Wars World Survey: Catalina "Lash" Dominguez - By Abalux

Lash
Age: 16
Height: 5'3"/1.60 m
Weight: 125 lb/57 kg
Birthplace: Orbital Laboratory #417, Zeffen Star System
Languages Known: Terran Standard, Spanish, nearly every Wars World language or dialect, and most Terran and Zeffenian languages. Lash was required to learn the languages of Wars World, but she dove right into them-mostly for the taunts.
Relatives of Note: Father Ramon, 37 (life support technician) and mother Ceilia, 38 (aerospace engineer). Before her betrayal of Black Hole, Lash was in regular communication with her parents.

Background

Earth and Zeffen are far, far more technologically advanced than Wars World. In fact, both societies have had space colonies for decades. These facilities, built in the asteroid belts near both worlds, serve myriad functions, usually industrial and military research. Working in an orbital facility is a privilege because it is usually clean and has high-quality accommodations. Those born in one automatically have great opportunities.
The girl who would become Lash, Catalina Dominguez, was born in one of Zeffen's finest orbital research facilities. She was genetically engineered in the colony's reproductive laboratories. Catalina's parents were wealthy enough to give their daughter benefits. Unfortunately, they could not afford both intelligence treatments and CO Powers. The Dominguezes decided to give their child the intelligence treatments. After all, she might not necessarily want to go into the military.
Little Catalina proved to be a genius, mastering the most advanced sciences by the age of ten. The trouble was that she was a natural engineer. True, she could build machinery that adult scientists would envy-but she was also an irredeemable scavenger, taking devices apart for the parts. Planetside, this would merely have been annoying. On an orbital colony, where a single faulty device could remove life support for thousands, such behavior was potentially fatal. The entire place breathed a sigh of relief when Catalina received her acceptance notice from the Zeffen Academy of Sciences.
At the Academy, Catalina received a bit of polish. She also had a lot of fun. The tools on Zeffen were even better than those at the colony, and she could build whatever she pleased. Free from having to worry about life support (because of special experiment chambers) and ethics (Zeffenian scientists have no ethical code), the precocious young scientist began building her first deathtraps. They were simple things. One that earned Catalina the highest marks in the class was ... a vending machine. This vending machine dispensed drinks. What was in the cans, though, was a highly powerful explosive that detonated on contact with air. Catalina's instructors agreed: such inventiveness in dealing death had to be rewarded. She found herself assigned to the Black Hole regiment when she graduated at 13. As a technical officer, she didn't much mind. Military work paid far higher than corresponding civilian careers.
Catalina found life in Black Hole ... interesting. With permission from Sturm (and occasionally without), she was able to conduct experiments with living targets. She met people she wouldn't have even spoken to back in Zeffen. She even constructed a device that could steal CO Powers in case the Black Hole forces encountered them. Her only real problem was that, with the exception of traveling to Wars World orbit, no action had occurred. Analyzing the equipment and personnel given to her by disgruntled Orange Star citizens didn't count. Catalina wanted to test her equipment on unfriendly locals.
She got that chance soon after a miraculous experiment. In this experiment, Catalina was faced with a "dead" clone of Viktor Steinhalt, Wars World's most dreaded dictator. Sturm wanted her to find a way to bring the clone to life. Although biotechnology was not her field of expertise, Catalina worked out a rejuvenation compound. She had her subordinate technicians pump the mixture of nanobots and organic fluids into the clone. With this treatment, Black Hole hoped to create a subordinate for Sturm's staff.
Not even Catalina anticipated the results. When the man who would become Hawke awoke, everyone in the room immediately realized that for all intents and purposes, he was Steinhalt. He retained the personality and memories of the dictator. Turning to Catalina, Sturm told her he would promote her ... but couldn't because she lacked the necessary CO Powers.
Catalina knew she had to act quickly. She excused herself and returned to the laboratory where she kept her power transfer device. Then she requested that her assistants bring in a prisoner. Catalina had no idea who this woman was, but, judging from the fancy uniform she was captured in and the casualties she had inflicted on Black Hole forces, knew she had CO Powers. This woman, who was the Empress Isa of Yellow Comet, and Catalina became the guinea pigs for the device. It worked. When Catalina recovered from the process, she found the captured CO dead on the floor, her brain structure and personality preserved in the device's data banks. Sturm was also there. Far from reprimanding his young technician, he applauded her desire to join the COs, promoted her, and gave her the code name "Lash."
Lash spent most of her CO training becoming accustomed to natural terrain (since there was none on the orbital colony and Zeffen consisted of cold desert). Not only did the familiarization allow her to understand her new powers, it also awakened an interest in the strange Wars World organisms known as "trees" and "grass." Lash also continued her scientific experiments. She created the laser beams and cannons Black Hole would become feared for in the Macro Land conflict. In addition, Lash continued her research into CO Powers. She cajoled a Terran colleague, Flak, into trying on the power transfer device. With a modification she had made, she created a digital copy of Flak's brain waves during his powers. Lash then transferred the scan into a JG-class Mobile Super Computer. The result was the creation of JG-3R, Zeffen's first robotic CO. With the experiment a success, Lash nicknamed her creation "Jugger" and programmed it to be her loyal bodyguard. This was soon before she deployed to Blue Moon.
Lash's devious genius served her well during the Blue Moon battles. Her destruction of the town Lailia shocked Olaf and everyone else in the country, and it was only because of the population's stolid determination that she had to retreat. Yellow Comet was more problematic. Lash found herself faced with people who adhered to death before dishonor. Even more problematic for her, she clashed with the princess Sonja. Lash was no fool. She could see the resemblance between Sonja and the "donor" of her powers (though she did a very good job of hiding it). That was awkward, as was the recognition that the Wars World forces had someone who was her intellectual equal. Still, Lash maintained her maniacal playfulness. That, and her interest in Hawke, was why she stuck with Black Hole after that conflict.
The situation didn't become problematic until the arrival of the Bolt Guard-in particular, the arrival of the famed nanoengineer Kindle. Zeffenian technicians and nanotech experts do not get along. It was certainly true in this case. Kindle became Lash's superior, and one of her first acts was to transfer Jugger (and its loyalty) to her staff. Lash was also concerned because Kindle knew her actual name, which she thought had been hidden from everyone. Finally, Kindle's deployment of oozium 238, her dreaded "gray goo" nanotech compound, and black obelisks bothered her. Lash wanted at least to study the local life before destroying it. Therefore, when Hawke defected, and the oozium came after them, Lash had no problems joining him and smashing the Bolt Guard. She was even able to win Sonja's cooperation while doing it.
Lash now lives in a fortified compound just outside Orange Star's capital of New Washington. Heavily guarded by its military, she is providing valuable information on Zeffenian technology. She's not happy about her loss of freedom. Still, Lash knows that the alternative-being dissolved in an Oozium's core would have been far worse.

Personality

Lash is the consummate "mad genius." Were she not in Allied Nations custody, she would be continuing her research into deathtraps and war machinery. She has little understanding of traditional scientific ethics and safety measures. She treated her soldiers-even officers-like toys. On the other hand, Lash is an avid student. She focuses on engineering, physics, and other sciences with military applications. Not limiting herself to these fields, though, Lash is willing to study anything. She uses the New Washington libraries so much that she has an honorary library card.
Oddly for a scientist, Lash is not a disciplined student. She did try to conform to the minimum standard of Black Hole discipline. Still, Hawke constantly had to prod her to wake up in the morning, attend command meetings, and set aside her reverse-engineered MAPS system (with holographic display!) while deploying forces. Lash has continued her devil-may-care lifestyle in captivity. The soldiers guarding her have given up on waking her up in the morning and setting her meal times. They even let her order the aforementioned books and clothes. (Lash's alternate outfit is, in fact, the results of a young Zeffenian technician trying to dress normally.) With this reduced security, Lash might even find a way to escape.

Combat Abilities

To this day, Lash tries to stay out of the forefront of battles. She knows her strength lies in the laboratory and nanofactory. That said, though, she has the minimal skills required of a CO. She is also not one to play fair. When Allied Nations forces took Lash into custody, they found the standard Black Hole pistol, several small knives, a garrote, and what appeared to be a Zeffenian poison kit with a miniature tranquilizer pistol on her person. Some of these items were in a tiny "flesh pocket" hidden in her body.
Lash's powers, on the other hand, paradoxically made her one of the safer commanders to enter battle under. Certainly, any soldier who participated in her experiments risked maiming or death. Those lucky enough not to find themselves tapped, though, found that the terrain itself protected them. Grass would suddenly grow, winds would blow trees' branches into spontaneous cover, and the faces of mountains would suddenly repel rockets. (The Yellow Comet soldiers who served under the Empress Isa would, in fact, say the same thing.) Perhaps the nature of Lash's CO Powers is why she became interested in Wars World flora and fauna ...

Relationships

In her short time as a Black Hole commander, Lash quickly befriended her colleagues. It was only politically wise. Of the other commanders, she liked Flak and Hawke best.
Lash is, as noted above, a super genius. She is also super-hyperactive, often staying up for days at a time. The only fellow CO who could keep up with her was Flak. He had the energy of an ox and more often than not outlasted her. Therefore, when Lash would work nonstop for long projects, she would often have Flak do the heavier work. This work included keeping reluctant experiment "volunteers" in line as well as lifting heavy machinery. Lash also considered Flak fun because she could tease and outwit him for hours.
Hawke might be the closest thing Lash had to a loyal friend. For some reason she has never understood, the native Wars Worlder always respected her. He was always distant and cold. At the same time, though, Hawke would never let anyone mistreat Lash. He also tried to get her more on task; these efforts are noted above. Lash isn't sure why Hawke took such an interest in her. She would never admit it, but now that he's missing, she's genuinely concerned about his fate.
Sonja is an interesting case. Their relationship is still marked by Lash's mistreatment of the Empress Isa. Not only does Lash expect the princess to distrust her, she makes no attempt to gain her trust. Lash does find Sonja highly intriguing. She willingly participates in Sonja's interrogations and attempts to pick her equally powerful brain for information. Already, she has learned more about non-sentient computers than any Black Hole scientist knows. When it comes to Sonja's ethics and restraint in military command, though, Lash feels utterly befuddled. The concepts are still foreign to her.

Next Survey: Adder

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