the basicsFULL NAME:
May 3, 1997POB:
Boulder, Colorado, USA POR:
Westchester, New York, USAOCCUPATION:
X-Men | InstructorNATIONALITY:
Cheyenne, AmericanMEMBER GROUP:
EMPATHIC ILLUSION AND PSYCHIC PROJECTION
Manifesting her abilities early in life, Mirage has had many years to exercise her abilities and explore their applications. She is a psychic mutant through and through, her abilities resting solidly in the telepathic spectrum. With the ability to sense the emotions in others, Danielle Moonstar is a talented empath, able to dig up even the most hidden and repressed feelings. Her empathic abilities are what tie her talents together, and none are more flashy than her signature illusions.
With her empathic powers, Mirage is able to form a mental link between herself and her target to identify emotions, particularly their deepest fears or desires, and create life-like and convincing three-dimensional illusions that encompass all the senses. The strong emotional connection makes these constructs all the more powerful and convincing, using her own psychic energy and the target as the battery. With this ability, she is even able to make herself disappear from her target’s sight, fading away like her namesake, a mirage. More importantly, her illusions are not only visible to her target – Danielle is able to broadcast her illusions over large groups of people, allowing them to see what the original target sees or using their strongest emotions as ammunition to fuel and alter her illusions. This ability is particularly useful to distract people, allowing Danielle and her allies entry into places that would otherwise be denied of them or an escape. But more often than not, Mirage employs them as a sort of psychological warfare, broadcasting the hidden, shameful desires of enemies to others in order to demean them, or summoning frightening terrors to demoralize them.
However, Mirage’s illusions have their limits. These projections lack tangibility and as a result cannot do <i>real</i> physical harm, though their psychological ramifications are certainly real. If a target chooses to fight one of her illusions and throw a punch, they’d find themselves swinging right through them. This often is enough to break the glamor, once the target rationalizes and calms themselves out of their fight or flight response. In addition, Danielle’s illusions seem to be spatially restricted, affecting a 100-foot radius around herself or her intended target. While adequate enough to glamor a crowd and even change their immediate surroundings, this restricts the size and range her illusions can take up. A swarm of rats is doable, but sending a helicarrier crashing on their heads? Not so much.
There is also the question of sustainability. Mirage can keep up a detailed, convincing illusion, but its duration is largely dependent on the number of targets and their mental fortitude. On a single, weak-willed individual, Danielle can keep them locked in an illusion for an hour easily with little effort or supervision. As the number of affected people grows, this requires concentration as she must take into account spatial positions, their different perspectives, and varying levels of psychic resistance from target to target. Dani can broadcast her illusions into a crowd of 50, possibly more, but the greater the number, the greater the risk of her illusions failing. Being tethered to so many people also poses an increased risk of empathic feedback, where the emotions of her targets effectively backlash against her, breaking her illusions and leaving her psychically vulnerable until she is able to restore her mental defenses.
It’s also important to note that while Dani’s illusions look very real to her targets, the same can’t be said about cameras and technology. Mutants and metahumans with psychic defenses will be less susceptible to her illusions and more easily pierce their veil. As for cameras, CCTV, and other image-capturing technology, her psychic constructs have an ephemeral quality with a rose-gold tinge. Her abilities also emit a similarly colored corona around her head when in use, making it very obvious as to who is playing the mind games.
In a similar vein as her illusions, Danielle is able to concentrate her psychic energy into a weapon and let loose a ranged attack aimed at a single target. Though she can shape it in a variety of ways, Danielle is most comfortable with a bow and arrow due to their simple form and her personal preference when hunting. This psychic bolt sends a surge of neural disrupting energy on impact, causing a variety of unpleasant and painful adverse effects on the target and often rendering them unconscious.
As an empath, Danielle is extremely attuned with the emotions of those around her. This sensitivity is not one way – these emotions can affect Mirage’s own feelings as much as she can manipulate them. As a result, Mirage is constantly on mental guard, shielding her emotions from others, and the same goes for telepathic intrusion. Her first instinct is to put up her mental shields, and if the intrusion continues, feed a surge of negative emotions through the connection.
On the farm, Moonstar was a natural around horses and other animals, her grandfather catching her befriending wild animals on more than one occasion. Everyone on that side of the family seemed to have an affinity with animals, locals and neighbors attributing it to the long line of medicine men in their ancestry. This was in fact the very first manifestation of her powers, unnoticed through most of her early life. Her empathic abilities allow her to create a mental link with animals, able to read their thoughts and communicate to them on that primordially instinctive level, able to influence their behavior. This ability is limited to larger, more complex animals such as mammals, birds, and reptiles, with well-developed central nervous systems, possibly because they share a more recent common ancestor compared, to say, fish and insects. Interestingly enough, this ability allows her to form a deeper telepathic bond with feral mutants and mutates, whose mental signatures and workings often resemble those of animals. The best example is the mental link between herself and Rahne Sinclair, a feral mutant and fellow Xavier’s alumni/survivor. This link allows Dani to sense her friend from afar, much further than her powers normally permit, and for both to communicate telepathically to each other, subject to Mirage’s discretion. But largely, Danielle employs this ability to let animals know that she means them no harm and ensure cooperation. In a wilderness setting, Mirage can coexist peacefully with wild animals and apex predators. City animals, however, have about the same manners as its people. Which is none.
This last ability is a strange one, and not entirely reliable. Possibly related to her ability to sense fear, Danielle can sometimes sense when a death is imminent. It manifests itself first as a cold chill and a sudden sense of dread, with a brief vision of the person and how they die. These visions are few and far between, and the majority of the time Dani herself is the subject of them. Considering she’s still alive, her visions should be taken with a grain of salt. Because of their unreliable nature, Mirage often keeps these visions to herself, afraid that people will be even more wary and mistrustful of her.
Against humans and gifted individuals with no mental defenses, Danielle is a veritable nightmare. But against drones, LMDs, and telepathically immune targets, there is little Mirage can do to them based on her abilities alone. Her illusion-casting can often leave her vulnerable as well, where she is so focused on creating her constructs and not paying sufficient attention to her surroundings. Like many telepaths, Mirage is most effective at long range and when unnoticed, with a team to keep an eye out for her. Her psychic energy is not limitless, either. A large, elaborate illusion over a large group of people will leave her feeling drained once her empathic connections are broken, and it will be several minutes before she can find the energy to sling a neural arrow, much less another complicated projection. Her skills would be put to the test against powerful telepaths, as her combat experience against “her kind” is limited to friendly sparring sessions against her fellow X-men and students she sometimes trains, who don’t normally have the intention to cause irreparable harm. She still has much to learn.
Needless to say, Danielle is not bulletproof. Or fire proof, or squish proof, etc. That lack of physical durability makes her the quintessential glass cannon – while capable of great damage on a psychic level, she can be easily taken out of the equation by a good marksman.
Growing up in Montana on her grandfather’s farm, Danielle retained many skills that she learned from her old man. A natural around horses, it’s no surprise that Dani is a decent equestrian. And, while it’s been a few years, she still remembers how to use a lasso.
Ingrained with a love of the outdoors and for hunting at an early age, Dani grew up hiking, hunting, and rock climbing, her intensely physical hobbies making her an athletic person. Thanks to her excursions with her grandfather and alone, she is capable of surviving in a wilderness setting for extended periods of time. Along with her hunting skills, Danielle is a good shot with a rifle, hunting rabbits and deer and dealing with the coyotes that went after her grandfather’s livestock. However, she prefers an old fashioned bow and arrow, believing it gives the animals a fighting chance.
Most important, Black Eagle instilled a great sense of pride in his granddaughter – pride in who she is, where she came from, and the history of her people. As a result, Dani speaks Cheyenne fluently and shares her grandfather’s spiritual beliefs, incorporating meditation and prayer to focus and center herself. Danielle is also knowledgeable in natural remedies for various illnesses.
Dani is a woman of strong convictions, virtually unshakeable and uncompromising of her personal values. Outspoken and opinionated, Dani calls ‘em as she sees ‘em and is unafraid to defend her point, especially when she disagrees with someone. Not one to walk on eggshells, it’s not that Dani doesn’t care about the feelings of those around her – she is an empath, after all, and more highly attuned than most – but considering the state of the world and her people, there is no room for fragile sensibilities and bruised egos. That said, Danielle is not the type of person to say something just to say something. She is incredibly thoughtful, choosing her words carefully. If she thinks someone is in the wrong, Dani will be the first to voice dissent, unable to keep her words and thoughts to herself especially if people could get hurt as the result of a bad judgement call.
This aspect of her personality also leads Danielle to be somewhat anti-authoritarian. In her younger days, it brought her plenty of conflict with teachers, whose authority and judgement she often called into question, as well as squad mates when the X-men were training this newest generation of mutants. There is little Mirage despises more than someone pulling rank on her, believing that not only should respect be earned, but that one should lead by example. She has no time for false bravado, cowardice or posturing – either get shit done, or get out of her way. Surprisingly, Danielle can handle criticism, albeit with a scowl, but you can trust her to listen and take the words to heart. If you’re lucky, she might even agree with you.
Genuine, unpretentious, and honest, she is fiercely loyal – to her cause, to her friends, and to her “family”, both blood and adopted. Danielle is incredibly hard on herself and takes full responsibility for any shortcomings and failure personally as a result, all too familiar with the stakes at hand and the potential consequences. She has vowed to protect those that she cares for and works so that someday others will not have to suffer the same, regardless of the personal cost. As a result of this mentality, Dani often bears the brunt of responsibility on her shoulders, not so much because she does not trust others to get the job done but that by doing things herself, others are less likely to get hurt. If there is a highly dangerous mission, expect Dani to not only be the first to volunteer but insist she can do it alone. Any day she can reduce the risk of hurt for others is a good day.
A loner by nature, Danielle isn’t exactly a social butterfly. Truth be told, she’d much rather prefer a lonely hike in the woods, following the deer trails and breathing smog-free mountain air, or lying under a starlit sky. The solitude practically revitalizes her. She is comfortable with silence, finding no need to fill it with words and idle banter. If there’s nothing meaningful to say, then there’s no real point of saying anything. It takes her a while to warm up to people, her cautiousness forged by ostracism she faced early on in life. Even among mutants, telepaths are a prickly subject and not exactly everyone’s favorite. Too often, she’s seen the change in attitude once people realize she can read their thoughts, and so her distance has been hardcoded into her personality, which more often than not gets mistaken for arrogance. While Dani is a prideful woman, arrogance is not one of her flaws. Coupled with the discrimination she has met off the reservation for being Cheyenne, Mirage is naturally defensive when it comes to new people. Once she is convinced of their good character, however, people will find that Danielle is a good friend to have, an excellent listener with some pretty sound advice. While her sense of humor may be a little dry with a sarcastic streak a mile long, Mirage is a woman that would rather smile than scowl perpetually, despite what her resting bitch face may imply.
However, her inner thoughts and feelings are hers and hers alone. Perhaps that is a side effect of being a telepath, being constantly bombarded by the thoughts and emotions of others, but Danielle is very reluctant to open up to others in that regard. The fact is, while Dani is a great listener, she dislikes burdening people with her own problems. Emotions are not as easy to put a band-aid on as a cut. She has an innate desire to be strong and self-reliant, the proverbial rock for those around her, and putting her feelings on display would be a show of weakness she can’t afford. With her emotions kept in check behind the fortified walls of her mind, Dani is a difficult person to read and likes to keep it that way.
Danielle Moonstar grew up with her grandfather, Black Eagle, on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana. Born just outside of Boulder, CO, in 1997, her parents had left the reservation life behind to pursue their careers as both were college educated and job prospects on the reservation were limited. Their family did not last long, as her parents died in a freak hunting accident in 2002. Their cause of death was kept from little Dani – no one wanted to tell a five year old her parents had been mauled to death by a wild animal. Yet somehow, she knew without being told, her dreams haunted by a great and terrifying bear. These nightmares would become a regular fixture through Dani’s life.
Her early years were spent on Black Eagle’s homestead in Montana. Despite those tragic beginnings, she was a lively child, full of energy and an open curiosity for the world around her. Black Eagle encouraged that wonder and never seemed to tire of his granddaughter’s questions. She grew wild on his ranch, showing an abundant sense of independence early on as she played and wandered across her grandfather’s lands in between chores. Danielle showed an almost uncanny way with animals, able to befriend even the angriest of mustangs much to her grandfather’s surprise. She went to school with the other children in town, and for a while, she fell into a new normal.
Nights, however, were a different story. Since the death of her parents, Danielle suffered from night terrors regularly, and in all of them, she seemed to be stalked by the same giant, terrifying figure she came to know as the Demon Bear. As the nightmares grew worse, it began to affect her behavior. Danielle became more reticent, quick to anger, and as a result began fighting at school. This concerned Black Eagle, but Danielle was unwilling to talk about what was bothering her. The Demon Bear had warned her against it.
The fights and nightmares continued to escalate, until around the age of ten when Dani began to broadcast her nightmares. It first began to affect her grandfather, who dreamt of fields of dead cattle and rotting carcasses, his daughter and son in law’s bodies lying amid it all. Startled by the vividness
of it all, he conducted a spiritual cleanse of their house, himself, and his granddaughter, hoping to bind whatever malevolent spirit had fixated upon his family. It seemed to allay the nightmares in Dani. For the first time in a while Dani began to have more restful and less fearful sleep. That is, until she was invited to a sleep over sometime in 2010. All the girls dreamt the same thing that night and woke up screaming, having seen the same creature as Dani had, waking up before it could devour them all.
It did not take long for Dani to become ostracized after that. Her classmates could sense
something off about her, and they echoed the terrible things their parents whispered about the orphaned Moonstar. Likewise, Dani could sense their fear and hate, even without them speaking. In the meantime, Black Eagle received phone calls from neighbors warning him to keep his witch daughter away from their children. The Moonstar family, once respected in their community, was quickly becoming feared and reviled. But Black Eagle had his suspicions. He confronted Danielle, pushing until she lashed out at him in anger and fear, her emotions slamming into the elder Moonstar almost physically. Between them, an image manifested, a ten-foot beast reared on its hind legs, a mass of matted fur and rotting flesh, a bear’s skull covering its head. Black Eagle had seen enough.
Reaching out to an old friend, Black Eagle immediately made arrangements for his granddaughter, realizing he was far out of his depth and unequipped to handle what was happening to her. He was no fool – he’d realized years ago that his granddaughter was a mutant. He’d hoped that having her on the reservation would shield her from anti-mutant laws and sentiment, but her emerging powers were too much for him, even with his own mystic gifts. She would immediately be sent to a boarding school in New England, one equipped to handle special students like her. Danielle was devastated, but despite her tears and protests, she had no say in the matter. Her grandfather’s friend came out to their New Mexico homestead, an old wheelchair-bound man, to discuss everything that enrollment at Xavier’s School for the Gifted entailed.
With her grandfather’s betrayal and apparent abandonment fresh on her mind, Danielle Moonstar’s start at her new school was a rocky one. Now more angry and sullen than ever, she approached her new environment with hostility. Her prickly personality endeared her to few, and her fights resumed, only now with students that could hit back with more than just fists. She was a regular fixture in detention. But slowly, surely, Danielle came around with the help of these new mutants, opening up to her new friends.
Her time at the Institute was a truly happy one. As she learned how to control her abilities, Dani found that she could more easily interact with people, and the bright, happy child she used to be seemed to come back. While there were some students that remained wary of telepaths, Danielle learned better coping mechanisms against their prejudices and her own, particularly ones that didn’t involve punching. She attended classes regularly and made a small but close group of friends, flying back to Montana to live with her grandfather over the summers. With time, her night terrors faded away, and the demon bear that stalked her dreams became nothing more than a distant memory.
Eventually, Danielle Moonstar graduated with the class of 2015. Wanting to give back and help other students like her, she remained on campus as an assistant instructor, leading Danger Room sessions for younger students and teaching electives such as archery while spending summers with her grandfather in Montana and helping him with the homestead, cherishing the time with both of her families, the old and the new.
Lilo | 31 | EST