Warning: Do not read this, if you haven’t read all of Discovery yet and plan to. Heavy spoiler alert!
Professor Tony Ballinger
Professor Tony Ballinger was a famous scientist in the 1970s and early 1980s. He married Francesca Lucia and they had a daughter, Jennifer. However, Ballinger’s life changed when he made a great discovery in 1983. He had found a slow but ongoing mutation of the human genome that would let humans evolve into monstrous creatures over the cause of roughly 40 generations. Determined to ensure the future of humanity, he dedicated his life to building a huge arch-like structure inside a mountain and creating capsules that allowed humans to stay in a state, which he called “suspension”, for a possibly infinite amount of time. In this state, all blood was drained from the human body and it was frozen in chemical liquid. After the suspension, the blood would be infused into the body again and the person would wake up.
Ballinger spent 10 years on this project, his reputation suffered as he was called a “mad scientist” for his theory. Few believed him and apart from those who joined his project by choice, Ballinger also didn’t refrain from kidnapping people and forcing them into suspension to ensure the future of humanity. Overall, he gathered over 1700 recruits. Ballinger also convinced his wife to go into suspension with him as well as his daughter Jennifer.
The suspension period mostly went according to Ballinger’s plan and he and his followers found themselves 2000 years later in a world populated by the monsters that humans had evolved into, just like Ballinger had predicted. They built a huge electronic fence around a small town that Ballinger had set up to enable a mostly normal life for his recruits except that they could never leave. His marriage had suffered under his dedication to his work and although his wife had agreed to join him in suspension, she left the laboratory complex and moved into the town alone after a few days. Ballinger never tried to fix his relationship with Francesca as he thought of himself as a person working for the greater good and accepted that his personal sacrifices did not matter.
When waking up from suspension, every recruit had to undergo a virtual mental training to regain their full brain capability before finally leaving the capsule. However, Ballinger’s daughter Jennifer did not fully survive suspension and her body was grievously injured. But, for some reason, her mind lived on and was able to stay in the virtual training simulation. Ballinger, fascinated by his daughters case, kept her alive inside the virtual world until she somehow started to manipulate it herself. Ballinger got scared at his daughter’s capabilities and – hating not being in control – shut off the power from Jennifer’s suspension capsule, leaving her to die.
Jennifer Ballinger is the daughter of the scientist Prof. Tony Ballinger. Growing up with a famous father, she lived a secluded life and never had much contact to other people. The person she had most contact to was her mother, as her father was constantly busy. She went into suspension with her family at the age of 18. Although she never entirely convinced of her father’s work, she couldn’t bear leaving her family, having no one else to go to.
Jennifer’s body was injured beyond repair during the suspension and there was never any hope for her to wake up. However, her mind survived and she landed inside the virtual mental training camp, although with no memory. Believing that it was the real world, she tried to escape the tiny house that held various skill objects to stimulate her brain activity. Over the course of time, she discovered more and more mysteries around her virtual prison and eventually started questioning her reality, when she received a message from her father’s assistant Helen. Hearing a shout from Helen in the real world was also the first hint at Jennifer’s superior powers over the virtual world.
Although she didn’t remember her father, she subconsciously regained the memory of her mother and painted a portrait of her. Feeling betrayed and robbed of her family, her angry mind somehow became able to manipulate the virtual world around her. Although the outside of her house had never been programmed and theoretically didn’t exist, her mind gained superior power over the virtual world and enabled her escape. This created a parallel reality for Jennifer in which she lived on despite her father’s efforts to kill her. Because Jennifer’s new world is a product of her subconscious, it is populated by normal humans since Jennifer knows nothing about the monstrous creatures that live in the real world. However, her world and the real world are not connected and she will never be able to meet her real mother in that world.
Helen Pearson was Prof. Ballinger’s assistant and one of the first to join Ballinger’s project as she fiercely believed in his work. She lived in the laboratory complex and was responsible for surveying the mental training of recruits after the suspension. Being worried about Jennifer’s special case, she started questioning Ballinger’s methods and ethics. She believed that keeping Jennifer alive despite her never being able to wake up was immoral. She tried to address the subject to Ballinger multiple times but he wouldn’t listen. Not daring to press the issue, Helen instead decided to send virtual messages to Jennifer, giving her hints about her situation.
When Jennifer magically escaped her virtual prison, Helen admitted to Ballinger to giving Jennifer information about both him and herself. When Ballinger announced that he would shut off the power of Jennifer’s suspension device, Helen tried to stop him as she now believed that Jennifer should be kept alive in her own new world, but she failed.
Having fallen out with Ballinger, Helen quit her job at the laboratory and moved into town, trying to start a new life. Not knowing that Jennifer had survived the shutdown, she still blames herself for Jennifer’s supposed death.
Francesca Ballinger (formerly Lucia)
Francesca Lucia married Prof. Tony Ballinger in the early 1970s and had a daughter with him. As Ballinger dedicated more and more time to his work, Francesca spent most of her time with her daughter. Although she only half-heartedly believed in her husband’s theory, she eventually agreed to join him in suspension after being pressured by him. When she – 2000 years later – found out that her daughter had been grievously injured during suspension, she left Ballinger and moved into the town. Although they are still officially married – who cares for divorces when there are only 1700 humans left on earth – she hasn’t talked to him since as she blames him for the supposed death of her daughter. When she receives a text message that says it’s from her daughter she is appalled at first, believing this is a twisted joke, but then finds comfort in imagining that her daughter is alive and well. She also becomes friends with Helen Pearson, as she moves into the town.
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Mr. Harrigan, who is only mentioned once in a letter to him by Prof. Ballinger, is the biggest financial supporter of Ballinger’s work. He is a shady billionaire who spent a lot of money on supporting Ballinger and building his mountain laboratory structure. He also helped Ballinger acquire recruits who did not willingly agree to join them. He went into suspension with the others and still oversees most of the work at the laboratory complex.