Thursday, September 19, 2013

Character Concept: Lodoxol

Lodoxol faced forward. “Rowan will be here shortly.” Shadows engulfed the clearing, as the roar of thrusters filled the air, startling them both and drowning out all conversation. Powerful negative gravity keels pushed against the planet, as the Windy Reed glided into view against the eastern horizon.

Centuries ago, the Windy Reed had been a kwercian battleship, her design guided by the Terran shipwrights of the time, though little of her ancient original appearance remained. She was sloped and jagged, with the look of a broad, rocky, airborne island. Buried in her flanks, she housed a pair of gauss canons, their electrical spikes potent enough to rip apart nearly any starship she encountered. Missile and maser turrets dotted the edges of the upper deck. Vines swarmed over the dorsal hull, draped like ropes of fringe from the edges. Trees sprouted from amongst the overgrowth, getting denser toward the aft thrusters. Rising up from the aft-most section, a massive tree spread sturdy branches over the deck, each of them thick with dark green leaves.

Although she appeared alive, none of her trees, vines or stone was natural. Within the great tree was her command deck, and the trunk was little more than a lift leading to it. She was a tribute to the ancient kwercian longships and tirelessly served as a symbol of office for the highest seat in the kwercian government: Head of the Senate. Her Kwercian name was Nariphon, and she was named after the mythical longship that was believed to have given birth to the first kwercian females.

The starship set down at the opposite end of the clearing, leaving little open space. Joining the other shuttlecrafts, the shuttle Tyrant landed a moment later.

“That’s all of them, right?” asked Amanda, and she nodded toward Lodoxol. “Our shuttles, I mean.”

“All six are accounted for, eh hm.” He watched impassively as a massive loading ramp descended from the fore underbelly of the Windy Reed. A moment later, Rowan led a platoon of oaken brutes out into the field, under the shadow of her starship. She spoke to them, and they saluted in response. Fanning out, five brutes to a shuttle, they set immediately to transferring the cargo crates.

Amanda stammered, “Shouldn’t we check the Tyrant’s crates for integrity?”

Lodoxol shook his head. “No need. Rowan scanned them while she was on Hygeia.”

“It’s not worth double checking?”

“No, Amanda. It’s not, eh hm.” Rowan waved to him from across the clearing, and he smiled patiently, his lips slick with saliva. “Shall we?” Amanda kept to his side as Lodoxol leisurely approached Rowan. “Who’s this?” asked Rowan when they had drawn close enough to speak over the roar of the engines. She nodded toward Amanda, casting her a suspicious look.

“My companion, eh hm,” said Lodoxol. “Captain Amanda Santiago, this is Rowan Fenmore du Quagbrae, acting Head of the Kwercian Senate. Rowan, this is Amanda.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” said Amanda, and she mechanically extended her hand. “What an honor.”

Rowan squinted, ignoring Amanda’s grip. “Of course it is. You can go.”

Amanda smiled thinly. “Great!” Angrily, she marched back to Olmox, Poryx and Elsummu.

When Amanda had reached the Costaguana’s boarding ramp, Rowan crossed her arms and regarded Lodoxol. “We finally meet, son of Perymdak.”

“Where are my prisoners?”

Rowan shrugged with forced indifference, her expression somewhat challenging. “One of my men mishandled his blaster rifle, and it went off. Sadly, your prisoners were vaporized. Sorry.”

Lodoxol scowled. “Vaporized?”

Rowan nodded. “Sadly.”

“They weren’t vaporized.” He fumed. “They escaped! One of them was a Wellcaster. I understand you have no idea what that means, but you’re lucky to be alive. You should’ve drugged him like I told you to.”

She snarled, “Like you told me to?”

“Yes, eh hm. He’s the one who destroyed the ithiral warships, you daft weed!” Angrily, he tapped the side of Rowan’s head, and she recoiled, swatting away his hand. “He’s also part of the crew that murdered my father!” Clenching his fists, he forced a deep breath. His voice was menacing. “I only needed you to do one thing.”

“How was I supposed to know? It’s not like you told me who he was.”

Lodoxol sneered, “And give you leverage to use against me? I think not!”

A stiff wind blew across the spore wood, knocking the trees together and bending the grasses in waves and ripples. Distracted momentarily, Rowan perked up and gestured for Lodoxol’s attention. “We’re being watched.” She glared at him. “You didn’t secure the landing zone?” “You assured me this place was safe, eh hm. Perhaps you should’ve chosen a different location.”

“Always secure the landing zone! That’s not something you should have to be told, son of Perymdak.” Tapping her temple, mocking his earlier gesture, she hissed, “Common sense. Try it on for size.”

Lodoxol growled, “Mind your tone.”

“Or what? You’ll cut me off?” She scoffed. “You need me as much as I need you, especially now. You lost your prisoners? This is me, crying.” She regarded him smugly. “Look, you want the crew of that hauler to pay for what they did to your father, and I want the human race to burn for what they did to my people.” She looked toward the crates as her troops marched them up the loading ramp. “As soon as that virophage gets out to the Core Worlds, we both win.”

“This is a blood debt, Rowan. I don’t ‘win’ until the Sanguine Shadow has been destroyed, and her command crew killed!” His muddy complexion reddened, and he stormed off.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Complex Character of Richard B. Riddick

Someone at work asked me today if I had seen Riddick and if I liked.  He said he liked it, and I answered yes to both his questions.  After some surface discussion about the three acts in the movie, in which I stated I enjoyed Riddick's character growth, he followed up with a question about what growth I saw.  So I answered with an essay.

But it got me thinking.  There's a lot of complexity to this guy!  No, really.  Psychologically, he's both one of the most basic and complicated characters on the big screen in recent memory.  My thoughts on the matter follow...

In Pitch Black, Riddick is completely mercenary, only out to survive and clearly burdened by how convinced he is of his own wicked nature.  He punishes those he deems worthy of it, even at the risk of his possible survival, without care for the greater good.

In The Chronicles of Riddick, a spark of conscience is lit when he meets Kira, and out of some inkling of respect for the priest's home, he attempts to draw away those who seek to kill him.  But in the end, he knows who's number 1, and he hardly sheds a tear for Kira when she gets murdered.  But.  He did shed a tear.

Based on the flashbacks  in Riddick, he immediately indulges in the glories of power, becoming consumed by hedonistic pursuits and corrupted on a personal level (very realistic, considering his meager existence beforehand).  He makes no lasting changes to the system he claimed to despise, illustrating that what he REALLY hates is being subjugated.  He still longs for home, so he trades in his crown for the chance to return to Furya.

What that pull symbolizes is a deep seated longing to belong.  His emotional connection to the dog is sudden and born from respect for a fierce will to survive.  He finds a kindred spirit, when he had become convinced he was alone in the universe.  Also, it complements the animal nature he's convinced himself he has.

When the bad mercs arrive, he sees them murder a woman who has been repeatedly victimized.  It is implied through the story to date that he has a keen sense of smell, so it's likely he smelled them on her.  It also confirms his sense of justice hinted at in the first two, when he ruthlessly murders select members of the bad merc group (most likely those who had victimized the woman).  However, this time, rather than simply killing enough people to get his own ship, he exclusively punishes the wicked members of the bad mercs and leaves Johns's group alone.

While he talks big, he abandons his first chance to slip away, since it would come at the expense of Johns's female merc.  He could have killed her, but realizes he would be no better than those he seeks to punish and withdraws.  Still, he is driven by ego, so he brags about it the first chance he gets.  His boastful nature hasn't changed.


His sense of morality has started to expand.

When it comes down to it, he trusts Johns and repeatedly decides not to kill him until he has determined whether he's worthy of death.  In the end, he decides he is not.  And that act of mercy (monstrous as it is, coming from Riddick) ultimately saves his life when Johns comes back for him.

So he has grown to love another (the dog), trust a man, figure out WHY he kills, and even does a spaceship dance at the end, for some reason (maybe short-wave comms?).  It's a steady progression that I hope Twohy continues.  Because the complexity of a powerful outcast with deep abandonment issues and an overdeveloped sense of justice is a very interesting character to me.

Thanks for reading!