|Full name:||Risa Megan Ward|
|Age:||17 (as of UnWholly)|
Ex-AWOL Unwind; survived past 17
Ohio State Home 23(former)
A ward of the state since birth, Risa spent the first fifteen years of her life in State Home Ohio 23, trying to prove herself worthy of the life given to her and provided to by the state home. She chose music as her course of study, particularly classical piano, which she had been honing. Put under pressure, Risa had always been intent on being better than the other wards of the states. Mr. Durkin, her piano teacher for five years, is about the closest thing Risa has to a parent. He never puts Risa under any pressure and tries to assure her of her standing in the StaHo.
During one of the recitals of the wards of the state, Risa performs a sonata by Chopin, which she does beautifully in the beginning. Then she becomes distracted after her first mistake, which soon leads to four more. On the verge of tears, she hopes that it wasn't noticed by the jury, but she knows that they have, just as much as she did. It would have been fine if any of the other kids' performances were less than stellar, but the others shined.
One week later, called into Headmaster Thomas' office, she is faced with a tribunal of three people there. One of them is the social worker assigned to Risa's "case," the other, the school's legal counsel or lawyer, Mr. Paulson. They try to explain to her why she is being unwound but Risa only sees the unfairness of it all, asking whether she has a choice in it. She even asks if she can change her course and be a boeuf instead of a musician, which is immediately declined, saying that training to become an Army boeuf takes many years, especially for a girl.
She wasn't allowed to return to her dormitory since, as an Unwind, there's nothing she needs. Some of her friends sneak off to bid her farewell but Mr. Durkin does not come, which hurts Risa most of all. She sleeps in a guest room in the home's welcome center, then, at dawn, she's loaded onto a bus full of kids being transferred from the huge StaHo complex to the central transportation center, where kids from dozens of state homes would be sorted onto buses that would take them to wherever they were going. Her final destination will be Twin Lakes Harvest Camp, the facility of choice for all Ohio23's Unwinds.
On the bus, when a fairly nice-looking military boeuf being transferred to the state naval academy flirts with her, she lies and tells him she's being sent to Marple's Academy for the Highly Gifted. Samson Ward, another Unwind, exposes her, though, and the boeuf then keeps his distance, as if unwinding is contagious. Risa also keeps his distance from Samson, mainly from his sadistic logic of preferring unwinding over his foreseen failure in life.
She had already considered the possibility of sneaking onto another bus, but the bar codes on their waistbands make that an impossibility. It's all perfectly organized, and foolproof. Still, Risa occupies her mind with all the scenarios that could lead to escape.
That's when she sees the commotion out of her window. It's farther up the road. Squad cars are on the other side of the freeway, and as the bus changes lanes, she sees two figures in the road: two kids racing across traffic. One kid has the other in a chokehold and is practically dragging him. And both of them have run right in front of the bus.
Risa's head is slammed against the window as the bus suddenly pulls to the right to avoid the two kids. The bus fills with gasps and screams, and Risa is thrown forward, down the aisle, as the bus comes to a sudden, jarring stop. Her hip is hurt, but not bad. It's just a bruise. She gets up, quickly taking stock of the situation. The bus leans sideways. It's off the road, in a ditch. The windshield is smashed, and it's covered with blood. Lots of it. Kids around her all check themselves. Like her, no one is badly hurt, although some are making more of a fuss than others. The chaperone tries to calm down one girl who's hysterical.
And in this chaos, Risa has a sudden realization.
This is not part of the plan.
The system might have a million contingencies for state wards trying to screw with things, but they don't have a plan of action for dealing with an accident. For the next few seconds, all bets are off. Risa fixes her eyes on the front door of the bus, holds her breath, and races toward that door.
|“||Risa's pretty. Not in the way Ariana was pretty—in a better way. . . Risa has a natural kind of beauty.||”|
She has brown hair. She was described by Connor as pretty, possessing a natural kind of beauty.
Growing up as a state of the ward, she had always ben under the pressure to be great in her field, which was music in her state home. She was a wonderful pianist but always noticed even the smallest mistakes she made. She was also shown to be very streetwise while she was on the run with Connor and Lev. She is also good at taking care of children since she was sometimes assigned to nurseries in the state home.
Without realizing it, though, she had also become quite good with several other things noted by others around her, such as her survival and medical skills. After staying in the Graveyard as a medic, she realized she wanted to go down that road and be a doctor someday, if she survived past 18.
She strongly opposes Unwinding, to the point that she refused to undergo a transplant to replace her shattered spine with an Unwind's, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Eventually, though, she is forced to undergo the treatment and finds guilty pleasure in being able to walk again.
Her name "Risa" may be derived from the Spanish word "sonrisa" which means smile, as stated by a Hispanic kid Risa once met.
Being a ward of the state, she shares the surname "Ward" with other wards of the state.