Manifesting at a young age, Sullivan's mutant ability to read the emotions of others caused him to fall prone to occasional yet sudden mood swings, leading his parents to believe their son was suffering from an extreme form of depression. George and Catherine Cleaner looked across the country for someone who could help the family cope with the young child's temperament, in fear that his mind could become even more unstable.
Attracted to the case, a relatively obscure psychologist by the name of Ezekiel Morse approached the Cleaners with an offer for his services, claiming that he had much expertise in cases like Sullivan's. Excited with the prospect of "one last opportunity to study a remarkable human mind", Morse invited --or rather, insisted-- the Cleaner family relocate to Millennium City so he could easily keep an eye on the child and track his progress. The decision to leave Boston wasn't easy to make, but without any other apparent alternative to choose from, they complied.
In the private sessions he had with the child, Dr. Morse proved to be very knowledgeable about Sullivan's powers and took great interest in his mental potential. Morse even attempted to probe further for possible undiscovered latent psychic talents, with no apparent success. Sullivan took a liking to Morse near immediately due to his humor and compassion, and the two quickly struck up a friendship.
At home, on the other hand, Sullivan noticed his parents were not acting like their usual selves since the family's relocation. Even more jarring to him was what the boy felt on an empathic level: it was almost as if his mother and father were altogether devoid of any emotions at all-- they were under the effects of mind control! The situation became worse when both of his parents suddenly approached and attempted to subdue him. Unable to escape through the only door out of his City Center townhouse, Sullivan fled up the stairs of his home and locked himself in the bathroom. His fear became overwhelming, and as he cried into the sink he suddenly felt the sensation of falling forward into and down the drain.
Sullivan's consciousness had left his body, most likely due his powers reacting to the stress of feeling endangered. With the help of water flowing from the tap of his sink, the energy of his mind travelled through Millennium City's mazework of pipes until it ended up in a sector of the sewer system located under Westside. Deprived of most of his senses, yet still aware of what he believed himself to be, Sullivan unwittingly caused his mind to form a bond with the garbage and waste of his surroundings. With this makeshift body of sludge and debris, he fumbled around in the darkness until he found an "exit": emerging from a manhole in the middle of an alleyway just as a gang of mobsters were attempting to hold up a citizen for her valuables...
Very little is known about Sullivan's original body, although is is assumed that-- at the time of the incident-- he may have possessed an unremarkable build and low fitness level for someone his age.
Sullivan's identity as Sludd is the result of his disembodied consciousness exerting its influence over a localized mass of sludge and waste originating in Millennium City’s sewer system. Through sheer willpower, he is able to form an independent humanoid "body" of varying proportions. Depending on his level of concentration and the amount of accessible materials, he can be seen in forms ranging from crudely child-like, to a roughly paragonian build, to something monstrously hulking.
Powers and Abilities
Empathy: Even prior to his becoming Sludd, Sullivan Cleaner was a developing mutant with a sensitivity to the emotions of others. He has also proven capable on picking up surface thoughts and projecting his own emotional state to those in close proximity.
Non-living Physiology - Elemental: In his Sludd state, Sullivan has no need to eat or breathe to survive, and is highly resistant to physical injury that doesn't outright destroy his mass. He does, however, need a form of rest in order to regain mental energy spent on concentrating to maintain his form.
Shapeshifting: Sludd is able to shape his amorphous body into crude forms, often appearing as either a puddle of sludge or a vaguely humanoid shape. He is able to flow around objects and barriers, entangle and restrain foes using his own mass, and throw pieces of himself as offensive projectiles.
Telekinetic Cohesion: Sullivan's concentration is essential to maintaining the shapes (or lack of) that he may take-- as such he has developed a keen subconscious awareness of his malleable anatomy. This also extends to the ability to (somewhat unreliably) suppress the stench he might give off.
Environmental Empowerment: Sludd has a distinct advantage inside the City's sewer tunnels, and places where waste is abundant and cleanliness is at a minimum.
Can exert limited control over sludge in his surroundings, provided it is in immediate contact with his main body. Provides a sort of regeneration and also the potential to augment his strength.
Can merge with larger amounts of waste to hide or to move quickly with sewer currents. While undetectable by regular means while doing so, mentalists may be able to pick up his psychic signature to track him down.
Telepathy (+): Unable to speak, Sullivan must now resort to broadcasting his thoughts to those within earshot. He cannot yet focus this power to individual recipients.
Psychic Senses: Despite being physically unable to do so, Sludd is able to perceive some human-like senses with his makeshift body. He has displayed a form of visual and oral cognition as well as sensitivity to touch.
Equipment and Other Paraphernalia
Sludd often possesses various small items that have been buried inside the waste he uses to form his body. Mostly, what he "carries" with him are junky and useless, but on the odd occasion he might collect something of value and/or purpose.
Personality and Attitude
Sullivan's mutant abilities as an empath cause him to become emotionally sensitive and impulsive at times: an issue that has plagued him since before becoming Sludd. While usually calm and collected, his own mood can often be directly influenced by the attitudes of those surrounding him.
The fact that he's basically turned into a sewer monster, coupled with the realization that his situation was in no small part caused by the man he formerly trusted, doesn't really give Sullivan much pleasure. Because of this, he's taken to living a reclusive, functionally nomadic life within the underground infrastructure of Millennium City.
With that said, his inadvertent turn at heroism has given Sullivan both a boost of confidence in his undesirable condition... and also a feeling of uncertainty as to his next actions.
Warhawk, Americana, Kl’vin, Thomas Cathal - A group of heroes that initally discovered and assisted Sludd following his awakening.
Megadrive - During their first (and so far, only) encounter, Sludd was able to discover the secret behind this “robotic” hero with his empathic powers. The two seemed to part on friendly terms.
Constructor - A former hero able to telekinetically bend metals to his will, Constructor encountered Sludd at a construction site as he was attempting to help authorities being held captive there-- only to bring down the entire building when the being of waste wasn't willing to conform to his ideals of what a "true hero" should be. Having escaped in the aftermath, only time will tell if his actions are the start of his path to villainy.
Ezekiel Morse (????) - A elderly psychologist working in the employ of PSI (or their Mind, Inc. front) tasked with recruiting those with apparent psychic talents to the organization. A powerful mentalist himself capable of many psychic feats, Dr. Morse specializes in hypnotism and mind control. It has been deduced by several heroes working on Sullivan's case that Morse is playing puppet-master with the Cleaner family: having forced George and Catherine to turn on their son, and perhaps even inhabiting the body of the young boy himself.
Anyone doing anything in Millennium City's sewer system will find themselves investigated by Sludd if he happens to be in the area-- heroes, villains and civilians alike.
Sludd makes trips aboveground to patrol areas immediately surrounding manholes. If you hear the sound of a grate being lifted, chances are good that he is scouting the area to see if it is safe to emerge.
Sludd empathizes with metahumans that have lost their physical humanity in some way.
"Sludd" is a corruption of the words sludge and flood.
Sullivan doesn't consider himself to be homeless, since he can make his home in the sewers.
The waste Sludd is made of can give off an offensive odor when he doesn't concentrate on suppressing it. Naturally, he is immune to his own stench.
It's rumored that his simulated sense of sight can only "see" in shades of green, brown and burnt yellows.
He apparently detests being called by his "Sully" nickname because his parents use it all the time.
(!) Edited in GIMP
by Agent-Foo (dA)
by wonderfully-twisted (dA)
by Smackwell (official forums/dA)
For what seemed like an excruciatingly long period of time, Sullivan remained in an odd state of awareness. If anything could describe it, it was like floating in a thick soup of nothingness: a vacuum where light nor sound nor smell existed.
Though he could distinctly feel his body-- head, chest, arms, legs-- he did not know where exactly he began or ended, as if he was a part of the void he had found himself in. He felt a pulsing sensation where he thought his lungs should be, but did not take in or expel air from them as he breathed. His attempts to move were not as fruitless, though they were met with a friction the consistency of molasses.
Through this thick darkness Sullivan fumbled, struggling to recognize direction, or simply if he was upright, until he came across something solid, impassable. Pushing against this new barrier, he felt a cold sensation as his body began to spread outwards. Spread outwards? Immediately, he tensed in fear-- that he might lose himself to this nightmare-- and regathered his thoughts.
The presence of the wall in front of him meant that Sullivan was no longer hopelessly lost. He proceeded to slide alongside it, groping at the cold surface with his fingertips until he felt several more cold sensations digging into his sides at seemingly equal intervals. In his desperation, he continued to force his way through to find that that he was... flowing around them. He felt their shape within him, and upon reaching an "arm" upward to feel yet more of these shapes, instinctively knew what they were.
The next thing that Sullivan remembered was swimming upward, using the shapes he found to guide him onward. As he did so, he found the weight of the nothingness became less thick-- yet still no easier to bear his own mass, which seemed eager to slip the more he freed himself. Little by little, his senses began to open up: he could hear the muffled sound of traffic above.
He came across yet another barrier. Sullivan felt a grid-like pattern on its surface as his hand pushed at it upwards: it seemed that it could move if he focused his strength, but try as he might, he could only cause his hand and forearm to fill in the depressions of the plate like a viscous liquid. Afraid that if he didn't do something he'd fall back down into the state of limbo, he forced his whole body upwards.
He felt the plate lift onto and sink slightly into his back, his vision went from pitch black to a blinding white, and a rush of air engulfed him.
He was free.
And then, panic. Or, he could feel it, but it was more than just his own...
One With the Waste
A Thousand Leagues Below - Manami Matsumae [SHOVEL KNIGHT]
To Intrude Within My Tunnels
Up Down Adventure - Yoko Shimomura [KINGDOM HEARTS: Birth by Sleep]
The Human He Was
Forever Lost - Masayoshi Soken [A Realm Reborn: FINAL FANTASY XIV]