Richard is a mysterious and guarded individual, always cautious with those he allows close to him and always expecting the worst. He has shown himself to be a man of integrity, but also has a ruthless streak that very few have witnessed. His clear husky-blue eyes seem all too focused and driven, as though he would tear through any obstacle without hesitation or remorse.
Richard has mentioned offhand on one occasion something called the ‘Von Wolffe Cipher’, but when asked about it afterward he remained tight-lipped and standoffish.
After the attack on the Royal Palace the crew began to notice that Richard began to spend much of his time alone, clearly doing some soul searching after the events in the palace. His once pristine black turtleneck was now grayed with the sands and stained darker where the blood of mercenaries and his own had mingled. By now he had grown a short beard, marked by a lone gash caused by shrapnel he had taken to the face. It would no doubt leave a thin scar despite Splinter’s best administrations, Richard kept shooing him away to see to Devlin.
One evening as the group lay resting up camp under a Bakujistran moon, Richard and Bryan sat on an old dry timber bench facing the darkness beyond the campfire. The aged warrior spoke to the young prince of tactics and the proper application of men in battle. After hearing the stories of Richard’s behavior in battle, Bryan began relating to him the value of cover and why running about in the open was a good way to get oneself killed. Richard was quiet throughout the lecture, but spoke again after a long and uncomfortable silence.
“It’s not that I don’t understand what cover is good for. I can’t stand my own people being harmed. It’s stupid I know. I dragged them out here looking to make a quick buck without hesitation, but when they came under fire… When that grenade hit the Air/Raft I lost it…”
Bryan cleared his throat as they listened to the fire’s crackle and watched the stars come out. Richard seemed to be looking for the words to finish what he had begun.
“I heard them yell as the shrapnel hit them and watched the Raft swerve straight into the dust. I knew I had to get the enemy’s attention as fast as possible. Every round they sent my way was one less aimed at my men… So I rushed them. Yelling even…”
Bryan watched the young man sitting beside him from the corner of his eye. Richard was staring at his hand, or rather at a small metal object inside it. Bryan’s eyes had not yet faded enough to see that it was a set of mercenary dog tags, a set that Sameh had noticed Richard pick up from a dead soldier in the palace.
“It’s funny, I had this notion that I should start up my own mercenary company someday… But I know now that I’m not much of a leader. I couldn’t imagine sending men off to die somewhere. I couldn’t sit in some palace while my men fought to secure my interests. It’s the same damn thing as why I left Ian in the first place… Men getting fat sitting on plush cushions while better men leave their homes to die.”
The tags were a momento Richard had taken from the wounded soldier that had stumbled inside the palace to take shelter from the snipers on the rooftops and had run smack into Richard as he came through the door. Men like Saul had hidden in closets while his men were butchered and he was a man who lead a nation, while this soldier though wounded outmatched and outgunned had raised his rifle knowing he would be killed for it. It was senseless. A slaughter of good men because the devil wanted to sit on his throne of skulls.
In the morning, Richard greeted the party. He seemed to have cast off the gloom that had been bothering him and was once again back to his ‘stick-in-the-mud’ ways. Bryan knew that the young man had gained some confidence since they had spoken. He was a complicated boy, but he would no doubt flourish as time went on. If he could keep from getting himself shot to death long enough.
(August 4, 2011) UPDATE
Time passed, and Richard’s education into the ways of the universe were many and varied. Richard proved himself unflinching in the face of danger time and again on dozens of battlefields, always choosing to stand on the frontline with his men. Following an incident on Knorbes, during which Richard and the members of the Red Dawn mercenary unit were apprehended by Imperial authorities on false charges of Treason and charges against the Empire, Richard dissolved the Red Dawn as a unit.
Out of shame at this unfounded and completely false outrage, Richard abandoned the name of the Red Dawn, sparing it from being dragged through the muck until a fair trial could allow his triumphant return to the public eye. From that time onward, Richard stood alongside his friends and allies as an equal. Though he had not been born into the ranks of nobility, Richard’s title and status had created a great rift between himself and the men he had come to care for, one that could only overcome by voiding their contracts and joining them in a cooperative partnership.
Following the daring escape from the prison ship Gash and misjump into Vargr territory, Richard soon found himself nominated for a Captain’s role over the Veng class ship they had managed to capture over uncertain circumstances. Richard’s ascendancy to the Captaincy was wholly unsupported by the crew he had fought alongside with the Red Dawn, and as tensions flared between crew members the rift between the young Marquis and his friends once again began to widen. Sensing his position and life was in danger following the growing hostilities between himself and both the medical officer Splinter and his close friend and security officer Sarge, Richard knew that his only recourse would be to abdicate the position to keep from coming at odds with them again.
Following a debacle during which a hasty and ill informed decision by Richard lead to 18 MCr worth in materiel was seized by a mercenary unit that had been hired to hunt them down, Richard knew that his time in the hot seat had come to a close. Hostilities from Sarge and Splinter had only worsened over the days, and with this loss Richard had no option but to relieve himself of duty. In an effort to ensure that the Veng could still carry on in a functioning matter on the long return to Imperial space, Richard nominated his close friend Devlin Michael for the position of Captain of the Veng. For the loss of his command, Richard suffered terribly in the eyes of the Vargr crew they had taken on but never accepted formal command from another officer.
This proved to do little to calm the fires between the crew, and after a particularly poorly carried out boarding of a SuSAG lab ship, Richard found himself strapped to a table, tortured and questioned by the very same people he had once called comrades in the Red Dawn. Sarge and Splinter set about accusing Richard of all manners of scheming and treachery, accusations which cut Richard too deeply to ever heal properly. With only the voice of Devlin himself rising in Richard’s defense, the young Marquis knew that the causes he had championed with the formation of the Dawn had fallen; his own men had turned on him. Following his release, Richard swore to himself never again to allow the unworthy to stain his ideals or his vision, vowing to carry it alone and to only allow those that had proven trustworthy to rise under the Banner of the Red Dawn.
Following the demise of Sarge, Richard grew more isolated. He blamed himself for the loss of his mentor, and for allowing something so simple as conflicting views on morality allow him to push a stronger person to so dark a place. Richard cursed himself for his selfishness, knowing that his bleached perspective on morality could not survive in a universe filled with nothing but gray and black. Richard repeated to himself many times during his long and vigorous workouts and studies his new-found mantra; ‘Two in Harmony surpass One in Perfection’. A crew could survive in unity, or crumble alone. Even with that new understanding, Richard could still not bring himself to forgive Splinter for doubting him, nor forgive himself for failing Sarge. Finding solace only in his work aboard the Rising or in the chaotic heat of combat, Richard busied himself day and night with his pursuit of his own worthiness to Lead.
Following his arrival on Seth and subsequent challenge by the planet’s Vargr Champion, Richard resigned himself to leaving the Phoenix once and for all. His goals could never be realized without a Command of his own, and the crew of the Phoenix would never trust him again for his abdication and the loss of Sarge. Richard informed Eth and God of his intent, asking them to pass along a message and a letter of resignation to Devlin on the Rising’s return, as Richard had been confined to his quarters in anticipation of the fight.
But Richard was not alone.
Both Sinclair and Arpad stuck by Richard, a small mercy which motivated and gave Richard hope for his future. Not only that, but the letter of resignation never saw the light of day, as Devlin gave it only a passing glance before destroying it and ordering the crew to halt their journey across the stars to await the recovery of their friend and crewmate. This act saw an evolution in Richard. His eyes were once more alight with the passion he had felt for the causes he had championed in the Marches. Richard took up the Flag he had finally designed and had commissioned, and bearing his new armor he stood tall before the eyes of a World and faced their Champion, dauntless to the last. Though he nearly died doing so, Richard proved himself worthy before all and claimed the title of Champion of Seth. For all intents and purposes, Richard had raised the banner of the Red Dawn even while serving another crew.
Though he may not be leading them, the Rising’s crew deserved his loyalty and protection for as long as he could still draw breath. Even though they had seen him at his weakest, the Rising had come for him when he had stood alone in the face of impossible odds, and with their help the young noble had overcome them. Richard had found his Worth in protecting the crew that had saved him in his darkest hour.
Though he might still be considered inexperienced and naive to the ways of the Universe, Richard continues to face forward unflinchingly, his clear blue eyes alight with resolve and hope for the future. The universe would see the quality of Richard Von Wolffe, and his day would come again.
(August 28, 2011) UPDATE
Sadly Richard’s optimism was not to last long. The long trend of being outvoted on every decision and chastised for the suggestions he did make continued. On confronting the crew about it, he was informed that they did not give half a damn what was important to Richard; his goals were an ‘inconvenience’ and it was suggested that he had better take them elsewhere. Insulted, Richard agreed that would be best. The crew had finally become what he had always feared, a soulless corporate vessel interested only in profit and the path of least resistance. He would no longer risk his life day in and out on the front lines for a group that would cast him aside with nary a thought after all he had done for them.
On 280 Richard Von Wolffe and his trusted comrade Arpad Nisha left the Phoenix Rising, with only a few passing words and a handshake to Devlin and Splinter before they were on their way. Though Richard made no mention to the others of where he was headed, his confidence never wavered and the look in his eye said that he had a plan.
Richard had been in a worse situation than this back on Regina, and this time he still had friends at his back and strength in his arms. There would be no stopping Richard Von Wolffe from clearing his name, winning glory for his Dawn, and returning to Ian as a hero someday.
[Richard’s adventures continue with another group]