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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Colonization

Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint a chat we overheard, between the stoic trainer of a protagonist and spy and rogue from a planetary colony reminiscent of Asian myths and legends. It takes place during a brief interlude when the characters are in the fortress-city of Shenzhen, heading into the climax of the first book.


Corin Mal-kin: settling comfortably in a seat at the Fire Salamander inn and slurping the froth off an ale. So, what did you want to chat about, Kett? All very cloak-and-dagger, dragging me out to a tavern like this. Afraid Alere might overhear?

Kett Peter-kin: with a level look and a quick, professional survey of the room. Something like that. clears throat Look. You know I’ve been Alere’s shifu and weishi-bodyguard at Xintou House for the last ten years.

Corin: No, really? grins and sips from ale Cut the feihua, Kett. You’re worried about her. You’ve noticed she likes me. You think I’m not good enough for her? Do just ask. Much more dignified than me guessing.

Kett: Fine. I’ll lay it out. I don’t entirely trust you. I want to know you’ll take care of her. Where are you from? Who are your people?

Corin: You sound like a protective older brother. pushes aside an unveiled jiaoji-whore attempting to sit in his lap. Fine! We’ll do it your way. I’m from Asadia – nice little place west of Madina. Full of the more unpleasant branch of the Jun First, Zah-Hill family’s relatives. I was quite glad to leave. They annoyed me. After all, the Zah-Hills slaughtered my family and my fiancé. That kind of thing tends to be a tad irritating.

Kett: Scowling. Jiche, Cor, those gouri kin-child laws! I thought I’d heard the worst of it, but… I’m kin-child, too. So are Alere and Mina. And Rohne. We’re all in danger. But I don’t think the Jun First was entirely to blame. Nor any of the Zah-Hills. Hanna Zah-Hill created the laws, and she married into the family. frowns Do you remember much of Asadia?

Corin: swigs the rest of his ale Not a bad place. Lots of farmers. Not a lot of skullduggery. Boring. Until the Zah-Hill weishi started slaughtering the illegal kin-children, of course. Then it all got very interesting. sighs At one point I was considering joining the Artists House as a musician. Before it all went suilie and I came home to a burnt home full of corpses. Then a life on the road felt like a much safer option.

Continue reading “Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)”
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Zack Decker (of the Decker’s War series, by Eric Thomson)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a major in the Commonwealth Marine Corps. He is here to tell us about his career as a space-marine, the alien planets he visited, and the lifeforms he found there — at least, tell us as much as he can without needing to kill us afterwards.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?  Why did you leave and what happened them?

I was born on Mykonos.  It’s a nice place, around twenty light years from Earth and very Earth-like, or so I’ve been told.  I never visited the so-called cradle of humanity except in my dreams, and those weren’t nice dreams.  Mykonos is mostly agrarian, mostly temperate and wholly boring.  Humans don’t have to struggle for survival like on so many other worlds, and it means most folks are pretty complacent and self-satisfied.  That was one of the reasons I enlisted the moment I no longer needed my parents’ permission.  I had to get away from that place before I created havoc just to make life more interesting.  Looking back after thirty years away and enough adventures to last most people a dozen lifetimes, I realize now that I was the most useless, ungrateful little bastard growing up.  Sure, my parents were dull.  Whose parents aren’t?  But they gave me everything they could so I would become a decent, upstanding human being.  A pillar of the community.  Instead, just to spite them, I decided to become a rebel without a cause or much of a brain to be honest.  Fortunately I decided the best way to rebel would be joining the Armed Services instead of a local gang, or God forbid something like the Confederacy of the Howling Stars, the biggest mobsters in human history.  Why the Armed Services?  Mainly because my parents were anti-military, a fairly widespread sentiment on Mykonos, by the way.  I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I know it was merely the normal result of living in a safe star system, far from the wild frontiers.  I figured enlisting in the Marine Corps instead of the Army or Navy would prove to everyone how tough I was.  Funnily enough, I damn near didn’t make it through basic training because of my smart mouth and my adolescent belief that I knew better than anyone else.  But the instructors figured out a way to get through the dumbass shell and turn my stupidity into Marine smarts.  The rest, as they say, is history.  After a few years in an infantry battalion, I applied to become a Pathfinder and finally found my chosen vocation: jumping out of perfectly good shuttles from low orbit so I could smash into unsuspecting enemies from above.

What do you do now?

If I told you, I’d have to kill you.  I know – the joke’s so old it’s fossilized by now.  But all kidding aside, I’m a Marine on active duty.  It’s what I’ve been since the age of eighteen, except for a few years on the inactive reserve after I took early retirement as a command sergeant on account of my temper.  Clocking an officer in front of the entire squadron, even if he’s an incompetent career-seeking sonofabitch, isn’t what you’d call a career-enhancing move.  The only reason they allowed me to take early retirement instead of facing a court martial was that everyone in the regiment knew I was right.  Of course, that’s when my real problems started.  I spent a few months traveling from planet to planet, drinking heavily, and trying to look for something.  I never found out what that was.  Then a naval intelligence officer by the name Hera Talyn — she’s my partner now, by the way — used me to infiltrate a plot against the Commonwealth.  Unwittingly, of course.  Hera’s a master manipulator.  She figured that my old loyalty to the Corps would ensure I did the right thing.  It didn’t do our early relationship much good.  Once I blew that plot wide open, Hera offered me a return to active duty as a warrant officer.  But by then, I had a good thing going with a lovely lady called Avril.  Sadly the good thing didn’t last.  The folks behind the plot I foiled tracked me down and took their revenge by killing Avril.  They sold me into slavery, which was as painful as you might imagine, but I escaped.  When Hera Talyn caught up with me, I took the offer of a return to active duty, this time as a chief warrant officer, with naval intelligence’s special operations section.  What do we do, you ask?  We run the blackest of black ops against the Commonwealth’s domestic enemies, those threatening our hard-won civil peace.  Hera and I are one of many teams who live most of their lives under assumed identities and faces, crisscrossing the Commonwealth and cleaning up messes left by feckless, corrupt, or thoroughly stupid politicians and their backers.  Sometimes we clean up those messes with extreme prejudice.  I’m a major now, after accepting a direct commission, but the job hasn’t changed in all those years since Hera brought me in from the cold.  I still hunt enemies of the Commonwealth with her. Continue reading “Zack Decker (of the Decker’s War series, by Eric Thomson)”

Elisheva Miller (of Songs of Earth, by Eugene W. Cundiff)

Dear readers, tonight with me is young woman, a Teller’s apprentice, from the lost colony on Luna.

When the vast and ancient machines that bring rains to the Dust of Luna fail, she – together with a band of fellow travelers – must face a long journey into the forsaken ruins of the Mongers’ abandoned cities, seeking a way to ensure a happy ending for her people.

She is here to tell us about life in the distant future.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I was born to New Harlan Camp, one of the five largest Camps. Life was hard, of course, but no harder than it is for anyone born to the Dust. Daddy worked the mines, Mama was the Camp’s senior Yarb-Wife, and my brother,  Enoch, was busy with his apprenticeship to the Engineers’ Union.  I  helped Mama most days, treating sickness and such, until I  neared my seventeenth harvest. That’s  when Jonah came calling and took me on as his apprentice. Reckon I didn’t have too much time for anything but my studies, after that.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

When I had seen one score and ten harvests, Jonah took me to the Grand Hall. It was the first time I had ever left New Harlan, and I still remember the wonders of it. It was where the Tellers were founded, where the Council of Picard had been held. There were books -so many books! – and carved records, and even great memory-machines scavenged from the cities of the Mongers. That was the day I was given my Teller’s coat and my guitar, the first things I had ever really touched that had been from the Paradise of our Ancestors. I spent two whole harvests there, learning the Ancestor’s tongue, the Old Calendar, and so many other things besides. It was amazing, to have my horizons broadened so far.

What do you do now?

I am the apprentice to Jonah Teller, the Teller of New Harlan. My lessons are mostly complete, though.  Most of my time is spent teaching the youngins of the Camp, helping them learn what they’ll need to know before they join a Union. Continue reading “Elisheva Miller (of Songs of Earth, by Eugene W. Cundiff)”

Victoria of Ourtown, aka Vic the Blade (of A Wizard’s Forge, by A.M. Justice)

Dear readers, tonight we are republishing an article from the premiere newspaper in Latha, on the fantasy planet Knownearth.

After Vic, a former scholar turned soldier, nearly killed her erstwhile captor, the newspaper issued a scathing article condemning her actions.

The newspaper has followed this up with an interview with Vic, to hear her side of the story. We publish this second interview in full. Read on to learn of Vic’s adventures, and what drove her from being a shy scholar to become a warrior and pick up the fight against Relm.


Last week, this paper published the news that Captain Victoria of Ourtown—aka Vic the Blade—had tried and failed to assassinate Lornk Korng, the Lord of Relm. The Monarchy and Prime Minister’s office have protested that the Heralds’ coverage of the incident was biased. As members of the Lathan free press, we stand by our story, but invited the Blade to tell her side. Much to our surprise, she granted an interview, published here in full.

Let’s start with some background. You grew up on the northern steppes. What was it like there?

It was nothing at all like Latha. Before I arrived here, I’d never seen a tree, much less a forest as big and dense as the Kiareinoll. The steppes could be beautiful, especially in spring when the snow shrank into the ground and the sun bathed the purple hills in golden light. But it was bleeding cold all the time, and in winter we had no more than an hour of sunlight a day. And the wind was endless. You’d think I’d have felt claustrophobic in the Kiareinoll, but somehow I’ve always felt more at home surrounded by trees than I ever did on the steppes.

What sort of things did you do as a child? Any special toys or games?

These aren’t the sort of questions I expected. You really want to know about my childhood? Continue reading “Victoria of Ourtown, aka Vic the Blade (of A Wizard’s Forge, by A.M. Justice)”

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