Security Officer aboard the Chaos
Physical Description: 6’3″ and muscular, Zed has wavy brown hair and grey-blue eyes. He has a scar on the right side of his face, along his cheekbone and across his ear; there is a notch in the earlobe. A tattoo of the first five colonized planets ranges from the nape of his neck down to the small of his back, artist renditions of each with their name in script around them; a reminder of his idealistic attendance at the Academy. On the inside of his left wrist is a tattoo of a soliton. On the back of his neck, on either side of his spine, are full sets of Stin claw puncture marks, with enough scar tissue to indicate that these were repetitive injuries. Has various other scars from battle, but nothing significant.
History: Zed grew up attending the best schools, with the best clothes, the best toys, and so on. It could have been easy for his parents to fall into the trap of focusing on making credits to the detriment of their family life, but that was not the Anatolius’ way. Zed might have had the best things, but he’d also say he had the best family, too. He knew he was lucky and he tried very hard to be the best he could be, to make his parents and older brothers proud.
As the youngest of three, there were few expectations for Zed’s future. He did not have to prepare himself to take over his parents’ company and manage their fleet of private space stations; his older brothers were already well on their way to mastering the business. When Zed accompanied his father to the space stations, it was mostly as a means to expose him to different cultures. Each station had its own flavor, and Zed appreciated them all.
On one such trip, when he was 8, Zed had his pocket picked by a scrawny boy. He chased him through the station’s innards, and almost caught him, too—until Zed’s larger frame got stuck. The boy took pity on him and came back to help him, and in return, Zed let him keep the few credits he’d palmed. Thus began a fast friendship of exploration and daring fun, with adventures Zed would never have tried on his own. Though Zed and Felix (or Flick, as Zed called him) only saw each other once a year, they both looked forward to those visits immensely.
Zed enrolled in the Academy at age 12. Anatolius Industries might not need him, but Zed was determined to find a place for himself in the galaxy. The trips to his family’s space stations throughout his childhood had drilled into him a sense of adventure and an appreciation of other cultures, and he thought serving in the military would be a good way to continue to expand his view of the galaxy.
Flick followed Zed to the Academy. Though the official story was that Flick had won the annual scholarship lottery for the Anatolius Stations, the truth (well hidden) was that Zed had begged his father to pay Flick’s way. Flick never learned this, and Zed would never reveal it. It was clear to everyone from their first day at the Academy that Zed and Flick were a team, and a good one at that—and that Zed would not tolerate anyone picking on Flick in his presence. The worst time of his academic career was the day that Flick spent locked in a crate. Zed had chalked up his missing friend to mischief; by the time he realized it was something else, Flick had been trapped for 12 hours. To this day, he doesn’t know if Flick remembers the kisses he plastered to his forehead when he found him, but the other boys noticed. It was the first inkling Zed had that his feelings for Flick went much deeper than friendship and he didn’t know quite what to do with that. Friendship was easy; anything else was not.
Shortly before graduation six years later, aptitude tests showed that Zed would make a good officer and that Flick’s skills lay in engineering. They were disappointed, but not surprised. The night of their graduation party, liberated by beer and the knowledge this was goodbye, Zed kissed Flick’s forehead, as he’d done after the crate rescue—and then kissed his lips. They fell into bed together, eager to share one last thing before leaving each other behind.
Within a year and a half, Zed was posted to a colony on the outer reaches of human territory, one of two junior officers under the watch of the outpost’s commander. It was mundane, boring work, and definitely not the culturally rich career he had envisioned, but he made it work nonetheless. He took it upon himself to find out what his fellow soldiers knew that he didn’t and learn it from them. In one case, it was a language from old Earth (French); from another soldier, he learned tricks to improve his marksmanship. From the colonists, he learned how to plant crops and how to count cards. He enjoyed spending time with the colonists—at least until he slept with a farmer’s daughter two years later and ended up in the outpost’s infirmary with a concussion. He was shipped back to central space to face disciplinary action. While there, he met up with Flick for the first time in about 3-4 years.
The attraction and connection that they had acknowledged on their graduation flared anew. Neither of them named it; they both knew nothing could come of it. But damn, those few days were fun.
Shortly after Zed was cleared to return to duty and about to ship out to a new posting, war broke out with the Stin. The frightening aliens were the second race humanity encountered (the first being the Guardians) and tensions had always been high. Instead of going to his posting, Zed was drawn into the main fighting force and saw combat quickly. Within a year, he heard that Flick had been captured and was presumed dead. His family, thankfully, remained safe and out of harm’s way, working hard to keep the mechanisms of humanity functioning.
Over the next five years, Zed proved himself in battle and rose through the ranks, acquiring numerous commendations and accolades. He discovered he had an aptitude for both leading men into battle and strategizing, but especially for carrying out covert ops behind enemy lines. He had a small team that made a reputation for itself as one that got shit done, regardless of task or enemy obstacle.
Leading his covert team is what brought him to the notice of the project to end the war. He was approached and eventually accepted the opportunity to learn new skills as a first step to matching the enemy’s odd abilities. One of the alien POWs had offered to train soldiers how to phaseshift in return for the promise of freedom and sanctuary.
All Stin learned how to phaseshift at puberty, as a passage into adulthood. An elder Stin gave them a light dose of natural venom from their claws, to expand their awareness and alter their consciousness, and with the elder’s guidance, they discovered that ability. The humans could not phaseshift as easily as a Stin. It took multiple sessions, multiple doses of venom, before they began to make progress. The Stin warned that the multiple doses of the venom, even light, would have a lasting effect.
Zed found his consciousness permanently altered. His perceptions changed. He was able to fall into a headspace they called the Zone, detached from emotions, pain, etc., and force his body to move faster, be stronger. Phaseshifting was the last ability to come, and the one that caused the most grief. Though the Zone had its repercussions (headaches, nausea, even unconsciousness), one man and one woman in the project went insane after their first phaseshift. The rest of the team managed to incorporate the Stin’s training successfully and were cleared for duty with a full support team. The military understood that their elite soldiers could do amazing things, but they needed a net to catch them once those amazing things were done.
Zed’s new team spent only six months in the field. During this time, they gained a higher profile than intended when they rescued a transport of civilian refugees from an encroaching wave of Stin and were featured on the news. They were lauded as heroes—and within weeks, the war was done, ended by the Guardians. No reasons were given for the Guardians’ interference, but rumors whispered that the Guardians favored the humans.
Part of the requirement for ending the war was the disarmament of all weapons developed specifically for use against the Stin (or against the humans, in the Stin’s case). Zed and his fellow teammates fell into this category. The government didn’t want to execute them, due to their fame (someone would notice), so they gave them honorable discharges with the conditions that they live quiet lives, out of the spotlight, and if they disclosed the truth of the project, they would be imprisoned/charged with treason.
Zed wasn’t happy with the discharge, but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that he realized what it truly meant. The support team they’d relied upon to help manage the side effects of the Zone was completely gone. No more top-line meds, no more medical advice, no more reinforcement of the other techniques they’d employed to master the pain and nausea, but even more worrying, no one to offer guidance and a reason to come back when he did slip into the Zone. When he sought out that help, he was told in no uncertain terms that he was no longer entitled to aid beyond what his military health plan provided (emergency care and not much more).
He quickly descended into misery, struggling to manage the side effects on his own. He stayed in touch with his teammates as best he could, but they were all doing poorly. He thought about turning to his parents for help, but he would have to tell them what he’d been a part of. Shame, as well as the nondisclosure agreement he’d signed, prevented him from that route.
Lost and edging on depression, Zed decides to follow the military’s advice and find a hole to hide in for whatever time he’s got left.
Chief Engineer aboard the Chaos
Physical Description: 5’10” (in boots) with a lean, wiry build. Keeps his curly blond hair short (mostly), and has hazel eyes that are more often green than brown. Military tattoo on his left shoulder. Circuitry tattoo on his right side. Work camp brand behind his right shoulder. His left hand is mangled, the result of a mining accident. His nose is crooked. Felix has so many scars he can no longer identify them all. The most obvious is the one that bisects his right brow, jumps to his right cheek and ends on his right shoulder. He has through and through bullet scars on his torso, left side, and shoulder, also left. His knuckles are crisscrossed with scars from fist fighting. Whip scars mark his back from his years at the camp and he has ropey scar tissue at his wrists and ankles from cuffs and manacles.
History: When Felix was four years old, his father lost an arm in a machine accident and subsequently lost his job as a shuttle mechanic. His family circumstances, which had never been luxurious, degenerated. They moved from employee housing to a two-room apartment bordering the slums. An illegal resident (a colonial immigrant who stepped off a hauler and never got back on), his mother could only get odd jobs. His older sister worked the same as soon as she was able. Felix divided his time between helping his father tinker (he had a small trade in repair), paid errands and petty theft. The errands were usually run for one of the Black Hawks, the reigning gang on Pontus Station. Most days ended with enough food to quiet a hungry belly, but never enough to truly satisfy the appetite of a growing boy.
His father stressed the importance of education and endeavored to teach his son all he knew about mechanical engineering in the hope Felix might claw his way out of the slums. When Jai’s health began to fail, Felix began taking on more jobs for the Hawks, despite his father’s protests. He promised never to attempt the blood rite that would make him a full member of the gang. Though poor and desperate, Felix did not want to take a life just to make his better.
Felix’s luck changed the day he picked the pocket of Zander Anatolius. The swank chased him, but couldn’t fit his overfed frame through one of the narrower passages Felix regularly used to lose a tail. In fact, the larger boy got stuck. Compassion steered Felix back, a desire not to leave someone helpless. Felix knew what that felt like. He helped Zander out and the other boy let him keep the credits, which were enough to buy the proper medicine for Felix’s mother. To this day, Felix is grateful for that twist of fate.
The boys embarked on a friendship that crossed all barriers. Felix looked up to Zander. He didn’t exactly idolize him but had a habit of admiring the good while dismissing the bad. Not that there seemed to be anything particularly bad about his upper-class friend; some arrogance and entitlement, a dearth of understanding when it came to the proper meaning of poverty. They didn’t talk about that, though. They rarely compared lifestyles. Instead, they dreamed of a future where they would fight for the good of humanity, together, as protectors of the galaxy.
That their dream had an expiry date rarely bothered Felix. He knew that after they turned twelve, he’d likely never see Zander again. The Ingessons could not afford the tuition at any swank academy and everyone knew the lottery was rigged. Felix vowed to work hard and save enough credits to test for his mechanics license when he turned sixteen. Maybe one day he’d get a contract repairing a fleet ship and in that way, he’d realize his part of their fantasies.
The lottery ticket came as a complete surprise. Felix suspected the Anatolius family was behind it, but Zander always denied it. Regardless, the opportunity to attend the Academy was too great a boon to pass up due to injured pride.
Felix had to work twice as hard as every other boy at the Academy, to keep his scholarship and to prove that he was more than a station rat. He endured the requisite bullying with the attitude of a boy who had had it worse. He’d been beaten up by young Hawks since he was old enough to leave his parents’ orbit and he’d learned how to pick his battles (when to fight back, when to run) long before most of the other students had learned to read. The only incident that truly shook him was those hours in the supply crate.
Zed proved to be as good a friend as ever during their years at the Academy. He served as Felix’s protector but never made him feel weak. He helped Felix study and took advice on reading people and fixing machines. Felix taught his friend how to pick a pocket. (Zed was never that good at it.) The trade of skills and assistance felt like a fair exchange, which was important to Felix.
As the years wound by, they grew closer. There was some talk about them being too close (though gender and marriage equality were battles won two hundred years before, some biases never quite died), but Felix and Zander were too firm in their friendship to be hurt by idle gossip. That there might have been some truth to those statements was something Felix never shared with Zed. He kept a tight lid on his more romantic inclinations toward his friend, for fear of ruining what they had. Sometimes, though, he thought he caught a certain look in his Zed’s eye, a fleeting expression on his face. But what was the use? They were to go their separate ways after graduation.
Ironically, that very event landed them in bed together. One night, drunk on beer and melancholy, they shared a secret. Next day, they shipped out.
After eighteen months of specialist training, Felix entered active service as a Combat Engineer, Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG). His parents were delighted with his success and though they initially refused the credits he sent them from his small stipend, they soon learned he would not be dissuaded from taking care of them. During the next two and a half years, during which Felix served as an engineer, shuttle pilot and combat mechanic on missions throughout the galaxy, Felix made it home twice. On the first visit, he had the joy of seeing his parents moved up two levels to better accommodation. On the second, he took his father to be fitted for a prosthetic arm. That was the last time he saw his family.
The last time he saw Zander, they caught up on the news, good and bad, and fell into bed together again. Then war broke out.
Six months into the war, Flick’s ship was ambushed, leaving him the sole survivor. He’d been attending a malfunction in a life pod at the time. The ejected pod was collected by the stin, opened, and Felix added to the crowded hold aboard a stin transport vessel. The transport stopped at several locations to take on more prisoners, stretching the journey to weeks, during which time Felix was interrogated and tortured.
He landed on a bare rock planet where he would work mining hazardous minerals. When not risking his life in the vacuum shafts, he recuperated in badly pressurized habitats. Gravity was a luxury, nutritious food unheard of, life expectancy: two years. Felix lasted three and a half years before devising an escape. He shut himself into a shipping container, figuring if he died in his attempt, it would serve as a decent coffin. For a man who suffered from claustrophobia and a fear of the dark, his escape from the rock ball might have been one of the most harrowing experiences of his short life. Felix does not talk about it. Ever. He succeeded, end of story.
He stowed away aboard the ship of a mercenary trader (pirate). Discovered the second day, Felix chose to serve his new captain rather than take a short walk out an airlock. He was given a bunk, rations and light duty until he built up his strength. In return, Captain Idowu would drop him off at the nearest military outpost. He tried. The military impounded the ship and when a scuffle broke out, Felix leaped to the defense of the captain who had helped him. He was arrested and thrown into the brig. When they learned he was military, a date was set for his court-martial for desertion and piracy. Felix tried to argue he’d been interred in a prison camp, but his state of mind was not good. Eventually, a psychologist demonstrated he exhibited all the signs, physical and mental, of a POW, and he was given a medical discharge.
This was when Felix discovered he was alone in the galaxy. His family had disappeared in a raid on Pontus Station. Any inquiries into Zander’s whereabouts met with the same message: Access Denied. Suffering from extreme PTSD, Felix fell into a black hole. He caught a hauler to the furthest edge of the galaxy, walked from the docks to the nearest bar and stayed there until his available credits ran out. He drank and picked fights and picked fights and drank. Once again, Captain Idowu saved him. Six months after his discharge, the Bluebird docked at Nyx. Angus Idowu tripped over Felix in a gutter and hauled him back to his ship.
So began Felix’s career as a mercenary engineer/trader/pirate. Three years later, Felix and Elias (Angus’ son) pooled their resources and bought their own ship and christened it ‘Chaos’ (The nothingness from which all else sprang.) They refurbished the Chaos as and when they could. Though structurally sound, it will never be an attractive vessel. Regardless, it’s home. Over the past year, they have collected a small and loyal crew. Jobs range from trading (sometimes of dubious legality) to bounty hunting. They hope to eventually establish a regular trading route and give away the bounty hunting altogether, but it pays well and with Felix’s military background and Elias’ connections, they’re damned good at it.
Captain of the Chaos
Chief Medical Officer aboard the Chaos
Pilot of the Chaos