Commonly misunderstood to be a "queen" in the reproductive sense, this agile, monstrously strong and terrifyingly intelligent Joker is a strictly combative manifestation of the Joker colony core, adapted to rid the hive of even the most formidable intruders or simply purge its more troublesome offspring. Evidence suggests that its vast consciousness is actually that of the hive itself, incorporating the fractured memories of countless absorbed organisms and funneled into the Harlequeen vessel under dire circumstances.
A Harlequeen slaughters many adversaries outright, but may strategically generate temporary pseudojokers through the bite of its chattering, giggling beaks. Injected with millions of microbial nanojokers, victims undergo spontaneous psychological and physiological changes including a rubbery, elastic tissue consistency, excessive gas production, vivid epidermal discoloration, enlargement of the extremeties, loss of pain reception and a two-way neuroconnection to the Harlequeen's babbling, maddening mind.
The mentality of a Harlequeen is alarmingly incomprehensible even to the normally carefree sensibilities of its fellow Jokers, who may even break from their usual antics and perpetual laughter to flee and hide from its arrival in miraculous silence.
It perceives its surroundings in a manner so foreign that its behavior may seem hazardously illogical, often breaking from a bout of bloody carnage to disassemble machinery, practice juggling or chase a stray moth, but its rambling actions almost inevitably yield results in its favor; there's an undeniable purpose to its abstract machinations, whatever collateral damage it may wreak.
The Harlequeen's only apparent weakness is its near-fatal attraction to its personally ideal box. It can fold its hose-like anatomy into an area scarcely larger than its faceplate, and has apparent difficulty resisting the urge to do so when presented with any perfectly cubical space of exactly the correct dimensions, apparently to the millimeter. Varying subtly in mass from one individual - or even one day - to the next, it can be difficult if not impossible to predict the "right" box for a given Harlequeen without painstaking trial and error.
Harlequeen are notoriously risky to culture, many replicants quickly destroying themselves and their creators in an orgy of sadistic, uncontrollable violence wholly unlike the playful, slightly less uncontrollable violence of a natural specimen. In either case, determining the proper holding box can be an indispensable asset to the monster's safe transportation and containment, at least until the monster decides on a whim to alter its actual mass.
A Harlequeen can be neither "trained" nor successfully modified for obedience; it will only take its own liking to a monster trainer, and work in their favor through its own bizarre means.
SEMIMORPHOUS: like many Jokers, most of the Harlequeen is a gas-filled, almost gelatinous membrane, incredibly strong but incredibly flexible.
METHODICAL MADNESS: the Harlequeen has a heightened awareness of its surroundings and apparently flawless ability to calculate the outcome of its actions, though onlookers will find it impossible to deduce any intention from its rambling behavior.
JOKER GERMS: a bite from the Harlequeen's two beaks can temporarily transmute a host into a Joker-like puppet of the monster's will.
VOCAL MIMICRY: the monster's beaks can replicate any sound or voice.
COLOR CHANGE: a Harlequeen can freely change its color scheme, but maintains conspicuously intense striping. It is believed to be capable of camouflage, but stubbornly demands to be seen.
LEAP: a Harlequeen can coil its entire body like a single spring and launch itself like an enormous javelin. It is particularly prone to emerge from its boxes in this fashion.
GLIDE: a Harlequeen can flatten and broaden its serpentine body to soar through the air for some distance.
EXPLOSIVE: all Jokers are naturally volatile to a degree, but the explosion of an ignited Harlequeen is exceptionally devastating.
Contents copyright Jonathan Wojcik