Zanoah Anton
anthony "tony" masters x taskmaster
"I got this...memory thing. I pick up anyone's moves just by seein' 'em. That's a lotta data. More'n my brain's got room for, I guess. So I...forget things. Things that ain't about combat, about survival. People, places...I can't remember what I did last week. By Monday, I probably won't remember this conversation."
suppose it's befitting that a boy found in an abandoned crack whore's bathtub, an umbilical cord snaking from his navel, bloodied and pink and half as shrivelled as the pot-bellied baby it snaked from, should be named desertion; forgetfulness. there was a lot about his growing years, say from birth to age 15, that zanoah would prefer to forget. and try he did. in fifteen years he had been passed from one shelter to another, from trailer to circus to a fine selection of youth homes. it started with elisha, probably the only face he will remember in the years to follow. his address was her sister's house somewhere in chicago but he grew up in elisha's trailer enduring a revolving door of men who each taught him love was fickle. (he was a fast learner so after maybe the first three dudes, the events became painfully predictable.)

he lived up to his name a second go, this time pushing a thumbs up into the traffic of interstate-35. upon rescue, he was then cared for temporarily by the stiff upper lipped Hendersons whose daughters were gymnasts and ballerinas and snotty nose brats who dressed him up in tutus and taught him how to pirouette! and accomplish elaborate stunts on the pull-up bar much to the unease of their parents who feared his safety. then entered the staunched Catholic duo who were determined to 'fulfil God's plans for them' until Mrs Jesus felt the 9-year old was too much of a seductive force for her husband to contend with. what skills he gained from them he has happily forgotten.

then entered the fat texan who supplied child-made handicrafts and carved belts to tourist magnets, and from him he likely learnt the most. less from the arts and crafts sessions and more from watching too many talent shows on TV and gulping down too much coca-cola. at 10, he learned to break dance. a pint-size kid spinning on his elbow was absolute novelty, and he was spared the belt, or, well, belt-making duties and rented to the street where he performed amongst other child prodigies who could swallow fire, beatbox, moonwalk, do back flips up and down the sidewalk and what have you -- he was quick on the uptake and became, before long, the indisputable main attraction on Hollywood & Vine. wanting out, he squirrelled away handfuls of dollar bills and hitched a ride as far from LA as possible on the eve of his turning 12.

then came three years he can't remember. not even vaguely.

disgruntled case worker, latifah jones, only reappeared in his life after his one-too-many trips to the hospital--a fractured spine, a twisted arm, a sprained elbow, a dislocated kneecap--it all became difficult to ignore, really. he was committed to a home for unwanted boys where a library of new skills was unlocked: petty theft, swindling, and a whole lot of macgyver stunts involving paper clips. under latifah's supervision, tales about bathtubs and shrivelled umbilical cords permuted awfully. she drove him to and from meetings with a jaded counsellor who chucked books at him and did little cerebral investigating of the professional sort. still zanoah appreciated the weekly hour-long break from chores when he could pore through shelves of books on child psychology, trauma and one book about raising german shepards. much about his condition, the lost years, was learnt and though inexpertly, at 15, he was self-diagnosing his problems with memory loss.

after leaving dr prashanti's office, he'd endure the 30-minute drive back to hell listening to latifah pervert his already wounded memories. one day it wasn't a bathtub he was found in but a plastic bag stuffed with a chaos of cigarette stubs and soda cans, and left by the stairs of a public school. blue from cold. on other drives it wasn't a tier of steps but by a rubbish container or it was a bathtub but it was filled with water and bloody placenta and he was blue from lack of oxygen, and that's why you're so goddamn afraid of water, kid.

zanoah spent a great deal of nights recording each version of his rescue and tried, relying solely on the facts he knew for certain, to narrow down the possibilities through a complex process of elimination. for instance, he couldn't have been in the water because his vocal cords were damaged from a prolonged, excessive bout of wailing as a newborn, for which he had underwent surgery and was, so accordingly, cursed with an odd pitch to his voice. unless, of course, he wasn't a baby but a toddler when his vocal cord corroded -- or maybe he wailed from a beating and lost his voice for a week after that, an experience he taught himself to 'recall' in exquisite detail so it became very likely the truth.

what he does remember was being born -- as in literally. he remembers being in his mother's womb, the tug and pull of his gestating body forming like a mutating clump of play-doh, and how it was suddenly warm and comforting and noise-cancelling. dr prashanti contradicted this claim. not possible to remember such an experience, She claimed. yet on nights when it was cold, he would cocoon himself in pillows and felt blankets and was certain that this was close to the feeling. perhaps it was a person's embrace, you recall, She suggested. and he'd feel sick thinking of the embraces he'd suffered.

he also remembers feeling very cold, of course he only recognised the sensation as such when he was first introduced to the warmth of an LA summer, his bare chest sweaty and heavy in the heat of a promising sun as he sprawled out in the back of the fat texan's truck, roving between states, and basking shamelessly. stupidly contented.

how he got from chicago to texas to cali and finally to boston, massachusetts, he can't remember anymore. he knows, though, that what he doesn't record he sometimes forgets and that there's little of late that he finds worth recording. he knows that the more information he draws from books, vampiric in his thirst for knowledge, the more he forgets all that ugly non-academicy...stuff. his reward for nurturing his unceasing curiosity.

now 26, there's a lot he knows and little he recalls.

name zanoah "tony" anton comicverse Taskmaster, assumed to be anthony "tony" masters date of birth + age june 15, 1991 + 26 birthplace somewhere in chicago current residence boston, MA occupation child psychologist pursuing research on trauma and its effect on the hippocampus,
formerly worked at the department of pediatric psychiatry but currently sees patients at his home residence
sexuality he doesn't have a clue
origin "Anthony Masters is one of the best agents S.H.I.E.L.D has to offer. After being sent in a mission to take down Horst-Gorscht and ODESSA, a neo-nazi organization hidden in Bolma that was working with Baron Von Strucker's HYDRA by developing Super Soldier Serums for them using Adolph Hitler's blood. By the moment Tony arrived to Gorstch, he was already hit by a bullet and was delusional, he told Tony about a perfected serum he developed which would not only boost people to peak levels of what was humanly possible, including assimilating knowledge instantly. However the ODESSA structure began to collapse, this in combination with Gorstch's death would mean all his notes and knowledge would have been lost forever and the serum wouldn't have been able to be replicated. In the heat of the moment, Tony injected himself with the newly developed Soldier Serum for him to memorize Gorstch's notes and escape from the structure quickly. As a side-effect of the Serum, Tony developed a degree of amnesia and created an alter-ego called "Taskmaster" which worked as a mercenary for criminal organizations and whatnot."

Succinctly put, Tony began human but injected himself with an experimental Nazi serum which allows him to instantly memorize motor skills at the cost of his true memory.

Despite his newfound powers, he lost "explicit memories" of Mercedes, his wife, having had no recollection of ever being married. Mercedes has had luck restoring portions of his explicit memory. However, these memories are immediately lost again the moment he learns the movements of another being.

POW! POW! Photographic Reflexes
Voice Mimicry
Limited Superhuman Speed
Physical Movement Prediction
Superhuman Reflexes
ABILITIES Genius Level Intellect
Master hand-to-hand combatant & martial artist
Peak Physical Conditioning
Master of Disguise
Master Tactician
Master Marksman
CV Tie-ins enhanced memory & memory loss form the bedrock of their identities: zanoah has photographic memory yet suffers long-term repression/memory 'loss'
athletic & proficient at various sports
retains the nickname 'tony' and prefers 'anton' to being called 'zanoah'
both suffered aquaphobia in their youth
his survival instincts trump his heroism/selflessness, although his AU self might at times seem impossibly magnanimous
masters of mimicry: despite being an eccentric, anton has made a life of mimicking social behavioural norms and thus 'blends in' fairly well in social situations
under dr yamagata's patient tutelage, he too has created something similar to a "memory palace"
believes almost all, but the crazy ones, are predictable
like taskmaster, he profits from the study of others, and cannot relate to their problems (at least not sentimentally). anton, however, fakes empathy well.
adult life in nutshells × attended harvard 2007 - 2012

x revered by his Harvard professors as being superhuman with his uptake of information and with the memory of a genetically enhanced elephant

x having been only 21 when he earned his PhD in psychology, having downloaded a year's worth of syllabus material in a matter of weeks, he found making friends difficult having always been too young, and too out of step with his peers. as a result, his professors were his closest social connections and he wrote a fair amount of literature on neuropsychology and intertemporal choice with the best of them

x his qualifications and professionalism had made him one of the youngest practising child psychologists in the state.

x back then, he had maintained a beard to mask his youth. but now he maintains it simply because he forgets to shave.

x he was the source of much speculation at the psychiatric centre where he worked for throughout the many years of his being their colleague, he had provided little information about himself, his family, his personal history, etc. rarely is he deliberately aloof, he just honestly remembers so little of his past

x he is currently the test subject of his former professor (now friend's) career-defining research. to dr yamagata he has disclosed the little he recalls from his past, the rootless names and cloudy patches of might-be truths as and when they form. mostly he recalls emotions rather than credible information like names and dates. dr yamagata suspects his condition is beyond textbook trauma-related repression, but his study is still ongoing and they've yet to arrive at a comprehensive diagnosis

x took a short leave of absence shortly after enrolling at harvard when he was diagnosed with depression after a spontaneous nervous breakdown. surprising, really, as he had never before--and never since--shown signs of being unusually upset.

x during his six-month stint at a psychiatric facility, he had lost almost all of his working memory and suffered short-term amnesia. in this period, much to dr yamagata's fascination, zanoah tapped into his cache of long-repressed memories but forgot day-to-day information like his name, the year, where he was, etc. if not for dr yamagata's professional intrigue, he'd have been certified insane after repeated attempts at hurting himself and those around him with "murderous intent", or so was written and scrubbed from his psych evaluation

x he currently does not remember those six months, though yamagata does. as does the good doctor know more about the years preceding them.

x what yamagata terms 'childhood trauma', anton regards as something made up entirely. possibly, all such horrors belonged to characters from the many books he read as a child. episodes from his young life appear to him as fictional events his imagination has given too much versimilitude to.

x at the age of 25, studies of his hippocampus surfaced unfortunate findings. owed possibly to his suffering hypoxia early in his youth, he now suffers a degenerative disease of the brain. it is near inevitable that in a matter of years, or a decade if luck be his friend, that he will be unable to retain new memories. all that he knows at that point will be all he will ever know. so he hopes to know a whole lotta shit by then.

x he has since left working on site at the department of pediatric psychiatry. apart from helping the very few patients who visit him at his home address, his every day is otherwise spent recording his more fleeting memories--elisha's face, the smell of a leather belt, his various allergies--and downloading anthologies of information in preparation of said day.

x so in a nutty nutshell, and dr yamagata will finally concede to this, zanoah anton's slowly losing whatever fraction of his mind he had left to lose.
personality x all who know him would describe him as mild-tempered & exceptionally calm even in stressful situations.
x well-mannered
x perfectionist
x manic obsessive at times
x modest & often self-effacing
x brilliant multi-tasker
x might appear aloof
x tolerant but also very easily bored

proclivities x enjoys watching talent shows
x reads multiple texts across multiple disciplines concurrently
x enjoys small spaces