Note, this page is related to the Original Generation (OG) version of this character. For the New Generation (NG) version, click here.
"My name is Barona, and you backed me into a corner. What did you THINK was gonna happen?"
Derek Zerus Barona is, naturally, the avatar character of Derek H, and known through the ITWverse as a lunatic swordsman who leads the space-faring mercenary group "Blue Wings" on wild adventures around the world and beyond in his personal spaceship, the Ryaga, leaving massive destruction in his wake along the way. Though he started out as friendly to just about everyone in the ITWverse whether he got along with them or not, he has since become the first major player in If They Were to adopt a purely antagonistic stance towards everyone else, first during KD Rio's "If They Were Stealing From Me Again... Yes, Again", and continuing it into the more recent "If They Were Treasure Hunting on Eclipse Island!", where he and the Blue Wings are the resident defenders of the game, with Barona taking a "final boss" position along the way. It is unknown when this villain status will end, if ever.
Much of Derek's early life prior to the formation of his group is a mystery, and one that he very often refuses to talk about under any circumstances. On one rare occasion that he was actually willing to talk about it, he painted a rather depressing picture: Orphaned as a young child, he was taken in by an old man by the name of Tenzaki Hirotono and raised along with the man's two grandsons, and taught how to use a sword alongside them. He was close friends with one of the two grandsons, Rei Hirotono, and speaks of him with fond memory. However, tragedy struck when the other grandson, whom Derek refused to name, apparently aquired some sort of dark power at the cost of his mind: Tenzaki and Rei were both murdered, and Derek himself was severely injured. From that moment on, he was alone, wandering the world and doing whatever he needed to simply to survive. The details become hazy again from here, but at some point, he found himself in a small village called Kyonoshi, and settled there, believing himself to have found a new home. This, too, was not to be, as the surviving Hirotono once again entered the picture, now actively seeking Derek out to eliminate the one person left on the planet he saw as a threat. Holding the entire village hostage in the process, Hirotono forced Derek into a corner and made him discover why he was considered so dangerous: Like his opponent, Derek possessed an ability known as "Hoshi no Auura" (星のオーラ) which means, literally, "Aura of the Stars". This ability allowed him to fight back against the murderous grandson of Hirotono, but at a great cost: Kyonoshi Village was destroyed as a result of their battle, and even though he had once again escaped with his life, he had also once again lost his home. Now resigned to the fact that he would simply not be allowed to have a place to belong, he became a wanderer once more.
Several months after the events at Kyonoshi, Derek's wandering brought him again to a site of destruction, this time on the battlefield. Having lost all hope of finding a place of stability, he took up arms and began living as a mercenary for hire, honing his already impressive fighting skills and his growing ability at controlling the Hoshi no Auura along the way. Though a mere sellsword and barely more than a child, he was equal in ability to an entire squad of fully trained men, and began charging as much for his services per battle. He was making what one would call a successful living, but at a terrible cost: The compassion and humanity he'd had as a child was completely forgotten, replaced by a darkness that had no qualms about putting a price on life itself. This lifestyle continued for several months before something happened to change it forever.
During a routine mission to wipe out enemy remnants, Barona chased them to the ruins of what had recently been a town destroyed during the fighting. As he searched the wreckage, he came across a girl unconcious under some of the rubble. At first, he intended to simply ignore her, but as he turned away, something inside made him stop. Against his own judgement, he stopped to check her condition. The girl finally awoke, but had no memory of who she was or what had happened to her. All she could remember was her first name: Lucca. Before Derek had time to call for a medic to come in and take care of her, however, the guerrillas he had been pursuing attacked, attempting to catch him off guard. It was in this moment that he earned his famous moniker: Staring down a machine gun attached to a jeep and with a cowering girl hiding behind him, Derek simply had no time but to throw his aura up in front of the two of them and hope for the best. The trick worked, and as the guerrillas stared completely dumbstruck at him as he stood up unharmed, he "flexed" the flames out into large wings on his back for effect, then proceeded to wipe out the entire group. Lucca stared at them in shock as he walked back over to her, and simply uttered the words "Blue Wings" before passing out again. From that moment, whether he realized it or not, his fate was forever changed.
The very next day, he left the army he was working for and headed off as a wanderer again, this time with Lucca in tow. Derek had never pretended that the side he was working for was the "right" one in the war: A girl with no memory, if left alone with the military group he was working for, would either be discarded, pressed into service, or used for far worse, and the thought of something else happening to the girl after all she'd already lost everything made something very deep and dormant within him shudder and awaken. It was this feeling of resonance with her, that they shared the same tragedy, that very well saved Derek's life. As Lucca had no last name that she could remember anymore, he gave her his own, and when she asked what their relationship was, he told her simply that he was her big brother. She accepted this, and as some pieces of her personality began to emerge from the amnesiac haze in her mind, she began happily thinking of Derek as her family. It stirred something deep inside him he never thought he would have again: Hope that he might have a place to belong, after all.
The two of them continued to travel like this for another few months, learning and growing along the way: Derek was, for all intents and purposes, still a child himself, and Lucca's knowledge of the world had disappeared along with the rest of her memory. Wandering the world together, the two of them lived a rather continuous adventure, often fraught with excitement and danger, and though it had a few near-misses, they loved every minute of it. Somewhere along the way, they encountered a strange man named Chichiri, who began to travel with them as well. Given Derek's lack of people he would consider close, it's no surprise that the enigmatic magician quickly became his best friend in the world. Following that, during what has since been refered to by two people as "One of the most insane days in my entire life", the trio encountered the "Mad Genius" herself, Professor Washu Hakubi, and she joined the group. The addition of the scientist opened entire frontiers to Derek, who was effectively a country boy for all of his life up to that point. It soon brought them into contact with the Maverick Hunter Zero, and the core five were complete. Of course, such adventuring is not without cost: As a means of personal cleansing, Derek's coffers following the end of his solo mercenary career had been purposefully emptied into charities to help post-war victims like his sister and others that he had helped to create, which meant that they were usually living off whatever odd ends they could do. The five of them together sought a solution to the money problem and eventually decided that, while the work of a killer for hire was out of the question, a group of specialists for hire was a fine idea. Almost against his will, Derek was unanimously voted the leader of the new outfit, and asked to give them a name. Remembering back to an old legend he had heard during his time spent in Kyonoshi, as well as the words Lucca had spoken during their first meeting, he came to a decision he felt fitting. The Blue Wings were born.
Rise of the Blue WingsEdit
Within half a year, there were few who did not know of the Blue Wings, at least by reputation. Derek in particular was becoming an even greater force to be reckoned with than before, with his somewhat incomplete swordfighting style improving drastically under Zero's instruction, and honing his already-natural mastery of the Hoshi no Auura, which he renamed the Astral Aura because "some things don't always sound better in Japanese". With Washu's technological superiority driving them, they quickly amassed the necessary resources to create the spaceship Ryaga, giving them an even stronger power base to launch their mercenary operations into the stars and beyond in the never-ending quest for adventure.
It was through these adventures that the Blue Wings came into contact with the various groups of ITW. Derek's meeting with KD Rio was particularly noteworthy. While on his way to meet up with the others following a job, the airport Barona was planning on using was attacked by terrorists and the entire facility was taken hostage. Realizing who he was, the authorities in charge of handling the situation asked him to assist. While Derek did accept the assignment, there were certain minor issues to deal with: The Blue Wings' meteoric rise to prominence in the mercenary world had garnered a lot of infamy and distrust from people in power who saw the five-person crew as loose cannons, worried what kind of damage they could possibly do should they ever decide they didn't like taking orders from people anymore. As a result, the other operatives involved with the hostage rescue were given specific orders to take Barona down, should he go rogue during the operation. These operatives included KD Rio and Shina Gado, who had already been given orders before this point to put the Blue Wings on the "watch list". In typical Derek fashion, he welcomed them to try, then proceeded to run the entire rescue operation solo like something out of a Die Hard movie. By the time any of the other operatives could even catch up to him, he had already taken down the terrorists, freed the hostages, and broken the terrorist leader's jaw in a fist fight on the tarmac as he tried to make an escape. Though it was completely chaotic and over-the-top, the way he handled the operation actually left a good impression on KD and Shina, and after a follow-up mission a few days later against the terrorist group's hideout that got the entire crew involved, Derek and KD were well on the way to being close friends.
The Days of ITWEdit
Following the meeting with the members of the Agency, Derek and the Wings became more involved in the adventures of ITW during their free time, making friends, engaging in contests, enjoying parties, and generally getting along with everyone. The Blue Wings' natural penchant for leaving awesome looking explosions in their wake fit right in with the others, and though they weren't nearly as close to the rest of the groups involved as they were to KD's group and the group headed up by Mikey Lenetia, everyone welcomed them in just the same. It eventually even reached a point where, on a whim, Derek decided to run a contest of his own, challenging folks to attempt to hijack his prized Ryaga, which had been remodeled for the occasion. Barona actually pioneered a few future mainstays of the game in the process as well, as his unorthodox style of doing things often led to him bending or even breaking the previously established ways of doing things in order to better suit his style. All in all, the game was a massive success and enjoyed by all.
Following the Hijack game, however, Derek and the Wings began to fall off the radar of ITW. While everyone had enjoyed the game, the amount of money they lost in prizes and repairs as a result made getting back to work a bigger priority for them than spending all their time playing around. Though he kept in regular touch with KD and Mikey, Derek unofficially retired from the games, going back to the wandering adventurer lifestyle in order to keep things running.
But such an ending was not meant to be. Some time later, after a little bit of pursuasion from Mikey, Barona made a surprise return in the middle of KD's "If They Were Stealing From Me Again... Yes, Again" contest, and, along with the familiar faces and not-so-familiar ones of Gemini Man and Kanzaki Seiyokaze, began playing in the contest, specifically focusing on the second round of collecting the Chaos Emeralds that were scattered about KD's Estate. Though things started out good, however, they would not last this way: Barona was somewhat shocked at the underhanded tactics and brutality of other players who sought the seven emeralds, as well as the overall tension surrounding things. This began to wear on his psyche as time went on, and the more danger his friends and crew were placed into because of things, the angrier he got. Things finally came to a head during the final battle for the emeralds between himself and APZ. Things started as a relatively friendly sword duel, but when backed into a corner and near defeat, APZ resorted to pulling a gun and shooting Derek in the stomach at point blank range. At that point, everything changed. Derek rose back to his feet, dug the bullet out of his stomach, and, now angry and no longer seeing a reason to hold back, proceeded to kick the living crap out of APZ to win the battle and take control of all seven emeralds. During the next round while his friends were busy causing massive havok across the Estate in what was dubbed a "Chaos Knights" round, Barona was conspicuously absent. The reason for this revealed itself soon after the round's completion, as he appeared on the roof of the Estate and shattered the Master Emerald in front of everyone, openly challenging the world to collect the shards and effectively stealing KD's contest out from under him. Already disillusioned and angry at the way things had been progressing, Derek's patience had officially snapped, and he decided that he was either going to change things himself...or destroy it all in the process.
The Estate IncidentEdit
To put it simply, Derek declared war on the world. The moment the Master Emerald was shattered, he and the Blue Wings set about arranging a grand show of their own, using KD's Estate as their stage. They quickly succeeded in setting up numerous traps and hiding spots for the shards across the entire complex, with such notable ones as a mirror illusion trick in the Estate's gym, a deadly game of Clue in the dining room, and a puzzlelock container set up right on KD's desk in the study while he had his back turned. Furthermore, some shards weren't just hidden, they were defended as well: Zero guarded one located in the paintball arena with shockingly lethal force, and even the once-more King of Evil Ganondorf managed to get ahold of one for himself. And to top it off, Barona held the very last shard in his own hand, citing it the prize if anyone could challenge him to a no-holds-barred battle and win. While not an impossible task, the Blue Wings set forth a tall order in the Emerald Shard Challenge, and they knew it.
The situation, however, only got worse from there. The petty squabbling and chaos that had driven Derek to the brink in the first place was showing no signs of stopping, and his own actions were only spurring it onwards in entirely new directions. As things progressed, he began systematically singling out various other groups and former friends and assaulting them mercilessly while they attempted to find the shards, and his actions directly resulted in the deaths of APZ and SM both. SM was restored through Mikey's powers, but while APZ's body was returned to his group(by Derek himself, in fact), his fate was never confirmed. Barona continued to conduct erratic movements across the entire contest from there, sometimes helping people, sometimes completely destroying them. With the Chaos Emeralds in his control and the Blue Wings following suit, it seemed as if, even as the shards were being collected, the end was only one inevitability away...
Then something curious happened. Derek disappeared off the face of the map. The contest continued on, and the Blue Wings continued fighting, but something changed, and it happened right around the time the Ryaga, which had up to this point been hovering ominously several hundred feet above the roof of the mansion, was forced to suddenly make an emergency landing close to the shoreline on the edge of the property. From this moment, things seemed different. The Wings were no longer on the offensive. Though they were no less fierce in their attacks, the attacks themselves were all reactionary and defensive. Things appeared to be on a downswing. However, that would all change in a single moment. For whatever reasons, KD decided he was done playing nice and declared war right back on the Blue Wings, attacking them in full force. As he did, the floodgates opened and those looking for their chance at payback on Barona took it, joining in on the fight. Outgunned, overwhelmed, and seemingly losing their taste for battle, the mercenary group chose to retreat, dropping the Chaos Emeralds and the unrecovered Master Emerald shards behind as they escaped. They fled into the depths of space, leaving the Earth, and all those they had once been friends with, behind for good.
...That is, until Eclipse Island entered the picture.
Wings of DestructionEdit
After roughly six months of hiding following the Estate Incident, the Blue Wings reappeared on the world stage. This time, they were occupying a recently-discovered area known as Eclipse Island, long considered mythical for the amount of treasure it was said to hold. Derek and his mercenary crew claimed the island as their own and, immediately after doing so, began a violent campaign in defense of it, utilizing the powers they had acquired in their long absence to do so, including several brand new members of the group and an armed force of Pantheon robotic drones. Realizing he couldn't completely stem the tide of would-be treasure seekers, Barona went on television in a grand display to declare it an official ITW contest, though the mocking tone he used as he did so made it clear that it was simply a justification to eliminate anyone they caught on the island.
That wasn't all he did, however. In the same broadcast, Derek revealed that just prior to their appearance on the island, the Blue Wings had made a daring raid right into the heart of KD's Estate and, right out from under their noses, made off with several items, including the HYPER DEATH RAY and even the previously-recovered Chaos Emeralds, which many had been unaware KD had even recovered following the Estate Incident, as well as severely compromised the Estate's security systems and crippled much of their operations in the process. This move served to antagonize an already hostile KD and spur him into action, the first of which being the recovery of the HDR. The gun itself was recovered following a massive joint operation aimed at the Ryaga, but by that point, Derek had already revealed his theft of the Chaos Emeralds as well, and merely chalked it up as acceptable losses. Though staying mostly out of sight for most of the first "act" of the show, Barona has since taken the field and moved into a more offensive role. But, somehow, something still seems off about the whole thing. What could the Blue Wings possibly be doing on Eclipse that would be worth this kind of trouble? And is there any way to reconcile things, or is it already too late for everyone?
Derek's image over the years in ITW has changed very little aside from recent cosmetic updates for Eclipse. He is 6'1", with a thin build that, along with his clothing, hides a very well-toned body tempered by years of training and living on the edge of extremes. The most basic form of his outfit consists of blue jeans and a black shirt with no logo, white sneakers with blue and red trim, blue arm guards over his forearms that extend over the back of his hands, and the heavy black duster jacket that extends down to about six inches above his ankles and has the blue crescent moon insignia on the back. His hair is a golden blonde color, naturally puffing up a little bit in his bangs so that it doesn't cover his face, while the rest of it is tied up into a loose-hanging ponytail and falls in a straight line to a little bit below shoulder length behind him, and his eyes are a deep sapphire blue. His only real accessory is a gold crescent moon pendant he openly wears on his neck, with a sapphire matching his eyes inserted into the gap of the crescent to perfectly fill out a full moon shape. His recent appearance in Eclipse has seen most of his appearance modified into a more warrior tone, with reinforced armor appearing on nearly every piece of clothing, as well as the blue "ribbon wings" being added to the back of his duster.
A self-styled adventurer and self-professed bastard extraordinare, Derek's personality is very to the point, but only about as serious as the situation calls for. His maddeningly unpredictable and chaotic way of doing things make it almost impossible to tell how he's going to react to most situations, but don't be fooled into thinking he's a complete flake. When on the clock, he can and will get the job done with professional skill. And if you're in the way, heaven help you.
But that's just his professional life. His real personality is a bit easier to figure out. His experiences in life have shaped him into something of an wandering loner by nature, one who can rarely sit still in the same place for more than a little bit at a time, and is always on the lookout for the next big challenge to overcome. At the same time, however, he's got a lot of angst built up from his early life that hasn't really been dealt with, and as a result, desperately seeks to hold onto the scraps of stability he actually does have in the form of the Blue Wings. It's no exaggeration to say that he considers them his family, and would destroy the entire world by himself if it meant protecting any of them from harm.
Complicating this even further is another aspect of his personality brought about by the awakening of his Aura. The soul of a warrior rests within him in the form of this power, but as he came to realize, most people aren't capable of standing against it successfully. Objectively speaking, because of his training and his powers, Derek is without a doubt one of the strongest people he knows, and his whole life has been one big exercise in self-restraint as a result. To some extent, he fears what people would think of him if he ever went all out, but at the same time, he welcomes any opportunity to let himself cut loose for even a few minutes. However, perhaps the person who fears the consequences of such actions the most is Derek himself. If he were to let go and allow his power to run fully free, even he has no idea if he would ever be able to reign it back in again...or if he would even want to.
Abilities and EquipmentEdit
Derek's signature ability, named such due to the similarity in appearance to a star burning in the sky. In a way similar to a mage wielding mana or other such spiritual power, Derek essentially turns the power of his own soul into a physical weapon, capable of powering up his body severalfold. Though it universally appears as a dark blue flame emanating from his body, he is able to manipulate it into any shape he chooses fit, be it a sword, armor, or even just a large wave of loose energy trailing off his body. As the power comes from within him and doesn't depend on a spell or even any real concentration, there is nearly no way to contain or prevent him from using it should he decide to bring it out. Furthermore, due to the origin behind the name and the fact that, unlike a real fire, the Aura actually has a high oxygenating effect on the air around it, it's actually been theorized that he could fight underwater or even in space without needing to breathe if he were to use the Aura as full-body shield around himself. However, it does have certain drawbacks attached. While it is essentially Derek's very life force given form, that same force is naturally what keeps him alive. Using too much at a time can severely weaken him for hours or even days before he can fully recover, and should he ever be forced to run completely dry, it would likely be the end of him. For this reason, Derek tends to not use his Aura unless he has to get serious, and even then, tries to limit it to short fire bursts. That doesn't mean he won't go all out to wipe someone off the face of the planet if he feels the need, however. Coincidentally, the Astral Aura has a natural elemental attribute. Though he doesn't use it very often, Derek has a few lightning-based tricks he can use with it. Obviously, other Aura users would have different attributes.
Don't be fooled by the fashion statement, Derek's signature black duster is for more than just looking good while kicking ass. Acquired back in Kyonoshi Village all those years ago, his trusty jacket was actually designed for weight training: In its original form back then, it weighed a solid 100lbs. Furthermore, all that weight was armor, so it also protected against bladed attacks, such as daggers. As the jacket is in actuality a mere novice's coat, Derek had long gotten used to it by the time he met the others. Rather than make a new one, Washu has simply strengthened it over the years, improving the armor and adding little other things along the way. The current form weighs literally a half-ton, is bulletproof, insulated, heat and cold resistant, and the now-clearly armored shoulderpads and sleeves are reflective against laser and plasma attacks. Furthermore, he's also added the new Blue Wings standard issue Ribbon Wing system, customized to channel his aura through it and achieve controlled flight, and allowing him to take his fights to the skies if he chooses to. By now, the duster is nigh-indestructable and, while it doesn't make him invincible by any means, Derek's defense is significantly improved by having it on. Of course, the reverse also holds true. As it was and still is made with the purpose of weight training in mind, dropping the duster will remove an entire thousand pounds off of Barona's total weight, and allow him to move completely unhindered. When in this mode, his speed and strength are nothing short of inhuman, but predictably, his defense drops back down to very human levels. Most likely, however, anyone who makes him willingly drop the duster will be dead before they can take advantage of the weakness.
Ribbon Wings: Aura WingsEdit
The Ribbon Wing system recently developed by Washu is a customized piece of equipment employed by certain members of the Blue Wings, Derek among them. In addition to serving as a sort of semi-standard dress code, the wings themselves are "programmable" and can be modified to individual specifications to give the user capabilities they might not otherwise have on their own. In Barona's case, his wings are designed to channel his Astral Aura through them and provide flight capabilities, successfully bringing him off the ground and giving him an equal footing against any airborne foes he might face, as well as bringing the "Blue Wings" into reality once and for all. Because they're powered by his Aura, he can activate it without any delay, and they don't have any sort of battery life or recharge period. Of course, the wings won't work if he's unable to produce enough Aura for it, but if he's so tired that he can't produce the relatively miniscule amount needed to power the Ribbon Wings, he probably won't be fighting anyway.
Emerald Ability: Seven ElementsEdit
During the Eclipse Estate when he held possession of the Chaos Emeralds, Derek personally held on to the Sapphire, showing great affinity for the gem and its ability to manipulate cold and ice. Since Eclipse, however, he's displayed an equally impressive if not moreso control over the other six as well, and can use any of the seven emeralds at will, or even all seven at once. Given how powerful he's proven with only one emerald in his hand before, having all of them makes him an even more formidable foe than ever before. But what makes this truly devastating is his ability to go one step further into...
Don't be fooled by the seven emeralds in tow, this is not a Super Sonic transformation. Rather, by allowing the power of the emeralds to flow through his Aura into his body, Derek gains an incredible amount of power as a result, becoming a literal vessel for the chaos energy in the process. While still not perfectly invincible or anything, his body goes into a full-scale hyper mode, his speed, power, defense, and even healing ability all increased ten times over. Furthermore, in addition to his own power, he can utilize the emeralds totally independantly of himself, and though he normally keeps them close to him in an orbiting pattern for effect, he is able to move them completely according to his will, potentially turning a fight against one into a fight against eight. When in "bit" mode like this, the emeralds move like auto-pilot drones, firing elemental attacks and performing ramming charges with incredible speed. The only real flaw in this power seems to be that, like a Super Sonic form, he can only use it when in control of all seven emeralds at once. Objectively speaking, there seems to be next to no real chance of defeating Derek when in this state, making prevention of it one's best chance at success.
Friends and EnemiesEdit
- The Blue Wings
- Everyone else
Due to his high combat strength, his overarching actions across two "eras" of ITW and his player's role in both of said eras, it's not a stretch to call Derek one of the "main" characters of ITW in general, particularly during Eclipse, when most of the underlying plot has to do with the fallout of his actions from the previous major contest.
A self-professed caffiene addict, Derek's drink of choice bounces between Dr. Pepper and Pepsi, depending on what's available. While he dislikes Coke, he will reluctantly drink it if nothing else is available.
For all the technology Derek often has at his disposal as a result of his group, he himself usually has no real clue what to do with the damn things. He can use a computer, sure, but he's admitted that he's much better with finding uses for the technology his group has in their possession rather than using it himself. The one major exception to this is his flight training. With Washu's help, he's undergone enough practical and simulator training to be officially certified as a fighter jet pilot.