OrchidORCHID

History:

Orchid's father was a Japanese scientist specializing in neurology and her mother was a Canadian expert in genetics. The two met and married while they were working for Dr. Sebastian Poe's fledgling Parapsychological Studies Institute (PSI) in Chicago and their daughter was born a year later. While her father, Shiro insisted on giving her a Japanese name, Kyoko, her mother, Amanda, had always wanted to name her Alicia. Shiro won out in the end, but Amanda would always call her daughter Alicia when they were alone. As part of his research for PSI, Shiro had developed a means of altering the human brain's neural pathways, an accomplishment Dr. Poe hoped would simplify his attempts at mass producing psionic powers in normal humans. When Kyoko was three her father used his new technique on her in the hopes of turning her into a "super-child". Horrified that her husband had used their daughter as a guinea pig Amanda threatened to go to the authorities. To prevent any exposure of his work Dr. Poe had one of his own experimental subjects psionically attack Amanda, putting her into a deep coma. Shiro told Kyoko that her mother had died and to deflect any suspicion he left PSI and took his daughter to his wife's home in Calgary, Alberta. Shiro took a job at a university but secretly continued his work for PSI. The comatose Amanda was placed on life support and locked away in one of PSI's secret labs.

Kyoko grew up thinking her mother was dead. The experiments her father had performed had increased Kyoko's intelligence and given her nearly flawless photographic memory. These enhancements allowed Kyoko to excel at school. By the time she turned 13 she had completed high school and was ready to attend university. The summer after she graduated high school, Kyoko's father took her to PSI Institute. By this time Dr. Poe had nearly perfected his technique for developing psionic powers in normal humans, part of PSI's Project: Trinity. Poe convinced Shiro to use the treatments on Kyoko, after all, she already had the enhanced neural pathways, the procedure would theoretically work even better and more quickly with her. Shiro agreed and Kyoko underwent the experimental procedure to grant her psionic abilities. It was shortly after this that the first Psion manifestation occurred and Project: Trinity was nearly exposed. For security reasons Poe convinced Shiro to have one of the Institute's psionics alter Kyoko's memories of the events. As a result, Kyoko had no memory of her time at PSI. For years she would believe that her new powers had manifested naturally over the course of that summer.

Kyoko went to university, intent on following in her parent's footsteps and becoming a medical researcher. She completed her science degree in only two years and began looking for a post-graduate school, eventually settling on Centennial University in Superior City, a recognized center for biotechnology. Her intelligence and young age made it difficult for Kyoko to make friends, though any friends she did make she would ask them to call her Alicia. By the time she was sixteen Alicia was nearly ready to start her doctoral studies and was working part time in the university's medical trauma center. It was while working at the center that Alicia first encountered the hero Renegade, who discovered that Alicia had telepathic powers. Over the next few months Alicia would assist Renegade and a few other heroes on various missions but she never appeared in public using her powers, only the heroes knew she was helping them.

That all changed when the Hourman Virus was unleashed on Earth. Alicia's mental powers stemmed from a low-level connection to the unconscious group-mind linking all humanity. When the virus struck Alicia was hit with the psychic backlash from the trauma as millions were simultaneously infected. The attack put Alicia into a coma and she was brought to a nearby private hospital. The hospital, however, was actually a front for the World Crime League. One of their agents had been nearby when Alicia was hit and he had recognized that she must have some kind of telepathic powers. Alicia was taken to the League's main base in Malaysia where their scientists worked on turning her into a weapon they could use. The scientists programmed Alicia with extensive martial arts skills and managed to redirect her psionic abilities. When they were done they programmed her with a set of subliminal commands and sent her back to the private hospital. When she awoke the doctors told her she had been comatose for over a month.

Orchid (original costume)Alicia returned to Superior City, unaware of what had been done to her, though she did notice that her powers seemed to be a little different, but she attributed the change to the psionic backlash that had put her in the coma. Alicia learned the truth when she was assisting Renegade and his team, the Enforcers of Justice, with a case that involved the Banzai Institute. When Alicia encountered the head of the Institute, Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, one of the subliminal commands kicked in and she attacked and nearly killed him, displaying several new powers that were the results of the World Crime League's tampering. The Enforcers subdued Alicia and some other members of the Banzai Institute helped to remove the League's programming.

It soon became clear that her altered powers were not the only lasting effect of what the League had done to Alicia. She had become more aggressive and decisive and for the first time began participating openly in the Enforcers' missions, wearing a costume that hid her identity and using the name Orchid. Alicia went back to her studies and working at the medical center, where she met Dr. Paul Maxwell, one of the emergency room doctors at the center. There seemed to be some sort of connection between the two, but Alicia had no idea what. Maxwell soon discovered Alicia's double-identity as Orchid and revealed that he too had a second life as the hero named Nightmare. Maxwell told Alicia that he didn't know how he had gained his powers, that he had no memory beyond the last three years, but that he sensed she was somehow connected to his past. As Alicia spent more time with Maxwell she realized that her own memory about where she was three years ago was fuzzy. The blocks put in place by Dr. Poe had begun to break down.

During the events of Day of Judgment, Nightmare was badly injured defending Superior City against the attacking demons. While he was recovering in the hospital, three men arrived and kidnapped Dr. Maxwell. One of the kidnappers was caught and Orchid and the rest of the Enforcers went to rescue Maxwell. The trail led to Chicago and PSI and the team exposed Dr. Poe's secret experiments. In the process Alicia's memory of the summer she spent at the Institute returned and she was shocked to find out that her mother was alive, though still in a coma. Poe and many of his group were arrested and Alicia had her mother transferred to a private clinic near Superior City. Evidence obtained from PSI also led authorities to arrest Alicia's father for his connection to the Institute and for insurance fraud for claiming his wife had died.

When Nightmare had been injured, it was Alicia that had brought him to the hospital, after first removing his costume to protect his secret identity. When the emergency room staff were ready to write him off as dead, Alicia had intervened and used her own medical skills, which were far greater than any had guessed, to save Dr. Maxwell's life. Though grateful for her actions, the medical center's directors were forced by their insurers into no longer allowing Alicia to work there. Alicia was still allowed to continue her studies at the university but she began to sink into depression. Things got worse when, during a battle with the latest incarnation of the Fearsome Five, Orchid thought she had accidentally killed the villain Mammoth. Even though the body had been taken away by Mammoth's teammates, Orchid had telepathically sensed his consciousness die after she had hit him with a powerful mental blast. The trauma from this appeared to cause Alicia to lose her powers. Without her powers, Alicia gave up being Orchid and began to withdraw from her teammates.

Almost immediately after Orchid's departure a new hero with telekinetic powers calling herself Stiletto began appearing whenever the Enforcers of Justice were in trouble. As soon as the emergency was over she would disappear, but it was not long before the team began to realize she knew all their secrets. By this time Alicia had turned herself in to the authorities, confessing to having accidentally killed Mammoth. When the rest of the Enforcers captured the Fearsome Five it turned that Mammoth was still alive. Faced with few options, the authorities agreed to keep Alicia's identity a secret and ruled against pressing any charges as long as she agreed to get therapy to help her deal with the guilt she felt. Alicia accepted the terms and began therapy sessions at the same clinic she had placed her mother in. Meanwhile, a new hero calling herself Stiletto had appeared on the scene and, in addition to possessing psionic powers, also had an uncanny knowledge of many of the Enforcers' secrets.

Alicia soon discovered that Sarah Edmund was also at the clinic. Sarah was the sister of the hero Mindblade and also possessed telepathic and telekinetic powers similar to her brother's. Sarah was at the clinic being treated for a strange personality disorder that appeared to be a side effect of her powers. Sarah's presence in the city led Alicia and the other Enforcers to suspect she was also Stiletto. Meanwhile, the World Crime League had launched an offensive against the Banzai Institute. Among the League operatives seen in Superior was a masked woman named Lotus, who appeared to have powers similar to those the League had programmed into Orchid, and there was strong evidence that Sarah might unknowingly be this Lotus woman. But if Sarah was Lotus, then who was Stiletto?

StilettoAll these questions were answered in the aftermath of a battle that pitted members of the Banzai Institute and the Enforcers, along with Nightmare and Alicia, against the forces of the World Crime League. Near the end of the battle there was a powerful surge of psionic energy that felled Alicia, Nightmare, Stiletto, Lotus, and another woman who was with the League. When the dust had settled the truth about Lotus, Stiletto, Alicia, and Sarah was revealed. Stiletto was in fact Alicia's mother, Amanda. While Alicia's guilt and trauma over having apparently killed Mammoth had prevented her from consciously using her powers, her subconscious mind had sought a way to continue using them for good. Eventually her subconscious connected with the comatose mind of Amanda (the mother and daughter apparently shared a telepathic link) and, while unable to completely bring her mother out of the coma, Alicia's subconscious did awaken the body. It was as if her mother was sleepwalking and Alicia's subconscious had given her mother's comatose mind a portion of Alicia's memories, mostly those concerning Orchid and the Enforcers. The psionic attack that had placed Amanda in the coma seemed to have activated telekinetic powers, though she was unable to use them while she was in the coma. Now, with the new partial personality, Amanda began sneaking out periodically in the guise of Stiletto. Alicia unconsciously used her own submerged mental powers to keep the clinic staff from noticing that Amanda would go missing for hours at a time. With only a partial personality, Stiletto's actions were limited. She usually only "woke up" when Alicia unconsciously sensed her teammates were in danger, and Stiletto knew that she could not let her true identity be known, that it would destroy the fragile false personality.

Lotus, it was revealed, was Sarah Edmund, and was also the mysterious woman working with the League. The woman, the "real" Lotus, had been responsible for programming Alicia when she was held by the League. When the League planned the assault on Superior City, Lotus sent out an artificially generated telepathic signal which was supposed to reactivate Alicia's programming. Alicia received the signal, but it had no conscious effect since her guilt had shut down her powers. Somehow, though, the signal had an effect on Sarah, who, like her brother, was a psi-sensitive and mimic. The signal, the programmed commands, and the programmed powers transferred themselves to Sarah because of her ability to mimic mental abilities and she became Lotus' pawn.

The psionic surge during the battle had multiple effects. Firstly it had shifted the Orchid/Lotus powers along the control link into Lotus herself. Alicia's powers returned, but were more like they had been before she had been captured by the World Crime League. There was a double effect on Alicia's mother. Firstly, the psionic shock brought her completely out her coma, but she also lost the telekinetic powers she had used as Stiletto. Those powers had in fact shifted over to Sarah, again because of her mimic power. After some consideration, Sarah has chosen (with Alicia's permission) to take up the Stiletto identity and become a full-fledged hero. Alicia, meanwhile, took a leave from her studies and the team and brought her mother back to Canada to help her adjust to life again after being in a coma for almost 14 years.

After a few months it became clear that mother and daughter were strangers to one another, so Alicia let her aunts and uncles take up much of the burden of helping her mother adjust. Alicia was coping with the return of her powers, which seemed to be behaving erratically. Eventually Alicia entered the metahuman training program run by Northguard, the government-sponsored Canadian super-team. While in the program Orchid was recruited, along with many of the other young trainees, to support relief efforts during Earth's war with the alien Imperiex. After the war, Orchid and many of the other young heroes were in Washington, D.C. for a special ceremony honoring their efforts when it was learned that Superior City was in danger. Orchid accompanied ArcAngel, Blur, and several of the young heroes from Superior back to the besieged city where they helped save it. Alicia has decided to move back to Superior and resume her studies. She is just completing her Masters degree and is preparing to start work on her Doctorate. She is spending a lot of time doing field research at the Superior City Academy, a privately-run high school that has facilities for training metahumans where her thesis advisor works as the head of the medical department.

Powers and Abilities:

The treatments Alicia received from her father as a young child greatly increased her brain's ability to process information. As a result her I.Q. was increased dramatically and she gained eidetic (photographic) memory. The later treatments she received at P.S.I. gave her advanced telepathic powers. She could read minds, talk to others telepathically, and the ability to project bolts of mental force or influence another's emotional state. Alicia seemed to possess a low level connection to the so-called collective unconscious of humanity. It was this connection which made her vulnerable to the psychic backlash caused by the Hourman Virus, but it also granted her a form of awareness that gave her several additional abilities. Alicia could sense emotions from those around her, or even read the psychic impressions at a location to get an idea of recent events at that place. The awareness also gave her a sixth sense that warned Alicia of imminent danger or allowed her to see through some illusions. Her awareness also let her understand any language spoken on Earth.

After the brainwashing by the World Crime League, Alicia's powers changed radically. As Orchid, Alicia gained limited telekinetic powers that let her fly, surround herself with a force field, and project bolts of telekinetic force. Alicia retained many of her core telepathic powers like the ability to read minds and project mental attacks but lost her awareness abilities. The most devastating addition to Orchid's powers was her ability to concentrate psionic energy in a limited area around her hand. By touching an opponent with this field Orchid could increase the effect of even the smallest of victim's fears to the point where it was so overwhelming it would mentally cripple the target.

After the latest power shift, Alicia appears to have lost her fear power but has regained some of her awareness abilities. Orchid now possesses a range of telepathic abilities including mind-reading, empathic senses, and the ability to communicate mentally with others. She also has strong mental defenses to protect herself from various kinds of psionic attack. She has also retained some telekinetic abilities. Besides being able to move objects with her mind, which includes tech ability to levitate herself, Orchid can also fire bolts of pure force and can generate force fields. Her strong willpower, combined with the discipline she has learned from her martial arts training, has given Alicia the ability to block pain. When injured she can continue to function normally unless the extent of her injuries are severe enough to be crippling or life-threatening. She still retains a photographic memory and has regained the ability to understand nearly any spoken language. Orchid's restored powers are not entirely stable, however. Use of her powers near their upper limit causes Orchid to tire quickly, and her powers are known to fail completely on occasion. When this happens it usually requires a few hours of rest before Orchid can use her powers again.

As a going away present from her martial arts instructors at the training program in Canada, Orchid was given a custom-built bo-staff. The combat staff is made of a durable metal allow and is designed to split into two equal-length fighting staves. Each of these staves can in turn split into two parts connected by a chain to become a pair of nunchaku.


Enforcers of Justice II