Exceptional Ability: Proximal (short-range), insinuative memory telepathy. She can implant ideas that seem like memories into the minds of others.
Character will be introduced in Book 2.
More than one producer, after hiring the mediocre actress, Maruyama Kura, to perform a lead role in their high budget project, asks themselves, “what was I thinking?” The answer: it’s what she was thinking.
As long as she can remember, Maruyama Kura, from Yokohama, Japan, has had the power to control the thoughts of people by implanting ideas into their memories. She can’t read minds like classic telepaths, but her power is perhaps more potent. She can make suggestions that most people, at least temporarily to one degree or another, will follow.
Spoiled is an understatement. Kura always got her way and she was the focus of her parents’ attention and adoration, much to the annoyance and frustration of her older siblings. When she was 8 years old, her mother became wise to this trick — apparently, she developed an immunity after prolonged exposure — and told Kura not to do it and warned her that if other people found out about it, she could get into serious trouble. So, this ability could stop functioning on a person if she used it too much? She would have to use it only when absolutely necessary, and it was necessary more frequently than you would imagine.
By the time she entered secondary school, she knew she wanted to be an actress. Given her special ability, it wasn’t so much a question of hard work or acting skill, but rather knowing who was the person who could make the casting decision. Before leaving secondary school, she started to appear in local advertisements then on local talk and game shows. Popularity, it seems, was less a function of quality, but rather quantity. The more she was seen, the more she would be seen. Kura was very difficult to work with. Everyone complained about her, both cast and crew, but people seemed to still bend over backward for her, which made those who weren’t willing to do things for her or who weren’t willing anymore to be either envious or critical. She was popular, but she was despised by many in the business. Of course, she perceived this as jealousy, and in some quarters this was accurate, but the issue of fairness or lack of it didn’t enter into her mind.
Kura eventually moved to Tokyo proper, and entered a fine arts college to pursue an acting degree, but was concerned that it would take so much time, which would be best spent on actually acting in movies. Her acting, specifically her performances, started out very poor, and when she did act in films that were reviewed, the reviews tended to be very critical of her. It didn’t matter, she’d still work, but it bothered her. She would make attempts at getting training through classes or workshops, but inevitably quit early. She would always fall back on her old, easy ways. To make herself feel better, she surrounded herself with people with especially weak wills who she could tell exactly what to do to please her. Followers came and went, but there were always more to use. The sheer amount of acting work she did and exposure to real actors did improve her own ability, but she was a Tokyo A-lister without A-lister skills.
On her 26th birthday, Kura was at a party in her honor, and she found herself getting bored with all the sycophants around her and she decided to go out to a club. By that time, she was very well known, and going anywhere usually caused her to get noticed and approached. She found a seat that the occupier graciously gave up to her, and after she sat, they began approaching — the fans and the curious others. Like ping-pong balls, they approached and she told them to wander away, and off they bounced. Except for one.
That night, a young man, maybe just about the minimum age to be in the club, approached her as she was sitting in the prime seat for being seen. She told him to go away. He didn’t. He thought she was joking. She looked at him and more forcefully implanted the idea — she didn’t have to speak to make it happen. He looked at her curiously. She got angry and told him to get her a drink. He said “no” forcefully back. “You’re rude!” he shot back at her and walked off. She got up and followed him. It was unheard of for someone to not at least partially fall under her spell. They never so forcefully refused her when the request was so minor. It should be noted that long before then, she determined that simple requests were harder to deny, particularly if the request didn’t violate some moral or ethical principle of the target. But this young man rejected the most basic of requests. He was worth further study.
Kura followed him out of the bar. He was definitely annoyed by her. She ran up to him and feigned sorrow. Still annoyed. Then she stopped and profusely apologized. It was her birthday, she explained, and she was having a terrible day. He listened and offered a “no problem.” She wondered if he wouldn’t mind joining her for a small gathering at her home. Shinichi, he offered his name, was surprised by the invitation, and he accepted. She immediately found a person to take them to her place. Shinichi observed how she found a stranger literally off the street to drive them and commented, “can you always talk people into doing anything for you?” She smiled and laughed with him. She was not amused.
When they arrived at her place, there were people there. They were her “Men and Women Who Wait”, particularly malleable sycophants who waited around her place for as long as she wanted and cleaned up and ran errands for her. The party started as she requested and people danced and enjoyed themselves. Shinichi sat quietly in a chair sipping a drink and watching. Kura sat with him and enjoyed a drink with him. Hers contained no alcohol. After a few drinks, she started in again. It was like a frustrating fencing match: she’d thrust in a suggestion and miss, thrust, miss… Usually, when someone was even a little drunk, they would break. She kept talking with him. People began to grow tired and lie down and fall asleep in every corner of the place. Shinichi was getting tired, and she tried again and again. It was utterly baffling. Tired and drunk, and yet he resisted. Then he said he had to go. “No, stay,” she said. “Really, I have to go.” “I must insist.” “No, really, I have work tomorrow.” She ordered one of her larger Men Who Wait to restrain him and take him into a bedroom. The big man quickly complied and she covered Shinichi’s mouth while the Man drug him into a back room. The Man held the frightened Shinichi down on the bed and put his hand over his mouth to shut him up. Shinichi writhed and screamed beneath the big hand. It still made quite a racket. She told the Man Who Waits to shut him up. The Man hit Shinichi in the stomach hard. Adrenaline started to flow. This was exciting — finally a birthday to remember!
Kura wasn’t finished. She wanted to see how far it could go. She ordered her Man Who Waits to keep hitting Shinichi. The Man paused. She insisted. He starting hitting Shinichi again, in the body then in the face several times. Shinichi eventually passed out. There was a lot of blood on his face. It was getting all over and staining the bed sheets. This could look very bad if someone found out about this. She told her Man Who Waits to wait there. She stepped out and returned quickly with a knife from the kitchen. She handed the knife to her Man. “Stab him.” The Man shook his head. She put her hand on his shoulder. “Do this for me.” The Man started to get scared. She gripped his shoulder firmly. “Do you want to disappoint me? After all I’ve given you.” He fell to his knees next to the bed crying. “Get up, you baby!” He rose. “Cut him!” He swung the knife at Shinichi’s leg and cut him deeply. Shinichi winced, but was still mostly incoherent. She focused and thrust her thoughts deep into her Man. He began to gasp, moan and wildly stab into Shinichi’s torso, again and again. Blood gushed out of Shinichi’s mouth and he gasped and writhed violently. Kura stepped away. The blood was getting everywhere. Was any of it on her? She looked at herself. Shinichi collapsed back on the bed and was silent. “Now look what you’ve done! You’re a murderer!” Her Man fell to his knees on the floor, blood all over him. He was screaming in sobs. “You have dishonored me,” she said. By that time, other party goers woke up and began to gather in the doorway. People shouted in terror at the scene. Kura feigned horror and backed off with them. She concentrated again. The confused and deeply upset Man lifted the knife and thrust it into his own stomach as far as it would go. By the time the ambulance arrived, he was dead, too. Both bodies were taken out of the apartment in full view of shocked party-goers, neighbors, reporters, and a not-so shocked Kura.
That birthday party was quite a tabloid sensation, and the speculation over why the men were fighting, which had to be over her affection, was titillating. It wasn’t the kind of publicity she wanted. Still though, she learned quite a bit about her power. She had a significant amount of wealth accumulated, so she decided to spend some time getting to know the extent of her power and getting to know if there were other people out there with the mental discipline of that young man. She needed to know how prevalent this threat was. But this time, she’d be discreet.
Over the next few years, she tested her ability on many different people. Her observations: people with money tend to be more disciplined, though not unattainable. Women are better at resisting than men, although this may be because she’s a woman. Younger people are more compliant than older people. People with superstitious beliefs held onto her suggestions longer. She traveled — she had picked up quite a bit of English in her acting work, and spent some more time learning it.
It was during her quest for knowledge, that Kura came across an American diplomat while she was in Moscow. He openly shared state secrets with her, and it amused her to get people to confess their darkest secrets. And it was usually about amusement, but there was one tidbit that caught her attention. He babbled on about the Chinese working on a telepathy device and wouldn’t that be amazing. No, it wouldn’t, she thought. That would be a disaster. But she had no intention of going to China either — they didn’t appreciate her acting at all. Then he talked about a man named Dr. Morris and representatives from the U.S. government were asking him a lot of questions.
Where was this Dr. Morris? — the American speaks at length about everything he knows.
It seems her hiatus will continue and Dr. Morris will have a famous, new “patient”. As the American diplomat looks on, he’s confused as Kura begins to laugh at the thought of having herself committed for study.
DR. MORRIS’ MEDICAL NOTES
Dr. Morris met with Kura Maruyama once and was only able to jot down a few notes before he abruptly left his facility: “Duplicitous… dangerous.” Though he didn’t get a chance to do a thorough study, he surmised that her power is proximal, beta wave-based, insinuative telepathy originating in her Brocal region, but affecting the temporal and frontal lobes (and possibly the limbic lobes) of those she focuses on. Her telepathic “invasive assault” likely affects several regions of their brains at once.
At one time, Dr. Morris studied a woman with a very low level insinuative memory telepathy, but Kura’s is much stronger. She implants suggestions, even complex ideas, into short-term memory, but if she spends enough time with a person and implants the suggestion multiple times, those thoughts can enter long-term memory. Whether in short or long-term memory, complex suggestions are temporary because, after a night of deep sleep, the brains of individuals with the implanted memories seem to reject or unencode the foreign thoughts. The brain ultimately realizes that the thoughts are not probable or their brain is not able to connect the complex ideas to an existing thought schema, and those suggestions are ultimately considered false. It definitely requires a good night of sleep or several good nights of sleep to completely reject the most deeply or ubiquitously implanted suggestions.
Much like a juggler who can keep multiple balls in the air at one time, Kura seems to be able to keep multiple people under her control at once, which must take a great deal of mental concentration and effort.
She most likely has a Morris telepathic power rank value of high.