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Snippet #2680860

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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“Where are you from?” the young lady asked Rick with genuine interest. She has never ventured out of the town but has a healthy curiosity about life beyond these boarders.

Rick just shook his slowly, “Nowhere.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pry into your life, I understand if you don’t want to tell me,” she added with disappointment in her voice.

“You miss understood me,” he said calmly. “I’m from nowhere. I’ve spent my whole life looking for a home and a family but I never found either. I thought I had gotten one once but…it didn’t work out. I just live where I live until I live somewhere else, so I pretty much live nowhere,” Rick explained.

“Really? That’s so sad.”

“Dude, that’s harsh,” the young man said agreeing with the young lady.

“It’s fine.” Rick fell into silent contemplation. He wondered why he was telling these strangers any of this, it was completely unlike him. He hasn’t really felt like himself for awhile now. His whole life has become a mystery to himself leaving him with just the terrible feelings from that life, a life that he may never have had.

‘These are good people and I don’t feel bad telling them things about me so why not tell them?’ he questioned himself.

He continued, “It’s difficult to find purpose living the way I do. It can be scary because there is a real possibility that I’ll never find my purpose…I may never be able to do anything good for this world…” Rick fell silent once again.

Before the other two people responded they considered what to say. The silence became extremely awkward. Neither one of them knew what to say. If they knew anything about Rick and/or were friends with him then maybe they’d be able to quickly come up with a reassuring response, maybe. Knowing Rick could also make that task even harder. There is a reason why Erubesco and Liberty consider Rick to be a terrorist.

The lady came up with something to say but didn’t get the chance to say it for Rick was reaching over to the virtual reality visor.

“I have to try this before I go,” Rick said abruptly stopping the lady from speaking.

He slipped the visor over his head to his eyes. The cushion framing his eyes were comfortable yet awkward and scratchy to Rick.

‘Probably something that you get used to over time,’ he thought. He remembered what the lady said about how to use the machine.

‘Show me…martial arts wisdom.’ Instantly a life like image of an older gentleman dressed in a traditional martial arts garment, the style and name of the garment Rick didn’t know. The gentleman was standing on one of the many rolling hills full of lush green grass. The sky was a bright light blue with wispy white puffy clouds gently floating by. A cool breeze took the edge off the heat from the sun.

The young man and lady chuckled as Rick visibly jumped from his initial reaction to the world he was seeing. It was always entertaining to watch someone use those machines for the first time.

Rick couldn’t believe how real this virtual world was. He could feel the heat from the sun, the chill from the wind, the delicate points from the bending grass against his bare feet.

‘Why aren’t I wearing shoes?’ he wondered. To his surprise his thoughts came out as words.

“Because one does not wear shoes in the Holy Hills of Meditation,” said the gentleman.

‘Wow, this so cool. I can’t believe I’m talking to you right now.’

“Cool indeed. I am happy to speak with you as well.”


The visor for the virtual reality does several things for the wearer. For one, it detects the wearer’s brain function, determining which part of the brain is being used. Thanks to extensive research on brain mapping and functionality, the visor is able to predict, with sixty percent accuracy, what the wearer is thinking. The visor then sends that information through the tube to the metal box that it’s connected to. Each metal box houses a direct and personal link to the internet. The box locates an internet video that best matches the wearer’s mental request. The box then sends the video back up to the visor which plays the video. Finally the visor implants subliminal messages to the wearer via tiny speakers, located throughout the band, which whisper soft spoken messages that are supposed to enhance the video.

The messages are barely heard but describe what the wearer should be feeling, smelling, and hearing tricking the wearer’s brain into thinking that he/she is fully experiencing the other senses. The subliminal messages work about seventy percent of the time. When the virtual reality machine miss interprets the wearer’s thoughts, the wearer always has the option to activate a virtual keypad so one could more accurately interact with the machine. When everything is working properly, the wearer’s conversation with the virtual world doesn’t need to be spoken out loud and therefore unheard by the nearby people in reality. Also, the wearer doesn’t need to move to interact with the virtual world under that principle unless, of course, the wearer wants to or needs to.
Since Rick is completely unaware of how this machine works, his brain is easier to trick believing the virtual world is more than just a video. Other users who are more familiar with the machine often notice the subliminal messages and ruin its effectiveness.


“You seek martial arts wisdom?” the gentleman asked.

‘Yes. I am seeking strength. You see I lost my super strength and I need it back. Is there a way martial arts can help?’ Rick answered before inquiring for more information.

“You do not need martial arts to find what is not missing,” the man replied.

‘Oh it’s missing, it’s completely gone.’

“One’s true strength comes from within, seek anywhere else and you’ll always be without.”

‘Okay... are you talking about metaphorical strength like will power? Because it doesn’t seem like that can really apply to actual physical strength, especially not super strength,’ Rick challenged.

“All strength starts from within especially super strength, how do you expect to do super feats without first being super?”

‘I can’t tell if you are being stupid or being really wise, but maybe I’m just having a hard time processing this. I’m still mentally fried from all things I’ve learned about lightning and electricity. I think I should switch gears…how do I go to the next…thing?’

Being unfamiliar with the workings of this new device, Rick found it difficult to navigate to a new scene. As he attempted, the man stayed offering Rick more advice that made no sense for what Rick was thinking.

Eventually Rick thought, ‘I just want some kick boxing instructions!’ to which the image shifted to a dojo scene.

The virtual instructors in the new video, showed Rick the basics, to remind him how everything is supposed to look. Rick then realized just how crappy his techniques have been while he relied on his super strength during fist fights. Everything he did was riddled with imperfections. Yet they worked on his opponents.

Next they taught him subtle differences in stance, footwork, and body position to maximize his speed, power, and effectiveness. Rick relearned blocks and counters that he stopped using years ago when he realized that most people couldn’t hurt him because his super strength.

Realization struck him. He wasn’t winning fights because of his martial art skills but because his strength made up for his lack of form.

‘Which is why Neutralize was always so hard to knock out. He’d neutralize my powers leaving me too weak and too unpolished to do any real damage to him,’ he figured out.

Rick then practiced his slips, bob-n-weaves, and evasive foot movements. Rick practiced those moves in the real world as he was doing them in the virtual world. He went over a couple of power techniques and a couple speed techniques. He was about to start the sparing portion of the training when Rick felt something was wrong in his gut.

Rick took off the virtual visor dropping on the desk in front of him. His critical gaze searched the room. He ignored the laughing townsfolk whom fed him earlier. Rick didn’t know what he was looking for but it would be something dangerous. Rick had learned to listen to his gut when it spoke, for it was usually accurate at alerting him when he was in danger. It had saved his life more than once.

There was nothing out of the ordinary in that room. The people were still joking about the spectacle that Rick made while using the virtual reality equipment. Rick ignored it as he tried to focus on the meaning of the feeling in his gut. It was a familiar feeling, one that he felt not too long ago and yet he couldn’t quiet place it.

‘What happened the last time I felt this?’ he mentally wondered. ‘I was with the Wanderers, I got this feeling and then…Neutralize hit me with his powers and then…a bullet hit me in the head.’ Rick’s eyes widened as he immediately dropped to the ground and rolled away from the windows under a desk.

There was no gunshot, no broken glass, and no screams of terror just surprised gasps and snorts from the other people in the room. Rick touched his body searching for blood but found nothing.

‘Shit,’ he thought realizing that nothing attacked him.

‘I still have to figure out what the fuck is going on, trying to find the danger is just as likely to get me killed.’ Rick knew he couldn’t afford to lament about the situation, so he started to army crawl through the table legs and chair legs toward the windows, his eyes were laser focused on the surrounding area outside the library.

“Dude what are you doing?” The young man asked.

“GET AWAY FROM ME! STAY AWAY FROM THE WINDOWS!” Rick roared freezing both the young man and the young lady in their seats.

Rick reached the last desk, his final piece of concealment until he reached the wall nearest to the windows. ‘One, two, three!’ Rick hopped to his knees and dashed to the wall. Rick lay flat against the bottom of the wall making him as small a target as possible.

Still no bullets. Rick shifted himself to the farthest corner of the building. His heart was racing as he prepared for the riskiest maneuver yet. Rick stood up, exposing himself to would be snipers before wedging his back deep into the corner. Visibility of his body was greatly decreased while wedged in that corner. Hopefully it would be enough to keep him safe. He was positioned so that he could dive further into the library at the first sign of danger but still be able to look out the window to search for snipers or other Erubesco soldiers. He leaned his head back slightly to get a better look out the window, he first checked up at the roofs of the nearby buildings.

Nothing.

Rick’s eyes swept the streets finding regular townsfolk going about their day like everything was normal. Rick checked the roofs again then the streets again. Nothing dangerous or even suspicious. This made him a little paranoid. His gut is rarely wrong, but rarely didn’t mean never. Rick frowned. One last check of the roofs and street, he then remembered the windows of the other buildings and checked them quickly but carefully. Again there was nothing.

He sprinted to the center of the room and looked around for the undetected danger he was sure he felt. Rick’s heart slowed to a normal pace when his search came up empty again.

‘I guess there is nothing to worry about,’ he thought relaxing a bit. ‘Maybe my lack of powers in enemy territory has started to get me on edge,’ he continued to think.

“Sorry about that you two, I thought something was…wrong. But everything is fine, you can move again.” Explaining himself felt as funny as it must’ve sounded.

‘I should leave, even if nothing is wrong,’ he thought to himself. ‘It’s probably the best move.’ He was completely unaware that in less than a minute an Erubesco team was about to converge on his position.