Looking ahead

My plans to use April Camp as a means to revise Lifeline may have been a bust, but I have turned that creative fervor into a new outline for the sequel to Renegade. Most of what I have so far is mostly character-driven (conflicts, goals, that sort of thing). The plot for the sequel’s original draft involved events that will be explored in the third, and final, title in the trilogy. It leaves a lot of room to maneuver for the revision. I plan to shift focus to characterization, rather than characters reacting to plot-driven forces. My biggest mistake with Renegade was writing the plot first, and the characters second. The only reason I didn’t scrap it in favor of a full rewrite was because several key elements exist in its subplots that will be used to drive the sequel. Think how The Empire Strikes Back played out in comparison to A New Hope. Luke and Co. were pulled along by a bigger plot, while Empire took time out to focus on the characters (Luke’s Jedi training, Han and the others looking to meet up with the rest of the fleet, before all plots merge in Cloud City). That’s what I intend to do with the sequel.

What I love best about this approach is it allows for a LOT of introspection. Simon and Autumn learned a lot about their connection, which leads to a lot of questions that need answers. New characters will be introduced, as well, and each of them has an important part to play in the overall story arc. Fortunately, I have a lot of raw material to work from. I’ve already been shaping, or re-shaping, characters/plot points as needs be. It’s funny what you learn about your characters. For starters, Simon’s father is a top candidate for World’s Worst Dad considering how he screwed him over. This will be one of the subplots I tackle, because it links with the stuff happening in Autumn’s life, too. Neither of them will have much love for him, that’s for sure.

Aside from hashing out a rough outline, I also wrote a definitive bio for Simon. It’s mostly for me to use as a reference, but what I love most about it is how well it maps out his characterization. It’s like, ‘Whoa, you’ve had this guy kicking around in your head for near on ten tears, and only NOW you can put two and two together?’ Again, this was a result of my putting plot first, and characters second. Despite this, 2005 Serena did lay enough groundwork for me to use in solidifying Simon’s character today.

On that note, I’d like to share some parts of the bio that aren’t ridden with spoilers. Enjoy!

***

With his history hidden deep in his mind, Simon grew up lacking identity, and a name. The caretaker at the nursery dubbed him Xargun, after the star that went supernova in the Xabeldi’s earliest history. It turned out to be a fitting moniker. He was an angry youth given to violence. This temperament kept him a permanent ward of the orphanage until a recruiter from the XSF visited. Simon had already demonstrated a knack for slipping past security using telepathy. The XSF tapped him for training in their espionage and tactical unit. He joined up shortly after he turned eighteen (by human standards).

 
Though his training began with some rough spots, Simon soon learned to become a team player, even found enjoyment in it. For the first time, he felt he belonged. While not physically strong, he demonstrated remarkable skill with hacking, small weapons, and infiltration. This was helped along by his telepathy, which was higher than his telekinetic powers. Simon could still summon shields for protection, or use TK to allow for swifter movements, but it was not his forte. During training, he teamed up regularly with two other skilled hackers, and all became close friends.

 
Upon graduating among the top of his class, Simon and his friends, along with a small squad, were assigned to investigate a Xabeldi colony that had gone silent. It was Simon’s first field mission, and it turned into a disaster. His CO, in league with mercs hired by Nuos itself, used the mission as a cover to capture the squad. Upon realizing they had been set up, Simon gunned down the CO. The mercs then opened fire on the squad. All but Simon were killed despite his best efforts. One of his friends created a distraction so he could escape. The last Simon saw of him was the mercs gunning him down. He returned to Xa’Beld to make his report, and was court martialed for his trouble. Disgusted by the High Council’s decision, and with no one to keep him on the planet, Simon left Xa’Beld behind.

 

After hunting down the mercs that attacked his squad, he spent the rest of his 20s making a name for himself as a contract killer, bounty hunter, and thief. His reputation as a proficient killer was helped along by stories of what he did to the mercs. These had painted him as ruthless. Simon did not contradict them. He had given up trust in favor for money, and it was ironic amusement that had him accept Xenon’s contract to kill Councilor Irexun. It was to be his downfall.

 

Injured and on the run from the XSF, Simon propelled his ship toward an inactive gate at the edge of Xabeldi space. When it came online on its own, he went through without hesitation, unaware that the Nureni, under orders from Nuos, had opened it to enable his escape. The construct then went offline, preventing the XSF from pursuing him.

 

Simon then spent the next ten years as their slave. The Nureni took advantage of his skills in order to keep their colony maintained. Though he demonstrated defiant acts against his keepers whenever possible, the worst was yet to come. Five years into his imprisonment, the Nureni began the long, painful process of biologically altering him into the first human/Xabeldi hybrid, a feat impossible if not for the stem connector, in order to send him to Earth. The mission brought him face to face with his hidden past as a descendant of Xarthan, as well as his connection to Autumn Welles, the woman carrying Bexanth’s powers. Association with her enabled Simon to trust again, and he turned on the Nureni to save her life. They developed a close bond during their experiences, and she is one of the few he trusts. He has taken the name she gave him and made it his own.

 

Though free from the Nureni, the scars of what they did to him are deep. The stem connector threatens his life. The XSF still seeks his death. It’s not until nearly three years after his escape from the Nureni that questions about who he is, where he came from, and what’s expected of him as Xarthan’s descendant, stand a chance at being answered. Now entering his late 30s, Simon’s journey is far from over.

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