Naive and eccentric mind traveller
Natalie is a petite girl with a big sense of self worth and a broader idea of self awareness. Her supposed knowledge of the workings of the world, taken from the eyes and ears of her peers, has led her to believe that she knows it all, and that she can defy the system.
An engineer at heart, she learned all she could from observing others…invasively. Her soul and spirit are disconnected from her body, allowing her to enter the minds of those around her and connect to their ideas, feelings and memories.
Of course, she isn’t open about her abilities, and only tells close friends. Still, there is something unsettling about her to even those who don’t know. Her eyes seem empty, her pupils like portals to an endless black void, the blue of her iris like the sky on a cold day. When in her company, one can never tell where they feel her presence – it’s all around rather than by her body.
Natalie has mousy-brown, curly hair worn half up in a bun and half down. She has pale blue eyes, a posh, upwards pointed nose and cheeks full of freckles. Her high cheeks and streaked eyeliner give her the ‘cleopatra’ type look – or as close as you can get being a blonde haired brit.
She is often seen in overalls or trousers with a shirt when she is on the job, but will wear proper womens attire when it is absolutely appropriate. She is seldom seen without her sapphire blue Ankh earrings – an expensive heirloom passed down from her mother’s side of the family which she holds dear.
Mind Reading (+ Mind Rider, + Device)
Mind Control (+ Device)
Damage Field, Mental (+ Selective, + Device, Broadcast Specific, + Device)
Natalie was born in 1825 to entrepreneurial father Sir Douglas Kingdom Brandon and mother Mrs. Mary Genevieve Brandon. She grew up on a large manor house in (I’m open for suggestions here, given I know nothing about areas around London) as an only Child, under the supervision of her nanny – and later governess, Ms Faeweather.
Her father was constantly out of home, working on projects, tied in meetings with dukes, lords, barons, entrepreneurs and government officials alike. Her mother was caught up in the ritz of the booming London – going out on most nights and being away during the day to concern herself with fashion and image. Her parents were also avid partiers. Not two weeks went by without half of the nobility in the surrounding lands and cities coming to the Brandon estate. Beer and wine poured from the walls and a live band of fiddlers and horn players made for a night of dancing, heavy drinking, gossip and livelihood. Luckily Natalie’s quarters were far from the manor ballroom, and in what was a usual nobility affair, she was more often in the hands of Ms Faeweather – away from the balls, the ritz, the glam and the flaunting of wealth. Ms Faeweather taught her proper manners, how to sit at a table, how to address others, how to dress herself, amongst most of life’s skills.
In 1832, when Natalie was seven years old, her father Sir Douglas Kingdom took a venture to survey a railway site in Egypt, by the banks of the Nile river. The ancient source of life and transportation, whose fertile soils brought civilisation to thousands of generations of people were thought to be exploitable, and a great place to haul coal and heavy machinery to do work. They took the trip with her uncle, Sir Richard Brandon, who eventually travelled off to his own adventures. During her four month stay, her child’s mind could perceive a strange change in the air. As more industrialisation disrupted the pure banks of the Nile, nature became disturbed. There was eerie fog lingering in the dry air.
On one day, when the fog was thick and her mind was crowded, Ms Faeweather had taken Natalie to the local market to buy fresh produce for the chef. The market was crowded and dusty. It was a mix the likes of which Natalie hadn’t witnessed – The poor and the rich congregated in one spot, like equals. It was so odd that it struck Natalie to ask a shop owner why this happened, and how they all greeted each other. As she stepped away from Ms Faeweathers protective sight, and into the thick crowd, she felt a darkness. Like a shadow growing on her back, something was looming behind her. She turned around to see a short, covered alley between two sandstone buildings. On the back wall of the alley Natalie could make out a symbol which she thought she recognised; a white circle over black radial flames in the shape of a cross…but maybe it wasn’t what she was thinking of – it was hard to tell from this distance. Despite her feelings of danger, she stepped into the alley towards it.
She had made her mistake. A shadow was cast over her from the entranceway. She turned slowly to face the figure. Before her was a symbol of beauty – dark, tanned skin, high cheekbones, a perfectly placed mole before her bold nose. The lady had a face which demanded power, and a figure which delivered it. She crouched down to Natalie’s height and wrapped her long, ring-adorned fingers around the blonde girl’s cheeks, then to her ears.
“Such beautiful earrings.” The woman spoke with the tongue of lost gods, “The ankh – the symbol of life. You’re a very lucky girl to have such pretty earrings.” Her tone was not condescending, but comforting.
“Thank you, miss” Natalie spoke nervously. She didn’t expect this stranger to speak her language.
“If only your father knew how pretty life could be.” The woman remarked. The irises of her eyes washed out, their dark brown suddenly glowing white like the moon when wolves howl.
“You will cherish life, child.” She said. All of the strange in the air suddenly condensed at the woman’s fingertips. Like concentrated tragedy, its tightly packed energy focussed at her long, painted nails which caressed Natalie’s ears. The storm of nature sparked between her skull, and raged with the white of the witch’s eyes.
Then there was calm. The woman removed her hands and elegantly stood up. The air was dry again, but it did still not feel right.
“Remember to respect life and the soul, for yours is no longer.” The witch warned, then turned black and viscous like runny oil. She sank into the shadows of the floor and left a black smoke cloud in her wake, which rose from the dusty, dark soil.
Natalie took a breath in and her eyes opened wide like she was seeing for the first time. Ms Faeweather was looking for her. She could hear the woman yelling her name, but not with her ears. She yelled out back to the voice, but not strongly. “I’m here.” Natalie called back, “I’m here!” But in reality, she didn’t feel like she was anywhere at all.
As Natalie ventured into her teens, she had an understanding of what the witch had done to her. She was constantly plagued by visions in her sleep which did not involve her. She would wake to nightmares and hear her father, over half of the manor away, wake up in the same fright. She was dreamwalking, as she called it. She would wake up on mornings and tell her family – much to their displeasure and distress, what they dreamt of last night and what it meant.
One of the things she thought she had been cursed with was a mathematical mind. Unlike other girls her age, who did not seem to want to learn about numbers and systems of equations, Natalie had a thirst for it, her mind was ticking constantly. She implored ms Faeweather to teach her more advanced math, but Ms Faeweather had limited knowledge. In secret, she taught the most that she herself knew, and left Natalie wanting more.
It was 1837, when Natalie was 12, that she found she was able to consciously dreamwalk. Since her encounter with the witch, she’d felt like an observer to her own body – detached from it yet still trapped inside her skull. When she overcame these boundaries, she realised that the possibilities were endless. She constantly raced between the heads of those around her, using their energy to feed her consciousness and tapping into their memories and thoughts. If she was outside of a body for too long, she could feel herself fade, she needed lifeforce to continue.
She learned of the wonders of the world. The lifestyle and astute happiness of those with little to nothing, the theories of activists and the politics of alternatives. She saw snippets of the sciences, of all religions, of domestic abuse, success, triumph, catastrophic failure, life worth living, life worth committing suicide to avoid. Peoples’ heads were endlessly burdened and enlightened, people felt an array of feelings and all had their own ambitions and possibilities. Life was rich with colour and soul. But she was a noble girl, taught nothing, going nowhere, to be married off and live a life she couldn’t care for. The colours of the world might as well be black and white, painted by a braindead toddler and for nobody to see, for it was well from her grasp. The bustling scene of underground music, the clubs in the city where commoners would go and relieve their spirits, the joy of working and being respected. It wasn’t her path.
But most of all, she was fascinated with the machines her father’s men worked with. Great steel horses whose hot steam ran like blood and vengeance against the earth to make useful work. The pistons of these metal beasts chuffed and spluttered and turned their wheels by carefully calculated ratio of forces. The mechanisms danced like pixies around a forest flame – intricate, mesmerising and with such purpose that the steel and brass giants had to be alive and with a heartbeat. She remembered the first time she’d seed a locomotive come into the yard by London. It burst through the tunnel entrance in a cloud of white smoke, like a god descending from the heavens. Its whistle sounded its low pitch like the rumbling of an organ for a church hymn. It pounded the rails in fury, it bled oil, it felt.
Oh how she longed to work with the machines – to create mechanical life. She decided that she would do it. She didn’t care how long it took, or how silly she would seem. She had the capability and the natural knack for creating things. When she was young she would draw her wild creations and make them with sticks and stones. By dreamwalking in the shoes of Walter, the maintenance man, she had seen skills for carpentry and had, in secret, crafted her own crude creations of wood. Her mind ticked, and her young mind wandering had led her to learn math from her father.
So she set out to learn what she could. Each party night her parents hosted, a long list of railway buffs would come along, including the chief Mechanical Engineer, Sir Daniel Ringweld. She entered his mind then, when she had the chance, and examined his memories closely. It was an uphill battle, first to learn advanced math, then to learn the basics, but she managed it. Eventually, after four years of intense study, at the age of sixteen, Natalie had amassed enough information that she rudely interrupted her father to show him a detailed drawing of a locomotive she had come up with. It was an unconventional, heavy hauling beast, powered by a four cylinder inline steam engine which sat in the bottom of the boiler. Her father immediately dismissed her drawings as stupid, stating that ‘women don’t engineer, love’ as he burnt out his cigar.
Still, the idea mused him, and gave him a selling point for sending his darling girl away to London. He told Natalie that she could work under the guidance of an engineer at his company if she would move to a women’s house in the city. Natalie was so excited by the prospect that she almost fainted. She didn’t understand that this was a hollow promise, and that she wasn’t really changing the system. She was simply making a decision which would be made for her anyway.
She was moved to London not long after, on her seventeenth birthday. Somewhat early, but she was incredibly keen, much to the surprise of her mother and the delight of her father, whose plan was working. She lived between two worlds – the one where she was surrounded by women, who gossiped and did everything she despised to be stereotyped as; and the one where she was surrounded with men who were creating their own world and vision.
Her rate of growth skyrocketed in the city. There were so many more minds here to explore, and a much greater concentration of engineering knowledge. The combined sum of all of the knowledge of her peers was greater than their knowledge individually, which made her a powerful mind. She surpassed many on a level of intelligence, but was still just a skinny, pretty face and nothing more to all of them. It was merely a joke that her daddy had sent her here to watch the handsome men. She worked iron tirelessly until she had no strength, she played with hot coals and she mastered hard maths, but could not get more than a chuckle from the other workers.
Her uncle Richard, whom she now saw often, was who she turned to. Through his brain she’d seen more adventures than anybody else, but nothing was as alluring as the people he surrounded himself with. The Kerberos Club is where she deduced they all came from. There had to be an engineer in there who would take her seriously. Her ideas were cutting edge. Richard, reluctantly, introduced the 19 year old Natalie to Sir Christian .S. Barnes, an amazing inventor who used Richard’s property to test his machines. Natalie soon learned from Barnes that machines were limitless, although understood that the engineering behind his machines wasn’t through maths and science, it was something different altogether. Still, she enjoyed talking to the talented scientist, and offered to help where she could. She liked how he took her seriously.
At present, Natalie is attempting to enter the club. She has been introduced to the handsome Frenchman, Ethan Moiré, whose memories went further back than she’d ever seen. Through this club, she hopes to satisfy her curiosity for knowledge and break free of the chains which hold her down. Her life is precious – a witch taught her that – and in this precious life she’s going to change the system and become what she always wanted to be – whatever that is.