From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Rissa originated in a long-standing tabletop superhero campaign, along with the supergroup Wyldfire, using the MEGS system. I had no Internet experience at the time, and therefore no idea of the whole "catgirl" phenomenon: I just wanted to play something unique to the team, both feminine and competent, capable of working with the whole but not dependent on having everyone else around. Combine (notes from a years-old research paper on the rapid adaptation of leopards to the harshly-changing environment) with (it doesn't have to be all angsty like the X-Books, does it?) and you get a heroine who works hard to make a useful life out of her new situation.
- Supergroup: Wyldfire
- Best friend: Silver Valor, roommate and fellow escapee from II
- On-call to: Vanguard, SERAPH
Once a somewhat reserved, bookish college girl, Rissa's experience at the hands of Infinity, Inc. brought a strong sense of self-reliance and indignance to the fore. She escaped only because she consciously chose to set trouble into motion, rather than react to what had been happening: and she also made the conscious, terrifying choice to help some other "test subject" victims, a risk that saved all of them when they discovered that the lab was located beneath the upper level of Niagara Falls.
Rissa has always hated angst, even when she was the natural age for it, so she gives vague, semihumorous answers to inquiries about her past, and changes the subject of the conversation -- it's not that she won't talk about it if someone has a sincere, serious interest, but she doesn't consider it an appropriate "casual chitchat" topic. Sometimes her attitude can seem like a brush-off, especially given her tendencies toward snarky, risible, often cynical commentary. She's no Wade Wilson, by any stretch of the imagination, but she doesn't fit into the proper mold of a superheroine (or anti-heroine) from any era. She says "thank you" in the middle of combat when she receives assistance, she growls at rescued civilians to "go home!" when they blather about their barely-avoided fates, she makes jokes (half in fun and full in earnest, as the Irish saying goes) about her weight maintenance problems, she reacts to self-aggrandizing bluster by blatantly humoring the loudmouth, she takes her job as leader of Wyldfire very seriously, and she still goes into a complete fangirl panic when one of the famous Heroes of Paragon such as The Paladin or SincereAgape is kind enough to speak to her. In general, she's fiercely loyal to her few friends, awkward with praise or compliments, cranky over the minutiae of city living, and just a teensy bit paranoid about the future.
Oh. And she's much more cooperative if she's had a cheeseburger and a decent cup of coffee recently.
Not much to speak of; II's design included some natural weapons and the ability to recover very quickly from injuries, a traditional set of options for any bioengineer who is designing a fighting tool. From leopard DNA, she has a fur coat and a tail, providing a sort of padded armor and improving her balance; while redesigning her fingers and toes to support retractible claws, the project lead decided to increase the strength of her limb joints and muscles, and to relocate her outer ears to the top of her head -- partially for aesthetic purposes, mostly for function. Later most of her lower face was redesigned, making room for the new biology that improves her hearing and her sense of smell. After a testing accident, her eyes repaired some damage and transformed more like leopard eyes, entirely unexpected by the design at Infinity Incorporated but, in retrospect, predictable based on the other cellular-level alterations.
Jarissa's regeneration consists in large part of adrenaline-triggered supersped metabolism. She can't explain exactly how it works, and certainly she thinks the show Heroes is using some other basis altogether: something in her system harvests the damaged tissues for raw building materials, then turns to alternative supplies such as any stored fat she might have managed to develop and her own red blood cells.
If Jarissa suffers serious damage and doesn't get a chance to eat a high-protein meal shortly afterward, she starts looking gaunt, and then anorexic, and finally shows the signs of advanced starvation. It took her a long time, after she first arrived in Paragon City, to get up to a stable, healthy weight. She still struggles to maintain it, especially the morning after a big fight against the criminal world.
Jarissa has little to no mental defenses, and not even the first idea how to deal with magic. If the "Power of Stubborn" won't save the day, and she can't call in experts, she is in deep trouble.
Labs still terrify her, although therapy has helped. She's so determined to not be one of those "tragic past" types that she can be surprised into a panic attack if she tries to set foot into a fully-equipped laboratory, especially one geared toward the biosciences. Denial ain't just an Internet scriptkiddie tantrum....
The secretive international corporation Infinity, Inc. tested its genetic manipulation theories on a wide array of human subjects who'd been diagnosed as having genetic defects. Rissa knew that weak hearts ran in her family, but hadn't had trouble yet. Nevertheless, she fit II's profile, and was kidnapped from her college dorm. After many years of painful tests and genetic grafts, she and four other subjects escaped, scattering in every direction to avoid pursuit.
To her great annoyance, she found she'd been grafted into an anime-like "catgirl", complete with claws and tail. Unwilling to return to her former life when it might endanger those she once loved, Rissa drifted into an abandoned apartment building in Kings Row -- one with upper floors cut off from most transients' use because the stairwells had collapsed. She began carefully restoring and repairing one of the upper floor apartments, a task made unexpectedly more fun by the return of fellow escapee Silver Valor from wherever he'd gone.
Unfortunately, an area slum lord noticed the signs of use and improvement to the property, and took over the place from the city's tax office. He brought a group of "concerned citizens" with him to roust all of the "squatters", intending to confiscate every piece of property along the way. While he and his thugs were puzzling out a solution to the eight-floor-tall lack of stairs, Jarissa and Silver hastily removed most of their salvaged and refinished property via a window that overlooked the next building's roof.
Rather than risk the same results for starting over, Silver Valor persuaded Rissa to register for a city hero license, hoping they'd then qualify for a more aboveboard apartment. During her application review with SERAPH, Jarissa faced a psychiatric test administered by Dr. Gironde, who later offered her a position with his newly-reforming supergroup.
(This section will be updated as in-game RP plotlines advance.)
- Adventure of the Neon Brown Eye
- Mission Report: Psychic Vampire Flu
- Uncommon Valor: The Uncommon Valor Fan Club Auxiliary
- Seriously, Rissa isn't happy about the whole "catgirl" thing. Not that she considers her physical design exceptionally stupid -- it's the cultural expectations that go along with it.
- Rissa's always been short, since she was about four. The major disadvantage is that short gals in college are "cute" and "spunky" rather than "good-looking" and "classy"; in fact, if she got hit on, half the time it was by someone who thought her a lot younger than her real age. The major advantages, as detailed in the Janet Kagan ST novel, Uhura's Song, but it sums up to "you would not believe how much a short woman can get away with in a somewhat macho environment".
- Can't stand seafood, in fact, the only thing she'll eat that comes out of the water is the cranberry.
- The smell of alcohol gives her a sneezing fit, which makes trips to Pocket D intricate, to say the least.
- Jarissa's "luck" in the dating department has been almost exclusively bad.
- Rissa was about two months away from graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Physics when Infinity Inc grabbed her. She thought about trying to go back to college and finish the degree, but not only would she have to access her "pre-II" life (which she's loathe to do), she'd have to wear a pretty thick set of rubber gloves and a cleansuit any time she walked into a lab. Not worth it, she's decided.
- If Rissa gets hit too hard on the head during a fight, she has trouble controlling her sibilants until the concussion heals.
- Silver Valor, Wyldfire's leading superspeedster, is her roommate. He was a genius before Infinity Inc gave him superspeed. Now he's a genius who "thinks a lot faster", in his words. Rissa's making a second career of understanding enough to have a reasonable conversation with him.
- Rissa learned to say "Smurf" instead of more traditional cussing when she was in her mid-teens, as one can never be sure whether a "church secretary with a mean left hook" might be in correction range. It's no longer an exclusive practice, but she still has the habit more often than not. "Smurf this! arrest chits for everything that moves!" is a typical reaction to plot complications.