|Valerie Grace Hudson|
|Birth||June 21, 2020|
|PC | OC|
Valerie is a barista at Oddball Coffee by day and a thief by night, a job made easier by her ability to slip in and out of photographs.
Valerie is well-known around Mutant Town as the sort of girl generally up for a good time and someone with easy access to prescription meds, if you're looking.
Valerie can enter photographs - any photograph - and interact with the people and things within a 50 yard radius of where it was taken, at the time it was taken. She is not limited to what can be seen in the photograph, and can see what was behind the camera or what is beyond a door, provided that it falls within her range. She enters physically, meaning that she disappears from view in the 'real world' when stepping inside a photo - and that any damage she takes inside a photograph remains when she leaves. She must be within 50 yards of the photograph and have line of sight to enter.
She enters at the point where the photograph was taken, and appears to be unnoticeable to those inside the photograph (including the photographer) until the point when she engages with them. This means that she can simply observe, or she can chat with and interact people. Those inside react to her as if they would were she there in person - that is to say, they may like her and cooperate with her, or they may ignore her entirely, or they may question why she's in their bedroom or on their private property.
She can focus to a visual awareness of what's going on outside the photograph, enabling her to determine whether a room is obviously occupied or empty, whether the lights are on or off, etc, and time passes the same both in and outside of a photograph. She cannot hear outside of a photograph when inside, and nothing obvious changes about the photograph itself. When she exits, she can exit within the same 50 yard range (with line of sight) she can use to enter.
Valerie can eat and drink inside a photograph, and while inside, she feels sated and hydrated, but doing so does not nourish her body. As soon as she leaves, she'll feel hungry or thirsty. This effectively limits the amount of time she can spend in a photograph to several days - and she would be severely dehydrated when she left.
Similarly, she cannot take anything out of a photograph that she did not enter with. When she exits, the photograph 'resets' - no one remembers her from visit to visit, and any changes she makes evaporate.
She can take a single person into a photograph with her if she is touching them, but she is unaware of this fact, as she's never tried.
For a photograph to be useful to Valerie, it must be a certain degree of 'genuine' - that is to say, photomanipulation must be at a minimum or fairly be inconsequential to the subject of the photograph. So photoshopping a model to look thinner and have better skin does not prevent her from using it, but inserting godzilla into the landscape or stitching several pictures together does. Photographs must be physical - she cannot enter digital images or paintings.
Valerie is an accomplished cat burglar and a fair hand at electronic security. She's especially good at alarm and in-home security systems, but can often manage to access less-secure personal and financial data if she has hands on a device used to access the accounts in question.
She's handy with a lockpick and can shoplift with the best of them.
She's an excellent mimic and has a knack for blending in most places, as well as moving unseen when she wants to.
She's also a fairly good pianist.
Valerie Grace Hudson was born adjacent to privilege. Raised by a single mother who earned her living nannying for the well-off Elswood family on Staten Island, she found herself just close enough to get a taste for the finer things in life, and just far enough to be denied them. She heard stories of riding and cello and ballet lessons, of trips to Paris and catered parties with fancy clothes. She spent more than one night doing her homework in the upscale kitchen during a party or waiting in the car until this lesson or that was over and they could go home.
Home was a one-bedroom apartment in one of the Bronx's shabbier neighborhoods. As Valerie grew old enough to be left at home alone, she saw her mother less and less and spent more and more time on the streets with the other kids in her neighborhood. She became a pro at mac 'n cheese, loitering, and shoplifting, along with a handful of other bad habits her mom wasn't around to see.
She kept her grades exactly as good as they needed to be to keep her out of trouble, and no more, despite a sharp mind and a general interest in just about everything. She also developed a significant measure of charm, to be leveraged on those in positions of authority when trouble came her way, or on anyone who had something she wanted.
And then one day her charm failed her, and her mutation stepped in. Faced with a very angry bartender who claimed not to be above hitting teenage girls - especially ones who'd tried to make off with half his register - Valerie suddenly found herself in the middle of a New York street - in 1923. She'd fallen into a picture hanging on the bar's wall, and spent several hours there before she figured out how to get out again.
It didn't take long for panic to become elation. Valerie was one of those who had spent their childhood daydreaming about becoming a mutant. It seemed like a way to climb her way up in the world, if only the universe would gift her the right thing. How could anyone stomp her down if she had /superpowers/?
That summer, she found herself growing distant from her friends as she spent every free moment figuring out what this gift of hers did, and what she could do with it.
It turns out that she could do a lot.
The world's pleasures were suddenly open to her in a way they'd never been before. She could help herself to feasts, clad herself in silk and jewels, ride horses, listen to the symphony, visit foreign locales - if she could imagine it, and someone had snapped a photograph of it, she could do it.
By the time she graduated from high school, her grades had dropped to the bare minimum, but her education had expanded substantially. She'd picked up the basics of an array of 'classical' skills, including ballet, horseback riding, piano, formal dance, and which fork to use when. She'd watched famous runs of Broadway plays and attended concerts long past. Her one academic success came in her study of French, where she buckled down for use during her visits to Paris.
When she turned 18, she found herself chafing under what rules her mother tried to enforce, and shortly after graduation, she left home and picked up a job waiting tables. She told her mom that she had several roommates, but the reality was that she spent months hopping from picture to picture, using her power to avoid the need for an apartment or anything much of substance.
The problem was that everything Valerie found in pictures - the food, the clothing, the company - was ephemeral. Nothing lasted past the moment she left. She exited a photograph and found herself hungry. Her jewels disappeared. No one remembered her from visit to visit, and all her former friends had drifted away as she played.
And waiting tables fucking sucked.
So at 19, Valerie became a thief.
It was almost too easy. Pop into a picture during the day, wait for the store to close, and pop back out. It worked well enough for some stores, but unfortunately, in most there was still security to deal with - cameras and locks and carting her goodies out of the place. After a few close calls, Valerie determined that she needed a better plan.
Now the photographs served as a tool for learning other sorts of skills. How to pick a lock. How to bypass basic electronic security. How to move without being seen.
By the time she was 20, Valerie was hitting lower middle class apartments - the sort not quite rich enough to have high tech security - with some frequency. She chose her marks and her prizes carefully, and she started using her newfound wealth to make actual friends - the useful sort. She rented an apartment in Mutant Town and made a habit out of hanging out at the park and the local bars and, eventually, at Open Hands, which turned out to be a veritable gold mine of kids willing to pawn something pricy for her for a substantial cut.
In 2040, Staten Island went up in smoke. Valerie's mom survived, but a bit of rubble meant that she'd never walk properly again. Valerie watched as the family her mother had worked for for over fifteen years moved to Long Island and rebuilt their lives, while her mother's life crumbled under health issues and a pile of debt.
And now it was personal.
The lies grew deeper. First she "won the lottery", a happy surprise that took out a chunk of medical bills. Then she found a "job" as a receptionist at a Manhattan firm, something that paid steadily and allowed her to funnel income into her mom's account every few weeks. Then there were a string of well-off "boyfriends," met at work, who gave her gifts she sometimes kept and sometimes lavished on her mother.
And the Elswoods? She started taking their life apart piece by piece. A pricy watch. A pearl necklace. Expensive electronics. She learned to make her entrance through photographs and her exits through blending in, and for the first time in her life, she actually attended one of those lavish parties. Eventually it occurred to her that she could plant things as easily as she could take them away, and a year and a half later, the family collapsed under accusations of embezzlement carefully backed up by emails sent from their home network and bank transactions made from the same. It was an educational experience. Through the course of it, Valerie found she had gained a number of skills useful to a more ambitious burglar, from hacking into a home network to planting false money trails to blending seamlessly with a high-class crowd.
These days, Valerie has a taste for the wealthy. She steps very carefully, keeping her thefts largely to items that tend to go unnoticed for long periods of time. They are invariably taken from the homes and businesses of those who have too much, those who step on the ones who have too little. Although she keeps a fair portion for herself (she has an apartment filled with an eclectic array of things that have taken her fancy - though none are stolen), she also gives anonymously to a number of charities.
The plight of Mutant Town makes her furious. From where she's sitting, mutants ought to be on top of the world, not crushed under its heel. Despite her continual poaching of Luka's poor, struggling kids, she also pumps money back into the place with regular donations, small enough to go unquestioned but large enough to do some real good when funds get tight.
Valerie keeps her more costly excesses to her private space and her pictures, and she is careful to relegate her thefts to a trickle that is unlikely to raise suspicions at pawn shops and on websites aimed at selling high-priced merchandise. She works a few shifts a week at Oddball and is a familiar face around the community.
|Annihilation Anew||7 June 2016||Something is knocking on the door between dimensions. X-Factor answers it - whether they want to or not.|