Dear readers, joining me on the interview couch tonight is Oliver, ‘captain’ of a mercenary team. He’s here to tell us about his recent escape to Syama, why there are quotes around his title, and what it’s like living with professionals when you aren’t one.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What’s the Ves like? Are all the stories true?

Depends on who’s telling them. Let me put it this way; there was a shootout in my apartment block. On my floor. I managed to get back to my apartment because I had sold the guy some scrap tech I had dug up a few weeks beforehand and he remembered me. The whole country is dirty. The buildings, the streets, the money. I mean, we’re in Syama now, and like, it’s bad but it’s not as bad. The worst part for me is that I don’t speak the language, but I’m learning.

You don’t have anything good to say about it? No cherished memories?

My cherished memory is the day we left. No, I’m kidding. The day I met the team. That’s kind of a weird thought, because I knew Ame and Rosa for years, we just weren’t close. And I guess the day I met Hastin wasn’t a very good day. All the time we spent together, though, for sure. Those are good memories.

What do you do now in Syama?

Well I’m not hauling scrap, that’s for sure. I’m a ‘co-coordinator’, which sounds hilarious when I say it out loud. They call me ‘captain’, and I don’t mind, but it’s a little more flattering than I deserve. I take care of the team. Make sure we have a place to sleep, things to eat, that we have a plan. I’m our first aid guy and our therapist. Hope of getting Hastin to a real doctor is pretty slim, eh, but we’re doing our best.

So why did you end up leaving The Ves?

I mean, you kill somebody important enough and it kind of draws attention, don’t it? We’ve gotta wait until the heat dies down… I’m really not the killing type, you know? Like I hadn’t even picked up a gun before this all started. But you gotta learn, I guess. If we didn’t get her, we were gotta get got. Not a choice I really enjoyed having.

She was the one who contacted you, wasn’t she? What did you think about that?

I was distraught. She was calling me because Dan had died. I mean, I didn’t know him super well, but he was my friend, and I… I guess I was his only friend. Or only friend left alive. Put me in a hell of a spot to be lied to. Even just thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

Knowing what had happened, how scared were you to face her?

I have anxiety, I’m always scared. I think I was almost more angry than anything. I tried not to feel much at the time; I can’t be off in my own head when the others are depending on me. It definitely gave me nightmares after, I’ll say that much. Living with the others has really helped that, though. You know what’s worse than having nightmares? Having nightmares and being alone.

What is the worst thing about living with them?

Ame hates wearing clothes. That wouldn’t usually bother me, but she leaves her laundry all over the damn floor. And sometimes when she’s drunk she kisses stuff in the apartment and leaves lipstick prints on it because she thinks she’s hilarious. She’s a child in an adult body. Rosa isn’t bad. My biggest problem is that I have to be really careful where I put things back in the kitchen or she won’t be able to find them, but that’s just me doing my best not to be a jerk. Hastin doesn’t cause much trouble, either. He’s usually the one picking up Ame’s laundry.

What is the best thing about it?

Ame’s hilarious. Sometimes cringeworthy, but she’s very funny. Rosa is just so hecking damn talented that I can’t even believe it. I mean, they’re both good at their jobs. They’re great at their jobs! But living with them is different than working with them and it’s really not that bad. It’s nice to have people around. I think the best things are Rosa’s cooking, and naps with Hastin. I think Ame would agree on both counts.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Oh, god. Prepare yourself. Ame is equal parts party girl and badass, and those points meet nicely in the middle of her tiny little body. She’s a great shot, she punches like she weighs five times what she does, and she drinks like she does, too. But she’s nice. She’s genuinely very funny, and she’s good with Hastin. She stops me from taking things too seriously. Don’t tell her I said anything nice about her, though, or I’ll never hear the end of it.

Rosa is great. She’s way less crazy than Ame, which is a relief, because I couldn’t deal with two of them. She’s easily the smartest and most capable of us. Some days I think she just keeps us around because we’re amusing. I’m joking, she’s not nearly that pretentious. She’s is an unending oasis of sanity and serenity and for someone like me who is anxious and overemotional, she’s a godsend.

Hastin is… complicated. He means well, and he’s a sweet boy. I say that, but he’s a grownup. He is an adult. But he’s had a rough time and you can tell. He wants to help, and he’s very good at the business. I just wish we could help him, too, you know?

Sounds oddly sentimental. Any romantic involvement?

With Hastin? God, no. First of all, I don’t do romance. I’m aro. It’s not for me. I… don’t think sleeping with him would be a good idea. It’s hard to know with someone like Hastin if he’s doing it because he wants to or because he feels he has to, and I won’t exploit that. Ame, on the other hand, I’d totally hook up with, though I’d probably hear about it forever after. Rosa’s really pretty, so I mean, I wouldn’t say no. On the other hand, is it responsible to meddle with the team like that? And the last person I slept with was murdered. I’m not really in any hurry to make more problems.

About that murder… How are you feeling? Any lingering anger or resentment?

I try really hard not to be angry about what happened. Violet is a terrible person. It’s like other people’s lives just aren’t worth anything to her. How many people are dead because she just had to screw people around? Who does that? And why? I can’t wrap my head around it. But I’m trying to let it go. Being angry won’t help anyone.

Well, then what’s your favourite relaxing pastime? What do you do to get your mind off it?

I like to read or listen to music. I like to eat. And weirdly, I like to clean. I think cleaning lets me feel like I have some sort of control over my situation. When I get upset, usually Hastin will hug me until I feel better. It’s a guaranteed cure.

What sort of plans does your team have for the future?

Short term, we’re going to lay low in Syama and pick up some work until the heat dies down. Will we end up back in The Ves? I got a feeling we might. But we’re going to stick together, and we’re going to work. I’ll be happy if that’s all we do… but I don’t know if we’ll get that lucky.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I really don’t know if I have any. Honesty is so hard to come by. This is why I’m not the one that talks to people in the business. I’m no good at lies, which makes me pretty terrible at secrets.

Hastin’s told me some things, but those are going to stay secret. I’m not good at lying, but I’m good at loyalty.

Mouse is a Canadian author living in Milwaukee. He’s part of the Words After Dark author coalition, and can be found doing coalition-related things at geek conventions in the midwest. He’s known for his wild enthusiasm and his quick way of speaking as well as his penchant for writing fantasy-flavoured novels. He can often be found procrastinating, and should definitely practice violin more often than he does right now, which is never.

You can find Oliver on the pages of Lost Names.

Join us next week to meet a young systems engineer, just back from a surprising cruise around the solar system. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.