"You know what's weird? Waking up as a robot and just saying 'Oh hell' instead of freaking out. Proves I've been here too long."
Three hundred years ago, mankind was at a crossroads. On the one hand, people had everything they wanted—cars, houses, friends, family, people, six billion people, and they were still growing and still buying shit and still consuming. And at the same time, their world was crumbling. Its resources were depleting at a faster rate than ever before, and it was only a matter of time before they ran out completely. Scientists could devise temporary solutions, but the big picture was that mankind was in a downward spiral and needed a miracle.
One scientist finally engineered a bacterium that was supposed to be the answer; it would replace crude oil as the primary source of fuel, thereby making the air cleaner and saving one of the earth's biggest and most nonrenewable resources. However, all the bug ended up doing was infecting crude oil and its byproducts, namely gasoline. The bug changed the primary components into phosphorus, which ignites in contact with oxygen. Nearly the entire world was wiped out as the bug jumped from city to city, state to state, region to region, continent to continent. The survivors were the people who had already been cut off from society—farmers alone on their acres of land, rebels who had shunned society and taken off into the wild, and in some cases, members of the armed forces who were in remote areas or on boats that escaped the bug. These people came together to rebuild society with one goal in mind: never let the earth be sucked as dry as it nearly had been. Preserve its resources and start anew. With this goal, a new society sprang up, new technologies were born that used magnetism or renewable fuels, and slowly humanity started to repair itself.
Tally was born into a society wherein beauty was a city-wide standard and easily achieved through surgery. As children, she and her friends were raised to pick on each other, call attention to facial features that didn't quite fit, and to admire their parents, their teachers, and the other pretties that lived with them. They were uglies and they believed it.
Tally's best friend during her childhood was Peris. They did everything together, right up until his sixteenth birthday. Peris was five months older than Tally, which meant he would turn pretty before her, and be shuttled off to New Pretty Town for parties, drinking, sex, more drinking, and fireworks. At first, Tally had pretended the five months didn't matter. But once Peris turned pretty, her life more or less came to a standstill. Five long months of waiting until she could turn pretty and join her best friend in all his fun. Until then, she was just lonely.
One night towards the end of the summer, Tally got fed up with just waiting and snuck into New Pretty Town. Uglies were forbidden there, but she and Peris had done it many times before and had never been caught (though they'd come close several times). Using the same route, Tally snuck over and found the mansion to which Peris had been assigned. She needed a disguise, though—her ugly features were a dead giveaway in a city full of flawless pretties. She found a smart-plastic mask which would fuse to her facial features and stay cemented there, which was a great disguise except it was a pig mask. Nevertheless, Tally found Peris and talked with him in a stopped elevator. She had to know they were still friends. He said yes, but he didn't sound very sincere at all, and in the end, he had to shoo her off lest the other partygoers find her. Tally ended up escaping by bungee-jacketing off the roof of the mansion.
And that was how she met Shay.
Shay was an ugly who had coincidentally been sneaking around New Pretty Town on the same night, checking up on some of her own friends. Tally bungee'd right into her. The two escaped back to the ugly side of the river, and, naturally, became friends. Friends who happened to share the same birthday. For the rest of the summer, Tally and Shay were inseparable.
Shay told Tally why she'd been skulking around the river that night: she'd been watching the friends who had chickened out on an important mission. Outside the city, out in the wild somewhere, there was a camp called the Smoke, full of kids who didn't want the surgery, who would rather stay ugly (or normal, as it were) their entire lives. Shay and her friends had planned to sneak out of the city over the summer, but half the group had gotten cold feet at the last minute—Shay included. They'd all turned pretty as scheduled, and now Shay was about to do so as well. At the very last minute, Shay told Tally she was going to this camp (for reals this time) and implored her to come with. Tally just couldn't bring herself to do it, and Shay left alone.
On her sixteenth birthday, the day of her surgery, Tally was picked up and taken to a building on the outskirts of the city. This was the headquarters of Special Circumstances, the organization that kept the city structured and running. (They were responsible for a lot of other things, as Tally would learn.) Most uglies and even the new pretties thought Specials were a myth; the Specials didn't involve themselves directly in society—only in a special circumstance. And Shay's disappearance was definitely one of these. The director of Special Circumstances, Doctor Cable, informed Tally that she had to track down and bring back Shay, or never turn pretty. Seeing no other option, Tally accepted. She was given a large supply of dehydrated food, a water purifier, and a locket with a tracker inside. Once she'd found the Smoke, Tally was to activate the tracker so Special Circumstances could get everyone back.
Tally took her hoverboard and supplies, and journeyed to the Smoke. Shay had left her cryptic directions on the night she'd left, so Tally followed them miles into the wild until she found the camp. Shay and a few others came to meet her and direct her into the actual camp. Among her friends were Croy, one of the kids who had made it with Shay's other friends, and David, whose parents had started the Smoke and who had never been inside a city. Tally was accepted eventually into Smoky society, though Shay continued to distrust exactly how she'd gotten there and why she was suddenly so intent on coming.
When Tally first arrived, it seemed that Shay and David were an item. However, Tally found herself growing closer to David, and eventually he introduced her to his parents, Maddy and Az. They had actually been surgeons back in Tally's city, the people who performed and regulated the pretty surgery. They informed Tally that there was a darker side of the surgery that they'd discovered: lesions strategically placed in the brain to ensure complacency and basic desires. Pretties were designed to want fun and instant gratification, not higher thinking or government or their city or the world. They weren't supposed to care about anything but themselves and their tiny bubble of New Pretty Town. When Maddy and Az discovered this, they performed surgery on each other to reverse their own lesions and then fled the city to start the Smoke. They accepted runaways from other cities and taught them how to survive on their own.
With this information, Tally decided that the Smoke was a better option than going back and having her brain messed with, so she destroyed the tracker locket by throwing it into a fire, ridding herself of Special Circumstances. Too bad damaging the locket at all activated the tracker. The next morning, hovercars were all over the Smoke, chasing everyone out and capturing anyone who ran. Tally escaped with David; but Maddy, Az, Shay, and anyone else who didn't die in the siege were taken back to the city, presumably to be lesion'd.
Tally and David raced back to the city, intent on rescuing the prisoners. They did successfully find Croy, Shay, Maddy, and a few others, but Shay had already been turned pretty, and Az was dead. The group got outside the city to discuss what to do next. Rebuilding the Smoke wasn't entirely out of the question, but it would take time, and there was something Maddy needed to do first. She pulled Tally aside and explained that she was working on a cure for the lesions, something that could quickly be ingested and left to do its job. But she needed a pretty to test it on. They tried to test it on Shay, but she refused, and Maddy wouldn't force the cure on her. As a doctor, she needed informed consent. Tally gave Maddy her consent, and then went back to the city to be turned pretty.
Tally as a pretty quickly reconnected with Shay, who had found all her old friends in New Pretty Town. Most of the kids who had previously chickened out on the first Smoke trip had settled for being Crims, a new clique all about self-expression. And by self-expression, I mean pushing the boundaries of society. The Crims were essentially Smokies in pretty form. And Tally and Shay were all set to join them, along with Peris and a few other hopefuls. When you were pretty, belonging to a clique was all that mattered.
Tally snuggled right into the Crims and got particularly close to their leader, Zane. Zane had been one of Shay's old friends from the first Smoke excursion—in other words, one of the chickens. But Tally certainly admired him, and he admired her as well for being able to make it to the Smoke. Obviously, they started dating. For a time, Tally's life was absolute bliss, until one particular bash. While the Crims were generally being awesome and partying, Croy and a couple other Smokies crashed the party to find Tally. It was time for her to fulfill her promise to Maddy.
Tally and Zane climbed the tower at the top of the mansion to find where Croy had stashed the cure Tally needed to test. The Specials, however, had gotten wind of the situation and were following them, intent on capturing Croy and taking the cure. Tally got her hands on the cure before themtwo tiny pillsand shared it with Zane. One pill each, and they'd both be cured. (Or so they thought.) After taking the pills, Tally and Zane were discovered. The Specials took them in for questioning, then cuffed them with orbital alloy bracelets that would record anything they said. They were prisoners.
As winter rolled around, Tally and Zane became accustomed to a) not being separated from each other and b) wearing thick scarves around their wrists to muffle the bracelets. But for the most part, it didn't matter. While they taught the other Crims to stay bubbly by getting adrenaline rushes, they noticed that they were still different. They were cured.
The last trick to get the Crims bubbly was to sabotage the floating ice rink just before a soccer game. The rink floated above the field, and while the spectators were seating themselves below, all the Crims got to the center of the rink and poured flasks of vodka right on the ice. With one jump from Zane, the ice cracked and the entire floor of the stadium gave way. Everyone in the rink was required to wear bungee jackets, which certainly came in handy. The breakthrough, as it was called, worked—the Crims were incredibly bubbly, their minds cleared from the haze that came with the lesions.
That night, there was a huge bonfire with a little champagne for celebration of the breakthrough. Tally and Zane were enjoying themselves right up until Zane got a headache attack, one of many he'd been suffering since taking the cure. Tally escorted him back home and then came back to the party, only to be confronted outside of it by Dr. Cable. Obviously, the rink shattering had not escaped Cable's attention, especially when she found out that Tally had been involved. She explained to Tally that trying to be "bubbly" was all well and good, but it was the sort of thing that got Special Circumstances to notice you. And not in the trouble sense. More in the "join us" sense. Cable asked if Tally wanted to be a Special, to essentially be bubbly all the time, and Tally said no. Rather, screamed. Cable backed off, and Tally went back to the bonfire.
Shay, of course, had been involved in all of this breakthrough stuff, and as a result was extra bubbly tonight. When Tally returned to the party, Shay confronted her. Being bubbly had broken through Shay's haze of memories, and she remembered everything that had happened in the Smoke—and she also remembered that she hated Tally. She demanded to know what had happened to Tally and Zane back at the mansion (since no one knew about the pills) and when Tally told her, she was insulted that Tally hadn't shared the pills with her. In so many words, she informed Tally that no matter what she said when her mind went pretty again, she still hated her and was not her friend.
Tally and Shay didn't speak for the next several days while Tally and Zane planned their escape. Zane's headaches were getting worse, and it was becoming more apparent that only Maddy could help him. They had to get out of the city, but the bracelets would ping the authorities if they tried to leave. So step one was going to be getting the cuffs off. Tally and Zane tried starving them off. During this time, they also asked Fausto, one of Zane and Shay's old friends, to trick a couple hoverboards for their escape. He obliged, and one rainy day, Tally and Zane tested out the boards by riding off to the river.
At the river, they ran into Sussy and Dex, two uglies who had helped Tally break into Special Circumstances previously. The two had been looking for the New Smoke (as David's group was now called) by trekking to the ruins outside of the city almost nightly. They told Zane and Tally that they'd seen some of the Crims in the park the last few nights, doing something weird. Zane had told the Crims to lay low, so he and Tally went to the park to find out what was happening.
They found Shay there, with several of the other Crims. In the pounding rain, Shay cut herself down her arm and directed the rest of the group to do so as well. Tally recognized that this was Shay's new cure, her way of being bubbly. She implored Zane to leave, but he doubled over from another headache. Tally hoisted him onto her hoverboard and tried to take him to the hospital, but he argued with her the entire way. When they finally came to a stop, they noticed Tally's cuff had heard the whole thing. Zane punched a wall to fake an injury, and let Tally take him in.
After Zane got out of the hospital, it was decided that they needed to leave. Now. So Zane's idea for getting the cuffs off was to use a giant metal crusher. Normally, the crusher could detect body heat and wouldn't work for this, but Zane had the great idea of plunging his hand into ice water before giving his hand over to crushing pancake death. Tally and Fausto (who was there to operate the machine) objected very loudly to this, but there were just no other options until Tally noticed a glassblower in the back of the workshop. She was holding the glass with her hands, so Tally got a few of the gloves she was using. New plan: escape in hot air balloons while using the flames to expand the cuffs. Long story short: It worked.
Mostly. See, part two of the plan was to jump off on hoverboards just before the city grid ran out. But before Tally jumped, Peris told her he wasn't going with them. He was content to stay pretty-minded. By the time Tally gave up on arguing with him, the grid had run out and there was nowhere to jump. Except the river. If she was lucky. Tally tended to be lucky, so she did it. Problem was, the part of the river they were floating above was actually part of a sealed-off reservation, and now Tally was stuck inside.
The reservation was home to a few tribes of what can only be described as cavemen. These people had never seen the outside world, didn't speak the same language as most normal people, and treated the pretties and Specials as gods. So when one tribe's holy man, Andrew, found Tally, he immediately accepted her as a god and helped her to get out of the reservation. (Tally later understood that the Specials used this reservation and its people as test subjects to refine the pretty operation.) Once out of the area, Tally found the New Smoke's whereabouts and met up with them.
Everything would have been pretty awesome, except that Maddy explained to Tally what was wrong with Zane. Turns out, the pills were supposed to be taken together. One pills contained nanos that repaired the lesions, and the other stopped them after their work was done. Zane's anorexic habits eventually starved the nanos, but not before they did a significant amount of damage to the motor skills and cognition areas of his brain. Maddy had given him some stem cell tissue, but there wasn't much more she could do. The Smokies would have to wait for Zane to rest before packing up and moving on.
A few days later, the New Smokies realized there was a signal being sent, and they couldn't figure out the source. Tally immediately knew it to be from Zane, because he'd been in the hospital, so they must have stuck a tracker in him. The New Smoke acted quickly, packing up and getting the fuck out of there, but Tally refused to leave Zane behind. She stuck with him as everyone else departed, and was there when the Specials burst in. She argued briefly with Dr. Cable before a couple Specials showed up with an unconscious Fausto. They'd managed to capture him, but the rest of the New Smoke had gotten away. The Special with Fausto revealed herself to be Shay, newly transformed, and with her were some of her Cutter friends. She offered Tally the chance to be Special, but when Tally vehemently refused, she just stuck her with a tranquilizer and turned her anyway. Bad end.
Now that they were Specials, it was Tally and Shay's job to track down Maddy's cure and keep it from spreading into the city. After a month of Tally training in the Specials' camp, the group crashed a party in Uglyville where the cure was supposed to be. It would have gone swimmingly if Tally hadn't gotten all high and mighty and taken off her disguise before actually taking the cure from the girl who had it. Said girl ended up using her hidden bungee jacket to rocket into the air, where a group of hoverboarders grabbed her and took off. The Cutters followed them in hot pursuit, and it was an awesome futuristic police chase that ended with…the Smokies totally getting away, having managed to capture Fausto. But they did find out for whom the pills were intended: they were supposed to go to Zane.
This warranted some investigation as to why the Smokies wanted to fuck Zane over even further, so Shay intended to talk to him. However, Tally insisted on coming along. Shay was having none of it at first, but it's likely that she agreed to take Tally in order to passive-aggressively take out her frustrations about Fausto on her best friend. They snuck into New Pretty Town and climbed through Zane's window. He was there, but right away, Tally could tell there was something wrong. Shay had the pills from the Smoky girl, and she casually threw them towards Zane, who reached out to catch it a full ten seconds after it was in prime catching range. His reflexes and motor skills were completely shot, and Tally realized that she was physically disgusted looking at him. He was worse than ugly. He was crippled and weak.
Shay teased Zane about being crippled and also about not being Special, even though he totally could be. He was the trickiest one of them, leader of the Crims, and if he hadn't been crippled, he could be running around Uglyville with Tally, breaking up ugly parties, chasing out Smokies, and probably having the best sex in the world. He didn't even have a cuff like before, but an actual collar, so even if he could stumble out his door and fall down the stairs successfully, he'd never be able to make it outside the city. To rub this all in, Shay had her fingers all up in Tally's hair and it was the most possessive, creepy, lesbian scene in the entire series. Using Tally as bait, Shay convinced Zane to try escaping the city again, intending to have him take Special Circumstances to where the New Smoke was.
There was another half to Shay's plan that she used to get Tally on her side: If she and Tally could pull off Zane's escape, but make it look like he'd organized it himself, they'd make him Special in no time. Tally liked this plan, right up until Shay told her the trick: sneak into the Armory and grab some supplies to cut off Zane's collar. Only the Armory would have the kind of heavy-duty weapons or tools to snap the device. Tally suddenly became very, very doubtful, because the Armory was the most heavily guarded building in the city. But if it meant Zane could be Special, then it would be worth it. So Tally sliced her own hand open to get icy, and then they broke into the Armory. They ended up melting it with nanos, but not before getting what they came for.
The next day, Zane and his entourage of fellow Crims met Tally and Shay at the edge of the city. Tally sliced off Zane's collar and sent everyone on their way. Shay and Tally would tail them, not with electronic trackers, but the old-fashioned way. That way, if something happened to Zane, he'd have a couple of Specials to help him out.
A couple nights into the trip, the group was given a finder to lead them to the New Smoke. Tally followed the person who gave them the finder (an obvious Smoky) and confronted him, but it turned out to be Andrew, that guy from the reservation. He'd escaped by setting fire to the conduits that supplied the region's forcefield, and now he was helping out the New Smoke. After a heartfelt conversation with Tally, he gave her a finder—the same one he'd given to Zane.
Tally showed the finder to Shay, who wanted immediately to ditch Zane and his stupid friends and head straight to the New Smoke. Tally was having none of this because it meant leaving him vulnerable to…well, everything. They got in a fight, and Shay flounced to go on ahead while Tally stayed and played babysitter for Zane. Things were uneventful after that until Zane split off from the group one day and Tally followed him into the woods and they made out but then Tally felt him being all shaky so she nearly threw up in his mouth and as it were, she ended up using the spines on her sneak suit to cut him and get away and dry heave for a bit and then hate herself. Good times.
Anyway, the finder finally led the group to the pickup site, where the New Smoke sent a goddamn helicopter to pick them up. Tally jumped onto the bottom of the copter to hitch a ride in a scene that took like twenty pages. After forever, the chopped touched down in a city. The New Smoke was a city. A whole city called Diego.
Tally started tracking down her fellow Specials, and after a conversation with a very orange woman, she headed to the Overlook, which was apparently where all the newbs went. Up at the Overlook, she got hit on by some random, and then she found Fausto. There was much hugging, and then Fausto admitted that when the New Smoke had run away the first time, everyone had given their consent to Maddy to be cured of being Special. Including Fausto. And the next thing Tally knew, Fausto was trying to stick needles in her neck. So she threw herself off a cliff.
That only worked for so long, as she did get captured and scheduled for "despecialization". While the anaesthesia was taking hold, Shay pinged her and then broke Tally out of the operating room. Tally realized shortly thereafter that Shay had been despecialized, and now needed Tally to stay special for a particular mission: she had to go all the way back to their city and convince Dr. Cable to call off her attack. Shay explained that the Armory's destruction had been blamed on Diego as an excuse for Cable to get full military control of the city and launch an attack. War was completely unheard of—more than unheard of, it was just unthinkable. But before Tally could leave, Shay and the other no-longer-Specials received a ping from the city's interface. The armada was here.
Tally helped the others evacuate and all that heroic shit. Their efforts led them to Diego's hospital, which had just been bombed and was partially collapsed. As the former Specials raced up several floors, they found that all the residents had been evacuated already…save one. Zane had been strapped to a bed and having almost daily surgery for the last several days to repair his brain; the systems had detected that his body had rejected the new tissue, but the hospital's interface hadn't pinged the doctors in time. Zane was dead.
The only thing to do now was get home and take care of Cable. Tally took two boards home, switching between when one began to overheat. She made it home in record time, Special cure in hand, and went straight for the Special Circumstances headquarters. But Cable already knew Tally was on her way, and tricked her into getting trapped in an empty room in which she confronted her alone. Cable had known all along that the Armory attack had been Shay and Tally's doing; she'd just needed that one little excuse to take on another city. Tally had the Special cure, but couldn't just outright inject it into Cable, she had to trick her first. But she did despecialize Cable, and was then locked in a cell while the war came to an end.
She was scheduled for despecialization again, but as the anaesthesia kicked in, someone came to bust her out. Again. It turned out to be Cable, who implored Tally to stay Special. She helped Tally escape the city. Tally then went to the ruins, and found David. She and David made a pact to protect the wild from the newly-awakened cities, who would try to expand. It was right here that Tally first came to Nautilus.
Christ, Tally has been in Nautilus so damn long I don't even know how to summarize this.
Uh. She showed up. Her mansion showed up. She built a hoverboard. She got elected as police chief. She sucked at that. Starscream took over the city. She got a sneak suit and rescued Jefferson. Lots of events happened. She yelled at Jefferson for abdicating. She disbanded the police force. She sulked for a while. She and Pyralis got pretty close. Isis showed up. Tally publicly opposed her. Isis left. Pyralis left. She went to a party. Horrible things happened. I think some more storms happened. Tally and Starscream started getting closer via hideous musical numbers. City of Glass happened. Zane showed up and made Tally either B| or :(. Zane went to sleep. Tally and Starscream more or less became an item. Then she went to Sleep again. Bad end. But now she's back.
Yeah I don't know what the hell else to add here.
Over her canon, Tally changed considerably every book. Too bad it was reset by the next book through surgery. In Uglies, she gradually accepted herself as an ugly, hated and feared her city, and in general was her real self. As a pretty, she changed the most—she managed to completely undo the operation's effects, getting herself back to a more ugly state of mind. And then they turned her Special.
Tally settled very quickly into being Special, almost as if being a brainwashed superhuman was how she'd always imagined herself. For the time being, she looked to Shay as a leader, following Shay's convictions about the Smoke and the wild. At this point, it was very hard to change Tally's mind. What she saw and understood was what was right. Tally dealt with her Special duties head-on and at the speed of "aaaaaa", but buried her own memories and shortcomings where she didn't have to worry about them. Essentially, she lied to herself. Every time Zane showed up, he could get her to think of her past life and break through the exterior she'd set up, but that only served to make Tally nauseated and even more confused. Cutting herself was the only thing that got her personality and her goals to settle down and straighten out. That way, she saw where she was headed and what she needed to do.
Tally has repeatedly been called "selfish" throughout the series, primarily by Shay. To a certain extent, she is not responsible for the actions that Shay blames her for, but on the other hand, Tally does have a streak of selfishness. Most of her actions in Specials are driven by her desire to keep Zane to herself and make him Special as well. The way she describes the wild also makes it sound like she protects it because it means something to her, not because anyone told her to. It's hers.
While the other Specials were eventually cured, Tally remains the way the surgery made her. She is rash, quick to anger, impulsive, and somewhat hateful and even spiteful. She usually had Shay around to even her out and keep her under control, but with Shay and David absent in Nautilus, Tally doesn't have anyone to answer to or anyone to stop her. Though she intended to change herself, it would be an uphill climb.
Over her time spent in Nautilus, Tally has managed to rewire herself considerably without the use of Bending. She is a little more patient, has developed a sense of humor, and no longer feels the need to carry the world on her shoulders. She still feels lost without the friends from her own world, but she has people she can count on here, and that gives her security. While Tally doesn't consider herself an optimistic person, exactly, she does have faith in her ability to take control of her future. She is confident. She still has her bouts of anger and at times she wrongly blames others for problems. She's working on that.
Tally has no powers, just body modifications. Her teeth and nails are filed to razor-sharp points, her bones are ceramic and her muscles are sheathed in monofilament, making them especially pliant and strong. Her eyes have been modified to view in several different modes, including infrared. There are chips in her jaw and fingers that transmit sound; the jaw one carries her voice through her skintenna, and the finger ones can be pressed to conductive surfaces (like glass) to listen in on conversations. Tally has extensive training in hand-to-hand combat, and several cool toys at her disposal, like hoverboards and a sneak suit (which in one mode is armored, in another is complete invisibility).
In Nautilus, Tally developed her bending to the point where she can make anything at will (except for some of the more complicated nano-toys from home), can transform into either a Cybertronian or a wolf, and can teleport. She has experimented in forcing her will on others (usually Starscream), but doesn't use this power extensively or for actually harmful purposes. Tally's preferred use for bending is expanding the wild in the Southern District, something on which she'd started not long before she returned to sleep.
Relationships (needs to be updated)