This is probably important to clarify. When writing sci-fi, it’s a really good idea to do heavy background not just on your characters, but on the alien species they might be involved with. I’m writing sci-fi where there are no true “humans.” With a five person ensemble cast and twin protagonists, that’s a lot of species to sort out.
Thankfully, I’m writing in someone else’s universe, so a lot of the heavy lifting has been done already. For those of you plugged into the RPG scene, No Escape from Planet Motherfucker is set within the universe presented within the Bulldogs! RPG, published by Galileo Games. (As a side-note, this setting has a special place in my heart, and if you’re a gamer who likes action-based sci-fi, you really owe it to yourself to check it out.)
I’m keeping the bad guys under wraps, but let’s take a look at the crew of The Fallen Star!
Tiberius Kane, aka Kamanch Vaan, former Templari officer, court-martialed and barely escaped execution, and considered by some to be the most dangerous man in the galaxy. He is possessed of steely resolve. He does not go out of his way looking for trouble, but if provoked, he will burn your mother’s home down to the foundations with terrifying calm to make a point. His vengeance is not a good thing to court. Physically, he’s humanoid, incredibly fit, with deep purple skin and pointed ears. The Templari are totalitarian and xenophobic to the extreme, but Kane has removed himself from that and is choosing his own path. While the species is hairless, he has a fiber-optic goatee that can light up and shift colors to reflect his mood. The goatee gives me a fun hook, as well as the chance to add a weird-tech element to the story.
Anibell, former nanny-bot/bodyguard (Model M-6 INCU-B8), current pilot. Teutonic, with utility-womb and click-out halberd. Laser-etched tattoo in scrolling font on upper left arm that reads “Lucky.” She has core “nurturing” programming still embedded in her personality matrix, but since going AI 3 years earlier, she has swapped out more domestic skill programming for piloting, and close-combat skills.
Roxy Twist, navigator and communication officer, and a quite proficient sniper. She is a Ken Reeg, with mid-thigh length synth leather hoodie with smart fabric upgrade. She has the green skin, lack of need for any sleep, skill with numbers, and moral flexibility her species is known for. She presents to the outside world as a hard-shell of sarcastic competence, but she has found a messed up and dysfunctional home to call her own on the Fallen Star, and she wants to protect that. Her idea of a fair fight is one that she can end from half a mile away with a single squeeze of her finger.
Baltus, a Dolom philosopher turned cargo loader/gunner, also wanted mass murderer on his home planet after he killed 6 people following a dissertation turned bad. Like all other Dolom, he is a gentle giant, over 8′ in height, with trilateral symmetry (three legs, arms, eyes). He’s gregarious, and a bit prone to drink. But he can’t escape his past, and he’s stopped trying.
“He killed six people following the rejection of his philosophical dissertation–one of them with his bare hands.” Roxy said with a crooked smile.
Baltus didn’t look up from wiping down the turret controls and barely shrugged his shoulders. “Fit of passion.”
“Two more were bludgeoned to death with a chair,” she continued.
“The next two, run down in his vehicle while he was fleeing the scene.”
Baltus put down the rag with a sigh. He looked up at Anibell with regret heavy on his three-eyed face. “That was unfortunate accident.”
“And number six,” Roxy said, her smile widening with unrestrained glee, “was with an improvised incendiary device.”
The regret was gone, the eyes narrowed and darkened in an instant. “He knew what he did.”
Quarthill is where I get truly alien, and where I take free reign creating my own species. The engineer, he is a ball of color-shifting tentacles like a sea anemone on acid. He is contained in a fishbowl mounted to a mobile platform that can click into several different chassis for different tasks. A bit aspie, very alien intelligence, he has on concept of there being anyone else like him in the galaxy. For him, family is the people who live in his home with him, making the crew his family. Not that he seems to have much thoughts on family with his constant tinkering with the ship.
Finally, the most important character, The Fallen Star itself. Class-D cargo ships are, by very definition, floating wrecks. The Fallen Star is no exception. It is a split level ship, with cargo on the lower level, crew quarters above, and an engineering area that spans both. There is a ball turret in the cargo area that has not worked in long enough that the door is welded shut. Main armament is the roof turret, followed by a small point defense gun mounted over the cargo door and controlled from the cabin. Quarters are shared bunks, with the exception of the captain’s quarters which include sleeping and office spaces. There are three stations on the bridge, but both navigation and communication are close enough that Roxy can man both from the same seat. The pilot’s seat is low in the nose of the cabin. A final chair is present for the captain, but it has no ship functions associated with it. An attempt to refinish the interior of the ship resulted in weird wood accents and trim in the public spaces that are moldering in places. Internal electrical systems are always one fuse away from total collapse, and there’s a mystery buzzing noise in the galley area that ensures no one uses it for long.