Thursday, February 03, 2005

River Tam

A hyper-intelligent child of privilege, River found the Academy she was sent to to be more of a torture center than a school. No one knows yet what The Academy did to her before her brother Simon stole her back, because she's still too traumatized to tell them.

But she and Simon need to keep running—because the Academy wants their experiment back.

Even at a young age River had an exceptionally intelligent mind. While Simon was smart enough to become a gifted doctor, River was so bright she corrected her brother's homework when they were kids and even found errors in his textbooks. Their parents spoiled them and lavished them with luxuries, even signing River up for the best of all possible education programs: The Academy. Simon and his parents thought nothing of it; she was an exceptional child and belonged in a private education institution that could cater to her needs—but a few months after she had been away Simon began getting perplexing letters from her. There were misspellings and references to events or individuals who did not exist. Simon theorized that the letters were actually written in some kind of code. His parents were oblivious to any of this, and refused to entertain Simon's notions that his sister might perhaps be in some sort of trouble.

They were wrong.

While her family thought she was safe in a private education institution, in point of fact she had been taken to a scientific installation (possibly or probably funded by the Blue Sun corporation). Simon decoded his sister's letters and set out to try to get her back, seeking someone, anyone—even those living in Blackout Zones—who could help him help his sister escape. Money changed hands, and soon after Simon found himself captured by the local federal authorities—his father had to come down to bail him out. Upset that he'd had to tarnish his reputation, Gabriel Tam basically told Simon to either drop these absurd attempts to rescue his sister or not return home.


Simon made arrangements, then made his way to Persephone and the Eavesdown Docks slums. There, he met with the people delivering cargo containing his sister in stasis from which she was later awakened on the Firefly Transport Serenity.

Unfortunately, the story of River Tam's history doesn't quite tell us who she is, but where she comes from. Exactly what River is now remains uncertain. River's brain was operated on countless times while The Academy had her in its clutches and she was treated for all intents and purposes like a laboratory animal. They still consider her their property, stolen by Simon Tam, and they will stop at nothing to get River back so they can finish whatever it was they were doing to her. (Simon knows for certain that, among other things, they cut into her brain. They even removed her amygdala, which is a part of the brain used to control emotional responses and 'filter' incoming information. As he describes it: "She feels everything; she can't not.")

Precisely why they did these things to her is unknown. The most likely purpose was to turn her into a sort of assassin or spy. However, since the series was unceremoniously cut short, any answers to the uncertainties of motivation are assumptive. We do know to a degree of what she is capable.

River has taken a firearm and, without looking, killed three men with three shots.
She has snuck on board a bounty hunter's ship without the bounty hunter's knowledge and thwarted his attempts to take her back to Blue Sun.
She has shown an aptitude for extraordinary assimilation of knowledge and data recall, empathy, and even what appears to be some form of psychic "reading" ability.
She has been known to make statements, sometimes cryptic and sometimes direct, which sound as if she can read someone's mind or know of events in a stranger's past which she could not have known.
She has never shown an indication of being able to predict the future, but she can seem to extrapolate probable outcomes based on past experience and knowledge.
She can just look at an individual and glean more about their history and personality than some could learn from a person in years of friendship. Sometimes her statements are hard to decipher because she talks in a way that she understands but others have difficulty comprehending.
And she's a hell of a dancer.

River's state of mind is inconsistent and unpredictable. Simon Tam administers semi-regular treatments of medication that seem to improve her ability to cope with her own mental damage for short periods of time, but these treatments have side-effects which leave her physically ill. When in good spirits, River likes playing with Kaylee and occasional practical jokes with the crew. She's potentially very dangerous, however. She's caused damage to Jayne on one occasion, slashing him in the chest with a large knife (but... was she attacking him or the Blue Sun logo on his shirt?).

Traits: Agility d10, Smarts d12+4, Spirit d12, Strength d6, Vigor d6.

Skills: Fighting d10, Investigation d10, Knowledge (Arts) d12, Knowledge (Sciences) d12, Notice d12, Shooting d10, Stealth d8.

Pace: 6 Parry: 7/8 Toughness: 4 Charisma: -2

Hindrances: Outsider, Phobia (major, Blue Sun products), Poverty, Small, Wanted (major).

Edges: Acrobat, Alertness, Danger Sense, Empathic, Jack-of-All-Trades, Precognitive Flashes, Scholar, Sensitive, Telepathic.

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