Main Characters -- Faction of Humanity
Captain Ariane Stephanie Austin
Tall (6'2"), with an athletic build and deep blue hair and blue eyes, Ariane Austin was a racing pilot in the Unlimited Space Racing League – one of the best, known for her precision flying and courage – some would say recklessness – in one of the most competitive and dangerous sports mankind had ever invented. Unlike most people in her era, Ariane does not have an implanted AISage (artificial intelligence companion and assistant), carrying her extremely powerful AISage, Mentor, in an external casing. As one of the best racers, she was a natural choice for a backup pilot when Dr. Simon Sandrisson found he needed a human as a backstop for the usually infallible AI pilots common in 2375. And when everything went wrong, she went from a placeholder to the most vital member of the crew. With the other crewmembers suffering trauma from the loss of their lifelong AI supports, she was the one to take command… as they discovered that the Sandrisson Drive had brought them somewhere they had never imagined. Playful, impulsive, and fiercely loyal, Ariane finds herself forced into the role of Captain in a universe that has completely changed... and eventually into the more preposterously named role of "Leader of the Faction of Humanity"!
Doctor Simon Sakuraba Sandrisson
Slender, elegant, and as tall as Ariane, Dr. Simon Sandrisson's long, pure-white hair and brilliant green eyes make him a striking figure in any company; his usual garb is also white and cut to echo the classic lab coat of earlier years. Dr. Sandrisson invented the mathematical and physical theory behind a possible faster-than-light drive, and developed what he believed was a practical stardrive from it. Getting permission for a test using live crewmembers, he gathered the members of the Holy Grail's crew from some of the best the solar system had to offer, and readied the ship for a short flight to demonstrate the capabilities of the Sandrisson Drive. But even all his theoretical calculations had not prepared him for the Arena. Usually calm and detached in manner, Simon Sandrisson's upper-crust British accent hides a subtle sense of humor and a romantic heart.
Doctor Marc C. DuQuesne
Immense – standing slightly over six feet eight inches tall and weighing well over four hundred pounds – and with jet black hair, eyes, and a devilish pointed beard, Marc DuQuesne is a master power engineer with experience in all forms of energy generation, storage, and transmission, and considerable skill in other areas of engineering and science. His past is a mysterious blank to those who probe too far, and when DuQuesne finds himself in the Arena, he is forced to reveal the secrets of that past to those he has come to think of as friends… and hope that the revelation will not drive them away. Dry of wit and frighteningly omnicompetent, Marc DuQuesne can also be the rock others lean on, if they can trust him.
Sun Wu Kung
Called Wu by his friends, Sun Wu Kung is a strange figure, standing only a little more than five feet tall, and clearly not normal human; with clawed hands and feet, fine fur over his form and a prehensile tail, Wu Kung is the product -- like his close friend DuQuesne -- of the ill-fated Hyperion Project, which sought to replicate heroes of myth and fiction in tangible form. Created from a hodgepodge of different versions of the legendary Monkey King, Sun Wu Kung is a playfully energetic person with a love of contests of strength, speed, and skill, of practical jokes, and of experiencing anything new and exciting, the more dangerous the better. He is, however, also an extremely honor-bound hero at heart, and when assigned a job there is no length to which he will not go to fulfill his oath. Once revived from the artificial reality dream he was bound in since Hyperion, Wu Kung becomes Ariane's bodyguard, protecting her from any who would do her harm -- and those are many, now that Ariane is the Faction Leader!
Main Characters: Other Factions
Orphan of the Liberated
Standing over seven feet tall, the green-and-black patterned semi-insectoid human-like alien named Orphan is the first ally that Humanity gains within the dangerous political minefield that is the Arena. But Orphan is not a trustworthy ally, at least not at first. He has his own agendas, the most important being his own survival. He is the only member of his Faction, all the others having been killed off by the Blessed To Serve, one of the most powerful factions in the Arena -- and the faction from which the Liberated were derived. Orphan is also known as "The Survivor" by other inhabitants of the Arena, and regarded with no little trepidation, and perhaps even fear, by many.
Nonetheless, Orphan has been of signal service to Humanity, even taking into account his occasional lapses. He is also a being of considerable intellect as well as superior physical capabilities, and possesses a dry and incisive wit as well as a droll and elaborate way of speaking which makes him a pleasant and even fascinating companion to speak with. And when action is called for, Orphan has proven to be one of the most formidable beings in the Arena. With the recent events depicted in Spheres of Influence, Orphan and his Faction are now firm allies of Humanity... as long as he has no other secrets...
Nyanthus of the Faith
In appearance something like a motile wooden anemone with symbiotic flying creatures, Nyanthus of the Faith is the head of the principal religion within the Arena and the leader of the Faith, one of the most powerful Factions. The Faith are one of two groups -- the other being the enigmatic and dangerous Shadeweavers -- who wield powers which appear to be effectively magical. The users of these powers, the Initiate Guides, are the high priests of the Faith, which believes that the Arena is nothing less than a testing ground for the gods. As the leader of the Faith, Nyanthus is the most powerful and revered of the Initiate Guides and one of the most formidable beings in the Arena.
The Faith is a generally benign religion, and Nyanthus makes a point of greeting Humanity and offering support to the newcomers. He is a wise and considerate being, and one with a keen awareness of the political and social issues surrounding the implications of the Arena from both practical and religious points of view. While there are those he does not get along with -- most notably members of the Vengeance, who have a different and very hostile view of the Arena, and the Shadeweavers, which the Faith view as something akin to demons -- Nyanthus rarely lets his personal issues stand in the way of doing what he sees as right, and is usually willing to take the long view rather than attempt to push his agenda through directly. He can afford to be patient; after all, he is serving the will of the gods.
In personality, Nyanthus is a kindly and generous being, with a voice in the Arena's human translation that is deep, rich, and sympathetic. He is, however, quite capable of revealing steel beneath his warm exterior, and those who cross him will invariably regret it.
Dajzail of the Molothos
If ever there was a species that deserved the epithet "Bug-Eyed Monster", the Molothos would be the one in top contention for the spot. A nightmarish combination of crab, praying mantis, lamprey, and centaur, the Molothos are massive armored killing machines with topnotch brains buried in their torsos, bladed forelimbs, and a grinding, ripping mouth. The Molothos as a species are xenophobic or, more properly, xenomisoic; they hate everything that isn't of their own kind, and their monstrous appearance reinforces the impression of a species of utterly irredeemable monsters.
This would however be a terrible oversimplification. Within their own species, the Molothos are sympathetic, helpful, and loyal, with many admirable traits they simply never waste on outsiders. They choose from their best and brightest to run their vessels, and, of course, to lead their Factions.
Dajzail is the current Leader of the Molothos. Arrogant and hateful from any external point of view, he currently is one of Humanity's worst enemies; Humanity has humiliated the Molothos twice and the Molothos -- one of the most powerful, and certainly most feared -- factions has declared war against Humanity. Dajzail has been observing each conflict, each Challenge, that Humanity has faced, and is now biding his time. His people are closing in on the location of Humanity's Sphere, and once it is discovered...
Amas-Garao of the Shadeweavers
Nearly as tall as Ariane when standing at his full height, Amas-Garao tends to crouch within the voluminous, almost completely concealing robes of the Shadeweavers, making him seem significantly shorter. As one of the oldest and most powerful of the Shadeweavers, Amas-Garao is a figure inspiring trepidation, even fear, from almost all residents of Nexus Arena.
The Shadeweavers themselves wield magic-like powers -- which most attribute to some level of access and control over the unknown technology that makes the Arena function -- and remain aloof and separate from all other Factions. They are, technically, not precisely a Faction, as they do not function as a unified group in most cases and follow apparently different rules from those of any other group. In general, an individual Shadeweaver is considered to be so formidable as to be almost invincible, and their services are greatly in demand. All Shadeweavers wear a species-appropriate variant of the nearly unmarked, and thus instantly recognizable, black cloak; these can apparently serve as some level of protection for the Shadeweaver and have been known to conceal various details of the wearer's anatomy from easy viewing by literally "weaving shade" in front of openings. They and the Faith do not generally get along, as the Faith consider the Shadeweavers to be dark wizards or demons, and the Shadeweavers believe the Faith to be, at their core, con-men or self-deluded wielders of the essentially same power as the Shadeweavers.
Amas-Garao himself is one of the major forces within the loose association of Shadeweavers. He has been around for many decades, even centuries, and is known as a manipulator par excellence; Orphan and others have expressed the view that almost nothing Amas-Garao does is without careful consideration. Even events that appear to surprise him may not be surprises at all, but expected events to which his reactions are as meticulously planned as anything else. While it is very likely that Ariane's victory itself was a surprise, other elements of that victory and Humanity's performance in the Arena may even be part of an ongoing plan by this extremely enigmatic and dangerous being. Underneath the hood, Amas-Garao is very inhuman, with a savage fanged semi-reptilian visage, yellow eyes, and smooth, semi-scaled skin; to date, no other beings of his species have been mentioned, so even the name of his species is unknown.
Relgof Nov'Ne Knarph of the Analytic
Head Researcher and thus Leader of the Faction of the Analytic, Relgof is a cheerful, friendly individual given to broad gestures and quick enthusiasms. A scientist and information specialist at heart, opportunities for learning are Relgof's great passion. As Humanity represents an immense store of previously unknown and inaccessible data, he is particularly fascinated by these First Emergents and has become particularly good friends with Dr. Simon Sandrisson. Tall and lanky-looking, Relgof is superficially humanoid in overall design, with two legs, two arms, one head, and bilateral symmetry. His eyes are larger than human and more "bulging" in appearance, and he has a feathery crest atop his head which gives the impression of a somewhat wild head of hair only moderately controlled by tonsorial effort. His wide mouth is usually covered by a beard-like filtering structure which can move in various scooping and grabbing motions; his species, the Wagamia, are descended from filter-feeders and still do so when possible (although they are capable of eating other foods depending on the specific type of food).
"Doctor Rel", as he is often called, has been of considerable service to Humanity, and has exhibited a considerable shrewdness as well as honor in the way in which he has even manipulated his own faction to achieve what he considers the proper results. He has frequently attempted to convince Simon to join the Analytic, but shows no rancor at his human friend's refusals thus far. Despite his disarming and engaging personality, it should never be forgotten that he is the Leader of one of the Great Factions, and thus almost certainly with other, completely unknown long-term goals.