This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue.
Tonna Blackthorne 369F7A Age 38 Cr. 20,000
Laser Carbine-3, Pilot-1, Air Raft-1, Mechanical-1, Medical-1, Vacc Suit-1
Tonna is a wiry woman of light complexion and dark hair, with darting, ice blue eyes. She is a conversationalist who talks little, but asks insightful questions; she seems to intuitively understand the answers, despite her only modest formal schooling. Some people read books, but Tonna reads people, though her short attention span seems to ensure few relationships are as intense as her next conversation.
She dresses plainly, preferring earth tones and the odd accessory from some biological source from some world she has been on. She keeps her mid-length black hair braided closely to her skull, and is loath to put it down, particularly onboard. She has few possessions beyond her clothes, though she is in the market for a laser carbine of slight build. She has, through a political scuffle, left the IISS. She has no hard feelings, as is grateful for the worlds she has seen as a Scout. She has, like any Scout of more than a term’s service, lost too many friends. She is weary of the losses. Some IISS head-shrinker opined that she keeps aloof for this reason. Tonna asked him if he has even married a dead woman, and the session went downhill from there. She smiled and moved on, as is her wont.
She exists in the present, and revels in it while remaining a bit reserved. She is an aficionado of fine food and drink, but eats quite little; she will spend a month’s salary on a meal, savoring every bite, while leaving some of each small portion uneaten on her plate. The only time she really dresses up is for a good meal, and has only a handful of evening dresses for the occasions. These are the few times, however, that she is disinterested in conversation, politely nodding while obviously in exclusive communion with her food. However, with an after-dinner drink and a half hour in quiet contemplation, then the most intense conversation seems to be an almost compulsive need for her, following but never during one of these “scary good meals.”
She enjoys music only in a detached way, the way a traveler might scan a newspaper in a language she does not speak. It does soothe her quiet moments, however, as a type of white noise. She is often mistaken as enjoying music itself, when she is really enjoying the silence from the scraps of background conversation that she finds tantalizing, as a drunk on the wagon would find the clink of glasses surrounding him in a bar.
Her pet, Druni, is a small, scaled, multi-legged critter, about 12 cm long, that she feeds a specially concocted paste and sings to. It never comes out of its expensive, specially-constructed cage, which has backup battery-powered life support for 96 hours. A special pickup in Druni’s cage will amplify the sound when it (the species is hermaphroditic) sings, which is only when Tonna dreams. Only those closest to her, which is to say those overcoming both human nature and probability to do so, would guess that these songs have a synergistic effect with her dreams, an effect upon which she has become unconsciously but powerfully dependent.
This dependency complements her personality, but is not the cause. She was who she is before Druni. Tonna does not need friends, success, family, future, comfort, drugs, romance, or anything else, as long as she has Druni’s songs. She is conscious of being attached to Druni, and feeling compelled to protect it; she knows it sings to her, but she does not guess the existence or the depth of her dependence.
Tonna is coming off a working passage as a medic on a far trader, after the captain’s comments about her “freaky lizard” made her feel unsettled. She is looking for another working passage, but will want to feel the crew out about pets. If she feels comfortable, she might even stay on. She will be encountered sitting in the lobby of the spacer’s guild at the starport, looking to ship as a medic or even pilot, earphones on, Druni’s cage in a non-descript specially-made bag behind her knees. Her glance is both casual and penetrating as she takes in each new arrival.