Wars World Survey: Zhu "Kindle" Xia - By Abalux
|Height (not counting hair!):||6'6"/1.98 m|
|Weight:||130 lb/59 kg|
|Birthplace:||Shanghai Complex, Terra|
|Languages Known:||Terran Standard, Terran Chinese, and the languages of Wars World's major nations. Kindle is currently working on the languages of Green Earth's major nations, the better to hide among them.|
|Relatives of Note:||Late father Shen (educational researcher); mother Jun, 71 (head of education, Shanghai Complex, Terra), and son Koal, 12 physically and mentally/7 chronologically. Kindle has an excellent relationship with her mother and, thanks to an encrypted satellite radio, has been able to let her know that she is stuck on Wars World.|
BackgroundNot all of Zeffen's people stay on that world. Many important dignitaries shift from planet to planet as they advance in their careers. Despite Terra's environmental damage, placements there are still quite prestigious, as it is the homeworld of the human species. Important officials are willing to kill to get there. This was how the Zhu family of Zeffen returned to its ancestral home of Shanghai. Soon afterward, the eldest couple in the family had a daughter, Xia.
Xia grew up in splendor unknown to most Terrans. As the daughter of the Shanghai complex's head of education, she saw formerly common things like sunlight, clouds, and even vegetables. She never went to the lower levels, where people lived in squalor. Instead, young Xia's life was full of parties, cultural events, and the stellar education her mother's position provided. She displayed particular skill in graphic design and the physical sciences. This combination was relatively rare in the galactic society, and Xia's instructors watched her progress carefully.
An unexpected factor entered the mix soon after Xia graduated from finishing school. People in the upper floors of Shanghai Complex suddenly became tense. The local garrison was hard pressed to handle the unrest. They were more used to handling stress in the lower levels, where they could use whatever force was necessary. Worse, even the garrison's soldiers were feeling the urge to be violent. Suspecting an emerging CO, the commander finally requested researchers from Zeffen. They began investigating the area. Eventually, they traced the source to Xia, who was applying to universities across and beyond Terra. Her stress had caused the manifestation of a hitherto unknown power: the exploitation of city dwellers' psychic energy. The military definitely wanted to exploit this new CO Power. Seeking an experience beyond the walls and dome of the complex, Xia agreed to join the Black Hole regiment-on the condition that the military let her finish college.
Xia, now called Kindle, attended several of the best universities under Terran control. She soon became known as a rising star in the emerging field of nanotech. Kindle, however, was a nanotech innovator. Knowing she would go into the military, her pet project was to make "gray goo" nanotech science fact instead of fiction. She already had the drive and ruthlessness necessary to advance in society. Combined with her considerable brainpower, these characteristics attracted the attention of the legendary Von Bolt. He took an early interest in Kindle as she finished her biogenetics bachelor degree and her nanotech doctorate. When she began pursuing an MBA, Von Bolt offered her a reserve position in the Bolt Guard after she graduated. Kindle was no fool. She knew offers into Black Hole's elite didn't come regularly, and she accepted.
While studying business (for she wanted to be wealthy on her terms), Kindle decided to undertake a side project. She wanted to create a child without having to marry. Going to the genetic sample bank, she chose a donor with CO Powers of super speed-Adder. Kindle then carefully planned the genetic sequence of her child. Leaving almost nothing to chance, she designated her future son's CO Powers as the experimental control. She wanted to see how her and her anonymous donor's powers combined. Then Kindle began the process of growing an artificial child. She force-grew the boy, which she named Koal, and put his developing brain through VR simulations to instill complete loyalty. Once he was old enough to feed himself, she took him out and prepared to travel to Zeffen. ZefTec had offered her a management position in its research and development department. Kindle accepted because she wanted to be close to Bolt Guard headquarters.
At ZefTec, Kindle continued her research into "gray goo" at Von Bolt's behest. Her hard work eventually paid off. She found a formula that could make self-replicating nanobots and even exert crude control over them, ensuring that they would not devour Zeffenian soldiers. Refining the formula was concurrent with Sturm's invasion of Wars World. Finally, Kindle unveiled the finished product: a massive glob of "gray goo," which she called oozium 238. It was the military discovery of the year. Not only did Kindle win respect among her fellow nanoengineers, she got promoted to research and development director.
Soon after Kindle's achievement, she received word that Sturm had died. It was the Bolt Guard's responsibility to investigate rumors about its sister regiment. Therefore, Kindle packed her and Koal's things and took the young man with her to Wars World. She found two surprises upon arriving. The first was that Lash, a young Zeffenian technician without even a single university degree, had not only improved the regiment's JG-3R MSC but also found a way to grant herself CO Powers. Kindle was immediately jealous. The second, and more disturbing, was that Sturm had trusted a native Wars Worlder CO enough to let him join Black Hole. Hawke claimed to be in charge of the organization. Kindle and Von Bolt contested this, and Hawke stepped down. Kindle still didn't trust him.
The Omega Land campaign was interesting for Kindle. Once she had control of Jugger, she had no trouble figuring out the lasers and cannons Lash had constructed-or, for that matter, her given name, which was in Jugger's databanks. Kindle also got the chance to test out the ooziums. Perhaps more importantly, though, she and Von Bolt were able to test his Black Obelisk project. Hawke's betrayal, and the destruction of Von Bolt's life support systems, put them back some years and forced Kindle to make a run for it.
Kindle is now hiding out in Viccario, using various biological modifications and devices to disguise herself and Koal as Direnholmian tourists. Although she finds the cities of Wars World rather primitive and uncultured, she has to admit they are the most advanced cities she's seen outside Zeffen and Terra. Kindle also secretly finds their often-democratic governments intriguing. Democracies are unheard of where she's from, and she's learning as much as she can while caring for the slowly dying Von Bolt.
PersonalityKindle has never lost the characteristics of a Terran elite. She's used to getting the best and doing whatever it takes to do so. Compassion for those beneath her, loyalty even in bad situations, charity, and humility are beyond Kindle. In many ways, she could be Adder's sister. The main difference between them is that Kindle is perfectly willing to play her society's political games. Her twisting of the Zeffenian military's arm to secure just the right position is the primary proof of this.
That said, though, Kindle is genuinely intelligent. She doesn't quite have the raw power of Lash, or the deliberate elegance of Sonja. Like most Zeffenian nanoengineers, though, Kindle is creative. Her works combine science and art in stunning fashion. She also has ambition and raw drive. If she ever gets off Wars World, Kindle will be able to parley her evasion of Wars World authorities into a military promotion. She secretly hopes that Von Bolt dies. That will leave command of the Bolt Guard open, and with her talent and abilities ...
Combat AbilitiesKindle's main talents are research and creativity. That said, though, she is a member of the Bolt Guard, and has the higher marksmanship proficiency required for her post. Kindle always carries a small or medium-sized pistol on her person. Where she truly excels, though, is in infiltration. Kindle is a student of biotech and nanotechnology. While oozium 238 and Koal are her most famed experiments, though, she has not left herself unchanged. Kindle has extensive biological modifications, bought with a combination of her and her family's wealth and rewards from ZefTec. The most useful of them allows her to change her hair, eye, and skin color. This modification allows her to go where other Zeffenian albinos cannot. Its implications for infiltration are also immediately apparent. Alterable hair, reflex-boosting glands, and enhanced musculature round out Kindle's biomods.
Kindle's CO Powers are remarkably similar to Sasha's: they work on a psychic basis. The use known as "Urban Blight" heightens anger and fear among those in cities. Fortunately, Kindle has learned finesse since the power first manifested. She can tailor it to affect only certain cities. Those cities occupied by enemy forces suffer mass riots. Kindle can channel the negative energy coming from these cities to impel her soldiers to fight and move more effectively. The application known as "High Society," in contrast, empathically connects those soldiers to cities. They fight in unfamiliar settlements as if they grew up in them. Not only does this negate any home field advantage for opposing troops, it networks any cities held by Kindle's forces. Disparate units coordinate as if they were right next to each other. The benefits for efficiency and morale are easily apparent.
RelationshipsKindle has very few close friends, even in the Bolt Guard. Her childhood in the cutthroat, power-driven high society of Shanghai didn't lend itself to learning trust. Hawke and Lash's betrayal didn't help change that much.
Koal is probably the only person Kindle comes close to trusting, and for good reason: she tailored nearly every aspect of his development. His loyalty is, so far, ironclad. Even their current situation hasn't shaken it. Still, Kindle is watching her son carefully-but still basking in his frequent compliments and praise.
Jugger, on the other hand, is decidedly loyal to Kindle. Despite not being able to take it in public (a big military robot is so gauche and obvious), she makes sure it's always nearby in case of danger. She's also happy to have a little friend for Koal. At the very least, Jugger can keep Koal occupied while she investigates things he shouldn't know about.
Kindle's relationship with Von Bolt is considerably more complex. He is, for all intents and purposes, her scientific mentor and commander. His power was once so great that she genuinely respected him. Now, though, he is miserably weak and completely at Kindle's mercy. Kindle is highly conflicted on what to do with him. She would prefer that he die. Unfortunately, for the first time in her life, she is feeling guilty. Kindle cannot bear to kill Von Bolt. At the same time, though, she isn't seeking medical attention for him, but only ensuring his (relative) comfort. She does intend to ask for co-command of the Bolt Guard if Von Bolt survives.