Poniko’s world is a strange one. There’s the real world, which contains her waking self, her family, her doctors and the hospital. It’s relatively normal. Wars, economic crises, people being people and so on. Poniko is confined to a mental hospital in Hokkaido, so she really doesn’t know much of what’s going on in the world. In the recent few days, however, everyone has disappeared. The doctors, the nurses, everyone. She’s strapped to a bed in the hospital behind a locked door, with no idea of what, if anything, is left outside.
Then there’s the dreamworld. In Poniko’s world some very rare individuals, usually girls, have access to this dreamworld—they’re known as “dreamers.” The dreamworld is massive, possibly infinite, connected by doors and paths and halls. The dreamers create their worlds subconsciously when they dream, although some can learn to manipulate their worlds consciously over time as well. Dreamers often subconsciously create separate sub-worlds when they first enter the dreamworld, worlds that often reflect a certain part of their psyche. They also find themselves attached to neutral zones between two dreamers’ dreamscapes. All of it is connected by a nexus, which offers several doors to the dreamer—each door leads to a world of their creation, a neutral zone, or even the worlds of other dreamers.
No one really knows what the dreamworld’s purpose is, or even if it’s a separate dimension or just an effect of a damaged psyche. It does seem to have the purpose of helping the dreamers deal with their psychological issues, sort of leading the dreamer through a complex world in which they are forced to come to terms with their problems and learn to work past them. Though dreamers can’t really communicate or even interact with each other most of the time, they are able to sometimes perceive each other—perhaps to remind the dreamers that they aren’t alone.
The dreamworld also provides assorted tools to help the dreamers on their journey. These are known as Effects. Some of the Effects are constant for all dreamers, while others are more reflective of their personalities and psyches. Some of them are extremely useful, while others are seemingly random and pointless.
Poniko was born in America, a very normal child of very normal parents. When she was still quite young, her father’s business had him transferred to northern Japan. Being a foreigner in a strange land was hard on Poniko, and she invented an imaginary friend to help her cope. His name was Uboa, named for one of the sound effects she heard on her cartoons. Poniko became more and more withdrawn and antisocial, to the point that she was worrying her parents.
One night when she was about seven, Poniko was sent to bed early after a fight with her parents. She later snuck downstairs to fool around and get revenge on her parents. Uboa convinced her to play a prank on them. She put some of her father’s important papers in the oven and turned it on. Unfortunately she didn’t expect the papers to catch fire. The fire spread, destroying the entire house and killing Poniko’s father. Poniko and her mother barely made it out alive. The two were devastated by what had happened and Poniko was consumed with guilt, caught between blaming herself and blaming Uboa. She became even more withdrawn and more erratic until she started showing signs of extreme depression and even psychosis.
Her mother partially blamed Poniko for her husband’s death, but she tried to help Poniko, sending her to therapists and psychiatrists and neurologists. At this point Poniko had become convinced that Uboa was a separate entity that could come out and make bad things happen. She would lose time and Uboa would “come out” when it got dark, as it had been dark when Poniko had set the fire. She had an incredible fear of both darkness and fire. The doctors finally settled on a diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia. For awhile Poniko seemed to be managing on her own with intensive therapy and drugs, but when she attacked a boy at school, Poniko’s mother finally decided to commit her. Poniko was then ten.
Poniko spent the next four years in a psychiatric hospital, having both good spells and bad spells over time. It was here that she discovered the dreamworld. Poniko spent over a year navigating the dreamworld, slowly using it to work her way through her psyche. For awhile it was working quite well; the dreamworld helped Poniko to get over some of her guilt an some of her fear. She even managed to bring Uboa under some degree of control. She managed to shape a part of the dreamworld to suit her, creating a pink castle out of shells at the edge of a pink ocean. There she was separated from the rest of the dreamworld and could retreat there to keep Uboa from breaking into the dreamworld. Poniko had quickly learned that Uboa could get out even in the dreamworld, and that he could negatively affect the landscape. She was having her best days and the doctors were considering releasing her when the girl with the braids appeared within the dreamworld.
The girl with the braids was Madotsuki, though Poniko never learned her name. Poniko had sensed other dreamers before in the forms of Monoko and Monoe, though she’d never been able to interact with them. Madotsuki’s arrival changed the landscape of the dreamworld, turning parts of it into dark, twisted places full of strange horrors. Poniko was apprehensive, but she knew that the dreamworld was a method for people to work through their problems, and hoped that Madotsuki was doing the same. But eventually Madotsuki found her way to Poniko’s castle. Poniko tried to interact with her, but dreamers are very rarely able to completely communicate—and Madotsuki seemed to not care much. Madotsuki killed Poniko in her dreams, and kept coming back to do it again. She also discovered the light switch in Poniko’s castle and began to turn the light off whenever she entered. Poniko tried desperately to stop her, but was both traumatized and unable to interact with the other girl. Eventually the darkness caused Uboa to come out, for the first time in a year.
In the hospital, Poniko began to deteriorate again, becoming fearful of the darkness again and also of sleeping in general. She became terrified of Madotsuki, particularly the fact that she could do nothing to defend against her when Madotsuki came to kill her or turn the lights off. Uboa took hold again, terrorizing Poniko both asleep and awake. When Uboa attacked a nurse at the hospital, Poniko lost all hope of ever being released or ever being free from Uboa. Her only hope was to try to use the dreamworld again and try to seclude herself from the rest of the dreamworld as best she could. She withdrew her castle even further across the ocean and used some of her Effects to make it harder to get to. Madotsuki still came sometimes, but more rarely.
In the last week, however, something has changed. After falling asleep strapped to her hospital bed, Poniko awoke to find the hospital seemingly deserted. No nurses or doctors came to see her. The television stopped working. She could no longer hear traffic outside or window. Days went by without her seeing a single soul, and as she was strapped to the bed, she couldn’t even get up to look around. Only the saline drip has kept her hydrated and alive, and that has just run out. Poniko was forced to retreat into the dreamworld one last time, hoping to die painlessly in her pink castle.
Poniko is a very fearful, detached and defeatist girl, everything a girl her age shouldn’t be. She is rarely happy and even more rarely cracks a smile, and she has long since resigned herself to the pain and suffering of her psychosis. Most of this stems from the guilt she still feels over her role in the death of her father. She might say that Uboa did it, but she also knows that Uboa is a part of her. Unfortunately, even knowing he isn’t real doesn’t keep him away.
Despite her pessimism and rather defeatist nature, Poniko always ends up continuing to push forward in the hopes of fully regaining her sanity. Even when she thinks it’s a lost cause, she keeps going. This isn’t so much determination as it is an unwillingness and inability to stop. She doesn’t really know what else to do except keep trying. She also has a strong desire to protect others. When she was little she was the kind of girl who would find hurt animals and try to nurse them back to health. That liking for animals and people, or at least people she considers to be innocent is still with her today. She’s incredibly antisocial, and while a good part of it comes from her difficulty in relating to others, a good part of it is also a desire to protect them. She knows that when she’s unstable or when Uboa is out she can do a lot of harm, both to people in the real world and to constructs in the dreamworld. She doesn’t want that, so she isolates herself physically and emotionally. She also doesn’t want to be hurt herself. She already lost her father and watched her mother drift away from her. She doesn’t really have any friends, and the time she tried to really reach out to another person she was killed for it. In this respect, while she tries to guard herself from being hurt, when she does get attached to someone she becomes a barnacle. Once you gain her trust it’s hard to lose it.
Poniko has a lot of mental issues. She has an absolutely crippling case of nyctophobia, the fear of the dark, due to the fact that it can bring out Uboa. Being in darkness scares her so much that she becomes immobile, erratic and even psychotic at times. She also has a strong fear of fire, not quite as bad as her nyctophobia but still crippling. If she sees fire, even a candle, she will attempt to leave the area or douse it. Watching people light cigarettes makes her sick to her stomach. Poniko also shows some symptoms of schizophrenia, enough that the doctors have decided on this diagnosis. In truth her sickness is closer to an extremely bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder. She is frequently paranoid and occasionally has auditory hallucinations during which she’ll hear distant screaming, the same sound that Uboa makes in the dreamworld. She has violent flashbacks to the night her father died. More rarely lately are her breakdowns during which she becomes incredibly unstable.
Worst of all is Uboa himself. Poniko’s crippling fear of him and the darkness that brings him out is bad enough. However, when Uboa actually “comes out,” everything changes. It’s not quite right to say that Uboa is a separate personality, but Poniko herself does indeed change when he appears. In the real world, she becomes violent and unpredictable, attacking or attempting to terrorize everyone around her. She becomes a bit stronger as well due to adrenaline, and thus she becomes a danger to both herself and everyone nearby. She also starts talking more and faster and is generally rather frightening. In the dreamworld this is even worse. When Uboa comes out there, Poniko and anyone near her are transported to separate, closed off sections of the dream world that contain whatever the person fears most. For Poniko, it’s the night of the fire and watching her father as well as herself and her mother burn alive. For others it’s something equally personal and terrifying.
Underneath all of that, on her good days, Poniko is a really sweet girl. She likes the color pink, flowers and animals. She’s a bit childlike in the sense that she’s never really had the chance to grow up normally, and still likes things that a young girl would like. Being a pretty girly girl, that means things like pink things, cartoons, princesses, unicorns and dolls. She likes the outdoors though it can be a bit overwhelming, as she hasn’t been properly outside in ages. She particularly likes the ocean, beaches, sand castles and seashells, and at home she had a collection of different shells. She prefers to look pretty and cute to looking attractive. She likes books, especially fairy tales and fantasies. Everything about her is a lot younger than she should be, except for her general outlook on life, which is more befitting of a war-weary soldier.
Basically it’s like she belongs in My Little Pony if My Little Pony contained boundless horror at times.
Poniko’s primary ability is what is essentially Astral Projecting, sort of. In her own world, when she sleeps she has access to the dreamworld and all of her Effects. On Sacrosanct, it makes more sense for her to instead sort of sleepwalk around the station. While her body is asleep, her dreamself can wander around. It’s only when she’s asleep that she can use her Effects.
This is pure headcanon and created to make her fit into Sacrosanct better, so if this needs adjustment or anything I will fix it.
Poniko has a fair few abilities in the form of her Effects, which are hidden away in her hammerspace. 24 to be exact, although many of them won’t work in Sacrosanct. The ones that most likely will, however, are:
Bicycle: she can pull out a bicycle that she can ride on
Triangle Kerchief: a sort of headband that renders her ghostlike and almost invisible
Frog: her head becomes a frog head and lets her swim faster
Midget: she becomes tiny, about two inches tall
Nopperabu: her face fanishes
Snowball: she can throw this at people to slow them down
Fairy: she gets fairy wings and can fly with them.
Violin: just a violin that she can play music on. She’s pretty good.
Balloon: she plants a balloon that teleports people who touch it to another balloon. There don’t have the best range. I’m not sure if this one will work considering how Sacrosanct is.
Torch: a torch that she can set fires with
Bucket and shovel: lets her build a sandcastle anywhere. These can be big or small castles
Ball: just a ball she can bounce around that always comes back
Box: a cardboard box she can fold herself into and hide in
Watering Can: puts out fires
Glitter: she can glitter like Edward Cullen
Umbrella: protects her from rain but also causes rain to happen in a small area
Pill Bottle: she turns into a bottle of nondescript pills
Dress: she puts on one of three pretty dresses
Magic Wand: a toy wand with a star on the end that makes things appear and disappear. Things will reappear on their own after awhile if she doesn’t do it herself.
Lamp: her head turns into a lamp which lets her illuminate areas
Flower: plants a flower on any surface, though they don’t last long unless they’re in dirt
Pink Hair: she gets bubblegum pink hair
The last Effect she’ll be able to use in Sacrosanct is one that she is completely unable to use intentionally, and this is the Uboa Effect. When the lights go out or when Poniko enters a dark area, there’s a small chance of this Effect being triggered. When it happens, she unwillingly turns into a sort of monstrosity that looks like this guy. If you are near Poniko when this happens, you are forced into a dream state and transported to a sort of subspace dimension. The space is quite small and contains a warped Uboa, horrifying imagery and the thing that most scares you. Uboa represents fear and psychological entrapment, so it essentially does whatever it can to scare you and break you down. The only way to escape from Uboa’s space is to wake up. Pinching yourself often works.
Poniko herself is transported to the space as well, except that she sees something quite different and can’t see or interact with anyone in the space with her, and vice versa. The space is meant to isolate you, so while you’re in there you can’t sense the real world around you or anyone else trapped in the space with you. The experience is altogether terrifying. People on the outside will see Poniko vanish and see you seem to fall asleep standing up or just fall over. You can’t be awakened by external forces like your friends dumping water on you—only by waking up on your own. In this respect the experience can seem to last seconds or years.
Uboa only comes out in this way when Poniko herself is asleep. It can still come out when she is awake, but it manifests more as an alternate personality or even as a psychotic break. When it happens she becomes unstable, frightened, and sometimes violent or even psychotic. She has harmed a fair number of doctors and nurses when in this state, but never fatally.
In this sense, Poniko is extremely weak to darkness. She has a crippling phobia of the dark and of Uboa and will typically start screaming for the lights to be turned back on. She is fearful of doctors and of people in general and doesn’t like to let people get close, emotionally or physically. This is partially because she wants to protect people from Uboa and also because she really just wants him to go away. She also can’t take care of herself all that well because she has spent the last several years in a psychiatric hospital where everything was done for her. She doesn’t always remember to wash or feed herself on time. When she’s awake without her Effects, she’s a squishy, scared and kind of needy teenage girl.