Who is Jake, anyway?
As some people reading this know Jake’s Last Mission, the fourth story in the Universal Nexus setting will be out in just eighteen days! I’d meant to start doing posts counting down to the release date in some nice multiple of five, but life intervened. Well, life and Hearthstone — Blizzard is damned good at making addictive games, aren’t they? Then I discovered that I couldn’t remember what my brilliant ideas had been anyway.
A bit of googling and I discovered two things: 1) there are a LOT of people out there trying to separate new authors from their money — just twenty dollars and they’ll sell you their book on how to promote your book!, and 2) most of the ideas I can find won’t work for me anyway.
Talk about my inspiration? Yeah, that doesn’t work when I get first paragraphs fully formed in my head and have to just put fingers to keyboard and see where the fuck things are going. Though I suppose if you wanted to stretch things a bit I could say my inspiration for Jake’s Last Mission was having watched way too much Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Firefly. (Not that there’s anywhere near enough Firefly for that to be possible.) But that hardly makes a blog post.
Then I saw one that suggested talking about how I developed the characters. Well, I can’t do that. That’s not the way my mind works. If I sit down and try to develop characters I get lists of traits that don’t connect. But, I can certainly tell you about the characters!
So, let’s start with the titular Jake.
Jake Kavaliro was born on Jaudo 22, 244 (Sweytian) on a world that had been in decline since before the Galfarran Civil War and was now so backwater and run-down that when he was only a toddler his mother succumbed to an illness that could’ve easily been cured on a more prosperous world. When he was still rather young, he successfully convinced his father, old before his time due to overwork and deprivation, to let him drop out of school and work on the local ranches.
Far too soon afterwards his father died when the animal he was riding was spooked and threw him. Jake got a better paying job with one of the local ranchers, one who just happened to have a daughter Jake had a bit of a crush on. That crush turned to love, and the pair were married before either was sixteen.
Shortly before they got married, Jake had given up working on ranches and taken up the slightly more lucrative career of being a spacer. He worked a freighter that stopped on Sweytz and fell in love with the world from his first sight of it.
Kavaliros had for centuries, if not millenia, been guardian faeshir (warrior priests). Jake’s grandfather had died single-handedly defending a temple from Imperialists. He killed, the legends that sprang up immediately afterward said, one hundred Imperialists before he fell, armed only with a sword. Jake’s grandmother had fled to the backwater Jake was born on with his father, who was only a toddler, intending to go back and have her son trained to be a guardian faeshir himself. Unfortunately, she’d been killed in the line of duty while serving as the equivalent of sheriff. So Jake’s father had to make his own way in life and, as shown already, never managed to scratch his way up very far.
Jake was doing better than his father, and Valerie came from a reasonably prosperous, by the area’s standards, family. But Jake had sworn to himself that no child of his would grow up the way he had. So when he came home shortly after his marriage to find Valerie pregnant, he started working on a way to get them off their homeworld.
They managed to save up enough that they were able to emigrate before the baby was born. On Sweytz, Jake stayed a spacer for a while, but that instinctive calling to help others that had been a large part of why so many Kavaliros had walked the guardian path instead of settling down as temple priests somewhere for so long led him to enlist in the Sweytian Defense Force.
A few years later, he became an officer, which on Sweytz only happens when someone has shown leadership capabilities. Shortly after . . . shortly enough after that his conception may have been part of a celebration of Jake’s commission . . . Valerie gave birth to their second child.
Jake’s military career continued to be impressive. He moved up the officer ranks rather quickly and by the time the Second Mugdaran War broke out in late 269 he was already first officer on a ship. He missed the first days of the war because it started literally days after the birth of his third child, but it became apparent very soon that where Jake really shone was as a battle commander.
Jake’s most notable accomplishment during the war was leading an attack on a Mugdaran boarding party before he’d even finished dressing — and while he was completely unarmed. As Mugdarans average two inches taller than Humans and are apex predators with the strength and fangs that implies, facing them unarmed takes a man of unusual bravery. Convincing others to fight them unarmed, which he did, takes a man with damned near supernatural persuasion abilities . . . or a man whose crew is utterly loyal to him, regardless of how insane he’s just gone.
This action got him a promotion and he spent the rest of the war and the next few years commanding the Nemes Kalapács. A couple of years after the war, his wife gave birth to their fourth and final child around the same time their eldest daughter, Renata, joined Darrien’s Daggers. (Who will get their own post some day. Because they’re awesome.)
279 started with Renata nearly dying when the fighter she was flying crash landed. Then before she was fully recovered, Bobby, his eldest son, ran away, seduced by the words of Anerix’s High Chancellor, which promised him power and prestige he thought he’d never get on Sweytz, where he felt he’d always be in his father’s shadow. This was the lowest point of Jake’s life. (You can read more about Bobby in the link below that says “Robin Thase” so I won’t go into what transpired here.)
The next year, things improved for him quite a bit. He was given command of the Defesa Lâmina, one of the best ships in the fleet, and became a grandfather.
He continued to have a very impressive career and when Mithoska Rosanna Desjardins died when her ship was destroyed in combat in 285, Jake was almost the unanimous choice for the next commander of the Sweytian Defence Force Space Fleet.
Jake’s Last Mission starts fifteen years later, when Jake is less than a full korva from retirement and on what should be an uneventful final patrol.