Harley "Reach" Sawyer, born as (and sometimes still known as) Harlan Chapman Sawyer, is a shifter in the Whateley Class of 2010.
Harlan was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the younger of two sons in a dysfunctional working-class family. His father Quentin heaped verbal, psychological and likely physical abuse at him while praising his more athletic brother Jasper. His passive mother, Linda, was unable to intervene. When he manifested as a mutant, Quentin kicked him out and signed out parental authority to Harlan's maternal aunt. Aunt Connie then took steps to ensure Harlan would have good education and training in his powers, sending him to Whateley.
At Whateley, Harlan found two goals: to be accepted into the Intelligence Cadet Corps and to woo the cute but shy French devisor, Geneviève "Jenny" Etincelle, a.k.a. Spark. His persistent (some would say "stubborn") streak served him well in this—he was in the verge of attaining both goals when he managed to recover some of Spark's stolen projects. However, a misguided attempt at help by Heartbreaker made Jenny furious at Harlan, and she set up a trap for him. The situation was made worse because a then-unknown third party changed the trap, making sure Harlan would be caught in it even if innocent, and increased greatly the duration of the Exemplar Status Inducer imprint Jenny used as a form of "punishment."
This caused the unusual effect of turning Harlan into a girl, with a strong resemblance to Zenith, who was the template for the imprint Jenny imposed on Harlan. Surprisingly, Harlan's female form also displayed the features of a high-level Exemplar, being stronger, faster and thinking more clearly than his male form. The effects were at first thought to be likely temporary, but eventually showed to be triggered by Harlan's emotional state. Realizing that at some level he associated being male with the abuse from his father, while being female was associated to the positive role model of his aunt, Harlan eventually embraced his new "Harley" identity. She still switches back now and then, but now she no longer wants a "cure" for her femaleness.
Meanwhile, the repentant Spark took to helping Harley in any form she could, both monitoring her health and devising a high-tech costume and accessories. Their relationship flourished, and they learned to enjoy each other's presence no matter which form Harley is currently wearing.
Harlan, in his male form, is a rather average Caucasian boy, with black hair and blue eyes. In her female form, Harley has huge sapphire blue eyes in an action-movie heroine face—a classic beauty, just strong and regular enough to suggest power and courage. Reach's brunette hair is worn in a short, shaggy haircut.
Reach is a "stretcher-type" shifter, which means having powers resembling those of Marvel's Mister Fantastic. In his male form, however, Harlan lacks the strength to exert any significant amount of force when stretched—in fact, he tends to "bend" when extended. In this form, he has to rely on pulling moves, behaving at times like his limbs were made of rope—pulling, climbing, swinging and such.
The XSI incident, though, besides changing Harlan's sex, gave her the strength of a high-level (possibly Ex-6) exemplar. Now Harley can do most of those classic comic-book moves—like reaching across the room and lifting someone bodily. She seems to have got at least some part of Zenith's Exemplar mental package as well—Harley seems somewhat smarter than Harlan, although that might be a symptom of his negative self-image as a male.
Reach's costume was created from bleeding-edge, patent-pending tech by Spark and its unassuming appearance belies the inbuilt capabilities.
Reach's visor, reminiscent of the one the X-Men character Cyclops wears, has a ton of built-in electronics, including a digital camera and recorder, UV and IR optics, a MP3 player, a GPS/Map system, AR overlays and a communications link. It was originally built to continually scan Reach's brainwaves for problems stemming from the XSI imprint and send that data via cellular link to the lab.
The most important component is the suit itself. What looks like a skin-tight black spandex bodysuit with attached gloves and boots is in fact a sophisticated fullerene sheath attuned to Reach's PK energy. It stretches and contracts with her body without dragging or bunching. Its structure duplicates the impact defraction mechanism of PK force fields, for an absolute hardness factor of 650 and an impact strength of 1240 kg. p.s.i. This gives Reach a protection similar to a PK shield, enough theoretically to stop a .45 bullet at close range. The pseudo-PK field also has the effect of producing an almost frictionless surface, except for a few points needed to anchor the vest and for the palm of the gloves and bottoms of the feet. It resists paint, glue and acids.
The suit maintains the inner temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees Fahrenheit, expelling or containing heat and moisture as needed. The control mechanism reacts fast enough to protect the wearer from sudden changes in temperature, like flames—except on the palms of the hands, where it would interfere with the sense of touch. It has also active camouflage capabilities and is able to contain all infrared emissions for up to sixteen minutes, then vent the stored heat in a blast.
A hood is intended to be worn for added protection and camouflage, but has not been shown in story yet. The gloves have miniature cameras on the tips of the pinkies, which send images to Harley's visor.
A vest (also black) worn over the suit offers added protection to the torso and conveniences like pockets. It also helps modesty in day-to-day situations, considering that the bodysuit follows tightly the body's contours, giving it a "painted-on" appearance.
- Spy Kids
- Zenith (Exemplar template)