Say it with me now: it's like your standard Earth, but....Rikki literally comes from three different universes, but they're all variations on the same theme: along with regular humans, they're populated by superhumans (humans who gained special abilities through accident, science, magic, or a combination of any of the above) and mutants (those with special abilities from birth), with the occasional gods and aliens and a few other Terran species that keep mostly to themselves thrown in. Superhumans nearly always fall into the category of hero or villain, and despite the occasional tension between the various superhero teams and ordinary people are still considered human. Mutants, however, are considered separate from humans, and are often viewed with suspicion if not outright hatred.The main superhuman teams are the Fantastic Four, considered the original heroes of the universe, and the Avengers, a fluctuating team of superhumans and humans with extraordinary skills, usually led by Captain America when he's not dead or absent for one reason or another (it's comics, these things happen). Together, these groups defend against threats that ordinary humans couldn't - they are very public, commonly a major part of the news cycle, and somewhere between celebrities and politicians in terms of how they're regarded by the general public. The main factions of mutants, meanwhile, are led by Professor X (generally benevolent and in favor of coexisting peacefully with humans) and Magneto (antagonistic and violent toward humans). You've also got SHIELD (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, but it's okay, no one remembers that anyway), a military, espionage and law-enforcement agency often deeply tied up in superhuman affairs, alternately helping and hindering the superhero teams according to their own agenda.With all of these powerful people running around, not all of them benevolent, it's not really surprising that they have a tendency to cause a certain amount of... collateral damage. Manhattan in particular, home to the Avengers and Fantastic Four and frequent target of supervillain attacks, is a place no sane person would live in reality, and has been taken over and partially destroyed and rebuilt who knows how many times. The response by ordinary humans ranges from appreciation of the superhero teams, viewing them as their saviors, to blaming them for the damage done and for bringing these threats on them, but by and large they still view global catastrophes the same way the Gulf Coast view hurricanes: relatively common, mostly unavoidable, annoying and generally best to hunker down and wait it out.The technology level is more or less the same as on our Earth, with a few extreme exceptions not available to the general public. Pop culture's basically the same, though Rikki is several years behind and out of touch anyway thanks to worldhopping nonsense. History is more or less the same, except for the plague of superhumans they've been dealing with since the 60s. Do not question the telescoping timeline, it gives us all headaches.
Some people are seemingly born to be heroes, and Rikki Barnes is one of them. Maybe it was being raised by two veterans, both heroes themselves, or maybe it's just something intrinsic to her nature, but whatever the case, she is brave, self-sacrificing, and driven to help and protect others... as well as impulsive, kind of dumb about interpersonal relationships, and prone to blaming herself when things go wrong. All part of the superhero package.Rikki is generally very straightforward, the kind of person who tends to be way more obvious about her feelings than she realizes, who prefers to take people and situations at face value, and who tackles problems head-on. This isn't to say she's incapable of looking beneath the surface or being subtle, but it doesn't come naturally to her, and her preferred method of problem-solving is always going to be to go directly after whatever leads she can find, confront people, or, if applicable, kick in the faces of the deserving parties.She's prone to snap decisions, and in the field this has a tendency to lead her into serious trouble time after time. This also applies when it comes to judgments of people, both for good and ill - she doubts good people and trusts bad, on occasion, because her gut leads her in one direction or another... but she's right at least as often as she is wrong. She just doesn't like to sit around thinking things over, deliberating and planning and second-guessing, when she could be acting instead, and no matter how many times this smacks her in the face, she doesn't seem likely to change it any time soon.She tends to come across as fearless - she jumps off buildings without looking and dives headlong into gangs of skinheads without pause, after all - but the fact is, she has a talent for converting fear into anger and purpose. However, when this fails, she completely freezes up... which is a very good reason, in her book, not to let herself think about things too much, if this is the alternative. She also has a pretty low opinion of her own value as a hero. It's not self-loathing, and she's not unsure of herself or insecure in any way - if anything, she's excessively cocky - but especially since Cap's death, she feels like her life would have been worth more if she had sacrificed herself so that he could live, and that it would be worth it spending her life to save someone else. She's always been a risk-taker, but these days, it verges on flirting with death and tempting fate for the hell of it.Despite her tendency to act without much forethought, Rikki is very smart and observant, and has shown an impressive investigative ability. She's quick to notice when something seems off or something suspicious is going on, and extremely persistent in pursuing the question until she figures it out - once Rikki sinks her teeth into something, it's nearly impossible to shake her off it. Part of that doggedness may be that she really needs a purpose in life, a specific goal with tangible results, something being a hero gives her; she's been given multiple opportunities to walk away from it, to be a normal teenager with a normal life, and though a part of her obviously wishes she could, she wouldn't be able to live with herself knowing that there were people she could help and bad things she could stop and she wasn't doing anything about it.In her personal life, Rikki is no less dedicated, though definitely less sure of what she's doing or what she wants. She's not shy or even particularly introverted, but she is very self-contained, or at least tries to be. She thinks of herself as some kind of lone wolf, even when it makes her terribly lonely; it's important to her to have her own space, to be able to stand on her own. She tries to keep her feelings to herself (even when they're blindingly obvious to everyone but her), she doesn't talk about her own problems much even when she's happy to help others with their own, and she only gets close to a limited number of people, who she trusts to have her back no matter what.However, she does need that small group of people she gets close to. Even as she limits the extent to which she'll let them become a part of her life, she likes to keep them near her, be a part of their lives as much as they will let her. Rikki is fiercely loyal to her friends, there for them no matter what, and there is literally nothing she wouldn't do for them.