Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard of: ANTARES

As a child, Claudio Antares was a bit of a bully.  He had a lousy home life, with parents and family who were never present.  When he did see them, they demanded strict discipline, a trait stemming from their own lifetime of military service.  Young Claudio passed that on to his peers and classmates, ordering them around and telling them what to do.  As he grew older, he became a ring leader for petty gangs, and always seemed to draw a pack of followers that he could convince to work for him.  His parents quickly shuttled him off to the Colonial Officer Training Academy before he could get into serious trouble, and where they hoped he could learn to use his leadership talents for good.

So for those who missed it, my theme for the A-to-Z Blog-a-thon is "Characters You've Never Heard Of" - characters from unpublished stories that fill up The Closet. You may not care about any of these dudes and ladies, any you many never hear of any of them again after this month, but perhaps you will find one of them interesting, and it will keep you coming back to check out my writing and ideas in the future.

So we're starting today with the nerdy stuff. Claudio Antares, call-sign "Hyperion," was my favourite role-playing character I ever created. It was in a Battlestar Galactica game, run by my good friend Jason. It was a game run via e-mail, so all of the role-playing was actually more of a writing exercise, as we wrote extensive descriptions of our characters' actions and how they interacted with the world the game master set up for us.

This particular character was so much fun to write and play because I let him be slimy and have questionable morals, which is difficult in many RPGs because you need the characters to be heroic and brave for the story to make sense. In the tense, paranoid world of Battlestar Galactica, he flourished.

Claudio was a high-ranking officer from a rich family who had gained his position through backstabbing and treachery. He had an extensive back story in which he grew up a bully protected by his powerful parents. Shortly out of military school he had an affair with his commanding officer's wife, which broke up their marriage and led to the woman's death. The husband was tried for the murder, found guilty and executed, but there were rumours of evidence that disappeared thanks to Claudio's father.

That's how Claudio operated: He kept his sterling reputation by always letting others do the dirty work for him, and slyly bullied and manipulated the other soldiers under his command. At the same time, he was going through some serious psychological crisis because things were happening around him that he couldn't explain. He began to suspect he was a Cylon (the "alien" enemy race that could disguise themselves as human), but couldn't prove it. Were his memories of his harsh upbringing just a lie implanted in his brain by the enemy? Was he bio-engineered to be a treacherous asshole? He didn't want to be a villain, but it was the only way he knew how to survive, and wondered if he was literally made that way and had no choice.

Finally, in one last desperate act he sacrificed himself to save the ship's doctor, the only good guy on board, the one who knew Antares was a dick but could never do anything about it. Antares did it not just to prove he wasn't as evil as everyone (including himself) thought he was, but to see once and for all if he really was a Cylon...

...which of course he was, which was confirmed when he awoke in a clone body on the enemy's ship a few hours later.

Damn, that was a fun story. I would love to go back to it one of these days to see where it goes (Jason, you reading this?)

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