From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The granddaughter of a Silver Age hero, Chapparal took up his name when she came to Paragon and carried on in the family tradition. Throughout her career she's faced a few identity issues, but she's never lost her sense of humor, her strong belief in what a hero should be, or her sheer love of life.
Member of the Do-Gooders
Officer of the Paragon Police Department (secret identity)
When she first came to Paragon, Chaparral delighted in being the kind of sharp-witted hero she'd heard so much about. Always ready with a joke or sarcastic comment, she especially enjoyed teasing her fellow Do-Gooders (a disproportionately large number of whom are overt or developing lesbians) with innuendo and embarrasing comments. When not actively heroing, she partied at local nightclubs, often sneaking in due to being underage, but never removed her small eye-mask.
Recent events have caused her to mature somewhat, and while she still continues making the jokes and racy comments she considers her trademarks, she has also developed a strong but practical opinion toward those that would call themselves heroes. She can't abide those that would tarnish the name; she doesn't mind a little personal gain, but those who steal, those who use their powers recklessly, and especially those who kill as a matter of routine, deserve nothing but contempt.
It has always been important to Chaparral that she keep her secret identity, well, secret. At first this was out of respect for the family tradition, and later it became a measure to protect the other members of the police force from any retribution villains might aim at her. She is never seen in hero guise without some kind of mask; when acting as a police officer or University student, she psychically generates a passive 'Clark Kent Effect', greatly reducing the odds that those around her will make the connection.
Chaparral is able to transfer and manipulate metabolic traits - muscle tone, reflex speed, healing rate - from one being to another. This tends to work less well (if at all) against robots and other machines, though she does maintain an array of telekinetic tricks to compensate for this limitation.
Chaparral is a capable, if not exceptionally strong, telepath. Most of her training in this area has gone toward developing mental shields against the distinct methods used by Paragon's resident villains (the Rikti and Carnival of Shadows in particular), as well as more general defenses. This doesn't protect her against 'brute force' psionic attacks, but does protect against invasive techniques.
She is able to read minds herself, but it takes effort and she prefers not to do so unless there's no other option. She can passively sense strong emotions in those around her, and freely communicate with other telepaths. Speaking telepathically with non-psionics is, again, more effort than she feels it is worth.
Since the latest Rikti invasion, Chaparral has devoted herself to psychic training, and is now able to levy mental blasts at her targets. She also has limited telekinetic abilities, which she primarily uses to fly, but are also used in her selection of attacks.
By entering a trance-like state, Chaparral can project a psychic manifestation of her innermost self, an immaterial being she calls the Dreamcatcher. Not fully under control and erratic at best, the Dreamcatcher is nevertheless very powerful, moreso than Chaparral herself it seems, and possesses the unusual ability to create a portal into the sleeping or unconscious minds of others. This 'mindscape' seems to be both real and imaginary, and actions taken there can have an effect on the sleeper, whether for good or for ill. This ability is most often used to free the victims of mental attack from their prisons; the Dreamcatcher has been able to break various types of mind control, both scientific and magical in nature, by removing the corrupting elements from the victim's mindscape. The portal created seems to be stable until the Dreamcatcher decides to close it, and on some occasions others have been invited - with difficulty, as the Dreamcatcher cannot seem to communicate verbally - into the mindscape to assist.
Chaparral herself has a low opinion of the Dreamcatcher, calling it a 'flying pink moron', despite the fact that it's an extension of her own psyche. It's hard to say how the Dreamcatcher feels about its creator, especially since they are never active at the same time, but it seems to be fond of her, though doesn't mind gently mocking her from afar.
The Original Chaparral
The heroine currently fighting crime in Paragon under the name of Chaparral is actually the second person in her family who has taken up that identity. The first was her grandfather, Ezekiel Fairman, a Native American who discovered in his teens that he could move at superhuman speeds. Though this was later revealed to be a mutation, the mutant gene was not yet fully understood, and this gift was assumed to have been granted by the spirits of the tribe. Determined to use his powers for the greater good, Ezekiel travelled to that perennial hot spot, Paragon City, in 1951 and became the wise-cracking, faster-than-lightning hero known as Chaparral.
It must be said that he was never considered to be a major hero, particularly in those less-enlightened years when an ethnic minority had to work twice as hard to earn recognition. Nevertheless, he did manage his own victories, most notably against the Fire Aunts (Arsonyst and Old Blaze) in 1954 and Dr. Botany's carnivorous Tumblebreeds in 1956. He even fought alongside Statesman and the Freedom Phalanx on occasion, though of course this was hardly a unique honor in those days. He also served on the Paragon police force as his 'secret identity', and if his fellow officers noticed that ol' Zeke vanished from his beat from time to time, they never mentioned it.
In time, as the pressures of heroing began to wear on him and as the crime rate continued to decline, he decided to hang up his cape and in 1960 returned to his home town in Arizona where he married his childhood sweetheart and raised a family. He still believed his powers were a gift from the spirits, but had also heard during his time in Paragon that such abilities sometimes ran from parent to child, and so watched his children for signs of metahuman abilities. None of them seemed to have inherited the mutant gene, though, and eventually rasied families of their own. Ezekiel's grandchildren, too, grew up with normal human abilities...
...except for one.
The New Chaparral
Young Kuwanyauma (Anya) Fairman had always been a bundle of energy. Cheerful and gregarious, she could always been seen running and playing with the other children. She doted on her grandfather, and the only thing that would slow her down was the chance to spend time with him, listening to his grandiose tales of heroism in Paragon. Her parents - particularly her mother, Ezekiel's second daughter - tried to discourage him from putting ideas in the young girl's head, but even with the onset of old age he was able to outpace his daughter, and he would often whisk Anya across town just to give them more time together.
Anya's mutant heredity did not manifest until shortly after her 14th birthday, when she contracted a serious illness that left her bedridden for several weeks. During this time something changed within her, and she discovered to her surprise that she was able to transfer the metabolic healing rate of living things - including the plants left at her bedside - to herself, thus allowing her to recover quickly from the disease. Careful experiments revealed this wasn't her only new power; she could redirect muscle force and tone, increase her jumping strength dozens of times over, and - most importantly - greatly increase her speed to superhuman levels. This, she decided, was nothing less than a sign, that she should follow in her grandfather's footsteps and become a hero.
She broached the subject with him first, of course, and after carefully determining that this was what she really wanted, despite all the warnings he could give her about the realities of heroism, he finally gave her his blessing. It did not, however, go over so well with her parents, and a series of long, heated arguements followed. Finally, when she was 16, Anya lost her temper and ran away from home, speeding to Paragon to meet her destiny.
Early (and painful) experiments had shown to Anya that she wasn't physically suited to match her grandfather's 'punch-people-dozens-of-time-per-second' technique, but thanks to a few classes to learn about her cultural heritage, she had learned she had a talent for archery, aided by a naturally keen eye. So it wasn't quite in the manner she might have liked, but the new Chaparral - clad in a simple mask and what clothes she managed to stuff in her travel bag before leaving - began to make a name for herself in Paragon with well-placed arrows and surprising speed.
Eventually she fell in with the Do-Gooders, a hero group founded by J-Pop Idol-turned-Kheldian Morning Misa. The Do-Gooders were glad of her support (and variously shocked, embarrassed, and amused at her innuendo-filled banter), but though she helped them foil many villains and despite having received the original Chaparral costume from her grandfather (which she had tailored appropriately at Icon), she somehow never truly felt like she belonged, that she was really recognized for herself.
This changed a few months before her 18th birthday, after returning to Paragon from a visit with her family.
Birth of the Dreamcatcher
During the course of her visit, Anya's grandfather had insisted she undertake a vision quest to thank Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit). Isolated in a clearing for several days, she missed being in Paragon with tens of thousands of people around her, and deeply felt the loss of all human contact... much as she had felt the loss of all physical activity when she was bedridden as a child.
Though she'd never been aware of it, Anya had always been mildly telepathic; not enough to register on any kind of psi-scan, but just enough to unconsciously feel the presence of people around her. After living in the big city for nearly two years, the sudden lack of psychic stimulus came as a shock to her system, and her mutant genes struggled to adapt, heightening her sensitivity and unlocking new doorways in her mind. When she returned to Paragon, the flood of background thoughtwaves threatened to overwhelm her subconscious, and it sought an outlet for the excess psychic energy.
It found this outlet in what Chap would come to call the Dreamcatcher: a projection of pure psychic energy in the form of Anya herself - pink, glowing, and rather nude. At first, the Dreamcatcher would only emerge when Chaparral slept, and flitted from mind to mind in reckless abandon. During its explorations it discovered people who had been trapped in psychic prisons of various sorts, such as the siren song of the Unity Virus or simple chemical brainwashing from excess Crey Cola intake. True to the personality it was born from, the Dreamcatcher sought to rescue these people, often by removing the source of their prison from their minds. It was not a very stable being, however, and had difficulty telling the difference between the psychic landscape and the real world; this resulted in the mysterious appearance of several items in the Do-Gooders' base, including twenty thousand gallons of Crey Cola.
Anya was not immediately aware of the Dreamcatcher or what it was doing, except for unfamiliar mental images that she decided to keep to herself. Unfortunately the Dreamcatcher only came out when she was asleep, and in doing so deprived Anya's mind of the benefits of a dream state. This left her increasingly disoriented and loopy until, with the aid of Sadie Shear and the blunt side of her axe, Chaparral was knocked out and the existence of the Dreamcatcher was revealed.
Once she found out about the Dreamcatcher, Chaparral managed to rein it in, and things seemed to return to normal for a time. However, one of the people the projection had saved was a city councilman involved in the creation of the new Psi-Division of the PPD. He managed to track down his rescuer and arranged a meeting, asking her to join the Psi-Division. There would be requirements of course - she would have to complete her education and undergo the proper police training - but her experience as a hero allowed them to bend a few rules.
Chaparral was reluctant at first, but the councilman had done his research, and had brought with him Captain Bradshaw of the PPD, who had walked a beat alongside one Ezekiel Fairman back in the 50s. Anya hadn't known her grandfather had been a policeman, and the discovery helped her realize that perhaps there was more to being a hero than capes and costumes. She didn't take much more convincing after that.
Since then her life has been rather busy. In addition to her usual hero duties, Anya has been taking classes at the University, received a large amount of academy and on-the-job police training, attended psi-development courses, and tried to find a safe way to dispose of twenty thousand gallons of Crey Cola. One instance of note is the undercover mission she took to infiltrate the Lost, using her mental shields to protect her identity, in order to retrieve a young woman who had fallen into their hands. The mission was nearly botched when her overconfidence gave her away shortly before an extraction team rescued both her and the girl, and she spent some time recovering in a hospital, reflecting on matters.
The Rikti invasion has forced her to rely more heavily on her psychic abilities; it is felt by her superiors that her rescue mission, which brought her into contact with a Rikti mentalist, may cause them to target her specifically. As such, she has packed her bow away and devoted herself fully to her psionic training. The PPD has been satisfied with her progress, and it is likely she will be transferred to the Psi-Division soon. In the meantime, she's quite happy to serve alongside Paragon's Finest... and if they notice that Officer Fairman vanishes from her beat from time to time, they never mention it.
These days she sports a new costume of her own design, having restored her grandfathers' costume to its original state and returned it to him. The most striking detail of her costume are the large and pink wings that sprout from her back. These are actually psychokinetic projections, created in a similar fashion as the Dreamcatcher. They aren't strictly speaking necessary or even functional - Chaparral can now fly using a sustained telekinetic field - but she does like the way they look.
- Chaparral was originally a (male) villain I created for my Champions RPG campaign, a member of the local chapter of CLOWN (Criminal Legion Of Wacky Non-Conformists - this was an actual official group, with a booklet and everything).
- The current version of Chaparral is actually the third instance of the character I've gone through. The first version was Kin/Energy, which lasted until level 14 or so. At that point, Archery became available to Defenders, and I switched her to Kin/Arch for conceptual reasons. While effective at first, the total lack of synergy between the powersets became increasingly pronounced, and at 42 I rerolled again to her current Kin/Psi build.
- The word 'chaparral' has multiple meanings; in this case it is intended to imply the prairie bird often known as the road runner. ("Meep meep!")