Portrayed by Wakeema Hollis
|Birthdate:||May 10, 2000|
|Journal:||Speed of Light|
Since shooting light beams out of your hands and rooming with pop stars is so last season. Not all of us are as jaded as half the adults here.
Monica is the only daughter of a widowed Army sergeant, driven to do her best - including as a mutant.
Character Journal: Speed of Light
Real Name: Monica Rambeau
First Appearance: August 11, 2015
Date of Birth: May 10, 2000
Place of Birth: New Orleans, Louisiana
Relatives: First Sergeant Frank Rambeau (father); Maria Rambeau (mother – deceased)
Relationship Status: Single
Occupation: College student, NYU.
Team Affiliation: X-Men
Monica Rambeau is the only child of career military parents. Her father Frank, born and raised in Louisiana, joined the Marines at a young age as a way of getting away from a dysfunctional family and poor prospects. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq during military operations there, and by the time Monica was in her teens, had reached the rank of first sergeant due to his discipline and leadership. Her mother Maria was from a military family, her father having been a Navy man for his whole life, and when Maria graduated high school, she enlisted as well, eventually joining the Military Police Corps. They met in Afghanistan during Desert Shield in 1990 and married in 1995, having established their relationship would last through various absences due to deployment. They waited until they were relatively ‘settled’ in the States before deciding to have children and Monica was born in 2000 after several years of trying.
Monica’s childhood was typical of a “military brat”. The family moved locations regularly, and she went to several different elementary schools all over the States. As a result, the three of them were a close unit, and as Monica grew older she was as supportive to her parents when one was away as they were to her. She grew up steeped in military culture, with recruits as babysitters and training equipment as her playground. Obedient, confident and just a bit sassy, she was often the favorite on the various bases they lived on. She wasn’t perfect, but any means, having a stubborn streak that made it difficult to change her mind once she’d decided on something, but she tended to be helpful and self-sufficient and responsible beyond her years. Even as a child, she had a tendency, fostered by her parents’ talk of their military service and why they had to leave for periods of time or move to another place, to protect those smaller and weaker than herself, and would often get into fights at school while defending the younger children from bullies. In order to help her self-confidence and to protect herself, her parents taught her the Marines-style martial arts. Monica is proficient, but not an expert, and knows how to take care of herself and others.
Aware of the highly-mobile life she led and the temporary nature of her relationships, Monica always held part of herself back from others and her friendships were only so close and no more. She was also suspicious and guarded with people who tried to get too close
In 2008, while deployed in Iraq, Marie Rambeau was killed by a roadside bomb. Frank and 8 year old Monica were devastated by her loss, but true to the Marine way, Frank seldom spoke of his grief and Monica, as always, took her lead from him. Frank requested transfer overseas in a training capacity, in order to remove himself and his daughter from the constant reminders of their loss and to try and prevent Monica losing another parent in the Middle East. After living in Okinawa for two years and South Korea for another year, the Rambeaus were then transferred to Germany and the Marine base there, where they would remain until 2015.
Monica reveled in the four years in one place. While she remained somewhat guarded – and no-one really noticed, since they were all military kids and all did the same thing – she allowed herself to open up more than usual and she made a number of close friends at the Department of Defence Dependents’ school she attended. An average student in most subjects she relied on her hard work rather than natural genius to attain a solid grade point average and make her father proud. Although still deciding for sure, she began to entertain thoughts of a career in law enforcement or maybe international politics, as her father was adamant that she would not join the military and instead have a more normal life than he had had. At home, she took on the responsibility of preparing the meals, doing the laundry and making sure her father was taking care of himself, while a housekeeper came in twice a week and cleaned. She missed her mother, but never talked about Marie, beyond her pride at her mother’s actions overseas, helping others. True there were occasional incidents of racism, particularly from the younger right-wing locals, but for the most part she thrived. Her father encouraged her interest in the civil rights movement and African-American history, and she took pride in who and what she was.
Her school also has a strong emphasis on inter-mural sport and as a member of the girls’ soccer team, Monica also met and made friends with some of the local German girls. This was to be the cause of her downfall, as they tended to be on the wild side. For the most part, Monica refused to be drawn in, but on the night of her fourteenth birthday, she was presented with a fake ID and an invitation to a local rave. Tired of always being the “good girl” and teased by her friends as a stick in the mud, Monica decided letting loose just once wouldn’t hurt. A drink spiked with Ecstasy resulted in the full-blown manifestation of her powers and while for the most part the revellers thought the ensuing light show was all part of the event (or due to their own drug-taking), Monica herself was extremely freaked out and locked herself in a bathroom cubicle until she could stop glowing.
The next day she confessed all to her father and despite her fears, he was supportive. His own concern was for her – he had seen the rise of anti-mutant feeling after Day Zero and didn’t want Monica to be subjected to that – and together they developed a kind of training program for her, based on meditation and self-control and studying what they could about mutation. Over the year, Monica learned that she could absorb light and reflect it back as a kind of force beam through her hands, rather than taking on a full-body glow. By releasing what she absorbed on a regular basis, she was able to keep her mutation secret. She also broke her friendship with the girls who had been with her that night, focussing instead on the Students Against Destructive Decisions club at school and vowing to stay away from any kind of mind-altering chemical substances – it was just too dangerous for her. She also became more withdrawn, her focus on her training and control becoming paramount in her life and costing her most of her school friends, those who hadn’t already moved on. When M-Day happened, she withdrew even further, terrified of hurting someone and travelling only between home and school and nowhere else.
Just as Monica and her father were establishing a new kind of normalcy after her manifestation, Frank received some worrying news – he was being transferred back to the States, to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina. Between his own experiences living in the South and the news broadcasts of increasing racism and anti-mutant violence, Frank did not want to risk exposing Monica to that sort of stress which could result in a powers blow out of some kind. His research into mutation had given him some contacts with the Mutant Underground, and through them he was able to contact Charles Xavier and arrange for Monica to live at the mansion in safety and learn the full range of her abilities. Monica wasn’t happy when she was told this, but she accepted her orders and made up her mind to do as well as she could, for her father’s sake.
Living At The X-Mansion
Nica's introduction to the mansion was a bumpy one. Unable to understand the presence of several adults who had nothing to do with the students, she incurred the wrath of several with her questions and tendency to expect a certain degree of respect, not just for herself, but any of the high schoolers. This clashed with the desire of some of the adults to have nothing to do with the younger residents, still grieving over the loss of so many from M-Day.
Nica found she got on better with her fellow students, making immediate friends of Bobby Drake and Amara Aquilla, and taking on young trouble maker Maya Lincoln-Lopez in an attempt to keep her out of trouble. She also threw herself into Generation X training, aiming to become a leader of the younger members and become the best mutant she could be. She arranged powers training with Henry McCoy after discovering during helping out during a multiple-car pileup that she could become intangible, and discovered she could absorb and turn herself into visible light.
Her desire to act as a leader clashed with fellow-Gen Xer (and friend), Miles Morales, who was also something of a leader. His insistence on keeping his alter-ego as Spider-Man secret from his peers caused issues, first during the Slenderchildren incident where he put on a terrible English accent to disguise his voice, and later when a summer outing in New York City became a battle against mecha. Miles "came out" after the latter incident, and his perceived lack of trust of his teammates caused issues with both Monica and his roomie, Bobby. They managed to talk things out, but the lack of trust in his friends hurt Nica especially and she threw herself into her final year of school, focussing on getting into college and graduating to the X-Men when she was old enough.
The rest of the year saw Monica still politically active - mutant as well as black activism, which brought her into a conflict of philosophy with Quentin Quire - and as the social climate of the States changed, she focussed on practical ways to help, such as providing a ‘buddy’ system at the high school for bullied students. She also continued to work on understanding and honing her powers, seeking help from scientists Reed Richards and Hank McCoy as she learned she absorbed and channelled certain elements of the electro-magnetic spectrum. It was this new-found knowledge that let her assist when magical spiders invaded the mansion. She also continued to study hard, and was rewarded by being accepted to Empire State University on a scholarship. Her hard work and then the commute to college left her little time for socialising, but she did find time to attend the Bayville Prom with Bobby Drake as friends, and the ‘wedding of the year’ of Lorna Dane and Alex Summers.
Even though she was no longer a high school student, Nica continued to try and encourage Generation X to do things together. It was this prompting that resulted in plans for a trip to the movies on her birthday, which then became a weird situation with a shamanic bear spirit and missing students at Bayville High. Nica and Miles Morales, despite their mutual leadership ambitions clashing somewhat, managed to work together enough to assist in regrouping and then defeating the bear. But it did make Nica cautious about mansion birthday outings.
Becoming an X-Man
Turning eighteen meant that Nica would be able to fulfil her dearest ambition of joining the X-Men, but she put off asking until she was better with her powers. She had an opportunity to test her new knowledge out while performing first aid during an attack on New York with her friend Rahne Sinclair, with none other than Bruce Banner supervising the removal of a bullet from a man’s stomach wound. With the confidence this event gave her, she requested - and was granted - permission to join the team in August, taking on the code name ‘Spectrum’.
Things got busy for the new trainee at the end of the year, with a Danger Room glitch putting her and a number of others in a fictional scenario based on Welcome to Night Vale. Nica was a fan and enjoyed the trip (for the most part), but was glad to return to real life. Although just how ‘real’ that was came under scrutiny, when her first mission as an X-Man took her to a deserted island where giant monsters engaged in never-ending battles. Nica herself suffered the consequences of being over-eager, by accidentally rousing a giant man-eating plant and needing the rest of her group to stop it following her. She accompanied the science team to a cave on the island (acting as a light source) and was very confused to learn the island itself was alive, in the sense it was two ancient mutant creatures in a symbiotic but antagonistic relationship.
Following her 'trial by giant plant', Nica continued to focus on school and the team, apparently uninterested in romantic relationships and always pushing herself to be her best.
It was well she did, as Nica found herself pitted against a formidable foe during May and June 2019 when the team was involved in a series of battles against Asgardian-powered warriors, as well as the Dweller and D'Spayre with their shadowy Thralls. Nica's powers were helpful in particular against these last opponents, and while she fared less well against the Dweller using her deepest fears against her, she acquitted herself well. Her personal fears were again used against her at a Halloween haunted house, where her lateness to a mission call resulted in the 'deaths' of almost the entire team and earned her Cyclops' contempt. She never really talked about it with anyone but it left her uneasy.
Following these events, she focussed more than ever on training and school during 2020. Small forays into political commentary were met with mixed reactions on the journals, something else which pushed her into herself. The later departure of Miles to live in New York and Bobby's decision to join him meant she became even more isolated, losing her two "buddies".
The revelation that there was whole other universe before the one she knew raised her curiosity rather than any particular trauma. She talked the situation over with several others, both individuals from that other universe and "newbies" like herself, fascinated with the implications and perhaps a little disappointed she hadn't had a "double" of herself in that other world. It also prompted self-reflection, and on Coming Out Day, she revealed on the journals that she was asexual.
In March 2021 she had the opportunity to meet with a personal hero, Captain America, participating in an X-Men mission to rescue him from the clutches of MODOK and A.I.M.. Then in April she was instrumental in taking apart an invading robot, with her powers and her natural leadership making her particularly suited to dealing with that aspect of the situation. And in July 2021, she and Maya Lincoln-Lopez found themselves in a hostage situation at Claremont Hospital, where Nica discovered a new powers application when she melded with and drained a portion of the bioelectricity of another individual.
It was only a few days later that Nica was involved in another X-Men-adjacent mission, becoming a member of the Secret Empire Motorcycle Club as part of an operation to take down a weapon smuggling ring. When the mission resulted in the apparent death of fellow X-Man Dominion, she was deeply shocked, although again burying it deep down in the wake of more personal grief. A second mission in October, where she was significantly drained by a a member of the Brotherhood who seemed to have intimate knowledge of herself and her powers and where Sooraya Qadir was trapped in her sandform and seemingly dead, was an even greater trial - it was the first time Nica was vulnerable to someone else's powers. Fortunately, Alison Blaire was able to provide her with a recharge enough so that she could actually become solid again.
Things did not improve - 2021 ended with Laurie Collins attacking Darcy Lewis and Nica, Logan and Kyle Gibney tracking her down to a secret laboratory where she was being 'healed' by Nathaniel Essex. Nica, remembering the Halloween incident and being controlled by Laurie's powers then, panicked and cut the power to the module Laurie was inside and apparently causing the other woman to have a series of strokes that left her physically disabled. Nica blamed herself for Laurie's condition and subsequent departure.
A New Year
January 2022 gave Nica some small victories - the defeat of the prototype Sentinels and the return of Garrison Kane to the mansion following his time spent undercover with the Brotherhood of Mutants and later delivery of supplies to snowed-in residents of Salem Center. The traumas of the previous year, however, still linger.
Monica is a tall, athletic-looking African American teenager with a disciplined posture and bearing, unconsciously mimicked from her parents and their friends.
Height: 5 feet 9 – Monica’s parents are/were both tall and she takes after them.
Weight: 142 pounds, although most of it is muscle rather than fat. She’s a sporty type.
Hair: Black and worn naturally, usually with a headband to keep it out of her face.
Other Features: Her hands glow when she is stressed or angry or unable to control her powers. Sometimes this glow is full-body.
Monica’s mutation allows her to absorb and (eventually) transform herself into various types of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum, specifically x-ray radiation, ultraviolet radiation, visible radiation (light) and infrared radiation. Currently she is limited to absorbing energy and needs to release what she builds up in the form of energy blasts from her hands. She can only absorb/release one kind of energy at a time, depending on what kind is most prevalent or what she is focussing on specifically. Her power will require her to learn a lot more about electro-magnetic radiation than she knows now, much to her disgust. ;) A side-effect of her powers is that she doesn’t feel cold or heat. Too much energy will make her hyperactive and glowy until she can bleed some of it off.
In her visible radiation form, she can't pass through things, the same way light can't pass through a wall. It's the same with ultraviolet and infrared light, although with infrared, she could probably heat up the other side of a wall with sustained effort. Once she masters x-rays, however, she will be able to pass through solid objects, the same as x-rays do.
Additionally, objects that "bend" light, like prisms and such, can bend Monica's light form too, so those would be a good way to disrupt her when she's using those powers. She'll object to being told she makes a pretty rainbow, too.
X-ray radiation - her x-ray blasts will be actual x-rays, so potentially cancer-causing in high enough doses, no actual physical manifestation. Ethical concerns will prevent her from using these against people beyond a quick "peek" for hidden weapons, etc, in much the same way as an airport scanner. She won't actually know she can do this for several years.
Ultraviolet radiation - these blasts act like a black light, so again, no actual physical effect, just the funky glow you get from white objects. Again, potentially dangerous/fatal in high doses, and she can permanently blind someone with them, but again, not something she'd be comfortable with doing. This one might be useful for investigative purposes when Adrienne's not around (the whole black light thing) and for treating vitamin D deficiency. ;)
Visible radiation (light) - these blasts would be light only, and the first ones Monica works out how to use. She assumes there's no real combat application (she jokes that she can make indoor plants grow), until she and Alison start training together and she learns to dazzle and blind.
Infrared radiation - these blasts are heat based and will burn on contact. This will be the second type of light Monica learns to consciously use, since her mindset is combat-oriented and she's looking for ways to take down the bad guys (without actually giving them cancer, since that would be bad).
In about six months, she will learn to fly with her powers. From there, she will realise that when she is flying, she is actually intangible – her body has turned into light, much like a hologram. Cue much freaking out when this happens. It will not be something she can control for some time, and it will be even longer (several years) before she realises she can not only absorb other forms of EM radiation, but transform herself into them and from there be able to become invisible and travel at high speeds.
Monica's flight will initially be restricted by her mindset; as long as she believes she can only travel at "normal" velocity (say, 100 m/h maximum, same as a car), she'll be stuck with that. In the distant future, she'll realise that because she _is_ light she can travel at the speed of light, but that's a massive mental jump and involves her accepting she's transcended physical limits and that's just way too weird for her to get her brain around, so she'll be in deep denial about that.
Monica can only channel/use one type of energy at a time. Once she learns to fly, she will be able to manage it for up to a few hours, but when she returns to her solid form she will be exhausted and starving and in need to immediate rest/food. She is also vulnerable to telepathic powers even when transformed, and can be “knocked out” of her energy form by telepathic suggestion and other forms of energy which can impact the one she’s transformed into. Also, while intangible while transformed into visible light, she cannot pass through objects such as walls, any more than a sunbeam can.
Monica also requires a baseline amount of energy in order to keep healthy - much like a plant, if you shut her up in the darkness too long, she’ll droop and get sick.
Monica always wears her mother's dog tags, returned to the family after her death.
Roadside Assistance - event
Player Icon Base: Wakeema Hollis