Orpheus: The Taste of Ashes - Player Stuff - Annie

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Dr Annie Harper

Full Name Annabel Harper
Date of Birth 7th June 1979
Date of Death 2nd March 2001
Lament Revenant (Skimmer)
Shade Metamorph
Crucible Alpha
Background Anthropologist and linguist

Background

Annie and her two brothers spent their childhood travelling all over the world with their anthropologist parents. The lifestyle was educational -- Annie could speak nearly a dozen languages by the time she was ten years old -- but dangerous. When she was about twelve or so, the Kurdish village the family were staying in was hit by a chemical weapons attack. Both of her brothers died, but she somehow survived it. Ironically, their parents had left them back at the village because they thought it would be safer than taking them into the active war zone they were going to visit.

Despite this tragedy, Annie's parents continued to travel, and continued to take Annie with them. They did ask her if she wanted to return to the US instead, but she said no. As it happened, she didn't go back there for anything more than a flying visit until she was sixteen, when she was accepted into Stanford University. She spent the next four years completing her Masters degree in anthropology, and then joined Orpheus immediately upon graduation. (They actually headhunted her towards the end of her studies, needing someone with both her expertise and her willingness to travel on staff.)

Description

When she was alive, Annie was tall and slender, with dark hair, dark eyes and a pale complexion. A few discreet tattoos in various tribal designs adorned her skin. Now that she's dead, her gauze looks much the same as her body did, apart from -- when she's low on Vitality -- the torso being riddled with bullet holes. However, she's no longer merely a ghost but a revenant: she is occupying the body of Teresa Reilly, a member of Zeta crucible. (As far as Annie knows, her state is a unique one -- she's never heard of anything like it happening before. It's also a very long story.) When in this flesh she is slightly taller than the average woman, with green eyes and naturally blonde hair. Her style of dress tends towards the practical.

Aside from all the obvious problems, one of the things that bothers her about being tied to someone else's body is that she doesn't have her tattoos any more. She's never really cared about her appearance all that much, but each of the designs commemmorates some event or experience that meant a great deal to her. She misses them.

Recruitment

In 1999, Annie was hired by Orpheus to document legends of the dead from around the world. As part of her information gathering, she questioned the first batch of Sleepers about their experiences while projecting. She spent most of her time travelling, however, and this is how she ended up dead. While she was in Rangoon, a local drug lord took exception to her asking questions, so he had some of his thugs ambush and shoot her. Not being ready to go on to whatever was awaiting her spirit, she came back as a ghost and spent the next year or so wandering the world, making her way back to Orpheus. As she travelled, she continued to gather legends and stories, this time talking to the subjects of them.

Orpheus were more than happy to continue employing her as their resident expert on spooks. However, they were still in the process of establishing the ground rules for field work, and assessing what dangers their agents might face. A number of those early missions went disastrously wrong, often as a result of unplanned encounters with spectres. Casualty rates were high, and on at least one occasion Annie saw every single one of her team-mates die messily, only managing to escape the same fate through an inspired use of Flesh Flux and Familiar. After this, Orpheus decided that she was too valuable an asset to risk out in the field. Having seen the dangers first-hand, Annie was happy to be persuaded to conduct the bulk of her research and analysis from within the facility.

Recent History

Annie's life -- or afterlife -- has changed dramatically over the past few months. The first big change came when, after keeping herself to herself for so long, she started to interact with people socially. At first, it was just for something to allay her increasing restlessness, but then she started to enjoy it. She actually started to feel almost alive again. And that led to the second change, when she started to realise that she was attracted to women. Specifically, she was attracted to one of her new friends: Teresa Reilly. She was just starting to acknowledge her feelings to herself when the third change happened.

Teresa, Kate and Annie tried using Forebode to look at the moment of a spectre's creation. It went wrong. They ended up in the land of the spectres and forced to relive the worst moments of their lives while the spectres tried to convince them to join them. When they managed to break free, the three of them were in each other's heads; aware of what the other two were thinking and feeling. Their mental connection seemed to be permanent and they couldn't turn it off, but they did eventually learn to filter the others out. They learned to live with it, even to depend on it; they settled into their new relationships and things started to return to a semblance of normality. And then came New Year's Eve.

The NextWorld attack: the explosions, screaming and death. The spectres. They took Annie to their world; they chained her up and then they tortured her. It wasn't just the pain, although that was bad enough. They were inside her head. She was close to breaking when Teresa changed places with her. Now she's in Teresa's body -- effectively alive again -- while Teresa is where she was. The mental link was broken during the exchange, so she's alone in her own head for the first time in months. And she doesn't know who she is any more. All she knows is that she came back... different.

Important People

Family

Parents: Dr Stephen and Dr Elizabeth Harper

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- her death, Annie still tries to maintain her ties to her living family. It isn't easy when she can't speak to them, but she does what she can. (She wants more than anything to be able to do just that, but she doesn't want to cause them distress. The Harpers have now outlived all three of their children: would it really do them any good to know that she's still in this world as a ghost?)
The first thing Annie did when she got back to the US was to visit the family home, hoping that she could catch a glimpse of her parents. They were away on their travels on that occasion, but she kept returning until she managed to see them again. Her main regret about dying the way she did -- aside from that it happened at all -- is that she never got to say goodbye to them, or to tell them she loves them one last time. She missed her funeral, but her parents dedicated a memorial to her. Being there made her feel close to them again, so before she stopped leaving the bounds of the Orpheus facility she used to visit often. She tries to keep track of them through the articles and journals that they write.

Brothers: Andrew and David Harper

Annie was supposed to take care of her younger brothers when her parents were away: they were her responsibility. Perhaps that's why she's never been able to shake the feeling that she's somehow responsible for their deaths. Since her death -- now that she knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt that ghosts exist -- she wonders if perhaps they're still in this world, like she is. She's tried to find them. She's visited the remains of the village where they died and been to their graves, but there was no sign of them. That doesn't mean she's given up hope, though. Or, rather, it didn't. Now, she's afraid that the ones she saw in the land of the spectres might have been the real thing. If they are, she doesn't know how she's going to save them.

Relationships

Kate Dennison, fellow member of Alpha Crucible

Kate and Annie never really got along. They have very different ways of looking at the world, which tended to put them into conflict. Their relationship changed when they were forced to listen to each other's thoughts for several months, and it changed again when Annie came back from her ordeal with the spectres. They still don't agree on a lot of things, but now each of them knows the other from the inside. They know each other's secrets. Because of that -- because she was there with her in her dreams -- Kate is the only one really understands what she went through. She's gone from being an antagonist to a friend, to an anchor. But they still argue.

Teresa Reilly, fellow Orpheus member

Teresa was the first person in a long time who actually spoke to her about anything other than work. The two of them and Zoe started hanging around together, paying regular visits to a local nightclub called Chains. She started to think of Teresa as a friend and then as something more. But she knows beyond shadow of a doubt that Teresa will never feel the same for her. And now she's gone. Annie doesn't quite understand why Teresa sacrificed herself like that, but she's determined to get her back.

Zoe Vitt, fellow Orpheus member

Zoe is another good friend, or at least she was. They haven't really spoken since Hoyt and Blink brought her back from Portland, mostly due to the fact that Zoe is still very badly injured and not really up to conversation. Annie is worried that Zoe will blame her for Teresa putting herself into the spectres' clutches. She knows it isn't necessarily a rational fear, but it's one she can't seem to shake.