The Gilded Hood
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The Gilded Hood is an illusionist whose mastery over others' perception makes her a discreet, silent and swift killer. Her favored method of dispatching foes is slaughter from within - her powerful hallucinations can drive others to suicide or fits of murderous rage against their allies. Subtler implementation of her skill can convince enemies they've been mortally wounded, or allies that their wounds have been miraculously healed. The powers of flight and invisibility means that most never see her coming. When push comes to shove, she's also ably endowed in a fist fight.
In Praetoria she was a notorious Crusader whose open goading of the authorities placed her high on the PPD's most wanted list. In Primal Earth, she's an assassin whose subtle methodology makes her ideal for high priority targets.
Born a year after Marcus Cole donned the mantle of ‘Emporer,’ Fatima Young had never known a world without totalitarian rule. Unlike the wealthy and privileged inhabitants of Nova Praetoria, her family grew up in the outer rungs of the city, where her lullaby every night was the sound of sirens blaring and distant gunfire.
For whatever reason, her parents – her father especially – maintained a healthy respect for the Emporer despite their circumstances. To them, Nova Praetoria was tangible evidence of what hard work and respect for the law could accomplish. They blamed the roving gangs, who habitually held up her father’s liquor store, for their impoverished state.
Fatima, a maladjusted child from day one, wasn’t as easily convinced. Cole’s Tower, visible through a skyline still partially obscured with radiation clouds and pollution, was a stark reminder that people in her circumstances had been totally forgotten in the patriotic fervor marking the post-Hamidon war years. As a teenaged girl without superpowers, she rebelled any way she could – skipping class to smoke, shoplifting, back-alley dealing. Her extensive record details a young adulthood spent mostly in juvenile hall for a litany of petty offenses.
The scope of her crimes never extended beyond her neighborhood until her parents, fed up with her behavior, got into a heated altercation with her over dinner that lead to physical violence. Packing her bag with stolen merchandise and a carton of cigarettes, Fatima left home, furious now more than ever with the state.
An uneventful year passed on the streets in which she avoided the PPD and lived out of her backpack. When her life of crime resumed, it did so with gusto previously unseen. She became bolder; now, instead of sneaking a bar of candy or a bottle of soda from gas stations, she was breaking into homes and pawning off laptops. The houses she hit inched closer and closer to the boundaries of Nova Praetoria until at last she was robbing the wealthy businessmen keeping the city afloat. The rush of ‘sticking it to the man’ in the most direct manner possible fueled her cat-and-mouse chase with the PPD.
The confidence she gained in her thievery compelled her to pull off her most brazen heist yet: robbing a bank.
Donning a hood and a pair of shades to obscure her face, she proceeded according to plan. Getting into the bank was easy enough – waving around a gun pacified most would-be civilian martyrs – but getting out would prove more challenging. The alarm blared over the loudspeakers like thunder. Before her were dozens of vaults carrying enough currency to tide her over for several lifetimes. Despite that, she felt strangely drawn to one specific vault. Opening it revealed naught but a decorative box, and within this box was the most perfectly cut jewel she’d ever seen. Cupping the heavy jewel in her palm, she heard whispers from a time long ago enter her mind and felt an immense mystical power consume her.
Then, to her horror, the gem sunk into her palm.
When she awoke, she was donning an orange jumpsuit and sporting a pair of handcuffs. She’d fainted from the ordeal and been apprehended by the PPD in what was surely their most complacent arrest yet. For attempted robbery and other smaller offenses like disrupting public order and possessing an unlicensed firearm, she was looking at hard time.
The days that ticked by leading up to her trial were long ones. Fatima was in no shape to appear before court; she was plagued with mysterious migraines and burning pain where the jewel had evidently fused with her hand. Her appeals to the guards for medical attention fell on deaf ears. With nowhere left to turn and in the worst pain she’d ever felt, Fatima had given up hope.
Fortunately, an opportunely-timed Crusaders coup denied the state her day in court. After the bombs detonated, clearing the way for inmates to make a break for freedom, a chaotic melee ensued. Fatima discovered an unlikely ability when confronted by guards: naught but a verbal suggestion (strung with profanities, no less) was enough to send them into a frenzied fist-fight with one another. Her illusive abilities clouded her from others' vision, rendering her invisible, and granted her the ability to fly. Escape was as easy as a wave of the hand and an uttered word.
Working With - and Leaving - the Resistance
Hushed whispers of the 'bad seeds' in society had been present in the Young household as long as Fatima could remember; fewer insults were as deadly serious as 'Resistance sympathizer.' Perhaps this is why, despite espousing a Cole-hating, nihilistic ideology on par with the Resistance, she'd avoided them for so long.
However, breaking her out of prison was the single kindest thing anyone had ever done for her. Once things died down in the wake of the prison exodus and the Resistance returned to their base underground, Fatima followed them, seeking to thank them in person for helping her escape.
Thanks was all it was supposed to be. A few beers later and it became a pained declaration of her "wasted youth" to what were essentially strangers.
The Crusaders, telling their own stories about the suffering they'd endured at Cole's hands, validated her lifetime spent taunting the PPD. Touched, she pledged to use her new powers to advance their interests.
At last she found a surrogate family, even if it was in the ankle-deep sewage pervading Nova Praetoria's underbelly.
With the addition of a black bodysuit, combat boots and Resistance trappings to the hood and sunglasses she'd donned while carrying out heists, Fatima adopted the psuedonym of The Gilded Hood. Her rap sheet covered every conceivable crime, minor to severe, all in the name of undermining Cole's regime. Her frustrating modus operandi left no trace of evidence, and her hasty escape from prison meant that her superpowers went totally undocumented. This unique legal status made her an indispensable asset to the Resistance.
When the interdimensional rift between Neutropolis and Primal Earth was open, The Gilded Hood was the first to volunteer herself as a test subject. Her zeal for the Resistance movement meant that she'd risk being rended apart on an atomic level if it meant one of her brothers and sisters would live to see the portal work. Fortunately, the journey through the wormhole was quick and painless.
Though physically intact, the trip would prove a detriment to her psyche. Entering a world very much like her own where Tyrant wasn't Emporer of the World, the Hamidon wars had never happened and twenty four years of police state oppression was the stuff of sensationalist journalism disillusioned her from her cause. Depressed and without direction, The Gilded Hood became the call name of an assassin whose only vested interest in crime fighting was the monetary reward it belied.