Vanessa DeVore is an archvillain found in the online game, "City of Heroes" and is the leader of the Carnival Of Shadows. She is a psychic psychopath that was once an ordinary more or less good hearted woman. Currently she runs her gang of brainwashed killer clowns and freaks; turning normal people into new hands while feeding off their psyches.
Vanessa DeVore was once an art student living in Paragon City; It was on a trip to Florence Italy that she encountered an antiques shop and she was drawn to an elegant box containing a beautiful porcelain mask. She knew she had to have it and bought the curio with uncharacteristic compulsivity. Though at first she simply cleaned it and polished it she soon found herself obsessed with it, tending on it slavishly. Finally out of compulsion at that point she tried it on...Once she dawned the mask she fully awakened the spirit of Giovanna Scaldi dwelling with in!
Giovanna Scaldi had been sealed in the mask during the Renaissance, she was a powerful mutant that had reduced Rome to rampant hedonism but was hunted down by another mutant psychic practicing as a exorcist named Brother Abelard Vernoux. In order to escape the clutches of Vernoux she had tried the desperate move of transferring her psyche' to an ornate mask with the help of her lover, Uriel di Inferno, who was a practicing magician. The plan was to appear dead, let Brother Abelard call off the search and when things had died down Uriel would place the mask on another young woman effectively allowing her to possess a new body and start over with none of her enemies the wiser. But Brother Ablelard had freed the people of Rome from Vanessa's hold and the angry mob of both citizens and nobles made sure there was no place for Uriel to hide even after Giovanna's apparent lifeless body was found. Uriel was found and the mask was confiscated and sealed away.
Once Giovanna had made contact with Vanessa's mind she intended to possess her and pick up where she left off centuries ago. Vanessa fought frantically to retain control of her body and the two minds wrestled for a full day before a maid came in the next day and found Vanessa convulsing on the floor and removed the mask. Vanessa had remained separate from Giovanna and now intended to never dawn the mask again. As it turned out she had been drawn to the mask in the first place because she was both a descendent of Giovanna and had latent psychic ablities herself.
The Return of Giovanna ScaldiThat would have been the end of the wicked psychic but for the Rikti War. On May 23, 2002 an alien race known as the Rikti invaded Earth touching down in Paragon City. The alien invaders were fearsome with advanced technologies. During this desperate time Vanessa felt it was her duty to help the heroes and military forces fight off the Rikti with whatever resources she could. She dawned the mask again this time to make a deal with Giovanna. The Rikti would kill everyone and destroy everything including Giovanna's mask if she did not help fight off the Rikti, so Vanessa would become a willing puppet on condition that Giovanna helped fight off the alien threat. The two untied as one and fought the Rikti. Though Giovanna/Vanessa could not control the creature's sophisticated brains directly she/they could control the troops attacking them. Under her/their leadership and directive, the troops fighting the Rikti made several precise strikes as an extension of the psychic herself helping to fend off major assaults and provide cover-fire for the heroic strike force going for the heart of the invasion force. During the last throes of the War Vanessa was severely drained and injured; out of compulsion she sucked out the souls of her thralls and recharged herself. She was disgusted by what she had done but also felt exhilarated and justified it as the necessity of war to keep herself charged. She created a new army and renewed her efforts to take down the Rikti. When the explosion of the Rikti ship, set off by the task-force, killed most of her army she collapsed and lost her mask from the shock of the feedback. When she awoke the War was over and the mask was removed.
But something happened to Vanessa even without the cruel will of Giovanna Scaldi directly over her; she became hungry; hungry for the souls she had taken in. Vanessa now had a craving for the wills of the people under her control to fuel her endlessly. She found the mask put it back on and became one with Giovanna the two now both seeking to enslaved the citizens of Paragon as their private army/all-you-can-eat-buffet of psyche's. Though Giovanna had to justify to Vanessa that they were creating the Carnival of Shadows to keep in place if the Rikti ever tried to return the truth was she just wanted to bring back the violent bacchanals to her whims and the new "Vanessa DeVore" began to send her thralls around town posing as flamboyant circus folk. As the shows toured the Carnival would feed off the crowds who would turn mad from DeVore's influence through her many avatars. In early stages the people were just drained of their energy after each show, but as they kept coming back they would go through mood swings, memories laps and eventually themselves become enthralled then joined the troop as new clowns and move onto the next town to repeat the process.