full name: amanda "helen" collins
nicknames: not applicable
physical age: forty-eight
actual age: forty-eight
mental abilities: not applicable
”The healthy man does not torture others—generally, it is the tortured who turn into torturers.”
— Carl Jung
Amanda Collins is a lie.
That is, Amanda Collins alive
is a lie. The woman behind the lie shares genetic code with the girl who once made the name a truth, but the truth has long been dead and buried. Amanda Collins is not herself. Amanda Collins was destroyed by the lie.
Amanda Collins’ birth name is Helen Collins. Born just a few minutes after her twin sister, Amanda, the difference between the two might as well have been a chasm a mile wide for all it affected. Amanda was granted the boon of living a normal childhood. Helen was sent into the darkness. Amanda was allowed to excel, to perform, to dream of a future unfettered. Helen was a guinea pig, an experiment, a secret.
Most of the history before the girls is unknown. Their mother is gone or dead—their father was never willing to elaborate. The man, though high up in the military complex, swore to have no more depth or value more important than his job, which, in turn, was his purpose. It was his obsession that condemned his daughters; though his motives were deeply rooted in a pathological ideology about the need for scientific advancement in the service of the “greater good”, the fact of the matter is that Matthew Collins was neither a good father or a good person. Certainly, his desire to cure Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was a worthy cause… but the fact he sacrificed his daughters to it meant he sacrificed his humanity, too. What are we without that?
Helen’s early life was dominated by one thing: pain. Matthew strove to alleviate it, but only after
he had inflicted it. And so few of his methods worked. Would they have worked better if Helen’s father wasn’t both the rod and the medicine? For every blow—physical—or insidious word—psychological, he doled out something in return… and then sat with Helen, going over and over how she felt, what she dreamt of, what she saw or didn’t see. He grilled her until she wept, and then he’d leave, locking in her with the monsters he’d
created. Would she have been able to forgive him if she hadn’t convinced herself it was out of malice? That it wasn’t nobility, but perverseness and anger that drove him. You can forgive a man driven by emotion… especially when alternative was far worse: that Matthew cared so little for Helen that he didn’t even see her as human.
For years, this was all Helen knew. Sometimes she got her hands on a book. Sometimes she had food, and it tasted good. Sometimes she had enough alone time to scrape away at the frosted window, creating a little two-by-two inch spot where she could see the yard, and trees, and the sky, and… everything
. She could spend hours like this, sitting cross-legged on the dresser, nose pressed to the glass… just imagining she was breathing fresh air. That she was free.
Then father would show up. And the cycle would start all over again.
When did Helen shed the truth, and become the lie? Who knows what triggered her sister to act that day. For almost two decades, Amanda had all but ignored the dark, dark secret her father kept locked below. She had muffled the screams with the sounds of music blasting in headphones, and buried herself in her schoolwork. She spent too many hours out with her friends. Anything, anything, to get away from the shame she always carried.
Maybe the day she acted it had simply become too much. Or maybe she knew something Helen didn’t. Helen never asked her. She hadn’t wanted to. All she had known was that Amanda had unlocked the door, and tried to run with her. Maybe they would have survived together, made a life together, found normalcy. Maybe maybe maybe. So many probabilities, so many possible paths to take, so many choices, suddenly opened, that she had never known before, or even known she wanted. But it was this
one, the one where Amanda and Father died, and at her hand no less, that happened. It was this one, where rage triumphed over survival, that she had to live with.
Is it any wonder she would one day end up in charge of the minds of others? Unlike her father, Helen had no desire to wreak havoc on her own blood—she had already done that. She hadn’t wanted anything but the freedom to be free—she had
that. She had waited on the doorstep of a burning home, weeping, not because of what she had lost, but because then, at that precise moment, the possibilities had become endless. She could be whomever she wanted to be; go wherever her heart was set on. Of course, one must concede to the inevitable: she simply had no choice but to become
Amanda. But that, in its own right, was freeing. Instead of becoming a problem, a ward of the state with no information to thrive upon, she became something human. She became her sister. And all the doors opened.
Helen was the forgotten. Helen was the left behind. Helen could not flourish. But Amanda could, and she did. Oh, how she blossomed.
If asked, Amanda doesn’t speak of her education or her past. She’ll lecture you on the merit of experience and self-evidence. Her certificates and degrees are from schools, if a smidge bit late in regards to the normal higher education progression. Her language is flawless, and her poise, exquisite. She knows how to play a person like a violin, and relishes in it. She socializes… but has no friends. Or does she? She is an enigma, protected by subterfuge and a smile. Her ambition is wild and limitless. Sometimes, the others say she scares them.
She wormed her way into Division on merit, and rose on charisma. Knowing when to be vulnerable, when to be steel and ice. Though outwardly loyal to Director Pierce, the word amongst recruits is to never assume you know who she’s in bed with. She has made many an agent, sometimes mending them, sometimes tearing them to pieces. Is she evil? Is she the villain?
Well, that’s a rather sticky question.
If there’s one thing Amanda né Helen took away from her father, from her sister, it’s a realization that the world is a danger unto itself, through the means of apathy and inaction. Matthew was willing to experiment on his own daughter for the good of people, but never pushed the issue at work… never tried to make it happen where the flesh he broke wasn’t his own daughter’s. Amanda was willing to save her sister… but only when the grief or the shame or the conflict became too much for her to ignore it. You can’t force anyone
to be a better person than their own conscience lets them. You can unmake them. You can degrade them. You can create half-lives, able to spill blood without question, because that innate violence was present to begin with
. But it is up to the individual, and in turn, their continence, to work for a better future… a better world… a better collective.
Take a person, and ask them to do right… they will do so only if it’s in them to do it from the beginning. This why others must act for the sake of the overarching concept. This is why, sometimes, sacrifices must be made in order to bring about a better vision. This is why she fell in step with Division. Why she became a therapist to their agents and recruits, a potter to the clay waiting to be shaped.
She knows Division’s course. She knows why they do what they do, why they have taken the long road instead of the high one. Good and bad are moot—this is about the end game Maybe Matthew would be proud of her for once because of this. Maybe, in her own way, she had made his methods proven. For all the horrors that Amanda has endured, she firmly believes what she is doing is for the greater good, even as she destroys people and sets them on a course towards oblivion. She is able to set aside the pain and use it as a weapon. She does not weep over her past; she looks to the future.
Now that the old director is dead, and with so many projects suspended, Amanda has decided to step into a role she hopes to make permanent. For now, for now
she is the acting director of Division. And yet, she still oversees the recruits, still meets with them, still handles them. There’s Alex, the girl she knows is lying, but who is still proving useful to the narrative. There’s Nikita, the traitor, whom she plans to hunt down and execute… eventually. There’s the experiments her predecessor ordered created, failing to understand that… what’s the saying? You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. She plans to remedy it all, come hell or high water. Eventually, they’ll all understand that it isn’t about the individual: it’s about the “everyone”.
Amanda—Helen—has come a long way from that basement. She plans to stick around for a long time coming.
please see my other characters