More book preview this week. Let’s take a look at our protagonist, Victor. No real spoilers here, unless you want to go into the book without his back story. I’m going to talk about his character and how he got to chapter one, not where he goes from there. Some of what you see here will be referenced in the finished book, but there are no excerpts.
First, Victor is old. Very, very old. He’s probably one of the oldest living men on Earth, thanks to being part of the first generation to have true life extension technology. Despite his age, Victor appears to be a physically fit man in his early 40s. The life extension treatment doesn’t just keep him young, it also keeps him healthy. Had he received it in his youth, he would appear to be in his mid twenties for the rest of his life.
The same treatment that keeps him young has exacted a terrible price: his wife. Victor and his wife were early adopters of life extension tech called Lazarus, which involved not only drugs, hormones, and blood filtering, but also small implants that continue treatment for decades afterwards. These implants were designed to promote cellular and genetic health while also cleaning the blood and repairing organs, but in some recipients they instead promoted cancerous growth throughout the body. The treatment was pulled from the market, but it was too late for Victor’s wife. By the time her cancer was discovered it was in all of her major organs and being stimulated by her implants. Victor blames himself. His son blames him as well, and hasn’t spoken to him since her funeral.
Victor is a Marine veteran, and a double amputee. He was an enlisted Reconnaissance Marine, and planning to do thirty years until his unit was betrayed and ambushed in Afghanistan. For his actions that day he received the Navy Cross (he was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but not approved). He also lost his legs above the knee, and several friends. Victor cannot remember any of it, and the memory loss hurts the most. He doesn’t know if he could have saved his friends.
Victor was devastated. With the help of several other wounded veterans, and some of his fellow Marines who survived the incident, he eventually recovered and built a life outside of the military. He went to engineering school, where he met a veterinary student who didn’t patronize or pity him for his injuries. They married twelve weeks later, eventually had one son, and celebrated their seventy-fifth anniversary together before her untimely death. Victor opened his own business designing and fabricating improved small parts for military ordnance. He didn’t make weapons, he just made weapons better. It was a lucrative line of work, and combined with his pension he accumulated quite a retirement fund. He employed other veterans, and his shop became a halfway house for vets who needed help transitioning to civilian life as he once had. Soon, Victor was branching out into other lines of business, not all of them profitable. His shop is especially well known for being able to fabricate classic cars and motorcycles from almost nothing; as long as there is a photograph, a description, and a VIN (optional), they can make it run again.
Victor now lives in an apartment above the shop with two genetically enhanced rescue dogs. He spends his days working and training, and his nights drinking, wishing his son would call. Suicide isn’t in his nature, but if not for his implants he would be killing himself with liquor. He stopped going to church even before his wife died, and remains stubbornly unchurched despite his upbringing and the efforts of several clergymen who know him through his work with vets. He is an absolute luddite now; preferring to drive carbureted engines over having an automated electric pod subscription, grilling real meat instead of eating free protein loaf while plugged into a sensory immersion program, and refusing to have an implanted communications lace, opting instead to wear a headset when he needs it. The one-time bleeding edge early adopter has no more faith in technological solutions.
Some of Victor’s friends have been urging him to join their revolutionary movement; he has reservations but also finds the state of the world intolerable. The government has been cracking down on anyone who even looks at a tricorner hat without spitting, and taking violent action means giving up everything that he has built. He is an old and bitter Marine, but his dogs need him, there are always more veterans to help, and today might be the day his son finally calls.
Our story begins on the anniversary of the first nuclear attack since Nagasaki, a multilateral exchange that killed over two thirds of the United States special operations community. In some parts of the world it was Armageddon, but the United States was not hit. As a result, it is a day of remembrance for some people, and just another Thursday for others. Victor and his friends are getting together as they do every year. None of them know that it is the beginning of the Fall of Earth.
Let us have peace, let us have life,
Let us escape the cruel knife,
Let us have time, let the sun shine,
Let us beware the deadly sign.
The day is coming.
Can we survive the blitzkrieg?
– Blitzkrieg, Blitzkrieg