She was never the kind of girl to be considered "pretty." She was always the one roughhousing in the backyard with the boys until she was covered in dirt and grass stains, much to her mother's chagrin. Hers was never to be the face that launched a thousand ships--more likely, the face that bore some bruises and scrapes from hitting the ground once or twice during a good playground scrap. She was a young boy's best friend, a girl who didn't care if she got dirty and didn't scream if she fell.
As a young girl, she didn't care much what the boys thought of her. That changed, inevitably, as she grew up; suddenly, she saw the girls who had once been the butt of the boys' jokes now become the sole focus of the young men's lives. These other girls were "pretty," somehow untouched by roguish practical jokes and other such tomfoolery. Her best guy friends slowly drifted away, one by one, to join hands with these ethereal otherworldly girls, leaving behind their childhood friend who had taken their wins and losses, their playful teasing, with a smile and no tears.
She was much too tall and mannish for her own good, it seemed. She scared away the boys, intimidating them with her imperious height and stature; the girls, scenting blood in the water, teased her for this defect in her looks. They knew she was no threat to them, would not tempt their boyfriends away; they just thrilled in tearing her apart in whispers behind their manicured hands, sending snide looks her way in between fluttering their embellished eyelashes. She could scorn them all she wanted, but it did not stop their remarks from finding their target.
High school graduation was a relief, but merely a pause in the battle. Now it was women in the workplace who feared and despised her, whispering horrible rumors about her sexual preference much as the girls in high school had done, cracking jokes about her height and the size of her shoulders--"like a freakin' football player's shoulders," one of the teeny-tiny young interns had chortled. She found herself gravitating again toward the men in the company, who accepted her among them as one of their own. But they, too, did not see her as a woman, but merely another person, who was not fragile and easily offended.
But a second life was forming, unknown to anyone who worked with her. A community site on the Internet had led her to an underground network of girlfighting rings--much like dogfights, they were somewhat on the wrong side of the law, but that did not matter. What mattered was that girls were paid to fight in rings filled with water, mud, and even weird stuff like spaghetti, all for an audience of men who fully enjoyed their competition. Her first fight, against a girl half her size, was a cinch to win, and her victory was intoxicating, as was the reaction of the all-male crowd, their eyes on her mud-slicked body. It seemed they knew full well she was a powerful woman, and they loved her for it.
She began to fight weekly, and sometimes more than once a week, depending on how strapped for cash she was. It was a lucrative and stress-relieving business, quite addictive after a while; she could work out her frustrations by imagining a different face superimposed on the moving body in front of her. That insulting little intern fell to her fast and accurate punches time and time again; sometimes, it was one of the girls from high school facing her in battle, and she sucker-punched the little hussy right in the gut. It was magic, electric, beautiful fighting. She had no need to yell insults or talk trash--she got right to what was most important, and ensured that they would not rise again except to limp from the battlefield.
Then came a Friday evening, another double-header; she was one of the most celebrated fighters by this time, and the area around the ring was full of men's eager eyes, their fists pumping as they chanted her fighter's name: "Beatalie! Beatalie!" The opponent for the evening was a skinny, blonde little waif, and Beatalie did not remember ever having seen her before, but the young woman apparently knew her well.
"I went to school with you, remember?" she said, her voice quivering, her pale strands twitching about her face. "I--I hope you'll take it easy...?"
But it was too late for gentleness--Beatalie suddenly remembered the girl, or rather, remembered her mocking laugh as she left school one day hand-in-hand with her last guy friend. "Like, don't you get it? He doesn't want you around anymore, you fat cow," she had said, with a dismissive wave. "He's got a REAL woman now, not some lezzie bitch." Her guy friend, such a stolid ally up until that point, just stood there and said nothing in her defense, and his new love just laughed.
The pain of that memory fueled Beatalie like a nuclear reactor boiling in her soul. "Oh, yeah, I remember you," she said, her voice carrying across the suddenly-silent fighting ring. "You're the one who stole my last friend. Called me a 'fat cow' and a 'lezzie bitch,' too."
The young woman's face drained of all color, leaving her swaying in place like a reed. "But--I mean, that was years ago. I don't even remember saying it--"
"But I do," Beatalie interrupted. "And now I don't have to imagine your face while I fight, because I've got the real thing to punch."
Before the other woman could take a complete, terrified breath, Beatalie struck her in the face, her fist cracking solidly against cheekbone and nose. But she wasn't prepared for how the woman's nose crunched under her knuckles, and how the force of her punch drove the broken nose up toward her forehead. She wasn't prepared to see her opponent's eyes widen, then glaze over before she dropped to the bottom of the ring. She'd never punched an opponent in the nose before--it had always been body punches, maybe a few quick cheek jabs here and there.
Always after a first punch, her opponent got back up, maybe a little unsteadily, but ready to fight. This young woman did not get up, nor did she respond to her name being called. Beatalie stood in the center of the ring, now feeling the eyes of the audience upon her in a different light, as medics rushed into the ring and carried the girl's body away on a stretcher. The hot lights, the stiff mud, and the anxious murmurs of the crowd swirled around her.
She ended up back at home, somehow, hearing a car motor turn over, then slowly recede from the house. She was still damp and muddy from the ring, sitting on the couch with her head in her hands, but that did not matter. The girl had been mean to her, had been her opponent...but Beatalie had taken her life. It did not matter that it was an accident. This was supposed to be a fun competition, supposed to be a battle that ended once the final bell was rung. It wasn't supposed to be the end of a life. She raised her head from her hands, staring at them, surprised she couldn't still see the blood the medics had swabbed away.
A few weeks later, Beatalie quietly disappeared from her former life, leaving behind questions at her workplace and an empty spot on the girlfight bench. She was long gone, gone to another city entirely--she'd heard of a place called Praetoria, and by the sound of things, giant, super-powered beings were the norm there. Maybe she'd find her place there...
I wanted to build a Brute as part of my quest to build all 14 archetypes in City of Heroes/Villains. But the concept of a Brute did not take shape until I thought back to parts of my childhood, when I was picked on and physically abused by classmates. It was bad all through elementary school, but middle school brought with it a new body shape (a fat one), and I watched many of the boys I had called "friend" and "acquaintance" leave me to be with the "pretty girls." It was upsetting for a young girl to feel suddenly unpretty, unwanted, unfeminine.
Taking that as the core of my Brute's story, I built in the girlfighting part as a way for her to exercise her ability to kick major butt (as well as to tie into her Kinetic Melee primary powerset), and then added in the devastating accidental murder of the former "mean girl" in the ring to galvanize Beatalie into training herself in Praetoria (and eventually Paragon City).
I originally wanted to name her "Beata", a funny pun on "beat-a" as well as being a lovely girl's name. When that was sadly taken, I created the name "Beatalie", which oddly fits her even better. She'll "beat-a-lie" out of you if you tell one about her!
Beatalie is tomboyish, almost too tough for her own good, but she's still a girl. Though she doesn't look classically beautiful or care about her appearance very much, she still seeks the approval of other women and the love of a good man, and seeks to prove herself in both worlds. The superhero world is a new world in which she can start off clean, and that proves to be the biggest attraction of all: a fresh start away from the pain, the violence, and the sorrow.
I aim to show some of this softer side with particular power pool choices as I go along (especially the Medicine pool) as she levels up. Also, her transition to Paragon City at level 20 reflects her increased skill and more heroic style.