First appearing in Legion of Lawndale Heroes 12.1, ‘The Wild and The Young’, Rafael Thomas Aquinas Vargas is a Cadet Second Class at the United States Academy of Extranormal Studies at Evansville, Indiana, and a member of The Alliance.
The eldest child of a noted historian/adventurer of Latino heritage, Rafael Vargas was born and raised in Los Angeles in an environment of deep-seated intellectual discourse tinged with training on how to effectively defend oneself against all comers (the family had raised the ire of several elements around the globe due to their global expeditions). Given a classical education by his family (who home-schooled him upon the discovery of his powers during second grade), Rafael was scouted by Professor Richard Hiram Blumenberg; he was accepted into the United States Academy of Extranormal Studies and chosen as the second cadet for Training Cadre 2996 (after David Allen Farrington; it was strongly insinuated that Rafael and the other members of the cadre were specifically chosen to compliment or counter David Allen in terms of personality, powers, skills, or combinations of all three). Before attending USAES, Rafael had only displayed the abilities of involuntary probability manipulation (unusual occurrences of ‘good luck’ would occur to him or anyone in his immediate presence) and low-level precognition (being aware of events up to thirty seconds before they occurred); training at the Academy allowed him to develop his powers into full-fledged reality manipulation (in which he can actively alter probabilities), as well as gain conscious control of his probability manipulation. When the members of Cadre 2996 began training in additional specialized training regimens presented to them by the Professor in addition to their other training and educational requirements, the members of the cadre chose Rafael as their team leader (Julia Carlyle was chosen as his deputy); this began his path of leadership training that culminated with his being chosen to succeed Martin Peters as Cadet Commander of Corps (he was Deputy Cadet Commander of Corps during his year as a Cadet Second Class).
In June of 2012, Rafael graduated with the USAES Class of 2012, and received Bachelor of Science degrees in History and Mathematics. Because of his outstanding record and achievements spanning his entire period at USAES, Rafael also received a commission as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the U.S. Navy.
Reality Manipulation: Rafael has the ability to consciously alter reality so as to cause extraordinarily improbable (but not impossible) events to occur. (For example, he could cause the metal in a safe to spontaneously combust by causing the extraordinarily improbably occurrence of sudden and rapid oxidation of the metal to occur, causing ignition rather than rusting. He could also cause the safe to disappear by the sudden and improbable appearance of an inter-dimensional rupture – or by the sudden collapse of the floor beneath it. He could not, however, cause it to simply disappear into thin air.) Rafael can use this power at line-of-sight range, or in any area in which he has a direct view (such as in an enclosed room with video access). He can even affect the metahuman powers of others (for example, Rafael could cause David Allen’s TK-force-charges to self-destruct, or Lindy Lomard’s forcefield to suddenly shut down), but not outright control them. His power is physically draining, and the more improbable the action/event he alters, the greater the physical stress is upon him; it is possibly for him to lose consciousness after using his power (for example, he once was unconscious for several hours after using his power to part the Mississippi River at its widest point and hold it open long enough for several vehicles to travel across the opening). Rafael can also use his power in a ‘time-delay’ fashion; he can alter reality around a person, object or area so as to cause improbable effects/actions to occur without him physically present. The delay on this use of his power is one hour; however, if the conditions needed for the effect do not generally occur as he expected (there are only five persons in the room to watch a football game instead of six;) the intended effect wouldn’t occur.
Probability Manipulation: Rafael also has the power to alter probabilities so as to cause events around a person to affect them in a profoundly positive or negative manner (‘to give them ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’). This power only affects persons, and Rafael can affect as many persons as he wants (unlike his reality manipulation power, this power does not affect him physically). Also, he has to be in the immediate vicinity of his target (within fifty yards) for maximum effect, although he can use his power at line-of sight range (with lesser results). Rafael can actively use this power upon himself; it also works in an unconscious manner when he is in dangerous or stressful situations to allow him ‘good luck’. As with his reality alteration, he cannot use this power to affect events that he has witnessed with his precognitive power (although, due to the involuntary nature of how his ‘good luck’ power works, it does not cause any negative effects on future events).
Mental Defenses: Because of the mental blocks suppressing his precognitive ability, Rafael has a strong mental shielding against mental and emotional controls and manipulation (this includes mental scans and any form of mental/physical takeover of his body or conscious mind).
Rafael formerly possessed limited precognitive powers, allowing him to see up to six hours into the future. For several reasons of a personal nature, Rafael has had these powers suppressed through the means of mental blocks placed in his mind.
Like all members of The Alliance, Rafael wears a team jacket that is laced with Salazarium. His jacket allows him to fly without using his own powers, acts as a form of body armor (also giving some protection against mystical powers and effects), and has a microciever allowing him to stay in touch with the other members of The Alliance (for unknown reasons, they have chosen to not use the telepathic-communication ability that Salazarium allows). Like Lindy Lomard, the left sleeve of his jacket houses a MAGNUMS sleeve, giving him an effective weapon to fight with.
Rafael formerly carried an energy trident; he has given this up in favor of a PFT Weapon (he was inspired by Sandi Griffin’s use of the PFT-M3 CC2 telescoping baton, and now carries one himself). He also has a wristband that allows him to generate a electromagnetically-charged micro-mesh net that he can use to stun and capture adversaries.The wristband carries enough energy to generate five nets.
Rafael is a major in History; his major field of interest is ‘former superpowers’ such as the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany, China under the Khans and the Soviet Union. (His planned subject for his Senior Thesis paper is a comparative analysis of Roman and American political and social evolution as influenced by the perception of and actual use of military forces to advance national goals and act as a moderating force on other nations). He also has a minor in Mathematics, and actually has taken enough classes to declare a second major. Like Maryann Lyter, Rafael has not taken any martial-arts training (besides the required basic hand-to-hand courses), but is highly-skilled in the use of swords and staffs (even without his powers). He is also an excellent shot with pistols.
Rafael is an excellent all-around athlete, but because of his powers (even with the power-suppressant drug ‘flush’available, feels that it would be unsportsmanlike for him to compete. However, this means that he is more than competitive in impromptu games of any sport that he comes across. Rafael also has a penchant for modern (some would say ‘pop’) culture, which he freely acknowledges as his personal ‘guilty pleasure’. Rafael also has some skill as a piano/keyboards player, but is not interested in pursuing it in any major fashion.
- Rafael was nicknamed ‘Roman’ by his family, after his lifelong interest in the Roman Empire. The nickname has not caught on among his fellow cadets. He has a younger brother, Antonio Vargas, who is a young genius (his IQ is in the 180s) who has a scholarship to Grove Hills Academy and is an Ambassador for the school.
- Rafael is 6'1 in height, and weights 185 pounds. He is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Latin (as well as English). Because of his previous skill with Spainsh, Professor Blumenberg chose instead to have Rafael learn Arabic through psionic sleep/teaching methods (the language that the female members of the group learned) as part of his Alliance skills training.
- Rafael plans to attend graduate school after USAES, and eventually gain his doctorates in history and mathematics. Besides David Allen, he is the only member of The Alliance who currently plans to attempt graduate-level education after leaving USAES.
- Rafael always carries several doses of ‘flush’ with him. Each dose can suppress metahuman abilities for one hour.
- Rafael’s middle names come from Saint Thomas Aquinas – the patron saint of students.
- Rafael was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, but has problems with church doctrine on a number of issues (including abortion). He has considered leaving the Church on occasion, even though he still tried to attend services regularly.