#atozchallenge: M is for Mendaihu and Shenaihu

Yin-yang.  That’s the theme of the stories within the Mendaihu Universe.

It’s about balance.  There is both evil and good within us.  We rarely like to admit it, but we are all full of conflicting morals and ethics.  We are driven both by our own emotions and thoughts, and what we are taught or expected to feel and think, and quite often they are all at loggerheads with each other.

I wanted to play around with this idea:  what, ultimately, is the right thing to do?

This question is posited throughout the Bridgetown trilogy.  Every character faces this same dilemma at some point in their arc.  Each character is given some kind of ascension in their spirit, some form of advanced knowledge, and they must choose how to utilize it.

They are also given an advanced awareness as well: they are now conscious of other spirits around them, whether they like it or not.  And ultimately this means that if they are to use their new knowledge, they are acutely aware of how it would affect not only themselves, but those around them.

The Mendaihu are the watchers, the protectors, the saviors.  And what of the Shenaihu?  They’re the keepers of the ethereal: the mind, the heart, and the soul.” — Matthew Davison, The Persistence of Memories

The Mendaihu are often seen as having the upper hand, as they are more physical in their presence.  They are the ones quietly doing their rounds, fully and completely aware of nearly everything and everyone around them, ensuring that every person out there is at peace.  They are the ones willing to lay down their lives for those around them, if necessary.  They may see the Shenaihu as troublemakers, the ones who are too quick to cause problems.

The Shenaihu are acutely aware of how the spiritual realm works.  They are the ones keeping to themselves, uncomfortably too aware of nearly everything and everyone around them.  They wish everyone could find their own peace, but are willing to assist if and when necessary.  They may see the Mendaihu as too quick to involve themselves in everyone else’s problems.

Both are liberal in their thoughts and actions; both are conservative in their thoughts and actions.  Both have faults, both have strengths.  They may be coming from completely opposite sides, but they both crave the same thing: peace of spirit.  Both are driven by the same goal: to do the right thing to achieve that peace.

The only answer, ultimately, is to find a perfect balance of both.  This is the cho-nyhndah [cho-NYEEN-dah] spirit.  Equally Mendaihu and Shenaihu in thought, heart, and deed.

Yin-yang.

#atozchallenge: L is for Lightwalking

wenders_end_dream_1
Still from Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World

Lightwalking is usually one of the first things most recently awakened Mendaihu and Shenaihu learn.  It is the process of moving from one fixed point to another by ‘stepping into Light’ — the term for allowing one’s spirit to take hold and control the movements of the physical body.  The spirit will transport itself and the body to the desired location and both will step back out of the Light again.  As the spirit is not bound by physical restraint, this travel method is much faster than even FTL.  In essence one is stepping into an advanced level of reality.

The same theory applies to commercial travel on a grander scale.  Each province has its own Nullport, where shuttles will send travelers up to a geosynchronous orbital satellite (in the case of Bridgetown, this would be Tigua Bay Station), where they would then enter nullflight ships.  These ships will slingshot a safe distance from Earth and then enter Light on a much larger scale, sending the ship to its intended destination.

The large-scale Light-travel is called nullflight, due to the early First Contacters misunderstanding the term for the Meraladian technology used in Light-Travel, called ajyinul [ah-ZHYEE-nool], thinking it referred to ‘null’, or an idea that this kind of travel took place in non-space.  The term stuck, and is still used to this day.

One’s vision while moving in Light can cause concern and confusion, depending on what you’re doing within it.  If you’re in a fixed place and not moving too much, everything you see will be in incredibly sharp focus, regardless of how near or far it is from you.  This can be rather discomforting for first-timers, but one eventually gets used to it.  The trick is to focus only on the person or thing you need to focus on and filter out everything else.  On the other hand, if you’re in motion, your surroundings will still be sharp but discolored and sometimes stretched out.  [The above still from Until the End of the World is pretty much the closest to what it looks like.]

 

I’d come up with this kind of travel early on, basing it on various things such as astral travel, as I wanted the characters to be able to visit other worlds such as Trisanda (and in effect, Meraladh and other CNF planets) in a relatively quick amount of time.  It went through quite a number of different terms over the years, but once I figured out my science behind it, relating it to all the other Light events in the Mendaihu Universe, it all fell into place.

There are, of course, a number of rules whenever I use Lightwalking.  First, exit and reentry will always cause a ‘snap’ of air and sometimes even a brief white flash.  There is no chance of reentry into an already occupied position; the movement of the spirit and its ability to sense other beings and objects makes this possible.  [However, if one isn’t quite used to Lightwalking, one may reenter at the wrong altitude and reappear a few feet up in the air.  It’s a common rookie mistake.]  A Lightwalker can take one or two people along with them with little problem, though the distance is usually shorter than intended.

And most importantly, Lightwalking is the only way to reach Trisanda at this time.

#atozchallenge: k is for kiralla

Dragon-Wallpaper-dragons-13975575-1280-800
Creator unknown, borrowed from fanpop.com

The kiralla was the answer to the question:  what does someone’s soul look like?

Or more to the point, what is the aspect of someone whose soul has achieved a divine level and balance of both Mendaihu and Shenaihu spirit?  The ultimate ascension, where they are able to control both sides of themselves without inner turmoil.  In the context of the Mendaihu Universe, the kiralla aspect is in ancestral memory: it’s what the purest Trisandi spirit looks like.  So in essence, if one is kiralla, either naturally or awakened through ritual, then they are considered to have truly returned to their spiritual roots.

[Yeah, I know, pretty heavy stuff there.]

The idea of the kiralla came to me during the 1995-6 season of me reading all kinds of New Age books.  I’d borrowed the idea of reptilians in fantasy and conspiracy (thank you David Icke) and the Pleiadians (thank you Barbara Marciniak) and played around with it for a while.  What if aliens were a normal and integral part of human reality?  I’d chosen dragons as the physical embodiment, aware of their mythical and mystical history.  I took out the conspiracy and the trope of aliens-as-villains (as well as its overused cousin, aliens-as-overlords-because-us-humans-are-ignorant-and-weak-insects) and re-introduced them as our long-forgotten ancestral kin.

Which ultimately means that we humans are also able to ascend enough to become kiralla as well.  This fact alone makes up quite an important part of the Bridgetown Trilogy and the Mendaihu Universe.

The strength of the kiralla is as fearsome as their presence.  Generally they are about thirty feet long from snout to tail tip, about ten to fifteen feet tall.  Their wingspan is about thirty to forty feet.  Their coloring, shape and physical attributes vary and are related to the Trisandi clan they come from.  They are social creatures, but they are just as fine being on their own for extended periods of time.  Their psionic abilities are unrivaled and immeasurable.  They are able to Lightwalk very long distances in a very short amount of time, either in kiralla or in human form.  The feel their highest responsibility is in keeping an unending, protective (yet rarely interactive) watch over humans and other spiritual kin.

And yes, we will be seeing a lot more of them in The Persistence of Memories and The Balance of Light!

* * * * * *

2016-04-13 13.08.44
Dragon by Honeck Sculpture

This little youngster here was my mascot for most of the writing of the trilogy, which I picked up at one of the Readercons I went to.  It was made by Honeck Sculpture. They make excellent statues of all sizes and are definitely worth checking out.

I named it after a character you’ll meet in The Persistence of Memories.

#atozchallenge: J is for Madeleine Jakes

Kathleen Turner

Q: What is Madeleine Jakes’ origin?

A: Even though I had Caren and Denni essentially living on their own, I still wanted to provide them some kind of an elder presence, someone who’s not taking care of them 24/7 but is there as someone to lean on when times get tough.  Originally I didn’t plan to have her in that many scenes, relegating her to a tertiary character, but like Christine Gorecki, she evolved into someone who kept popping up at the most interesting and unexpected moments.  She’ll show up in a number of important scenes in The Persistence of Memories and The Balance of Light.

Q: How is she related to Caren and Denni Johnson?

A: She’s a family friend from quite a long time back.  She’s a retired Data Research Library archivist and now writes freelance.  She lives next door to Caren and Denni, frequently checks in on them, and occasionally keeps their place clean, especially when Caren’s stuck on a particularly hard case.

Q: That’s Kathleen Turner in that picture.  Is that who Madeleine is based on?

A: Actually, Madeleine’s a character I without a real-life inspiration…I originally created her as a typical older relative.  But the more she showed up, the more I realized that she was someone who might be older in age, but still embraces life as if she was 30.  She’s someone who rarely holds back her words and thoughts, and despite her disability (she lost a leg soon after the events of the Eighth Embodiment and has a cybernetic replacement), she sure as hell isn’t going to let life pass her by.  I can totally see Kathleen Turner pulling that off, throwing shade and putting people in their place.

Q: What is her connection to the Mendaihu?

A: [Shhh — don’t tell anyone, but she’s a Mendaihu Elder.  Nobody, not even any of the main characters, knows this!]

Q: Anything else?

A: She’s got an amazingly sharp memory, which is why she chose to work as an archivist.  She’s a mid-level certificated soulhealer and occasionally performs healings upon request.  She’s also adept at Lightwalking, but she hasn’t done that in at least a decade and a half, for very personal reasons.  She never married and rarely dated.  Caren will sometimes think Madeleine shouldn’t be so overly active because of her age, but she will remind her otherwise right quick, much to Caren’s embarrassment.  Denni absolutely adores her and thinks of her as an aunt, and will visit her apartment all the time.  She will never reveal this to Caren or Denni: she made a promise to Aram and Celine, two days before they died, that she would look over their daughters if they did not survive the case they were currently working on.

#atozchallenge: E is for Edwin-Akandia Sensory Device

I’ll admit, this one was totally inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion, AKIRA and Ghost in the Shell.

While I was building up the background of the Alien Relations Unit, I was struck by the idea: is there a system or program that is able to take spirit readings, so to speak, on the same level of humans and Meraladians with the same psionic abilities?  Sure, nearly all of the ARU agents have some kind of ability they’re able to use in their job.  There are even special agents that are hired for their specific strengths; some have an exceptionally strong clairsentience (soulsensing by touch), clairaudience (strong use of innerspeak), maybe even claircognizance (reality seers).  Caren Johnson, for instance, reads at a high level of clairsentience, and has used it multiple times in A Division of Souls.

But what about those agents in the ARU and the B-Town Police Department and elsewhere?  How else would an agent like Nick Slater, who has little to no psionic ability at all, be a functioning part of this system?

That’s where the joint human/Meraladian techware company Edwin-Akandia comes in.  Working with the Provincial Governor’s Council, the Crimson-Null Foundation and Bridgetown itself, the company created a device that is able to read and process the energy waves of all sentient beings.  [Think of it along the lines of scientists that are able to read and measure the energies that are kicked out from the Sun and even distant stars.  Same theory, just enhanced and narrowed down to human level.]  The EASD scans the subject and then compares the readings to a vast database and provides a list of possible actions that subject may take, and reports their current location.

Its center of operations is in the Mirades Tower, and the system itself is in a geoscyhronous orbital satellite (Tigua Bay Station) above Bridgetown.  The operations are set up so that it cannot be controlled by a single unit; for example, the Alien Relations Unit has the clearance to use it only within its jurisdiction.  Any changes to the EASD system must go through the Provincial Governor’s Council as well as the Crimson-Null Foundation.

It’s not 100% perfect, but it’s quite reliable.  Some feel that Bridgetown’s community agencies rely on it far more than necessary.  There are also those who feel the use of the EASD is an invasion of privacy, though it has never successfully been proven.  There is no actual personal information in EASD’s database, and it is heavily regulated by the PGC and the CNF.

 

[Note: for those playing along, ‘Edwin’ is indeed a Tuckerization.  It’s named after Colin Edwin, bass player for Porcupine Tree, whose Stupid DreamLightbulb SunStars Die: the Delerium Years and In Absentia albums were on endless repeat during my writing sessions.]

#atozchallenge: D is for Denni Johnson

Denni Johnson - Jena MaloneQ: Denni’s got quite the role in this trilogy as the One of All Sacred.  What’s her origin?

A: She was a relatively new character alongside Caren and Poe, but she didn’t really have much of a role until about a quarter of the way into The Phoenix Effect.  A proto-Denni popped up in True Faith in a similar role but with vastly different motives and personality.  Both versions were pre-teens.  When writing the trilogy it made more sense for her to be a teenager and a little closer in age to Caren.

Q: Why the One of All Sacred, anyway?  Where did that idea come from?

A: In a way that came from a subplot in TF.  I was fascinated by the idea of Chosen One plotlines at the time, especially ones with mundane origins that ascend to deity level, either by a ritual or by outside forces.  It was still a subplot in TPE, but by the time of the trilogy reboot it became a major plot point — so much so that her awakening is Chapter 1 of A Division of Souls.  She’s one of the major drivers of the plot of the trilogy.  [More about the One of All Sacred on 4/18 when we hit ‘O’ on the A to Z Challenge!]

Q: Like her sister, she’s got a Mendaihu name as well.  An extended version of it is given in A Division of Souls.  What’s the story behind that?

A: She gives her Mendaihu name as Denysia Shalei si Emmadha si Dhumélis.  In Anjshé, the ‘si’ is a conjunction — in this sense she’s merely giving multiple clan names that her Trisandi soul is tied to.  [Pronunciation: shah-LEYey-MADH-ah, and dhoo-MEY-lees.  The ‘dh’ is a ‘d’ sound with a very slight lisp.]  All three clans are highly regarded on Trisanda as strong in both spirit and in deed.  She purposely gave all three names at the Moulding Warehouse to prove a single point: she wasn’t going to take her role as the One of All Sacred lightly, not if she claimed to be from such an honored lineage.
And yes, this is a lineage for her entire family.  Caren almost never claims all three names as she rarely sees need for it.

Q: That’s Jena Malone in that picture.  Is she the basis for Denni?

A: Yes, she is.  I wrote TPE around the same time the movie Contact, where she played the young Ellie Arroway.  Spunky, smart and self-reliant, yet still relies on the connection of others.  The trilogy version has her somewhat older (maybe her role in Donnie Darko, which was out about the same time I started ADoS).

Q: For a fifteen-year-old girl, she certainly has a hell of a lot of responsibility, doesn’t she?

A: Well, sure, why not?  She shares much the same daily responsibilities as her older sister Caren, especially since they’re living on their own.  Her parents made sure she was self-reliant, as both they and Caren were ARU agents, and they didn’t want her to completely depend on the help of others.  But they also taught her that there’s no fault in asking for it, either.  Whenever she’s performing her duties as the One of All Sacred, she always has that in the back of her mind, and that’s why she nearly always encourages community but also reminds her followers to think for themselves instead of following her blindly.
That’s not to say that she immediately becomes a Magical Girl and her real life is conveniently forgotten whenever she’s doing her magic as the One.  Now that she’s known as the One by pretty much everyone on Earth, she of course feels a bit self-conscious, not to mention feeling a bit weird about still needing to attend school.  She wants to do her best as the One, but she also wants to continue being teenaged Denni.  I actually touch on this theme in The Persistence of Memories as well as The Balance of Light.
In short: she’s willing to take all the responsibility that comes with being a deity, but she refuses to let it go to her head.

Q: What is her relationship with Amna Ehramanis?

A: She’s her best bud, they’ve known each other since they were five.  Like all lifelong friends, they’ve gone through all kinds of ups and downs, scrapes and japes, and they’re still BFFs.  Denni always plays the straight character to Amna’s wackiness.  As to why Amna becomes her devoted Protector once she’s fully awakened, well…there are a few reasons for that, which are revealed in TPoM and TBoL.  😉

Q: Anything else?

A: Like Caren, she’s a music fiend and constantly streams stuff from her sister’s collection.  She’s a voracious reader.  She’s a decent student and gets excellent marks, but she’ll admit she doesn’t see the point in trying to be top student.  She loves hanging out with Caren’s fellow agents at the ARU, and thinks of them as an extended family.  In particular she looks upon Alec Poe as a big brother.  She’s had a few school crushes here and there, but nothing serious, and she’s okay with that.  There’s a fifteen-year difference between Caren and Denni, which might lead some to think she was an unplanned pregnancy, but she’s actually not.  Aram and Celine deliberately chose to have another child after the previous Season of Embodiment.  (As to whether they knew her fate at that time is not known.)

And yes, she too has a theme song, Lamb’s “Small”. This is what she thinks about when she’s up in her nonspace.

#atozchallenge: C is for Caren Johnson

Caren Johnson - Kristen ClokeQ:  What is Caren’s origin?

A:  Caren is actually the first new character I created for the trilogy back in 1997 when I started The Phoenix Effect.  I came up with her (as well as Alec Poe) on that first day of writing.  I’ll admit there was a slight inspiration from The X-Files which I was a fan of at the time, as I was looking for two investigators who were put into a situation they weren’t exactly comfortable with.

Q: She’s got a Mendaihu name as well.  Why is that?

A: Her Mendaihu name is Karinna Shalei.  [First name pronounced ka-RINN-nah].  She was given it by her parents, Aram and Celine Johnson, who were high-level Mendaihu adepts as well as agents for the Alien Relations Unit.  The Mendaihu blood runs extremely strong in her entire family.  She takes this name very seriously, and never uses it frivolously.  The same with her sister Denni; she will not call her ‘Denysia’ unless it is warranted.
The giving of Trisandi clan names to those from Earth is not considered appropriation by the Meraladians; they actually consider it a form of incredibly deep respect, as they feel these people are willing to completely embrace their ancient physical and spiritual connections with Trisanda.

Q: That’s Kristen Cloke up there.  Is that who Caren is based on, physically?

A: Yes!  In fact, she was inspired by Kristen’s role as Captain Shane Vansen in Space: Above and Beyond (of which I was a HUGE fan).  Someone who isn’t entirely happy with the role she’s been given, but that won’t stop her from performing it to the best of her ability.  Like Vansen, Caren is also someone who takes her responsibilities very seriously, especially when it comes to those she works with or mentors.  Caren connects personally and spiritually with everyone she meets.
I can even tell you the scene where it dawned on me that she’s definitely Caren: it’s a rare and very personal conversation between her and 1st Lt. Cooper Hawkes in the episode ‘Hostile Visit’, which takes place just before they’re about to head out on a dangerous mission.  This is definitely a conversation she’d have with Alec Poe.

Q: Her relationship with Anando Shalei seems to be somewhat unique.  Has she always questioned her relationships, romantic and otherwise?

A: No, not always.  The death of her parents really took a lot out of her emotionally, and because of that she keeps a specific distance from others, for fear of getting too close and then losing them as well.  She’s fully aware of this decision, and has never let it completely get to her, knowing full well that she has to move past that.
Caren’s connection with others is definitely unique; it was partly based on a few friendships and relationships I’d had where I simply clicked with the person on a deep level in a very short amount of time.  It’s not merely a romantic or sexual attraction she has with Anando, but a spiritual one.  And because of that, Caren is nervous at first, wondering how it could possibly work.  The longer they’re together, however, the more they learn to rely on each other for comfort, affection, and a firm base of spirit.
Her last serious relationship before Anando was with Agent Sheila Kennedy, though they both decided to end it due to their work situation and remain close friends.  They still flirt with each other now and again, mostly for the humor of it.
As for friendships, she is extremely loyal, and will always have your back.  She also has a very thin filter, so she’ll often say what’s on her mind, even if it bothers you.  She takes every kind of relationship seriously.  Especially the one with her sister.

Q: Anything else?

A: She often has trouble falling asleep at night, as she often lets her thoughts run rampant near the end of the day.  She’s been trying her best to fix that.  She has a scar on her thigh from a bullet grazing it during an investigation.  She has exceptionally strong night vision.  She can be very impulsive and impatient sometimes, which has gotten her in trouble now and again.  She’s got a very snarky sense of humor.  She won’t admit it to Poe (who will surely never let her hear the end of it), but she really does enjoy dressing up fancy now and again.  She’s an avid music fan and has quite a large collection; her tastes depend on mood and situation, but she has a soft spot for meditative music, especially when she’s had a taxing day at work.  She’ll always say her happiest moments are when she’s hanging out with Denni.

And yes, she has a theme song:  Lamb’s “Gorecki”.  It’s exactly how she feels about Anando, even if she has trouble articulating it to him or anyone else.

Lamb ‘Gorecki’ from Luke Copeland on Vimeo.

#atozchallenge: B is for Branden Hill

Branden Hill Sector artwork, circa summer 2001
Branden Hill Sector map, circa summer 2001

Branden Hill Sector is considered the “collegiate” sector of Bridgetown, as it is home to multiple colleges and universities, including Spender College, the arts and architecture campus of Bridgetown University, Kuhlmann University, and Longwood College of Pharmacology.  It is also home to a number of museums and cultural centers.  Most of its dwellings are relatively small apartment buildings, a handful of SROs, and a small number of apartment complexes.  The community of Branden Hill (colloquially called “Brandhillers”) have fully embraced its ‘cozy’ image, and have strived to keep the sector from becoming too gentrified.  Most of the towers and high rises are in eastside, which borders Main Street Sector.  Due to limited availability of homes and apartments, the cost of living in this sector can be expensive.  It is cheaper to live in the more suburban westside (bordering West Brandenville and Swope Heights).  Some live in nearby sectors while commuting here for work.

Getting in and around BH is quick and easy; it contains three major subway branches and numerous shuttle paths.  A number of major thoroughfares run through the sector, including Baird Avenue, Krieger Avenue, Ormand Street, Shattuck Street, Guyton Street, Jamison Avenue, and Bridgetown Parkway.  Interstate 91 runs down its eastern border, with multiple access points.  Baird River Park is a greenbelt stretching all the way through the sector and is a local favorite on the weekends.  There are many shopping sections within the sector that provide wares and entertainment for its community.

The sector was named for the hill in the center of the sector, where BH Park now sits.  It was named after its original landowner, Joseph Branden.

The Branden Hill headquarters of the Alien Relations Unit is situated on the corner of Baird Avenue and Ormand Street, about a mile south of Branden Hill Park.  The headquarters building is one of the larger buildings in its neighborhood at eight stories, though its unassuming reniform shape and light color keeps it from being an eyesore.  The Unit is well-respected in this community.  Reporting here are agents Caren Johnson, Alec Poe, Sheila Kennedy, and Nick Slater; they are all reporting under Chief Inspector Dylan Farraway.  Christine Gorecki was a former agent here, though she has taken a leave of absence and is currently a registered soulhealer and private investigator.

#atozchallenge: A is for Akaina and Ashyntoya Shalei

[Apologies for the delay…I had quite the full schedule yesterday and was not able to post until today.  Thus we’ll have multiple entries today.  Woo!]

Welcome to Jonc’s A to Z Challenge!   I’ve chosen to have some fun and post about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes in the Mendaihu Universe; character backgrounds, FAQs, behind-the-scenes production, and more.  Hope you enjoy!

Q: First off:  how do you pronounce their names?

A: Last name first:  Shalei is shah-LEY, even if it’s a distant relative that has the extra ‘i’ at the end.  It’s an extremely common Meraladian surname, as it’s one of the largest clans to come from Trisanda.  They do sometimes get queries about if they’re all related; some do find it irritating, others merely brush it off with a quick answer.
Ashyntoya is ahsh’n-TOY-ah.  He’s named after his great-grandfather who was quite the epic Mendaihu, and a major player in the Fifth Season of Embodiment of the One of All Sacred.  Someone he feels he’s expected to live up to, but he doubts he’d even be fit to stand in that great man’s shadow.  He prefers to be called Ashan (ASH-ahn); he usually explains that it’s just a nickname, but in truth he borrowed it from another less known and much older ancestor who was connected to an uprising at Bann Currin on Trisanda.
Akaina is ah-KAH’ee-nah (although I admit my brain still sometimes reads it as ah-KAY-nah).  She understands cultural differences in speech origins, so she’s totally fine with people pronouncing it either way.  She prefers people call her Kai (kah’ee, rhymes with ‘sigh’).  She’s named after her aunt on her mother’s side; the two sisters were best friends growing up and are still extremely close.  Her aunt is one of her favorite relatives; she was the one who first taught her about the Mendaihu and the Shenaihu.

Q: How did you come up with the twin Mendaihu agents for the Bridgetown Trilogy?

A: That’s a good question…they just sort of evolved, really.  If I’m not mistaken, Kai originally showed up as a humanoid AI in The Phoenix Effect, and Ashan was one of the background AIs.  I dropped nearly all the AI ideas during the 2000 reboot and kept those two, giving them a completely new background and purpose.
They weren’t twins at first; originally I was going to have Ashan as the older brother.  However, I realized both characters had an almost exact equal purpose in the story; it made more sense for them to be not just physical twins but spiritual twins as well.  There’s no special psionic connection between the two; they merely know each other’s soul so well they work perfectly together as a team.  And of course, as siblings, they do get under each other’s skin now and again.

Q: Are they based on anyone in particular?

A: When I create characters, I often picture various actors playing them, just to get an idea of what they might look like or how they’d act.  In this case, however, I never really thought about it.  I purposely didn’t base them on anyone famous.  I wanted their characters to feel like that person you meet where you can’t quite put a finger on who they remind you of, and instead you find yourself attracted to their uniqueness.

Q: What do they look like?

A: In A Division of Souls I described them in general terms as Meraladians; they are human in form, though larger in height and size.  Their skin color is a very light brown, which is common for Meraladians.  As they are fraternal twins, they look similar to each other in certain ways, though Kai’s face is more oval and Ashan’s is narrower.  Ashan is slightly larger in frame.  They both have very dark brown eyes; from a distance it looks like their pupils are fully dilated.  They have small rounded and smallish noses and wide mouths.  They both have long black hair that they tie back in a triple tail, often threaded with small beads near the ends — this is an old cultural practice of the Shalei clan.

Q: Where do they come from?

A: They’ve been NewCanta Province citizens for almost all their lives.  [NewCanta Province is northwest of Bridgetown, and is the center of government for the Upper Midlantic Range.  Bridgetown is the second largest province in this Range.]  Nearly all of their extended family have been lifelong Mendaihu.  They have no other siblings, though they have quite a large extended family of relatives and close friends.

Q: What are their personality types?

A: Ashan is often misconstrued as being standoffish, maybe a little arrogant, but in truth he’s just not entirely sure how to act in front of others.  That’s not to say he doesn’t understand people, far from it; he’s just a little too self-conscious about whether or not he’s doing the right thing.  His anger does get the best of him sometimes, though after the fact he will apologize immediately, even sending out a small sensing thread to invite them closer to his spirit to show his true emotions.  He’s truly loyal to his friends, acquaintances and fellow Mendaihu agents.
Akaina is more open with her emotions and thoughts.  She has a bright demeanor, but when angered her words can be extremely barbed.  She loves meeting new people; she loves getting to know them on multiple levels so she can understand their many quirks and inconsistencies.  She’s also quite loyal to her friends, acquaintances and fellow Mendaihu agents.  She fully trusts what her soul sings to her, sometimes to a fault, but she understands the problems that might cause, and is willing to work through them.
They both absolutely love a good feast with friends, especially if a warm beverage of tea or coffee is served afterwards.

Q: Anything else?

A: Bits and bobs:  Both are often seen in their Mendaihu agency uniforms — long black dusters with a gray patch on their right shoulders, on which is stitched the Mendaihu sigil of two intersecting circles.  They choose to do this because they like to show they are always performing their Mendaihu duties at any time of day.  Both graduated from their Mendaihu training with very high marks.  Ashan has a long thin scar on his right forearm, the result of a training exercise accident.  Kai’s night vision is weaker than Ashan’s.   During the Bridgetown Trilogy, they share an apartment in the Pullock Street Heights Sector, not that far from Pullock Street Park.  Kai won’t tell him, but Ashan snores like a freight train.  Neither have ever traveled to Trisanda, though they are well informed of its history and what goes on there.

*

Want to know more about the Mendaihu Universe?  Leave a question below in the comments, and I’ll be happy to answer it or expand on it in a future post!

On Worldbuilding: Fluid History

John: “Hey there, Jeremy, what do you know about holes?”

Jeremy HIllary Boob, PhD: “There are simply no holes in my education.”

–Yellow Submarine

If you’ve ever watched any kind of documentary or series, there’s always some element of “we’re not entirely sure what happened at this point in time, but we can make an educated guess by looking at the following clues” or some such.  The further back we go in time, the harder it is to pinpoint the date of an event; eventually the most we can say is “sometime during the [x] Era.”   Those are extreme examples, though.  Sometimes our view of history changes within a few decades, when we look at the events of a specific time with the eyes of a different generation, maybe even a different culture.

I started thinking about this sometime ago when I started writing the new Mendaihu Universe story.  One of the subplots deals with the events that took place in the original Bridgetown Trilogy, though this new story takes place about seventy years later. Without going into too much detail, our histories of our heroes in that trilogy have become somewhat embellished, even after so short a time.  Denni Johnson, the teenager who had ascended as the earthbound deity the One of All Sacred, is now viewed as a saint, complete with a marble statue that thousands flock to and pray at.  Her sister Caren and Caren’s ARU partner Alec Poe, who never ascended as far as Denni did, are seen as more than human; Caren is believed to be an angelic protector, and Poe is seen as a Mighty Warrior.

And yet, all three were merely human.  Gifted with psionic abilities, just like anyone else in the Mendaihu Universe who have gone through an awakening ritual, but still — they were just as human as the rest of us.

Part of the focus on this new story is how certain people and events in history get changed over the years.  We may have documents, we may have databases and videos, but it still boils down to how the person or event is seen by the viewer.  We put amazing people on pedestals, even if their personalities were less than stellar, because regardless of their infallibility, they changed the world in some way.  The same could be said of horrible people as well; their vileness goes down in history as a grim reminder (even if, on a personal level, they weren’t one hundred percent vile).  We rarely look at these things objectively; we always have some emotional attachment to them, however big or small.

The evolution of historical accuracy fluctuates a lot more than we’d like it to, quite often because of this emotional attachment.  In this new story, the views of the new devout (those who follow the steps of the One of All Sacred — that is, Denni — and hope to find clarity in their lives) have become reasonably established.  However, schisms have already broken out; there are those who see Denni as a savior, and others who see her as an ascended but flawed human.  There are the Elders, the spiritual leaders who have been around for centuries, who are also splitting: those who have embraced the evolution of belief, and those who want to retain the status quo.

It’s a bit of a mess, but that’s the fascinating part of history as it happens.  No one really knows what the hell is going to happen next until it does.