From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|Real Name:||Caitlin Mallory|
|Known Aliases:||Cait, Katie|
|Occupation:||High School Student and Crimefighter|
|Place of Birth:||Paragon City, Rhode Island|
|Base of Operations:||Paragon City, Rhode Island|
|Known Relatives:||Dr. Meredith Flynn, renowned archaeologist (mother); Dr. Joseph Mallory, professor of history at Winthrop University Steel Canyon (father); and Danielle Mallory, a.k.a. Applebride (sister, MIA).|
|Power over light, heat and flame; flight; superspeed; enhanced agility; enhanced healing; divine powers (expanded upon in Powers section).|
|Some knowledge of folklore and mythology, minor hand-to-hand combat experience, knowledge of archaeology and familiarity with excavation procedures and practices.|
|The Jewel of Aurora (original source of powers), the Eosphoros Crystal (mystical extradimensional storage unit containing her costume, changes of clothes and other necessary items), basic costume, Blazing Dawn Armor, the Winged Boots of Nike and the Aegis Gauntlets of Athena.|
|No additional information.|
Flare Girl is pretty much my Mary Sue -- or that's how she started, at least. In many respects, she's the girl I wanted to be in high school: gorgeous, popular, outgoing, athletic, instead of the scrawny out-of-shape closeted and deeply shy nerd I was. Her powers -- and their nature -- come from a very fast and loose of various mythological sources including Greek and Celtic legends, drawn together by my own apopheniac tendencies.
On the advice of Azuria, Flare Girl joined the Paragon Youth Corps early in her career in order to continue her training and connect with other crimefighters her age, and most of her friends have come from that organization. She has become increasingly close to fellow Youth Corps members Gothic Defender and T4-T3 Mk II, whom she considers to be surrogate older brothers -- familial feelings that Gene (Gothic Defender) returns, while T4 is somewhat less certain, to say the least; she also enjoys more casual friendships with Assembled Girl and Psykera. She currently attends Steel Canyon High School with more casual acquaintances Nariko, Shield Sparrow and Pheromone-Lad, as well as her fiancee, Angel Dicenzio, a.k.a. the Angel of Judgment. Though Caitlin was briefly, openly romantically involved with Kacey Baker, a.k.a. Wayfare, the relationship has since ended. Through that relationship, however, Caitlin met and befriended Winter Flux and Thryth, while learning to tolerate Fatal Harmonic despite their checkered and occasionally violent past.
Initially somewhat insecure in her own abilities, Caitlin has gradually emerged from her shell since beginning her crimefighting career, and is gradually transforming into a force of nature -- literally, to some degree, given her rapidly expanding divine power. The young woman possesses a keen intellect, a wide variety of interests and a wicked sense of humor. To her friends, she's deeply loyal and openly affectionate, often adopting her closer companions as surrogate brothers and sisters, and she's not at all shy about expressing those feelings. This has its downside as well: Caitlin virtually defines loving "not wisely, but too well" at times, and has had her heart broken more than once as a result. Nevertheless, so far, she has refused to let her experiences harden her; though she might withdraw temporarily, she genuinely believes in the ability of love -- in all its forms -- to triumph over all. Her greatest strength is drawn from her love for others, and she does her best to serve as a source of strength for her friends, and as a result, she refuses to disguise or deny her emotions. Naturally, this has also caused some conflicts, as some of the people in her life are quite obviously surprised or even unsettled by the strength of those emotions, but Caitlin would still much rather let the people she loves know how she feels in the present than miss out on the chance to do so altogether.
Unfortunately, Caitlin also possesses a fierce temper and occasionally violent tendencies. She's certainly not above slapping someone who has said something she considers gravely insulting (for example, she slapped the novice hero Cold Read in the midst of Galaxy City after he fed her Agony's 'Defiler' lines and went on to insult her sidhe heritage), and once -- while her inhibitions were compromised -- knocked Fatal Harmonic out cold in the middle of the D for threatening her friend Thryth. She has also demonstrated a nasty habit of making dire threats when faced with pressure from people whom she truly despises, though even she admits in the aftermath of these incidents that she couldn't follow through on most of them and ultimately wouldn't if she could. Still, when angered, her better judgment all too frequently shuts down and she can all too easily dig herself into an entirely too deep hole. It is known among her friends (and rumored in the tabloids) that, at this point, Caitlin is seeing a therapist for her anger issues and other personal problems, but it's a slow process to say the least.
Though Caitlin has identified as gay since the age of fourteen -- and came out as such not long after her sixteenth birthday -- she recently had cause to question that identity due to a very brief affair with teammate Kid Synaptic. Though the relationship was cut short, ending in a matter of days, and she has long since entered into relationships with other young women, the experience has still forced Caitlin to admit that even her own sexuality may not be as simple as she thought.
Flare Girl's primary power is her near-absolute control over light and heat in her immediate vicinity, such that she can blast her foes with seemingly indiscriminate blasts of scorching-hot flame or batter them with chilling frost and hail without harming her friends or causing any property damage -- except to those structures, artifacts and equipment that must be destroyed for the good of the city, of course. As she's come fully into her own, her powers have increasingly allowed for the removal of heat as well as its invocation: early on in her career, she gained the ability to draw on the body heat of her foes in order to revitalize herself, but more recently, she has demonstrated the ability to freeze individuals in blocks of ice, to create blasts of cutting frost and even to chill the air above herself to such a degree that it causes a miniature 'ice storm'. Since the chunks of ice that result from this last power immediately begin to melt on contact with the warmer air, she has also been able to use them to extinguish fires on some occasions.
She also possesses certain abilities that she attributes to her 'sunfire,' divine flames that she can draw upon to protect herself from harm, to heal her injuries and even to arise from indisputable defeat. She can also manipulate light to form certain visual illusions and simple bursts of light, a power that has become known to her friends as her 'sunglow'. Somewhat related to this power is her ability to draw herself and others into what appears to be a forest-bound meadow where it's eternally morning -- though it's unclear as to whether this location is an illusion or an actual pocket dimension of some kind, a sanctuary to which Caitlin can retreat, perhaps a bit of the goddess Aidne's home. Thus far, her few visits to this meadow have been largely unintentional, and she has been unable to retreat to it in the midst of combat.
Due, apparently, to her divine nature, Caitlin can fly at high speeds and almost literally run faster than a speeding bullet; she also heals and recovers herself at a naturally accelerated rate, and she's substantially more agile than the average human. Though she initially required certain mystical artifacts, such as the Winged Boots of Athena, to use at least some of these abilities, these powers have since become internalized, and most of those artifacts are now retired.
As Caitlin has grown to accept her role as the mortal incarnation of the goddess Aidne, a number of other divine powers have been revealed to her, and at this point she has access to the full range of the abilities that she can possess in this form -- being mortal, of course, Caitlin is still severely constrained by the inherent limitations of her human form and certain agreements that Aidne struck long ago with other gods to avoid exercising undue influence over the mortal world. Even Aidne's memories and knowledge are somewhat diffused and completely inaccessible at times, though she can still occasionally provide some insight that might not be available otherwise.
Caitlin's principal divine abilities are perceptive in nature -- namely, with some effort (and in the absence of magical or psychic blocks), she can sense the deepest-held hopes and fondest wishes of others. She can also sense whether or not it is feasible for those wishes to come true, as a simple yes-or-no matter: she will not necessarily know how those hopes may be realized (and, in fact, it's very rare that she'll have any solid leads on such things), but if it can conceivably be accomplished, if it's not completely impossible, she'll generally be able to tell.
Additionally, approximately once per day -- specifically, with intervals of no less than twenty-four hours between attempts -- Caitlin can use the Eye of the Dawn to catch a glimpse of any location on Earth at the precise moment that the sun breaks upon that area. Though this power can be guided through very imprecise instructions -- even the directive "Show me the place where X is now" will do -- it, too, has limitations beyond the necessary intervals in its use. The Eye of the Dawn can only look upon outdoor locations; it cannot look inside buildings or underground without appropriately large windows, doors or other openings that provide a glimpse inside. It is also limited to what the naked eye could see, and any form of concealment that would hide parts of the terrain or people or things upon it will remain effective. Lastly, the power's utility depends heavily upon the cloud cover over the area -- if the sky is hazy, the view will be hazy; if the sky is overcast, Caitlin will see only clouds.
Though not heavily publicized, in her role as the incarnation of a goddess of hope, Caitlin also has the ability to make the fondest wishes of others come true -- but only until the next sunset (so a period of twenty-four hours at most) before everything reverts to the status quo, and only once in any recipient's lifetime; anyone who receives this blessing can never receive another boon. As with her other powers, there are strict rules associated with this power: she cannot manipulate the emotions of others in any fashion, she cannot cause death or injury (however temporary) to another, and while she can go so far as to temporarily restore the dead to life, she cannot do so if the deceased's spirit has moved on to any form of afterlife or to their next incarnation. Caitlin also loses access to all her other supernatural abilities following such 'miracles,' for periods ranging from a day to a week depending upon the scale of the event; and, when healing injury or restoring the dead to life, she must suffer the very thing she has undone as long as the miracle is in effect. Thus, she could give a paraplegic a day in which he could walk again, but she would temporarily lose the use of her own legs; and in giving a restless spirit flesh once again, she would herself be effectively dead for the day, and a harmless ghost tied to the location of her body. For these reasons and many others, Caitlin has not made this public knowledge in the short time that she's known it herself, and has in fact offered this boon to only one person (who promptly rejected it) in her entire career.
Caitlin knows a great deal about Greek and Roman mythology and something of their history, partly due to her own parents' interest, though she has of course had plenty of reasons to take an interest of her own of late. She has also attended enough of her father's lectures to know something of archaeology, and visited enough of her mother's digs to know something of how to excavate artifacts. Cait speaks and reads classical and modern Greek, Latin, and Italian. She has also recently begun to study heroic history as well as various police reports, personal accounts, legends and lore dealing with the Circle of Thorns.
At her parents' insistence, Caitlin has taken some self-defense courses in the past, and knows the basics of hand-to-hand combat, though she's far from an expert and hasn't been schooled in any particular technique. Naturally, the young woman is also an all-around athlete, familiar with soccer, gymnastics and cheerleading, and possesses all the education of a moderately gifted modern American high school student just about to enter her senior year (as she skipped a grade when she was younger).
As her career has progressed and her role as the incarnation of Aidne has become clear, Caitlin has spent a good deal of time studying the books of magic left by her sister Danielle, and has gained some proficiency with the mystic arts, though -- aside from one or two minor charms -- none of the spells she's learned are particularly applicable in combat so far. Nevertheless, she can perform a small range of rituals given adequate time for research and preparation, and has memorized a number of wards that she uses to protect her personal sanctuaries, including her home in Galaxy City, her dorm room at Paragon Youth Corps headquarters, and her fiancee Angel's apartment in Dark Astoria.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Caitlin has shown a certain amount of vulnerability in the face of true natural or magical darkness, though this may be at least partly psychological in nature, as she does have an almost pathological fear of total darkness. She's also extremely frightened of bees and wasps and generally will not even go near Devouring Earth Swarms.
Flare Girl's primary piece of equipment is the Jewel of Aurora, a gem set into a golden belt which served as the initial source of her powers, though she no longer needs to wear it and now only rarely does. She also possesses artifacts known as the Winged Boots of Nike and the Aegis Gauntlets of Athena, which once granted her special powers of flight and self-defense, but have now largely been retired, with the Aegis Gauntlets appearing only as part of her Blazing Dawn Armor.
The Blazing Dawn Armor is a relatively recent addition, a replacement for the prototypical Black Sun Armor: a full suit of powered armor that seamlessly blends magic and technology to enhance Caitlin's abilities and offer additional protection. Its onboard systems include a full, secure communications system with interdimensional capabilities; a top of the line air filtration system and onboard life support reserves; limited targeting scanners and a range of sensors for object and organism analysis; psionic shielding; and gravitational and inertial compensators to allow for a full range of movement despite the weight of many of the systems. It replaces and supplements Caitlin's existing flight powers with ion thrust and maneuvering systems, can become a fully sealed and self-contained stasis pod for short periods, and even offers a thirty-second dimensional phase shift of the armor and everything contained within for extreme emergencies requiring immediate escape. Caitlin tends to reserve the system for the most dire circumstances, most frequently using it on expeditions to other dimensions. Somewhat uncharacteristically, however, she has remained silent on where exactly this piece of hardware came from -- its manufacture is certainly well beyond her own abilities -- but she began to use some form of powered armor not long after joining the Rikti war effort, and some of its components are obviously derived from common Vanguard technology, so it's not hard to guess that Vanguard may have had at least some hand in its manufacture.
She stores most of her equipment within a pocket dimension accessed through the Eosphoros Crystal, which began as a small charm she discovered in the possession of the Circle of Thorns. After verifying that the crystal had not been cursed or in any way tampered with, the grateful staff of M.A.G.I. gave it to Flare Girl as a token of their respect, mystically linking it to her cell phone and police radio, allowing her to enter various codes to retrieve whatever items she may need. The crystal's magics are now precise enough to allow a 'quick change,' replacing whatever she's wearing with another outfit instantaneously (though, in honor of a certain fictional character, Caitlin has recently taken to combining these changes with a whirlwind effect in which she uses her powers to float and spin around rapidly while her outfit is replaced). Her Blazing Dawn Armor is an exception to this rule -- it appears around her body at a simple vocal command, and disappears just as mysteriously when she's finished using it; it's unknown where exactly the armor is stored when not in use.
The Endless Day and the Long, Dark Night
Caitlin Bridget Mallory was officially born at 6:32 am (the precise moment of dawn) on September 21, 1990, to Dr. Joseph Mallory, a noted professor of history, mythology and social and cultural anthropology at Winthrop University; and his second wife, Dr. Meredith Flynn, a world-famous archaeologist frequently described in the press as a real-life female Indiana Jones. Along with her older half-sister Danielle, Caitlin was raised in Paragon City, attending elementary and middle school in Galaxy City, the very neighborhood in which the Mallory family still resides. As she grew older, she also frequently traveled the world during school holidays, visiting her mother at various dig sites across the globe.
Caitlin's childhood was fairly typical for the child of relatively affluent, intellectual parents, though from a young age, she demonstrated a keen intellect and aptitude for academics all her own, even skipping the fourth grade entirely during the course of her elementary school career. Thanks to the influence of her parents, she learned a small collection of foreign languages both ancient and modern at a young age -- she can currently speak Latin, Greek, Gaelic, Italian and Arabic -- and gradually developed extensive knowledge of (and a real passion for) folklore and mythology. She also bonded closely with her elder sister, frequently working with her in their garden, and from both Danielle and Joseph she picked up an interest in cooking.
The young girl also demonstrated a naturally athletic nature at an early age, joining the Paragon City Youth Soccer League as a child and throwing herself into a grueling series of gymnastic courses. Though she initially had Olympic ambitions, these were quickly tempered by her parents' insistence that she focus primarily on her academics.
When Cait was nine years old, her sister Danielle -- already a gifted witch with power over plants and fire -- took on the identity of the superheroine Applebride and began to fight crime in Paragon City. Her true identity known only to her family, Applebride swiftly grew in power, and while she was never exactly famous, she was easily one of the more gifted mystical heroes in the world by the time the Rikti invaded; and, perhaps more importantly, she was one of the more prominent mystics remaining after the initial wave of alien attacks. As a result, Applebride was one of the heroes called to assault the Rikti homeworld, and readily joined Omega Team. Like most of the other members of the ill-fated team, she made it through the portal and never returned.
This event proved devastating to all the surviving members of the Mallory family. Desperately clinging to the hope that his daughter might somehow, someday come back, Joseph Mallory explicitly forbade his wife and daughter from revealing Danielle's secret identity or even that she was gone, most likely dead -- as far as their friends were concerned, she was simply traveling in remote parts of the Earth and struggling to 'find herself'. Caitlin grew emotionally withdrawn and distant for some time, though she respected her father's wishes, and still only speaks of her sister to close friends. Meredith, meanwhile, strongly objected to her husband's instructions, feeling that it could only have a detrimental effect of their daughter and resenting the fact that he would try to forbid his wife from anything. The two rapidly drifted apart, and Meredith began to spend an increasing amount of time abroad, bringing her daughter to her side and away from her father whenever possible. Though Caitlin and her father gradually began to reconcile in the years that followed, relations within the family would remain strained for some time.
The Darkness Before
Early in the summer of 2007, Caitlin traveled to a small island off the coast of Greece, visiting her mother's latest dig site, where Dr. Flynn and her team had uncovered an unusually large and well-appointed apparently dedicated to Aurora, the Greco-Roman goddess of the dawn. The very night that Caitlin arrived, however, the expedition was assaulted by agents of the Circle of Thorns, who seemed to be targeting the teenage girl as well as the temple itself. Cut off from all contact with mainland authorities and local superheroes, the rest of the expedition was virtually helpless before the dark mystics, and Caitlin herself was swiftly cut down on the temple steps, bleeding out from wounds dealt by countless Thorn Blades and slowly dying.
Fortunately for the young woman, the blood spilled upon the temple's sacred grounds awakened its ancient, long-dormant guardian, Thyria, the champion of Aurora. Though technically already dead, the girl was revived through the extraordinary gift of the Jewel of Aurora, the source of her champions' powers, in combination with Thyria's own healing magics and knowledge of medicine. In rescuing Caitlin, however, Thyria sacrificed the mystical energies that had preserved her life over the course of centuries, and grew old and weak in a matter of moments, slowly beginning to pass from the mortal world.
As Thyria lay dying beside a fully healed but frantic Caitlin Mallory, a revelation from her goddess let her peer into the girl's soul and see her true nature and destiny. She told the girl all she could in the short time that remained, directing her to a secret alcove where she would find a collection of mystical artifacts -- gauntlets, boots, shoulder pads and a headpiece -- that would allow her to safely wield the fires of the dawn, and gave her a crash course in the use of her new powers. Thus armed, Caitlin set off and made swift work of the Circle mages, saving the rest of the expedition from certain demise or worse. When she returned to the temple, Thyria was gone, and the teenager knew in her heart that she was the new champion of the goddess Aurora.
Caitlin's mother -- along with other members of the expedition -- had seen her in action, but much to Cait's surprise, each and every one promised to keep her secret once she explained what had happened. Meredith herself arranged for Caitlin to return to the United States with the artifacts that provided and controlled her new powers, compromising her firm belief in the absolute sanctity of the world's ancient treasures for the first and only time to help her daughter circumvent the various customs authorities. Before Caitlin left, her mother advised her to contact Azuria at M.A.G.I. for additional counsel and training, and strongly urged her not to tell her father, fearing that Joseph Mallory would never understand nor allow a second daughter to put herself at risk, no matter what the stakes might be. Between the two of them, they chose the code name Flare Girl, a handle that would reflect Cait's new abilities without overwhelming the teen with the reality of her divine responsibilities, and Paragon City's latest hero was officially born.
The Ascendant Dawn
Immediately following her return to Paragon City, Caitlin altered her old J.V. cheerleading uniform to create her first costume, adding a small, matching mask to further disguise her true identity. In combination with the somewhat gaudy accessories that she initially required to fully control her abilities, this first costume was generally considered a disaster and was included on one or two local bloggers' 'worst dressed' lists. Nevertheless, in working with M.A.G.I., Flare Girl soon became a distinguished hero in her own right, gradually adapting to and internalizing her powers, eventually eschewing the artifacts she once required altogether.
At the same time, Caitlin's interactions with her goddess, while still indirect, grew increasingly tense and somewhat chaotic. Strange artifacts -- notably the Winged Boots of Nike and the Aegis Gauntlets of Athena -- would appear from nowhere as she slept, granting her new abilities until these, too, were slowly internalized. Her body changed, unbidden, turning blonde for a time whenever she wore the Jewel of Aurora, and developing pointed ears and dragonfly wings made primarily of mystical energy. Caitlin was forced to exert more and more of her will simply to remain herself, and at least one change -- the ears -- proved to be irreversible.
Worse still, all of Caitlin's efforts to keep her identity as Flare Girl secret fell apart when a blogger known as the Crusading Capebreaker, an 'anti-mask' activist believed to be operating out of the Rogue Isles, obtained security camera footage which clearly showed Caitlin Mallory changing into her Flare Girl costume in the lobby of a bank just before rushing off to the vault to stop a robbery. As the footage was authenticated, the mainstream press seized on the story, and Caitlin's personal life was soon thrown into turmoil.
As expected, her father was less than pleased with her new pursuit, but after a week of arguments and heated discussions with Caitlin and her mother, as well as demonstrations of his daughter's growing powers, Joseph gradually agreed to allow Flare Girl to continue to career, so long as certain conditions were met, including regular check-ins and continued excellence in her academic career. With her father's blessing, Flare Girl admitted her true identity to the city at large, and swore to continue her service as one of Paragon City's many protectors. In the process, the gay teen began to serve as a role model to other gay youth in earnest, granting interviews to The Advocate, Curve and Teen Hero.
It was around this time that Caitlin first met the two girls who would have the greatest impact on her life in the months to come: Kacey Baker, a.k.a. Wayfare, and Angel Dicenzio, a.k.a. the Angel of Judgment. Though she would later admit to feeling a connection to Angel straightaway -- a connection that Angie would also note later on -- it was Kacey who drew her initial romantic interest, much to the surprise of both girls. The two embarked on a wild, passionate affair that saw them becoming deeply committed girlfriends in under two weeks, while Angie assumed the role of Caitlin's best platonic friend. Though Caitlin's public identity and the gradual revelation of her still-mysterious sidhe heritage caused some tension in the relationship, Kacey gradually came out of her shell and made her own civilian identity public, drawing them ever closer as time wore on. Caitlin's life remained complicated and occasionally dangerous, but for the most part, it seemed as though things couldn't possibly get better.
Unfortunately, Caitlin's seemingly perfect happiness couldn't last forever, and tragedy soon began to strike. First, her friend Angel delivered a cryptic goodbye, promising to return someday if she could before dropping out of sight entirely. Before Flare Girl could even begin to come to terms with this turn of events, the second Rikti War began. Caitlin literally awoke one morning to find their ships bombing Paragon City, and Wayfare and her parents all completely unavailable. In the very first day of the new war, in fact, the Bakers' loft was completely destroyed in a Rikti raid on Founders' Falls.
The increasingly frantic teen superhero was only faintly mollified when Kacey returned some few days later, having moved her parents to Texas and spent some time helping with the war effort there before returning to Paragon City to help with further civilian evacuation and rescue efforts. The exhausted young teleporter virtually collapsed into her girlfriend's arms upon her return, leading to some very unwelcome discoveries: after tucking Kacey in, Caitlin went to put away her equipment and accidentally stumbled upon an open, partially used pack of cigarettes as well as a stack of photos prominently featuring Kacey's ex-boyfriend, Rapace. It was the former that would cause the most immediate conflict, as Caitlin grew increasingly concerned over Kacey's health and state of mind and all the more agitated as her girlfriend continued to insist that the cigarettes wouldn't harm her and that she needed them to stay awake. These initial spats soon grew into all-out arguments -- or at least angry rants on Caitlin's part -- over the open Youth Corps channel, which only annoyed Kacey all the more as others in the Corps began to weigh in on the issue.
Tensions between the couple mounted rapidly after Caitlin secretly left in the dead of night to pursue a rumor that a local Circle of Thorns cell had an ancient tablet sacred to the goddess Aurora which might provide Caitlin with some of the answers she still sought regarding her powers and her responsibilities. The rumor turned out to be nothing more than bait to an elaborate trap. Though Flare Girl managed to defeat most of the mages involved, their leader was able to curse her with a dark, powerful entity that seized hold of her mind, slowly corrupting and feeding upon her very soul. Her memories of the incident suppressed, her mind and body no longer entirely her own, Caitlin returned to her girlfriend and her friends to begin her decline into darkness.
The effects were minor to begin with, amounting to little more than the lowering of Caitlin's inhibitions and certain alterations to her personality. She became more cowardly, more susceptible to fits of anger and erratic behavior, and quicker to violence. She uncharacteristically abandoned her girlfriend -- and the entire city -- in the course of an epic attempt to defend the Terra Volta reactor from the Freakshow, who had chosen to take advantage of the chaos of war to attempt to bring down the infrastructure of the entire area. She grew increasingly obsessed with her girlfriend even as, following Angel's return and her confession of love to Caitlin, she cheated on Kacey with the young blonde and couldn't restrain herself from telling her girlfriend the very next day.
Things came to a head just as she'd finally seemingly driven away the last of her friends and Kacey gave up on her entirely. The entity feeding upon her soul took full control, turning her into an apathetic creature driven entirely by base desire, caring for little more than her own pleasure and entertainment. Luckily, T4-T3 Mk II, along with others, came to recognize the problem and attempted, each in their own ways, to save their friend from spirit that possessed her before she was lost entirely. Most of these efforts met with complete failure, as Angel's attempt to exorcise Caitlin was unable to dislodge the demon, who immediately used Caitlin's body to seize her by the neck and attempt to choke her to death. Kacey attempted to lure the possessed Caitlin away, but both were soon distracted by Sychosis, a member of the mutant society known as Nation. Increasingly angry and annoyed, the possessed superheroine went so far as to refer to Sychosis as a 'filthy little mutie' as matters finally came to a head, with T4-T3 Mk II arriving in the company of Volo to increase the ambient confusion. Taking advantage of the chaos, Sychosis seized Kacey's head in both hands, the brunette mutant going completely unconscious under the influence of the psychic's powers, her mind seemingly altered in unknown ways.
Though she had shown brief moments of clarity in the course of the evening, episodes in which she pleaded for help or urged her friends to run away, it was this act that finally drove Caitlin to tap into the core of her divine power and allowed her to break free once and for all. Rushing her ex-girlfriend away from the psychic, Flare Girl did everything she could to uncover and reverse what Sychosis had done, even giving in to her own prodigious temper and threatening the psychic and other members of Nation in her desperate attempts to force Sychosis to undo her reprogramming. Though Caitlin eventually discovered that Sychosis had simply removed all memories of their romance from Kacey's mind, she was unable to find anyone who could -- or would -- reverse the process, and succeeded only in making greater enemies of certain of Nation's members.
Eventually, Caitlin chose a different tactic, confronting Kacey with physical evidence of their relationship, including an issue of Teen Hero that had profiled their romance. Though Cait had -- at least ostensibly -- accepted that the incidents of the past several days had forever ruined their romantic relationship, she nevertheless felt strongly that Kacey was a different person for not knowing the full truth, and deserved to have all the facts at her disposal. Though the confrontation seemed to result in failure, Kacey sent her ex-girlfriend a letter a couple days later revealing that she had, in fact, explored the physical record of their relationship and become convinced of the truth, but still didn't see any form of reconciliation as possible, under the circumstances. The letter ended with the revelation that Kacey intended to go to Sychosis and ask her to remove all her memories of Caitlin, good and bad, in hopes of finding some kind of fresh start. Though saddened and deeply disappointed, Caitlin quietly told her friends of her ex's decision and asked them not to remind Kacey of their relationship should she ever return. Caitlin herself would choose to remember, but Kacey had made her decision of her own free will, and she was compelled to respect it.
In the course of these events, Caitlin renewed her relationship with Angel, and a series of intimate conversations, as well as Angel's ready forgiveness of Caitlin's actions while under control of the dark entity, finally drove her to admit the true depth of their connection. The two soon began a romantic relationship (raising more than a few eyebrows in the process) that swiftly deepened, with Caitlin proposing only a few weeks into their romance. Though they haven't actually admitted their engagement beyond their respective circles of friends and family, they both wear their rings openly, and numerous papers and blogs have published candid photos in which the diamond Claddagh rings are prominently displayed. As a result, their engagement has generally become public knowledge.
"The Gods Tread Lightly..."
Following her extended possession, Caitlin began to grow closer to the goddess she served, particularly as she came to realize that it was her own reluctance to fully accept her divine nature and new role in life that had made her vulnerable to demonic possession in the first place. Thanks to her tentative communion with her goddess as well as recent archaeological discoveries on the part of her mother, the young woman finally discovered that she didn't serve Aurora at all, but in fact was acting as the mortal agent of a far more ancient deity called Aidne, once worshipped throughout Eurasia as the primal goddess of light and hope, the bringer of dawn and a guardian against the threat of darkness.
Very soon, Caitlin was acting as less of a champion and more of an avatar to Aidne, demonstrating ever-growing divine powers and allowing the goddess to overtake her entirely with increasing frequency. Though the young girl initially entered a fugue state whenever Aidne stepped in, she gradually began to retain more and more information from the deity's 'visits,' eventually remaining fully conscious during each episode and remembering the vast majority of what she said. In fact, the only things that she failed to remember were the very things that concerned her most directly: namely, the numerous occasions on which Aidne hinted or outright said that Caitlin was not only her avatar, but something much, much more.
All of this finally came to a head in the course of a pivotal conversation with Caitlin's fiancee, Angel, held while Caitlin and Aidne were both trying to save Angel from the machinations of her own patron, Mitrah, while simultaneously protecting her from the dark influences that Mitrah claimed would overtake her without his guidance -- an effort that still may not have succeeded entirely. In talking with Angel, Aidne at last revealed that she and Caitlin were one and the same, that she had been born to mortal form approximately seventeen years ago of her own will, seeking to take a more direct role in mortal affairs. Following this conversation, Angel confronted Caitlin's mortal aspect with this information, and while initially shaking, the young woman gradually accepted the truth, her divine and mortal aspects largely becoming one. In gratitude, and as a result of her deep affection and concern for Angie, Caitlin gave her fiancee the Jewel of Aurora and appointed her the new champion of Aidne, though the full effects of this gesture still remain to be seen.
In the meantime, Caitlin has been adapting to her place as the incarnation of a goddess, though her realization of her abilities hasn't exactly granted her phenomenal cosmic power. On the contrary, Caitlin is still very much limited by her mortal form, her teenage psychology, and an agreement she's referenced on several occasions, expressing it most simply in the phrase "The gods tread lightly upon this Earth." From what the goddess has said and implied, it seems clear that Aidne is bound by some compact which keeps the gods involved in the agreement from exercising undue influence in mortal affairs. The exact scale of this agreement, as well as the gods involved, remains unknown; with her faculties also limited by her mortal incarnation, Aidne herself may not even remember. It also may or may not be known as the Shadow Compact -- Caitlin referenced 'Article 17 of the Shadow Compact' in confronting agents of some dark gods older even than Aidne herself, but she may have been exercising a certain degree of classically snarky teenage attitude at the time. (Additionally, Caitlin is an unabashed Doctor Who fan and may have been making a subtle nerd-joke in the process).
Regardless, all of these factors have conspired to limit Aidne's vast (though not infinite) power to a still-impressive range of abilities which nonetheless have a number of restrictions imposed upon them. Caitlin herself is neither invulnerable or immortal. She can be harmed, defeated, and even killed, and even in the absence of any injury or disease, she will eventually die of old age. To be sure, barring imprisonment or some other unpleasant fate at the hands of other powerful gods or their agents, Aidne will simply return to her sanctuary and resume her duties as a true divinity, but the mortal known as Caitlin Mallory will be gone, never to return. Despite this knowledge of her own mortality, Caitlin currently remains more concerned with the mortality of her friends and loved ones, particularly Angie, whom she's loath to put in any form of danger. This reluctance to bring her fiancee along on her more dangerous adventures has caused some tension between them of late, and though promising to change, Caitlin has remained somewhat intractable on the issue. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be resolved amiably, or how, in general, Caitlin's knowledge of her own divinity compared to others' mortality will change her personality in the times to come.
- After experimenting with numerous costumes along the whole spectrum of propriety (from 'fully clothed' to 'miniskirt and sports bra'), Caitlin has adopted a costume that covers her whole torso together with a miniskirt and 'spankies' - the shorts/briefs worn by cheerleaders to prevent the exposure of their own underwear and intimate areas. Since Caitlin herself has some J.V. cheerleading experience and is due to begin on the varsity squad in her junior year, she herself isn't quite sure why it took her so long to hit on this solution.
- Caitlin is nearsighted, and wore contacts (though she often favored glasses in winter) before gaining her powers. Though she's admitted that her powers can compensate for her condition, she has recently taken to wearing her glasses again when dressed casually, possibly in an unconscious effort to remind herself that she's still mortal. She nevertheless remains vain enough to eschew them when dressed for clubbing or formal occasions.
- Caitlin has gradually developed a limited shapeshifting ability. Currently she can manipulate her mystic energies to form a wide range of wings, and shift her ears between sidhe and human form, as well as changing her hair from red to blonde and back. It remains to be seen whether this ability will continue to be cosmetic only.
- Despite a certain amount of 'dabbling' with guys (or at least one guy), Caitlin identifies as gay rather than bisexual, as she's still primarily attracted to women. Her experiences have led to a good deal of education on the subject, however, and if pressed she will gladly launch into her 'sexuality is a continuum' speech.
- Favorite food: bacon cheeseburgers. Please note, however, that most experts do not now advise pelting Flare Girl with said items as the prelude to an exorcism. Volo and T4-T3 Mk II have personal experience in this matter.
- Favorite dessert: chocolate cream pie.
- Favorite ice cream flavor: Oreo cake batter.
- Favorite color: turquoise.
- Favorite musicians: Dar Williams, Tegan and Sara, Avril Lavigne.
- Favorite movies: Ratatouille and Josie and the Pussycats.
- Favorite TV shows: The Best Years, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica.
- Favorite epithet: Frak (see above).
- Celebrity crushes: Ms. Liberty and Kristen Bell.
- After a few confrontations with members of Nation, Caitlin is believed to be bigoted against mutants. Though she herself will claim vehemently that she supports the cause of mutant equality and only objects to supremacy -- and that she dislikes Nation specifically because of negative experiences with their membership -- there may be some deep-seated prejudices at work, and the damage to her reputation has been done in any event.
- Caitlin has been characterized as randomly violent due to a few minor fights in the D and elsewhere, though people deliberately looking to start a fight often walk away disappointed. Rumor has it that the best ways to provoke a fight with her include insulting her heritage, threatening or attacking her friends, expressing anti-gay sentiments to her face and making snide remarks about her romantic history.
- Numerous individuals, particularly among Nation's membership, believe that Caitlin's 'demon possession' was nothing more than a feeble excuse for her reprehensible behavior toward Sychosis, Wayfare and Angel.
- Caitlin supposedly has a poster of Sister Psyche on her wall, as well as a large photograph of Ms. Liberty pinned to the ceiling above her bed. She also allegedly owns a small, slightly charred stuffed Rikti doll named Jimmy, and may or may not have a recalibrated Fake Nemesis in a French maid's outfit working as a housekeeper. If true, both of these last two items would be entirely the fault of T4-T3 Mk II.
In the course of her brief yet eventful superheroic career, Flare Girl has already worn more than her share of costumes. A number of selections both past and present are offered here.