It’s been over a week since National Novel Writing Month for 2014 began, and I’m currently ahead of the curve. After a rough weekend in which I was forced to bury myself in my academic work and fall behind, I managed to pull through and jump ahead again on Sunday night. Alas, I am still (almost 10,000 words) behind on my reverse NaNoWriMo plan, but hopefully I can make that up soon (despite a wave of papers that need grading)!
So, this week, I wanted to talk (or write, rather) a little bit more about the characters of this year’s NaNoProject and my current central WIP for the forseeable future. I am very excited about this project – more excited about it than I have been about any project in a long while – and part of this attribute to the origins of the story, which I briefly described in last year’s post. Most importantly, unlike most previous works, I actually started this project with the characters, and then fused them with a world I’d been thinking about separately, and I absolutely love both world and characters (I love the plot, too, but it’s rather convoluted and not as “set” as the characters and world are).
So, who are these brave souls that will be exploring my grand cyberpunk universe? Why, they’re the crew of the spacefaring vessel Lysandra (at the moment), and are a group of smugglers, pirates, assassins, and mercenaries willing to do whatever shady job you want! If this cast sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is; as I mentioned before, part of the character set-up for this novel is based on Firefly and other similar shows. However, unlike the crew of Serenity, the crew of the Lysandra do not quibble too much about what jobs they take on, and cover a much wider range of them. There are no war heroes with strong senses of justice on this crew to keep them in check; all that keeps them together are money and a shared sense of camaraderie developed over a long period of putting up with each other. Unlike the crew of Serenity, they have only a very slight moral compass.
This is not to say that the main cast consists only of cruel and vicious characters who would sell their own grandmother for a penny. They’re not heartless; they just care about themselves and those in their social networks significantly more than they care about anyone else. They will not hesitate to kill or do unsavory jobs, even it means hurting a lot of people. They stay afloat at the bottom of society, and don’t have the luxury of being too choosy. They do what has to be done, and have no regrets.
So, in some ways, they’re like a nastier version of Firefly’s crew. But who are they, actually? They come from all walks of life, but here’s a brief teaser of each of the main cast:
Idim Jyn – The charismatic captain of the ship and an insufferable prankster, he acts like a bumbling idiot most of the time to hide his true intelligence. He has an incredibly disciplined mind and is capable of mental feats few can master, and on top of that is a master of both strategy and tactics. He does have a warm heart beneath his cold, analytic mindset, but it takes a lot to bring it out, and even then he reserves it mostly for people he knows or people he thinks will be useful. Idim is always willing to give everyone a fair chance to prove themselves to him, but he does not believe in second chances. He remembers little about his childhood, except that it was awful, and briefly held a post as a military analyst and mercenary for a short-lived and little-known terrorist group before it disbanded. He despises most forms of virtual reality, though is more than competent with other technology that lets him interact with the digital networks of the universe, known as “wires.”
Tathal Litenz – The ship’s first mate and pilot, Tathal is a very troubled woman. She doesn’t remember who she originally was, as she digitized her consciousness long ago and has had it transferred between a wide variety of bodies before losing all of her wealth and getting stuck with the semi-reanimated corpse of a drug addict on the planet of Utopia. She looks like a mess and needs a rather constant supply of drugs to fuel the broken body she currently inhabits, and she strives desperately to gain access to one of the rare facilities where she can change bodies again. She is gruff, easily angered, blunt, and unwilling to compromise. She tolerates Idim Jyn and respects his intelligence, but is somewhat distant from the rest of the crew. No one understands why she is the first mate, and not Krisval Orteck.
Krisval Orteck – Krisval hates his name, and when he was old enough had it changed to “Melkorh” after his favorite evil entity in his favorite holodrama. He also has a pet robotic mouse named “Soron.” Melkorh is the ship’s engineer, and is not comfortable with the digitization of the world, and was only dragged into the realm of organic nanobots and the wire kicking and screaming. He is brilliant with hardware, however (and some of the relevant software), and possesses a mechanical arm that not only houses a huge variety of tools, but can also be used as a dangerous weapon. He is insecure and quiet, yet extremely competent. He is one of Idim’s closest friends, and understands him on a level no one else does.
Marek Syonda – A short, plump, heavily bearded man dubbed the team’s “Demolitions and Distractions” specialist. He is a brilliant hacker of local wires, as well as an expert in demolitions. He speaks very formally and thinks of himself as an artist and gentleman. He is an infamous media bomber, and is wanted under numerous identities for “hazards to public knowledge,” not to mention terrorism. Despite his mild-mannered and kindly appearance, Marek has little regard for anyone he does not know personally; to him, everyone he doesn’t know is just an abstraction and could even be a false creation in an increasingly digital universe. As such, while he is kind in person, he has no problem with killing large quantities of people to achieve his ends or unseating entire media systems to distract people from what his friends are up to. Problems are only real when they affect him and those he knows; otherwise, he could not care less. The digital and social experience of mankind, to him, is a blank canvas.
Bygorj Vishtahl – A former Druidic priest of the Empire of Man, he was cast out for his unorthodox ways. He inhabits an inhuman body, being a ten-foot tall, green-furred minotaur/satyr hybrid. He believes that all life and matter is linked together through quantum resonance, and so that death is largely meaningless, and is merely a reordering of the great god Pan’s affairs. As such, he has no qualms about killing and feels no remorse, no matter the victim. He serves as the crew’s doctor and cook (he used to get those two jobs mixed up, but he’s better now), and is also extremely devoted to spreading the word of Pan to anyone who will listen – and many who won’t.
Lemi Forsath – An orphan from the planet Utopia, Tathal picked her up to force her to repay a debt, and Lemi now works as a cabin-girl on the ship, performing odd tasks and helping where she can. She is very young, being only about ten years old, but spent her whole life on the streets. She is a brilliant digital artist, and is a master of projecting images into other peoples’ heads. She dreams of being a big holodrama producer some day. She gets along well with most of the crew, save for Idim and Melkorh, who both have a distaste for her digital art and find her more annoying than anything.
Fitnaya Almakry – Introduced under the alias Khoresh Eylkaum, Fitta is one of mankind’s most feared assassins, most wanted criminals, and a sniper beyond compare. She is also a very skilled hacker, though has trouble hacking on the fly, and so is very fond of careful planning. She makes use of ubiquitous security cameras to line up her shots after hacking into their feeds, and uses surprisingly small, yet powerful, pistols to do her job. She joins the crew initially as an extra hired hand on a mission, but circumstances later force her to join them permanently and reveal her true identity. She is very intolerant of incompetence and is rather caustic and sarcstic. She strongly dislikes Idim, but comes to eventually recognize his competence.
Obri Hathorken – The crew’s part-time intern, Obri handles mid-range planning and is an expert in both nanotechnlogy and superlocal wire hacking. While Marek hacks the small stuff, Obri hacks the big stuff. She works at a prestigious laboratory as her day job, and uses a holographic projector to work with the crew when she’s not working there. She is extremely intelligent – quite possibly the smartest member of the crew – and teases everyone around her mercilessly. Though she’s relatively new to the crew, she’s already made herself home there and is relied upon by them all.
Priva-Dynaj Matory – The crew’s “handler,” Dynaj (or “Dynnie” as Idim calls her) is an older woman who is obsessed with rediscovering her “analog” self. While extremely competent in the virtual world, Dynaj enjoys spending her time free of the wire whenever she can. She is an avid roleplayer and phenomenal accountant, and is in charge of lining up jobs for the crew. Like Obri, she does not physically travel with them, but calls and texts them frequently to keep them up to date on their accounts and upcoming jobs. Dynaj is very well-organized and always several steps ahead of the crew in her planning.
Syon Q – No one knows what the Q stands for, not even himself. Syon Q is an old man whose previous crew wired him into the Lysadra‘s weapons system, which drove him slightly insane. He identifies more with digital entities and artificial intelligences than with “meatbags,” and can hear the voices of even the smallest pieces of software. He is very attached to the Lysandra and communicates with the rest of the crew on her behalf. He is prone to childish fits of rage and a very shaky conception of reality; he drove off the previous crew of the Lysandra by constructing mobile turrets and literally chasing them off the ship. He was subdued by Idim’s crew and converted to Druidism by Bygorj, who has become his best meatbag friend.
So, there’s the crew of the Lysandra. They won’t all last through the story (I already know at least two will die – but whom?), but for now I am enjoying them. As for other characters – like the antagonist – they’re identities will remain secret, as their faces are important twists in the story’s planned plot. But, just for teasers, here are the names of a few of the major antagonists, human and not: Methuselah Charmandrius, Zigur Zanzak, the Spider, and of course the overarching baddy, the Basilisk.
Until next time, happy writing, and wish me luck!
*goes back to scribbling*
(c) Z. M. Wilmot