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Snippet #2674722

located in The Wasteland, a part of The Age of Gifted, one of the many universes on RPG.

The Wasteland

An apocalyptic landscape, most of it is covered by ash, earning the nickname "The Ashland"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rick Ronan
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*(Location is near the Erubesco Citadel)*

Nightmares mixed with the pain associated with starvation kept waking Rick throughout the night. Now the sun illuminated the nearby town but Rick was in no hurry to get up out of his pile of ash in the nearby Wasteland. He wasn’t sure he had the strength to pull himself out of his “bed”.

‘What is the point of trying? If I succeed, then it would mean hours of mindless wandering…well…I should actually head toward that town,’ he thought to himself. ‘If it really is a town.’ Lately Rick couldn’t trust his perception of reality. While he lay there, face full of ash, two opposite images flashed before him. One was an image of the town, the other a gruesome swamp.

Rick closed his eyes to erase both images.

‘What is real? All of my memories seemed so real but now…’ he continued to think as he remembered the feel of plastic in the center of his chest. The item embedded in his chest all this time was some hunk of blue plastic instead of a powerful sapphire. That was just the beginning of his confusion. Each memory he had cracked, making room for a new memory that contradicted the other one.

The most shocking aspect was the complete loss of his powers. ‘Did I even have powers to begin with?’

He opened his eyes, the image of the swamp was gone leaving just the town in its wake. Making it likely that this image was the true one. Rick has gone stretches of time without rations many times before, but now he’d gone too long without food and probably wouldn’t last another day.

‘That town would have food and water, but it is so much easier to just lay here and wait for death…so…much…easier…’ he closed his eyes and waited.

“Ah…” Rick sighed opening his eyes once again. “Damn it!” he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t just lay there and die, he had to try to survive. Just like always. His past was shattered but his will to survive wasn’t. He positioned his left hand under his chest and kept his right hand by his face. With his remaining strength he pushed the uneven ground failing to lift himself up even slightly.
This failure only strengthened his resolved to live.

‘I’m not gravity’s bitch,’ he thought to himself. He tried again pushing with more strength than he realized he still had in the tank. This time his upper body lifted up off of the ground, ash clinging to his face and clothes. Rick brought his knees up under him and pushed himself up to a standing position. He’d done it.

Gravity seemed heavier than normal, no doubt due to his weakened state, and he had to fight just to keep standing. Rick brushed the ashes off him as best he could without using too much effort. Leaving him still fairly dirty but in doing so he noted something odd. His muscle tone was still intact. Instead of the skeleton like figure of a man whose body was eating itself, Rick retained the muscular physique of a weight lifter with a high protein diet. His black sleeveless shirt didn’t diminish how much his chest stuck out while his arms were just as strong looking as he remembered. His black shorts hid the strength of his lower body fairly well, but he could still see the muscle definition in his calves. His dirty black and blue sneakers completely hid his feet, but how strong could a foot look anyway?

Rick touched his short dirty blond hair at the front feeling it sticking up in that area. It wasn’t sticking up in a bed head kind of way but in a stylized way that could be done with static electricity. With the muscle definition and his hair sticking up at the front, Rick found a small glimmer of hope that he still had his powers somewhere locked inside him somewhere waiting to be unlocked.

In the mean time, he’d have to rely on only his perseverance to make it to the town. So he slowed drudged through the Wasteland.
An hour later he was there and he immediately regretted coming. Erubesco propaganda was everywhere. Though it could just be a town that supports Erubesco, but with Rick’s luck there is probably at least one Erubesco base nearby. Rick felt vulnerable just standing on the outskirts of the town since he was one of the founding members of the Wanderers. Not to mention the discomfort of not having any powers to protect himself with. After all, just the other day a random group of thugs beat him up, took his supplies, and killed his friend Belle. If he couldn’t handle random thugs then surely he couldn’t handle highly trained Erubesco soldiers. Erubesco wouldn’t care that he’d left the Wanderers and they definitely would still care about all of the death and destruction he caused them in the past. Erubesco wasn’t likely to take pity on him for being powerless, they’d probably capitalize on it instead.

Rick looked back at the Wasteland, the image of which flickered with the image of a massive grave yard with plenty of open graves. Turning back to the town, Rick’s vision flickered the image of Candy Land with giant pieces of meat cart-wheeling down the streets. Rick stood there watching the illusion play out the spectacle.

“Eh…close enough,” He said walking further into the town.

His speed was still sloth like from his weakening knees but he walked in a fortunate direction. His vision removed all traces of the false Candy Land and dancing meat products to reveal a convenient store of sorts. Rick went inside passing the front counter. The young lady behind it was quiet friendly, “Welcome back –oh I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else. But it’s always great to meet new people. I’m Shelby, what’s your name?” Shelby asked in a true morning person fashion.

Rick looked at her but didn’t stop walking, he didn’t mind being friendly but the need to survive dictated his actions. He was getting food NOW. Plus his name could be infamous around here so it was best not to use it. Lying always made Rick feel uncomfortable and he was bad it anyway so saying nothing was his default setting.

The lady was clearly upset by Rick’s rudeness but she didn’t say anything, she just watched him head over to the food aisle. Rick found himself with enough food to fill his belly and still have some left over for the trip out of the town. He thought back to the thugs and how they stole everything from him and left him to die. Rick settled for one meat stick, an apple, and a twenty ounce bottle of water.

Before anyone could say anything, Rick wolfed down the food and chugged the entirety of the water bottle. That small amount of food was enough to restore his strength to a decent level, thought it would be smart not to do anything too strenuous until he got more food. Eating such a small amount just made his stomach ache more in attempts to persuade him to keep eating. He resisted the urge to dive face first into the shelves of food and devour everything. Then he resisted that urge again while he threw his trash away in a nearby waste bin and found his way to a bin of maps. He opened one up and learned his surroundings as best he could. He could no longer afford to mindlessly travel to unknown destinations, he was lucky this time but next time he might just starve to death.

“Excuse me sir! You have to pay for those.” Shelby insisted from her position behind the counter.

‘Time to go,’ he thought to himself closing up the map. Rick walked back towards the front door, map in hand. Shelby insisted again but Rick didn’t stop. “I don’t have any money…sorry,” he did say.

“Hey you stop!” a man declared trying to stop Rick. Rick gave him a shove and the man fell backwards into a display of cookies.
Rick left the store in a hurry secretly proud that there was still enough strength in his body to jostle people out of his way, even if it still wasn’t super strength. Rick jogged down the street fast enough to get away but still retain as much of his renewed energy as possible.

Every foot fall angered Rick, the further he got from the convenient store the more he hated himself, and by the time he felt like he’d gotten away the more he was convinced that he needed to go back. His left foot hit the ground taking him off the sidewalk away from the main street.

Tucked away in an alley covered in shadows, he lingered quietly. Rick looked up at the morning sky but saw no light. Looking back down plunged him deeper into darkness. Looking around was pretty useless for he could hardly see anything.
Through the shroud he found ordinary things. There was a compact mirror with missing pieces of glass from its multiple cracks. Rick could see the banana peel on the ground, the army doll stripped of its uniform, and the overflowing dumpster.

“No. It’s not true. I’m still me,” Rick tried to assure himself.

‘Am I?’ he questioned himself with a flare up of rage. ‘This isn’t the first time that I’ve lost my powers but this is the first time that I’ve ran away to hide from danger,’ he reminded himself.

“This time…it feels…different,” Rick responded to himself out loud. Speaking his thoughts out loud in this manner was helpful for him. Doing this was the best way he could clarify his thoughts and if there was ever a time when he needed clarity, it was now.

‘It shouldn’t matter if it’s different. I am supposed to be a warrior with or without my powers. And yet here I am hiding from average town’s folk, being fearful of Erubesco, and letting those punks kill Belle. I let them kill Belle.’

Rick was quiet after that thought. His shoulders drooped, his heart sank, and his eyes cast down. “I know…” he admitted.
His stomach growled. Eating enough to survive another day isn’t satisfying at all. He didn’t care; he couldn’t care not while the thought of Belle was so fresh in his mind.

“I know…” he said plainly. The weight of that moment grew heavier on his psyche. “I know…” sadness crept into his tone. “I know…” he said, his body weakening. Rick could see that beautiful woman vividly die before his eyes.

A spark. It felt familiar yet altogether foreign.

His eye brows sank downward at the tips, his gaze sharpened. “I know, I know, I know, I know, I knowIknowIknowIknowIknowIknow I KNOW!” he exploded with passion. “I’ll get those punks! Right after I get my powers back! I will have them again I will! But in the mean time…I’m going to need to survive, I’m going to need to train my skills, I’m going to need a reliable food source, and I’m going to need to know more about electricity.”

The alleyway seemed to brighten in Rick’s eyes. He opened the map that was still tightly gripped in his hand. After looking at it for only a short period of time Rick confirmed his earlier prediction. Not far from this town is the Erubesco Citadel and everything else was Wasteland. The rest of the map provided little more useful information but it was enough to get him going on his mission.

“I’ll head in the opposite direction of the Citadel but I’m going to have to make do with living in this town until I’m ready to move on.” Rick decided his plan was good enough to start so he closed the map and folded it several times to make it pocket sized. With the map put away in his left pocket Rick stepped toward the exit of the alleyway with his right foot.

Before he could go, his blue eyes with the yellow tint around the pupils noticed the stripped army doll again. Lying next to it seemed to be a miniature plastic army boot. After looking at the doll for a second an urge welled up and he found himself walking over to the doll. Rick reached down and placed the boot on the doll’s right foot then sat it down against the wall of the alley. Stepping with his right foot, Rick walked away from the alley with new resolve.