Natalie Foster
Natalie Foster
natalie.jpg
Portrayed By Katee Sackhoff
Gender Female
Date of Birth April 8th, 1980
Age 26
Zodiac Sign Aries
Aliases Nat
Place of Birth New York City, NY, USA
Current Location New York City, NY, USA
Occupation Company Agent
Known Relatives Christopher Foster (father), Nicole Foster (mother)
Significant Other None, currently
Known Abilities Linguistic Remapping
First Appearance None…yet

Former CIA Analyst, genius, and linguistics golden child Natalie Foster was recruited straight out of high school to start training for the CIA. Several years and many languages later, she was signed on as a programmer and analyst. However, when things went…awry…during an attempt at field duty, she was put on medical disability and essentially rolled right out of the CIA. Rudderless and without direction, she tried to get her life back in order, a task that has been made both simpler and more complicated by the recent new position she has with the Company.

History

Natalie Foster was born in New York City on April 8, 1980. Her father Christopher worked in software design, while her mother was a civil engineer. Her early life was a fairly normal, if affluent one. Her parents made enough money to send her to private school, and Christopher rode the dot-com bubble well, making a large sum of money off it. So early childhood passed like any other child, making friends, playing games, having fun.

By as early as third grade it became obvious that Natalie was what it's become politic to call "gifted". Or, in short, she was extremely intelligent. She breezed through her classes with little difficulty, and the only thing stopping her from perfect grades was a neglect of doing her homework, mostly because she knew she could ignore it and still get 100%% on the exams. Her teachers talked to her parents about skipping her a grade, and this was decided to be tried; she skipped over most of third grade, moving right into fourth. But even that proved to only be a small challenge…within a few weeks, she was back to being bored witless in her classes.

Natalie finished our fourth grade, and there was another meeting at the end of the year…rather than move her into fifth, the decision was made to skip her another grade and put her into middle school. Starting there proved a challenge in a new way. Intellectually, it was a little harder, but not much. It helped that there was a rival to her academically, however…another extremely smart girl by the name of Stephanie. Socially, she was a bit of an outcast, though. Being two years younger than most of her classmates along with being the "class geek" meant for being a little ostracized from most of the social events.

Natalie found her focus through academic competition. She and Stephanie had a semi-friendly war of intellects through middle school, as each tried to outdo the other one. The problem came in that both started routinely scoring 100%% on all their assignments, meaning a perpetual tie. One of their teachers, not oblivious to the rivalry between the two girls, decided to channel it another way, and started creating "scavenger hunts" of sorts for them…but all the clues were in other languages. As she hoped, it got them started on a new course, as both the girls started trying to outdo the other to learn the language first and better. By the time she'd left middle school, Natalie spoke English, Spanish, French, and could read Braille.

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High School was NOT a pleasant place. Even though she lied and told her classmates that she was two years older than she really was (the faculty knew the truth, of course), she was smaller, younger, and well…a lot nerdier than most of them. She didn't have many friends in high school, and the ones she -did- have were mostly the other school "nerds and geeks". She started getting into computers seriously in high school, finding the concept of computer "languages" fascinating, and pestered her dad at home to have him help her learn them. C, COBOL, LISP, as well as Javascript and web design all got added to her roster.

She kept studying languages, taking the ones her high school offered to add…German, Latin, as well as an afterschool Russian club. Plus she started self-teaching herself Japanese from books so she could understand the anime that she and her friends watched. Eventually, in her senior year, biology started to catch up, and she sprouted in height, becoming at least cute if not pretty, and a little tomboyish. She still didn't pay too much attention to social fronts, though…there was college to think about!

Of course, things didn't work out -quite- that smoothly. Late in her senior year, she started getting recruitment letter from a variety of alphabet soup organizations…FBI, CIA, NSA…someone with her intelligence, test scores, linguistic and computer training (as well as her general social ostracism) was a prime candidate for recruitment. And Natalie found the notion of being a -spy- far cooler and more interesting than just going on for a degree in Linguistics and an eventual teaching position (her previous planned path). Of the three, the most spy-like seemed to be the CIA, and that's exactly the way she went. Out of high school, she went on to college, but taking a class load as directed by the CIA. She picked up more languages there; Arabic, Farsi. Languages seemed to come easy for her. Upon getting her bachelor's degree at 20, she moved into an analyst position, doing translation and cryptography. Three years passed before she started to get bored, and started pressing for training and work in the clandestine service.

It was certainly more interesting, if a lot more dangerous. THIS was the actual "being a spy" part. She spent two years training and undertaking supervised missions, before she started being assigned actual solo missions. It was fascinating, dangerous, and FINALLY she'd found something that would push her intelligence to the limit. Of course, that wasn't to last.

Natalie got captured during an operation in the Middle East. Her captors, of course, proceeded to try and extract what information they could from her. She held up as long as she could, but when they tried electroshock, EVERYONE got a rather large surprise. There was a sudden surge in everyone's mind, and everyone was knocked unconscious. Natalie awoke first, and quickly got up and ran, before activating an emergency transmitter she had in case of crisis. She was extracted, but the extraction team found a rather large problem, which was confirmed by medical personnel afterwards…Natalie was apparently totally aphasic, both verbal and written, comprehension as well as transmission. (Unbeknownst to the team, so were her interrogators.) Faced with the situation, she was given a disability discharge, and returned home to New York City to be taken care of by her family.

Though recovery wasn't expected, it happened. And it happened consciously, not by accident. Natalie's never told anyone the details, but she found that she was able, by concentration and effort, to remap her brain's language center…she called it "loading a neural map in Assembly". Further practice showed she could do this selectively…and then in the ultimate acid test, she found she could do it to -other- people, as long as she had the neural map in question. One day when her father was at work, she remapped her mother's verbal language center to Japanese, and they carried on a conversation without her ever realizing anything had changed. (She fixed it right after, of course). It's rather bizarre, to say the least. She hasn't told anyone at the Agency…they know she's apparently recovered, but they've insisted she take 6 month leave to be -sure- that everything is sorted out (Agency physicians are currently of the opinion that her aphasia was caused by a nervous breakdown induced by torture). Faced with impossible abilities, and uncertain what she should do, or who she should tell…if anyone…Natalie finds herself carefully considering where life's going to take her from here.


Personality

Natalie is frighteningly intelligent…it's the thing that's defined her most as a person throughout her life. She has an IQ rated above 180 (though she herself will disclaim that IQ tests don't prove intelligence, they prove how good you are at taking tests rapidly), a natural gift for linguistics, and a virtually photographic memory…she can literally call a mind's-eye picture of things she's seen or books she's read. All of this has made her academic life a breeze, to put it mildly.

Given her intelligence, however, she's paid for it in another area…social skills. While her CIA training helped some, she's always been somewhat ostracized…the nerd, the geek, the tomboy. Happier watching anime, or programming her computer, or playing online games than actually interacting with people face to face. If it weren't for her friends and her parents, she'd probably happily live life between her bedroom and bathroom and kitchen, and never leave those three rooms.

Natalie's analytical by her nature. When confronted with a problem, no matter what the problem, she wants to analyze it, break it down to specific elements, figure it out and solve the problem. The problem with this is that while it's great in an analytical mode, it sucks in an empathic one. Sometimes people want to be listened to more than have possible solutions to their complaints offered up, and Natalie isn't very good when it comes to empathy. Put into a purely social situation, she tends to wallflower a bit, outside her area of expertise or relation.

She's also more than a little competitive. On the one hand, academic matters come easily to her. But on the other, put her in a situation where someone might be perceived as being as smart as she is, and she'll go all-out to best them and prove her own superiority. She's not the best of losers, either, and tends to get a bit sulky in the rare case when she -is- bested.

As far as more personal interactions? Boys are confusing. Of course, girls are confusing too. Natalie's never so much as been on a date, and while she's considered the notion that she might be gay, -everyone- seems to be a confusing creature as far as anything on that front might be concerned. She's completely out of her element there, part of what lends itself to her social awkwardness.

Right now, Natalie's in the most confusing time of her life. She's not certain what this strange new ability of hers means, and she's CERTAINLY not certain what to do about it, although some web research has led her to Dr. Suresh's theories. She's not certain if a job is still waiting for her back at the Agency (or at least, as anything more than an analyst again), and she's not sure if she -wants- to go back. For the first time in her life, she's adrift with no plan. She doesn't like it, but she's not sure how to fix it, either.


Timeline


Power: Linguistic Remapping

Natalie has the ability to re-pattern the language center of someone's brain, be it herself or someone else. This ability is not dissimilar to the Haitian's memory abilities in some senses (although it's less broad); it works mentally, though it doesn't make her in any sense a telepath.

Specifically, she can take a neural language mapping (which has to be something she knows), and overlay it on a person. She can do this either incoming (perceived language) or outgoing (spoken/written language) or both, essentially changing someone's languages. This neural overlay, once performed, is permanent unless Natalie overlays a new template (although someone could relearn a language thus lost normally, and anyone with mental abilities such as Matt Parkman or the Haitian might well be able to get around the problem with their own abilities).

Natalie can also choose "scrambling" as the neural mapping in question, effectively making her a walking Tower of Babel, able to render someone unable to comprehend, or be comprehended, in selective fashion. This is the use she instinctively drew on when being tortured, and affected everyone in the area, including her. However, that was a panicked initial surge of her power; not the sort of thing she can do regularly. In general, her power obeys the following rules:

  • Range: Natalie has to be in very close proximity…within 5', to affect someone. She also can only affect one person at a time. What's more, she has to be able to see the target. If they're on the other side of a door, or she's blindfolded, it's a no-go.
  • Time: Her neural remapping is pretty quick. It takes no more than a couple seconds to remap things. It does generally take a good amount of concentration…not Hiro level, but if she's seriously distracted, or in pain, there may be trouble.
  • Duration: Essentially permanent, until the target relearns the language in question, or is able to come under the beneficial auspice of someone who has mental abilities that might be able to assist. It's like the Haitian's memory deletion in this respect.
  • Scope: Essentially, think of it as there being four categories: written perceived, written, spoken perceived, and spoken. Natalie can affect any one of these categories, or all four, either with a consistent setting, or a different one. Overwriting someone's spoken center with German would mean they speak German, but they would still hear things normally…thus, they'd be unable to understand their own speech (they'd be hearing German), though it would be correct for what they're trying to say. Were they to write, they would still read and write normally in English, since the written centers weren't targeted.

Note that unless she performs a scramble (which scrambles the entire section's neural map), this only affects one language at a time…if she were to target Mohinder and replace his English with French, he would still speak his native language normally. She would have to replace each language individually to lock out certain ones, and she has no inherent way of knowing what someone speaks beyond normal observation.

Last, obviously, is that while she doesn't need to understand a language to target it in someone (she just has to know it exists), she DOES need to understand it to overlay it on someone else. If she were to overlay a native Cantonese speaker with English, she has no way of reversing that and giving them their Cantonese back, because she doesn't speak it herself. She'd have to learn it herself first, to be able to do it.


Relationships


Quotes

  • "It's okay. Just that whole "if I tell you, I have to kill you. And then who would I have to talk to while I eat lunch?" — Natalie, Say The Wrong Thing
  • "I…believe I might be one of the people Dr. Suresh theorized about, sir." Pause. "Actually, that's dissembling. I am such a person. It seems to have focused on my ability with languages." —Natalie, A Job Interview
  • "Usually at jobs like this you don't so much get the chance to decline once they tell you about it. I'd have probably disappeared." — Natalie, Introductions and Intimidations
  • "Thanks. I don't know that I'd feel comfortable just using things on people, even detainees. But maybe we can find some volunteers to work with. Actually, working with you could make for a good pairing. Your shapeshifting, plus my powers, you could impersonate someone who speaks another language." — Natalie, The Linguist and the Illusionist
  • "It's not the nigh-impossible project, as much as it is the unrealistic deadlines that go with nigh-impossible projects. Corporate management doesn't really understand advanced research well enough to be setting due dates on it." — Natalie, Not Much Studying
  • "Oh! But you're so…" Big. — Natalie (in reference to Nova), How To Speak Moon In One Easy Step
  • "No, -YOU- have no idea, Animal Planet. Leave me alone!" — Natalie, Sudden Attack Of Australian
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