Tell Us About Yourself
Sergeant Dennis “Det” Cox
Ms. Paige Barnett
Cox: “Body age, twenty-seven; chronological groundsider age, fifty-three. Because I spend so much time in transit to out-system worlds, my body clock and Earth’s calendar are seriously out of whack from relativistic effects: Rangers call that the ‘relativity tax.’”
Barnett: “I’m twenty-eight by Earth chronology, but my adventure on X-66B lost me thirty Earth-months, and I’d been out-system once or twice previously, so my body clock age is twenty-five, three years younger than my groundsider date of birth.”
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Cox: “I do demolition and run recon units for the 203rd Ranger Regiment; I’m a team sergeant. I’d rather be out-system than groundside or anywhere in Earth’s solar system. Like any other Ranger, I’m a volunteer who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, air, or space. As a Ranger the US expects me to move farther, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier. I’ve completed all my missions so far, sometimes as a lone survivor. I meet the enemies of my country and defeat them on any battlefield because I’m better trained and fight with all my might. Rangers don’t surrender. We never leave a fallen comrade in enemy hands. I try like hell never to embarrass my country. Sometimes lately that isn’t easy.”
Barnett: “My last appointment groundside (by that, I mean on Earth) was as Executive Assistant to Raymond Godfrey of InterSpace Tasking (IST), one of Earth’s most powerful spacefaring corporations. At IST, an executive assistant’s is a very prestigious position; I don’t make coffee: I set Mr. Godfrey’s agenda. Or did until recently, when I took an impromptu leave and met Sergeant Cox, here, through an online dating service, and everything changed for me. I’ve been out-system to a classified mining colony since then, involved in sensitive matters I can’t discuss…”
Describe your appearance in 10 words or less.
Cox: “Six foot one, 8% body fat; I bench-press 340 lbs.”
Barnett: “I’m five ft. 8, fit and trim, with red-brown hair.”
Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?
Cox: “Lead the way: never fail comrades, keep mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight. Do more than my share; give better than one hundred percent to any task. Serve my country, no matter what it needs from me.”
Barnett: “I’m a person who embraces a cause that’s just. I believe in right, I recognize wrong. I believe that success for one should mean success for all. I believe democracy will triumph only if everyone does their share. I believe in equality, but I’m realistic: human rights must be guarded by everyone, all the time, or be lost. I’m working to make our society more fair to all.”
Would you kill for those you love?
Cox: “I only kill in pursuit of a mission objective, and the enemy doesn’t tend to include people I love. Would I kill to protect a loved one? Count on it.”
Barnett: “That’s not a simple question. I’ve held a gun. I know how to shoot. I can’t imagine that killing is the most effective way to solve our problems – never has been, isn’t now, and won’t ever be. But kill, to protect someone I love? If there was no other way, yes.”
Would you die for those you love?
Cox: “Hasn’t happened yet.”
Barnett: “Of course I’d die to protect a loved one.”
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?
Cox: “Weakness? I can get impatient with bureaucrats, or liars, or treachery, or orders given by those who aren’t at risk. I’ve been known to shoot from the hip. Strengths? I do whatever it takes to get the job done, meet a mission objective, even if I don’t agree with it. I’m loyal to my Ranger code, to my outfit, to my troops, to my nation. I get back home, every time. I don’t expect miracles from my comrades: I know that people disappoint you.”
Barnett: “Weakness? I’m female, obviously, and fertile, so that means I need to be better at my job than a man, because my hormones interfere with me more than a man’s interfere with him. I form attachments, and these can impact my judgment. I forgive too much sometimes. I don’t like bumping my head on the glass ceiling, which happens whenever large amounts of money and power are involved. Strengths? I’m loyal, smart, educated. My word is my bond. I’m a good infighter and strategic planner. This last year has taught me how good I am at surviving. I’m still standing, and moving forward.”
Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why?
Cox: “Not many relationships, period. Relationships among the Rangers? Sure. Some. But in my job, you lose friends, so you don’t want too many. I’ve got allies here and there – in and out of government. Paige, here, for one. I haven’t got much in common with groundsiders or folks in-system. That’s okay. I protect ’em, I don’t need to socialize with them.”
Barnett: “Relationships per se are important to me. In my job at IST, connectivity was all. And now, working on special projects, connectivity and the ability to move among echelons are equally important. And of course, Dennis and I have forged a strong bond. I have ties to certain Fourth Worlders with whom we work closely. But allegiances and alliances change.”
Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?
Cox: “Yeah, Paige Barnett. Space travel is rough on dogs. Out-system, there isn’t much life to like above the vegetable level.”
Barnett: “Dennis! He’s just… Well, what’s an animal, after all, but a very close relative of humanity? We’re all genetically similar. But as for a pet I see every day, no. My life doesn’t allow for pets right now.”
Do you have a family? Tell us about them.
Cox: Not groundside. My extended family is the 203rd, and we work mostly out beyond this solar system…. And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. A guy like me makes enemies who think your family is a weakness, and I’ve got more enemies than I need right now.”
Barnett: “A family? Well, my groundside parents are dead. But I’ve found a group of people with similar beliefs, if you will, who are like a family to me… In fact, although this might sound silly, the whole human race is my family. Honestly.”
Cox (whispering): “Christ, Paige, shut up.”
Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you?
Cox: “My dad was a Ranger. My uncle was, too. So it’s in the family, the Code and all. They taught me survival skills, how and when to fight back, how to judge a person or any other threat before you engage. And what discipline means to your survival. So I’m tough on my teams, sometimes, to keep them alive.”
Barnett: “My education, really. We lived in Massachusetts, so I went to all the best schools, where I learned to learn and keep on learning. My parents left me comfortable and idealistic, so my career focus naturally became one of changing the world for the better.”
Do you have any phobias?
Cox: “Rangers don’t have phobias. We have skills, hot washes, after action reports, and fitness evaluations. I don’t like being out of control. I don’t like things whose danger or value I can’t quantify, such as faulty equipment or people with divided loyalties. I don’t like PTSD.”
Barnett: “Betrayal. Spiders. The unknown. Making mistakes. Losing mental acuity. If Dennis were being honest with you, except for the spiders, he’d have mentioned all of these.”
Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.
Cox: “I’m not interesting or unusual. I’m just another team sergeant who does demolitions and recon missions.”
Barnett: “I’m at the forefront of amazing scientific discoveries, the details of which I’m not at liberty to disclose to you right now.”
Tell Us About Your World
Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.
Cox: Which one? Between missions, I’d rather be out-system than groundside on Earth. Earth changes so fast: the fashions, the music, the women, the laws: I don’t recognize it half the time when I’m here. I stage from Ranger bases out past the asteroid belt, when I can – stay among my own kind. My last two missions weren’t anything I can discuss, beyond saying we’ve been working closely with contractors to solve problems on mining colonies and terraforming planets which the US wants to annex.”
Barnett: I live on Earth nearly all the time, although I did go on a rather long excursion out-system recently. Working for IST, one of the biggest out-system mining and terraforming entities among the stars, I maintained cognizance of all Earth’s activities in our solar system and beyond. The time dilation aspect of interstellar travel causes some difficulties in technology uptake by the out-system settlements, but basically humanity has no choice: we must establish many colonies off world: we have too many people for one planet to sustain. So we terraform, we colonize, we mine. Usually the first humans out-system are technologists and what we call Fourth Worlders who, like Fourth Worlders on Earth, are looking for a new start and opportunity and work hard for those things.”
Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour.
Cox: My religion is nobody’s business but my own. I was brought up as a God-fearing man, but these days I don’t think God is what we’ve got to fear. People are like salmon searching for a forgotten spawning ground: they’ll die trying to get somewhere they haven’t been before. There’s a new cult among some Fourth Worlders: redemption, resurrection, the holy way. I’ve encountered some of those people. Like with other religions, these early practitioners are revolutionaries. And when revolutionaries become violent, no matter what they believe, that can require military intervention. So, no I’m not a ‘follower’ of any religion, but yeah, this one’s affecting my behavior.
Barnett: “I’ve found, over the last months, a deeper spiritual connection that I’d ever thought to have. As we go farther among the stars, many beliefs are changing. The universe is an amazing place, with surprises beyond our wildest earthly dreams. I’m finding the universe to be full of wonders and a coherence I hadn’t expected – even a love of life, if I can put it simply. The universe hasn’t shown us all its secrets yet, and we have found no species like us, but creation is full of wonders and I believe humanity’s journey is only beginning.”
Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?
Cox: “I ship out on missions that are usually lengthy, mostly to new terraforming planets, or wherever military assistance is requested. My last two missions were to mining planets, can’t tell you which ones and it wouldn’t mean anything to you if I did, but way out at the edges of human civilization. I go where my teams are needed. Not vacation spots, at least not yet.”
Barnett: “I’ve travelled, primarily for business, to all the US off-planet installations and settlements in near space, and a few beyond. I’ve been on superforce jump ships, so far away it takes nearly a year to get a message back to our home solar system. I’ve experienced ‘slow-freeze,’ suspended animation, and walked on planets in the first stages of terraforming. I still like Earth the best of all.”
Name and describe a food from your world.
Cox: Prepack meals, self heating: anything in them tastes the same. I like real or simulated steak from Earth or farming settlements, if I get lucky: Earth is still ‘my’ world; hell, it’s everybody’s world until we become self-sufficient elsewhere among the stars.”
Barnett: “Food? A clam bake: Maine lobster, baked potatoes, clams, corn cooked in the sand on a beach. Earth-raised free-range poultry, fed without hormones – I have enough of those on my own.”
Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?
Cox: “Magic? Sure, fifty calibre gas-powered handguns, thallium shot, plasma rifles, tactical satellites, shaped charges.”
Barnett: “Magic is all around us, in science: in the way day follows night and people find one another and work together for the betterment of all. Humanity’s ability to colonize the stars is magic: not even relativity could stop us; our ingenuity comes from the most magic realm of all: consciousness and superconsciousness.”
What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)
Cox: “Democracy is a dream that people like me protect. As for monarchy, tyranny, theocracy, and the rest of those big words, sometimes those words describe our enemies, sometimes not. Facing hostile ideologies, we suppress them, export them or eradicate them if we can…”
Barnett: “Of course, meritocracy is what we all want, if we’re honest, and kakistocracy is what we’re trying to avoid. Democracy is Dennis’ choice because he’s US military, although really our government is a Republic, with all its attendant problems. But we’re getting better at keeping our ideological conflicts manageable.”
Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?
Cox: “Hey, this is Earth we’re talking about, and its colonies. We have all sorts of people: every colour, national origin: Used to be 193, but now its 202 member states in the UN. And they get along only as well as they need to, in order to survive.”
Barnett: “Earth spawned many races; many of us even have Neanderthal DNA. Intermarriage is creating a racially ambiguous strain of humanity, which may be the only way we’ll ever all get along: people historically try to destroy anyone different.”
Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people.
Cox: “Nope. Can’t think of any, beyond the Trojan Horse, and I’m not Greek, but those Trojans got greedy and brought hell inside their own walls, and it destroyed them. I’m hoping never to be a part of doing that.”
Barnett: “Joan of Arc has always been a hero of mine, but she’s not strictly mythical. Neither is Boudicca. But both of them are inspirational, along with Mary Magdalene’s supposed gospel.”
What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without?
Cox: The technology level for Rangers depends on how far out-system you go: new tech and pre-existing milspec tech need to be compatible, so there’s about a twenty year lag between what we have out-system and the newer stuff that groundsiders can get. I couldn’t do without my recon suit; its comms and pharmakit keep a guy alive out there. Ranger don’t depend on implants: implants can’t survive slow-freeze and superforce jumps and be compatible with the comms on the other side, so that’s a good thing. I guess what else I really need is my 10mm side arm and my .50 cals.”
Barnett: I agree with Cox about communications: they’re the single most critical element to our survival. We need satellites, ground penetrating and side looking radars, millimetre wave technology, spectral imagery. But most of all we need increasingly better faster-than-light travel, no matter the relativity tax: humanity demands a new frontier. The Goldilocks zones of other star systems spread throughout the universe are our best hope for thriving as a species. Without those, we’ll breed ourselves to extinction in a few more generations: our ever-expanding footprint is the greatest threat to Earth or any earth-like planet’s ecosystem. We need a place to go, if we won’t control our lusts. And we won’t. Things will get worse before they get better.”
Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.
Cox: I can’t comment.
Barnett: I can’t comment.
Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention?
Cox: Kinetic kill and electromagnetic weaponry.
Barnett: Photonics. Faster than light travel.
Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.)
Cox: George Washington, because he brought together the right people to frame the Constitution. If you’d been where I’ve been, you’d know that not just groundsiders, but every single sorry soul in every conflict dreams about living in a democracy – except the brainwashed ones. President Kennedy, who got us to the Moon. Sun Tzu, because he got it all right.”
Barnett: “Plato, because he tried to offer choices to everyone. Jesus Christ, because he tried to offer salvation to everyone. Martin Luther King, because he tried to offer freedom to everyone.”
Book(s) in which this character appears plus links: OUTPASSAGE
Author names: Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Website/Blog/Author pages etc.