From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Thomas Cross is the creation of Fractured, who can be reached in-game at @Fractured or on the CoH boards at the same name. Originally created to serve as a dark mirror of his heroic father Ivan Cross, Thomas evolved into a complex and satisfying character to play. The history in this article was recently trimmed for the sole reason of not abusing the reader's good will by dragging them through two years worth of heavy RP history. To any old friends who happen across this article I say 'Thanks for the fun.' Though the stories we created may not be chronicled here, I remember them fondly.
Thomas is an agent of Interpol Spain, by way of Spain's Guardia Civil. (Each nation's Interpol agents are drawn exclusively from its regular law enforcement agencies.) His ties to Scirocco's Mu are extensive, and of late, complicated. He is a known associate of the assassin Kasdaye.
Once considering himself a lost soul, Thomas has found his way home at last. He's far from perfect. He's always proud and occasionally arrogant. He's charming, he knows it and he knows how to use it. He'll buck authority just because he can. He loves power and everything it brings him and he's a Dominator to the marrow of his bones.
At the same time, he values the relationships in his life beyond anything else. He's a true believer in the power of choice to overcome circumstance. His charm is born in genuine warmth and he has an artist's affection for the intrinsic beauty of humanity with all of its warts intact. In short, he's become a man he's not afraid to have his children imitate.
Thomas has a full range of psi talents including telepathy, mind control, memory alteration, telekinesis and empathy. Thomas’ empathy is limited to the ability to read, project and manipulate emotions and should be differentiated from the ability to psionically manipulate physiology. Thomas refers to people who have that particular gift as “physio-Empaths” or “capital ‘E’ Empaths”. Even as a child, before his gifts flared to life, he had a particular insight. The masks that people would wear and the fronts they would present were transparent to him. He drew what he saw, which was frequently more then his subjects intended to show. Thomas’ father Ivan possesses the same insight which was in part what made the man such a formidable jurist.
Thomas' body is a conduit for cosmic energy. He is a living lens with the ability to project blasts of explosive force or to channel that force through his fists. He can also tap this energy to push his already formidable mental powers into temporary overdrive.
Thomas is capable of flying by means of the same energies. Inside a planetary atmosphere his top speed has a practical limit somewhere between seventy and ninety miles per hour. Greater speeds are immediately exhausting and cause potentially lethal (to him) atmospheric disturbances. Once free of a planet's atmosphere he is also free of that restriction, and can approach lightspeed or even enter hyperspace by an act of will.
Superhuman Physical Attributes and Tissue Regeneration
The energy infusing Thomas' cells has permanently increased his physical strength, speed, endurance and durability to superhuman levels. He's immune to normal illness and his tissues are phenomenally regenerative. ((Without quantifying the above, all game mechanics of motion, strength, toughness and rest are played as being literal. He can run indefinitely without tiring, wreck a car with his bare hands, shrug off small arms fire, recover any injury that doesn't incapacitate him in just moments, etc.))
A Unique Gift
At a great price, Thomas is capable of creating extraordinary works of art. He begins by entering into someone’s memory of one of their life’s key events and reliving it in the deepest and most intimate sense. The process requires some time and great concentration. He then psionically ‘pulls’ at the memory, uprooting it from the person’s experience and intensifying it until it literally burns itself out. The memory is extinguished, so completely gone that the subject not only loses the memory, but any aspect of their personality or character that had its foundation in that defining moment is destroyed as well. During the process he will recreate a scene from the memory in a work of art, usually a drawing or painting. When it’s over, the artwork itself contains the emotional energy of the event. Waves of feeling and emotion literally roll off of the piece; anyone who looks at it will experience the emotional impact of the event as though it were their own memory captured in the painting.
Taking the memory of a life-shaping event from a person with a long life in front of them is a cruel but terribly effective way of tearing apart and reshaping their personality. Doing the same to a person at death’s door is a way of allowing the most important part of who they were to live beyond them.
Thomas never signs these works, never claims them as his own, never sells them. They’re done in a variety of mediums and styles. He would deny having painted them if asked. His life as he knows it would be over if it was ever publicly known that he could preserve the most significant events and ideas of a person’s life beyond their death.
Before the Beginning
Thomas Cross was born on March 15, 1978 to parents Ivan Cross and Marisa Ramirez Santiago Cross. He was an open-hearted child who cared deeply and laughed easily. His artistic skill and personal insight earned him a full scholarship to the California Institute of the Arts. After graduating with honors from the Fine Arts program in the year 2000 he returned home to Paragon City to begin his career as a working artist.
He doesn’t talk about the events that surrounded his decline from rising star to lost soul. He’s realized that it wasn’t the events that shaped him. Everyone faces tragedy, fear, isolation. Not everyone sticks a needle in their arm, crawls into a heroin hole and pulls the door shut behind them. He did. He lived for years on the streets, from high to high, committing a laundry list of petty crimes to fund his addiction. He would be there still if it weren’t for his father, Nicole Brody, and an escaped would-be criminal mastermind.
The man had been sentenced by the then Judge Ivan Cross and when he escaped he promised to kill Cross and anyone close to him. Fearing for his estranged son, Ivan found him on the streets of King’s Row. Thomas needed to detox, badly, and he needed someplace safe to do it. Knowing that Thomas would resent being sent away, even – maybe especially – ‘for his own safety’, Nicole Brody suggested that he could stay with her family while going through detox. Even a psychopath wouldn't try anything while Thomas was in a house with a cop, a retired cop, a police cadet, a hero and an Irish mother with a mean rolling pin. Thomas found his second family in those days of puking, sweating, swearing hell. His gratitude to and affection for the Brody family is one of the enduring positive influences in his life. In the darkest days of the year to come, Nicky would be his anchor. The two became very close and their relationship has often been mistaken for something more romantic than it is. People do love a scandal, even if they have to invent it.
A Lethal Addiction
One month into his sobriety Thomas learned that he had the potential for great power. A good man offered Thomas the key to unlock that power. Knowing that in his current state of mind power would just be another needle in his arm, a replacement addiction, Thomas declined. Later that same night another man's good intentions paved the road to Thomas' personal hell. He too wanted to unlock Thomas' power, but for his own ends, and he wasn't offering a choice. Thomas was thrown into an addiction far worse than heroin and he left home for the Rogue Isles to revel in it.
It was then that he first met the shard-powered Stalker Kasdaye. The insane girl’s cold emotional silence and almost subconscious existence was a balm to the man dealing with the barrage of other people’s thoughts and feelings that refused to be silenced. She valued him because he felt ‘real’ to her, he valued her because she did not. It was the beginning of one of the defining relationships of his life. He made her a simple promise, he would never abandon her. Little did he know it would become the first promise of that nature he ever kept. For all of the good people in his life, it is quite possible that Thomas' real redemption began not because of a saint, but because of a sociopath.
((Updated history still a work in progress ...))
Destiny snatches recovery out of an addict's hands.
Power is its own addiction.
Thomas reinvents himself in the public eye.
An addict's strange gift matures.