lastofthekellys: (our sunshine)
Kate Kelly ([personal profile] lastofthekellys) wrote2020-06-25 09:48 pm
Entry tags:


Name: Catherine Ada “Kate” Kelly
Canon: Kate Kelly, by the Whitlams (fleshed out by Australian Folklore)
Scrubs Color: Red
House No.: N/A - Inn Lodgings
Inventory: HERE

Visible Age: Late teens, early twenties [actual age is 20]
Gender: Female
Height: 5'2
Physique: Slender
Complexion: Pale
Hygiene: “We might not have two shillings to rub together, but by God you're going to look neat and well turned out” school of Victorian cleanliness.
Hair: Brown, long, curly
Eyes: Dark, hazel
Defining Marks: Dark circles under her eyes. As of 20th August, wears a small handmade cross around her neck (wood and cloth cord tying it together). Unless otherwise mentioned, Kate wears a petticoat and a skirt (either blue or brown), with either white blouse or the red scrubs-shirt over a corset. The corset pulls her narrow waist in.

Accent/Speech: Irish-Australian, old-fashioned but mix of formal and slang
Bearing/Demeanor: Straight-back, mouth closed and dark eyes saying what her tongue doesn't. A sharp temper, but bright, engaging and captivating in company.
Gait: Light, a little quick. Like she's impatient with life and wants to run wild. Sometimes, she limps - particularly in cold weather, air pressure changes, or after over-exerting herself on her bad ankle.
Habits: Says a grace before each meal and prays before bed. Sits carefully, and only lets her back touch the back of the chair if she remembers - otherwise, she tends to perch in the middle. Sings while she works.
Skills: Expert horsewoman, sharpshooter and tracker. Wilderness survival. Rural Victorian-era housekeeping (including farming, cooking, making clothes, etc.) Resourceful, tough, driven. Able to evade police for years. Persuasive.


The shortest way to describe Kate is that she's a Kelly. She is loyal down to the very marrow of her bones, loyal to the death and to the death of others (Ned never murdered anyone, she'll say, he had to kill those police, it was self-defence...). Family is everything. Friendship is everything. Betray that, and you are a traitor.

Raised poor, Irish Catholic, with an ex-convict father and a mother who was driven to keep her family alive and together, Kate has a tough, pragmatic core wrapped around anti-authoritarian attitudes that her experience with the police has only hardened. She's proud, in a way that sometimes shows as what her time called 'flashness' but mostly in ways where if she's treated with respect and dignity, she has no quarrel with you. Sometimes she sparkles, a lot of the time she plays the extrovert and time as an infamous celebrity has sharpened her tongue to snarkiness. She does try not to be cruel, merely tart.

She is, though, by nature an introvert. She needs time alone to regain her energy, her ability to be calm and cheerful. With her family, with her friends, she tends to be a quiet, friendly person, happy to lend a hand. When she was a little girl, her mother called her 'her ray of sunshine around the house', but it's been years since that facet of her personality has consistently been shown. Kate is also quiet when she works, and she can be surprisingly industrious if one only listens to her snark.

But the girl who was her mother's sunshine has grown into a woman riddled with darkness. She has the Quinn temper from her mother, reacting with shouted insults and sometimes swung fists to affronts to her pride (particularly when it comes to being sexually disrespected). Brutalised by years of police harassment, she is just as harsh in return in that area. She would, quite literally, rather see her beloved brother burn rather than surrender to the authorities, and willingly aided the Kelly Gang's crimes to the point of being their unofficial fifth member. Alongside the anti-authoritarian, anti-British attitudes she was raised with, there was more serious talk of open insurrection from former Irish agitators. Because of it, she can be easily radicalised into rebellious actions.

Kate is also haunted. Unable to sleep through the night since the age of fourteen, due to years of being woken up by police at the door, she suffers from chronic insomnia and constantly seeks cures for it. Coming from the 1880s, methods for doing so are easy to come by and she drinks far, far too much, far, far too often. The events of Glenrowan, coming on the heels of years of fear, have given her what would now days be diagnosed as PTSD. She is obsessed with the image of her lover, Joe Byrne, strung up on the gaol door as the press took their photographs, and it's to that she flashes to again and again, constantly reminded and unable to get it out of her head. She is far more on edge than previously, with a tendency to startle at flickers at the corner of her eye.

Increasingly reckless, her stage career is bound up in her current self-destructive spiral. In the first place, being part of a show means abandoning her beloved family. Leaving her younger siblings with her sister Maggie, with her brother Jim, and running away. Too much responsibility too young, for too long, and she couldn't take it once Ned was dead. Once Joe was dead. Once Dan was dead. Once Steve was dead. Once the gang was gone and there was nothing to look forward to except more drudgery.

But in other ways, being Ada of the Stage is damaging. While she wins and earns money, while she is one of society's charming and palatable bad girls, every flash of the camera reminds her of Joe and she despises the press. And yet, she presses on, driven to continue the macabre spectacle for reasons she chooses not to look at. Partly, it's a cynical ploy to win money, but there is an element of flagellation there. Making herself feel awful to pay for failing to save Joe's body, for being the initial spark of disaster for her family.

Canon calls her 'last of the Kellys' – to be strictly accurate, she's not. Jim's alive. Maggie might be married, but she's still a Kelly and she has her own children. Grace is alive. But Kate is the last of the Kelly Gang, and there is a bitter pride in that.


What skills does your character bring to the situation?:

Expert horsewoman, sharpshooter, with a bushwoman's skills of hunting and tracking. She knows how to keep (and butcher) livestock, make provisions and clothing, keep a household (with dirt-poor, Victorian-era resources in rural Australia) and make moonshine. Keeping a household for her involves the basics of farming, of chopping wood, of repairing walls as well as cleaning and cooking. She also knows the basics of livestock stealing.

Personality-wise, she brings a willingness to work, an underlying toughness, and that she is used to having to work hard to eat and live. Kate is also highly community-minded, and would work with others as a matter of course.

Explain how your character would react to the following:

- Discovering that their memories may have been tampered with:

Upon finding herself in-game, this is exactly what she's going to assume: that someone has made her forget how she found herself in that fountain, in strange clothes. And she is going to be furious.

If asked, Kate would like to forget certain things. Forget the horror. Forget how much she jumps at night, and the grief, and the images and sounds.

But without her consent? She reacted violently aged fourteen when a policeman tried to kiss her and pull her onto his lap, and this is so much worse. This is her mind. Additionally, she's had a lifetime of the police and the establishment telling their version, trying to twist the truth, until sometime all she had were her own memories. She is going to feel scared and angry and violated, and will want to get back at those who have treated her so poorly.

- Having to do physical labor to survive:

Kate has had to do physical labour her entire life to survive, and she has expected this to be the case in the future as well. Having to do so in-game would be perfectly normal to her. What will be stranger and harder is the lack of resources – no tools, no seeds, no market, no community network, very few people who know what they are doing.

Except the trouble with her being capable is that she's also, psychologically, an unstable mess who is very, very tired emotionally, and has chronic insomnia. Her ability to cope is hindered, and she might just make very rash, irrational choices. Or indeed have days where she cannot do the labour, cannot bring herself to get out of bed.

- Having to share resources with others:

This depends. Kate is community-minded, and she is used to sharing with her family, friends, and other people in her mob and network. Additionally, she's been raised in a culture where if one needs to borrow a horse, you do not necessarily ask first. As long as you return the animal within a few days, no harm done. With strangers, she will both seek to make allies by sharing and be watchful for those who betray themselves as untrustworthy.

There is an exception: people who identify themselves as police. Her attitude towards people of that profession is simple: fuck the police. She refused to try and talk her brother Dan into surrendering when asked by a man in uniform even though seconds before she'd agreed when asked by a man of the cloth. She is perfectly willing to turn down assistance in the game's survival setting if she knows someone is a policeman back in their home.

How she will share and treat those of the vigilante nature (such as superheroes) will be complicated. It will depend how much she views them as being in the pocket of the hated authorities.

Seeing how she works around that issue, and where and how and if she'll ever soften her attitude (even if just in individual cases) is one of the aspects I'm looking forward to playing out.

- Being unable to leave the area:

If there is a theme with Kate, it is that she gets angry first when she is frightened. She will regard the area as a prison, and will rage against it. The fact that she doesn't know why she's been placed there, or by who, will add to her anger – and add to her fear. She's grown up among those who go to prison and those who come back, and she fears it. She might also have the occasional panic attack about not being able to leave.

However, she's visited prisons. She's seen the walls, and she's seen the doors. She will be far more interested in exploring the fountain than the cliff walls, because the fountain was the door in.

- Doing without modern conveniences and technology and/or being around tech more advanced than they're used to:

As the technology levels are Edwardian, this is only a couple decades after her current time. The mixture of scientific advancement and the different socio-economic contexts she is used to means that generally, Kate will not feel temporally out of place. The differences in technology either already exist between rich and poor (and between established countries vs. colonial), or can be easily slotted into something like that difference. Instant communication, should it turn up in game, will be something she will never stop marvelling over, but otherwise, she will adjust quickly.

What will throw Kate more is the clothing. Although she's regularly worn trousers under her skirts, and been to known to wear full man's attire when out riding in the bush, the scrubs and tank-tops provided will be a deep shock for her. Even once she understands how to put on a bra, it is not her normal corset and she will feel underdressed. Until she gets more comfortable, she will probably wear her denim overalls under the scrub-style shirt because the heavier fabric will provide more of a sense of her normal layers.

- Being separated, possibly permanently, from loved ones and their previous life, including loss of powers, if applicable:

There is a difference between voluntary exile or immigration, a sentence of transportation, and kidnapped to somewhere completely foreign altogether. Choice, agency, freedom – there are all principles Kate holds dear and has fought to have. She might currently be in a state of voluntary self-exile, but it is her choice. Someone else coming along to lock her up without so much as a by-your-leave and without her being convicted of any crime? She will be furious. How DARE someone just take her away for their own fancy. How dare they put her in a cage without her family and force her to survive. How dare they take her away from her family, whom she loves with a fanatical, desperate intensity. She won't accept the loss of her family as permanent, either. Nor the kidnapping from her beloved land of Australia.

And yet...

Alongside that rage of being captured is a certain amount of relief. She won't like to admit it, maybe she won't even admit it to herself, but she'd been thinking of disappearing. To cut herself away from all reminders of her past. To get some rest from all the grief and love and frustration and emptiness of her situation.

And if she's been kidnapped, then vanishing isn't her fault. If the choice has been taken away from her, then there's no reason for feeling guilty for abandoning everyone even more than she already had.


Note: To flesh out Kate's history, I'm using the references and implications from the song combined with Australian folklore about the Kellys, actual history, and headcanon. In order keep the fictionalised nature of this version of Kate, I'm prioritising folklore over history.

Catherine Ada Kelly was born the seventh child of John 'Red' Kelly and his wife Ellen on 12 July, 1863, at the village of Beveridge in the British colony of Victoria, Australia. Ellen's family, the Quinns, were respectable Irish immigrants from County Antrim: Red had been transported from County Tipperary for animal theft. It was Red's background that ended up dominating: after serving a term of hard labour for stealing a calf, he turned to drink and within a year, he was dead. Kate was three and a half.

Ellen moved her family to near her sisters, living in a hut at Eleven Mile Creek near Greta. The small plot the Kellys paid rent on was poor for farming, not particularly good for keeping livestock. Water had to be carried by hand from their dam to the house, which was a one-room shack with a dirt floor and cloth partitions to divide up the space. There were animals to care for, land to tend, chores to do, all by hand and the family remained as poor as the land they rented.

But Kate had her family. As she grew older, throughout her childhood she increasingly knew that her family would always be there. Her siblings were close, loving and loud. The older ones looked out for the younger, and as one of the youngest, Kate was always secure in the knowledge that someone would be there to help her. The core of the family was their mother, Ellen, tiny and driven and tough. Along with Ellen came her sisters, Kate's aunts, who had both married into the Lloyds. Kate's network of family wasn't just the Kellys, but all those linked by blood or marriage. When husbands, brothers, sons were locked away, it was down to the women and children to keep on going. They banded together and took on jobs themselves. Ellen herself took in short-term borders and travellers, and also turned to bootlegging. Even if there'd been no other crime around, Kate would have learned that you had to break the law to survive.

However, there was other crime. Horse-and-cattle-stealing were common, and her older brother and male cousins were deeply involved. They stole and sold horses like people in the modern day steal and sell cars – in large number, and with professional-level skills. Kate, being raised around poverty-stricken selectors, ex-convicts, and bitter Irish agitators, only cared that Ned stayed safe and that when he came home, there was more a certainty of food on the table. Even some internal walls for their hut.

As Kate grew from childhood to adolescence, death and misfortune started to stalk the family more and more. Annie, the oldest surviving Kelly, married, but then had an affair with a corrupt policeman when her husband was in gaol. She died in childbirth, and the baby died not long after. Flood, Annie's former lover, only came around to harass the family. At the age of fourteen, her older brother Jim was sent away for five years hard labour. Normally, it would have been maybe six months, but now it was official police policy to try and break the 'Greta Mob', as the Kelly brothers and their associates were known. This harassment, and the men of the family always in and out of gaol, accomplished two things: Kate's sense of angry injustice at how her family's been treated, and the end of her education. When Maggie, Kate's next oldest sister, also married, Kate had to stop going to school in order to help look after the babies – her three younger half-siblings, by her mother's second marriage – and work the land. Increasingly, the land and her family were all she had. She had some social outlets, such as local dances, but mostly, her only real freedom came from riding horses through the bush by herself once her chores were done.

Then things suddenly got much, much worse.

Two months before her fifteenth birthday and just days after the birth of her youngest sister, Alice, a drunken constable called Fitzpatrick came to the hut. As he was something of a friend of Ned's, and police on official business came in twos or threes, Ellen let him in. He'd come, he declared, for Dan about some missing livestock but he didn't have the warrant on him. During the subsequent altercation, Fitzpatrick pulled Kate towards him and tried to kiss her. Kate punched him, but he tried again, saying that if she submitted to his desires, he'll say that Dan hadn't been there. This just made Kate hit him again before Dan and Ellen lunged in to her rescue. In the process of being tackled by Dan, Fitzpatrick's wrist had struck the corner of the stove, but when the Kellys bandaged it up, he said there was no serious damage and left. Dan left that night, to lay low while the whole affair blew over. But the next day, Ellen Kelly, Maggie's husband Bill and neighbour, 'Bricky' Williomson were arrested and charged with attempted murder.

Of Kate's immediate living family, her mother and youngest sister were now in gaol, where they'd remain for three years. One brother was already in gaol, two more were now on the run. Her oldest surviving sister was still free, but Maggie had her own small children to look after and her own husband imprisoned. Kate was now left the oldest one in the hut at Eleven Mile Creek: she had to look after Grace (the youngest child of Red Kelly), and the remaining babies Ellen and John.

It wasn't easy.

There was little income; the land was as poor as ever and Kate was still only a teenager. Maggie helped as much as she could, and the two clung to each other, but day after day, Kate tried to keep the home fires burning and her younger siblings fed.

It all became worse after the policemen were killed at Stringybark Creek. Now that Ned and Dan, together with Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, had killed, and killed three policemen, the hunt for them became much, much more serious, as did the harassment of the Kelly girls. At all hours, day and night, Kate'd be dragged from her chores or her sleep and forced to answer questions about her brothers and the rest of the gang. The hut would be ransacked, provisions spilled to the ground, she'd be manhandled and used as a shield as her home was searched. When she left for her errands, she knew she was being watched, even being followed.

Kate retaliated as only a Kelly could. Some nights, she told the policemen that Ned and the Kelly gang were just sleeping in the background; as they turned pale, crept up to the room shaking and weapons drawn, she'd wait until they opened the door and found no one behind and then burst out laughing at them. She also kept her loyalty. Nothing broke it – if anything, the persecution made it stronger, fanatical. The gang would slip her money, and in return, she helped the network of sympathisers get supplies, organise drop-offs. She'd supplies and other messages into the bush herself, using her own riding skills and bushcraft to lose her tail of policemen. She'd also scout out locations, keep an ear on the ground for danger.

In the end, Kate became the fifth member of the gang – unofficially so, not on the run, never taking part of the hold-ups, but just as important as the others.

She always loved seeing her brothers Ned and Dan, was very fond of Dan's best friend Steve, but over the course of the next two years, she increasingly loved seeing Joe Byrne. Joe was one of Ned's best friends, but a few years younger. He was urbane by the standards of Greta, intelligent, witty, spoke Cantonese due to growing up on the goldfields and he was beautiful. And here she was, helping him. Engaging in clandestine activities to see him anyway. Being part of his gang.

It's little surprise that Kate fell head over heels in love with Joe: what surprised her more was that Joe fell for her, too. They became lovers, stealing kisses and embraces. A few times, they even had sex, but it was too risky for that to be common.

Eventually, Ned grew sick of running and forced a last stand. Glenrowan, June 1880. By the time Maggie, Kate and Grace managed to ride to the town, Joe was already dead. Ned was grievously wounded and had been taken in custody. There'd been a shoot-out. Multiple people were dead, injured, and it still wasn't over. Her brother Dan and his best friend, Steve Hart, were trapped in the inn which the police were now trying to set alight. The Kelly girls were prevented from running towards the inn by the police, although this didn't stop Maggie and Kate from trying more than once. Kate, when asked by a Catholic priest if she'd try and talk Dan and Steve into surrendering, eagerly agreed, but when the policeman in charge asked her she savagely replied, “Surrender to you fucking curs?”

Her defiance turned to anguished screaming once the building caught fire. Then again to wailing once Dan and Steve's blackened bodies were dragged out of the inn. Between one dead brother and the other grievously injured, the dead Joe faded into the background of her awareness. This didn't last. Maggie took the bodies of Dan and Steve back to her hut, and guarded them with sharp words and a loaded shotgun. When Kate couldn't take the smell and grief any longer, she left Grace to look after the babies and rode to Benalla, where Joe's body had been taken.

She found her lover's body not in the police barracks, or the gaol, not in someone's living room turned into a makeshift morgue, but outside. Strung up against the gaol door in a macabre semblance of standing, as the press lined up and took their photographs of him. Of his corpse.

Kate told them to stop. To stop this circus, but to them, she was just a crying adolescent girl. She could do nothing.

She didn't give up, because there was still Ned alive. For the months between the siege at Glenrowan in June and his execution in November, Kate, Maggie, their cousins and the Kelly Gang's supporters fought. She turned seventeen while waging a war of words and petitions and lawyers. They spent all their money for Ned's legal defence (not enough to win against the legal trickery of the government), and when the sentence of execution came down, Kate stood in the streets of Melbourne begging people to sign a petition for mercy. She went on her knees in front of the governor and begged, but nothing worked. On 11 November, 1880, at 10 o'clock, Ned was hanged. Kate huddled with her cousins in a nearby pub, the closest thing to standing watch they could get.

That night, the night after the dreadful morning where Ned was hanged, Kate performed on stage for the very first time. She was dressed in a stylish black, silk riding habit, as would become her custom, and sat on an armchair next to her brother Jim who had recently been released from his own sentence. She carried flowers and people, through a mixture of sympathy and curiosity, came in droves. It was a weird, strange performance, staged by a pair of siblings who... Well, one of whom had cracked a little under the pressure and her surviving big brother who was determined to keep his eye on her. From Melbourne the pair took 'the Kelly Show' to Sydney, expanding it to include their horse-riding skills. It's there where Kate left Jim and joined a Wild West style show that travelled the Australian colonies. In order to technically avoid her employers having the charge of Creating a Nuisance Through Allowing Relatives of an Executed Criminal to Exhibit Themselves (which had tripped up her and Jim's previous publicists), she used her middle name, Ada, as a stage name.

Everyone knew who she was, of course. The striking Kate Kelly in her riding habit the colour of mourning, doing horse tricks and shooting targets. Such a thrill, she provided, Ned Kelly's baby sister. Winning horse races, drawing crowds: everyone had a story about Kate Kelly. Everyone was prepared to pay to see her, and that's what Kate used as justification. The family had no money. The money the gang had stolen had gone into legal fees for all those targeted by the police, and the dregs of what was left went to try and save Ned. As long as she was infamous, Kate told her family, she might as well turn it to be useful.

It wasn't exactly the whole truth. The shows reminded her of the good adrenaline kicks she'd achieved on errands for the gang, the crowds were both thrilling and people to take for a ride and take money from. She enjoyed the no-questions-asked camraderie with the rest of the troop and other carnival people they met on their travels. She adored the horses, adore riding them and exercising them and helping keep them all glossy and beautiful. Ever since she'd been a tiny thing, Kate had shared in her family's deep abiding love for horses, and that won her friends.

The touring show was a change of scenery, except it didn't have the effect she wanted. Kate couldn't run from her memories, and night after night, when it was time to sleep, she'd be haunted by Joe. Joe and his beauty, Joe and his loyalty, Joe and his half-smile even in death, Joe and what they did to him while she could do nothing. Ever since the ghastly day of Ned's execution, where Kate had sat in a hotel waiting for the clock to toll ten, she'd started drinking to try and chase her demons away. Now she kept drinking to try and forget enough to sleep.

It's at this point, nearly two years after she changed careers, that she enters the game.