|Real Name||Blythe Stanhope van Renssaeler|
|Wild Card Traits||Memory absorption|
|Place of Birth||USA|
|Citizenship||Citizen of the United States, deceased|
|Base of Operations||New York City|
|Relatives||Archibald Holmes (godfather), van Renssaeler family|
|First Appearance||Wild Cards|
|Final Appearance||Wild Cards|
|Creator||Walter Jon Williams|
Blythe Stanhope van Renssaeler (Brain Trust) is a fictional character from the Wild Cards series of books. She was a member of the van Renssaeler family by way of marriage to Henry van Renssaeler. She is the mother of Brandon van Renssaeler, Henry Jr. and Fleur.
Blythe and her family fled New York City in the wake of the initial wild card outbreak there, and returned after the chaos had subsided, believing the worst had past and that it was safe to return home. Whether Blythe had contracted the wild card from the initial release or at some later point remains unclear, but in February of 1947 her ace revealed itself when she accidentally absorbed the mind and memories of her husband.
Rocked by the darkness of this inner personality and untrained in defending herself psychologically, Renssaeler's mind fragmented. By the time that she first encountered Dr. Tachyon she had been reduced to a screaming mess, restrained to a hospital bed and at war with her own fractured mind. With Tachyon's intervention she was able to awaken and his continued tutelage aided her in confining Henry's personality deep within. In only a week the pair's relationship had become a sexual entanglement.
Blythe's godfather, Archibald Holmes arrived one day to visit her. Upon learning of her ability he convinced her to join the Exotics for Democracy, better known as the Four Aces. At Holmes's urging she later absorbed the minds and memories of several notable figures in scientific circles as a move to prolong their influence on the world thanks to her youthful body expected to outlast theirs. Her acquired scientific knowledge was then put to use in the diplomatic activities of the Four Aces.
She returned to Tachyon and continued to see him during this time, which became a live-in arrangement when Henry van Renssaeler kicked her out of her former home. They were happy together for two and a half years until the failings of the Four Aces caught up with her and she was subpoenaed to appear before HUAC in a sham trial that ultimately destroyed her. She broke under the stress induced by the hearings and started to reveal names of other aces pulled from Tachyon's memories, forcing Tachyon to mentally block her. With her mind already under pressure, this last push collapsed her mind altogether and she was plunged into madness.
Tachyon desperately wanted to stay with her to repair the damage, but HUAC had already condemned him as an illegal alien and he was to be deported to Europe instead. The final contact he had with Blythe van Renssaeler was a fleeting telepathic touch in which her mind was little more than a spark drowning in a collision of her absorbed personalities. Blythe died late 1953 at the Wittier Sanitarium. Years later, upon his repatriation to the United States and eventual return to sobriety, Dr. Tachyon dedicated the Blythe Van Renssaeler Memorial Clinic (more commonly known as the Jokertown Clinic) in her honor.
Wild Card Traits
Brain Trust's ace allowed her to copy another person's personality and memories into her own mind. In total she absorbed the minds of eight people beginning with her husband, six others of genius level intellect (at the insistence of Archibald Holmes), and finally Dr. Tachyon. The known personalities were:
- Albert Einstein
- Dr. Tachyon
- Edward Teller
- Henry van Renssaeler
- Jonas Salk
- Julius Robert Oppenheimer
- Wernher von Braun
As a side effect of this ability Blythe was immediately overcome by the darker mind of her husband, until Dr. Tachyon helped her erect her psychic barriers. As the number of personalities grew she increasingly tended to slip into speaking German during conversations and she periodically lapsed into attacks of a unique multiple personality disorder when she was stressed.
Blythe was a moderately attractive woman with shoulder length black hair and piercing dark blue eyes with long sooty eyelashes. Dr. Tachyon once noted that she had dimples when she smiled.
Brain Trust was an intelligent woman and devoted mother, who became haunted by the effects of her ace. The blending of personalities within her by degrees could cause traits of the absorbed personalities to surface resulting in subtle personality changes. On several occasions the absorbed personalities completely dominated her psyche to the point where she would conduct heated arguments with herself in German, or be reduced to a seizure state.