Mental prowess had always been Descenna's strong suit, even as a child; her mother and aunts had watched her drive away a pack of snarling stray dogs without even speaking or raising a hand, all to rescue a bloodied white mother cat and two sickly kittens, one brown and one gray-and-black striped. The mother cat and the brown kitten died soon after their rescue, but the gray-and-black tabby clung to life tenaciously, and was soon healthy and stable under the young girl's care. The two were inseparable throughout Descenna's childhood, and her mother and aunts believed this was normal enough for a girl's growing-up years.
It was not until Descenna's classmates began to learn of the Salem Witch Trials that they began to grow suspicious of the young lady, now in her mid-teens. Descenna, to many of her classmates, exhibited the same behaviors as many of the accused witches...and she was getting away with it! As one of her classmates put it in a letter: "Not only can she get better grades than us just by messing with the teachers' minds, but she has a familiar--that stupid cat she always carries around on her shoulder. It's witchcraft, all of it."
This hearsay and speculation was enough to throw Descenna's hometown into a frenzy, and she was brought into police custody under a trumped-up charge of too many speeding tickets. Ostensibly, she was being held until her mother could pay the fine; in reality, she was being held until her "witchcraft" powers manifested themselves. Her mother and her extended family could say nothing to deter police, and since Descenna had no special powers, it seemed she was going to be in jail forever.
The cat, however, thought differently. Descenna was awakened early one morning by a soft scratching noise at her cell door--her gray tabby had infiltrated the prison, seemingly of its own accord! She convinced the night guard to let her have the small feline in her cell, and then convinced him to let her walk down the hall and out of sight so that she could find food for her starving cat. While the guards at the front desk of the police station dozed, Descenna sneaked past and walked the mile and a half to her house, arriving at home minutes before the sirens began to wail.
Her mother and aunts hid her in the unfinished basement of the house, accessible only through a trapdoor on the back porch concealed under an outside freezer, while the police searched the floors above. Finding nothing, they warned Descenna's family not to allow the girl back into their house before alerting authorities, and left the premises.
The family members protected her for three days while police searched fruitlessly; gradually, a counter-wave of positive reports poured into local newspapers. People who had been present for any of Descenna's helpful acts insisted that whatever skills she had, they were not satanic or witchcraft in origin. They told stories of her freeing trapped animals who calmed at her touch, and leading lost children safely back home without a single tear. Even some of her classmates, who had called for her expulsion, grudgingly admitted that when one of her soccer teammates had fallen during a game and jagged bone appeared to jut through the skin, she had knelt by him and remained with him until the ambulance could take him away. When he was put on the stretcher, they said, there was no external wound, and the bone break was clean and well on its way to mending.
Finally, after three days of media furor and public outrage, the judge dismissed the case completely, stating that "if the police were going to waste his time, they should at least do so with a case that had some basis in reality." Descenna came out of the family basement being hailed as the town's newest hero.
I had been interested in the possibility of building a Defender with Kinetics and Psychic Blast for a while. I liked the idea not only because it wasn't a build I had seen very often (or at all); I also liked that the Defender would be able to deal a type of damage that almost no enemy group had defenses against (Psionic). Lastly, I wanted to try the Kinetics powerset, because I had researched about it and found that it was also largely a healing/buffing set, like Empathy.
Once I had the basic build down, I thought about what kind of character would possess these powers, and the character of a young lady wrongly accused of witchcraft quickly emerged. Like many of my heroes, Descenna's powers led to first disbelief, then fear and anger, and finally recognition. The addition of the kitten was a complete random find--I was scrolling through the Costume Creation and discovered that under "Shoulders" was listed "Panda" and "Kitten." Out of curiosity, I tried the "Kitten" selection, and was hooked--it was too cute to pass up, and suited Descenna just fine. It also got worked into the backstory as a sort of "familiar," but in this case, the cat is Descenna's earliest example of her positive effect on others.
I created Descenna's name out of the French verb "descendre," meaning "to descend." (Admittedly, I did toy with making her name actually "Descendra," but in the end went with a shorter form.). The reason? I always liked the sound of that particular infinitive verb, and it makes sense with Descenna's origin story--she had to "descend" in popularity and go through a time of persecution (and literally descend into her family's basement) in order to be a balanced and humble hero when she could come back into the public eye.
With Descenna, I wanted to create a character that could be a powerful solo Defender as well as an invaluable team member. Knowing that my other Defender, Lyssadia, had not fared so well in solo play, I sought to make Descenna a bit stronger by choosing the Psionic damage powerset. And indeed, she is proving herself to be quite the solo character so far, as long as I don't get into Tank mode and start rushing through missions!