Darcy and Lori -
Two Edenists on Lalonde involved with security and surveillance. They pose as representatives of a Kuluian import firm. They pick up an urgent telepathic message from Laton that “There is a xenoc energy virus loose in the Quallheim Counties.” They both channel in to a vision of Laton and his children being tortured by men and women who transform into reptilian like features with forked tongue and green scales for skin. They report to their superiors, then charter the Coogan and go upriver to investigate the situation.
Later, the Coogan comes upon the wreckage of the Swithland and the Narssier. The affinity bonded eagles scout out the area, finding a single survivor. Since the man is walking calmly, as if on a stroll, and there isn’t another village for miles around, Darcy deduces that he has been “sequestered.” Len Buchannan refuses to take the Coogan any further up river. He drops Darcy and Lori off about 4 km downriver from a village known as Ozark, where several BK133 aircraft have supposedly landed some sheriffs from Durringham. Turns out that the sheriffs have also fallen victim to the reality dysfunction. The entire village swarms upon the hapless Edenists as they attempt to report back to Kelven Solanki. Their communication equipment, including the backups, fails them. Lori frantically reports as her signal is breaking up that: “Laton was right, there is some kind of energy field involved. It interfaces with matter somehow, controls it.”
Kelven Solanki -
Confederation Naval Officer with 29 years experience. He is 47 years old. He is informed that Edenist Intelligence has discovered that Laton is apparently on Lalonde. This discovery was made due to the fact that Laton was being overwhelmed by a mysterious attack related to recent disturbances in the Quallhiem region of the planet. Anything powerful enough to overcome Laton is considered extremely dangerous, so the Edenists have chosen to disregard their normal diplomatic distancing from the Adamists and warn them of the need to activate a portion of the Confederation Fleet to investigate the happenings on Lalonde. He realizes that his superiors will respond to this information by requesting some verification from their own sources so he immediately dispatches a marine contingent to investigate.
Kenneth Kavanagh -
Rich landowner and merchant on Norfolk dealing in the universally renowned Norfolk Tears. The Kavanaghs are descended from the Mountbattens, who are, in turn, part of the lineage of the British Windsor monarchy. As such, the Kavanaghs rule their estates with an air of aristocracy much out of step with the Confederation norm. He is very taken with Joshua’s cargo of mayope and finds 300 cases of uncommitted Tears for him at his cousin Grant Kavanagh’s estate, Cricklade.
Marjorie Kavanagh -
Grant Kavanagh’s wife. Tired of her husband’s endless sexual indulgences and living in Norfolk’s backwards social environment which makes females second class citizens, she decides to rebel against it all and go to bed with Joshua. Joshua makes a feeble attempt at refusal, but she forces herself upon him.
Genevieve Kavanagh -
Louise’s younger sister. A giggling child, always tagging along and in the middle of everything. Though a fragile child, she displays the basic strength of character inherited by all Kavanaghs. It is her suggestion that she and her sister go to Bytham after it is discovered that Colsterworth has fallen to the possessors. It is also her idea that Fletcher Christain escort the sisters along the way. Carmitha takes an especial liking to her on the trip to Bytham and gives her a pendant containing heather grown on Earth. She is told that it will ward off evil spirits and that "There's real earth magic stored in there." Finally, she escapes Norfolk on the Far Realm along with her sister and Fletcher Christian. She loves spaceflight, unbuckling herself and having a great time being playful in free-fall. During her flight to Mars aboard the Far Realm, she takes childish delight in accessing the ship’s computer to play holographic games and explore mythical landscapes.
Grant Kavanagh –
An arrogant sort, believing that most people are fools and unworthy. He runs Cricklade with almost an iron will, continuing a tradition of productivity and profitability that has lasted for 275 years. Grant is captured with the last remaining militia troops in the Battle for Boston. He is possessed, after great internal struggle that nearly destroys his body, by Luca Comar. He returns to Cricklade manor bringing Quinn Dexte along with him. His entire estate soon falls to possession.
Graeme Nicholson -
A “hack reporter” aged 78. He specializes in sensational journalism. He recognizes Laton’s body (possessed unbeknownst to him) in a bar, the Crashed Dumper. He later produces a “flek” (a sensevised new brief) on Laton’s appearance in Durringham. This is put together along with old footage of the Laton-induced Jantrit disaster by Matthias Rems. The flek is shown throughout Tranquillity which quickly produces a sensation of terror throughout the habitat. Word spreads rapidly throughout the Confederation that Laton has been found. The flek also indicates that Laton left Lalonde on the Yaku.
Jenny Harris -
A lieutenant in the ESA, sent on horseback along with two G66 Division (Tactical Combat Specialist) agents to investigate the spread of “the Ivet Uprising” at the village of Oconto. Her team works in conjunction with a separate group of Confederation Navy Marines. The groups split in order to have a better opportunity to possibly capture “sequestered colonists.” The team is soon in the midst of a full scale assault by the possessed, simple explosive white fire blasting at them in response to their sophisticated technical weapons. They manage to capture one of the attackers, Gerald Skibbow. During the effort to get the captured hostile back to the team’s base ship, Jenny is wounded badly by one of the possessed’s white fire balls. Medical nanonic patches help her deal with the pain, but she still has to order all her neural nanonics to block her nerve impulses. A rescue spaceplane, the Ekwan, is ordered to pick up the team and their prisoner. They just manage to hold off the oncoming possessed as the ship arrives. The G66 guys board with Gerald Skibbow, but Jenny, with her numb, injured legs cannot make it aboard. Left to fight them off herself, she is confronted with the pleas of the possessed to let them in, that they can end her pain. Instead, Jenny sends a final kamikaze command into her faltering nanonics, creating a explosion on the energy remaining in her attached equipment and destroying everything, including the possessed, nearby her.
Jacqueline Couteur -
Possessed prisoner taken by the Confederation Navy Marine team as part of the scouting mission in conjunction with Lieutenant Jenny Harris’ team. While the Harris team was fighting for its lives, so, too, were the marines. All of them were wounded by the mysterious white fireballs the possessed seemed to be able to launch out of nowhere. As the marines return to the Isakore, their boat awaiting them on the river, they learn from contact with Kelven Solanki that the Kulu embassy has suddenly evacuated Lalonde. Jacqueline is calm and confident. “You will come to us in time,” she muses. Like all the possessed, she is able to transform from her middle aged true self into a beautiful girl of 21 in an evening gown and then back again. This shocks those that witness it, bringing on the realization the strangeness and power of the reality dysfunction. A full body and neural scan by authorities on Trafalgar reveals nothing special about her. How she is able to manipulate her form and produce fireballs at will is a complete medical mystery. The only direct question she answers for authorities is that Laton has nothing to do with the emergence and spread of the dysfunction.
She threatens to sue Dr. Gilmore for torture. When the doctor counters that the possessed do not have any civil rights, Jacqueline quickly reminds him that her body is “co-hosted” by Kate Morley, a legitimate citizen. Dr. Gilmore promises to take the matter up with proper council to determine Kate Morley’s exact legal status, given that she is not in control of her body. In the meantime, we learn that Jacqueline died in 2036 and was conscious the entire time she was in the beyond. Dr. Gilmore deduces that, since time passes in the beyond, then it must be subject to entropy, that entities there could decay and, more importantly, be killed.
She gets her day in court, along with three other possessors that have been studied (or tortured as they put it) in order to better understand the nature of possession. As court is about to begin, she and the others unleash four balls of white fire that explode, wrecking havoc within the courtroom. In the ensuing confusion, the possessors manage to take over another dozen bodies including Maynard Khanna’s, whose possessor informs Jacqueline of the impending attack by the Confederation on the Capone organization’s fleet bound for Toi-Hoi. Jacqueline promptly sends Khanna’s possessor back to the beyond so that the Confederation will not find out that she now knows about their plans. She informs the organization that an ambush is being readied for the Toi-Hoi operation by shouting it into the beyond. Her coup comes to an end when security forces retake the courtroom.
Another of Rubra’s many descendents. 15 years of age. A perfect progeny to Rubra. Lonely, but proud, and with a very bad temper. He is tempted by Marie Skibbow (Karie Salter) to come to her bedroom, where he is tortured by three other possessed individuals and is ultimately possessed by Dariat, who commits suicide in order to take over his body. Ultimately, however, he retains his body when Dariat abandons it to join Rubra in Valisk’s neural strata.
Samual Aleksandrovich -
First Admiral of the Confederation Navy. Known and respected for his tough but fair nature. When he learns of Laton’s reappearance, however, fairness goes out the window. Hamilton writes: “He just wanted Laton dead.” He authorizes a two-prong action to address the situation. First, an galactic alert seeking out Laton, discovering where the Yaku (the starship carrying Laton away from Lalonde) went. Second, to completely isolate Lalonde. The mercenary force raised by Terrance Smith is to be stopped from landing on the planet. No bombardments are to be allowed. The isolation is to remain in effect with no physical contact with the planet’s surface until the method by which the sequestration is discovered. Finally, the Admiral orders the Lady MacBeth and her crew to be arrested. He suspects their involvement with the events in some fashion as they were in orbit above the planet when the dysfunction first emerged.
The Admiral is of four permanent members of the Confederation's polity council. He recommends to the council that a state of emergence be declared in the face of possession, that all local squadrons throughout the Confederation swear allegiance to the Navy and that measure be made to contain the spread of possession until some kind of solution can be found. He acknowledges before the council that the option of attacking the possessed is really not valid since they would be, in effect, attacking living citizens being held hostage within their own bodies.
He summons Parker Higgins to Trafalgar to discuss the possession crisis. He suggests that a team of specialists from the Confederation Navy might assist the Laymil research efforts by attempting to locate any weapons that might exist in the plethora of data still not translated from the electronics stack. This exasperates Higgins, as he knows the Laymil were not a culture that used weaponry. The Admiral persists, however, and in the end gets his specialists in on the project.
He reports to the CNIS council that New California is the only planetary system to completely succumb to the forces of possession. 17 others have large intrusions that are, for the moment, being contained. About 120 asteroid settlements, however, have fallen. Overall, he tells the council, the situation could have been much worse.
He is surprised to learn that the Kulu Kingdom and the Edenists have allied themselves in regards to the Mortonridge crisis on Ombey. He does not like idea of sending two Confederation marine brigades into what he considers a futile operation that will only result in the deaths on many innocent possessees. But, his objections are overruled by President Haaker, who feels the operation is important as a public show of force against possession if nothing else.
Freya Chester -
A nine year old child who joins Father Horst’s child group a few weeks after it had settled down away from Aberdale. The child feigns illness and needing rest. Horst quickly realizes that she is, in fact, one of the possessed, possibly sent to take over the group. Horst performs an exorcism on her. Though she burst his bible into flames, badly burning one of his hands, Horst maintains his determination and clutches his crucifix with his good hand. He commands in the name of Jesus Christ that the possessor to abandon the child. There is a fierce struggle of wills. Horst ultimately triumphs, the room erupts in a cold, chaotic wind, leaving the real Freya lying on the bed as Hamilton puts it: “...all crusty sores, ragged clothes, and boney famined figure.” Horst cares for the child and nurses her back to health.
Lewis Sinclair -
Possessor of Laton. Uniquely, he is not able to fully overcome Laton’s personality. As Hamilton puts it: “But the centre of Lewis’ mind contained only a heavy darkness. He hadn’t told the others that, they were all so boastful of how they controlled their captives, so he just brazened out. The soul he had usurped as he came to this body neither entreated nor threatened. Lewis knew it was there, he could sense the surface thoughts, cold and hard, formidable with resolution. Waiting.” He travels in the Yaku to Pernik, where, shortly upon arriving, Laton uses his still considerable power to tap into the possessed capabilities of his body and cause a large crane to fall upon his (and Lewis’) body. Lewis immediately is taken up into the habitat personality of Pernik, but the multiplicity suddenly realizes what Lewis is and withdraws from his neural patterns. But, it is too late. Lewis, with reckless abandon, engulfs the entire Pernik personality. However, he soon discovers that this was just a ploy by Laton to get freed from his body so that he could use his considerable powers and knowledge of his proteanic virus to take over Lewis and the habitat for himself.
Terrance Smith –
Colin Rexrew’s executive aid. Sent to Tranquillity to raise a mercenary force to be used against Lalonde’s “uprising.” Her puts together an assortment of vessels, including the Lady MacBeth, several blackhawks, and hired combat mercenaries. Upon returning to Lalonde, the entourage discovers a strange red cloud enshrouding much of the planet. It mostly follows the tributaries of the Juliffe and seems more like “a film of electrophorescent cells…solidified into the air” than an actual cloud. It has a brightness about it that is more pronounced above Durringham and villages. Where the cloud thins out enough, rough images taken from the combat group’s released satellites reveals that many of the buildings in the villages have changed. Structures from a variety of time periods in history are now standing; stone houses, geodesic domes, and even windmills.
Terrance orders a couple of probes down into the cloud. Nothing is learned, as their signals are quickly lost in a static distortion, except that the cloud contains no detectable particles except water vapor and enormous humidity. The executive aid then orders in his combat teams as planned with the exception that they are to change their landing zones to be well clear of regions covered by the cloud. 15 teams are sent in all. Three to the Quallheim Counties “to find the invader’s landing site and base.” Nine teams are sent all along the Juliffe tributaries to get an overall view of the situation. Finally, two teams are sent into Durringham’s spaceport to determine if general troops from Terrance’s ship, the Gemal, can still land there and to access flight control records to determine where all of Lalonde’s starships went, particularly the ship transporting Laton.
Contact is quickly lost with many of the landing teams. The red cloud, as if an intelligent entity, sends streamers of clouds out toward the landing zones as each spaceplane lands. Some of the spaceplanes manage to get back into orbit and reestablish contact with the Gemal. One of the spaceplanes explodes shortly after landing. Many of the spaceplanes return to their home ships, with reports of being fortunate to escape the horrors going on upon the planet below. A few unwise crewmembers allow them to reboard, only to discover that they are now sequestered. Soon, several ships are overtaken by the possessed.
His mission turns into a fiasco when many of his ships are hijacked by the possessed. He has already lost control of the situation when an squadron from the Confederation Navy arrives to order him to cease operations.
Reza Malin –
Leader of a Lalonde mercenary combat team. Transported there by the Lady MacBeth. Like a cosmonik, he is a mixture of human and machine. Although he has a basic, humanoid shape, he stands two meters tall and just as broad, with artificial skin and a built-in chameleon layer. Instead of hands, Reza has cybernetic six-finger claws and his arms are widened to accommodate integrated gaussguns. Nose is a flat intake complete with sensors and filters of various biological and chemical agents. Upon landing on Lalonde, he sends two aerovettes off as decoys for his combat team and dispatches his two scouting hounds, Fenton and Ryall, out ahead. Though successful in their landing and encountering no immediate danger, Reza receives a communication from Joshua informing him of the hijacking of many of the mercenary vessels above Lalonde, the appearance of the Confederation Navy squadron, and that some of the merc vessels are starting to engage the Navy ships. Reza immediately grasps the significance of events. The “invaders” on Lalonde intend to challenge the entire Confederation.
As he and his team enter the Pamiers village, a woman dressed in a clothing style some 500 years old approaches them. She tells the combat team that the intent of the possessed is to take Lalonde right out of the universe. “It will become paradise, you know,” she adds. When Reza orders his team to leave, the woman begins an energy build up that is detected by Reza’s infrared sensors. She is about to blast the team with a white fire charge when Reza guns her down with five explosive rounds from his forearm-implanted guassguns. The team blasts the entire area with energy explosive projectiles. Within seconds, most of the village lies in burning ruins.
After the fierce fight at Pamiers Reza has a healthy respect for the firepower of the possessed. He decides to investigate the nearby Tyrathca village. After viewing the situation there, he further decides that position is too exposed to attack from the possessed and moves the team away from the Juliffe basin to avoid the spreading red cloud. He orders them into the valley below to await Joshua’s scheduled return for them. The team happens upon Father Horst as it makes its decent into the valley below. His scout team, after meeting Father Horst, goes to the settlement where all the children are kept in an attempt to retrieve them from under the red cloud and bring them out to rendezvous with the Lady MacBeth if it returns for the group.
In rescuing Father Horst’s group of orphans his team is attacked by the possessed in the form of knights and pikemen. They are still capable of their deadly white fire assaults, however. They move the children away in the team’s hovercraft, badly overloaded. At first chance, Reza orders everyone out of the hovercraft and into a deep gully, facing away from the direction they came.
He denotes the team’s nuke which wipes out the initial waves of the possessed stalking them. A firestorm rages for two kms around the crater. Reza hurries back to the deep gully to get everyone back into the hovercraft. As it leaves he tells Kelly that he and his five other team members are going to arrange “a small delay.” Kelly implores him to come with them, but to no avail. Reza knows there isn’t enough time for the Lady MacBeth’s spaceplane to arrive before the possessed regroup and come again.
Reza’s team uses EE rounds from gaussrifles and 10mm automatic pistol rounds to decimate the assaults of the possessed. But, ultimately they are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and white fire assaults consume the team.
A “Romany” woman with long black hair, brown skin and a round face. She is driving a caravan near Colsterworth when Louise Kavanagh happens upon her. Carmitha is at the time attempting to escape several of the possessed on horseback. A wagon wheel falls off and she is suddenly stranded as Louise and Genevieve catch up with her. Soon the three ladies are surrounded by the possessed, who threaten to rape and torture them until Fletcher Christian intervenes. After Fletcher miraculously repairs her wagon, she agrees to take all four of them to Bytham.
On their journey to Bytham, she gets along fine with the young, innocent Genevieve, but Louise gets on her nerves. Louise’s aristocratic view of how perfect Norfolk society is is too much for the Romany woman to tolerate. She lashes out at Louise about the injustices to the ruling class, the intentional backwardness of Norfolk compared with the rest of the Confederation, the sufferings of the poor. She claims that Louise’s class has “condemned us to a circular road. It leads nowhere.” She laments that she will never travel in space or “never see the wonder of sunrise and sunset on another planet.” This attack initially draws Louise’s wrath, but when Carmitha speaks of Grant Kavanagh’s numerous infidelities, it proves too much for either of the Kavanagh girls. Carmitha is immediately sorry for what she has done. Louise cries for her entire situation and in the process reveals that she is afraid for the baby she is carrying inside her. This revelation surprises everyone and puts a new light on the group’s situation. Carmitha shows renewed determination to help Louise and Genevieve get off the planet. She takes her caravan off into the forests of Kesteven to avoid contact with the possessed after delivering the sisters and Fletcher Christian to Bytham.
Chapman Adkinson –
A Royal Navy reservist and pilot of a passenger flight from Pesto to Atherstone that carries one of three possessed Lalonde embassy personnel. The flight is experiencing the usual chaotic technical breakdowns that occur whenever a possessed person is anywhere around electronic equipment. When Chapman requests permission to make an alternate landing he is tortured by his passenger who threatens to make him endure more pain if he does not continue on to Atherstone. Authorities on Ombey are aware of the flight, its technical problems, and the possibility that it could contain one of the three possessed individuals being searched for. These suspicions are confirmed when Chapman manages to datavise the image of the passenger through his faltering nanonics to Ralph Hiltch. The flight is blown out of the skies shortly thereafter long before it ever reaches Atherstone.
Emmet Mordden –
The possessor who began the process of possession on New California after reaching there from Boston on Norfolk. One of 22 original insurgents possessed by Edmund Rigby. Emmet ranks high the Capone hierarchy and is given responsibility over technological matters. When Nicolai Penovich comes forward with his offer of antimatter for the organization, Emmett briefs him then reports to Capone that he has essentially two options. Since New California’s supply of He(3) will eventually run out the organization must either attack Edenism and take the helium mines away from them or it must devote its resources to securing antimatter as a source of power. This, Emmett tells Capone, will require a lot of cooperation from the non-possessed.
Santiago Vargas –
Possessor of Hank Doyle. Captured in Moyce’s of Pesto. He cooperates with Ralph Hiltch and demonstrates the capabilities of the white fire. He also informs Ralph that no one inside Moyce’s escaped possession. The entire nighttime shift of the food distribution company is affected.
Dean Folan –
Heads up an AT team in the assault on the Moyce’s of Pesto building. He saves the life of fellow team member Radford when the latter is attacked by a possessed transformed into a hideous and powerful beast-like creature. When the beast finally succumbs to the hail of gunfire directed against it, it briefly transforms back into a middle-aged man before dying at last under the weight of the firepower directed against it.
An extremely popular mood fantasy (MF) artist. Her recent MF album entitled “Life Kinetic” has sold many millions of copies and has energized her young followers into a massive cult army. But her immense popularity has taken its toll on her. She is emotionally numbed by her endless galactic tour (aptly titled the “Moral Bankruptcy Tour”) and the mindless fame and wealth that it has generated for her band members and herself.
She badly wants to get out of San Angeles, but her flight has been rescheduled to accommodate Capone’s personal scheduling of a flight. This greatly upsets her. She meets Capone as his entourage prepares to leave on a flight. She learns that he intends to take over New California. She tells him it’s a waste of time because New California has less population that Kulu, a smaller economy than Oshanko and fewer exports than Earth. Her beauty, forwardness and insight into his plans win over Capone’s heart and he decides to bring she, Leroy Octavius, and the rest of her band along with him.
She and Capone engage in wild sexual encounters. She is especially fond of the “Egyptian Position” stating that only Capone is “big enough to make that work.” Jezzibella convinces Capone that he should not be content with taking New California out of the universe (the goal of all possession outbreaks). Rather, she talks him into wanting to spread the organization throughout the galaxy.
She raves over Nicolai Penovich’s idea of connecting the Capone organization with antimatter. She tells Capone that if he has the stuff, the Confederation will “think twice before launching any sort of offensive” against him. But, she also warns him that antimatter cannot be handled by any possessed persons due to their energistic abilities.
Always a comfort to Capone and supportive of him during trying times, it is her suggestion that Capone negotiate a deal with Kiera Salter to acquire some of Valisk’s hellhawks in order to deal with the stealth attacks of the Confederation on the Arnstadt SD platform system.
Leroy Octavius –
Jezzibella’s manager. A large framed man that enjoys the sound of his tight leather clothing squeaking with each step he takes. He recognizes a “unspoken yearning” in Jezzibella that he knows is the basis for her appeal as a mood fantasy artist. He also realizes that this same yearning could turn into a full-blown depression if he isn’t careful.
He becomes a key non-possessed player for Capone, putting his talents at managing the superstar Jezzabella to work for the organization. He oversees the basic infrastructure needs upon New California; utilities, transportation, food stocks, and other essentials of the economy. Essentially, he is in charge of most of the 16 million non-possessed and making sure they make positive contributions to the organization.
Bernhard Allsop –
A possessor who originally lived in Tennessee who picks up Al Capone in his car. Though the vehicle looks perfectly normal (sleek, perfect aerodynamics) for the 27th century, inside it is a plush late model 20th century Oldsmobile, another manifestation of the power of possession. During a conversation with Al regarding the beyond he is shocked to learn that Al doesn’t share his natural fear of the sky, something virtually all possessed persons experience. According to Al, the beyond “never really bothered me any while I was there the first time around.” To Bernhard, the beyond is a vast, horrible “emptiness” of which the sky reminds him. Bernhard, like almost every other possessed person, wants to hide from the sky and looks forward to gathering enough souls to take their particular world out of the universe. “Someplace where we ain’t never going to die again, somewhere that don’t go on for ever. Where there’s no empty night.”
Avram Harwood III –
Mayor of San Angeles. Affectionately called "Avvy" by Al Capone. The mayor refuses to cooperate with Capone, who would rather he accept Capone's offer without possession. He is inflicted with a long, mental torture as a result of his stubborn refusal to cooperate with Capone. Ultimately, he breaks and becomes an important non-possessed cog in Capone's complex pyramid organization. After his possession is complete, Capone sets him up in the Monterey naval tactical operations room orbiting New California to be the focal point of information coming in on who the returning souls were and how they could est be utilized within the organization.
Finnuala O’Meara –
A young reporter, fresh out of the university of Atherstone, who manages to illegally decrypt a security datavise about the mysterious situation developing on Mortonridge. She works for DataAxis, Exnall’s only news service. She learns that a “xenoc sequestration virus” now threatens Exnall. She creates a panic in the town by sending out personal alarm calls to everyone in the middle of the night. The intention by local authorities was that word about the curfew would greet people gradually and individually, as a woke up in the morning. The personal alarms foil that and the police station is flooded with more calls than it can possible handle. She is imprisoned briefly. Until, a possessed person in the form of a mummy comes to her cell.
Kirsten Saldana –
Princess of Ombey. She takes an active role in the coming of possession to her planet. But, when Ralph Hiltch argues that the only reasonable hope of attacking the possessed and retaking Mortonridge lies in Edenist technology, she defers that decision to her brother, King Alastair. Such open cooperation with the Edenists would go against centuries of political disassociation between Edenism and the Kulu Kingdom.