So, it was requested in the last blog to spill the beans on the inspiration for Jessica, the young commander of the Starship Rafale. Not necessarily a spotlight on the character herself, but rather where she (as a character concept, rather than the character herself) came from.
To tell this story, we need to go back a few years. Late 2005/early 2006, while I was still in college. While I was at school, I was exposed to the wonderful world of online gaming, first with Final Fantasy XI Online and then shortly there after with City Of Heroes. City Of Heroes (CoH) was a remarkable setting with unprecedented character customization that only got better as the game aged (I jumped on the bandwagon a year after it was released, and played it up until a year before it was suddenly and unexpectedly shut down, so for around 6 years total). My original character was called “The Air Man;” he was a gadget-type hero (similar to Batman is) who used an assault rifle. His premise was an Air Force officer gone superhero; Major Jason St. Peter by day, and a gun-toting, BDU-wearing vigilante by night with an insane arsenal behind him. I played as Air Man for years…he was what was called my “main,” or “primary character.” I developed his backstory and began role playing as him in small groups.
Shortly after I got the ball rolling on Air Man, an update to the game was released – you could now create characters with “sonic blast” abilities. I was playing around with the character creator on a whim and created a mutant teenager who could control the weather (think Storm from X-Men). She wound up being blue-skinned with blue hair -the stereotypical Marvel Mutant. But, instead of using offensive storm abilities (it’s a bit dangerous to hurl lightning at people, kinda like shooting them with an assault rifle), she would instead channel the static electricity through special gloves she wore that housed powerful speakers in them. Now, she could offensively use her lightning powers, but instead they would be non-lethal sonic blasts. I chose a pretty fitting name for her that I was surprised hadn’t already been taken: Storm Scream.
I had no idea that I had just created one of my most beloved characters, one that I would recreate in every online game I’ve played since.
I began to get tired of playing as Air Man; he was fun, sure, but when my goal of playing a game is to escape my life, and I go from preparing to enter the Air Force to playing an Air Force hero twice my age…it wasn’t very easy. I found another role play group whose setting was a high school for super-powered kids – sort of like Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children – and decided to give them a try. I pulled Storm Scream down from the shelf, dusted her off, and fleshed out her back story.
Storm Scream was adopted as a baby, after being found in the rubble of her father’s – a mutant villain called Thunderhead – lair. The villain’s nemesis, a hero that went by the name The Air Man, rescued her and soon after adopted the young girl, naming her Jessica. When she was old enough to understand, he began mentoring her as a hero, creating her sonic gloves to help harness her unpredictable and dangerous weather powers. Her personality was based on a conglomeration of myself and my two best friends, as were a few of her dark secrets – Jessica struggled with image issues (feeling that her blue skin made her even more of an outcast than she already was as a mutant) that manifested as self-injury. I didn’t really know it at the time, but it was my own way of coping with my two friends, who suffered from similar issues of image and self-injury.
Jessica became my main at that point, and for the next 5 years she was…well…alive. Teenage drama, High school drama, love, loss, rivalry…scenario after scenario happened. I made many friends and burned probably just as many bridges, but it was an incredible ride. Her last great story, before I left the game for good, was to become embroiled in a love triangle of questionable circumstances with her two best friends: an empath named Justine Dubois; and a mutant capable of “hypnotizing” a person with a chemical that she secreted from her skin who went by the name “Dearest,” but known otherwise as Bridget Kinsley. Justine and Jessica were happily in love with Bridget and each other, and Bridget was happily in love with Justine and Jessica. It drew more than one quirked eyebrow and head-shake, but dammit, we had fun. And no, not THAT kind of fun…
Star Trek Online went online in February 2010, and Justine’s player, BrandNewHero, and I came over, bringing our two favorite characters with us. Justine was recreated as half-Betazoid, and Jessica was re-created as a one-of-a-kind alien found in the Andromeda Galaxy by a young medical officer (Jason St. Peter). Bridget’s player came with us as well, but was less-inclined to bring Bridget – and the “trio” – to the new setting. BNH and I, not wanting the “trio” scenario again either but still wanting some reason for Jessica and Justine to come together, decided to kill Bridget in the opening story. It was not an easy decision, and it was a heart-wrenching scene to role play out. The results can be seen in “Blood Red Dawn” and “Fix You.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Jessica’s stories are being written down at Ad Astra, and she continues to live an incredible life – just in a very different setting.