art by bottleshark
Vocal sample: Ramir berates an ex while dressed as a gnome.
Character Name: Ana Ramír
Ramir's world is one where the fact that humankind has spread beyond its home planet is pretty routine and mundane. It's been about 300 years since then, maybe. Since making contact with the rest of the universe, humans don't really keep that calendar anymore. There are universal standards for all sorts of things, timekeeping among them.
Earth still holds a special place for many humans though, and going to visit it can be a nostalgic thing even if you were born elsewhere. It's the planet where all the technology was made to fit someone about your size, where all the food will be digestible without having to worry about base compounds, where you really don't have to think too hard about whether or not someone will be sexually compatible with you. It's nice. Earth is a bit run down and a bit tapped out, and there isn't much left that isn't city (New York City is now most of the US East Coast), but humans defend its reputation proudly. And thanks to advances learned from other races regarding interstellar travel, Earth is never really more than a(n Earth) month's worth of travel away, and not too expensive to book fare to for a visit to the old home world. It's not exactly a luxury destination to most of the universe, after all. (They've all seen better fjords on other planets, sorry.)
Ramir's planet in particular, Focolare, is in a pretty far corner of the universe, bordering on mostly empty and unexplored space. It's the last pitstop into the wild space-west. Most of the atmosphere is swampy, a damp mix of land and sluggish water, excepting the poles. There are no native sentient species, but humans and a few other species have settled it and begun making towns and cities. They're all quite new as far as settlements go, with Ramir's city being the biggest and oldest at about 120 years. These settlements have all had enough time to flourish and then quickly start to fall into disrepair. The atmosphere of the planet isn't kind to building materials, the water level rises yearly, and no one offplanet cares enough to pipe in the funding to fix any of these issues. The various species coexisting do so peacefully enough, although they tend to stick to their own kind. Law enforcement and government reflect that, with various sections meant to represent each species present in the population. The economy is tipping downward along with the environment, but life goes on.
There was nothing particularly exciting about Elisabetta Faraldo. She was born in a relatively well-off family in the small city of Taranto, Focolare and, generally speaking, wanted for nothing. She was a content child, if a little overly curious and too adventurous for her own sake. She had a vivid imagination who always found her surroundings too dull, and was continually disappointed by the way her life was exactly nothing like the exciting lives in movies and comics. But she did the best with what she had, even if it earned her a reputation for terrorizing other children.
Things picked up a little after a visit to her father by an older woman, when Elisabetta was 8. Elisabetta, spying and hoping for a clandestine meeting as she was wont to do, learned that this woman was her estranged grandmother, Jolanda Faraldo. That was pretty interesting. She also picked up that her grandmother was involved in something that her father wanted absolutely no part of, much to her grandmother’s apparently continued disappointment. That and the obvious strife between them was enough to pique Elisabetta's interest. She promptly stowed herself in the hatch of her grandmother’s ship in the hangar and hitched a ride all the way back to where ever her grandmother had come from, because that's definitely the sort of thing that happens in movies.
Her destination turned out to be a beautiful estate in the countryside of Randa, the largest city on Focolare, which was considerably more populated and busy than Elisabetta had expected. She was caught even before she’d had much of a chance to explore, and promptly presented to her grandmother, the donna Faraldo, who seemed a little more important here than Elisabetta had counted on. She headed everything and tell everyone what to do, actually, in the most impressive way. Fortunately, her grandmother was amused at the audacity of her granddaughter. She didn’t send her home, and even helped Elisabetta concoct the excuse of a summer camp to explain her absence.
Elisabetta had found a home away from home. She stayed there as often as she could for the next 7 years, growing up in the middle of what she began to discover was the head of a criminal organization. Her grandmother and her grandmother’s men took to calling her Taranto, which Elisabetta had no qualms about. It was a better name than her own was for this kind of a place. Less stuffy, more important. Her grandmother was pleased to have her granddaughter around, after the disappointment her only son had caused when he proved to want nothing to do with the family business. She was happy to educate “Taranto” about whatever she wanted to know, and was delighted that the girl was so interested in the proceedings. And of course, Taranto began to learn about the donna Faraldo, too. She learned that even in her old age, the woman had a curious strength and hardiness that had saved her and her men countless times. She'd even survived dozens of attempts on her life, shootings, stabbings, you name it. She had a reputation for being made of steel, and all enemies feared her. Taranto was fully enamored.
But these things never really last. Tensions between various groups within the city were rising, and someone caught onto the importance of Taranto and her family to the donna Faraldo. Elisabetta was followed home, somewhere that had always been seen as safe by virtue of distance and non-involvement, leading a hit man from a rival group to his targets. When she was 15 her parents were shot to death as a message to donna Faraldo. Jolanda immediately regretted keeping young and inexperienced Elisabetta around somewhere so suddenly risky, and banned her from anything to do with the Faraldo family practice. She sent her into foster care, which Elisabetta would have none of. Maybe it was the shocked grief of suddenly losing both parents, and now her grandmother on top of that. Or maybe she’d just seen exactly what she wanted, and it was not the life a loving foster family would provide.
She left. She changed her name, buried her grief, covered her tracks, and hitched a ride off-planet. She knew where she was going: Earth. That was where defeated action heroes always rediscovered themselves in movies, and that was where she would find herself. She was determined to become the kind of person that the donna Faraldo would find useful — not a little girl that had to be protected and sent away when it was dangerous, but someone who could earn their place in the family. Ana Ramir begun to take shape on the foundations of Elisabetta and Taranto. She traveled further still, wandering her way through old Europe and picking up languages and skills. She made it to New York City by the time she was 18 and quickly learned the rules of harsh living in the sprawling, cutthroat megatropolis. (Step one was to lose the English accent she’d learned, and pick up an American accent instead. It makes you less of a target.)
It was part way into her second year in the US when a curious thing happened: she began to change. Just a little bit at first. Sometimes she lifted things easily that grown men had trouble with, sometimes during a dash after some petty crime or another, her second wind kicked in and never left again. But when an outbreak of violence caught up with her in the Bronx and a knife actually broke off rather than pierce her skin, Ramir knew she was really onto something. Something genetic, maybe. Definitely something that would let her finally come home and prove Jolanda proud.
She had just snagged a phone with the right interplanetary plan to contact Jolanda when a call came through to her, instead. Jolanda's finest tech guy, someone new she hadn't met yet, had finally found her, and was reaching out to her on behalf of exactly the people she'd just been trying to rejoin. The excitement didn't last, though. 3 months ago, she learned, the enemies of the donna Faraldo had finally gotten to her, and drowned the aging woman in the Platani River. He explained his idea, that it would really boost the morale to have Jolanda's own granddaughter back among them and leading the charge in her stead. Ramir agreed, of course. It was the worst possible homecoming she could imagine, but... from the sound of it, there was work to do back home. She'd think about the rest of it later.
It's from shortly after her arrival back on Focolare that she'll be taken.
Ramir knows what she wants. She knows what she wants, and it's very likely she has a plan to get it — or at the very least, the will to throw herself into the deep end and flail around wildly until she manages to snag what she was after. You know, whatever works. This seems to be her strategy for most things, actually. Make a loud, crass ruckus, and end up with what you want. Ramir has learned that she can achieve almost anything by being loud, obnoxious, overly confident, and persistent enough. Most of the rest of the world gives up more quickly than she does when it comes to butting heads with people, which is very handy when your livelihood depends on your reputation. And it's not like Ramir is ever after anything too unreasonable. Mostly. She just wants to scrounge up enough money to make it through the day/week/month, maybe pocket anything that looks interesting, and possibly become the head of a criminal organization. She's pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to get her to her next goal, whatever that happens to be at the time — and most of her goals are motivated by keeping herself amused.
There's something under all the loud obnoxiousness she keeps up, though. Underneath it all, Ramir is collection of slyer traits: clever, ambitious, and observant. She's clever enough to have survived on her own from age 15 onward, ambitious enough to have decided to work toward a high position in a criminal family from age 11 onward, and observant enough to know her way around people. She knows how to read them, even while she's being her over-the-top self. She knows how to gauge the people around her, who not to trust, and what strategy to use to get what she wants out of someone. True, that last one is a work in progress, and she's still not as good at it as her personal hero (good old granny), but she's working on it. The donna Faraldo could manipulate with the very best of them, and passed on plenty of lessons to young Taranto. Her learned manipulations range from slow and subtle, to outright and blunt. She knows how to compliment, how to make someone feel interesting and liked. She knows how to turn on the charm and good humor, the better to raise her target's mood and likeliness to grant a favor — and she knows to reward helpfulness and goodwill with praise and return favors. These are the nice manipulations, the sort she learned to use when she it's best to build good relationships and secure herself repeat benefactors.
And then there's the other side of the spectrum that Jolanda taught her, the sort to use when she doesn't need a friend of someone, only to get her desired outcome. There's always blackmail, of course, and no good schemer is above that. Threats of physical violence are handy, but only if you're completely ready and able to back them up. A little more subtle is an appeal to her target's pride: playing the part of a humbled loser, ready to admit defeat, the all better to turn the tables with a sudden and unexpected attack. Above all else, donna Faraldo taught her, when you strike, make it the last strike.
...These are the things she knows, but then, of course, employing them is another matter sometimes. Her loud act isn't just an act. She really is brash and impulsive, motivated by self-interest and whatever seems like most fun at the time, and she definitely has a temper. Her anger is loud and explosive, just like the rest of her temperament, but it blows over and goes forgotten almost immediately. Really, there isn’t very much that really gets to her. She’ll have petty fights with just about anyone, friend or not, and half the time she’s decided to forget it and be friends again before the end of the encounter. (The other half the time she has a plan to get malicious and probably hilarious revenge — but don’t worry, things will be even after that. No need for a grudge.)
That is, unless she's actually hurt or wronged. Those who seriously wrong her find a colder anger and a grudge that can hold out for years. This side of her doesn't come up very often, though, and there hasn't been too much in her life that can't be solved by a few rounds of shouting and some traded punches… But there is one large thing that Ramir carries a spark of lasting anger for. One thing that, if she were to consciously think about it, could fan the flames into a truly passionate rage that would never simply blow out on its own. One thing that is actually too large to consider right now: the group that murdered her parents and finally got to her grandmother. She doesn’t think about them. She can’t. Not yet, not while the wounds are fresh, and while she has so much to learn. Because when that anger rises, she knows there won’t be any setting it aside until she’s torn apart and ruined whoever was responsible. She’s not ready for that quest quite yet. She has too much growing to do before she can deal a blow worthy of all of her loses, so she simply hasn’t consciously addressed it within herself yet. That anger is kept tucked safely away inside.
There’s one last side that comes up even more rarely than Ramir’s serious anger. That’s the side of Elisabetta Faraldo, who lost both her parents in one loud, explosive night, and then was cast from the side of her favorite person in the world in response. While Ramir will eventually let herself feel the rage over this, Elisabetta is the one that harbors the grief, and there are no plans to release it. This side of her also desperately wants to prove herself worthy of love and warmth, and craves finding what she had with Jolanda again. She wants to find the sense of beloved importance she had with her, she wants to be someone’s favorite. She wants her family. She’s willing to go to great lengths to get that, and it could easily prove the root of dozens of bad decisions. If anyone manages to worm past her learned suspicions and street smarts, or begins to fulfill those unexpressed cravings of hers, they would find themselves with an intense and possibly ill-advised loyalty, transplanted straight from her relationship with Jolanda. Ramir might tell herself that this is just her drive to build up a trusted family like donna Faraldo had, but it’s more than that. She’s easily able to be blinded by affection for anyone who reminds her of what she’s lost, and she would give away too much to keep that connection, should she find it. It’s a weakness she’s not only unaware of, but happy to have exploited if it would mean even just the illusion of familial love.
Superstrength: Not quite Superman levels, but it's close. She could easily pick up a car and throw it at someone, but bigger feats of strength will take training and growing.
Invulnerability: Unless you've got one hell of a weapon, she generally can't be shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned with any lasting effect. Her skin repels cuts, her bones resist force, and even fire can't do much more than singe. A lightsaber would probably do the trick, though. Drowning definitely would.
Enhanced system: She has increased metabolism and stamina, although these aren't on the same level as her strength and invulnerability. They're just, y'know, better than human.