From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|Picture coming soon.|
|False Empathy / Clayton Sparks|
|Player: @False Empathy|
|Real Name:||Clayton Sparks|
|Species:||Unknown / Human|
|Age:||Unknown / 33|
|Occupation:||Investigator, Ministry of Intelligence|
|Place of Birth:||Somewhere in Praetorian Earth|
|Base of Operations:||Nova Praetoria|
|Known Relatives:||Jessica and Brian Sparks (parents, deceased)|
|Telekinesis and empathy|
|No additional information available.|
There were technically two False Empathy characters, now split into their own characters in game: False Empathy and Clayton Sparks. This page covers both of their histories. Bold lines of text indicate which character is being covered in each section. There is also a section below that quickly explains the difference if you do not wish to read the full history.
Pre City of Heroes (before 2009)
The following history applies exclusively to the character Clayton Sparks until otherwise noted.
Clayton was born in 1986 in Pretoria. There, he was raised by Jessica and Brian Sparks, both Loyalist agents. His parents indoctrinated in him a love for the Praetorian utopia in which he lived, as well as a respect for its emperor, Marcus Cole.
At the age of 18, he joined the Loyalist government in his parents' footsteps. Less than two years later, his parents disappeared. Try as he might, Clayton could not find them. Worse, the Praetorian authorities eventually gave up the search and declared them dead. It is an unusual thing for people to go missing, fate unknown, in Praetoria. Clayton believed they were on an assignment outside the sonic barriers of Praetoria and it was classified. Still, it was a devastating year for him.
He chose to focus on his work as a Loyalist agent in his parents' honor. He became quite good, and the more that he dedicated himself to his training, the more notice he received. Eventually, he was selected for a special project involving Powers Division. What was actually an experiment to attempt to transfer psychic abilities from an empath to a normal human was concealed as a basic mental test. Clayton was duped.
The experiment went horribly right. The empath from Powers Division was knocked unconscious, a researcher perished, and the resulting volatile psychic storm sent Clayton into a coma. No one would know exactly what went wrong, but the loss in life moved Powers Division to quickly cover it up.
The story now follows the character of False Empathy.
Clayton Sparks would remain in a coma, in the care of Powers Division. The empath involved in the experiment was actually a powerful, shape-shifting creature of unknown origin known as False Empathy. The disastrous experiment had wiped its memory and deeply implanted the memories of Clayton Sparks on it. It awoke, now in the form of Clayton, with a long lasting amnesia.
Powers Division hid the real Clayton Sparks (who remained in a coma), and allowed False Empathy to continue living in his lie. Still possessing his powerful abilities of empathy and telekinesis, Powers Division quickly put him to work as a Loyalist agent.
He would spend the next couple of years serving as a Praetorian agent, with no memory of his past, convinced of his identity as Clayton Sparks. His life was successful, but hollow. All of that would change when he would see what he assumed was his Primal Earth version, True Empathy, in action.
True Empathy came to Praetoria to rescue his girlfriend and her Resistance parents from Loyalist captivity. This heroic act embarrassed the Magisterium but inspired Clayton. Hearing rumors that the authorities were going to cover themselves by placing blame on Praetorian Clayton and "apprehending him," he decided to go to Primal Earth and find his supposed Primal Earth counterpart.
Primal Earth (2010 - 2011)
Clayton's arrival in Primal Earth was not without difficulties. He eventually met the Primal Earth Clayton's associates, but most distrusted him. It was also difficult for him to adapt to the much different world of Primal Earth.
Not long after, he would meet a mercenary named Sandra who was an acquaintance of Primal Earth Clayton. She treated him with more kindness and trust than others had. Her friendship bolstered his confidence that he had made the right move. Through Sandra, he was able to find work as a mercenary in the Rogue Isles.
Eventually, his own group of friends grew and they helped him adapt to this new life. As time would go on, he would fall in love with Sandra and his life would enter a period of peace. This did not last long.
Praetorian agents had followed him to Primal Earth and had been observing him closely. Determining his weakness, they threatened Sandra and his new friends and ordered him to come back to Praetoria for one last mission. While the circumstances were less than ideal, Clayton was hopeful that he could complete this mission in such a way that Praetoria would let him come back to Primal Earth.
Those responsible for dragging Clayton back to Praetoria were none other than the ones in Powers Division that had started the project that had given him his abilities in the first place. They wanted to show the Magisterium that their project had not been a failure, and decided to run Clayton through a variety of grueling tests disguised as an important mission for the Loyalists.
Clayton was unaware of what was ahead of him, assuming that his time in Praetoria would be very brief. Instead he spent over half a year in Praetoria, trapped in a horrible series of missions. Eventually, he discovered the true nature of the test, and sabotaged it. Joining the Resistance, he greatly damaged the Loyalist efforts.
During this rebellion, he would find the real Clayton Sparks, still in a coma, and in a secret Powers Division lab. A confused False Empathy assumed this was a clone, and destroyed the lab. Unfortunately, his rebellion had incurred greater wrath than he anticipated, and he was mortally wounded in a large battle between the Resistance and the Loyalist.
Had he been a normal human, his wounds would have killed him. Instead, he hid himself and collapsed into a coma and slowly healed. Eventually, he woke up, confused and with no idea how he survived.
Presumed dead, he used this as an opportunity to escape back to Primal Earth and leave the shadow of Praetoria. When he returned to Primal Earth he found that much had changed. Sandra was nowhere to be found and much of his associates had left to other endeavors. Alone, and without much direction, Clayton lost himself to a life of alcoholism and debauchery.
Eon's Initiative and Corruption (2011 - 2012)
For a time, False lived listlessly without a sense of belonging. However, the kind words of a friend that had not left, Melissa Trenton, helped motivate False to leave his rut and do something with his life. That is when he met a time elemental named Eon.
While it would be inaccurate to say they became fast friends, Clayton found Eon fascinating and they both shared a desire to do something with their youth and energy. So, naturally, they formed a mercenary group together. The Eon Initiative, as it would be called, operated out of the Rogue Isles and served two purposes: 1) make money by fulfilling mercenary contracts of all shapes and sizes, and 2) carry out Eon's personal quest for justice against an "elemental council."
Clayton did not understand much of the second purpose, nor did he fully understand his partner. Still, he was glad to be doing something. Clayton proved to be the foil to Eon's story, and vice versa. His emotional, quick-to-action demeanor often conflicted with Eon's cold, calculated personality. Still, they became like brothers and worked exceptionally well together.
As the group grew in size, so did Eon's drive to eliminate this strange Elemental Council. Gradually, the group did just that. One after another, they took on these powerful elementals and defeated them. They worked well together. They were happy. Clayton was happy.
One of the members of the Eon Initiative, Kiyalox, grew quite fond of Clayton. The two entered a relationship that would last only a brief time. Once again, things were going to get dramatic.
The time had come for Eon to take on the most powerful of the Elemental Council - the master of corruption. Or, this is how Clayton would remember it... he never did quite understand. While Eon intended to do this alone, the group refused to abandon him. The battle was intense, but they prevailed against the corruptor.
Due to his empathy, Clayton absorbed the powerful corruptive energy from the defeated elemental. This power was subconsciously transferred to two other members of the group, Burana and Radius. The three of them, still unsure as to what exactly had happened, kept this a secret from Eon and the rest of the Initiative.
Over time, this corruptive energy eroded his conscious mind and brought parts of his true identity to the surface. He was convinced that they needed to tell Eon and get help, but Radius was convinced they could control and contain this power and that Eon would not understand. He feared Eon's reaction, and felt he could help the trio. He was wrong.
All three felt their sanity wane as the power grew. Radius eventually attempted an experiment to "enhance" the power and instead was driven mad. Clayton was terrified, feeling that the rest of the group would not understand. He began to draw away from the group and Key specifically, and searched for the maddened Radius to try to help him.
The group knew something was wrong, but their reaction was not fast enough. Clayton was transformed back into his original form of False Empathy, now crazed and unstable. He then helped Burana fall to the corruption. The three, insane and powerful, declared Eon as their enemy.
False taunted his former friends mercilessly as he prepared himself to kill Eon. While Radius would disappear and Burana would be rescued by her father, False stayed the course. The Initiative did not want to fight him, but the confrontation seemed inevitable.
Eventually, Eon drew False out without telling the group. The two met, atop a tower in Grandville, and dueled in dramatic fashion. The rest of the Initiative arrived just in time to see False kill Eon and throw him off the tower. There was no turning back.
Enraged, Key attacked and mortally wounded False, who was weakened from his battle with Eon. As he seemingly died on top of the tower, he slipped back into the form of Clayton Sparks and spent his last few moments with his friends, sane and full of regret.
He was not abandoned, however. Melissa Trenton, the friend who had earlier guided him, had taken the last good part of Clayton's essence as he had grown insane and had safeguarded it. As he died, she used this to bring him back to life. It was a selfless expression of her love for him. He withdrew from his former associates and recovered with Melissa. The two would eventually be married.
The story of the real Clayton Sparks resumes here.
Around this same time, the real Clayton Sparks appeared in Primal Earth. He had survived the destruction of the lab he had been stored in, though had remained unconscious. He was awoken by the near death of False Empathy, mentally linked with him. He found he had been implanted with all the memories False had while he was in Praetoria and impersonating him. Additionally, he now possessed empathy and telekinesis.
Confused, he retreated to Primal Earth just in time to witness the aftermath of False Empathy's corruption. He wanted nothing to do with this. He avoided False Empathy's companions and decided to start a new life.
He found a new group of friends and eventually fell in love with a time traveler, Grim Herald, real name Theresa. While he found peace in this new life, he remained completely unaware of the true identity of False Empathy.
Indeed, both men assumed they were just copies of each other. Neither one would learn the truth of what had happened for many years after. In the meantime, they saw little of each other.
This was when the curtains would close on City of Heroes and its original run.
Post City of Heroes (2012 - 2019)
The following sections cover both characters at the same time.
A strange, inexplicable event brought both Clayton Sparks and False Empathy to their own versions of Pocket D, completely alone. All around them, people were dying. It seemed that Primal Earth and everything attached to it was collapsing.
Both escaped to Praetoria as Primal Earth died, unaware that the same event was affecting both of them. Both would spend the next eight years trapped in Praetoria, with no portal to Primal Earth, as it was presumably destroyed.
Making the best of his circumstances, False Empathy offered to rejoin the Magisterium. Surprisingly, they were eager to use his abilities and forgive his past errors. He joined the Ministry of Intelligence, eventually becoming an investigator.
Clayton Sparks, meanwhile, lived in the underground of Praetoria and eventually joined the Resistance.
During these years, both would mourn the loss of their friends. Try as they may, neither could find an explanation for what had happened.
Then, in 2019, the portal reopened. Primal Earth, miraculously, was back! What would await these characters if they once again entered the City of Heroes?
City of Heroes: Homecoming (2019+)
While still working and living in his own version of Praetoria, False Empathy periodically visits Primal Earth and Pocket D. He is searching for his former associates and trying to find an explanation for what happened.
Clayton Sparks, meanwhile, returned to Primal Earth fully, searching for Theresa.
As many of his questions continue unanswered, False Empathy finds his loyalties torn between his service in Praetoria and his ties to Primal Earth.
It never ends, does it?
Maybe it does! In the recent past, False has found some of his former associates and learned how their lives have faired. Important among these meetings, he found Melissa Trenton. Learning of the suffering she's endured over the past few years, his sense of responsibility has moved him to help her.
Additionally, to his surprise, he met himself. While he assumed he was both Claytons in a single person, he recently learned he was confused. He would once again meet the real Clayton Sparks. This event, while not helpful in answering the lingering questions, did at least give False one less thing to worry about.
Differences Between False Empathy and Clayton Sparks
Please note, at one point both characters were represented by a single character in game, False Empathy. They have now been split into their own characters.
- False Empathy is actually a shape-shifting creature of great psionic power and unknown origin. An experiment in Praetoria involving a man named Clayton Sparks not only erased False's memory of what he really is, but implanted the memories of Clayton Sparks onto him. From that point onward, he lived as Clayton Sparks. He is connected with the former members of the Eon Initiative and Melissa Trenton, his wife.
- Clayton Sparks is a human, who was given his powers in an experiment in Praetoria. His memories shared with False Empathy, he is completely unaware of why he seemingly has a clone. He is connected with the character Grim Herald and their mutual friends.
Section still under construction
Clayton is very nice to those who are nice to him. Conversely, he tends to be sarcastic and rude to those that don't show him or others respect. He shows genuine interest in other people, but he tends to be apathetic and cold to those who do not have similar values or morals. Due to the fact he has good control over his own emotions, he rarely speaks out of anger, but keeps a cool demeanor. The exception to this is in combat, when he can let emotions control him. In a casual setting he is a jokester and facetious to the extreme, whereas in a business/work setting, he is collected and serious.
Powers and Abilities
Clayton is an empath, which allows him to sense, manipulate and change the emotions of others around him. With effort, he can push this beyond emotions and share things such as memories and even physical injury. In fact, he has pushed his abilities to share almost anything with individuals, although emotions are much easier for him and also much more natural. He also has telekinesis, which allows him to move and manipulate objects with his mind - this is primarily how he fights. This also enables him to fly.
Influential People in Clayton's Life
- Black Roulette: Sandra was the first person in Primal Earth he could consider a friend. She treated him with kindness and respect, and helped him to adapt to this strange new world he had entered. While False would eventually fall in love with her, their relationship would be quite turbulent. After returning from Praetoria the first time, he was eventually able to reconnect with her for a time. However, after returning from Praetoria this second time, after nearly eight years, he has yet been unable to find her.
- Melissa Trenton: Melissa is without a doubt False's best friend. Not only did she help restore his memory when he lost it and provide him guidance during a vulnerable part of his life, she also saved his life in more ways than one. A version of False would end up marrying her after the corruption was dealt with. He has recently found Melissa and has begun to help her with a personal quest.
- Belabor: A good friend from the Eon Initiative, False appreciated how Belabor never gave up on him and was quick to show him mercy. After the corruption events ended his time in the Initiative, False lost track of Belabor. He was, however, happy that Belabor took command of the group. Belabor (now Belattor) recently found False. Helping False and Melissa in a time of crisis, their reunion has brought much joy into his life. As Melissa put it so poetically about the two of them: "Let the bromance commence!"
- Burana: Burana is like a sister to False. He carries a tremendous amount of guilt for his responsibility in corrupting her and causing her harm when they were in the Eon Initiative. After he left the Initiative, False saw less of Burana, eventually losing track of her. After he recently returned from Praetoria, he has reconnected with her. To see her happy, with a family, has brought an unfathomable amount of joy to the guilt-ridden empath.
- Radius: One of the most influential people in False's descent into corruption. False, however, does not blame Radius for what happened. He has never been able to find Radius since the corruption was dealt with in the Initiative, but he has never stopped worrying about him.
- Grim Herald: Clayton Sparks would marry Theresa near the end of his original time in Primal Earth. She balanced his life and helped him to heal the many wounds he had after the disaster in the Eon Initiative. Through her, he found a new life that was as peaceful as he had ever had. Unfortunately, after being torn back to Praetoria, he has been unable to find Theresa.
- True Empathy: The Primal Earth version of Clayton Sparks. False views True as better in almost every way. To say he has lived in the self-imposed shadow of True Empathy nearly his entire life would not be an exaggeration. He values and respects True more than any other man.
Just For Fun
Feel free to add to/edit the following sections!
Anti-Villain: Clayton and False had always existed in the gray area between hero and villain. While their draw towards one side or the other has varied, they have both usually been on the darker side of the spectrum. They are thus accurately represented in game as being of the rogue alignment.
Bittersweet Ending: False Empathy's story at the end of City of Heroes Live. He had lost many friends, suffered from his lack of self control, and had lingering side effects from the corruption. But, he had finally gained control over himself, the Eon Initiative had recovered, and Praetoria no longer seemed interested in him. Clayton Sparks had started a new life and seemed to finally leave his past behind him. The bittersweet tone to both character's ends matched that of the game's bittersweet conclusion, something that I liked. Despite the suffering False specifically had experienced, at the end, he was finally happy and in control of his life. Of course, it would turn out to not be an ending after all. And, sadistic as I am, False Empathy's suffering was restarted.
Broken Pedestal: False was something of a mentor to many in the Eon Initiative era. At the very least, he was looked up to. His collapse into corruption destroyed his reputation as many realized just how flawed he really was.
Characterization Marches On: The original character of False Empathy was vastly different. He was originally much more evil, and his character arc involved him trying to kill True Empathy and steal his life. But, as that is a lame story and I realized that it was more fun to play a gray character, things quickly changed. Still, the first few RP sessions with False reflected that early design. Over time, his personality would change as well, becoming less serious and more jovial.
Death Is Cheap: Played with. It's true that False Empathy died twice, but his return from death has brought significant consequences. Let's count them out: amnesia, crippling guilt, a fair amount of PTSD, less control over his power, and an all around more complicated life. Also relevant is the fact he is not human. Still, one could say he cheated death twice.
Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest: I'm ashamed that through my poorly planned (read: not planned at all) roleplaying, I could end up in a situation where this trope applies. It wasn't exactly intentional. As the corruption story arc neared its end, so did City of Heroes. At one point, in a last ditch effort to contain things, False was banished to another dimension for a time. This is when the other Clayton would appear. He would serve as a way to tie up other aspects of False's story that didn't involve the corruption. Having two False Empathy's and the return of Sandra would lead to this trope being fulfilled. Then, it would come up again to a lesser extent with Clayton's recent return to Primal Earth. I'm well aware of the ridiculousness of having two copies of a character who also has a Primal Earth version. But, hey, such is life in the weird world of roleplaying!
Recently, I came up with a story retcon that should help make this situation slightly less confusing. Time will tell.
Drowning My Sorrows: False's response to his failures, especially in regards to the corruption. His dependency on alcohol brought him shame and motivated him to sober up, something he has successfully done for some years.
Fallen Hero/We Used to Be Friends: While corrupt and insane, False became this to his former associates in the Eon Initiative. He taunted them without let up, but no one wanted to hurt him still. In his more lucid moments, he was able to have sane, peaceful conversations with some of them in private - but no one was able to save him.
Guilt Complex: Ho boy! Guilt has come to define False Empathy. Guilt over losing Sandra, guilt over failing to balance life between Praetoria and Primal Earth, guilt over betraying his friends and killing Eon, guilt over his lack of self control, and guilt over his alcoholism.
The Corruption: The corruptive energy that has plagued False and robbed him of so much joy. None of us have described exactly what this energy is, preferring to leave it tenebrous and full of mystery. Rightly so, as none of those affected by it truly understand what it is anyway. Suffice to say, it's influence makes someone apathetic and selfish. In False's case, it caused him to revert back to his original form - albeit insane and evil.
Throw It In: The Corruption storyline was originally just a fun bit of improv between Burana's player and I. We thought it would be funny to have our characters suddenly act exaggeratedly evil. It was never intended to be anything serious or long lasting. Radius' player really fleshed it out and helped us to see it could actually be a fun RP arc. So, what was originally a goofy improv became the defining feature of False Empathy's character.
Tomato In The Mirror: You tell me: the entity that is False Empathy has lived the better part of 10 years convinced he is in fact Clayton Sparks - complete with false memories. The revelation of his true identity has completely shaken his world.
Got a comment to add, either IC (from your character) or OOC (from you)? Add it here!