KIM AEI-YOUNG/XORANG'I (THE TIGER): The woman who was to become Xorang'i (the Tiger) was born Kim Aei-Young (last name first in traditional Korean style) in Korea to a well-to-do middle-class family, about 15 years before World War II. Aei-Young was an oldest daughter, beautiful and highly intelligent. The destiny she was raised for was to be the wife of a politician or merchant, to use her beauty and intellect to further her husband's interests and thus ensure herself a great place in society.

Two things occurred in her adolescent years which destroyed that dream forever. The first happened when she was drafted by the Japanese army (then occupying Korea) at the age of 15, to "assist in the war effort." Actually, as she learned to her horror, she was to be forced to be a prostitute for the Japanese soldiers, a euphemistically named "comfort woman". Aei-Young was too intelligent to resist, realizing how little hope she had, but too proud to be broken. Her rage at the things she was forced to do grew, day after day. And then when she was 17, the second thing happened.

A "client" grew abusive. Aei-Young struck at him-- and short, sharp claws slid from her knuckles, allowing her to slash his throat open. She was not disgusted by the murder, only excited and triumphant, but she recognized that she would not be allowed to live. So she ran. The soldiers shot at her as she fled-- and hit her. She fell in the jungle, bleeding from a dozen gunshot wounds... which healed in minutes. The men who came for her body found a surprise, as she feigned death long enough for them to get in close, then slashed their faces and throats as well, and ran again.

Eventually she eluded any possible pursuit and hid in the jungle, living off the land as she made her way back to Korea. She knew already she could never return home; shamed as she was by her forced prostitution, she could not bring that shame home to her family. Let them think she was dead. Besides, fur had begun to sprout on her body, soft black fur with lighter, reddish stripes on it, and she had claws, and she felt a constant rage and bloodlust. She had become a monster. How could she return home this way? Better to use her newfound powers-- claws, heightened endurance, heightened senses, and an ability to heal in moments-- to punish the Japanese for what they'd done to her.

Back in Korea, she murdered a group of soldiers who were about to execute a young man. The man proved to be a resistance fighter, struggling against the Japanese occupation, and a martial artist of some skill. He introduced Aei-Young to his teacher, an elderly man who encouraged his students to use their skills against the Japanese. While for the most part women in Korea were not encouraged to be warriors, Aei-Young's lightly furred body, claws and vicious fighting power marked her as something almost supernatural, not an ordinary woman at all, and the old man was happy to teach her, for her rage against the Japanese was as great as his, he who had lost his oldest son to them.

The martial arts proved to be exactly what Aei-Young needed. Focus and discipline and meditation enabled her to control the bloodlust and keep from entering berserk rages. She trained constantly, and fought the Japanese sporadically with her new skills and her powers, and guns when she and her fellows could get them. Her fellow resistance fighters didn't treat her as a woman-- she was completely undesirable to them, a freak, and so they didn't trigger the rages she felt against men for the way she'd been abused.

But the war ended, the occupation ended, and the woman who was now calling herself the Tiger (Xorang'i) still could not go home. So she drifted, and eventually found herself in Hong Kong, working as an assassin. When she overheard a pimp beating a prostitute and killed the man, she discovered what was to be her permanent line of work-- crime boss.

She took prostitutes and thieves (mostly women) under her wing. She didn't try to stop prostitutes from selling themselves, but encouraged them to go into other lines of work, such as burglary, if they so desired. She protected them, got them off drugs if they wanted that, kept them supplied with pure stuff and people to take care of them if they didn't want to get off, and cross-trained them, teaching prostitutes and thieves alike how to defend themselves. She also aggressively expanded her territory, murdering or driving off pimps to take their stables of prostitutes, knocking off drug lords to take their territory. Xorang'i was smart, ruthless and a vicious fighter, and everyone underestimated her for being a woman... at first. By the time they stopped, she had a sizable power base already.

And so the years passed. Xorang'i didn't age; her mutation progressed to the point where she was entirely covered in thick, striped fur (black with red- orange stripes, looking like a color-reversed tiger, thus her name), and then stopped. With the discipline of the martial arts, which she never stopped practicing, she was able to control the bloodlust that came with her mutation almost completely. Her women, and a small handful of men, were mostly com- pletely loyal to her, for she would risk her life to help them; but if any of them disobeyed or doublecrossed her, their punishment was painful and extreme. Other crime bosses tried to assassinate her, kill her people, or cut off her supply; she destroyed them. Eventually people stopped trying. Xorang'i wasn't stupid enough to push her ambitions to the point where other crime lords would form a coalition against her, and she made allies as well as enemies. She also trained some of her women to be high-class courtesans, and become the mistresses of men in power, which she then used to gather information and exert influence.

In 1975, civil war broke out in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge were conducting a campaign of genocide against their own people. Some of Xorang'i's people were trapped in Cambodia at the time, so she took a crack team of her students, the best women fighters she had, into Cambodia on a rescue mission. There she encountered Polaris.

Polaris had gone into Cambodia with the intent of using her vast powers to stop the Khmer Rouge, and the genocide. But unfamiliarity with the terrain, the customs, and the language had combined to frustrate her enormously. She was able to save individual groups, but the dense and teeming electrical fields of jungle hid people from her view well enough that she couldn't track down either the ones she wanted to rescue or the ones she wanted to kill. The only language she had in common with the Cambodians was French, and neither she nor they could understand each other's accent very well. And when her frustration and rage started making her careless, a group of soldiers with no metal weapons managed to nail her in the jungle with wooden clubs. (News of a white woman in metal armor who controls metal spread fast. They knew what kind of weapons to go after her with.) She might have died, except that Xorang'i and her team had also been tracking her (again, she was hard to miss) and intervened to save her life, killing the soldiers.

When Xorang'i had Polaris attended to, hoping to persuade her to assist them, she had the other mutant's armor removed (it was hot, and while she was unconscious Polaris couldn't control for the temperature; besides they needed to see if her ribs had been broken), and found the tattoo on her arm. She had never been to the West, but she knew the history of the Western side of the conflict she'd lived through better than most Westerners knew the Eastern side; she knew what that meant well enough, and it gave her a reason to feel a bond to Polaris. Both had suffered at the hands of the Axis, both had developed powers too late to save themselves pain, both had sworn to use those powers to protect others from the fate they'd suffered. Xorang'i channeled her resources into protecting women rather than mutants, but it was the same principle. The two women, finding how much they had in common, formed an alliance of sorts; what Polaris had just been through convinced her that rather than concentrating on trying to stop any one genocide, the appropriate and only solution was to conquer the world, impose her rule on *all* of it, and therefore not only protect mutants, but protect humans from killing each other as well. Xorang'i had no desire to rule the world, but the notion of being a trusted advisor to the person who did, and maybe getting a little revenge on Japan, had appeal.

Polaris agreed to assist Xorang'i in her rescue mission, and Xorang'i agreed to train Wanda in martial arts (Polaris' other ally, Namora, was fond of pointing out how very badly Wanda needed some discipline and focus, and Xorang'i waxed eloquently on how valuable the martial arts were to that.) Both women agreed to share information and to assist one another if the situation required it, but their spheres of influence were too far distant to overlap much.

Xorang'i didn't have very long with Wanda, however; she had been trying to knock some respect and discipline into Polaris' arrogant daughter for less than six months when Polaris recalled Wanda to the United States, as she would be beginning her campaign against humanity. Though Xorang'i protested that the girl had learned very little in that time (Wanda *could* learn at accelerated speed, but only when she chose to and when she thought it was worth her time; Xorang'i had successfully beaten her up several times, but this was only starting to convince her that Xorang'i was worth a bit of respect), Polaris insisted that she would need her daughter in the field. Thus, as the conflict between X-Factor and the Mutant Menace begins, Wanda isn't really much more advanced than MU-Pietro, and most of her superior skills are due to years of her mother's training, not martial arts. It's something she will eventually go back to, however.

As for Xorang'i, she continues to be a power on the Asian crime scene. It is very likely she will run into Loren at some point, but I leave that up to Alestar. :-)

Xorang'i's powers are simple: standard feral mutation. Claws, heightened senses, healing factor, the works. Unlike Victoria Creed and Loren, Xorang'i is actively furry; think of Matteo Callesantos or Heike Wagner. She doesn't have the pointy ears, though, and her eyes are normal. Also, unlike Creed and Loren, Xorang'i's extremely high native intelligence (not that the other two are stupid, but Xorang'i is a Machiavellian plotter rather than a cunning person) and training in the martial arts have allowed her to control most of the berserker aspect of the feral mutation. She enjoys killing but she doesn't let her desire to see blood affect her decisions... much.

Think of Xorang'i as a crime lord antihero, like the guy in the manga Sanctuary, or Crying Freeman. She is ruthless and lets little stand in her way, but she is intensely protective of her people and values their interests over her personal ambitions; this is a lever that can and has been used against her. (On the other hand, she will sacrifice one or two of her people to protect the rest, and preserving her own position counts, to her, as "protecting the rest." )

Xorang'i hates the Japanese with a passion (Alestar, this is likely to bring her into conflict with Loren at some point; Murmur, it might be useful for you too) but will not indulge her passion at the cost of business. She is protective of women. Other mutants work for her, one of whom is Scrambler (who probably isn't called that.) But she also has a lot of normal humans who work for her as well. Most of her trusted aides are female, but not all; she only hates men if they are abusing women or hitting on her.

She has very little interest in sex with men. Occasionally she has willingly done it, mostly to try to have children, but she's sterile (unknown whether it's her mutation or the abuse she suffered before her healing factor kicked in.) However, she's generally not all that into women either, though she's tried that too. Mostly, she's celibate, which is a bad place for a feral mutant to be, but then again, there's that training and discipline thing. Creator: Alara Rogers.