This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine website in 2002, and was reprinted in the July/August 2023 issue.
Ngedh grew up in the teeming, multisophontic cities of Antares. His ancestry is Irilitok, the predominant Vargr ethnicity in Antares sector. Irilitok have longer experience with Humans than any other Vargr ethnicity—their adoption of the Human custom of using family names is only one of many indications of this.
In childhood, Ngedh was more than once threatened by Human-supremacist street toughs, which made it clear to him that even on Antares, famed throughout the Imperium for its pansophontic ideals, anti-Vargr prejudice still reared its ugly head.
His native talents landed him a place in the prestigious Soegz University, and that, together with his interest in pansophontic justice, earned him entry as an Initiate in the local council of the Transform Society.
Ngedh was therefore in line for a prestigious career in politics. But, he soon came to the conclusion that the Transform Society had been corrupted by its role in government, its views too conservative. This was still too much part of the status quo for Ngedh’s comfort, so he left it, and with it the easy path to a political career. His conclusions, and his resignation, were not unusual. His success in convincing several dozen other students to resign their Initiate status, was.
He soon gained a reputation as a firebrand and a radical leader among students, and was, at various times, an advocate for robot suffrage, a publicist for an Irilitok nationalist group, and briefly, a member of a small pro-Julian secessionist cell. Despite numerous brushes with law enforcers, he managed to avoid any serious legal charges, and eventually graduated with a degree in the liberal arts.
His experiences in political activism had left him with a strong sense of the shortcomings of Antarean society and the inequities of the larger Imperium. He was, however, unsatisfied with any of the political alternatives he had encountered. Reasoning that he may as well earn a living and gain charisma while searching for better answers, he set out on a career as a freelance journalist.
Ngedh’s charisma and social skills gave him a natural ability to interview subjects from disparate social strata. His documentary pieces were characterised by detailed historical backgrounds, sympathetic portrayals of minority viewpoints, and passionate editorializing.
Mikasirka Interstellar News is an Antares-based publisher, whose news and documentary packages are designed for starship entertainment and information systems. Most coverage focuses on worlds within the Domain of Antares, with an occasional piece on worlds in the Julian Protectorate. In recent years, MIN has tried to shake off a reputation for stodginess; as a consequence, an editor decided to give the controversial freelancer Ngedh Saekeghadez a shot at an offworld story.
Ngedh was sent coreward, to cover the story of a Vargr corsair that had been raiding shipping on both sides of the Imperial/Julian border. Not only did Ngedh’s piece detail the historical and economic context, and immediate consequences, of the corsair vessel Thigkhikhsraell, it also included an interview with its crew!
Ngedh's success, and MIN’s decision to publish the story, led to MIN’s offer to Ngedh of a permanent position as a travelling correspondent—a prize Ngedh eagerly accepted.
It also led to Ngedh becoming a figure of opprobrium to many Imperial Naval officers. Following the publication of the story, Ngedh was approached by officers from Imperial Naval Intelligence, who demanded to know how he had made contact with the corsairs. Ngedh refused, claiming the right to protect the confidentiality of his sources. He went on to say that “If the INI spent as much time examining the accounts of megacorporate business executives as it does harassing dissidents, it could wipe out piracy in a year.”
About two months later, the Thigkhiksraell was destroyed by the Imperial Navy patrol corvette Bantor’s Claw, which was itself heavily damaged in the encounter; seven members of the Navy vessel died.
Somehow, word began to circulate in the Sector Navy that Ngedh had refused to assist the INI, and so was partly responsible for the deaths of the Navy personnel. Attached to this were rumors about Ngedh’s political past, and speculation that he was an anti-Imperial subversive who collaborated with corsairs. A surprisingly large number of Navy personnel have heard those rumors, considering that Ngedh is still an obscure journalist of whom few people on even his homeworld have ever heard.
Ngedh has recently taken up the sport of sailball, and it was on the sailball courts that he made the acquaintance of Bem Guramiir, an ex-Scout from Gaakish. Ngedh immediately took a liking to the quiet, unprepossessing Guramiir, and offered to adopt him as his “panet” (a Julian expression for a special category of Human/Vargr friendship) since, as Ngedh put it, “Bem is almost archetypally Human.”
Ngedh talked MIN into chartering Guramiir’s ship, the Amingi IV, for the use of himself and his media crew. Since Guramiir is on detached duty, he can offer a discount on the open-ended charter, provided that Ngedh doesn’t mind the occasional side-trip that the IISS may require Guramiir to take.
Journalist, 100 points
5'8", 145 lbs, 28 years old, black fur, golden-brown eyes.
ST 9/8, DX 12, IQ 15, HT 10/9
Acute Taste/Smell +3, Acute Vision +1, Alertness +1, Claws, Enhanced Move (double speed, fatigue begins after five seconds), Fur (DR 1, Temperature tolerance 1), Sharp Teeth, Voice, Patron (Mikasirka Interstellar News, 9 or less), Ally (Bem Guramiir, 15 or less), Charisma +2 (+4 to other Vargr)
Cannot Kick, Chummy, Curious (mild), Easy to Read, Proud, Reduced Fatigue -1, Reduced Hit Points, Reputation (as a Vargr) -2, Reputation (Imperial Navy) -3, Xenophilia (mild), Sense of Duty (victims of oppression), Pacifism (Self-defense only)
Research 16, Writing 16, Language (Galanglic, native) 17, Speed-Reading 14, Savoir-Faire 18, Bard 19, Streetwise 15, Literature 13, Computer Operation/TL10 16, Video Production/TL10 15, History 12, Language (Irilitok) 15, Sports (Sailball) 10
Vain, Closet anarchist, Questions Authority, Broad-Minded, Likes to embarrass chauvinists
Generally, +2. Vargr, +4. Imperial Navy, -1.