Category Archives: Character Spotlight

Evil Toons

So, the blog prompts are going to be coming every so often, and I figured I’d give my first whack at this one, even though, as I’ll explain, I can’t really answer this just yet:

With the recent death of the talented Michael Ansara, the Trek universe loses the man who brought to life a character that was, perhaps, the first three-dimensional Klingon, Kang.

Michael Ansara as Kang

In Day of the Dove, Kang isn’t just out to fight the bad old humans. Instead, he listens to reason.

And so our newest prompt asks – how do you write evil characters who are not mere caricatures? Do you find ways to garner sympathy, even for the wicked (or the devil, perhaps?)? Do you surprise your readers by turning a character from good to evil, or evil to good? How grey is the shading?

Bonus questions!  1) Which evil characters have you enjoyed writing the most?  2) Which evil character, created by another author, have you enjoyed reading the most? 3) Which canon evil character do you enjoy watching or reading the most?

So!  Evil characters!  Because every hero needs a good foil or, even better, a villain.

As of now, my evil characters come down to…zero.  I have no actually evil characters.  The closest were both featured in “Ghost Ship;” the Devidians (and their leader, the Phantom), and the Hirogen (led by the Beta Gan and Gamma Tunarj).

The Devidians I drew heavily from both their actions in the TNG episode “Time’s Arrow” as well as the enemy group from Star Trek Online (the setting for Rafale – Star Trek Online).  Writing them was very easy; they were hunters, but in a different sense from the Hirogen that were also showcased.  While the Hirogen had rituals and codes about the glory of The Hunt, the Devidians were interested only in feeding their brood.

The Hirogen found themselves not only with a power vacuum (necessitating the Beta’s rise to the Alpha position on the battleship), but also with a pesky Federation Akira-class that was living up to her sister-ships’ reputation.  This made writing the Hirogen fun; they had been featured heavily in VOY, and play a large role in the game once the player begins taking missions in the old Romulan Neutral Zone (now home to the Romulan Republic, a new faction and ally to both the Klingons and the Federation, despite the war between the two).  Without going into too many spoilers, the empress opened up much of Romulan space to the Hirogen to hunt in in exchange for their loyalty; thus, why the Hirogen are in the game and in Romulan space.  In VOY, we saw a few underlings rise to take their Alpha’s positions:  once was because he died fighting an Undine (Species 8472) during a hunt, similar to the situation I created in my story; another, because the Alpha was killed in a coup attempt, again somewhat similar to the situation (the Beta deciding to simply take charge, regardless of his Alpha’s status).  They were always, however, portrayed as simply enjoying the sport of hunting, no matter the obstacles their prey made for them.  I decided to make this particular Beta, one who had never failed his Alpha, desperate to continue succeeding (thus his repeated attempts to destroy the Rafale).  I thought it turned out rather well, and I hope other people enjoyed.

But, still, I don’t have just some Evil Villain to thwart Jessica and the Rafale


Borderline “villains” in my series currently could be Seymour Sonia and Elaina Seurer.  Seurer, the Chief Engineer, was senior to Jessica prior to and during the Battle of Vega; Jessica overstepped Seurer to take command and save her friends, prompting Starfleet to reward her with command of the Rafale.  While Seurer was more than happy to continue on as the Chief Engineer, she makes sure Jessica knows who outranks whom, and that her loyalty is to the ship and crew – not Jessica.

Sonia, on the flip side, has no loyalty to the ship or crew.  He also outranked Jessica prior to the battle.  Unlike Seurer, who did make an attempt to take charge and do something about the state of affairs on the ship, Sonia hid in a Jeffries tube in shock for two weeks after the battle.  His act of cowardice – an act which prevented him from being in Engineering and stepping up similarly to Jessica – along with her innocent request to keep him as her Operations officer, has Sonia at odds with her constantly.  He is always looking for some way to embarrass Jessica, to prove that she should not be in command.  He isn’t make attempts to take command from her and Obruz; he only wants to discredit them so that more “qualified” people (like Seurer) can take the center chair instead.

Are these people evil?  Not really (though Sonia is a douchebag).  Still, they are fun to write, especially since just like the Devidians and Hirogen offered countering displays of predatory nature, both Sonia and Seurer are displaying different instances of insubordination.  One, while willing to be disruptive to Jessica behind closed doors, still does her job as an officer; the other doesn’t care who hears him, he wants the world to know what he really feels about his captain.

As for other people’s villains, I’m afraid my knowledge is limited since I’ve been trying to finish muddling through the Gibraltar series.  Right now, my favorite is (and I’m sure this is pretty easy to guess) The Baron.  I would kill to be able to think of a villain like that and write him, and he is definitely the favorite villain so far in the series (though *HIDDEN FOR SPOILERS* in “Scorched Earths” is starting to take his place…which pisses me off because I LOVED her character.  *sigh*)

Canon evil characters…I dunno.  I love Khan obviously (Montalban, original series and movie Khan, not the hack job from STID, though Cumberbatch did a good job with what he was given), and Chang from Undiscovered Country was fun too.  I really like Dukat and Weyoun, though I don’t know that Weyoun was ever truly “evil.”  Dukat, though, was definitely off his rocker, bat shit, freaking crazy.

I think, once I get some actually evil characters into my fic, I might revisit this.  We’ll see.  Leave your comments down below, and if you’ve got a question you want me to address, just let me know!

Tell Me Who Are You

What?!  Homework?!  I never wanted to go back to school…*sigh*

To be honest, it was either this blog prompt or the one for yesterday: Sell Yourself.  For as much as I like to toot my own horn and for as proud as I can get about my work…I’m not very good on the selling part of it.  I can be painfully shy, especially when put on the spot to say how awesome I am.  SO…onto mirandafave’s homework assignment:

What approaches do you take to writing and conceiving your characters? Do you have their milestones and the path that made them mapped out already? Do you perhaps also have their future map laid out? How do you go about realizing and bringing from conception to written reality your characters?

Writing and conceiving my characters tends to be off the cuff, at least in the After Darkness universe.  I just started writing and they gradually fell into place; personalities, relationships, interactions.  None of it was planned out (such as the Captain and “Abuela” being romantically involved.  That was something that I wrote down, I looked at it, and said “I like it!” and it stuck around).

Rafale – Star Trek Online has been different.  Keep in mind, I had been playing the game with these characters for about two years before I started seriously writing anything about them.  On top of that, Jessica and Justine were carried over from City of Heroes; they already had their personalities set in stone.  There were still a few tweaks to be made (they were graduated from college now, rather than high-schoolers in City of Heroes).  So those characters were the easiest.

Obruz Dossu, the First Officer, came next.  He was the first “Bridge Officer” I received in the game, so I got to know him quickest.  He was Bajoran, and I made his costume include the traditional earring; he’d be a follower of the faith, perhaps handed down from his father?  I put a scar on his face; a memento of a past conflict that troubles him still to this day, thus his refusal to get the scar healed.  I made him a security officer, rather than a tactical officer; he has more of a mind for ground tactics and people skills, rather than ship’s weaponry and tactics.  From there, I came up with his story.  He was a security officer on the same, ill-fated ship as Justine and her lover, Bridget.  During the battle, he would have gotten into a confrontation with a Borg drone; the close brush with death, combined with all the loss of life in that battle would cause him to want to keep his scars as a reminder of the battle and what had been lost.  His faith he would attribute to his father, a cleric who had died some time ago from a relic of the Cardassian Occupation; while still very important to Dossu, his faith would falter with the death of his father, and waver more after the Battle of Vega.  He chooses to follow Jessica into her new command out of a sense of repayment for her saving his life.

Next was Nizeri Sano, the Trill science officer.  I chose to model her appearance and voice on Renee Felice Smith’s character Nell Jones on NCIS: LA.  She’s knowledgeable and confident in her abilities, but she needed some more of that “junior officerness” about her, as she was another officer thrust into the command staff because of the death of her predecessor.  It wouldn’t be till much later (about a year ago, actually) where her fear of being joined was added to her character, so that she would be bound thematically to a character of TPhoenix’s on his Independence.  Her relationship with Wirstowx came about randomly; I liked the idea of the largest, strongest alien on the ship protecting the most fragile, smallest one, so I put the two together.

Wirstowx was a no-brainer for me.  I had finally come up with a name for his race – the Oza – for their appearance in Archangel, as well as their physical appearance.  I wanted to actually make one, so I used the game’s character creator to help design his look.  I loved the result so much that I kept it; Wirstowx would be one of a handful of Andromeda Galaxy aliens (to include Jessica) who had decided to go to the Milky Way before it was closed off from Andromeda, never to return home again.  Much of what he does is random, but it’s easy to do for an alien who says very little; Wirstowx is the brawn for my story.

Most of the characters from there on I began formulating as I played the game.  Seymour was going to have a “fighter-pilot” kinda cockiness about him; Elaina would be prone to taking risks, and somewhat less inclined to be happy with Jessica outranking her; S’Tel would be stoic and Vulcan in public, but willing to let her facade come down in private or with those close to her.  I also decided that she would eventually transfer off the ship, allowing me to introduce a new doctor for the ship.  As the characters ran around on the screen during away missions, I would think of who they were, what they would be saying, what was going through their mind as they did things.  I still fill in the gaps for much of the stories, but the basics are all already determined; I know enough about who they are to know what makes sense in-character for them and what wouldn’t make sense.

How’s that for the homework assignment, mirandafave?  lol

Origin of a Character: Storm Scream

So, it was requested in the last blog to spill the beans on the inspiration for Jessica, the young commander of the Starship Rafale.  Not necessarily a spotlight on the character herself, but rather where she (as a character concept, rather than the character herself) came from.

To tell this story, we need to go back a few years.  Late 2005/early 2006, while I was still in college.  While I was at school, I was exposed to the wonderful world of online gaming, first with Final Fantasy XI Online and then shortly there after with City Of Heroes.  City Of Heroes (CoH) was a remarkable setting with unprecedented character customization that only got better as the game aged (I jumped on the bandwagon a year after it was released, and played it up until a year before it was suddenly and unexpectedly shut down, so for around 6 years total).  My original character was called “The Air Man;”  he was a gadget-type hero (similar to Batman is) who used an assault rifle.  His premise was an Air Force officer gone superhero; Major Jason St. Peter by day, and a gun-toting, BDU-wearing vigilante by night with an insane arsenal behind him.  I played as Air Man for years…he was what was called my “main,” or “primary character.”  I developed his backstory and began role playing as him in small groups.

Shortly after I got the ball rolling on Air Man, an update to the game was released – you could now create characters with “sonic blast” abilities.  I was playing around with the character creator on a whim and created a mutant teenager who could control the weather (think Storm from X-Men).  She wound up being blue-skinned with blue hair -the stereotypical Marvel Mutant.  But, instead of using offensive storm abilities (it’s a bit dangerous to hurl lightning at people, kinda like shooting them with an assault rifle), she would instead channel the static electricity through special gloves she wore that housed powerful speakers in them.  Now, she could offensively use her lightning powers, but instead they would be non-lethal sonic blasts.  I chose a pretty fitting name for her that I was surprised hadn’t already been taken:  Storm Scream.

I had no idea that I had just created one of my most beloved characters, one that I would recreate in every online game I’ve played since.

I began to get tired of playing as Air Man; he was fun, sure, but when my goal of playing a game is to escape my life, and I go from preparing to enter the Air Force to playing an Air Force hero twice my age…it wasn’t very easy.  I found another role play group whose setting was a high school for super-powered kids – sort of like Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children – and decided to give them a try.  I pulled Storm Scream down from the shelf, dusted her off, and fleshed out her back story.

Storm Scream was adopted as a baby, after being found in the rubble of her father’s – a mutant villain called Thunderhead – lair.  The villain’s nemesis, a hero that went by the name The Air Man, rescued her and soon after adopted the young girl, naming her Jessica.  When she was old enough to understand, he began mentoring her as a hero, creating her sonic gloves to help harness her unpredictable and dangerous weather powers.  Her personality was based on a conglomeration of myself and my two best friends, as were a few of her dark secrets – Jessica struggled with image issues (feeling that her blue skin made her even more of an outcast than she already was as a mutant) that manifested as self-injury.  I didn’t really know it at the time, but it was my own way of coping with my two friends, who suffered from similar issues of image and self-injury.

Jessica became my main at that point, and for the next 5 years she was…well…alive.  Teenage drama, High school drama, love, loss, rivalry…scenario after scenario happened.  I made many friends and burned probably just as many bridges, but it was an incredible ride.  Her last great story, before I left the game for good, was to become embroiled in a love triangle of questionable circumstances with her two best friends:  an empath named Justine Dubois; and a mutant capable of “hypnotizing” a person with a chemical that she secreted from her skin who went by the name “Dearest,” but known otherwise as Bridget Kinsley.  Justine and Jessica were happily in love with Bridget and each other, and Bridget was happily in love with Justine and Jessica.  It drew more than one quirked eyebrow and head-shake, but dammit, we had fun.  And no, not THAT kind of fun…

Star Trek Online went online in February 2010, and Justine’s player, BrandNewHero, and I came over, bringing our two favorite characters with us.  Justine was recreated as half-Betazoid, and Jessica was re-created as a one-of-a-kind alien found in the Andromeda Galaxy by a young medical officer (Jason St. Peter).  Bridget’s player came with us as well, but was less-inclined to bring Bridget – and the “trio” – to the new setting.  BNH and I, not wanting the “trio” scenario again either but still wanting some reason for Jessica and Justine to come together, decided to kill Bridget in the opening story.  It was not an easy decision, and it was a heart-wrenching scene to role play out.  The results can be seen in “Blood Red Dawn” and “Fix You.”

The rest, as they say, is history.  Jessica’s stories are being written down at Ad Astra, and she continues to live an incredible life – just in a very different setting.