All characters (unless stated otherwise) belong to the same ethnic group: Dahlsi. They’re easily recognizable by their short stature (average height 150cm/5ft) and frail built. They have pasty white skin, straight black hair, narrow, upturned, eyes with prominent epicanthic folds and bright irises; and pronounced facial features.
Physically, they’re very frail and sickly, susceptible to diseases, allergies, and sunburns. Due to eating only nutritional paste for millennia, they have trouble digesting natural foods. Their life expectancy is around 25 cycles (50 years).
On the other hand, their average Kevar score (the amount of ae, the magical energy, they can process) is slightly higher than other humans.
Tarvissi are similar, but they’re taller (average height 180cm/6ft) and more physically robust. They don’t suffer from chronic diseases or allergies and they get tanned instead of sunburned.
Basically they're what you would get if you split one population into two groups, let one live in the Garden of Eden and the other on Mars, and wait a few thousand years.
I say that because I don’t want anyone to imagine them as “default” (read: Caucasian) characters. They’re not. Their ancestors left Earth some hundred thousand years ago (btw. the gene mutation responsible for white skin is only 8,000 years old) and they evolved into completely separate ethnic groups.
Also, I wanted the names to be pronounced exactly as they’re spelled. So Aldeaith is pronounced: Ald-e like "elephant"-a like "alphabet"-i like "innocence"-th.
Aldeäith Tearshan/Aldait Han-Tirsan
Parents: father Haneaith Tearshan (deceased), mother Aurimal Tearshan
Other family: two older brothers, Giern and Arok (deceased), older sister Aevaleen. His mother tried for more children, but she miscarried two then gave up.
Place of birth: Nes Peridion
Age: 13 cycles/27 years
Kevar score: 0.89
Distinguishing marks: none
Favorite color: amber gold (color of plants in Nes Peridion)
Likes: food, nature, books, geometric patterns
Dislikes: crowds, social interaction, magic
Fears: making fool of himself
Born as a fourth child of colonists from Tarviss, after eldest son Giern and a pair of twins: Arok and Aevaleen. Due to rough living conditions on Nes Peridion, very quickly he had to witness the death of both of his elder brothers (Giern of dysentery, Arok of crawling pains) as well as his mother’s failed attempts at having further children.
Aldeäith was always quiet and withdrawn, which only increased in age. Because of his difficulties in communicating, he was widely considered by people in Nes Peridion an idiot. However the Dahlsi teacher who came to Nes Peridion to look after the colony found him curious, with a particular talent for languages.
His reputation hasn’t improved however as he grew older and showed no interest in either upkeeping his parents’ farm or starting family of his own. After his father’s death, he left Nes Peridion to join Mespana. At the time of The Outworlder, as a member of the Seventh Cohort, he stations and lives in Sfal. Because Dahlsi have problems with his long name, they simplify it to Aldait (and added Han as a middle name)
He speaks five languages, three of which he taught himself, but he still struggles to communicate.
He’s a pretty good cook, although in Sfal he prefers eating out.
Author’s note: many of Aldeaith’s social failures are based on my own misadventures.
Parents: mother Amma Ris-Layet, father unknown (but most likely an outworlder, probably a Chaarite)
Other family: partner Vrele Mar-Kohir, two sons Kiarn Vre and Rison Vre
Place of birth: Sfal
Ethnicity: Dahlsi (probably half-Chaarite)
Age: 15 cycles/29 years
Education: an allar’s degree in sorcery with specialization in manual magic
Kevar score: 1.8
Distinguishing marks: bald, dark eyes, ectrodactyly (his hands are split in the middle with separated thumb and the rest of the fingers fused together).
Favorite color: terracotta
Fears: not being good enough
Dislikes: people making assumptions
Being pregnant didn’t stop Argan Am’s mother from partying. Nor did it make her attend prenatal checks, which resulted in Argan Am being born with malformed hands and feet—something that in Dahls could be easily fixed with a spell. His brain was perfectly normal though, and from the youngest age, he was determined to become a better person than his mother.
He joined the Academy and despite the obvious difficulties finished it with honors and specialization with manual magic (that is, magic that requires extensive use of hands and gestures, something that is generally thought impossible for people like him). Unfortunately, most of his knowledge was theoretical, with limited practical use.
After receiving his degree, though he didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to do. Since everyone he met assumed that he’d chose healing magic, he grew to dislike this particular branch (although he does possess a basic knowledge about it, like all sorcerers). His wish was to obtain a set of specialized five-fingered prosthetics that would allow him to utilize his knowledge in a more practical manner, but they were not reimbursed by the Dahlsian government and were too expensive to buy on a whim. Coaxed by his friend, he decided to join Mespana, but Innam Ar-Leig, vessár responsible for training new recruits, refused to allow him into active duty, concerned with his ability to survive, instead pointing him to the healing corps until he earned enough money to afford the prosthetics. Since then he joined Mespana as a full member and worked for them ever since.
Argan Am is usually calm and level-headed. He can be painfully honest, although generally, he prefers to avoid confrontations.
In his free time he enjoys music and he regrets not being able to play the flute (first because of his hands, then because between work and two kids he doesn’t have time to learn).
Author’s note: Argan Am started as a throwaway character in the prequel, but since then I incorporated him in the main story. That created problem, since I already had a character I lovingly nicknamed “the last dominant-race-straight-healthy male in the universe”. So I had to figure out some original way to set AA apart. I didn’t want to make him another gay (I’m all for inclusivity). At that time I watched a talk by a guy with ectrodactyly and decided that yep, that’s what I’m gonna do.
Then I realized that Argan Am is already bi-racial, so I needn’t bother—but frankly, it hasn’t even occurred to me; for me he was Dahlsi. He was born Dahlsi, he was raised Dahlsi. His skin is darker and he went bald quicker—so what?
Parents: mother Talia Sar-Voig, father Innam Var-Sannos
Other family: boyfriend Nomik Ay-Varom
Place of birth: Dahls
Ethnicity: Dahlsi (although his grandmother was from Csivelin, and thanks to her Saral Tal has more rounded eyes than typical Dahlsi)
Age: 17 cycles/32 years
Kevar score: 1.2
Distinguishing marks: childish look, wide eyes
Favorite color: green
I honestly don’t know what to say about him. Saral Tal was conceived to be a perfectly normal guy, a counterbalance for all of my beloved mess-ups. He has good family relations. A loving boyfriend. He doesn’t have a mental health issue, deformity, or even past trauma. He’s socially adjusted. Open, friendly, and optimistic. Seriously, wtf am I supposed to say about him? What normal people like him even do for fun? Apart from going out with friends? Are there moments when he’d prefer to be alone, or cuddle with Nomik, MagicMirrorFlix, and chill? I don’t know. Someone, please help me.
Parents: long dead
Other family: son Tollam Mal-Havec
Place of birth: Dahls
Age: 21 cycles/42 years
Kevar score: 1.1
Distinguishing marks: none
Hobbies: sports, crocheting
Favorite color: black or white
Malyn Tol was born in Dahls at the very beginning of the Meoninan colonization. As an adult, she moved to Sfal where she worked for the Immigration Office, reviewing application to the colonies. There she met Tarvissian colleague who taught her to make crochet dolls, which became Malyn Tol's great passion. At some point, she also met a man who became a father of her son, but he was a useless bum, so she kicked him out and did her best to forget him. She had many more successful relationships, with both men and women, since then (but no more children; when she was young, Dahls was still suffering from overpopulation and had strict birth limits. The limits were later abolished as Dahlsi expanded into Meon cluster, but she couldn’t mentally get over them).
One day she witnessed riots led by ssothian immigrants. Ssothians are big creatures, 210cm/7ft in height, and weighing up to 300kg/660lb. The riots caused widespread destruction as well as terror among weaker tlaloi. Malyn Tol decided that this will not do, and joined Mespana, that at this time started taking on a more militaristic role.
Malyn Tol is very caring and protective. She would defend all universe from all harm if she could. She rarely swears.
Author’s note: Malyn Tol was born when I was wondering what groups are underrepresented. Then I was hit by a realization: middle-aged women. I don’t even read YA, but most female protagonists I come across are either teenagers or young women. Occasionally you meet a crone whose role is imparting wisdom on the next generation. If you find anyone in between, her role is certainly The Mother (and if you think she may have any personality traits other than being supportive of her child or not, think again). And because I wanted my characters to be humans rather than cutouts, and I didn’t want her to be stereotypical “tough chick”, I gave her maternal disposition and love for crocheting. Yes, she’s here to kick ass and crochet (and she’s all out of yarn).
You have no idea how long have I waited to make this joke. Please, save your tomatoes.
Parents: unknown, he was raised by Kanven Sandeyron
Place of birth: Dahls
Age: 20 cycles/40 years at the time of Octopus Song, 24 cycles/49 years at the time of The Outworlder
Kevar score: 3.2
Hobbies: sex and drugs
Dislikes: people, magic
Born at the time of severe birth limitation, Tayrel was given away by his parents for Kanven Sandeyron, a company invested in the production of various magical or technomagical advancements, to be used in medical research. Kanven was obliged to provide him with education, social interactions, and psychological care, but in exchange, they did use him to test therapies aimed at increasing human’s magical potential. The therapy proved successful, raising his Kevar score to 3.2, which made him officially the most powerful human sorcerer that ever lived. Furthermore, it gave him strong telepathic skills he can’t tune out. But the testing made him loathe everything related to magic and learning (as it was provided by the same people who experimented on him). Therefore he never completed his formal education.
During his stay at Kanven he met a boy named Tollam who became his first boyfriend. One day Tollam disappeared and Tayrel knows he died, as it sometimes happened with the test subjects.
When Tayrel Kan reached adulthood, he could leave Kanven, which he did. At first, he struggled with living outside and especially interacting with people who were not researchers or test subjects. And because of his telepathy, he knew every bad thing people thought about him. That sowed the seeds of his future misanthropy. Finally, he found his place in the Immigration Office, where his telepathy allowed him to communicate with nonhuman colonists. Unfortunately, he caught the attention of his female supervisor, who fell in love with him. When he found out, he freaked out and was less than gentle while rejecting her, for which she retaliated by firing him. He then became an explorer, surveying newly discovered worlds in Meon Cluster. There, he met another boyfriend and their relationship lasted a few cycles.
Then, some newly created organization called Mespana managed to gain monopoly at exploring and the couple faced the choice: join it or change careers. Tayrel was ready to change, his dislike for working for others too great, but his boyfriend convinced him otherwise.
They broke up shortly after. But the job seemed bearable, and there were plenty of pretty guys, so Tayrel Kan decided to stay.
Tayrel Kan never learned his parent’s names. Kan comes from Kanven ("Sandeyron" means "Company"), Trever is a surname given to boys whose fathers are not known (girls take surnames from their mothers).
Since an early age, he exhibited problems with authority that continued for the rest of his life.
His drug use (and later abuse) has deeper roots: it dampens his telepathy. And anyway, inebriated people don't have many thoughts for him to overhear. Even when he came clean, he was frequenting drug dens, just to get some bloody silence.
Author’s note: Tayrel Kan is actually the oldest of my characters. I conceived him some, oh, ten years ago? At the same time I started working on the part of the universe that later became the Meon Cluster. In the first story he was meant to appear, he was taken straight out of the music of Spiritual Front: a sad guy sitting in a bar, mourning the love he lost, losing himself in intoxication, and casual sex. I planned a few stories for him, he was almost my main character at the time.
But then I got a serious depressive episode and I gave up on everything in life, including writing.
That lasted a couple of years, but finally, I got myself together. I wrote The Outworlder based on three sentences I found in my old documents and the experience I gathered being depressed and hopeless. There, I included Tayrel Kan as a side character. He was a bit different; his darkest time was over and he was doing a pretty good job at hiding his depression behind snark (blame Marvel movies for that). Anyway, he turned out to be an absolute favorite of all of my beta readers and editors, so when I needed a character to test a certain concept, he was an obvious choice. Thus Octopus Song was born. He’s much younger there and not yet fully depressed and… I wouldn’t say innocent. Less sinful?
I plan to give him a few more stories, maybe even resurrect some concept I was toying with all those years ago.