If the Mendaihu Universe has an actual origin point, it’s Vigil, that jacker group of digital anarchists that form the unseen backbone of the Bridgetown Trilogy. They’re the earliest characters I’d created, dating all the way back to the original story in 1993.
[Technically they go back further; their 1993 incarnation is a mashup of the original characters in my Infamous War Novel from 1984-86 and an unnamed cast of characters from a short dystopian story I started but never finished in 1988.]
Q: What is Vigil about, anyway?
A: The idea behind Vigil was to create a group of people whose raison d’etre was to influence the actions of others. I always saw them as deliberately removed from everyone else’s reality, by their own choice. The original soldiers in the IWN were literally drafted into their situation and fell prey to their isolation. The punkers in the unfinished story deliberately chose to distance themselves from the status quo (as all self-respecting punkers should). The Vigil of 1993 were a bit of both: living within the construct of mainstream society, yet working outside of it on their own terms. The Vigil of True Faith expanded on that. They resurfaced as behind-the-scenes characters in The Phoenix Effect and even more so in the trilogy.
Q: What is their origin within the MU?
A: I can’t say too much without giving it away, but let’s just say they’ve been around for quite some time. This question is answered in The Balance of Light. I can say that their reason for wanting to influence others is a just cause; they do in fact have a connection to the Mendaihu and Shenaihu, and their main concern is to assist the One of All Sacred — on a nonspiritual level — to ensure the two sects remain balanced.
Q: So, is that why we always see Matthew in a workstation cage, perpetually distracted by whatever’s scrolling by on his multiple screens?
A: Exactly. He’s a datacruncher of the highest sort and is constantly watching what’s going on so Vigil can act (or react) accordingly. He’s been doing that every single day for at least fifteen years so he’s got it down to a science.
Q: Who is in Vigil?
A: We meet its leader, Matthew Davison, early on in A Division of Souls. We know he’s the only son of the former Provincial Senator Gregory Davison, who had been assassinated a decade previous. Matthew chose not to follow in his father’s political footsteps, instead becoming a software engineer of some renown. He did, however, follow his father’s wishes to continue his work with the Mendaihu and Shenaihu.
There are other members, who we meet in The Persistence of Memories; in particular is Jenn Underwood, a childhood friend of Matthew’s. She holds a day job at the Data Research Library and has an amazing memory. They are essentially the two co-leaders of the group. Others will show up in Book 2 and 3.
Q: Anything else?
A: Matthew, at least in the trilogy iteration, was partly inspired by Corey Feldman, specifically in his role in the TV show The Crow: Stairway to Heaven; he has both his hoarse voice and his scruffiness. [He’s the only Vigil member based on anyone in particular.] Despite all of Vigil’s personal quirks and irritations, they’re quite a close-knit family and look out for each other. Funding for all their electronic toys is mainly from two places: Matthew’s day job, as well as his inheritance from his father. Their penchant for constant attention to small details, sometimes to the point of distraction, is partly from my own work ethic in both writing and my day job. I’ve wanted to change Vigil’s name for years, as it sounds a bit plain and uninspiring, but I just couldn’t come up with anything else that fit them so perfectly!