#9 Backstory: Nate Elm and Vanshini

Continuing with the human backstories...

Backstory: Nate Elm (timeline = a year prior to our story)

Nate is young (46 aka 28 ish in our terms physically) and studied the Karlee disaster for nearly 15 years. He was very upset as a young man about Karlee, which inspired him to study zoology. His intense passion for it led him to specifically research the extinct Dolfee and all of the video, studies, and work done by OWFI before and during the event. He published research that decodes the Dolfee sounds into a language.

Nate discovered that the Dolfee were far more intelligent than people thought and the Dolfee had concluded that the change in their planet was the end of their life cycle. They opted for mass extinction instead of slowly dying off by starving as their ocean transcended to the era of humankind. They accepted that evolution dictated the change and offered themselves to the new masters. Nate’s reports galvanized advocate groups and put serious hurt on OWFI’s reputation.

Nate becomes well known as an aggressive (although reluctant) voice against the OWFI work. For Nate, it isn’t as much about OWFI as trying to raise awareness to future planet-wide extinctions could be averted. Human history is so full of completely wiping out life on planets, Nate thinks we can do better. He is uncomfortable being pushed by the media as the counter-OWFI person, mainly due to shyness, but accepts it overall due to the cause.

Kennedy comes to visit Nate and has a very uncomfortable time. Although Nate is very attracted to Kennedy both physically and because she is a brilliant scientist, he makes a lot of negative remarks about her and OWFI. Kennedy counters that she is a biologist, not a zoologist and OWFI didn’t have the right people at Karlee. She discusses the changes OWFI has been working on the last 15 years, but Nate counters that other planets since then have had indigenous life routed, the only real change is that OWFI has gotten better at managing the media. Nate presses hard on Kennedy, questioning why she came to see him in the first place.

Kennedy reveals that she is trying to recruit Nate to work for OWFI. He has complained, loudly, about OWFI for over a decade, making a lot of strong points that need to be addressed, now is his chance to make change, from the inside. She claims that OWFI is serious about changing how indigenous life is treated. And…

She shows him some long-distance photos of some monkey-like creatures. Creatures on FP117, a new planet targeted to become a farming resource. The planet has an odd vegetative ring on the surface and the monkeys seem to be everywhere. She says Nate is, by far, the best advocate these monkeys could have as the planet will be evaluated, the substrate they have collected has hit marks unseen before. The planet is going to be a farm, like it or not, the question is: what do they do with the monkeys?

Nate is intrigued, Kennedy is very convincing, the monkeys are amazing! They are obviously intelligent and deserve to be treated well. Kennedy says that is up to Nate, but he would have to join OWFI. Nate says it would make sense to advocate for them, but he would need to have authority on decisions regarding the monkeys. Kennedy says that he will be able to study them and provide his case, but final authority is not something they will let Nate have. He refuses, Kennedy leaves, visibly upset at wasting her time with this idiot. Nate continues to look at the monkey pictures after Kennedy is gone.

Weeks later, Kennedy reaches out to Nate. OWFI management has agreed to his terms, he will have final say on the matter. But he has to be part of the team that surveys the planet and it will take about a year to train and travel to the planet and at least six months to study and create a plan for the farming operation. Nate agrees, he will join OWFI. He asks if she is going to call him “boss” now, Kennedy rolls her eyes and hangs up.

Backstory: Vanshini (Van) (timeline: 80 years prior to our story)

Vanshini (“Van”) is a 110-year-old (remember physically in her late 60s) experienced and brutal female war veteran. She was born and raised on the planet Valkyrie, an inhabited planet with meager food production resources (not a “farming planet” like others above). The planet was settled by several extremely wealthy families and the families became the government. Over the centuries, the families prospered and grew into an entire world of people. With the advances extending human life, the people on Valkyrie consumed all existing resources and became a huge importer of OWFI goods. Valkyrie is completely dependent on other world resources to maintain it’s out of control population.

The situation grew into massive wars, fighting, and resource contention on a scale unimaginable on Earth. Of the billions of people now on Valkyrie, only 1% are living the privileged life of wealth, luxury, and power. More than 70% of the planet are impoverished, starving, and miserable and the remainder of people work for the families in some capacity or another. It is a study of survival and brutality, basically the entire government is a mob-style organization of a dozen major families. Violence and power is what you need to survive. Even the OWFI resources, when provided, come via dozens of space elevators directly in the control of one or another mob family on Valkyrie.

Van’s birth family was lower middle-class and she joined the army of the Lamm family. She spent 60 years working in security and warfare to progress the Lamm agenda. She was a brutal and efficient killer, an expert in war, and would simply do anything necessary to achieve a goal. The Lamm family groomed Van and then had her join OWFI as a security detail for them. The Lamm family (as with many other powerful families on Valkyrie) routinely plant agents in OWFI to protect their interest. Van’s experience and capability make her one of the best agents Lamm has ever had.

Now working in OWFI, Van has helped settle four different farming planets, but was not part of the Karlee disaster directly. Van has done very well for Lamm, securing abnormally high provisions for their drops and establishing a solid network of influence inside OWFI as well. On several of her missions, Van has been instrumental in securing resources, fighting off threats, and establishing new bases. She is one of the most qualified tactical resources in OWFI. After finding out and reading about the value of the substrate on FP117, Van made it happen that she was selected to go on the mission itself. She pulled in favors to push others out of the way. Van (and the Lamm family) see the substrate as extremely valuable.

Next steps

Ok, so I think that establishes our four main characters (Nal, Kennedy, Nate and Van). Given this exercise, my thoughts on this story have changed quite a bit. I now think we could go with a path of writing four completely different stories and a reader could pick a character to experience it through. Or we could just change the focus per chapter in a more traditional writing approach. Or we could establish choices in key places in the story and have divergent endings. Or we could mix and match all of the above!


More soon.

Andrew Zar
July 18, 2018