and concealed it from everyone, even her sister, not wanting to cause more trouble.
Which all meant that when Max was 16 and found out that her best friend Alex had recently joined up with the City’s group of vigilantes, a tight knit clan who swore by a strict code that included never killing anyone and always putting justice first, there was no one to notice or stop her from getting more and more drawn into his new world. At first as just extra technical and emotional support, and then as she became more and more fascinated by the actual job she branched into doing detective work for him, and then by the age of 18 she created her own costume and joined the clan. The newspapers called her Nyx, after the Greek goddess of the night. Max never actually gave herself a name, but in later years she would adopt that as her codename, mostly in irony. It took her a while to become accepted and integrated into the group, but she proved herself several times. While she never became a central part of the group and maintained a certain independence, her acceptance into the group was extremely important to her. Max turned out to be pretty good at being a vigilante, though she did have a few very close calls.
But no good thing lasts forever. Max kept working as a vigilante and sped through college, as opposed to highschool where she’d mostly stuck to things. By 20 she’d graduated and was working as a mechanic while figuring out what the next step was, and had formed a tight empathy bond to one of the other superheroes in her clan, a technopath and paranoiac named John. They’d moved in together quickly, essentially a whirlwind romance, about six months from first real conversation to living together and declarations of love and a full fledged empathic bond. She never got to figure that out. The government concluded that leaving metahumans running around was just too dangerous, and with the help of a group dedicated to keeping metahumans under control cracked down on them. Which might not have been that bad, and in fact Max at first thought it might be reasonable – but the first time someone fought back, it became obvious that the government had no plans of going about this nicely. A little investigation revealed that at least some of the prisoners were being sent to facilities to experiment on them and find out how to turn off and replicate their powers. John learned about this and the next day he vanished. Initially Max thought he’d been captured and killed, since the emotional bond between them was severed and she couldn’t think of any reason he would do that if alive. She would think this for almost two years, immediately going on the run to try to keep herself safe and find a way to rescue anyone imprisoned by the government. While her empathy was a secret, her suspected mechanopathy was known and linked to her civilian identity, and both her mother and sister thought the government initiative was a good idea. She was chased. She killed her first person when almost successfully ambushed in her hotel room a few months into this, not good enough at staying off the grid yet to escape them. She turned 21 the next day, alone in the middle of nowhere, trying to figure out how to scrub blood out of her clothes.
Most of the next decade can be kind of skipped over, really. The highlights! About a year after her first ditch and run, she returned to her hometown and began trying to find who the resistance against the government was, subsequently joining up with them. She became a courier between splintered resistance groups across the country, carrying supplies and messages that were too sensitive to be trusted to a computer when the government now had access to more and more technopaths. About a year after she started working with them, she met John again. His paranoia had led to him ditching her and the bond for her own safety, she discovered, and his mental health was deteriorating. Over the years to come, they would settle with an uneasy unrelationship – they both were no longer willing to have the commitment they’d had before (for completely different reasons) but they tried to remain friends and be there for each other. Kind of hard, given that in many ways they were still in love in many ways, so the whole friendship relationships whatever it was thing was extremely uneasy. It was around then that Max began to shut down her empathy, using it only when necessary for missions and trying to ignore it.
About three years into the fight, at age 24, Max was captured for the first time. She spent ten months in a government facility, at first being tortured for the information she carried and then, after she broke, they attempted to force her to use her mechanopathy for them on on various inventions that they hoped would give them a bigger edge in the fight but weren’t working yet. She deliberately sabotaged multiple projects, which didn’t work out too well for her health or wellbeing. She was eventually broken out by John and some other members of the revolution. At age 26 she would spend another 8 months in prison, on a similar pattern, this time escaping herself by working on a guard with her empathy. Her stints in prison did serious damage to her ability to shield herself from outside emotional input, as her empathy was specifically used against her. She’s repaired a lot of that damage, but it still cracks easily under persistent large amounts of emotional turmoil from outside.
The entire revolution so far, at the point she’s being brought in (age 33), has been fairly consistent. Sabotage and rescue attempts of the people who have been captured, establishing safe places and getting people out of the country who want out, and acts of domestic terrorism against the government facilities holding them. Over the years quite a few people have become discouraged and left the country or been killed or captured and not yet recovered, and the movement is in some ways dwindling. It’s beginning to look like they may never win. From age 21 to 33 Max has spent almost all of her time dedicated to working with the resistance. She cut all contact with her family years ago both as a means of protecting them and because the one time she showed up asking for help they were horrified that she was associating herself with people who were basically domestic terrorists and told her to turn herself in. She hasn't tried to contact them since because she doesn't want to have to handle further rejection.
Max is like the little determinator that could. She’s been knocked down a hundred times and she just always gets back up and keeps going. When she was younger this was fueled by an eternal optimism and idealism for the world. As she grew up, it lost that and became simply a habit, a matter of sheer willpower. Max gets back up. It’s what she does. She adapts to new situations and new problems with ease, deals with things as they come. Part of this is rooted in her childhood – she never wanted to create any new problems for her mom, so she learned to just go with whatever happened, find a way to take care of herself, and quickly became very self-sufficient. Take everything in stride. Some of it’s just her personality and the fact that she was born adaptable. This has lent itself really well to her life. A lot of other people would have given up by now, but Max doesn’t have the word ‘quit’ in her vocabulary. She just carries on carrying on – sometimes because she doesn’t know what else to do.
Which isn’t to say that she isn’t affected by the things she’s gone through. She is, to a huge extent. I guess first comes the basis for who she became. As a teenager, Max was slightly starved for affection and attention and had a huge need for approval. She was also cheerful and optimistic and idealistic, and very open, or at least very good at faking being open. What she wasn’t was at all good at trusting people. Her trust has always been something she gave selectively. What she wanted most in the world was to belong to a place or a group or to have people she could call family. So the clan of vigilantes she wound up joining became her substitute for that, became the people that she looked to for approval, and John became the person she placed a huge amount of trust in. And then in the space of a few short months she lost John, she lost her surrogate family, and then not long after that she lost even the possibility of returning to her surrogate family when she killed someone, which went against every rule her clan of vigilantes had. They remained willing to visit her and help keep her hidden when she was in their city, but she knew that they never really approved of her after they found out she’d started killing now. She knew. Empathy’s a bitch sometimes. And then not too long after that she found that John had willingly left her, which was basically her nightmare from the get go of their relationship, for any relationship really, because people leaving is her greatest fear. That was a series of blows that she never truly recovered from. She kept going, she kept doing her work and being the best she could be, but she closed down a lot of her emotional responses to things after that and she's not that easy to draw out anymore.
Her moral compass is kind of a little bit whacked. She’s told herself over the years that the people she’s killed a) deserved to die and b) she had no choice but to kill them to complete a mission / save someone else / fix this problem. She’s justified to herself acts of what amounts to domestic terrorism, quite a lot of murders, blackmail, psychologically terrorizing people – she’s capable of self-rationalizing that she needs to do these things enough to actually do them. The problem comes afterwards, when she has to live with what she’s done. She knows the truth, no matter how much she lies to herself. She might proclaim that she has no regrets but she has massive regrets. That doesn’t mean she won’t do what she feels has to be done next time too.
She’s developed a strong sense of paranoia and her refusal to rely on anyone else to do things for her has only grown. Years of what’s essentially been constant combat has led to her developing PTSD, mostly manifesting in sleeping as little and as lightly as possible, frequent nightmares, paranoia, and occasional flashbacks when reminded too strongly of events. She already had some control issues, and her stints in prison only added on to those. When presented with a situation where she doesn’t have control and sees no way to gain it Max freaks out internally and will start to stonewall everything. She will never willingly go into a situation where she can't at least rationalize some measure of control over it.
None of this is stuff that is really obvious to the outside world. She learned early on as an empath how to present a false front to the world, how to pretend to be someone they want her to be. Max lives in possibilities. This is a person she could be, this is a person she can pretend to be. Predominantly she presents herself to the outside world as someone who's relatively serious but also fairly open and easy to get along with, if not the most cheerful of people and tending more towards heavy sarcasm than humor. It's a method she's found tends to be fairly good at getting information, and also at warding off actual questions about herself. It's only once people start trying to get close that she starts closing herself off more obviously. She stays just out of reach of understanding as much as possible.
The people she cares about she cares about intensely and deeply and will do almost anything for. She’s always developed affection and caring for people quickly, as much as she tries not to, though these days she doesn’t tend to show it as obviously as she used to. The passion that she had as a young adult has been pushed down and buried under seriousness, but it’s still there, just as unacknowledged as she can make it. She doesn’t talk about things. She doesn’t tell people her past. Max buries everything. But despite all of this, despite these things, she cares. She considers it her greatest flaw, even though in reality it’s her greatest asset. It’s the reason she’s still fighting, the reason she hasn’t given up. Max cares about people, and their lives, and whether they’re okay. She cares particularly about the people who matter to her. She has a self sacrificial streak that runs all the way back to her childhood and her lack of self worth then, and also just to her deeply protective instincts towards people who matter to her.
She actually has a really active sense of humor, in that she finds a lot of really random stuff funny. She loves terrible old movies, and bad puns, and how did the chicken cross the road jokes. She likes innocuous, completely innocent things that are there solely for amusement. She tends to enjoy stuff like that in private or with people she trusts a lot. It's a personal thing, being amused, because she wants to keep it from ever being ruined. She loves fixing things, most of all. She hasn’t been able to for years without looking over her shoulder for the government, but her favorite thing has always been fixing things. Making them better instead of worse, and that is perhaps her most constant heartache these days. It’s so hard to fix things when you spend a lot of time blowing them up. She hasn't had all that much time for hobbies but once given free time without responsibilities she'll gravitate back towards the things that make her happy quickly - building and fixing things, playing video games, learning, silliness.
At the core of her, Max is a person who still wants to believe that things can be better, that people can be good, and that fixing things is as simple as turning a screw a little tighter. She’s just buried it down under layers and layers of cynical jaded anger at a world that’s refusing to let that dream be true.
» EXSILIUM INFORMATION
Chosen WEAPON: Her empathy. With missions, her accuracy, ability to be subtle about it, and range will all increase, as well as the realisticness and depth of the emotions she can plant.
Chosen SKILLSET: Fighter / infiltrator is primarily what she’s most comfortable with, but she’s also quite good at negotiation when she needs to be, given her skillset.
[ From the sound of the wind in the background, she's somewhere very high up, probably a roof, and for a long moment that's all that can be heard. ]
These are nice, but not nearly as advanced as I'd guess for the future. Which makes me think illusion, but you all seem very adamant on it definitely not being an illusion.
Not the point. Though if this is just someone fucking with my head, they can consider this their only warning. [ A moment, as if to let that sink in with the seriousness of how she said it, firm and calm. ]
Most of my questions have already been answered. I guess I really only have three left over. I could use people to spar with, if anyone else needs a sparring partner. How easy is it to travel around the surrounding country? [ A beat. ] And precisely how many times can I expect to be attacked by a mutated bear?
Her first thought was trap. Wasn't that always her first thought? She spent a lot of her life thinking trap. But she examined further, kept searching. Listened to everything she was told and talked to the others here, and slowly she began to question that initial assumption. It would have to be a very skilled telepath to do this in her head, given how many shields she'd layered on top of each other around her mind. And if there was a telepath this skilled, they would simply rip the information they wanted out. She shivered, for a moment. It could be an illusionist, but this sort of detail in such a foreign setting was strange. If they wanted actual information out of her they would have put her somewhere she would say things about herself.
If they wanted her to say things about herself and her colleagues, they would have brought in John. They knew enough about that to know to bring him into any scenario they would create to make her talk.
But that wasn't what she was getting. No, she almost thought - which was a bit of a weird moment really, when she first stepped back and thought it - that they were telling the truth. Or at least most of it. There were things that weren't being said, hidden under the surface, but she was almost starting to believe she really was in the future. It was an idea that took quite a bit of recalibration to even fit in.
There was a distinct problem with that, to her. For one, she needed to be back home. The loss of more members of the resistance groups was the last thing that they needed. Stability, consistency - mysterious disappearances would work against everything she'd been fighting for. She needed to get back. She needed to get back now, but everyone said that was impossible. Well, she'd faced impossible before, hadn't she? Giving up wasn't an option. Knuckling under wasn't something she knew how to do. This was just chess, in more dimensions. She'd played the long game before, and she could do it again.
» ADDITIONAL NOTES