From 2011 to 2012 in City of Heroes, I played a character named Snared. Snared’s real name was Ryker Baptiste, and he had a younger sister, Michelle, known as Chell. Both of them were orphaned in their arrival in the game setting, and the story I told with them was that of a caring, but flawed father figure, and his complicated experience of watching his little sister grow up and become a whole person in her own right.
Chell was easily one of my favourite characters to write in the setting. She wasn’t a superhero; she was just a normal person, and she was a normal person who grew up surrounded by these icons of superhero power. In the incident that orphaned Chell and Ryker, she was heavily injured, which meant her first introduction to several players was as a presence in a hospital, a girl who spoke to them but could not leave her hospital bed. Ryker and Chell were immigrants from a fantasy country, a colony of multinational thugs and criminals, the Etoile. Ryker and Chell therefore had a different cultural context, and they spoke multiple languages – smatterings of Italian and German amongst their English.
Chell mostly did her conversing on Formspring. Here are some of her opinions on things:
Drama whores. Annoying or entertaining?
Chell Answer, #1.
So I didn’t realise it, but apparently here in America there’s this whole culture of just doing stupid stuff so people look at you. You lie about being gay, talk about your eating disorder or how you have sex, you dress like a laundry soap advertisement and then you whine and stamp your feet and pout when people pay attention to you. So I have been thinking about this and the more I do the more I think of monkeys throwing poo. I am no monkey, and I do not throw my poo.
Turning up at school without a bra and a tube top when it’s a cold day is not ‘artistic expression.’ It’s standing on your hands and saying ‘LOOK AT MEEEEEE.’ That’s just expressive expression and it’s just the same old monkey poo. I got better things to do with my time at class, because one day I’m going to be one of the people who rock this world rather than rock a tube top. So nyeh.
If you were to be re-incarnated into any species other then the one you presently are. What one would it be? None humans can choose human. Shape changers will lose all ability to shape change!
Chell Answer, #2.
Well, obviously, I’d be the only rock-and-roll playing velociraptor doctor, or doctoraptor. I also wouldn’t mind being reincarnated as like, some suburban family’s pet cat, because that way I wouldn’t have to worry about ladyparts toradmerd and could just spend all day lounging around doing nothing. Which is pretty nice, but you get bored of it. And you can’t draw or paint with paws. Monkeys don’t make great art and they have ugly faces. Octopi and chameleons can treat their whole bodies as a canvas though, so there’s that. That’s pretty neat.
Sticking with dinosaur.
What would you trade your good looks for? I mean like you’d be ugly but you would gain what?
Chell Answer, #3.
I traded a lot of my good looks. I was pretty cute back before. Apparently my nose is a different shape now, and uh, my growth was stunted in some ways and accelerated in others due to all the medical treatments. So I guess I’d say I traded those good looks for being alive.
But they came back! I mean, Fae tells me I’m pretty cute, and while I keep hidden pretty much at school I still know some people see and look. So I didn’t really trade them forever. I didn’t KNOW they’d come back – ficken, I was really scared for ages there that I’d never get hair again and I’d go through my life as a cueball girl without a nose that only got the really creepy pervs who would tell me ‘I love you for who you are!’ while they jerked off to licking my head or something gross.
Knowing that, I still would trade my good looks for peace and love, real love. For me, for Ryker, for everyone I grew up with, for all the great people I read about here, even the dicks. If I could have that if my appearance was to be nailed to a cross, then hand me a hammer.
Share a beautiful picture with me. I’ll do the same.
Chell Answer, #4.
Ich bin kein Opfer. Zur Hölle damit.
(A picture of a hospital door)
Would you give if you knew you would not receive in return?
Chell Answer, #5.
Okay, saw this one and knew I had to answer it, so here it is, number 600.
Yes. Absolutely yes. The most important words in my life are public domain. I want to be a doctor and find a cure to something horrible that becomes public property. I want to be an artist and want people to create things because I inspired them. I want to when I’m well enough, help out at the shelter I hear about. I want to work not for the rewards but because I have gotten so much from people who could afford to give. Being able to give shows you’re strong, and by that metric, I want to be the strongest girl in the world.
I owe so much to people. I owe my home to Faige. I owe my school life and activities to the teachers and tutors who are helping me catch up from all my study in the Isles. I owe my hope to you people and you didn’t even realise you gave it to me. I owe and you gave and there’s nothing I can do to repay it. So I owe. And one day I will give to the world.
Also, thanks for letting me do this, Ryker. I know you give a lot to me and I’m sorry for all the times I’m a pain.
This is writing from two years and change ago. I’ve changed a lot, as a writer, but I still really, really love this character.