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Personality[]

Tessa can often come across as aloof, even cold, and possesses an impersonal sort of detachment that doesn't entirely belie either assessment.  She is constantly evaluating and cataloguing the world around her, both events and people treated to some degree or another as quantifiable factors in her dynamic calculations.  She is not particularly difficult to engage, but unless particularly interested in a given topic (or, more rarely, an individual), her conversation tends toward the succinct.  Tessa lives primarily in a realm of facts and formulas, and her powerful brain never truly slows down, even when it might appear her attention is wholly fixed on some specific object.

Appearances notwithstanding, she's not altogether the walking computer she usually seems.  She possesses the normal range of human emotions, and is affected by them as readily as anyone else.  But Tessa's feelings are invariably just one minor component of her ongoing analysis of life and the experiences it affords.  She rarely lends them any great weight, and they are virtually never the primary motivating force behind any of her actions.Obvious displays of affection do not come readily from readily from her, and it can be extraordinarily difficult to tell just where in her esteem a person lies.  Those Tessa regards highly will receive a greater measure of loyalty--which can manifest in very peculiar ways--though she will still deceive them, even betray them, if a reasoned appraisal of relevant circumstances so dictates.  She may hate herself for it later, but she can be utterly ruthless once she decides upon a course of action.  Hesitation is alien to her nature.

Her outlook is strictly empiricist.  If it cannot be demonstratively proven, through concrete, objective, measurable means, then Tessa has little time for it.  There are certain ideals she considers worthy of pursuit, but she does not allow them to color her vision of reality.  What is, is.  Objectives provide a direction for one's life and a gauge by which success and failure can be measured, but daydreams and flights of fancy are pointless.  She values self-reliance, but deplores self-centeredness; she respects synergy, but disdains co-dependence.  It is extremely difficult to provoke her to anything resembling anger, but few things come closer than the unwillingness to try.  After all, one can often learn more from a defeat than a victory, but stasis accomplishes nothing at all.  And she's extremely interested in accomplishing things.

Powers[]

The term most commonly used to describe Tessa's powerset is "cyberpathy", and it it somewhat misleading.  She is in no way mechanical, and her mutant gifts do not have anything to do with computers or any other sort of machinery--at least not directly.  Rather, they affect the way she absorbs, retains, and utilizes information.  She has a perfect eidetic memory, enabling her to recall each and every particular thing she perceives with her senses with perfect clarity.  The total information storage capacity of her brain dwarfs that of even the most powerful modern electronic medium, and may, for all practical purposes, be unlimited.  (Tessa simply won't have time over the course of her lifespan to "fill it up", as it were.)  She can consciously process multiple, unrelated lines of thought simultaneously without any one detracting from her capacity to perform the others.  So, for example, she could be participating in hand-to-hand combat training, replaying a movie she had viewed the week before in her head, and plotting out a game of chess at the same time with no loss of her trademark efficiency.

Her intuitive grasp of systems of information transmission and massive data processing capabilities account for her ready mastery of computer systems, but, when coupled with her psychic talents, also allow her to "read" an individual's DNA as readily as a book or a line of code.  She picks up new skills and information with preternatural alacrity, which was the inspiration for her code name.Tessa boasts minor telepathic abilities, short-ranged and limited primarily to communication.  What little training she has had in its use has focused mostly on defending her mind from other telepaths.

Talents[]

Tessa is a supreme multitasker; as such, it is rare to find her doing fewer than three or four things at a time.  This can make her behavior seem even odder, depending on how widely her preoccupations of the moment differ.  Despite her rustic background, she has a natural gift for computers, and indeed technology of every description; there are few things she can't do with a reasonably powerful PC and a stable internet connection.  Thus far, she's limited the majority of her online escapades to information-gathering, but she could potentially do a great deal of damage, should she ever find herself so inclined.  She speaks a multitude of languages, all of them picked up during her journey from eastern Afghanistan to the U.S., including Dari, Pashto, Arabic, Hindi, Turkish, Russian, Serbian, German, and Spanish.  Her proficiency with a variety of small arms of both Western and Soviet manufacture is more than a little unnerving, and she knows enough anatomy to be very dangerous with all sorts of sharp and blunt objects.

Interests[]

Her interest in practical subjects like science, language, mathematics, medicine, law, engineering, and so on is fairly obvious; Tessa's always on the lookout for new useful skills to learn.  Much less apparent is her fascination with the finer things in life: art, literature, music, gourmet cuisine, even high fashion, all draw her rapt attention.  She doesn't consider such things indispensable by any means, and like Prospero would be quite capable of burning her proverbial books if necessity demanded it.  Such trappings are, however, very pleasant and pleasurable appurtenances, distinguishing a truly good life from a merely mechanically productive one.  Tessa intends to learn to play the piano at the earliest opportunity and "rock with Bach".  Inasmuch as she can ever be said to be observably rocking.

History[]

As best she can recall, Tessa was born in a settlement of no great note in the eastern Balkans. When she was little more than a toddler, she and her family traveled to Afghanistan to visit the relatives her parents had left behind when they’d fled the Soviet invasion years before. They were staying with close cousins on the outskirts of Kabul when the bandits came, slaughtering the adults, setting the house alight, and stealing into the wilderness again with the children and all the valuables they and their terrified charges could carry.

Tessa doesn’t have much more than the haziest recollection of these events, however.  Her earliest memories are of serving as an errand girl in the house of a minor tribal chief near the foothills of the Hindu Kush. It was a brutal existence; the chief and his family were not kind, and their notions of discipline ranged from the merely harsh to the enthusiastically sadistic.  Still, Tessa learned to endure their demands and their ready abuse with a stoicism rare for her age, and kept unobtrusively to the background as best she was able.  She survived.

Her powers manifested at the onset of puberty, much to Tessa’s surprise.  The differences were subtle, at first, but as the months passed she came to the certain realization that her mind was functioning at a level several orders of magnitude greater than it ever had before.  She could recall every bit of sensory data she encountered with perfect accuracy, perform detailed analysis of that data with breathtaking speed, and consciously process multiple lines of thought simultaneously without any loss of focus or precision. 

Initially, Tessa attempted to use her new abilities to improve her performance of her day-to-day tasks, but she quickly came to the realization that this only led to unwanted attention and the assignment of additional chores.  After a particularly savage beating that came as a reward for a job well done, she resolved to escape.In the months that followed, she began secreting away food, clothing, and other necessities, always careful to leave just enough evidence behind to cast suspicion on other villagers or members of the chief's household.  By the time Tessa judged she was prepared for an extended trek through the wilderness, the settlement had become a tinderbox of acrimony and recrimination.  It required only the smallest spark--such as Tessa stealing one of the chief's prized AK-47 and implicating his eldest son--to quite literally set it alight.  She slipped away as the various factions she'd fostered began ecstatically butchering each other.

Tessa's life remained challenging after that, but she found that self-reliance suited her.  She nurtured wary truces with some of the less-reprehensible outlaw groups and nomads of the Hindu Kush, and she was able to fulfill most of basic needs by trading or scavenging--or occasionally looting in the aftermath of the many routine skirmishes between rival groups in the area. When that wasn't sufficient, she was perfectly capable of acquiring useful or necessary items by more forceful means.  Tessa isn't proud of many of the things she did during that time, and she won't claim that every act of violence she performed was unavoidable.  But she continued to survive.

Everything changed when she met Charles Xavier.From every perspective of analysis Tessa can conceive, the sequence of events seems singularly improbable.  Why should he have been in that part of the world at all?  Why did he choose to travel with that particular civilian convoy?  Why, out of more than a dozen contractors and relief workers, should he have been the only one to survive the attack?  She has no entirely satisfactory answers for these questions, and is dogged by the nagging suspicion that some deliberate agency might have played a part.  It's too superstitious a notion for her to entertain seriously, but she can't quite seem to shake it.

However improbable it may have been, she discovered him more than half-dead near the fiery remains of the truck that had been bringing up the rear.  Tessa dragged the injured American to a nearby cave that had lately been serving as her home and began the laborious task of nursing him back to health.  After a few weeks, during which she gained a startlingly advanced grasp of the English language, Xavier's mind touched hers for the first time.  The experience awakened her own modest psy-abilities, further enhancing her capacity to acquire and perfect new skills.  She also tracked down and annihilated the militant band that had been responsible for the massacre that had nearly taken his life.  This left Xavier in a quandary: his excitement at discovering another mutant under such extraordinary circumstances and gratitude for her assistance was now dampened by her obvious capacity for unflinching cruelty.  Before he could resolve his contradictory reactions, Tessa disappeared, leaving behind only a little food, a change of clothes, and directions to the nearest friendly village.

But the world had changed.  Grown larger.  Xavier, through conversation and the limited insight he had been able to give her into the use of her nascent telepathy, had hinted at the possibility of a life much grander, much more fulfilling, and much more stimulating than sleeping in caves and fighting bandits for scraps.  It took just over three years for Tessa to work her way across Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, the potpourri of nations that comprised Europe, and finally the Atlantic Ocean, but she finally reached New York Bay.  When she stepped down onto the gloomy, winter-shrouded waterfront, Xavier was waiting.

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