Sunday, March 28, 2010

Galactic Heroes Unite!

So what happens when you've got some poor worn-out soldier who can't die (Jonathan), a poor time traveler who's traveled across thousands of years trying to work out the enigma of existence (Bethi), and a semi-indestructible soldier/pilot/angry-but-silent heroine who wants nothing more than to get rid of the constant feeling that insects are crawling around inside her synthetic polymer skin (Jill)?
Okay, so I've never been a fan of the idea of taking perfectly good characters and then mashing them together into a "united front" of heroes, but it's always fun to watch shows (especially anime) when you have a team of "heroes" who simply don't agree and certainly don't get along.

So what happens if you take a bunch of characters you've been working with for several years and then put them together into a kind of "Hardy Boys Team Up with Nancy Drew" type deal?  Except that, in this case, these characters have prior histories of having tried to kill each other?  And, of course, their histories stretch across thousands of years of galactic time?

I know this is probably confusing if you're unfamiliar with the "Jonathan's War" universe (and, as far as I can tell, I'm the only one who is...but hey, that's one of the challenges of being a writer, isn't it?  Convincing readers that a story is worth reading long enough to become familiar with every edge of it - that's a worthy goal right there.)  But don't worry - I'll make some sense of this.

First, we have three main characters.  They are, naturally, all of the "military" type, but we can't afford to stereotype them.

Jonathan Mitchell

This is the guy who, through some weird fluke in alien technology, simply cannot die.  Bullets, lasers, the supernova heat of an exploding star, the gamma rays from a neutron bomb - anything energetic enough to kill him simply goes right through.  He slips out of reality long enough for the danger to pass, and then he rematerializes back to where he was.  It's a very powerful technology, the kind of thing that anyone would want to build into a starship or platoon of stormtroopers.  But no one really knows how it works.  And the technology was somehow interwoven into his DNA, so the "disappearing act" is happening at the cellular level.  As a side effect, he doesn't age.  So he's kind of like Wolverine in this way, except that Wolverine can't remember his past.  Jonathan, on the other hand, can't forget.  And that's why this armor is more of a curse than a blessing, as far as he's concerned.

Bethi Sooru

Bethi was born on Mars some fifty years ago.  At least, that's according to her clock.  She's a time traveler, so she's been all over - the future, the past, into that desperate middle where everyone fights over everything.  And so she's seen a lot.  She understands things that Jonathan, despite his age, could have never come across.  But she's also getting old.  Her knees ache, and her back is sore.  They didn't have subdermal armor back in the days when she was recruited for this gig, so she still lugs around all kinds of gear she would much rather leave at home.  And, honestly, she's a little sad that she never did settle down long enough to raise a family.  Though she does have a daughter out there.  But more about her later.

Jill Nakamoto

Jill is the bad-ass of the trained assassin community.  She never stops at dead and dismembered.  For her, the destruction of entire civilizations counts toward billable hours.  And it's said that, somewhere in that electronic brain of hers, there's a remnant of the human being once named Jill Nakamoto.  But no one knows for sure.  She don't let nobody get that close, either physically or emotionally.  And that's tough for her.  Because she, too, is nearly a thousand years old.  Her organic bits have, over the centuries, been slowly replaced by nanomachines which have long outlasted the manufacturer's warranty.  They were injected all those centuries ago to make her body indestructible - now they leave her as an electronic hulk supported by an alloy of titanized bone, fueled by nutrients pumped by a blood plasma substitute, wrapped in polymerized epidermal impact mesh (Type H - Flesh Toned - Asiatic).  So don't mind her if she seems rather embittered.  Because she, too, cannot die - but she has enough credits from trans-stellar assassinations that she can do pretty much anything else she wants to.  As if there's anything left that she would ever enjoy doing.  Besides exterminating planets for cash, I mean.

Bethi's "Team of Rivals"

Naturally, it'll be up to Bethi to unite these people.  But understand that she's old in a way her two "recruits" will never be - she's actually aging.  Sure, she doesn't have any of the residual skin crawling pain that Jill feels every minute of every Galactic day, but it does hurt to get up in the morning.  She's been lucky, injury-wise, but you can only crack so many ribs and break so many other bones before a slight change in the weather or a leaky seal on a starship pressure valve starts to ruin your day.  And no, Ben-Gay does not help when you're in the middle of jumping from one era to another - and yes, she has tried.

Maybe it would be better if she was sixty or so?  I don't know.  I like fifty.  It's a nice round number.  She's still "young enough," so-to-speak, that she might still want to have kids.  Who knows.  At the very least, you'd see her doing all kinds of things to hide the fact that her body is deteriorating at a steady and expected pace.  Yet, on the flip side, she would need to convince everyone that she is incredibly old, that she has seen even more than they have.  And so she'd want to keep at least a few of those pesky wrinkles.
Okay, so why would Bethi bring Jill and Jonathan together?  To save the galaxy, of course.  Possibly the entire universe.  Any why?  Against what enemy?  Who could possibly threaten the existence of all that is?

Well, there is Dagny.  But I don't think she'd want to do that.  I don't know.  I'd ask her here, but then you'd know I'm off the deep end, as far as writers go...

So, for next time: Finding an antagonist worthy of the illustrious goal of ending existence on a galactic scale.

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