I decided early that I wanted two main characters who would follow separate paths for some portion of the story before coming together. I also decided that the second character should be a strong female character and would serve as a potential love interest for the male lead (and vice versa). This idea is not original by any stretch but it often works well.
First, I settled on a name: Eben Trys. Given the spelling of Trys, I decided that she would continually receive incorrect pronunciations of her name (“trees”, “tries”, “triss”) but the correct pronunciation is “treece”.
Her physical characteristics are somewhat uninspiring. She is slightly taller than average at just over six feet in height. She has the standard blended brown skin tone combined with reddish brown hair and brown eyes. She is not particularly curvy and has an athletic build. Her breasts are large enough to be obvious but not large enough to be distracting unless she chooses to make them so. The same goes for her hips and butt. With special care, she can pass as a man so long as close scrutiny is avoided.
Like for Ogden Ecter, I created an initial biography for Eben which illuminates her character.
Eben is an independent interstellar trader. She is mostly honest though she will take less than legal jobs on occasion. She has no qualms about killing if it is necessary to protect her life or her cargo. She is scrupulous about adhering to contracts although she will break a contract if there is sufficient profit or other motivation to do so.
Eben comes from a long line of wealthy merchants based on Lebtor Seven. It was a minor scandal for her parents when she went independent but she could no longer abide the strong lack of morality showed by the Trys Traders. As an independent, she ends up poaching much of the Trys Traders’ more honest trade, thus revealing their true nature. There is much bad blood between Eben and her family.
Eben has managed to avoid trouble with authorities in most systems. Because laws vary widely between systems, most do not recognize each other’s warrants, especially when the subject of said warrants happens to be providing a valuable service.
The specific job that lands Eben in trouble is a simple enough cargo transport between Old Earth and Pleddor Two which happens to be time sensitive. The shortest route between the two passes within jump distance of Mal but no other currently habitable worlds. The cargo turns out to be a computer jammer amid other associated gear that comes on as Eben makes her closest approach to Mal and seizes control driving her at full power directly perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy. By the time she regains control (possibly by design), she has only enough fuel to make Mal and does so. The landing is rough but the ship survives intact.
Again, we can learn much about this universe from this short biography. First, we know there are two other planets or colonies of some sort: Lebtor Seven and Pleddor Two. The specific significance of the numbers is not obvious but it can be defined later should any action take place at either location.
We also know that Pleddor Two is located somewhere without significant development, perhaps on the rim of human space. We also know now that the interstellar travel conceit involves jumping in some manner and that travelling perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy is not a good thing, especially at full power.
We also learn that Mal happens to be off the beaten track for it is “on the way” to Pleddor Two from the perspective of Earth but no other inhabited world is. The specific wording implies that other worlds may become habitable in the neighbourhood but they are not currently.
About Eben, we learn that her parents are rich but somewhat amoral. Much can be inferred from this but none of it is relevant to the particular story at hand. We know that she is well versed in such things that a trader would need, such has handling various cultures and negotiating a fair price. She is also likely not on speaking terms with her family since her choice to go independent.
Despite the lack of safety net from her family, she is clearly able to handle herself. This is obvious given that random worlds are willing to ignore warrants from others. While this is perfectly acceptable in a climate with largely independent sovereign states, it is often a source of tension. That these states are willing to risk the tension suggests that Eben has strong backers somewhere or that she is a strong player herself.
We also learn that she will usually follow a contract. However, we also know that she will break a contract if there is “sufficient profit” to do so. Like Ogden’s biography, this also implies there is something other than money that is valuable, so valuable that it is worth compromising a reputation by taking bribes (in Ogden’s case) or by breaking contracts (in Eben’s case). At this point it is important to note that both biographies were written within minutes of each other with no particular thought about how they mesh. This coincidence between them is actually unintended but such things are often useful when developing a story. In this case, I will work it into the universe I am creating for the story.
Finally, we know that Eben’s presence on Mal is not intentional on her part but neither is it voluntary. She is not a prisoner and does not arrive through the usual channels. She also has resources beyond those of the inmates upon her arrival. Also, the nature of her arrival must be somewhat noticeable if she is landing a space ship somewhere on the surface.
Next time, we will set up the basics of the setting.