Contact: Joysweeper @ plurk
Other Characters: Scout!
Character Name: Julien Delacroix
Species: Complicated! Human Champion of Earth, his body mostly shaped like a giant pigeon. See here!
Canon Point: A few days after being granted the power to generate a secondary body
Character Info: Urban fantasy world! Mysterious items were planted deep in Earth’s crust nearly two hundred fifty million years ago. Since then Earth’s biosphere became conscious, in a slow strange way, in time to see all kinds of strange creatures from other dimensions that want those buried items. The big flashy attempts with giant monsters or machine and armies have all been thwarted, and the current - last fifty million years or so - trends for attempts too quick and subtle for Earth to pick up on easily have led to it appointing champions, given strange powers and left to their own devices.
So here’s where my character comes in! Julien Delacroix is a Canadian-born boy with mixed French Canadian and Japanese ancestry, child of a wealthy businessman and a trophy wife who rebelled and took him when she left. They moved every few years and became less close as he grew to resemble his father, especially when they returned to his mother’s conservative family. Julien left home at eighteen and meandered around through several colleges, racking up horrific amounts of debt and taking lots and lots of jobs, ranging from sous chef to poet to phone sex operator. In his late twenties he fetched up in Michigan, in a city called Keye, and landed work in a sketchy little medical clinic run by a shady, secretive doctor who he immediately befriended.
Keye was located over one of the mysterious items. Interdimensional creatures trying to hide their existence and acting through human means tried to acquire vast tracts of the city, buying some of it through a corporation, sending altered gangs and creatures to harass and drive away or kill people, subverting the police in predictable ways. After surviving a few encounters with the above, various people including Julien met a champion. She told them the situation and that many other champions had been killed, quit, or were so spread out they were struggling and gave them starter powers - the inventory space, the ability to develop powers on their own as needed, communications - to make them new champions. For a while she led and guided them, but she was called away by a major emergency. They could handle this, right?
They could not. They could slow and stall the aliens and alien allies - most of the champions call interdimensional things "alien" - but not stop them. In two years a five-mile stretch had been cleared of people and the center. Great drills hidden from most public perception by alien technology started up and went all day and night. The altered cops/gangs/monsters invaded homes freely trying to find champions.
A lot of people left, but Julien’s doctor friend stayed, as did others, and he decided to do as much as he possibly could. This led to a great multiplication of powers and, because of how powers work in this setting, alterations to his body, but he still looked mostly human until the wyrm was uncovered - a great unearthly beast guarding the artifact. It went on a rampage, lashing out indiscriminately and destroying whole blocks outside the cleared zone. Julien initiated the transformation into a great flier so that he could get people in and out of danger. Subsequently the wyrm was subdued and local alien forces destroyed or fled in the chaos.
All this broke the (weak) masquerade, though different champions worldwide reacted in different ways. Julien freaked out and flew away until his friends brought him back, where he went along with what the other Keye champions had told the world about what had happened. He was an instant, bird-shaped media sensation, ending up the Keye spokesman, having to shut down people selling merch of him without his permission. Of course, he knew things weren’t over. There were unpleasant rumors he couldn’t help but hear, and he was back and forth on if he should leave the city and join other fights, or if he’d done enough.
After some months, when the scrutiny related to being a giant bird had relaxed somewhat, he did leave Keye, he and a few other friends. They met older champions along the way, who tsked a little at Julien’s choice and let him in on the secret that many of them ended up with big, very visibly inhuman bodies too, but did not have to try and exist without hands or the ability to keep from standing out in the crowd. Without really letting their explanations sink in, they gave him the secondary body power that most older champions ended up with.
He’s busy figuring it out. It’s been a long time since Julien could be a normal human and he’s rusty at it. Also, some of the other champions are unhappy about the scenario going even partially public, and then there’s how the interdimensional aliens feel, and Julien is the single most visible and known champion on the planet.
Personality: Julien likes to come off as sunny, unconcerned, a little flirty, and very friendly and people-oriented. He is most of those things! He genuinely really likes people and takes an interest in them and their interests, downplaying his own, and tailors how he acts to his audience. Julien can be supportive and intuitive, analytical and erudite, crude and insulting. These are all real parts of him, not an act. The face he’ll show true friends has a mix of the above.
At an early age he learned two things: one, that he had to go and make friends in a hurry, and two, that he wouldn’t be staying with them very long before moving again. Although he’s got a lot of penpals, phone and Skype contacts, and hundreds of friends on social media, it’s not the same as being able to hang out in person. He makes casual friends easily but it’s hard for him to trust in someone; those true friends mentioned above are rare. Often when someone seems to deeply care about him he feels a little uncomfortable and rationalizes it - they’re being polite, he’s misinterpreting.
Julien is ready to seize on the smallest thing as evidence that someone’s a good person, even if they’re standoffish or mean to him. If they don’t show the smallest thing, he just shrugs and generally avoids them; if he thinks they’re good and then he’s proved dramatically wrong he’s genuinely hurt and avoids them harder. Generally he tries to come off as very, very chill, with no strong emotions beyond happiness and concern. It helps that he’s quite hard to shock or anger. He may discuss things that seriously trouble him, but only casually, and he’ll downplay or dissemble if questioned, a sharp contrast to how readily and enthusiastically he’ll complain about more minor things. Despite his general sunny demeanor he can be very cynical.
He’s known to say variations on “Unfortunately, my middle name’s Someone”, as in “Someone has to help!” in order to make a joke out of the fact that he’s a giant bleeding heart softy who loves to make people happy. He’s quite willing to be made fun of and self-deprecates readily - turning his low self esteem into, again, something not serious. While he’s pretty resilient, when stressed or upset beyond his ability to cope quickly he has a tendency to withdraw, even to run away. If people knew they’d just worry, right?
Even though he’s the sort to scoop up spiders to put outside and is generally a pacifist, he’ll fight if cornered or to protect or save someone. He’s very slow to anger, but it simmers and can come out in outbursts. Generally he’s more prone to despair than rage.
He’s thought about identifying as genderfluid - it’s easiest to be called ‘he’, and he likes it, but he doesn’t mind other pronouns either - but he’s not sure he likes or cares about labels, though he’s happy for people who do. Regardless he doesn’t hide that a lot of his interests aren’t traditionally masculine and knows he looks good in basically any kind of clothing. Since he ended up looking like a bird he's much more likely to call himself a "man" than before. This is really more about being seen as human and not an animal.
Julien’s very against hurting people or even making them too uncomfortable generally. Consent is important. He will also not tell someone else’s secrets if they live. But a lot of rules, well, if they don’t hurt anyone and you don’t get caught, what’s the harm? When he was a teenager he absolutely shoplifted from large stores until he discovered that it hurt the employees. These days he’ll steal things he’s sure won’t be missed, eavesdrop or spy, and sometimes bend the truth if naked truth is uncomfortable.
Months back he sacrificed his humanity to help people. Julien had suspected it would happen and gone into denial, just knowing he had to protect his friends; when he couldn’t deny it anymore, it was kind of a relief. He was glad no one else had to do it to quite that extent, and afraid considering the future, and he hated people seeing him as an animal and babytalking him or petting, but there was something glorious about being so big and strong and able to fly, too. Suddenly being able to be that and human too is something he has no idea how to feel about. It’s objectively good, but, like, he was ready to be a talking bird, however much he was going to complain about it, however many regrets!
Abilities: He can pick locks, either with tools in his human hands or with the clawed fingers on his wings, and his human hands are pretty good with sleight of hand and general delicate work. He can play violin and piano reasonably well, with human hands again.
His primary body is a mix of several birds - mostly pigeon - and a little remaining human. If he lays down and tucks his head, he’s about the size and general shape of a microcar. Julien’s got “bird powers” - a wide field of view, the ability to process vision faster, a very wide range of visible colors including ultraviolet, a sense for magnetic north. He can hear infrasound so engines, coasts, and mountains can be heard from so far away that he can navigate by him. He can peck hard enough to crack a skull, and hit things with his wings even harder. In general he’s quite strong and resilient. He can control his voice enough to imitate other people, even make it sound like two different people are saying different things at the same time, and yell shockingly loudly. And he can fly! Nothing can just fly magically on his world, and wings alone aren’t enough. Julien’s a very fast, agile, and powerful flier, able to carry a human weight with him and maintain highway speeds for over a day.
There is a kind of hammerspace he can access by making a line down his body and letting it open. He calls it his “inventory” because he’s aggressively casual and plays videogames, but it’s a kind of dimension of primeval sea or amniotic fluid that puts anything entering into it into a kind of stasis until it’s removed. Clocks stop, adult mayflies put their short lives on pause, people notice they’re immersed in saltwater and that there is dim golden light and feel like they’ve been pulled out maybe a second after being put in.
“Inventory” is a pretty good word for it. He can sense what he’s holding and eject it if he opens a line down his body, or decide to destroy or dissolve it into material. After dissolving something from his inventory he doesn’t need much food for a while and any injuries start healing at a steady, unnaturally fast rate, which is helpful when you have a horse-sized bird body during desperate times. While he hasn’t found the upper limit to how much he can store he can easily pick up enough that he loses track of items - there’s no organization.
He can also now make a copy of his old, human body in his inventory, which takes a week or so and a lot of material, and control it, giving him two bodies. The human one is vanilla human and doesn’t have his bird abilities. He can control both bodies at once, but this means multitasking. Ideally one body is resting or doing a very repetitive autopilot-type task while his attention is free to focus on the other. Julien can just about listen in on two conversations or stand lookout in two places, but if anything really engaging happens to one he can’t pay as much attention to the other. He could make more human bodies, but three or more out in the world are so hard to control that even if only one is actually doing anything, he can’t focus. Even with just two his attention is literally split, so he’s likely to leave the human body stored when not using it.
Both bodies have access to his inventory, though the opening in his human body is much smaller and so is the size of things that can be removed or added. Julien’s bird body is his ‘real’ one. If his bodies are too far apart for too long, several miles of space for more than a couple days, the human one starts kind of lagging, delaying. Eventually the connection would break and the body would go comatose. If that happens or it’s killed he simply has to make a new one, which just takes time and resources. If his bird body is killed and his human body is elsewhere and survives, the lag problem won’t apply. Instead he will start transforming into a giant bird over about two weeks, rendering him unable to do much for half of that.
As a champion he can take on new powers as needed through a connection to the Earthmind, but away from his Earth he's cut off from its strength and can no longer do this, or use that link to communicate with other local champs, even if they came to the Carnival too. His bodies can only operate remotely for so long because they're only connected to each other. Senior champions can also appoint new champs but again, cut off, plus he hadn't quite got there anyway.
Soul Colour: Teal blue
Ideal Jobs: Talker, patch, makeup, tailor, cook, thief
Relevant Experience: Julien can be charming and persuasive if you let him. He’s a bit of a clotheshorse who can alter garments, though new ones are beyond him, and likes working with hair and makeup. He has worked as a chef before, though he complains that having to cook for a job makes it less fun. And, well, his abilities and inclinations lend well to thievery, though he’d refuse to take from people who have little already or in situations where the blame would fall on vulnerable. (He’d be perfectly happy making it look like monsters broke into a big chain warehouse and stole shit though.)
He’d be able to do simple jobs with two bodies at once, say chopping or stirring or stitching with his human body and talking to guests with his bird one, but he’d also try to hide the two bodies thing from Carnival workers, at least at first.
Reason for Joining: Contracted. Can he negotiate to ban interdimensional aliens and their creatures and technolgy from his version of Earth? If not then “aliens” from any other world or reality, as well as their technology and people/creatures mutated by or carrying alien stuff, have bright unhideable auras visible to champions and cameras when they're on Earth, making it really obvious who and where they are.
Hello? Hello! I figured I’d introduce myself. Julien Delacroix!
[Well, that’s a voice made for radio. Warm and resonant and very clear, very rich. You can hear the smile in it.]
I’m kinda like a selkie - you know, people who put on seal skins and turn into seals - but turns out we come in ‘very large bird’, too. If you find my skin anywhere, please do not attempt to steal or wear it. I will not marry you! We have to date and figure things out the usual way.
So this isn’t just a PSA: tell me an outrageous lie about why you’re here. Like, I really needed a new skin after that total jerk stole and burned mine. Didn’t marry ‘em either, by the way.
Julien hurries back to his trailer, thankfully deserted for now, and spends a few minutes gazing at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. The black feathers going down his head and neck and back have turned to blue, still with an iridescent gleam going to green and purple on his neck. His eyes are also blue now, a brilliant silvery blue that makes his pupils, pinning into fine dots as he regards them, far more visible. His irises still have a pebbly asphalt texture. It’s not a bad look, he tells himself. Compared to what happened in Keye it’s nothing at all.
A thought strikes him, and he stretches out his wing and uses his beak to draw an invisible line a few feet long down it. Open. The line stops being invisible, and gapes wide, an ovoid like a window into some dark static dimension, hovering there against his feathers. He crouches down so he won’t have far to fall and swivels his head on his very flexible neck to look under his wing. Out: my body.
His human body appears in the ovoid in the fetal position, hair flowing like it’s underwater. Blue hair, he notices, and his body drops out onto the textured bathmat, soaked in seawater. Julien flinches. The floor’s colder than bird feet really register.
There’s always that moment of disorientation when he trots out his other body. Occupying two at once, juggling four eyes and eight limbs and everything, takes a moment to adjust to. And which one is he, which one is him, he wonders if Granddam ever feels like this. Probably not. Even dripping wet, she’d been so self-assured when she showed him.
Out: towel in a ziplock. A second later it splats out, and Julien sees from the colors that it’s from the cheaper, leakier batch of plastic bags, but only a spot of water shows when he opens it with human hands and uses it to scrub his wet face and hair. The sensation of the fabric rubbing on his face, on just one of his faces, helps him center himself. Close. The opening narrows into a line again and disappears.
He steps one body back and looks at himself, both ways, his attention on what his human body looks like now. Blue hair - no, those are fine long feathers, like on an emu, like hairs with ladder rungs coming off them - in the same hue as on his neck, though no iridescence. Blue eyebrows, blue eyelashes. Silvery blue eyes with a coarse inhuman texture to the irises, though it’s so much less obvious on this body, with its smaller eyes and the presence of sclera. Looking out of them he thinks colors seem brighter, more like bird eyes see them, but he’s not sure.
His body hair is white now. That, and hair-to-feathers, that’s familiar. Julien lets out a breath, watches his human brow crease and the subtle changes in feather position on his other body that indicate a frown. He’d just got the ability to be human again and that’s being taken away!
He did sign up for this. Shouldn’t complain. The other Carnival workers, with their extravagant mismatched changes, wouldn’t be sympathetic. Here of course there’s nothing voluntary about it, it just happens. Julien will hold up. He has to. It’s just a year anyway, and at the end of it...
“I want to keep the blue, though,” he says to himself. It’s surprising, but not in a bad way. Back in happier times, simpler ones, he’d used to bleach and dye it. “And… not look too chimeric.” He could manage to rock a wild appearance, probably, but not as well as something harmonizing with himself. Julien realizes he’s thinking positively about turning into a bird all over again and shakes his heads. What a piece of work he is.
Oh, that’s the creak of the trailer door opening. Trailermate’s home. Without stopping to think about it he draws a long line down his bird body, his own feathers soft on his hand. Open. Julien goes and dives his human body into his inventory like it’s a pool. There’s an instant of feeling immersed in warm water before all sensation of that body winks out, and he’s one again, and the world is a little simpler. Close. Using his foot Julien picks up the wet towel and gets it into the hamper.
He hasn’t told anyone he can manage two bodies at once, however imperfectly. When anyone’s asked he’s brought up selkies. How can he explain his situation when he doesn’t know how to feel about it himself? As long as he keeps his bird body away out of sight when he’s walking around as a human it’ll be fine.
Anyway. Julien gets the bathroom door open and comes out, fluffing the feathers on his neck. “Hey, Trailermate! Check me out, I’m blue!”