She had a violent history as a cape, villainous enough to be rapidly imprisoned in the Birdcage. She may have mellowed out since then and was more than willing to accept help from unpowered people. Was willing to forgive Damsel of Distress II for murdering Beast of Burden. She was fairly intelligent and noticed that Damsel had some connection to Victoria and her team.
She has a killer's instinct, willing to use lethal force, or at least the threat of it.
Her cape name is extremely literal, having rusty nails for teeth, yet it is also misleading. Her power is to extend any part of her body into a dangerous implement. Usually, this means her arms and legs but it also means her torso, fingers, and toes, or any other body parts can be stretched to fine, barely visible points, while at the same time being durable, maintaining rigidity and joint mobility. She can even weaponize her tongue.
She can expand her face to something more like a crocodile so that she can bite people. This interferes with her ability to speak, to do so she needs to pull her face back into a more human shape.
It also gives her a certain amount of strength and speed, though this seems to only apply in her Changer form, able to cover a good distance with her stride. She is also able to use her ability to enter through tight spaces.
Although durable, her stretched parts can be damaged, and transfer damage once returned to normal.
Nailbiter had grown without father. As a kid, she joined Lustrum-inspired roaming gang alongside her sister, and at some point replaced her broken teeth with metal. Later her sister and the rest of the gang broke away, likely scared off by Nailbiter's growing tendency to maim people.
Nailbiter was sent to the birdcage five years before the story starts. She was in Ingenue's cell block.
Was one of the guards at the bridge between the men and women's wings of the Birdcage. She challenged Lung when he was crossing to visit his former lieutenant Bakuda but let him pass when he provided an adequate explanation to the Watch leader.[Note 1]
Roughly nine years since her imprisonment she had settled back into life as a villain, working with Beast of Burden. She found herself at the Lodge when Prancer made his pitch to the villains there. made her way to Hollow Point and worked under Beast of Burden along with others.
↑ 2.02.12.2I had worries, but they were ones I’d rather not voice aloud. Nailbiter had a history that had seen her arrested and sentenced harshly, without much delay. Post-Gold Morning, she’d settled back into her role as a violent cape, serving as what might have been Beast of Burden’s second in command.
She was calmer than she’d been reported to be in the one article I’d been able to dig out of my boxes of notes, part of an article from a magazine, listing the Birdcage’s residents at the time. The last page of the article, annoyingly, hadn’t been preserved. I’d pulled the page out for whatever article or image was on the other side.
Either way, violent, as might have been expected for an ex-con with rusty nails instead of teeth. Prison and nine years might have changed her a bit from the person described in the article, but I doubted Colt was in good hands.
“Okay,” I said. “We don’t want to ignore this. I’ll make some calls later. I’ll see what I can find on Nailbiter. She was from North Carolina, I think, and some of their capes are still around. I’d have to track down a veteran. We’ll see what we’re up against. If I get a chance, I’ll have a conversation with her.” - Excerpt from Shadow 5.2
↑ 3.03.1“She decides,” Nailbiter’s voice had a slight whistle around the words. “I’m losing patience, Colt. If I walk away from here without you, I’m not bringing you along again.” [...] “I’ll be by next week to collect,” Nailbiter said. “See you then.”
↑ 4.04.14.2“There it is,” Nailbiter said, in that eerie voice with its whistles and hisses of breath through teeth.
“There what is?” Sidepiece asked.
“Our hooded girl here called Damsel by her real name.”
“There’s a history,” I said, at nearly the same time as Damsel said, “History.”
“Uh huh,” Nailbiter said, disbelieving. “The timing’s off. When these guys showed up. When you did.”
Damsel spoke without taking her eyes off me, “She probably came after me. I fought her family in Boston. My second trip, a while later, I fought her boss in the Protectorate.”
“Not my boss,” I said.
“I wasn’t a Ward for long, and he wasn’t in charge at the time.”
Damsel shrugged, very easily and casually, as if she wasn’t standing over the body of the man she’d murdered. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.11
↑ 5.05.1Her mouth opened. I didn’t see her do anything, but I threw up my shield all the same, the moment I felt it was ready. I pushed out, hard, and the wretch did the same, gripping and pushing the finger bars that had trapped me. A foot from my face, her tongue struck hard against an invisible surface. It would have gone right through me if it had connected.- Excerpt from Shadow 5.3
↑Kenzie glanced at it and hit a key. Windows popped up, with three-dimensional models of each face, mask included. A young woman with a purple hood with nascent antlers sticking up through it, a skinny woman with rusty nails instead of teeth, and a woman in a white jacket with a doctor’s face mask.
I named them. “Velvet and Nailbiter. That might be Bitter Pill, but she hasn’t shown her face or been photographed any for the files. - Excerpt form Shade 4.1
↑ 7.07.1Lung walked with confidence to the ‘hole’, a word with double meaning, as it referred to the actual hole in the wall, as well as the more vulgar term for why many in the men’s half of the Birdcage went there – it was the sole route into the women’s prison.
A group of women were on guard on the other side of the hole, standing or sitting at various vantage points there.
“Who’re you?” one of the women asked him. She was a striking woman with coffee colored skin and a mouthful of teeth that looked like knife blades.
↑Nailbiter was less beef and more jerky. Salt and grit in personality and quality, everything in her condensed down, her hair dried up with bleach and her brown skin abraded here and there, lips chapped or scraped up with the nails, a cut on one eyelid. - Excerpt from Interlude 11.b II
↑ 9.09.19.2Love Lost had joined the chase, running alongside Nailbiter, who had extended her limbs. They made a racket as they ran. Love Lost’s claws scraped the road and kicked up sparks, and she was faster than an ordinary person.
Nailbiter, though, had extended her limbs, but they got narrower as they grew longer, and had become black and gnarled in the process. Her jaw hung low, the joints on either side extended, her jawbone made longer and narrower, and the teeth extended further.
She looked like something half-crocodile, half-scarecrow.
She had no problem with mobility or strength, apparently, as she took strides that were fifteen feet long. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.3
↑ 11.011.1I turned to look the other way, and saw Love Lost with one clawed hand resting on a crouching Nailbiter’s fingers, guiding them. Nailbiter had both hands together, fingers pointed at me, and the fingers were extended out.
Enhanced strength, and the ability to extend any part of her body, making that part rigid and thinner.
She moved her hand, and two fingers pressed me against a wall, needle thin bars against my throat and thighs. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.3
↑I started forward as Nailbiter reached out. Her arm extended, long, thin, and rigid, fingers doing the same as they became points so fine and far away I couldn’t even make them out. Spright kicked out and brought an arm up to deflect the piercing fingers with the armor there. He landed on the roof, and an intervening building meant I couldn’t see where he went from there. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.3
↑Nailbiter pulled her face back together, the features drawing shorter.
“You aren’t Cedar Point.” There was a whistling ‘s’ sound on Cedar. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.3
↑Love Lost, Colt, and Nailbiter stepped outside, Nailbiter distorting into her narrow form to stab the upper half of her body into the backseat before the seat was even moved forward to let people back there. Her lower body was withdrawn in, narrowing and disappearing into the space. Colt climbed in normally, before pulling the seat back to its normal position to let Love Lost in. - Excerpt from Polarize 10.7
↑She withdrew a hand, elongated upper arm, forearm, hand and fingers becoming normal, but for some horrendous bruising and tissue damage around the wrist. - Excerpt from Blinding 11.11
↑ 17.017.1“Do you want me to deal with her?” Nailbiter asked, her words whistling through her teeth.
“No,” Prancer said.
“Why am I here then?”
“Because I think you and her are similar. You respect strength, you know how power works. You’ve dealt with scary customers. If we end up interacting with her more, and especially if she moves into the neighborhood, I think we want you to be on point, interacting with her more.” - Excerpt from Shade 4.1