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Rick Ronan

"If your belief is worth dying for, then it's worth killing for."

0 · 187 views · located in The Wasteland

a character in “The Age of Gifted”, originally authored by scoundrelboots, as played by RolePlayGateway

Description

Image

(*)There a few inaccuracies with this image but it's the closest that I can find AND upload, see the description(*)
(*)Thank you to Kotaku for the picture of Infamous's character Cole(*)


Full Name:
Rick Ronin

Nicknames/Aliases:
N/A

Age:
24

Gender:
Male

Gift:
Super Strength, the Ability to create and Manipulate Lightning/Electricity
(his maximum strength is 700 tons)
(his powers and abilities are still improving; it requires training and lots of pushing his powers to the limit before they improve)


Loyalty:
Any cause he believes in but also the Wanderers


Description:
He is 6’2”, is 200 lbs of muscle, has short dirty blond hair and eyes that are blue with yellow mixed in around the pupils. He prefers to wear athletic wear that's blue and black. His most notable facial features are his chiseled cheek bones and piercing stare.

Personality:
Rick is naturally a kind, caring, loyal, loving, gentle, and good person. At the core of his being he will always be those things no matter what. However, not many people see that side of Rick because his life has been full of abuse, cruel living conditions, countless attempts of people trying to kill him, killing people with his own hands, and extended periods of time away from human society.

The personality that most people see is the silent, serious, stubborn, strong willed, distrusting, violent, loner who is way too willing to take another person’s life. Many people consider him to be a monster because they have never seen any emotion that resembles remorse from him, which is caused by Rick’s need to “protect” himself at all times by staying “strong”. Rick doesn’t sleep much because that’s when his remorse comes out, in the form of horrific nightmares. People see him as a “might makes right” kind of person because he’s bad at using diplomacy and he excels at fighting. He will therefore attempt to solve most problems with violence. Rick’s anti-hero tendencies paint him a villain, causing more friction between him and others.

Everything that Rick does is an attempt to passively reach his life goals which are: Using his powers for the good of the world, become a hero, and be a part of and/or start, a family. His powers are only good for battle so at every opportunity he will fight for a worthy cause, once found he’ll put himself in harm’s way to protect more important people and those he cares about. He’s been known to stand up and protect those who aren’t strong enough or powerful enough to protect themselves. Rick does fear getting close to people because whenever he has, that person or people get killed.

On any given moment Rick is most likely to be gazing off in distance in contemplation.


Skills:
  1. Seasoned warrior and hunter
  2. If he's breathing he's still fighting
  3. He’s very resourceful and creative in battle
  4. His lightning bolts aren't usually exploitable
  5. He has a natural resistance to heat and cold (not impervious too it)
  6. Rick excels in adapting to the worst situations especially in battle
  7. He's willing to push his body, mind, and soul beyond their limits no matter the cost
  8. Trained in kickboxing, martial arts, submission grappling, and using various weapons
  9. Conditioned his body to function even under dire circumstances (starvation, extreme pain, extreme weather conditions, lack of sleep)

Weaknesses:
  1. He's not highly educated
  2. Mental Attacks hurt him the most
  3. His static powers can be exploited
  4. He's hasn't mastered any of his fighting styles
  5. Every time he goes to sleep he has terrible nightmares
  6. He has a tendency to rely heavily on his powers to defeat enemies (especially lightning bolts)

Brief History:
A local orphanage agreed to let Erubesco take their pick of children in exchange for money. One little boy showed more potential than all the other children. Both the boy’s enhanced strength and electrical output consistently grew each year and he was selected for experimentation. That boy was Rick Ronin. Erubesco was confident that they draw out his full potential and quickly got to work.

Rick spent years living at a Erubesco Lab, specifically in a giant tube which was filled daily with different experimental goo. He was implanted with false memories so he could be better controlled once the experiments worked. The false memories were working perfectly and the higher ups were sure that they could utilize those painful memories as a catalyst for him needing a better life. Rick would be introduced to the ideals of Erubesco making him a loyal Knight who believes that the Erubesco way is best for the whole world. But success never came. For the boy’s body and powers seemed to resist every treatment and experiment in Erubesco’s arsenal.

One more chance.

A large thin rod like device was implanted directly into Rick’s chest; it was a power enhancing device. The device was slightly too large to fit completely inside Rick’s body, for the end of it protruded out of the center of his chest. The visible piece was dark blue in color and shaped like a sapphire the size of a quarter. The enhancer was working at maximum capacity for a week but still there was no sign increased power from Rick.

He was prematurely deemed a failure and immediately taken off life support and hastily thrown away. Such a disposal of a corpse was completely against protocol and the parties responsible were severely disciplined. Erubesco officials were sent out to correct this mistake but failed to find the body, it was gone. Before the officials could reach him, Rick’s heart was restarted by a sudden of burst electricity once the power enhancing device finally started working with his powers. After reviving, Rick simply wondered off.

Throughout the rest of his life, Rick’s newly enhanced powers, of super strength and the ability to create and manipulate lightning, kept him safe from the barrage of attacks by all sorts of people. He lived a difficult and dangerous life but his implanted memories started altering his perception of reality. What really happened to Rick during those years is a mystery but his personality suggests that he was, at one point, raised by wolves. It is confirmed that Rick erupted with lightning firing off in all directions. The result was the complete destruction of an entire population of a large city. It was a dark stain on his soul that has only gotten darker over time. Eventually he became aware of the Liberty vs. Erubesco war when he met Dawn. She was a younger girl who was in trouble with some dangerous folk, so he took care of them for her. Rick decided to look after her like a older brother and they then met Drake, a young man who constantly butted heads with Rick. However, after Rick rescued Drake the two of them started getting along. The three stuck together and protected one another and eventually founded the Wanderers, a group dedicated to helping one and other live safely from the warring Factions and other threats. But tensions rose too high between Rick and the others and he left the group dropping off the map to the Factions and Wanderers alike.

Time passed without incident until one day everything went wrong. The power enhancing device shut down, Rick’s implanted memories started to break apart, and he was attacked by a random group of thugs. With his powers nearly non-existent, Rick could only rely on his rudimentary kickboxing skills and slightly higher than average strength for his size.

The result was losing all of the supplies taken for his journey, a savage beating, and the death of his one remaining friend, Belle. The thugs got away with minor injuries. Rick must now face his warped reality alone, once again.


Other:

[list]
[*]If you are one of the few people who has earned Rick's trust and friendship then you have a powerful warrior who'll put his life on the line to protect you no matter what (like a guard dog).
[*]If you choose to be Rick's enemy then there's nothing he won't do to take you down no matter how long it takes (like a wolf on the hunt).
[*]If you leave Rick alone then he'll leave you alone (like a bumble bee)

So begins...

Rick Ronan's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rick Ronan
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

*(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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rick Ronan
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »
  1. I'll be happy to interact with any character, so feel free to bring anyone in.

    by darkshadowolf99
  2. There are libraries in Erubesco, actually. Books are too classy for them to give up so easily. :)

    by Miss Echo
  3. I didn't mean all of Erubesco just that town, but I'll edit it.

    by darkshadowolf99

0.00 INK

Out of the alley back on the main street, Rick didn’t see anyone who was obviously looking for him. No one was pursuing him for his very recent crime.

‘I guess I should consider myself lucky,’ he thought to himself. Remembering the map he stole, Rick walked eastward which was the opposite direction of where the Citadel is located. In the long run it wouldn’t make him much safer but it seemed to be safest direction to go, based on the little information he had. His map only had street names, major landmarks, and the rough location where the Wastelands were.

Food, information, and training were the three objectives for him to locate. Rick’s stomach rumbled, “Shut up,” Rick said punching himself in the gut. He winced for a moment not expecting the punch to hurt as much as it did.

He wandered on.

‘Apparently most of my pain tolerance came from my super strength, without it…I’ll have to build it back up the hard way.’ As he traveled through the business district of the town, Rick hit himself in the stomach with his fists. He didn’t hit himself real hard just with a consistent amount of force. It didn’t take long for a dull heated pain to develop in his stomach from the strikes. His stomach growled angrily in protest but Rick continued.

‘It’ll be worth it,’ he thought to himself. From time to time he switched up his target to his ribs, chest, and even his face. The people walking by stared at the strange man whom was beating himself. Rick wanted to be annoyed by the negative attention but he couldn’t blame them. ‘I must look pretty stupid,’ he admitted to himself.

Time passed and still Rick only found office buildings. No food stores, no martial arts dojo, and no library.

He stopped, ‘I need a new strategy…if I had my super strength I could leap high into the sky and take a look around or if I had my lightning powers then I could lightning propel myself around the town until I found what I was looking for…but then I wouldn’t to stay in this town in first place…’

Rick looked around; many of the office buildings were tall. One of the buildings had brick ledges underneath each window. Rick stepped up on the first ledge the length and width of which was just large enough for Rick’s frame. Though his heels did hang off the side a bit. The strength of the ledge seemed to be enough to hold his weight. Rick reached up above his head to grab the ledge of the window a level above him. He pushed off with his feet and pulled up with his arms.

Rick rested his chest on the ledge, he rested for a second before he pushed his body up high enough to get a foot up onto the ledge. He brought his second foot up as he pushed and pulled himself up. Rick held onto the frame of the window to steady himself as he got up. He repeated this process until he was halfway up the building, his limbs where starting to shake and his energy was nearly depleted.

The window he was in front of opened up suddenly, “What are you doing up here? Are you crazy?” a man asked from behind the open glass. The startled Rick didn’t know what to say. “Seriously man you’re going to get yourself killed. Come inside and walk down the steps to the ground floor,” the man insisted.

“I need to get to the roof, I’ll get there one way or another,” Rick responded with confidence.

“One way or another huh? If it’s all the same to you, why don’t you come inside and use the stairs to get to the roof?” the man asked.

Rick was taken aback by the suggestion, ‘It couldn’t be that easy,’ he thought to himself, his response to the man was in the same vein. “I wouldn’t be allowed to.”

“Did you try asking?”

“…”

“So instead of trying the simplest way, because you were afraid to ask, you just decided to try the dumbest most dangerous way instead?”

“…”

“Come on inside,” the man used his telepathy to pull Rick inside the building placing him gently feet first on the ground. He closed the window, locked it, and then gestured outward with his hand towards the stairs. “This way crazy man,” he led the way with Rick following not far behind. Rick stayed quiet deep in thought while they walked up the numerous steps.

The man escorted Rick to the top level to a large meeting room. “This isn’t the roof,” Rick said plainly.

“Well, you were right, we actually don’t allow people on the roof for no reason but since you are so determined I will offer you the next best thing.” The man unlocked the meeting room door letting them both inside. It was a standard meeting room full of chairs, a long table, and office supplies. The room also had many large windows on each side of the room allowing Rick to see out in all directions. “If you’re trying to kill yourself don’t bother, I’ll stop you with my telepathy,” the man informed Rick.

Rick went to the closest window immediately taking in the sights of the town. “It’s nothing like that…I’m just looking…” No matter which window he looked through Rick only saw more office buildings.

“Glad to hear it…find what you were looking for?” the man asked.

Rick stepped away from the window he was currently at, “No,” he said heading for the door. “Thanks for bringing me here anyway.”

“What were you looking for?”

“Nothing.”

“Seriously? You think that’s going to fly with me? I caught you scaling up the side of my work building; you must’ve been looking for something important. Come on crazy man, maybe I can help you find it.”

“…” Rick was looking at the man like he had three heads which were glowing with different colors.

“What? You’re afraid to ask again? Do you just prefer to do things the hard way or-”

“I’m just used to it,” Rick interrupted. “I…I’m looking for a library.” Rick’s stomach growled loudly. “And…a place where I can get some free food,” Rick added sheepishly.

The man pulled a smart phone out of his dress pants pocket quickly jumping onto the internet.

**** “Libraries are obsolete you should check out our Information Stations, they have top of the line technology and work like a high tech internet café,” the man informed Rick. Rick stared blankly at the man.

“Or…you could use a library…the closest one here is by the out skirts of town not far from the Citadel.”

“No.” Rick’s almost fearful reaction, or as fearful as Rick gets at least, earned a surprised look from the business man. Thinking quickly, “It’s too far. I need something closer.”

“Sorry there isn’t anything closer. Unless, you checkout an Information Station… it looks like there is one… at Jeffway Road and Crandwalk Avenue. You’re not going to find anything closer, do you want to know where that is?” *****

Rick opened his map holding it out to the man, “Can you show me on the map?” Rick asked.

“Look at that, you can ask for help. I’m proud of you.” He said taking the map before pulling out a clicky topped pen from his tailored suit pocket. The man, who clicked the top of the pen to open it, was in his forties looking successful and well-to-do. Even his pen was fancy looking.

“Okay, we are here,” he said showing Rick as he spoke. The man placed a black mark on the map indicating where they were now. “Over here is Jeffway Road and this is where it intersects with Crandwalk Avenue which is where the Information Station is, you’ll be able to get the same knowledge that you would from an old fashioned library but way more convenient.”

The man made another black mark on the map to indicate the Information Station. “As for free food you’re out of luck. Every food place requires payment. But if you’re truly desperate for food there might be one option you could try.” The man made another mark on the map that was much farther away from the other two marks. “If you find yourself down this way look up my old neighbors, they are a lonely old couple who lost all of their kids in the war. They might be willing to take you in for a few days in exchange for company. You’ll probably have to endure an earful of long tedious stories with no punch lines though. And if you ever need anything you can come by here and I’ll help you out however I can.”

Rick took back his map from the man, “Why did you help me and would you keep helping me?” he asked.

“Why not?” he answered.

The map was placed back inside Rick’s pocket. “Thank you.” Rick said simply as he left the room.

“Just ask for Andrew if you decide to come back!” the man called out.

Rick made his way down the steps and out the building. His destination was the Information Station but his mind was on Andrew and what just happened.

Rick’s view of the world and himself was starting to change.

Arriving at the Information Station, Rick found himself at a complete loss at what to do. There were about a dozen visors attached to big black metal boxes and twice as many laptops attached to a desk. He made his way further inside cringing slightly from his hunger pains. Rick walked past the few people who were situated by a desk and a machine. Rick looked around trying to find the books.

‘That Andrew guy said I could find books here. Or wait. No, he said that I could get information here just like a library,’ he reminded himself. ‘So could that mean there aren’t any books in this place?’ looking around verified his theory to be correct. There were no books in the room at all. ‘How am I supposed to learn about electricity, lightning, and martial arts without any books?’

What Rick didn’t know is that the laptops had access to the internet and the visors attached to the metal boxes were actually the latest in virtual reality learning software and both were more than capable of providing the information Rick was seeking.

Rick sat down in front of a random laptop and clutched his stomach while his stomach growled. Part of him wondered if he was in the wrong place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rick Ronan
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »
  1. Saff is supposed to be the lady with the cell phone that Rick sees.

    by darkshadowolf99
  2. Saff dashed off into an alley before making the call though?

    by ianna_334
  3. After I wrote the post I had a feeling that Saff wouldn't be visible to Rick. I'm glad I left it anonymous.

    by Anonymous

0.00 INK

GRrrWllll!

Rick’s stomach growled earning it another swift punch. A young lady nearby noticed the commotion and spectacle but stayed quiet. Rick noticed her but didn’t pay her much mind. He looked back at the laptop in front of him, black and slender. The machine was closed much like all the other ones that weren’t in use. The ones that were in use were open.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a blue screen, Rick turned toward it seeing the open laptop of a young man getting ready to play some internet games. Rick looked back at the machine before him then back at the young man’s machine. He looked at the young lady’s machine as well before looking back at his again. He lifted the front to an upright position revealing the true nature of the machine to him.

‘It’s a computer, a smaller version of those large desktop computers back at the gifted boarding school,’ he thought to himself. Rick’s memory of sitting inside the boarding school’s computer lab learning how to write a term paper cracked, splintering into many fragments. That memory was replaced by a different memory, one where he saw Erubesco scientists typing away on nearby computers while other scientists stuck needles of experimental liquid into him. That memory was replaced by one of him standing outside an electronics store. Rick was looking through the window to see one of the store employees demonstrating how a computer works to a customer.

The splintered memories caused pain to swell up in his head; Rick winced and shut his eyes as he tried to push all three memories to the back of his mind. When his eyes opened moments later his hands were on his face and his breathing was erratic. He dropped his hands to his lap revealing the young lady staring at him with a concerned yet puzzled look. Rick looked away from her deciding to focus on the open computer in front of him.

‘Which memories are real and which are fake?’ he asked himself. Rick sighed knowing that there was no real way to know.

His breathing returned to normal and he turned on the computer, it took a few minutes for the screen to completely load and it took another few minutes for Rick to remember which icon on the desktop accesses the internet. With that taken care of Rick got started on his first inquiry.

/What is electricity?/ He typed into the search engine. A dozen websites popped up offering to lower his electricity bill. Rick scrolled down to a simple dictionary definition that basically described electricity as energy that specifically comes from charged particles.

As Rick continued his research he learned about the building blocks of atoms and how atoms become positively and negatively charged. He learned how electrical currents work and how static electricity works. He also learned how draining it is to learn something new after nearly starving to death.

His brain started shutting down, his eyelids weakened, his upper body slumped but his hunger pains kept him awake. Clutching one hand on his stomach, Rick used his free hand to pantomime what he was learning while mouthing what was written on the computer. Rick has an unorthodox way of learning. Every once in awhile he tried to keep himself from wincing in pain.

“Excuse me, are you okay?” a gentle feminine voice asked Rick.

Rick looked up to see the young lady who was just across from him, is now standing right next to him.

“I’m fine,” Rick assured her.

“Are you sure? Because I couldn’t help but notice how much pain you’re in and the odd hand waving. Honestly I’m worried about you.” She held firm to her suspicion.

“I’M-” Rick cut himself off after seeing the genuine concern in her eyes. Rick’s voice softened as he continued, “I’m…just…really hungry. That’s all. Thank you for your concern.” Rick went back to staring at his computer while the lady hurried back to her seat. He thought that was the end of it but she returned not a minute later with her backpack in hand. The pack was opened with one of her hands rifling through it.

“I don’t have much to offer but I should still have ah ha! Do you like nuts?” she asked Rick.

An unnecessary question for Rick, as a person who ate anything to survive the taste of food was a luxury he couldn’t afford.

“Food is food,” he responded.

“Great. I have cashews, peanuts, a partially smashed nutria grain bar, a granola bar, and some jerky I hope this okay.” The lady placed each item of food on the table by Rick’s left hand. Before Rick could answer the young man who was playing internet games was suddenly next to him speaking.

“Seriously dude, take my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and this orange, oh and you nearly passed out several times so you’ll need this energy drink if you’re going to finish studying.” Now there was a pile of food by Rick’s right hand.

The young man continued speaking but this time to the young lady, “I’m glad you spoke up, I was too embarrassed to ask if he was alright.”

“I’m glad too, I almost didn’t but-”

Rick didn’t hear the rest of the conversation; he was engrossed by the display of kindness surrounding his hands. In the background, the young man’s game ended due to his lack of playing. Rick picked up the jerky, opened it, and started devouring it. All the while he ate with his eyes watering.

“Dude, are you crying?”

Rick put his hand to his face feeling for tears. “I guess not,” he said simply already finished the jerky and now working on the cashews.

“What’s wrong? Did we say something to upset you?” the lady asked.

“No. I’m sorry…I just…I’m not used to being treated…with such kindness, especially for no reason…thank you both so much,” Rick thanked them now tearing into the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Both the guy and girl smiled brightly. “No problem dude,” he said. “Of course, take care of yourself okay?” she implored.

Rick nodded and the two headed back to their seats. Rick took a deep cleansing breath regaining his composure.

“Ah man, oh well, I guess I have to start over,” the young man said restarting his game.

As Rick ate, his stomach calmed and the pain subsided. His energy was returning and he no longer felt sleepy.

‘Everyone in this town has been so nice to me. Even that lady behind the counter at the store was nice to me until I stole that food. The guy I knocked over wasn’t nice to me but at least he was standing up for that woman and the store in general. I can’t believe how wonderful these people are and they live under the Erubescan rule,’ he thought to himself.

Rick changed topics to lightning while he continued to eat the remaining food and drink the energy drink. He was awake thanks to the food and amped up thanks to the energy drink. Rick was going through information at twice the pace as before.

‘Okay, if I understand this correctly, lightning forms in cumulous clouds. When rain, snow, or ice particles bounce off each other enough to cause an imbalance in positive or negative charges inside the cloud, then nature will try to correct itself by using lightning,’ he thought to himself paraphrasing what he learned.

He continued to think, ‘Each lightning strike is different and has several different ways it can work but a common way lightning will strike is through the cloud to ground method. In that method the clouds get overly negatively charged and the ground gets overly positively charged. The air between the clouds and the ground create a buffer that keeps the charges from reaching each other. But eventually the pressure between the charges becomes too much and the charges link up to create the electricity known as lightning. Now what allows the charges to link up?’

Rick reread a specific part of the internet article again. ‘In the cloud to ground lightning strike something called a stepped latter, no, a stepped leader forms from the clouds and goes down to the ground. The ground creates a streamer…a streamer is the same thing as a stepped leader…what’s the difference? Oh, okay. So leaders go down from the clouds looking for positive charges while streamers start from the ground and go up looking for negative charges. So they are doing similar things but going in opposite directions and they are searching for the opposite charges. Got it, but I still feel like I’m missing something. Channels, they mention channels a few times, what are channels? Channels are holes in the air that allows either the stepped leaders to transport negative charges down or streamers to transport positive charges up. When stepped leaders and streamers meet the result is lightning. Lighting neutralizes the extra charges until it builds up again starting the process over. Cool, I think I got it. Wait what’s this? St. Elmo’s fire? Apparently that’s a bluish or greenish glow that forms around things coming out of the ground, which is caused by the buildup of positive charges. If something has St. Elmo’s Fire wouldn’t it be struck by lightning since stepped leaders are searching for positive charges? Oh, it says that if you see St. Elmo’s Fire then lightning will probably strike soon.’

Rick closed out of the internet and shut down the computer. ‘I don’t think my brain can take anymore research for today. But this was a good first step, I have a lot to think about,’ he thought to himself. He got up and threw away the trash from the devoured food and stuffed the nutria grain bar and the granola bar in his pockets for later, the rest was eaten. He headed for the door but stopped by the glass door. There was a lady outside talking on a cell phone, Rick got the feeling that she was stressed about something but he dismissed it as his imagination. He looked back at the two people at the computers.

“Thanks again you two, I really appreciate what you did for me. You have no idea how much you helped me.”

The two gave a generic response. Rick’s eyes caught the other machines with goggle like items attached to metal boxes.

‘I wish I knew what those were.’ He then remembered that business guy named Andrew and the lesson he taught him.

“Hey, how do those things work?” he asked less awkwardly than he expected. The young man launched into an overly complicated explanation of the science behind the virtual reality machine all of which went completely over Rick’s head.

“Can you explain it simpler than that?”

The lady answered this time, “Basically just put the visor around your head and over your eyes. Then think about the topic you want to learn about and the machine does the rest.”

“Really? That’s awesome.”

The lady smiled, “Yes, I guess it is…you’re not from around here are you?”

“No, not at all.”

The setting changes from the-wasteland to The Citadel

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle Character Portrait: Rick Ronan Character Portrait: Nathan Chandler Character Portrait: Lindsey Nightingale Character Portrait: Makorai Saika Character Portrait: Cadriel Character Portrait: Jack Rousimoff
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As Commander Botrelle's briefing rang out in the teleportation bay and through the communicators of those absent, Lindsey's lithe figure was dashing down a hall. A string of curses was rapidly coming out of her mouth as she ran quickly to the bay. As she practically flew, she managed to avoid hitting people carrying paperwork or hot coffee. "I shouldn't be late! I am such an idiot!!" She thought angrily to herself as she reached the room. She hurried inside and quickly got into line with her comrades. "Yes, ma'am." She answered quickly, hearing her question.

~

Nathan looked to the door as Lindsey entered hastily. He held back a sigh and simply looked to the ceiling for a moment before nodding to Botrelle. "Yes ma'am." He responded calmly. His attention was since again redirected as Makorai entered the room. He watched the fellow sniper with narrowed eyes, catching his drunken slur. Hiding his disdain, he prayed that this wouldn't be a problem for their mission.

The setting changes from the-citadel to The Wasteland

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.