“You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re my partner? You? I want a refund.”
Xalese Taala Höl
Luytenia, Luyten System
Xalese stands at around 5’3”, she’s shorter than some of her contemporaries at Taiyōtawa Academy, though she doesn’t think much about it. Her appearance resembles her homeworld of Luytenia with her hair being white like the snow-covered terrain and her eyes an icy gray-blue. Her build itself is well-toned, a testament to her childhood being dominated by education in military academy to military academy. Her composure is often reflective of disinterest and disdain, carrying herself with a sense that nothing going on around her is important enough to illicit a response. She rarely smiles or even scowls yet she carries weight with each step she takes. When she speaks people often listen due to how uncommon it is that she’d utter a response beyond factual observations.
Her attire when out of uniform is decidedly simple and conservative. She does not wish to stand out nor bring attention to her physical features.
Ese is cold and abrasive, often looking like she has no interest in the conversations and people around her. Some people perceive this as a sharp arrogance given her bloodline.
Such people who think that are morons. Ese could care less about who is better than who. She’s worked her entire life following orders and doing her best, not for some ill-conceived notion of being the best or living up to her parents but simply it is all she knows. She thinks people are stupid, loudmouths, and all sorts of thing but it has nothing to do with a prescient arrogance. She’s not arrogant, or even particularly confident. She just feels like there are certain personalities and traits she cannot stand. For her to speak up about it rather than ignore it would take a deal of pressure, though there are certain exceptions. When she feels that threshold reaching to a certain point she will turn from icy to downright bone-chilling. Despite her smaller stature and feminine appearance she can wield her presence like a weapon. Few people who have crossed her tend to want to illicit such reactions.
Still, she’s not needlessly prickly. She knows how to be pleasant, it’s just hard for her to be perceived as nice by nature of her burying most of her emotions, anxieties, and vulnerabilities to where she doesn’t have to deal with them.
Xalese is the progeny of two Valkyrie-1 pilots by the name of Ilexander Höl and Taala Viranova. As such Xalese grew up as a child starstruck in wonder, looking up to her parents as she found herself stranded on the snow-capped surface of Luytenia, raised by her maternal grandparents.
It would be an optimistic, albeit envious childhood up until the snow-haired girl was nearing her ninth birthday. The Battle for Sirius Prime was the largest gambit that the Confederacy took part in for years and while the battle was successful it came at the cost of “Geirdriful”, the Valkyrie of which her parents commanded. Joy was ripped from Xalese’s heart and her child-like admiration of the Valkyrie Program and the Confederacy as a whole was changed in an instant. Her parent’s funeral didn’t make things much better as speeches talking of their great sacrifice and how it was an honor to serve by their side were uttered by other pilots and the commanders who orchestrated them in an unwinnable gambit. Ese was nine-years-old. She couldn’t contemplate tactical appraisal. All she knew was that it wasn’t fair.
Tollus Viranova, her grandfather, a former ICW pilot could only reinforce that point as she was told to pick herself up. If she was to avenge her parents or live by their memory she should swallow her melancholy and move forward. It was a cruel lesson to teach to a nine-year-old, but it was a lesson she came to know well when she was sent to a military boarding school with little time to grieve. Compartmentalizing her issues, Ese held onto her feelings of resentment as she buried anything resembling emotion. She came to believe that showing weakness was a flaw and that emotions were weaknesses. The drill instructors made sure to program that in her head. This did not change as she got older and moved to another academy for cadets. She remained quiet as she focused on aptitude and academics. The time she got off she spent back with her grandfather. She had no friends or other family that she knew of. She never resented her grandfather or the military academies she was sent to. Holding onto something her mother told her when she was seven she kept her goals in check; the words that echoed being “Everything in life is a teaching moment”.
Eventually her academics came to a fitting conclusion when her scores netted a cursory letter from Taiyōtawa Academy. With accreditation pointing toward ICW management and piloting she spent the first year alongside other notable cadets in her age bracket like Kalian Cyris II and Heres Konicek. Before the year was over the three of them were called up to meet with Dr. Prixmila Donati and before she knew it she was following in her parents footsteps training as part of a new generation of would-be Valkyrie pilots.
With her now paired with Heres she hopes in her second year to unravel what it means as it appears she and Heres are some of the only ones who had made the cut for the program in their group. Perhaps the new batch of first-years of the academy can bring a well-needed life to the program.
“Oh, trust me, I'm just thrilled to be partnered up with you, too. Now do you wanna help, or did'ja just come here to complain about it?”
Kalian Bel Cyris II. He commonly goes by Bel.
Agria, AKA Tau Ceti E, Tau Ceti System.
When one envisions the son of a hero, Bel probably isn't the first person to come to mind. Standing at the fairly average height of five feet, eight inches, he doesn't exactly have the towering stature or striking looks one might anticipate. His face appears to still be clinging desperately to the last vestiges of its baby fat, with surprisingly round cheeks and a somewhat dull and narrow rather than sharp and chiseled jawline. His nose is low and small, and somewhat round and buttonlike in exactly the manner one might expect an overly affectionate grandmother to find quite pinchable. He has a very prominent forehead - some might call it a fivehead - framed by the short-cropped bangs of his dark, straight, and routinely messy hair, and particularly emphasized by his high-set brow. Neither of these features, one might add, do much to detract from the rather defined contour of a set of bold eyebrows that seem so prone to frowning that you could swear them to be somehow magnetically attracted to his bright, clear blue eyes.
These eyes are, in particular, the crown jewel of his face, with a mature, focused look that perhaps, in some sense, rescues his countenance from looking wholly childish. They have a fascinating sort of energy to them, seeming to shimmer and shift with the slightest change of expression in a way which is wholly captivating. Were the rest of his features half so enthralling as his eyes, there could be no doubting him to be handsome. Nevertheless - particularly when he smiles, revealing almost equally bright rows of white teeth - he could be reasonably called somewhat attractive, or at least cute - a word which he himself would surely never tolerate.
His skin is relatively clear apart from the occasional pockmark, mole, or scar from carelessly scraping or cutting himself by accident upon some jagged piece of metal while working. Having spent his life largely either in space or underground, his skin is unsurprisingly rather pale. Nevertheless, despite his somewhat aloof lifestyle, he's in decent physical shape, probably from hauling around machine parts here and there, or from helping his family stock their small shop back when he lived with them on Agria. Nevertheless, he's less buff than he is simply thin, and as such doesn't exactly have the most imposing sort of figure.
More often than not, he's seen wearing a variety of nondescript hoodies, t-shirts, jeans, and slacks - usually blue, white, red, or gray if he can help it. However, he's particularly often seen simply wearing a hoodie over some casual clothes patterned stylistically like a flight suit, with some simple bits of padding tacked onto them for effect, but coupled with a significantly finer white and red jacket emblazoned with a red delta logo. While this logo was adopted by his engineering group, it was originally the personal crest of his mentor and role model, Captain Asher Zaren, from whom he received the jacket as a present from his days as a pilot. He wears it with pride out of reverence for his mentor, and is seldom seen without it.
Bel could perhaps best be described as a walking contradiction. At a glance, one might describe him as cheerful, confident, and carefree. He's perpetually irreverent and casual, making light of almost any situation and thus finding something in it to amuse himself. He always seems on top of his game, ready for anything that comes his way. And yet, he's also aloof in a sense, as he stubbornly refuses to seriously engage with... well, almost anything, really. His constant joking hides a tendency to seldom treat any matter seriously. This isn't to say he's indecisive or cowardly, however. If forced to address or answer to a challenge head-on, he'll tackle it as best - and as quickly - as he can, all while making it seem effortless. And yet, his reluctance to answer seriously when questioned or rise to the occasion when called hints at the fragility of his ego.
In this sense, he's quite the rebellious teenage spirit. He doesn't like being compared to others, because regardless of his relative competence, he seems to expect he'll be looked down on or spited. And yet, given how hard he tries to look like he's not trying, he also clearly values his reputation. He wants to be praised, or, failing that, to be told that what he's lacking is motivation and effort, not talent. When one figures this out, he's surprisingly easy to lead on bit by bit, as he'll sometimes forget that he's supposed to seem unconcerned when he thinks he's doing well. In these cases, his enthusiasm and pride are clearly quite genuine, and are so earnest that one might find them quite charming in spite of his sometimes obnoxious behavior. The problem is, once he's had time to calm down from his high of pride, he goes right back to being just as affectedly unconcerned as ever.
He's very slow to trust people, and tends to think the worst of almost everyone he meets, always expecting some hidden agenda guiding their actions, and trying above all else to avoid being a pawn in their game. He values his independence very highly, such that he's even hesitant to speak warmly of others, much less be known to have helped them, lest they realize he actually values and admires them. He hates talking about anyone's problems, let alone his own, and as such, can seem quite cold-hearted. And yet, perhaps the one he's trying to deceive is himself, not wanting to admit that despite his desperate efforts to be his own man, utterly unfeeling and unconcerned with the affairs of others, he's actually not as terrible a person as he pretends to be? In truth, what really frustrates him so much in hearing the feelings and hurts of others isn't that they're bothering him and wasting his time with something he doesn't care about, but rather that he can't offer a solution to those problems - a fact he's all too familiar with in his own family life.
His family is, in a phrase, both the root of his many neuroses, and the only exception to them. When it comes to the Keliath family who raised him, he's easily embarrassed by them, but unmistakably warm towards and respectful of them, particularly his mother Anda. However, if there's one thing that makes him go from merely aloof to actually hostile, it's his father. His personality seems to do a complete 180 whenever the elder Kalian Cyris comes into the picture, and he becomes incredibly cold, bitter, and outright angry. Above all else, never compare Bel to his father, especially if that comparison is unfavorable. Doing so might make you an enemy for life.
In short, while he's in some senses kind and devoted to those he truly cares about, Bel is nevertheless a perpetually rebellious teen with severe trust issues, a short temper and a fragile ego - a faker who can't be honest with himself and his own feelings, much less express those things to others. Treat him well, and he'll probably consider you a friend, even if he won't say so. He's not, perhaps, what one would expect of the son of a hero, or of an aspirant hero himself. But he'd probably say that those expectations are ridiculous. Utter selflessness and honesty? Giving up one's own life for the sake of those one doesn't even know? Allowing one's self to be merely a tool, a sacrifice, for the sake of all those cynical adults who play good people like pawns in their big game? His world has never been so big as all that. So long as he's not hurting anyone, and the people close to him are happy, then all the rest will follow - even if he no longer has a place to return to when the fighting's done.
To understand the present-day circumstances of the son of the legendary Hero of Sirius, Kalian Cyris I, one needs first to look at the rather colorful life of his father. Born on the industrial world of Sirius Prime, the Admiral had a fairly average middle class childhood until it was disrupted by the advent of war with the Ascendancy. Forced to flee the planet during the mass-evacuation known today as the Sirian Exodus, the eventual war hero was separated from his birth family and fell in with another family of refugees in order to survive. The daughter of this family, Anda Keliath, would, some years later, become his wife.
Together with the Keliath family, he ended up resettling on the mineral-rich fourth planet in the nearby Tau Ceti system. Due to its dangerous levels of solar radiation on the surface, as well as frequent planetary collisions from accumulated stellar debris in the system, the people of Agria lived almost exclusively in underground city-shelters, with a satellite defense grid in place to break apart incoming meteors. However, due to the limited space in these underground settlements, the influx of refugees from the Sirius system created massive overcrowding problems. Consequently, living conditions were very difficult for the refugees.
Needing a stable source of income, and wanting revenge for all the suffering he saw around him, the young Cyris turned his attention towards the war by volunteering to join the confederate navy. Not long after, however, the war came to him when the Ascendancy began the surprise attack that marked the beginning of its long and arduous siege of the Tau Ceti system. During a basic training flight with his squadron, he stumbled across enemy scout units. A brief skirmish ensued in which several trainees died. The future admiral, however, proved himself admirably, defeating multiple enemies despite sustaining severe damage to his unit in the process.
Because of this, his squadron was able to return to their base in time to warn allied forces of the enemy presence in the system. As such, what might have been a very ignominious defeat instead turned into a very long and brutal battle as, after repulsing the initial surprise attack, the allied fleet was forced into a defensive position within the star system's debris disk, using the asteroids and rubble as a buffer against enemy long range bombardments. In the five years that followed, wave after wave of enemy forces would continually assault Tau Ceti, completely cutting it off from outside support.
However, as it happened, a branch of the top-secret Project Valkyrie was operating in the system, hidden beneath the surface of the frigid, largely uninhabited world of Tau Ceti F. When this planet was attacked by enemy forces looking for the hidden base, the senior Kalian was shot down and forced to land at the installation. There, he and his squadron's communications officer, a woman named Stella Aryos, were asked to serve as the pilots of an untested first-generation Valkyrie unit. With this highly advanced prototype, the pair saved the facility from attack, and subsequently participated in several operations meant to break the siege. They struck at key enemy ships and resupply points, and ultimately drove the Ascendancy from the system with the help of reinforcements from the main Terra Novan fleet. His squadron, bolstered by these reinforcements, was then employed in the long and arduous campaign to cut a path through enemy lines and retake the Sirius system for the confederacy.
Born only three years before the beginning of the Battle of Tau Ceti, Kalian's son, Kalian Cyris II, only spent the early stages of his youth on Agria. Once the siege was broken as his father was deployed elsewhere, he and his mother followed along, as Anda Cyris volunteered to serve as a civilian helper in logistics, living in relative safety with a few other military families on board the supply ships that went to support the main fleet. As he was largely confined to his room to keep him from getting up to trouble on the ship, or otherwise making a nuisance of himself, the young Kalian - then nine years old - had very little contact with anyone save for his mother, or the occasional friend of hers who was assigned to take care of him while she worked.
He was, to begin with, a very timid and affectionate boy, and was practically raised on stories of his father's bravery. He eagerly devoured any and all news of his father's actions, be it from the gossip of soldiers or from the news. One of his clearest memories of his time on the fleet is of the day when his father's name became legendary. When the Ascendancy's elite pilots of the Black Fleet sprung a surprise ambush upon the forces attacking Sirius Prime, concealing themselves behind the mass shadow of a small moon and descending upon the spearhead of the confederate forces - the aces of the Valkyrie Vanguard, commanded by Captain Cyris - the news spread like wildfire through the ship he was on, and in the confusion, little Kalian found himself gathered with the ship's entire crew, watching the viewscreens as the battle played out in real time. Confusion, however, swiftly gave way to horror as one by one, the other units of the Vanguard began to be picked off, until there was only one left: the VPX-012 "Sigmund" piloted by none other than his father.
"Cyris' Stand," as it has become known, lasted for almost half an hour as he and his dwindling forces desperately held the line to protect their mothership, the Ascalon, as its crew evacuated and the rest of the fleet tried to retreat and regroup. Damaged by the opening shots of a massive armored unit armed with a powerful anti-ship beam scatter cannon, it was crippled almost immediately, then beset by the enemy ICWs. The Vanguard fought hard, but was vastly outnumbered, and although they took many of their enemies with them, were quickly whittled down and destroyed through sheer human wave tactics. By the time the fleet's retreat to the edge of the system was completed, only the Captain himself was left alive, his unit damaged, and the mothership little more than a derelict husk drifting in space, with its crew having either gone down fighting or abandoned ship.
Faced with almost an entire squadron's worth of the remaining elite enemy pilots, and staring down a massive mobile weapon that threatened the fleet, the Captain both could not and would not run. So, in a desperate show of defiance, the Sigmund dove straight into the midst of its enemies, preventing them from bringing their mobile weapon to bear for fear of damaging their own units. To the surprise and disbelief of all present, the Sigmund wasn't immediately destroyed, but rather, although losing several of its weapons in the process, proceeded to destroy the entire squadron, one unit at a time. The son of the captain found his horror slowly turning to tentative hope as the Sigmund darted between curtains of cannonfire and at last plunged its blades into the armor of the giant enemy weapon that had destroyed the Ascalon, latching onto it and firing everything it had at point blank. A tremendous explosion split the skies of Sirius Prime... Little Kalian felt his heart stop in his chest, until a shout of joy rose up among the troops, and from the midst of wreckage emerged the battered form of the Sigmund, battered but unbroken!
Following this momentous event, Sirius was retaken, his father was promoted to Admiral, and the war swiftly wound its way down to a close over the three years that followed. Kalian junior was able to see his father again face to face, and, in many cases, was proud to bear witness to the thanks of the Ascalon's entire crew for his bravery in saving their lives. No, more than just that. He was proud to bear the name of such a brave man as his father, and wanted to be just like him when he grew up. This event so struck him that, from that day forward, he had one dream, and one dream alone: to be a pilot like his father before him.
However, in practice, things were far from being that simple. He and his mother moved back to Agria to live with the Keliath family, but Admiral Cyris seldom darkened their door after that day. When he did visit, he seldom stayed long before departing again, pleading that his work with the navy called him to be elsewhere. Gradually, little Kalian realized that his grandparents didn't want to talk about the admiral he so admired, nor could his esteemed mother bear to hear his name mentioned.
They lived comfortably, and the young boy got a good education thanks to the money given them regularly by the admiral. As he grew older, he gradually came to understand that, for reasons undisclosed, his parents were no longer on speaking terms, and despite all his prejudice in favor of his father's heroism, he ultimately came to take his mother's side in the matter. No matter how he looked at it, his father had, for whatever reason, chosen to cut almost all ties with them, and while he perhaps couldn't bring himself to hate the man who was paying almost all of his expenses, let alone the hero who he'd placed on a pedestal for his entire life, nevertheless, he couldn't understand his actions, and couldn't help but hold his father's abandonment of his mother against him.
He was bitter. Not just at his father, but at society in general. People frustrated him, as he'd never been accustomed to dealing with them before, and wasn't about to start now. From his point of view, his business was his own, and other people trying to stick their noses in it were just asking for a fight. The once timid and gentle boy became something of a delinquent, and to avoid causing problems for his mother by fighting, soon tried to avoid contact with people entirely, favoring tinkering with machines to dealing with other people at all.
It was in this state that, at age 17, his father found him. The Admiral had returned unexpectedly, presenting an entirely unforeseen offer. His son had the same capabilities he did. And now, a second generation of the Valkyrie program was underway and needed recruits. Naturally, there was no way that Kalian - who had now taken to calling himself Bel to differentiate himself from his father and to avoid drawing attention to himself - could pass up a shot at his dreams.
...But he refused anyway. He couldn't afford to leave his mother behind. He wouldn't spite her like his father had. Only after she specifically implored him to chase his dreams for her sake did he reluctantly reconsider his stance, take his father's offer, and board the shuttle for the ride to Taiyōtawa Academy, leaving behind the family who had raised him and the life he had known.
Once there, Bel proved himself to be a capable pilot candidate, making an admirable performance in the simulations. He was the rising star of the academy, and there was gossip that once he managed to pair successfully with a partner, he'd be removed immediately to continue his training directly with the fleet under his father's oversight. However, when the time came for his evaluation, almost no TC was willing to even consider partnering up with him due to his demanding attitude, reckless piloting, and short temper. Those who were willing to at least try getting along with him found it completely impossible to come anywhere close to Synchronizing with him, and it was subsequently decided that his Harmonic Wavelengths were too weak to be practicable. He was shunted out of the public eye and removed from the program as quietly as possible, but the backlash of his ignominious fall was nonetheless severe. In a single day, he went from one of the academy's most respected students to its laughingstock, and he himself only felt further vindicated by his former classmates' change of tone in never having trusted any of them.
His father, evidently in an effort to save face, quietly relocated him into the engineering program, then cut all ties once again, leaving Bel in a situation he didn't particularly care for, with his dreams slipping through his fingers. He had always been fond of machines, but that wasn't enough to satisfy him. He wanted something more.
In this state, he was assigned into Engineering Team Delta under the guidance of Captain Asher Zaren, a middle-aged former pilot who had resigned from active duty following his partner and wife's death. Refusing to take on another partner, he instead became an instructor at the academy, helping to teach new pilots as well as managing one of the crews of engineering cadets on the side. Captain Zaren quickly took Bel under his wing, noting his discouragement and taking pity on him. He encouraged his new protege not to give up, but rather to move forward as best he could, and do what he could whenever the opportunity presented itself, even if it wasn't what he'd expected. Zaren motivated him to give his utmost to his engineering training by in turn offering him access to the simulators as a reward, himself serving as the boy's copilot and reading off combat data into the simulator to support him.
While this might have seemed like the Captain was simply following through on his promised reward himself, in actuality, it was something much more. He saw promise in Bel's performance, and felt that if his attitude could simply be adjusted, and his Harmonic Wavelengths thus strengthened unconsciously, he might yet be capable of becoming a pilot. So, he trained his protege personally in an attempt to motivate Bel to rely more on his partner, and tried to get him to interact more not only with the other engineering students, but also with the pilot candidates, hoping to correct the issues he saw. Bel, for his part, came to respect and admire the Captain. While Asher Zaren may have been perhaps inferior to the admiral in rank and fame, he was infinitely his superior when it came to being a father.
So, studying under his new mentor, Bel strengthened his spirits, steeled his resolve, and strove to once more reach for his dreams, unaware of the struggles that would lie ahead of him...
For a space hick, Cinny is a bit of an anomaly. Living in the near-perpetual shadow of her system’s only habitable planet, she lacks the stereotypical awkward tan and sun-bleached hair of farmers from other, more standard planets. She is in fact rather pale, without freckles or blemishes apart from calloused hands and the occasional scar from dealing with varmints and other unwanted guests. Her attire certainly fits the bill however, finding comfort in old staples like overalls, boots, and gloves, though she’s had to give most of that up since joining Taiyōtawa Academy.
Cinny is average in height and surprisingly middling in weight, due to poorly-paying work and the rule that it was generally bad business to eat the crops you were selling. Nevertheless, she’s no twig to be blown over; there’s a deceptive amount of well-worked muscle on those bones as well as the wherewithal to use them.
Despite growing up in the dark, Cinny is possessed of a near-invincibly sunny disposition. Friendly, empathetic, and trusting to a definite and undeniably detrimental fault, she is at once easy to befriend, and difficult to be rid of. She prefers the company of others, partly because she genuinely enjoys being around people, and partly because she utterly despises being alone.
Unfortunately, this craving for companionship is hindered a bit by the fact that Cinny has said perhaps six words in the past four years. She was never a particularly talkative child, but following the murder of her brother and loss of her home, Cinny has rarely ever been able to utter a word in the presence of anyone, even just herself. Medical evaluations have pinned the condition as concretely psychological, but despite the numerous reminders that “it’s all in her head,” and the urging that she needs to “move on,” she hasn’t. She can’t.
Thankfully tablets, text-to-speech, and good old pen n’ pad have gotten her along, and she’s even taken up learning some rudimentary signing. However, were it not for the fact that the link between Coordinators is largely mental, she’d likely have no place in Taiyōtawa or Project Valkyrie.
Cincinna was born on Mālum, and was eight years old when she discovered from her brother, Ptolemy, that its full name was Mālum floresco in umbra, “The apple that grows in the shade.” He’d said it with such distaste that she understood immediately why he chose to go by “Lem,” and shortly thereafter, she shortened her own name to “Cinny.”
Life on Mālum was peculiar, floating in the shadow of the system’s only other planet, Ventus, (which itself had some overly-long, descriptive name amounting to something along the lines of, “the sun’s favorite child,” despite that it was arid to the point of uninhabitability.) Cinny’s home was draped in perpetual shadow, with its brightest hours coming, ironically, during the rising of the moon. But Mālum persisted and thrived in its own way. Its soil was rich, and the crops it yielded grew with astounding speed so long as they were not exposed to direct sunlight. As such, Mālum found itself a small yet lucrative niche acting as a source of food for the Confederacy.
And as with anything of value, there were people seeking to steal it.
The Siloux farm was among Mālum’s most successful, owing to a long lineage of seasoned farmers, honed techniques, and a ridiculously fertile span of land. Ptolemy was the eldest of two children, and was forced to take responsibility of the operation as well as his young sister when their parents passed. In addition to keeping the small yet loyal group of farmhands organized, the duty also fell upon him to protect his land from the array of predators set upon it, man and beast and machine alike. But Lem never cracked under the pressure.
Pirates were simple enough to handle. Lem was an ace with a gun, and a born leader, and so it was that time and again a band of marauders would sail planet-side, try their hand at driving the Silouxs off, only to be thrown back into orbit with their tails between their legs.
Ascendancy meddling came in more nuanced forms, the most dangerous of which was the introduction of strange, predatory species. Alien beasts from other worlds more vicious than most anything the generally docile and dark planet had to offer would occasionally, "spontaneously" appear to wreak havoc near and around the farm.
Lem brought Cinny into the fold then, and she held a gun long before she ever handled a plough. It took years of practice, many mistakes, and more than a few acres of ruined crops, but eventually Cinny got the knack for hunting in the dark. It necessitated a bestial instinct and awareness, patience, the reflex to pull a trigger quick and the discipline to make a steady shot. By the time she was teenaged, she was patrolling the farmlands with the rest of the perimeter wardens, fending off whatever strange, snarling things came out of the shadows. Whenever she made a clean kill or earned a new scar, she’d come home to boast about it to Lem.
One day a man came to the farm. He had a fancy ship, but no guns and no crew ready to storm the farm. Lem invited him inside the small estate, and Cinny listened through holes in the floorboards as the two of them discussed, as the man said, “business.” He claimed to have the utmost respect for their family, for what they were doing, said he understood what drove them to protect their land so fiercely. He used a lot of big words to offer empty platitudes and make vague threats. Ultimately, what he did was offer Lem a choice: take a ludicrous amount of money and leave the farm, or face severe consequences. The war was cold, he’d said, but not snuffed.
Lem politely told the man to leave or he’d shoot him. The man left.
He came back in a mech weeks later, with a dozen small ships at his back. Cinny and the farmhands took up arms and prepared for the worst. Instead, Lem marched right up to the big, iron foot, and demanded the man meet him. To Cinny’s shock, the man did. He came right down in his fancy pilot clothes with a gun at his hip, and he and Lem had long words, too far away for any of them to hear.
At length the two of them stood apart, Lem just inside the farm’s line, the man just outside of it, with the moon high above them booth. They drew, two gunshots cracked the air. Lem dropped and the man did not.
Minutes later the farm was put to fire. Some of the farmhands tried to intervene, but were shot down with half the honor and twice the ease as was afforded to Lem. Cinny was dragged away kicking and screaming, screaming so loud she thought she might’ve torn her throat apart trying to deny the reality of what had happened. She screamed and wailed to go back and help Lem, to save the farm, until eventually she was only whimpering, and then, finally, she was silent.
The next time she opened her mouth was years later, when her school’s counselor came to her, concerned, asking if she really wanted to enroll somewhere like Taiyōtawa Academy now that she was graduating.
“Some are born for greatness and reject the call; I am not one of them.”
18 (2708 CE)
Terra Nova, Barnard's System Gandvik, Van Maanen's System
Rarely comfortable without being under several layers of grease and oil, Erik maintains a minimalist attitude when it comes to fashion, preferring practical clothes that fit rather than keeping up with gaudy trends like other Terra Novan teenagers. The only exception to this are a number of rings and studs on his left ear that he claims to have gotten on a whim. He keeps his flaxen hair relatively short to avoid getting it in his eyes or stuck in some errant piece of machinery.
He stands at a short-for-Gandvik height of 5'7", and seems to take great pains to keep his body in the same shape as his mind. His most strikingly Gandvikian feature are his oftentimes cold gaze and yellow eyes, supposedly the result of a genetic modification fad centuries ago. Time will tell how well the rest of his frame will fill out over the course of his time at Taiyōtawa Academy.
Ostensibly, Erik Nyqvist is defined by fierce independence and the will to overcome the circumstances of one's birth. He is living proof that with enough dogged determination even the lowest orphan can reach for the stars. An inspiration to everyone in the Confederacy. Or so he likes to think. In practice, Erik is a young man with very little experience dealing with people his own age, and it shows. Most of his newfound classmates claim he is haughty, dismissive, and altogether full of himself, and such accusations are not without merit. He takes no small amount of pride in being the smartest person in the room at all times, and his tendency towards blunt criticism and bold declarations of his own intellectual superiority have rubbed many people the wrong way.
Erik Nyqvist was born to unknown parents on the dour mining planet of Gandvik in Van Maanen's System and subsequently left on the door of one of the planet's orphanages; a fact that has shaped nearly every aspect of his life even after his emigration to Terra Nova. Relentlessly bullied by his peers during youth for everything from his diminutive stature to his erudite disposition, Erik dedicated his life to study at a very young age. While other children were running through the streets, Erik was either reading textbooks or tinkering with numerous broken appliances around the orphanage. Needless to say that other than the rare moments where he'd repair the building's heating system at the onset of winter or fix the building's connection to the Hypernet, it was a solitary life.
This would all change after the discovery of a unique element now known as Dromium in one of Gandvik's mines several years ago.
Ordinarily considered little more than a galactic backwater, Gandvik was suddenly set upon by hundreds of scientists and government agents. (Technobabble about what super special element can do here maybe).
One day, Erik's orphanage was visited by one Dr. Øystein Åkerfeldt. Although the staff had made sure to inform the children to be on their best behavior, the vast majority found themselves bored and ignored most of what the doctor had to say. Erik, meanwhile, was entranced. He spent hours inquiring into every aspect of the doctor's work, from how he'd gotten into science to his government contract and just what (super special element) was theoretically capable of; not that the man could actually answer most of the boy's questions.
The next day, Øystein returned, only with a number of other men. He subjected Erik to a number of written and practical tests over the course of several hours. Before he knew it, Erik was called into the headmaster's office and told to pack his things, he was heading for Terra Nova. Thus ended his life on Gandvik. He has never looked back.
Given only minimal time to adjust to life on the capital planet of the Confederacy, Erik was put under Dr. Åkerfeldt's personal care. He excelled in his new environment, taking in as much of his guardian's knowledge as the man could impart. However, unbeknownst to him, the doctor had him enrolled in the Taiyōtawa Academy's engineering program, and although Erik has since skyrocketed to the top of his class in grades, his ability to work with his fellow students has been called into question.
Time will tell whether or not he improves in said aspect.
Standing at 6' 1", Sirius strikes an imposing figure and damned if he'll let anybody ever forget that. It goes without saying, therefore, that he possesses a carefully cultivated physique to match his stature—his build is lean and sinewy, like that of a finely tuned predator. But his frame is far from the only thing to be intimidated by. Everything about Sirius, by design, is meant to be striking. The sharp, well-defined profile of his face. The pale alabaster of his skin. The wild locks of jet black hair that contrast it so well, messily styled this way and that. His eyes are perhaps among the most prominent of his characteristics; two piercing silver spheres that stare intensely upon the world, reflecting the many hues of his many emotional highs and lows.
Child of privilege that he is, Sirius takes great pains to dress well when outside of his school uniform. His wardrobe is almost exclusively monochromatic in color, consistency of far too many shades of black and grey, just like his own features. Buttons ups, fine trousers, vests and jackets, hats and scarves. One could certainly poke fun at the effort he puts into looking good, in spite of his own macho tendencies. Such mockery matters not to him. All that matters is achieving his goal: never be forgotten.
Many words can be used to describe the tempest that is Sirius. Fiery, domineering, tumultuous, possessive, driven. He is incredibly competitive, aggressive in his pursuit of his goals, voracious for the praise and admiration of those around him, and more than willing to crush any and all who he deems obstacles. Wildly independent, he bucks under authority, desperate for the ability to control his own destiny yet shackled by his deep-seated need to be validated for all his fight. His world exists starkly in blacks and whites: there are those who are beneath him, and those he has yet to place beneath him, with little room in the middle for equals who hold neither sway over him, or who he holds no sway over. The need to conform to this unhealthy, superiority driven world view leads him to acts of cruelty and excess, but also forms the backbone of his implacable willpower, one of the few positive traits he exhibits with any regularity.
Sirius is the most recent scion of the Leverant family, whose name may yet remain middling to the greater Confederacy, but looms tall in the history of his clannish home-world, Ares. Descended from the first jingoistic leadership of their nascent world, the House of Leverant rules among six other aristocratic families on the aptly named Council of Seven, the hereditary government which has led its populace to prosperity and strength across its nearly four hundred year history. Established by exiled officers after a failed coup on their homeworld of Mars, Ares held fast to a hawkish military tradition long before its first colonists realized the mineral wealth its surface possessed, and the potential for manufacturing such vast resources enabled.
It was these things—the staunch militarism of its populace, and its capacity to arm that populace—that made Ares an essential bulwark against the Ascendancy during the war some forty years ago. The men of Ares held an ever-shrinking line against the swarms of Ascendancy ICWs until the Valkyrie Program brought an armistice to the wartorn Confederacy. Men like Sirius' grandfather, now among the Confederacy's Admiralty for his hard-fought contributions to the war effort. Men whose legacies have molded Sirius since the day he was born.
As the youngest son of the current head, expectations of greatness and the dutiful acceptance of those expectations were to be second nature for him. Just as they were for his brothers, father, uncles and grandfathers before him. From his earliest years he was expected to thrive in all which he applied himself to, to struggle and fight and win for the sake of the family name and the world they represented. It worked, to a point. He learned the dogged resolve necessary to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat, even in the most trivial of competitions or tasks. He learned to assert himself against those he considered adversaries, to make it known his will was the one to be bowed to. He learned a lot of things, but perhaps chief among them, he learned resentment.
Sirius became something of a black sheep among his family as he grew from boy to teen to man. He came to hate the regimentation of his life, the expectation of deference to the greater good of the line. He lashed out, battled against his father and brothers, alienated himself from them even as he worked himself so hard to match—even exceed—their expectations and deeds. If he wished simultaneously freedom and their approval, he would earn only one upon coming of age: a spot at the prestigious Taiyōtawa Interstellar Piloting Academy set him free of familial machinations on Ares. A thinly veiled exile, ostensibly to pursue his talent as an ICW pilot.
Standing at five feet six inches, Aurora is a young woman who carries herself with grace and dignity at all times. Her heart shaped face adds to her attractiveness, her big, chocolate brown eyes makes her expressions stand out. She sports an extremely curvaceous body, her fair skin is flawless and her long, brown hair is always shiny--it's obvious that she takes pride in her appearance and takes very good care of herself. Everything she wears from head to toe probably costs more than anything most can afford, as she wears only the finest.
Aurora is the best of the best and would rather you don't go forgetting it. The word 'tact' doesn't exist in her dictionary, speaking her mind freely and disliking it when she's told to do otherwise. She loves playing coy and plays the part of a flirt well when needed, although she prefers making people chase her. The only thing she likes more than people telling her how beautiful she is is getting as much praise as possible. Her tendency to hone in on people's weaknesses and her delight at exploiting them tend to make people very wary of her. Nevertheless, her bravery is second to none, having no fear of the unknown and is more than willing to jump in headfirst into any new challenges.
The marriage of the heir of the Realis Holdings to the Donati Corporation's heiress was celebrated as a union of two industry giants. While the two remain separate, the family is united through Aurora. Of course, a marriage of convenience can only be tolerated for so long, especially with the disappointment concerning heirs; both camps had hoped for a male heir. After fourteen years of pampering their princess and readying her for a life of luxury, everything was tossed aside at the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.
Since she was no longer needed, Aurora decided to make herself useful by using her talents elsewhere; in her mind, if she could prove herself by becoming a successful pilot and make a name for herself, then she wouldn't need anyone.
“We both can talk. We just don't think you're worth the time."
Oppnaris, Kapteyn's System
The dim light of the ancient Kapteyn's Star leaves the inhabitants of its system with a paler pigmentation when compared to those living under more vibrant suns. Yet, Seiichi's flawless complexion is unlike most others on his planet as he has never had to work manual labour a day in his life. Born in the upper class of a planet named after hope, he has always been swaddled in hand-woven, loose-fit blouses dyed to match his hair as a symbol of his opulence. On top of that his full wardrobe includes all the bells and whistles: silk pyjamas with his initials embroidered on the lapel, three-piece designer suits constantly adjusted by a tailor before every major event, and even literal bell and whistle accessories that dangle on his sides.
In most physical metrics, he is the definition of acceptable though he is conscious of his height of 5 feet and 6 inches. While he can't do much about that, his consistent routines of calisthenics have given him a somewhat lean yet durable build to withstand the stress of piloting his assigned Valkyrie.
Seiichi might seem sombre, guarded, and cold to strangers. Coupled with his innate lack of respect for niceties due to his upbringing around duplicitous socialites, he leaves quite a stand-offish first impression. While this is definitely true even for his friends, once he opens up, they also know that he is quite supportive, empathetic, sanguine and just a bit indolent. There is only one perplexing aspect of his personality and it's that he is actually quite impatient though it only manifests in short verbal quips he delivers with a lethargic lack of enthusiasm.
With all of this in mind, Seiichi is most comfortable when he in the sanctity of his personal quarters by himself, gazing at his ceiling while recordings of old tango music quietly play in the background. However, he doesn't dance to the music. In his dreams, he is the artiste creating the composition which live on in the hearts and minds of others.
When the first colonists had arrived on the planet previously known as Kapteyn B, they had made the promise that hope and opportunity would always be available to those that called it home. However, as time passed, it became clear that the tremendous potential of the star system capital would never be realized as they wasted away due to economic stagnation caused by corruption, ineptitude, and nepotism. The upper ruling class were content as their land holdings generated enough wealth to keep them afloat, though never to the extent of those in more prosperous planets. To no one's surprise, it would be the working class that bore the burden of this grandiosity. A tale as old as time, no matter where one grows up in the universe.
Yet, this fragile facade of peace within their society would fracture the moment the Ascendancy arrived within the system. The endemically corrupt elected government had been overthrown in a coup before a single invading soldier had landed on their soil. In its place though was a political machine with a fresh coat of paint but all the same cogs running it underneath, eager to accept the conquering force with open arms. Granted, a few figureheads were executed but it had worked tremendously as a patriotic frenzy rejuvenated the spirit of Oppnaris under the banner of jingoism. While the common folk had not broken free from their chains, they could now blame their enemies in the Confederacy for their failings.
Seiichi would be born into this environment as the son of a provincial finance minister. While the title does not sound prestigious at first, it basically meant that they were free of ration laws and could access illegal markets with no consequence. Their embezzlement-fuelled estate gave every advantage Seiichi could ask for but a sense of unbelonging always made its presence known to him, with his childhood peers always giving him preferential treatment lest they be investigated by the state secret police. Ultimately, this drove him to pursue hobbies that did not require the presence of others, with music capturing most of his attention.
When whispers of a coming ceasefire had become common knowledge, pro-democracy military cliques had seized the organs of the state once more and restored the previous regime to the best of their abilities so that they may return to the Confederacy. They had promised fair elections when order is restored but instead they had brought about chaos and anarchy to society. The patriotic frenzy of its citizens had now given way to domestic terrorism as high profile politicians found themselves slain or abducted. The various thugs that acted as the state's official hit squads also turned to organized crime as their services were no longer needed in an official capacity. And of course, the economy continued to plummet as inflation rose faster than their currency could manage. These spectres loomed over everyone's head but Seiichi had found a way to not only escape the planet's plagues but keep face while doing so.
Hope and opportunity had come in the form of Taiyōtawa Academy's Project Valkyrie.
“I believe in the good within you. One day, everyone else will see it too.”
Boletus, Kepler System
Usually, Eyrie's clothes consist of long-sleeved shirts that hide the skin up to her wrists, yet she doesn't attempt to conceal her legs in a similar manner, donning skirts when she's able to instead. Though her outfits commonly exhibit desaturated colors, mostly shades of grey and dark blues, the brightly red-framed glasses that sit upon her nose draw attention to her snow white hair and dull green eyes. The only significant features of her appearance.
Eyrie is an optimist. A gross overestimation, but the closest word to how she sees the world. It isn't confidence that drives her thinking, as her ability to argue is next to non-existent, nor is it an overestimation of the future, which would've been a symptom of pride. Rather, Eyrie merely believes that things will eventually sort themselves out, a baseless hope that allows her to get through each day. No matter what happens, no matter the struggles, the future is always capable of bringing light into her world. Any victory, no matter how small, is a victory, and she will treasure every single one.
On Boletus, a world where a bigger population than most results in bigger problems, The Schemacloves family barely scraped by. Living day by day, paycheck to paycheck, the young Eyrie was merely happy to be alive. To her, they had everything they ever needed, no matter if she would sometimes have birthdays go by uncelebrated or merely acknowledged with a cupcake and a single candle. Her parents worked hard, she could understand that, and the discomfort of a usually empty household was worth the happy moments that lightly sprinkled her life.
She did not expect the sudden bomb dropped upon her a certain night, that she would be shipped to a different system to study in the most prestegious school in the known universe. Eyrie couldn't imagine a world outside of the city she lived in her entire life, yet she knew any sort of disagreement would be met with indignation, merely by the unsettling light within her parent's eyes. A desperate air that rolled around their home, an atmosphere she purposely ignored every time she heard the shouting in the middle of the night about bills and impossible future plans. Something she understood, deep down, was somehow her fault.
So when they asked, no, commanded her to excell at Taiyōtawa Academy, all Eyrie could do was bow her head in defference, no matter the emotions that swirled within her gut.