Natalia Irina Tkachev was born in 1993 to a first-generation immigrant family, who she hasn't seen or spoken to since the age of five. To this day, she maintains the firm stance that the only good thing they ever gave her was her name. But that's hardly their fault. It took most of her adult life to come to terms with it, but she realizes now that her parents could never have been prepared to raise her.
A child is challenge enough. But a child whose very presence demands absolute honesty? A child whose gaze turns her words into law? An impossible task. Talia was this child, and as a result, she never had a hope of a normal childhood.
She entered the system at a young age, and progressed from one home to the next with shocking rapidity. The pattern established itself. There would be a period of peace, where her foster family would try to make the most of the situation. Some praised her abilities. Some simply chose to ignore them. But the pattern always persisted. The weeks would drag on, and the tension would grow. Praise would fade, and ignorance would wear thin.
Other children resented her. If she was in the room, it was impossible for them to lie about any of their wrongdoings. Yes, Marcus had been fighting others at school. No, Jessie hadn't been at her friend's house last night. But it was far worse when she unveiled the lies of adults. In the worst cases, foster families would use her, taking advantage of her presence to uncover truths about their friends, coworkers, or partners. Truths which, often, would have been better off remaining buried. She strained friendships, betrayed secrets, and even ended marriages...all without saying a word. When she spoke, she had even more power.
It took years for Talia to realize that what she did wasn't normal, that the abilities she was born with were not inherent to every other person. Self-awareness struck in second-grade, during playground games at elementary school. During a game of tag, one of her friends asked Talia how she always avoided getting tagged.
"Why don't they ever come after you?"
"What do you mean? I just tell them not to."
The bewildered silence from her classmate was explanation enough.
From then on, she learned to keep her commands hidden. She learned to speak with care, so as to never arouse suspicion. When she was shunted from one foster home to the next, it was always because of her honesty-inducing presence. Never because of the commands. Even at a young age, Talia was sure that her powerful words would not garner positive reactions from most.
She worked her way through adolescence, through high school, even through college for a bachelor's degree in computer science. Something that didn't require much talking to people. And always, always she was painstakingly careful about her gifts. She tested her commands, learned how they worked. She explored the extent of her influence, and the range of her honesty. But it never lead anywhere. No one ever liked her when they learned what she could do. To maintain secrecy, she always erased her trail, disposing of whichever individual she'd decided to reveal her commanding presence to. And waiting, oh so patiently, for an opportunity to arise. An invitation to use her powers for something, anything, instead of constantly biding her time and guarding her words.
Talia's presence fills whatever room she's in. When she's around, people find it impossible to lie. The range is close, usually restricted to the size of a large room. Walls and barriers dampen the range. With focus, she can extend it slightly, but rarely faces circumstances where this is required.
There are certain workarounds, but the honesty-inducing presence is stringent. The truth can be omitted, usually through silence. Direct questions are more difficult, and must be answered plainly, or not at all.
Thanks to this ability, Talia became accustomed to honesty at a very young age. She is capable of lying, but doesn't often partake in the activity herself.
More powerful than her presence are her words. Any command given by Talia must be obeyed. The only caveat is a requirement for eye contact. Dark sunglasses nullify the power of her gaze, but glass windows and mirrored reflections do not. If you can see her eyes, you will follow her commands.
Talia's commands leave little room for rationalization. It is the intent behind her words that matters. Should she command a person, "Don't touch me", they would be unable to touch her. Nor would they be able to poke her with an object, or grab her arm through the sleeve of her shirt. While not technically making physical contact, both of these actions are quite clearly included under the umbrellaed intent of the phrase 'don't touch me'.
The only exception to this is for true and honest misinterpretations. If a person truly and entirely believed that Talia only meant 'Do not make skin-to-skin contact with me', then they would be able to prod her with a stick, or grab her clothed arm. However, Talia has learned to choose her words carefully over the years, and such a level of misinterpretation rarely occurs.