Full Name: Diana Sage Fox
Occupation: Former chief researcher for Shaw Industries, co-founder and co-leader of District X community
Mutant Abilities: Advanced telepathy, technopathy to allow for direct interface with machines, and computer-like mind
History: A gifted mind and a powerful intellect, Diana Sage Fox was born into a chaotic and disordered world. Her father was an American diplomat working in Eastern Europe in what used to be Yugoslavia. Her mother was a gifted computer programmer who worked for the defunct government and later became an analyst for NATO. They brought her into a world that had just collapsed and was desperately trying to find order. From the moment she was born, it was an uphill struggle to maintain that order.
For most of her infancy, she lived with her parents around what were thought to be safe zones in Serbia. However, she was rarely safe within the chaos. This became painfully clear when she was three years old. Her father, who had been conducting negotiations with local militia, was shot by a sniper and killed instantly. This left young Sage’s mother devastated, but it also numbed her to the violence surrounding her. That numbed mentality would later influence her daughter in a major way.
While her mother continued working for a collapsing regime, she made a concerted effort to keep her daughter out of trouble. She did this by giving her spare computer parts and various electronic games to play with. This instilled in Sage an early fascination with computers and electronics. She quickly developed a knack for it, so much so that it made her a misfit and an outcast among other children. This only added to the danger and it quickly escalated.
These concerns came to a head when Sage was 12. Her mother took Sage to a nearby market where she was harassed by a group of boys. They taunted her, teased her, and tried to provoke her. But for reasons that didn’t become clear until much later, she remained numb to their attacks. Eventually, her mother intervened. This also led her to make a fateful decision.
Sensing a collapsing country and constant war was not a place for a child, Sage’s mother used her former lover’s contacts to send her to a private school in Germany. It isn’t clear if she intended to join her daughter at a later time. Later on that same day, Sage’s mother and all records of her disappeared. It isn’t known what happened to her, but she has since been declared dead, most likely a victim of an ethnic cleansing campaign.
But in order to make sure that the violence didn’t follow Sage, her mother enrolled her into the school under a false name. That name was Tessa and from that day forward, this became her identity. The death of her mother further numbed the young woman, so much so that she became more reclusive and retreated to her studies. But in doing so, some of her latent gifts were revealed.
It isn’t clear when some of her mutant powers started manifesting, but they quickly blossomed as she entered adolescence. Already academically gifted, she rapidly ascended through each grade level, skipping several along the way. Her brain became like that of a computer, processing and retaining data at a superhuman level. By age 15, she had memorized every textbook from every department at the school. She also became fluent six languages, memorized every known collection of Greco-Roman literature, and mastered every known field of advanced science. Tessa seemed destined to become a child prodigy.
This destiny then hit an unexpected complication on a fateful day when she witnessed a traffic accident. It involved a teenage girl and her dog, who were struck by a car that swerved off the road in snowy conditions. The girl was fine, but the dog died instantly. The resulting shock from the girl didn’t affect Tessa at first. But as the woman became hysterical, it triggered in her another part of her mutation. This time, she manifested telepathy and the process was much harder.
By sensing the young woman’s thoughts, Tessa experienced an onslaught of emotions that she had not been prepared to process. It overwhelmed her, so much so that she ran back to her dormitory and locked herself in her room. She was later rushed to a clinic where she found out she had telepathy. This revelation helped explain the emotional outburst she experienced. It would force her to relearn how she would control her once numbed emotions. It also created a new complication.
The revelation about her telepathy made more of an outcast. No longer seen as gifted, Tessa was shunned by her peers. But rather than isolate her, it emboldened her. She focused the next few years refining her psychic abilities, eventually integrating them with her computer-like mind. It allowed her to control her emotions the same way most people could control a computer program. It gave her unprecedented mental capacity. She used this capacity to enter every accelerated learning program she could. She ended up traveling to top-tier institutions like Yale, MIT, and Oxford to further her studies. By age 18, she was the most accomplished academic in Europe. She dropped her old assumed name and became Sage again. Under this identity, she formulated a new field of research that she hoped would turn her brilliance into a tangible advancement.
For a year, Sage presented her research to every private and public institution who would listen. Unfortunately, few gave her opportunities to pursue this research. Not many were willing to give a mutant the resources to exercise her gifts. Determined, Tessa persevered in search of a project that would put her talents to good use. She eventually found an opportunity with a man named Sebastian Shaw.
Little is known about Shaw or how he found Sage. But he became so fascinated by her research that he wrote her a blank check and made her the chief researcher of his biotechnology division at Shaw Industries. However, he did give her certain conditions. One of those conditions involved her undergoing extensive cosmetic surgery to make her more attractive. At the time, Sage was too determined to refuse. She did so willingly, later finding out that Shaw was grooming her for a role in the Inner Circle. This was only the beginning of a much darker moral descent.
After the surgery, she began work on what would become her greatest creation. She called it techno-organic material, a substance that combined the malleability of living systems and the efficiency of a machine. The goal was to create a catalyst that could interact with living material and manipulate it like a computer program. For years, she conducted experiments. Some of them were grossly illegal, but Shaw never interfered. This allowed her to make the progress she needed to create a working prototype. But in doing so, she crossed a line that changed her life once more.
After demonstrating the prototype to Sebastian Shaw, he seduced Sage in an effort to secure her loyalty for the Inner Circle. At first, she succumbed to his charms. But in doing so, she got glimpse into his mind and saw his plans. It overwhelmed her, so much so that she had to turn off her emotions for an extended period. In a sobering moment, she realized that all the work she had done to this point had come at too high a price. If she gave Shaw her prototype, he would use it to inflict untold suffering. So in a desperate sacrifice, she attempted to destroy her life’s work.
With help from Emma Frost, another one of Shaw’s failed subordinates, Sage sabotaged her lab. She even went so far as to fake her death, making it so Shaw believed she had perished in an accident. This allowed her to escape his control. It also forced her to lay low for a while, reassuming the identity of Tessa in the process.
During this period of self-imposed exile, she disappeared from the grid. She eventually re-emerged with Lucas Bishop and Jamie Madrox, helping to form the mutant community, District X. Using resources she stole from Sebastian Shaw, she helped create a new mutant community to provide the kind of safe environment that she never had. Still known as Tessa, she became a respected member of this community and for mutants everywhere.
Later on, she became involved in an internet romance with Hank McCoy of the X-men. This romance was tumultuous for a while, due to Hank’s relationship with Ororo Munroe. It eventually blossomed and the two came together. But that relationship was later tested when she found out that someone had stolen a sample of the techno-organic material she created for Shaw. She and the X-men later found out that Colonel John Wraith of Weapon X had taken it and used it to create a more advanced living weapon, Fantomex.
However, Fantomex ended up failing like his predecessor, Weapon X. In doing so, the extent of Sage’s research was exposed. While the X-men were able to save her, it left her shaken and uncertain about the legacy her work would leave. However, it did help bring her and Hank closer together. The two continue to pursue a relationship while she once again goes by Sage, hoping to reclaim the legacy of that name.
Character Breakdown: Sage’s mind is highly ordered and highly structured, like a computer. As such, her personality reflects this structure. She is extremely organized as a person in that she sets goals and goes about achieving them in a step-by-step process. She is also extremely gifted intellectually, able to process and understanding concepts that other less ordered minds cannot. This makes Sage exceptionally gifted in terms of intelligence. It also makes her extremely self-aware of her emotional state. However, this does create problems in managing that emotional state.
Due to her ability to control her mind like a computer, Sage’s personality is prone to being segmented. It’s how she created the persona of Tessa and was able to function in that persona so effectively. Like a computer isolating a certain program, she’s able to craft an identity that helps her achieve her desired goals. Being able to turn off her emotions allows her to function in a way where she’s less prone to the whims of ignorance, greed, and jealousy. At the same time, it also undermines her sense of morality to a point where it becomes detrimental.
At times, Sage has come close to letting this detriment break her highly ordered mind. Her willingness to sabotage her old work and abandon the life she established as Tessa shows that she has an innate understanding of right and wrong. This may or may not be a result of having an ordered mind that understands the basic principles of morality. Whatever the cause, it does put her in a difficult position in terms of managing her emotional and moral understandings. She cannot function by cutting off one from the other. She understands this and attempts to manage it. This struggle has helped create a mind that is driven and dedicated, but vulnerable to shortcomings when her intellect and her sense of morality clash.