Tessa
Real Name Tessa
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The woman they call Tessa is a true femme fatale and gifted with a mind to dwarf the brains of ordinary human beings. Mutant, temptress, concubine and vizier - she has been all these things and more in her young life. She stands now as a counselor and seer to her allies, sharing with them the wisdom of her cold equations- but her life has not always been so.

Where she comes from has never been important. Not to her, not to the people she would come to befriend, not even to the enemies she would make. Perhaps she came from some place hard, that she should have survived alone as a young girl in the Hindu Kush, armed only with a well-worn gun and the strange, burning intelligence that blazed within her skull. Then again, she hardly needed to be the genius she was to want to stay away from the hill tribesmen and the endless war.

It was there one day not so terribly long ago when her mind prickled and needled her to go, when it led her toward the caverns that the locals had sworn were cursed. Within, she found Charles Xavier, his legs crushed beneath fallen stone and his consciousness thready.

Xavier had been on the losing end of a confrontation with the alien known as Lucifer, and there in the shadows of the cave, he was all but helpless, his legs forever ruined by the rockslide the alien had induced. As Tessa dug him out and bound his wounds, he explained the meaning of her strange insights and prickling senses, how it was much like the power he used to bring her to him.

Afterward, as the girl tried to get the strange American down off the mountain and to a hospital, they came across a UN relief convoy that had fallen prey to highwaymen. The bandits had just finished with the women, and in the pooling of red on the mountain stones Tessa saw everything. She read the struggle in the spray of pebbles, retraced the motions in the pattern of footprints and flailing limbs against dusty truck frames. It was all spelled out to her as plainly as in God's book of judgment, and in her rage she killed every one of the bandits that had lingered too long. Her disgust with herself curdled in her belly by the time she finally got Xavier to the hospital. Maybe it was disgust with herself for the ruthless execution. Maybe it was disgust with he bandits for their lives based on murder and rapine. And maybe it was disgust with a world that made them all just balancing parts of its cold equation.

After Tessa delivered Xavier to the aid he so badly needed, the two parted company for a time and Tessa carried on as she always had. Her adventures were many, including being hunted by soldiers in a Balkan village and being sold into a harem, but being the survivor that she was, the girl would always manage to escape and live to fight another day. No matter where they had her body, her mind was always a step ahead.

Years later, Tessa and Xavier met again, just around the time Xavier was assembling the original team of X-Men. Impressed by her personal growth and the potential he could sense within her, Xavier offered to train the young woman to further hone her limited telepathic powers. Tessa agreed, and by the end of her training she was asked to take on the role of Xavier's spy and in particular to keep an eye on the ambitious Sebastian Shaw.

Once again, Tessa agreed, though Xavier's decision to make her a spy rather than an X-Man was not without some bitterness on her part. She could not help but wonder if it was her powers that made her worthy of such a task or if it was her brutal past that made her so unworthy of being a hero.

It was no great task for Tessa to setup the events that led to her meeting with Sebastian Shaw, but earning his trust to become his confidant was another matter. Her usefulness was immeasurable, thanks in large part to her perfect memory and analytical abilities. Shaw quickly made her his personal assistant, giving her front row seating to his plans as they unfolded.

Tessa watched closely as Shaw surrounded himself with other powerful mutants and assisted as he used his growing wealth and influence to carve out a place of power within the Hellfire Club, an international social Club for wealthy elites. She played her role of advisor well, helping Shaw to deftly navigate that stratified society. She even warned him when his longtime friend and Hellfire Club White King, Ned Buckman, turned out to be a mutant-hater with resources that ran as deep as his prejudice.

Shaw dismissed Tessa's counsel only to be attacked by Sentinels under Buckman's command with orders to kill him. Shaw's lover died in his stead and he retaliated by slaughtering the Club's Inner Circle and replacing them with his own. More importantly for Tessa, Shaw realized the wisdom in his assistant's sage counsel and his trust in her was strengthened.

Tessa's advice and analytical skills would prove invaluable to Shaw in the time after. After all, it was her guidance that won him Elias Bogan's fortune and earned her the enmity of that patient man.

She never hinted at anything less than dutiful service to Shaw, but Tessa quietly worked to help others whenever possible, including warning off a reckless Betsy Braddock from the Club. Yet Tessa was unable to warn away Phoenix when the Club and sinister Mastermind corrupted the woman irrevocably. Phoenix's eventual suicide was perhaps the catalyst for Tessa's turning from Charles Xavier. She has not spoken to the man since, not even to warn the X-Men of an attack by the Hellfire Club a few months later.

There is no denying that throughout their years working together Tessa's cool reason has proven an asset to Shaw's hot temper. Her help was vital when he had to evade the dark machinations of the aspiring Black Queen Selene and when it was necessary to broker a truce with the X-Men as they battled the mutant-slayer Nimrod. Tessa has also proved to be a tempering element for her employer's anger, as when the New Mutant Karma trespassed into the Hellfire Club's computer system searching for information about her siblings. Had it not been for Tessa's call for mercy, Shaw's powerful hands would have exacted deadly revenge.

More recently, Tessa has shown her more treacherous side. As the Lord's Cardinal voted to expel Sebastian Shaw from the Club and banished Tessa from the meetings of its inner circle, the cyborg Donald Pierce was being busted out of the facility holding him. Though she was aware of this information and knew that Pierce would no doubt come after the Inner Circle seeking revenge, Tessa decided to not warn them of the impending threat. It would seem that her true loyalty is exclusive to Shaw and does not extend to the general host of the Hellfire Club.

Presently, Tessa's positioning is precarious at best. She remains a member of the Hellfire Club, but is no longer privy to the meetings of their inner circle. She remains at Shaw's right hand, trusted by him in a way that may not be wholly wise. As well, she remains Xavier's spy, though the nature of their arrangement is now vague and strange, even to her. Will she prove as faithful as she seems to suggest or will Charles Xavier's lessons of treachery blossom once more in her beautiful clockwork skull? Only time will tell.

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Media

Date Title Characters Summary
11/28/12 What if... 3 Professor X, Colossus, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Havok, Mirage, Beast, Angel, Polaris, Cannonball, Sunspot, Magma, Cypher, Wolfsbane, Boom-Boom, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Tessa, What if the X-Men lived in the Steampunk Era?

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