Born with psionic abilities, she was trained by PSI from childhood to become one of their elite assassins. She has no memories of her past before starting her training, and she doesn't even remember her real name. Her masters gave her the name "Samarkand", in honor of an ancient city thought to be the birthplace of the infamous "Hashishins", the first and best murderers-for-hire the world has ever seen.
But when her last mission had an unexpected turn of events, a part of the veil obscuring her past was finally lifted from her mind. She remembered her parents, and the horrific way they died: PSI murdered them because they refused to hand her over to them.
Saddened by her tragic loss, and furious for what they had done to her (and certainly many others), and with the support of a wealthy benefactor, Samarkand swore to wield her telekinetic blades once more, this time to protect peace and justice and, above everything else, to put an end to PSI's evil schemes.
Standing 5 feet tall (noticeably below the average) and tipping the scales at 120 pounds, Samarkand has the looks of a Caucasian woman in her mid 20's (her exact age, however, is unknown). She has long, purplish-black hair, and purple eyes; her irises glow with a violet light whenever her powers are active. Her long years of physical training have given her the lean, athletic body of a gymnast, yet still having very enticing curves. All in all, she is a fair looking, quite sexy young woman, which more often than not makes her opponents lower their guard (not surprisingly, this happens almost universally whenever her opponents are male and unaware of her true abilities).
Despite rediscovering a key moment of her past, and pledging her powers to a good cause, Samarkand still has, in many senses, the attitude of an assassin. Whenever she's behind her mask, she turns into a cold, calculating person, preferring to stalk her prey and attack it when it's more vulnerable, and seeking the cover of darkness whenever possible. As such, she prefers to work alone, and the few times she has teamed up with another Hero, she has proven to be a woman of few words.
Having the attitude of an assassin, however, doesn't mean she is one. After becoming a fighter of justice, and upon Mr. Arkand's request, she has refrained from killing her opponents, even those working for PSI. She has managed to do this, by "dulling" her telekinetic blades in such a way that they practically become blunt weapons (though she can, in the blink of an eye, sharpen her blades if the need arises). Also, she has adopted the Hero mindset quite well; helping other people and thwarting an imminent threat always comes before her personal vendetta against PSI.
When she's in her Samantha Arkand persona, however, she turns into a warmer, more open, affable person (though soft spoken and quite shy). Being around nice people, such as Mr. Arkand and Tabitha, has helped her get in touch with her true feelings. It's very likely that, as time goes on, more and more of this warmth and openness seeps into her Samarkand identity, making her act and behave more like the archetypical Hero everybody loves and respects.
Powers & Abilities
Being trained since childhood in the art of telekinetic molding, Samarkand can give physical substance to her raw psionic energies. As such she can, at least theoretically, create any tool she needs to get the job done. The deep focus of her training, however, has made her exceptionally adept at molding melee weapons, particularly dual shortswords, her weapons of choice, as well as a shield to protect herself. This focus on melee combat has made her practically unable to mold other objects, or use her telekinesis to move (or root in their place) objects from a distance.
Her arduous martial arts training hasn't only given her an extraordinary level of swordsmanship, but also great flexibility and agility. While not particularly strong, she can perform extraordinary feats of acrobatics, move silently, and attack her opponents (and avoid their attacks) with lightning-fast reflexes. She can even strengthen her body, by coating her bones and muscles with a layer of "telekinetic varnish". This further enhances her speed and agility, granting her the ability to run at impossibly high speeds, as well as jumping great distances (both in height and length) without sustaining any crippling damage.
During a recent mission involving rescuing civilians captured by her nemesis' henchmen atop one of Ren Cen's skyscrapers, one of the captives was shoved over the edge before Samarkand could have a chance at stopping them. Without wasting a second, she jumped right behind the helpless man, successfully taking hold of him in mid-air. As they both plunged down into what would become a certain death, a pair of glowing wings grew from Samarkand's back; their fall slowed down to a gentle glide, and she and the captive touched down without sustaining any serious injuries. This "telekinetic flight" ability, however useful, causes great physical and mental exhaustion to Samarkand (for such an ability, unlike her telekinetic weapons which come as second nature to her, requires a great deal of concentration and effort on her part to maintain), and thus she can only use it safely for a few minutes (three at most) before giving in to exhaustion.
Friends & Family
For a long time, PSI was the closest thing Samarkand ever had to a family. After realizing what PSI had done to her real parents, though, she broke all ties with her "foster family". With no memories of her real identity, though, she has no actual clues that could help her search for any living relatives she might have.
Ever since she decided to fight PSI and other evils, however, she has had an ally at her side, in the form of Thomas Arkand, a rich businessman. He has supported her crimefighting activities right from the start, and has pledged all of his financial resources to help Samarkand find her lost identity. He has proven a trustworthy friend and wise advisor, and Samarkand has even come to see him as a kind of fatherly figure, even to the point of adopting her late daughter's identity, Samantha, as her own (at least until she discovers her true name).
Besides Mr. Arkand, Samarkand has started to grow fond of the businessman's only grandchild, Tabitha. In fact, whenever she's not fighting for justice or working as Mr. Arkand's personal assistant, she can be found playing with the five year old girl; she has even started to call Samarkand "Auntie Sam" out of affection.
Being in the Hero business for a relatively short time, and despite having to always go the extra mile in order to overcome her assassin background and prove her worth to the eyes of other Heroes and the general public, Samarkand has showed, time and again, that she is now a true defender of peace and justice.
Her heroic deeds haven't gone unnoticed by Rune, leader of the Silver Age Sentinels. He learned of Samarkand's interest of joining a supergroup, and how her criminal past had discouraged other teams from recruiting her, decided to have a talk with her in person. After carefully reviewing her profile, getting to know her better and assert, beyond any reasonable doubt, that her dark past is well behind her now, Rune deemed Samarkand worthy of joining the Sentinel's ranks.
Until very recently, all the family she ever knew was PSI. She doesn't know her real name, where did she come from, or if she has any relatives. All she knew is that, ever since she was a little girl, she was called "Samarkand" by her masters and peers - the closest thing she ever had to parents and brothers.
Born with the ability to give physical substance to psychic energy, Samarkand was trained since her earliest childhood to become one of PSI's elite assassins. Her arduous martial arts and psychic training tempered her body and mind into an efficient murder machine. For her, killing was simply a job, as ordinary as any average person's. And a great job she did for her masters. From businessmen to scientists, with the occasional deserter or innocent eyewitness, and even some rising Heroes: many people found their end at Samarkand's expert hands, or rather her razor-sharp telekinetic twin blades.
Even her "name" was synonymous with cold-blood murder. One of her instructors told her once that Samarkand, an ancient city in central Asia, right in the middle of the legendary Silk Road, was rumored to be the birthplace of the world's first order of murderers-for-hire - the "Hashishins", from where the very word "assassin" comes from. They were the finest, feared throughout the ancient world for their skill and mercilessness.
"We chose this name for you, my child, as a talisman of great power. Through your blades, the legacy of the Hashishins will go on..."
Samarkand's life story could have been one of endless killing before meeting her own (most likely abrupt) end, had her last job gone smoothly. Fortunately for her, and the world at large, it didn't go that way...
Visions From The Past
One night, as in many others before, Samarkand was readying herself for yet another job. Her target was a wealthy old man who had decided to meddle with PSI's affairs. She spent the last few days studying the man's pictures, following every one of his movements, and memorizing the mansion's layout. Everything was set; soon this man would become just another name in Samarkand's growing body count. Not that she felt anything special about it; her rigorous training had dulled her emotions in such a way that she simply didn't have them. They were a distraction in her line of work, after all. Murder is all about being as cold as ice.
It was a dark, moonless night, perfect for the mission at hand. Thanks to the cover of darkness and her great agility and stealth, Samarkand had little trouble getting inside the mansion unnoticed. Her target had no enemies (or so he thought), so he had minimal security in place: a handful of guards and a bunch of CCTV cameras every now and then. Piece of cake! Not even necessary to take down the poor fellows.
Pretty soon, Samarkand found herself inside the old man's bedroom. He was sleeping peacefully, unaware that death was approaching fast. She took a silent, deep breath, as two faint purple flames erupted in her hands, which quickly became thin and elongated, taking the shape of short bladed swords. Her eyes shone with a cold, unwavering purple light as she closed the distance between she and her prey.
The very darkness that had covered her movements as a protective cloak thus far, however, turned against her this time. For Samarkand, her eyes fixed at her slumbering target, failed to see the doll lying on the floor next to the bed. Her foot pushed it apart with almost no noise, but the sudden jolt activated its toy mechanism. Soon, the room was filled with the loud, somewhat mechanical cries of a baby, waking up the man. He could only see the flaming eyes and swords quickly moving towards him. It made little difference to Samarkand whether he was awake or not; it was already too late for him!
But then a second, smaller figure rose form the bed. It was a little girl, about five years old. Frightened, she embraced the old man. He quickly shielded the child with his own body. An instinctive, yet futile, move. She would kill them both, for her orders were to leave no witnesses, and her orders made no exceptions on anybody, not even helpless children.
"Please, have mercy!", the man begged. "I know why you are here tonight. Kill me... but please don't hurt my granddaughter!"
But Samarkand pay no heed to the man's words. She was at striking distance from him, and her blades were ready to pierce both his chest and his granddaughter behind.
"No!", the little girl cried, hugging her grandfather from behind. "Don't do anything bad to my granddaddy! Please!"
Something inside Samarkand's mind snapped upon hearing the little girl's desperate plead. It was as if a dark, thick veil had ripped, revealing a sudden, blinding flash of light. Almost immediately, her head filled with an impossible amount of pain; it was so strong and sharp that she lost her focus, her blades vanishing into thin air. She lost her balance and fell to her knees, while grabbing her head with both hands and screaming in agony. The man was puzzled at first, not knowing what was happening. But soon he took advantage of the situation, taking his daughter and moving to the safe room, from where he would call his security personnel and the police.
Meanwhile, overwhelmed by the pain relentlessly hammering her head, Samarkand had a vision. She saw herself as a little girl, not older than her target's grandchild, playing happily in a small playground. Sitting on a bench close by two people, a man and a woman, looked at her, smiling, their hands clasped together.
"It's time to go home, little plum!" the man said while he and his partner rose from the bench.
Giggling and smiling, Samarkand happily rushed to their side. They walked hand in hand. She was right between her parents, the three of them talking about the great dinner waiting for them at home. The sun had set already, and the last lights of twilight were fading fast. A cool and gentle breeze blew against their faces. They turned right, and the sidewalk gave way to a poorly lit, lonely alley. It was a detour they had taken many times before. It was a quiet, nice neighborhood, after all, and that way was seldom used by anyone.
That's why the man and woman were surprised to find other people there. Five men stood in front of them. They wore black leather overcoats, and despite the gloomy darkness, all of them wore pitch-black sunglasses. They had a quite menacing presence.
"Good evening!", one of them said. Despite the salute, his voice was somber. "We are from..."
"We know very well who are you guys!", The man said, angrily. "And no matter how many times you ask, our answer will always be no! You aren't taking our daughter anywhere!"
"You must understand, good sir", the man continued. "that your daughter is very special. She has latent abilities we can help her to develop. We only wish her to live her life to the fullest of her potential, and so do you, right?"
"We have spoken to other parents whose children had been taken to your so-called "school for the mentally gifted"", the woman replied. "You know, the ones that claim you have kidnapped their sons and daughters!"
"Those are unfounded rumors, ma'am, I assure you. Any parent that confides their children's education to us can visit them anytime they wish."
"So all those lawsuits against you are unfounded rumors as well? What about the reports on the disappearance of reluctant parents on the newspapers?"
"Please understand... your child needs special education. Her latent mental abilities, if left untrained, can become a grave danger to everyone around her, including you!"
"You are the dangerous ones, coming to us right in the middle of nowhere! Please leave, or I promise I'll call the police next time you show up!" Samarkand's father threatened.
"Don't worry, sir... we will bother you no more... after we take the girl with us..."
The five men rose their hands, and from their palms erupted tiny balls of pinkish fire. The man and the woman, frightened, took a step back, shielding Samarkand with their bodies.
"We knew you guys were up to no good!" The father said, angry yet scared at the same time. "Is this what you want for our child? To turn her into a monster?"
"This is your last chance... give us the girl, or we will take it from you, by force if necessary! If you cooperate, we will erase your memories of this encounter, and it will seem to you that you let us take care of the girl out of your free will, for her sake. Isn't that a great deal?"
"the only way you'll put your hands on my daughter is after killing us!" Samarkand's mother cried, showing great courage, resolute to defend her child at any cost.
"You asked for it, then!"
The men hurled their pink fireballs at them. They turned around and ran as fast as they could. The man took Samarkand in his arms, pressing her against his chest very strongly.
"Daddy! You're crushing me!", the little girl protested.
"Sorry, little plum, but you have to bear it for a while!" Her father said. "No matter what you see or hear, stay close to me! Daddy will..."
One of the attacker's bolts hit him in the back before he had a chance to finish speaking. He fell to the pavement, his grip on Samarkand suddenly loosening. She fell right next to him, and despite the sharp pain of the fall, she quickly reached for her father, poking at his shoulders insistently.
"Daddy! Get up! The bad men are coming! GET UP!!!". But he didn't move, despite all of her efforts.
"Daddy's getting up soon, baby!" Her mother yelled, grabbing her little hands and pushing her apart. "Run! We have to run now!"
But they didn't have the chance to run away. Another pink bolt rushed through the air, hitting the woman's chest. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened in surprise, as she fell to the ground over her back.
"Mommy! What's wrong? Get up!", Samarkand pleaded desperately, shaking her mother's body. But no matter how loudly she called and pushed her mother, she refused to move or take her gaze away from the black, starless sky above.
"Don't worry, little girl." The mysterious man said, placing his hand over Samarkand's shoulder. "Your parents are fine. they will wake up soon, and follow us. Now, let's go..."
"NO!! I'm not going anywhere! You did something bad to mommy and daddy, didn't you?" Samarkand yelled, pushing the man's hand away from her. Her tear-laden purple eyes started to glow with a faint light, which grew brighter very fast.
"Wonderful!", the man said while taking his glasses off, revealing his eyes, also glowing. "So much potential, awakened by her anger! And at such a young age... You were worth the trouble, my dear. Now, look at my eyes, and listen to my words..."
Awakening of the Heroine
With a loud gasp, Samarkand woke up. She was no longer at the alley, or her target's bedroom. She was now in a hospital bed. Though, judging from the psychic dampening handcuffs chaining both her hands and feet to the bed, she had been captured by the police while unconscious; they took her abilities very seriously, and didn't want to risk her escaping. Most likely, she was at the prison's infirmary. How long has she been there, it was impossible to tell: it could have been a few hours, or a few days for all she knew.
But what was troubling her even more than her current predicament, was that strange vision. What was that mad dream she just had? Or was it a dream at all? It was all too vivid, despite the sights and sounds being blurry and distant. It felt like a true memory, somehow locked away from her conscious mind until now. She could still hear the cries of that man and woman, her parents...
"Mom... Dad... So they were..."
Samarkand was surprised upon realizing that tears were flowing so effortlessly from her eyes, something she had never experienced before. She was crying! She wept silently, weeping for the tragic loss she couldn't weep during all those years. When there were no more tears to shed and her grief started to subside, a new feeling took its place. It was guilt.
"I can't believe it... I've been serving the hand that killed my parents all this time..."
She had never felt guilty about her jobs; she simply did them without questioning her orders. All for the sake of her masters... Her family... A family that wasn't even hers to begin with!
"I... I've done terrible things... for the sake of my family's murderers!"
Guilt, however, was quickly giving way to rage. A fury that Samarkand couldn't contain within her chest. Her eyes glowed like wildfire. Her rage was becoming unfocused, threatening to spiral out of control. So angry was Samarkand that she would have attacked the first person who dared to cross the door (good thing she was cuffed to the bed). But in a brief respite of conscience, she remembered her training: unfocused rage is as good as water flowing out of a broken dam. in order to serve any useful purpose, anger must be channeled towards a target. And in her mind, there was a clear target for her growing fury...
"... PSI!! They took everything away from me! They won't get away with it!!"
They took her parents from her. Her memories. Her whole life! And surely the have done the same to countless others before, and will do the same to others in the future as well. Unless someone puts an end to this.
"I cannot undo what I've done in their stead. But I can stop them from forcing other people to do it. And I will!"
If only her hands and legs were free, she could have started doing so right away!
Fortunately for her, she spent only a few more days in jail after her awakening. the old man she was meant to kill had only accused her of trespassing and theft charges. How could a man that wouldn't even doom the person that wanted to kill him become a target for elimination? How many others like him, good, honest, innocent people, had she killed? She would have plenty of time to ponder on these issues as she waited for her release. Which for her, came sooner than expected.
"You!", one of the guards said. "You can go now. Someone bailed you out. Dunno who is so dumb as to let a super psycho like you go just like that..."
Samarkand was as puzzled as the guard. But soon she would find out who the dumb person was. It was that old man again! He was waiting for her outside, right next to his limo.
"Greetings, young lady. I'm sure you are wondering why I bailed you out of jail, and asking yourself why I didn't tell the truth to the police... Well, I know you are not to blame for what you did that night. I am a victim of PSI as well. I can tell you everything you wish to know on the way home."
And so, Samarkand learned of Thomas Arkand, a successful businessman. Several years ago, he was one of the sponsors of Dr. Sebastian Poe's research. Thanks to this patronage, Dr. Poe founded the organization that would later become PSI. He even volunteered his only daughter, Samantha, who was seven years old then, to one of Dr. Poe's experiments. Indeed, the psychogenic serum worked as expected, and Samantha gained powerful telepathic abilities. But it had a terrible side-effect: her mind became unstable. Samantha started to suffer from sudden mood swings, and often she would explode into uncontrollable rage at the slightest provocation. Her ability to hear the minds of everyone around her didn't help either.
Thomas spent a lot of money trying to find a cure for Samantha's condition, but even the best doctors and experts could only find a way to keep her mind stable for a while, by taking a special medication. Thomas was devastated for ruining her daughter's life; it even cost him his marriage, her ex-wife taking custody of Samantha, fearing that his crazed father would try some new, bizarre experiment on her again. He could only see her daughter one or two times a year. But he was relieved to see that the medication was working, and Samantha could enjoy a normal life once again. As for Dr. Poe and his PSI thing, he had enough of it already.
During the next 25 years, Thomas saw his fortune increase, investing heavily in blue-chip companies and promising start-ups; he has a very important stake at Harmon Industries and other leading high-tech enterprises. He donated large amounts of money to the reconstruction effort after Dr. Destroyer razed the city of Detroit. Her daughter, now a respected psychologist, was happily married, and was soon to give birth to her first child. For Thomas, PSI was just a distant memory...
...Until the day they kidnapped Samantha. Now a criminal organization, PSI was interested in Samantha's dormant telepathic abilities. Awakening those powers, however, proved to be difficult, as all those years of medication had practically returned Samantha to normality. They did horrible things to her, not caring at all about her unborn child. In the end, they succeeded in unlucking her powers, but Samantha's brain and body were damaged beyond repair. Useless to them now, they left her in he middle of a dark alley of Westside to die. She was rescued while still alive, but was pronounced dead at the hospital. Miraculously, though, her baby girl survived, and was born with perfect health.
Thomas' grandchild, Tabitha, was a blessing for the beaten old man. She was the spitting image of her late mother. Tabitha's father, disheartened by the news of his wife's horrible torture and death, and not thinking about her daughter being alive and well, committed suicide. Now an orphan, Thomas took formal custody of the baby girl, as he was her only living relative (Samantha's husband was an orphan himself, with no siblings, and Thomas' ex-wife was one of the Battle of Detroit's casualties).
Decided to stop PSI's evil schemes, Thomas used all of his resources to track down the criminal's activities, and give tips to the police, PRIMUS, UNTIL, or any brave Hero willing to put them out of business. This, of course, didn't please the top brass at PSI, who in turn took retaliations against those who would dare to interfere with their plans. And Samarkand was one of their agents of revenge. During the next five years, Thomas would prove to be a really annoying pebble in PSI's shoe. But eventually they took notice of Thomas' activities, and decided to put an end to his meddling. And so, Samarkand was given the task of neutralizing the old man. It was the invisible hand of fate that made Tabitha awaken earlier that night after having a nightmare, and make her go to her grandfather's bedroom to seek his soothing company. For Samarkand's mission would most likely been successful otherwise.
Of course, this was too much information for Samarkand to digest at once. She was overwhelmed.
"As you can see, young lady, we are both victims of PSI's criminal acts. I'm sure you want them to pay for whatever they did to you. I'm willing to help you on this mission, but only if you promise me two things: first, that you shall never take another person's life again, even that of criminals. And second, that you'll not stop your fight once PSI is finally brought to justice. There are countless other threats to this city and the world at large, some of them even worse than PSI, and you can never have too many Heroes to contain them all."
"You have my word, Thomas, as gratitude for your kindness and honesty. From this day onward, the only ones who shall fear Samarkand's name will be the evildoers!" She said, her purple eyes glowing both with her inner psychic flame and her steadfast resolution. "But I'm afraid I must also ask for something in return... I need to know who I am... what's my real name? Do I have any relatives? Where are my parents... buried?"
"I understand. I'll put all of my resources to good use on that one. As soon as I find something important out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, however, you need an alternate identity. Feel free to use my late daughter's name, if so you wish. I can use some of my influences to get an ID card for you. And you can come and stay at my home as often and as long as you desire."
"So, for the time being, I am Samantha Arkand then... Sam Arkand... Samarkand... it's such a funny coincidence!"
"There are no coincidences in this world, my child... maybe this encounter was meant to happen... As long as you keep serving justice, my daughter's name will be honored by your actions. And so will I."
Thus, Samarkand, the heroine, was born. As promised, she wielded her telekinetic blades once more; this time, however, as instruments of justice. During the first few months, she dedicated her efforts at ridding the streets of petty thugs, while Thomas put his fortune at work, tracking both PSI's activities and Samarkand's past. But her name finally came to the public light when Millennium City was invaded by the Qularr, and the Champions were overwhelmed by them. Samarkand saved the day, and her growing public notoriety would eventually put her in direct confrontation with PSI.
But as Thomas said, there is so much evil in the world, and dangers even greater than PSI. Nevertheless, Samarkand will always be ready to face those dangers, either alone or side by side with any Heroes willing to give her a helping hand.
RP Information & Hooks
((Open for RP opportunities. Please bear in mind that I have minimal RP experience, so please forgive any noob mistakes I can make; comments and advise on improving my RP are always welcome, and greatly appreciated!))
- Being a dedicated martial artist, Samarkand is particularly passionate about the subject. She loves melee weapons (telekinetic or otherwise), and you can certainly grab her attention by showing off yours. Inviting her to a sparring session or two works wonders as well. She is also willing to share her expertise with those who ask her (or challenge her to a friendly duel).
- Having no memories of your past really sucks! Though Mr. Arkand is doing everything he can to help Samarkand regain her past (he has even hired Heroes to help on the search), truth is, progress in the matter has been excruciatingly slow; PSI did a good job at erasing any records of her. thus, any piece of information, whatever small or irrelevant it might appear at first, could be vital to move the search forward. If you, during your many travels, have managed to get your hands on any clues (pictures, documents, etc.) that could help Samarkand recover her lost past, or simply wish to help her on this matter, please let her know as soon as possible!
- Being trained since childhood by PSI, only to later discover they pretty much screwed her, has made Samarkand rebel against her former masters. Naturally, she is aware that her story could be (and certainly is) shared by many other people. Sharing your contempt for PSI with her can put you in the fast track to her circle of closest friends!