|Proteus (Joint Venture)|
|Real Name||Kevin MacTaggert|
|Alias(es)||Mutant 0, Patient X, Kevin Kinross|
|Relatives||Moira Kinross (mother), Joseph MacTaggert (father), Sean Cassidy (stepfather-to-be)|
|Affiliation||X-Men (associate); Kinross Research Facility|
|Base Of Operations||Kinross Research Facility, Muir Island, Scotland|
|Universe||Joint Venture Universe|
Kevin MacTaggert's life seemed doomed to misfortune almost from the moment of conception. Joseph MacTaggert, a Scottish politician, forced Moira Kinross, a world-renowned and acclaimed scientist, into marriage with him. His ambition was to present a good public image with a Nobel laureate wife, and a child whom he hoped would cement his image as a family man and boost his political rating. To this end, he forced himself upon Moira, leaving her in the hospital for a week on the night of Kevin's conception.
When Moira's family, the Kinross clan, learned of this, their retribution was swift. They allowed Moira to divorce Joseph and retake her name, and withdrew their family's name and financial support from his political career, which did not survive long afterward. Thus, by the time Kevin was born into the Kinross family, his surname was all he had of his father's.
Nonetheless, growing up remained a trial for Kevin. His life felt tainted by his father's evil act -- the entirety of his family hated the man who had given him life, for committing the very act that had produced him. Only his mother would consistently reassure him that his existence was a good thing -- the only good thing to come out of that terrible event.
The Final Insult
In addition to his complicated relationship with his family, Kevin underwent all the normal trials and tribulations of early adolescence, including bullying and ridicule because of his family history, which had become public knowledge during his father's political downfall.
Kevin was thirteen when, during one such altercation, a particularly mean-spirited girl in his class said he should never have been born. This triggered something within Kevin, and he lashed out, the ground literally opening up beneath his tormentor and swallowing her up to the neck. Kevin was astonished, torn somewhere between exhilaration and terror at what he could do. He was so shocked that when he fled the scene, he did not even notice the earth spitting the bully back out, shell-shocked but unharmed.
Complications and Cloning
When Kevin went to his mother with the information on what had happened, Moira immediately sprang into action. Using her share of the Kinross family fortune, she built a genetic research facility on Muir Island, the first of its kind, designed specifically for researching human mutations. Kevin was her first patient. Moira developed a series of gene therapies and special training exercises for him, and the two discovered that Kevin could warp the physical universe around him in any way he wished, within a limited area, for a limited time. As he practiced and Moira continued to research and develop treatments for him, it began to look like Kevin could control his power completely.
Then, the situation deteriorated. Kevin's body became unable to process the power he was wielding, aging and decomposing rapidly. Panicking, he seized the arm of one of Moira's employees, a lab technician named Carl Flaherty -- and possessed him, his consciousness completely replacing the hapless scientist's, inadvertently trapping Flaherty within his body, while Kevin's own body collapsed to the ground, dead.
Moira panicked at this, and quickly began devising alternatives. She first tried to repair Kevin's original body so that he could inhabit it again, but Kevin could not jump back, only forward into someone else. Inside himself, Kevin could feel the hapless Flaherty begin to suffocate and die within his own body, and Moira's research suggested that if Kevin's host died while he was in residence, the body would deteriorate and he would have to jump again.
Desperate for any solution, Moira returned to studying Kevin's original body. If he could not return to the body itself, then perhaps a clone body would suit his needs? With nothing to lose, she immediately began to work on it. Within a span of days, she had created a perfect, healthy duplicate of Kevin's original body. Kevin jumped from Flaherty's body -- with the scientist himself now on the very brink of death -- and into the duplicate.
A Steady Supply
The experiment was a success. Kevin's cloned body housed his consciousness without difficulty, and Flaherty had been saved. However, the problem of deterioration still persisted. Moira began preparing a sequence of clones on a rough timetable, so that every time her son would burn one out, she would be able to supply him with another, negating his need to possess surrogate hosts.
Now in the body of a young man (for his clones are force-grown to their prime, the better to withstand his consciousness), Kevin serves as Moira's chief assistant at Muir Island, and is secretly the facility's primary defensive weapon, operating in this capacity under the code name of "Proteus."
Energy Form: In his natural state, Kevin exists as a psionic being composed of energy that has a vaguely human form with no physical characteristics.
Possession: Kevin requires living hosts to sustain himself. He can possess anything living, but a measure of genetic compatibility will ensure that his host bodies last longer. In the rare occasions where he is forced to possess a living being, his consciousness "crowds out" the other mind, suppressing them. If he does not migrate into another body within a certain span of time (approximately one week, living and operating as a normal human), the host consciousness will die, and their body will eventually "burn out", becoming nothing more than an animated corpse.
Memory Retention: Kevin retains the memories, skills, and knowledge of people he possesses, even if he leaves before their consciousnesses "burn out."
Group Possession: Kevin can possess several bodies at one time, spreading out his influence among them. The debilitating effects of his possession on the host's physicality and consciousness is diminished with each individual possession, so Kevin prefers to use this tactic.
Clone Bodies: Kevin's mother Moira Kinross, in an attempt to protect her son from having to take the lives of others, operates a cloning factory beneath her research facility, specifically designed to mass-produce, and hold in stasis, multiple clones of Proteus' original body. He can possess any or all of these, and they will last considerably longer than "borrowed" hosts.
Reality Warping: Proteus can manipulate energy and matter in a limited area (approximately a 1-mile radius) around himself, with the power of his thoughts. He can easily convert matter between solids, liquids, and gas at will, create organic life from inorganic objects (and vice versa), transform energy into matter, manipulate natural elements, or strip a person of their mutant powers. In battle, his main tactics are to change the direction of gravity in a localized area, open fissures in the earth, or transform people painfully, playing with their bodies as if he were a sculptor molding clay. These effects are temporary, and automatically reverse themselves when he stops concentrating on his opponent; however, injuries that occur as a result of these transformations carry over through the reversion. However, he can also heal and restore broken or damaged things (and living organisms) within this limited radius as well, and his power's healing effects are as permanent as their damaging ones.
Retained Intellect: Kevin MacTaggert grew up around his mother, Moira Kinross, and her laboratory. Although he is chronologically too young even to apply for college, his possession of Carl Flaherty gave him all the skills and knowledge of an experienced geneticist and lab technician. In addition, he once temporarily possessed Moira as part of an experiment, and as such retains all of her considerably scientific, technologixal, and genetic expertise.
Range: Proteus' reality warping ability is contingent upon his presence; if an object or being he has transformed gets more than a mile away from him in any direction, it will revert. Similarly, he cannot transform objects he cannot see, although objects he has already affected do not change until he leaves or reverses the change.
Possession: The nature of Proteus' power is such that his physical body cannot withstand the energies he manipulates for long without deteriorating. Thus, he requires a steady stream of host bodies in order to survive. Living normally, without the use of his powers, the cloned bodies he gets from his mother can last up to two weeks without needing to be replaced. However, the more he exerts his reality-warping powers, the faster the body will degenerate. Conscious beings whom he possesses have approximately one week before their consciousness dies, after which their bodies will also deteriorate around Proteus and require him to take a new host. However, Proteus does not like to kill if he can avoid it, so he usually jumps into one of his clone bodies before that can happen.
Metal: Proteus is vulnerable to the touch of metal. While his host bodies can handle it with little problem on a regular basis, contact with enough metal in his raw energy form can disrupt said energy and destroy his consciousness, dispersing it. People with metallic prosthetics, implants, or cyborgs are therefore immune to possession. It is theoretically possible for Proteus's consciousness to reform after such a disruption; however, he has had no occasion to try it, and possesses no particular inclination to do so.