Harriet ("Hattie") MacPherson
Hattie is an Agent of the Imperial Investigation Agency. She is a career "cop" having spent almost 30 years in the IIA.
Hattie started life as a citizen of Mora, a high technology world in the Spinward Marches. Her parents were both investigators; her father in the local city police forces, her mother as a crime laboratory technician. Harriet earned a degree in Law from the University of Mora and applied to the IIA Academy immediately on graduation. She has been transferred since to three different planets in the Mora subsector.
Early on Hattie found she had a talent for interrogation. IIA interrogations follow all the carefully crafted rules of imperial police forces; there is no coercion allowed and drugs are only very rarely used. Hattie is good at the old fashioned techniques of psychological intimidation and conversational convincing. She teases out the truth from the pack of lies that every criminal arrives with. Over the years her reputation has grew into that of a "miracle worker".
Her skills as an investigator were also excellent. She has spent a great deal of time undercover and once broke a serious drug ring, earning her a vendetta from a large (but fading) underworld organization. At the time of this writing, Hattie has been a part of almost every major anti-crime initiative in the worlds local to Mora. On the personal side, Hattie gave birth to a daughter, Eve. Although raising her alone, Hattie found parenthood immensely rewarding, and Eve became a key stone in Hattie's life as she became Agent-in-charge of a major metropolitan field office on Mora.
It was at the peak of her abilities that she realized her ability to interrogate was more than merely normal interview methods. She had a Psionic talent.
The pressure on a law enforcement agent is already high, the pressure of needing to hide her special ability from all her formerly trusted friends and colleagues was too much. Hattie began a long fall. She became addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs, but her talents saved her from being fired; she instead was demoted after a serious breach of IIA procedure; in assaulting the compound of a group of religious fanatics who had bunkered themselves up with their families several children were killed by the assault force. Hattie was relegated to a relative backwater post, where she indulged her bad habits and fell even further into depression.
Then, one day Hattie came home to find her teenage daughter, Eve, passed out drunk. This realization, that her addictions were contagious, was what she needed to bring her back to reality. She struggles with her addictions, still, but has control back, and more importantly, Eve is fully back on her feet and, in college now, is earning her criminology degree. Hattie has come to terms with her talents, and status, and serves in a special branch of the IIA. She has found certain discreet superiors and let them know of her special talent, and they are willing to keep her secret in light of the extreme usefulness of her mind reading talent.
Her bout with substance abuse has not left her unmarked, however. Hattie looks old, and occasionally has memory loss. Her hair has turned white, and a few extra wrinkles have appeared. In a high technology society, such marks of age are not likely until one is very old, and Hattie takes full advantage of this. She is perceived as an old, somewhat batty lady by her younger colleagues. Hattie especially plays up this role with suspects. She often interviews suspect while they are presumably waiting to be interviewed, posing as the grandmother of another suspect.
Hattie's talent is a subtle one. It takes time and finesse to use. She can read surface thoughts but it takes her about 30 seconds to get a reading, so her skill as an interviewer is a part of that process. As long as she can get the suspect thinking of the subject she wants to know about, she can draw out the facts she wants to know, even if the suspect does not say them aloud. She is completely untrained, of course, and would not have any contact with a Psionic Institute (That's illegal!). If she were trained, then deeper probes might be possible, but until then her talent is strictly surface readings.
Hattie is never seen without her handbag. This is a large affair and carries her personal weapon as well as many other items, generally mundane, but always interesting ("have a tissue dear, your nose is running", or "Oh yes, I think I have a flashlight right here in my bag....somewhere...I think...Oh! here it is...Oh my, the power cell seems to be dead.", "Have a breath mint, sweety...no really, you need one hon"). Hattie dresses like an old lady, but she has not seen any real degradation in her physical abilities. She has fairly significant skills in martial arts, is qualified on several different weapons (appropriate to law enforcement), and has won competitions with her service weapon of choice.
Encounters may take the form of Hattie being the interviewer (using the interview method above, possibly) or an investigator if the player(s) are in trouble. She may be encountered as an undercover operative (if going undercover as an old lady is practical, of course) or as a passenger on the way to some nearby planet to take up an investigation, which the players might become part of. If her talent is somehow revealed, she will attempt to swear the players to secrecy, but she will respond poorly to any form of blackmail. Encounters might involve her daughter, for whose safety she would do anything, including break the law. That fading interstellar criminal organization would also make a good hook; perhaps the players run across plans to assassinate Hattie or kidnap her daughter.
Hattie makes a colorful companion, using lots of old-lady type expressions ("You should find yourself a nice girl and settle down.") and occasionally being a bit absent minded ("Now, which button was it? Oh well, I'll just try them all!"). Her bag is a source of random macgyver-ish plot devices; from hairpins or powercells to household electronics ("Oh that's where my electronic eyebrow trimmer went!") but never exactly what is needed, and never anything terribly weapon-like (except her issue sidearm and spare ammunition, if applicable).