Heartbreaker is an incredibly cruel and narcissistic individual, carrying little empathy for others. He casually sent women he tired of to their deaths in shootouts with local authorities, and he regularly abused his own children with doses of terror to keep them under his control. Whenever his children were firmly under his grasp, he didn't care about them all, neglecting them in favor of his ever-adoring harem. He treated the people around him like property, collecting and disposing of women at his whims and inducing trigger events in his children to use them as his personal soldiers. He was even willing to rent out his own women and daughters, with men paying him for their "company".
In his daily life, he is highly controlling and hedonistic, primarily interested in living a life of luxury and surrounding himself with beautiful women. He is also rather impulsive, as his power has typically allowed him to receive anything he wants with minimal effort. However, he isn't stupid, and runs his operation in an insidious manner. Outside his occasional flights of fancy, he usually stays inside, using his women and children to run errands and scout for potential victims.
He had the habit of collecting rings, presumably wedding rings from the married women he abducted. He is heterosexual, and thus only went after women.
Heartbreaker is a tall man with a lanky, muscular physique, long black hair, and a scruffy beard. He often went shirtless, and had a disposition that oozed confidence and sexuality, often languidly reclining in couches and beds surrounded by his harem. He appeared to be in his thirties or forties.
Abilities and Powers
Heartbreaker is a Master with the ability to manipulate the emotions, any emotion, of anyone within his line of sight. While his range is shorter and more limited than those of some of his children, the effects of his emotional manipulation are stronger and can be long-term or even permanent, continuing even after his death. The psychological effects of his power are so powerful that his thralls are willing to die for him.
Due to being a emotion-controlling Master, Heartbreaker is unable to effectively manipulate capes that experience significantly dulled emotion, such as Regent.
Heartbreaker was born in Europe and later moved to Quebec. He used his abilities to form a cult-like harem of beautiful and useful women that adored him and served him zealously, willing to commit crimes and even die for him. From these women, he sired numerous children, who he would purposely try to trigger in order to bolster his forces. His children were his primary resource, and he kept them under strict control, going to tremendous efforts to reacquire his children if they were taken away. Starting around the age of eight, he would continuously attempt to "test" his children on their birthdays or whenever he was having a bad day, setting up situations to torment them into triggering and gaining powers.
Heartbreaker operated in an elusive manner, laying low in the houses of the women he manipulated and utilizing the women and children under his command to do errands and carry out his whims. Along with controlling attractive women for his own pleasure, he controlled women in important positions, using them to embezzle funds or monitor PRT activities in order to stay one step ahead of the law. Authorities did mobilize forces against him whenever Heartbreaker was noticed, but his children were always able to alert him beforehand, and the people they sent in often fought guerilla forces of brainwashed innocents that let Heartbreaker and much of his group get away, making mobilizing against Heartbreaker not only difficult, but costly in terms of civilian casualties. Local authorities kept an eye on things, rooting out Heartbreaker's moles and putting out warnings, but avoided placing a kill order on Heartbreaker due to the risk of vigilantes coming out of the woodworks and causing excessive collateral damage.
After his son Jean-Paul triggered, Heartbreaker used him as one of his soldiers for three or four years. However, Heartbreaker had trouble controlling Jean-Paul's emotions the way he used to before his trigger, and thus resorted to pushing him into increasingly dangerous and morally bankrupt situations in an attempt to get Jean-Paul to break and finally submit to him. This pushed Jean-Paul to eventually run away after realizing Heartbreaker would never stop trying to break him. After Jean-Paul's successful escape, Heartbreaker became irritable, becoming more possessive and angry around the remaining children.
After some time passed, Heartbreaker eventually gathered enough manpower among his children to break his typical pattern. He and the Heartbroken kidnapped the actress Sidney Saile from Vancouver and took her back to Montreal. However, heroes from both Vancouver and Montreal went after them and successfully recovered the actress after a bout of fighting that caused Heartbreaker and his family to lose much of what they had built up. Cherie Vasil, frustrated with how Heartbreaker had squandered everything just to kidnap an actress, ended up running away to make a name for herself, which left Heartbreaker in a black mood. With two runaways and a failed kidnapping, Heartbreaker became even more casually cruel for a period, abusing his children on the regular.
Two of his children, Jean-Paul and Cherie, had run away from him at this point. He sent two of his children, Guillaume and Nicholas, after Cherie to track her down. After Cherie joined the Slaughterhouse Nine, however, they were scared off and presumably returned home.
After moving to Brockton Bay, Heartbreaker committed suicide after Imp tormented him until he slit his own throat. Imp then adopted a large portion of his children as a way of honoring the memory of Regent.
↑ 1.01.1“If it was easy to take over a city, more people would have managed it,” I said. “This is work. There’s always more to be done, whether you’re dealing with your enemies, dealing with your subordinates or coordinating with your allies. If you find you have free time, you’re probably fucking up.”
“Or!” he said, raising a finger, “I could delegate.”
“That’s a recipe for failure,” I told him.
“My dad managed it.”
Heartbreaker, I thought. I was put in mind of the images of Heartbreaker that had made the web. The villain, by virtue of his personal, extensive harem, had a whole cadre of women virtually climbing over each other for the chance to fawn over him and worship him. The pictures were a consequence of that, released by his ‘girls’, as Regent had termed them. Each picture depicted a man in his thirties or forties, depending on the time the picture in question had been taken. He had black hair, the scruff of a beard, and was invariably seen sitting or reclining on couches and beds, often shirtless, with women at the periphery of the image. He oozed confidence and raw sexuality, languid, more lanky than athletic. - Excerpt from Imago 21.3
↑‘Master’ refers to the ability to control others or (in the case of specialized cases of other powers, like Tinkers) to create minons… Taylor, Parian, Crusader, Heartbreaker and Nilbog all fit this classification. [...] She isn’t controlling stuffed animals the size of a second story building like Parian or directing squads of women with machine guns, grenades and zero self preservation like Heartbreaker. - Comment by Wildbow on Extermination 8.5
↑“My dad runs his own group in Montreal. I was working for him before anything else.” - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑ 4.04.1Maybe it's one of the once-a-year times when something slips. A kid gets recognized. Forces mobilize, the mole alerts Heartbreaker. Forces teleport in or mobilize via. flying vehicles, and Heartbreaker is already gone and running. He's got kids like Guillaume and the like, who already have dozens of unwitting spies watching (Guillame touches everyone in a crowd, and senses through their eyes, like Taylor's swarm sense, minus the control aspect, and can temporarily blind them or fuzz their senses), allowing the escape route to be plotted, and the group gets a few seconds of warning time before the flying suit passes over the area. Capes are forced to move in groups, because moving out alone means running the risk that Cherish might sense them, and the small group of Heartbreaker's kids, a handful of captured capes, and his elite zealot-soldiers could flank them and give Heartbreaker the moment he needs to wololo the solo cape.
Meanwhile, the women he's tired of are armed and ready to fight like the worst kind of zealot, convinced he's in the bedroom. The heroes approach, forming a perimeter, and neighbors of the initial victim make a move, flanking, opening fire with hunting rifles or improvised weapons. Chaos, fires are set.
It's hell - fighting guerilla forces made up of people you really don't want to hurt, blameless. Heartbreaker moves out to the periphery of the city to live in a rural location, or just disappears into another densely populated neighborhood. - Wildbow on Reddit
↑ 5.05.1He could remember being young, maybe eight or so, fighting with two of his sisters over the fact that he’d wanted to watch the music channel and they wanted to watch some craptastic stop motion cartoon. They’d outnumbered him two to one, and he’d known he would lose the argument. So he’d thrown a tantrum, started screaming.
The entire atmosphere in the house had changed in a second. His sisters went from argumentative to conciliatory in an instant, changed the channel to the music, tried to give him the remote. One of father’s ‘girls’ came in and tried to quiet him down. When he hadn’t, she’d clamped a hand over his mouth.
It hadn’t been enough. Dear Old Dad had come marching out of the master bedroom. Nikos Vasil. Heartbreaker. Tall, wearing only boxer briefs, with a muscled, lanky physique, long hair plastered to his head with sweat. Father had taken two or three seconds to assess the situation before using his power on Alec, his two sisters and the ‘girl’ with a hand over Alec’s mouth. He hit each of them with stark terror. The kind of fear you experienced when you were claustrophobic and you woke up in a coffin six feet underground.
Then father had gone back into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him. - Excerpt from Interlude 10
↑ 6.06.16.2He scowled briefly, then crossed one foot over the other on the coffee table, settling deeper into the couch with his coffee resting on his belt buckle. “We had everything we could ask for, as far as money and stuff went. Dad’s victims took care of the chores, so the only thing us kids would have to do was take care of the babies sometimes. Didn’t have to go to school, but some of my brothers and sisters did just to stay out of my dad’s way.”
“Why?” I asked, “Or is that a dumb question?”
“Eh. It’s hard to explain. He cultivated us, bred for us, went miles out of his way to get us back if a member of his ‘family’ was taken from him. Mounted a freaking crusade if it came down to it. But when we were around, he paid almost no attention to us kids. When he did pay attention, it was to discipline us or test us. Discipline usually meant getting a dose of paralyzing terror for not listening to him, insulting him or even looking him in the eye, sometimes. Testing happened on our birthdays or if he’d had a bad day… he’d try to set up a trigger event. Not supposed to be so hard, given that we were second generation capes, obviously, but he started when we were eight or so.” - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑“I am your ally. I know some men pay your father for access to his, um, girlfriends, wives? To have them keep them company?” - From Within 16.8
↑I'm not saying he doesn't take what he wants. He just isn't stupid when he goes about it. He makes a lot of enemies as it stands. Cherish was frustrated that he was reaching for the stars (ho ho ho ho), and threatening to burn the rest of them. - Wildbow on Reddit
↑ 10.010.110.2Heartbreaker is slippery. His location is rarely easy to pin down, he doesn't go out much, he'll use his women and kids to find good looking women or women he can use and add them to his circle. They run the errands. - Wildbow on Reddit
↑I looked at the rings on the memorial. “Heartbreaker’s.”
“He collected them. I uncollected them.”
“I’d heard he died.”
Imp nodded slowly. “Said I would. I told you I’d kill his dad for him.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.6
↑Look at it this way - at the age that many boys are raising an eyebrow at boobs, family members were saying 'hey, here are all the boobs you could want, in various shapes, sizes, and colors'. Interested in dick? Big ones, little ones, crooked ones. Dad's not that into it but a sister can hook you up. At an age when many are just figuring out enough of the world to ask 'what's heroin?' or 'what's weed?' he was given heroin and weed and everything else that was theoretically obtainable and told to only indulge if it was someone else's body. At an age when many are saying 'sex must be awesome' he was given free reign. Where other 12-13 year old boys might search the internet for weird and disturbing porn and kinky stuff just to see what's out there, he could experience it. He was given all of this in a context where people either didn't care or they didn't/couldn't judge (or, considering obligatory big brothers and their teasing, judgment didn't count for a hell of a lot compared to novelty.) - Wildbow on Reddit
↑“And if they tried to come at me through my family, they’d get what they deserved,” Regent said.
“Why?” Parian asked.
“His dad’s Heartbreaker,” Tattletale said.
“Oh. Oh wow.”
“Funny thing is,” Regent said, “If you think about it, we might be bigger than Heartbreaker, now. People all over America know who we are, and I’m not sure if Heartbreaker is known that far to the south or west.” - Excerpt from Imago 21.1
↑Lisa whistled, “After Coil let that detail slip, I made a mental list of possibilities. Had it narrowed down to four. Heartbreaker was one, the pieces fit, but it was so hard to believe.”
“He’s big,” Brian said.
“No,” Alec shook his head, “He’s scary. He’s newsworthy. But he’s not all that.” - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑ 16.016.1See, difference between me and Daddy is that I have range. I can use my power even if I can’t see the person I’m using it on. Through walls, from the building next door. - Excerpt from Interlude 11g
↑Heartbreaker was what you got when someone had a power like Gallant, the ability to manipulate emotions, and absolutely no compunctions about using it selfishly. Unlike Gallant, Heartbreaker didn’t need to shoot you with any blasts of energy to affect you. He just needed to be near you, and the effects were long term or permanent. - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑Alas, Heartbreaker’s powers have permanent effects, beyond even his death. - Comment by Wildbow on Crushed 24.5
↑ 19.019.1Heartbreaker found beautiful women, made them love him, really love him, and formed a cult-like group with them serving him hand and foot, committing crimes for his favor. They worshiped him to the extent they were willing to die for him. Drawn to their natural conclusion, his methods meant he had lots of kids. Alec included. - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑ 20.020.1Alec shrugged, “So yeah. I worked for him for three or four years. We did jobs, I learned the family trade. Called myself Hijack at first. He started to get on my case. I think maybe he was having trouble affecting me the same way he did before my powers kicked in, so he compensated for that by riding me. Pushed my limits, made me do stuff that was dangerous, stuff that was hard on my conscience. Wanted me to break, beg him to stop, so he’d have leverage to get me to do what he wanted.” - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑His emotions were so muted. Dim. How much of that was Jean-Paul or Alec’s personality, and how much was his natural immunity, built up over years of exposure to Daddy? She couldn’t get a sense of what he was feeling, which was disappointing. - Excerpt from Interlude 11g
↑jmdlugosz: «“I think I’m done with listening to you whinge,”» “whinge” is completely unknown to most Americans, and is British. An Amarican girl would say “whine”.
↑Woman A has a fight with her boyfriend, drives the man away, and becomes more isolated, she heads to her job, orders in, and generally mopes and acts normal for a recent divorcee single mother. Enter Heartbreaker.
Haha, no. Heartbreaker was there from the beginning. He targeted her and her daughter, had her drive her spouse away and disconnect from extended family, and moved his flock into the nice house... a surprising number of people can be fit into a house if they're willing/forced to sleep five or six people to a room.
Maybe target the neighbors too, if there isn't enough room around. Woman A continues to work, embezzles from the company, and disappears from the grid. Authorities only learn that Heartbreaker was there after the fact, when they connect the dots.
The group moves on to Woman B, who happens to work in a police station or PRT office. She's not that attractive, but she's useful. Like Woman A, she continues to work, but she keeps an ear to the ground regarding all things Heartbreaker related. - Wildbow on Reddit
↑Authorities maintain warnings and circulate pictures, they keep an eye on things, root out moles, and everyone knows but few say that the open confrontations are too costly, and the subtle stuff is matched by the power of this one cape and his nine or so cape children. It's bad enough with controlled assaults, but bringing a Kill Order into it? Crazies coming out of the woodwork, making mistakes? Nightmare. - Comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑ 25.025.1“And he ordered me to kill this foot soldier for a group trying to push us out of their territory. After I was done, he told me I did it wrong, that I had to do it again with a captive we’d taken, and I knew no matter what I did, he’d make me keep doing it. Just another way of pushing my limits. I had convinced myself I didn’t care about the people I was hurting or about this guy I’d just killed, and maybe I didn’t. Maybe I don’t, still. Dunno. But it was so pointless.”
He shrugged, “I didn’t see a real reason to stay. Walked away. Changed my name, got fresh ID, changed my villain name too.” - Excerpt from Buzz 7.1
↑She smiled, “Thought you should know that things got pretty shitty at home after you left. Daddy got really overprotective, angry. It sucked. Sucked worse when we couldn’t find you.” - Excerpt from Interlude 11g
↑ 27.027.1“But it didn’t happen. Time passed, he never made a push for it. Guillaume got his power, you know. Ten or so of us kids, and three of us could control people one way or another. Four if we count you. We had what we needed to pull off something huge, and Daddy decided he wanted a celebrity among his girls. Took us on a road trip to a film set in Vancouver, kidnapped this star, took her back to Montreal. So petty.”
“Somehow I’m not surprised.”
“Heroes came after us, from both Vancouver and Montreal. Half of what we had built and earned as the Vasil family just kind of got trampled in the fighting that spilled out from that. All because Daddy wanted to bone someone famous. I got fed up, left.” - Excerpt from Interlude 11g
↑Darlene wasn’t sure why Tattletale had to do that. It sounded so insincere, but it was the backhanded kind of insincere where she could use an eye roll or a simple denial to shrug it off if ever called on it. Back when Darlene had turned five, Papa had been in a black mood for a while. From what Samuel had said, Papa had wanted to collect Sidney Saile, the girl from Vancouver, and he failed. That had been when Cherie had left and with Darlene’s mom being gone, she had no immediate family except Papa.
And Papa had had the blackmood. More casually cruel than he’d ever been. Tempestuous. She only dimly remembered those days, like a bad dream, but she remembered some. She’d spent a long time having to worry about getting unlucky and having her dad single her out, out of twenty or so people, and a handful of people being kind of shitty. After the black mood, it had changed to the point that it wasn’t about getting unlucky and being that one person in twenty. It had been about being one of the ones who got out of the way and escaped his attention. Everyone had been scared and shitty. - Excerpt from Interlude 11.c II
↑“So you’re on your own. And he didn’t send the others after you?” Alec moved one of his subject’s legs so she would fall to the ground rather than point her gun at the man standing next to her.
“He did. Guillaume and Nicholas. Guillaume just has to touch someone and he can sense everything they do for a good while. Nicholas just wallops you with pants-shitting waves of terror. Literally thousands of eyes and ears looking for me, can’t fight when they do get close to me.” - Excerpt from Interlude 11g
↑Heartbreaker making initial forays, decided to pay a visit. Can’t tell if he’s invading or after Regent. Red Hands are a little more aggressive but not too bad. Meeting for negotiations tonight. Lost Garden approacheth, sending members after us and trying to clear way for Barrow to advance. Annoying but no problem until they enter city limits. - Excerpt from Drone 23.3
↑“Heartbreaker slit his own throat after Imp tormented him for long enough. Everyone freaked out.” - Excerpt from Infrared 19.g
↑“And you recruited the kids,” I said. I used my bugs to track the bystanders, my eyes to note more who fit the criteria. Boys and girls, some narrow in physique, most with black curls, others with that pretty set of features that had marked Regent and Cherish. Some were fit on all counts, others mingled two of the qualities and skipped a third. Heartbreaker’s offspring, unmistakably.
“I recruited some. They needed a place to go, and it’s kind of nice, having them around,” Imp said. “They’re good enough at fending for themselves. One or two, you get the feeling they’re almost like him. In a good way.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.6