Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Character Creation: Paladin Joshua Hughes

Writing an intriguing character - character creation: Paladin Joshua Hughes

This deals with my science fiction/science fantasy eBook -  The Freelancer Chronicles Vol 1: Apex Predators

The following is background that did not make it into the eBook, even though hints are thrown out every so often.

Joshua Hughes is a man who was destined for bigger things. Before he was recruited into the church, he was an interstellar marine in training who was engaged to the love of his life and they had a little girl on the way. At that time he wasn't even a religious man, yet he knew dedication and loyalty and commitment.

The Consortium of Planets had their eyes on Joshua ever since he bested all of his instructors during his military training. He broke records and was transferred to special operations training. In the middle of his training his wife went into labor.

The doctors had a hard time delivering his daughter and it looked like both the mother and the daughter might have died if it wasn't for the help of a specialist healer by the name of Lix. Lix was an Arglois and a priest of The Heirarchy and he would only perform the surgery if Joshua prayed with him. Lix attributed the survival of Joshua's immediate family to the will and acts of God.

The cost of Lix's services was too much for Joshua to financially afford, but there was an alternate method of payment Joshua could use. Joshua could learn the doctrines of the church and devote five years of service to the church. Not only would he not be financially crippled but he would earn a hefty salary, bigger than what the military offered him.

Joshua took the deal and graduated basic priest training within six months of dedication and a little bit of unasked for and unknown help from his superiors. He was next transferred to the Paladin school, and after another six months of training he was put out in the field as a soldier under the command of a full fledged Paladin by the name of Ron Sweitzer.

Joshua Hughes first mission was to go put a stop to an illegal smuggling outfit. The smugglers were trying to deliver exotic and dangerous animals from different planets to Mob Space for experimentation purposes. This was forbidden by law and the contract to grab these smugglers came from the Consortium and was grabbed by the church. During the decisive battle to bring in the smugglers, they unleashed a whole brood of Geysonis from the cargo container on a ship onto the heads of Joshua Hughes and his men. Joshua had to get his left foot amputated. The church gave him a cybernetic replacement.

Joshua's second mission was part of Sweitzer's mission to go investigate a lost mining colony which was too close to the Zembeckis planetary systems.

From the glossary of my eBook:

Zembeckis – a quarantined planet. Zembeckis is a world of nightmare full of some kind of semi-sentient hive minded mold which enslaves the living and can even re-animate the dead. This planet has another name amongst citizens throughout the galaxy, the name of “Zom-Beckis” in reference to the states of the current settlements

Joshua watched the mold take hold of the living and the dead. Some of his own squad mates became zombies from spore infections. Somethings went terribly wrong at his first engagement with space zombies. His men were outnumbered, Sweitzer cracked at the horrors around him. These weren't yet the zombies out of legend which ate flesh. These zombies would hold anyone in an environmental suit or armor and peel the armor off to vomit up dust clouds of mold onto their victims.

Joshua found himself overrun and outgunned by Zom-Becks. At that moment he wanted his daughter and the woman he was going to marry. He missed them both. So not knowing what else to do. He prayed to God for a miracle so that he would be able to see them again.

The mission was only a success in the fact that information was brought back by Joshua to his superiors. Joshua also rescued Paladin Sweitzer. For some reason he proved a little bit more resistant to the mold than others and he did not become infected. It seemed he got his miracle.

Joshua quickly rose through the ranks where he became more focused on his own faith and found the lack of  faith in the church and their constant thinly veiled grabs for money and power a bit disturbing.

When we first encounter Joshua Hughes in the book, he is a full fledged Paladin. He is often called the Paladin of Paladins (as we learn later) and he is full of hatred and anger at himself for helping out the sinners above him who used the faiths of others as tools. While his thoughts were turned inwards on negative matters, his own pride in his abilities kept him contemptuous of the Zom-Becks around him. Joshua Hughes becomes infected and through him the mold and the Zom-Becks begin to evolve. The mold mutates on Joshua when it can't break down his lipids and so Joshua does not get devoured and used up, instead he focuses his willpower and the other Zom-Becks begin to obey him. At one point a lot of them clumsily kneel in a prayer filled only with their grunts and moans.

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