A free-spirit, Mariko chafes at being put into a box or having to conform to traditional expectations. But she has an ingrained sense of right and wrong, and she will do her best to live up to a set of ideals she can believe in. She’s friendly and open with almost everyone, until they give her a reason not to be. She tells herself that finding the fun in life (and making her own when it’s hard to find), is just as good as being happy… right? She hopes so, because while she knows there are plenty of people who’ve had worse lives than hers, she can’t remember ever being truly happy.
If there’s a flaw that gets her into trouble more than any other, it’s trying so hard to protect people from getting their feelings hurt that they end up hurting worse in the long run. She loves being able to let loose and have fun, and even appreciates painfully adolescent jokes, but when she finds a place and a people where she can belong, she’ll give her all to protect them.
Mariko’s body absorbs solar energy and can convert it into superheated plasma which can be directed as blasts of heat or fire. Her accuracy is still kind of iffy, and knowing how much “juice” to put into a blast is enough, and the control she has tends to get shakier when she’s been using her powers too much. She is also immune to heat and radiation, whether her own or from external sources. She can also surround all or part of herself (not burning off her clothes is a serious plus) with a corona of solar fire. By surrounding herself with fire and the heated plasma to create thrust, Mariko will eventually be able to fly up to speeds of around 100 mph. She can also shift her vision to detect heat signatures within the infrared spectrum.
She’s been taking violin and piano lessons since she was four, but she’s not likely to share any time soon. Japanese (native language). Roller skating.
Dancing. Karaoke. Roller skating. She snuck off once to see a roller derby bout once and fell in love with the sport, but she hasn’t been able to do more than watch videos since, due to her strict home life and overscheduling. She wants to, though.
As the only child of Shingen and Mitsuko Yashida, Mariko felt the pressures of the many expectations placed on her from a young age. Her parents insisted she excel academically as well as master both the piano and violin, while being the perfect, obedient child, all so when she reached adulthood, she could become a doctor, marry well, and give them many grandchildren. Her days were spent in study and practice – five, and then six days spent at school, then taking the train from there to juku for more instruction, both music lessons and prep for entrance exams, then home for a few hours of homework, and if she got a break from studying on Sundays, half the time her parents were dragging her for some cultural or historical ‘experience’ to better her mind or her manners – her parents and their desires looming over her as constricting as their rules.
When she was twelve, Mariko’s powers manifested, and things only got worse at home. Accidentally burning down half the house was only the beginning of her problems. Having a mutant for a daughter was a great shame to Mariko’s parents, and they forbade her from using or exploring her abilities in any way. But it wasn’t long before the gulf between who Mariko was and the daughter the Yashidas wanted grew even wider. At thirteen she fell in love with her best friend Manami, and in the flush of new love and teenage hormones, mistakenly thought her friend felt the same way. Mariko was wrong about that, and when Manami told her parents, who told Mariko’s, she was transferred to a different school, and never saw Manami again. They say you never forget your first love, and Mariko knows that’s even more true when you declare your love only to find out you’re not loved in return.
That time the loss of control over her fire was enough to make the news, and a few days later, Mariko was sent to her room because some British guy in a wheelchair had come to talk with her parents. She was halfway out the window of her room when she heard the guy’s voice in her head, telling her the same things he was telling her parents, all about his school for mutants, where she could be with people like her and learn to use her gifts. It wasn’t a long conversation, her parents giving him a flawlessly polite ‘no, thank you,’ while insisting Mariko was too deep in her studies to speak with him (not knowing that conversation was going on anyway) and subtly suggesting he not linger after making his offer. Mariko tried asking her parents about the man and why he’d come, but she wasn’t surprised when they lied about the purpose of his visit and said nothing about his school.
She never forgot it, though.
A mutant and a lesbian and suffocating under her parents’ expectations, Mariko was miserable at home and rebelled every chance she got, which only made things worse. She tried to tell herself it would be better once she passed her entrance exam and got into the secondary school they had picked out. But they almost immediately started in on what she had to do to get into the best university for her medical studies, planning out her entire life without ever asking her what she wanted. Her first term of high school, she skipped class every chance she got. She wasn’t surprised when the school sent a letter to her parents at the end of term saying if she did not show marked improvement in her grades and attendance, she would be removed from their rolls. Well, she was a little surprised, mostly she hadn’t been kicked out already. Her parents, on the other hand, were both shocked and livid, and started immediately making plans for how to ‘get her under control’.
The situation had become unbearable, and the only option Mariko could see was to run away. Far away. And maybe her parents had had the same idea. When she’d started at her new school, they’d given her limited access to the account they’d started when she was born, planning ahead to pay for private schools, juku, and university. When she decided to leave, she checked it, hoping to grab a few thousand yen to help her escape, she found she had access to the entire amount. But that could just be a bank glitch or something, right? Then her meticulous father left her passport lying on his desk instead of putting it back in the fire box with the family’s important documents…
What else was Mariko supposed to think? It seemed pretty obvious they wanted her gone, with as little fuss as possible. Where they could tidy away their messy (mutant, lesbian, rebellious) daughter, and ignore she’d ever disrupted their lives.
Which was how Mariko found herself with a one-way ticket to New York City, and from there a bus pass to a town that was nothing more than a name to her: Salem Center. She told herself she wasn’t interested in any more schools, but it couldn’t hurt to check things out, right? Just get a glimpse of the place that had been a spark of hope in the back of her mind for a couple of years.