(Frequently Asked Questions)
About The Characters in the Book
What are Xybears?
Xybears are a group of intergalactic, Tararian, humanoid bears who also happen to be cyborgs. If you have ever seen the Terminator films, or the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman TV shows, then you know what a cyborg is.
I've attempted to make my characters a little more unique by basing their powers and abilities on billions of microscopic robots called nanites. The nanites themselves are actually a collective of living machines inside a host body, designed exclusively to aid and optimize biological processes. They are completely embedded in their Tararian host bodies, enhancing their senses, physical abilities, as well as healing damage and injuries.
They are also responsible for maintaining each Xybears special power, or unique tactical ability. For those of you who have kept up with the story, for Balcor, this is the ability to create forcefields or project beams of physical force from his hands or fists. Balcor can also reshape these fields for whatever function is necessary.
What are Kodiaks?
Kodiaks are a malevolent offshoot or sect of Xybears. While mainstream Xybears use their abilities in helpful, beneficial capacities to serve and protect others, Kodiaks use their abilities to harm or bully weaker beings for personal advancement. They are functionally identical to mainstream Xybears, but often adopt more aggressive tattoos or uniform designs that more adequately reflect their more aggressive agenda.
What is the Republican Guard?
The Republican Guard is the sovereign government of the Xybears' and Kodiaks' home planet of Tararia. The Republican Guard is actually a loose association of feudal states that's interested in one thing and one thing alone – maintaining their grip, power, and influence over the rest of the planet's inhabitants.
There are three castes, or societal classes, in Republican Guard territories: Supremes (the very top echelon of wealth and power, wielding almost total control over the planet, possessing the best of everything, including privileges, credit ratings, lowest prices on commodities, etc.), Commoners (middle-class Tararians of much less wealth and influence who have a more diminished standard of living and have to pay more for everything, but are generally not slaves), and Workers (basically slaves who live and work on the vast estates of Supremes, who keep them perpetually enslaved through the banking system, which in turn keeps them in ever-increasing debt).
The Republican Guard, in diplomatic capacities, also represents the official government of Tararia.
Who is Xalcus? What did he do that angers the Republican Guard and Kodiaks so much?
Xalcus' origin will be explained in Chapter 3, as well as the nature of his issues with his brother Darex. However, I can explain here that Xalcus discovered the nanite technology 47 years ago while running away from an abusive master who had sentenced him to death for incurring a debilitating injury that cost Xalcus the use of his left arm. Xalcus then used the alien technology to not only grant him superpowers (as well as restoring his amputated left arm), but endeavored to free Tararia and form a government truly representative of the interests of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.
Xalcus then formed a rebellion, and was charged with criminal treason by the Republican Guard. Civil war has resulted ever since between those who serve the Republican Guard, and those who joined Xalcus in the fight for freedom.
The Kodiaks came about as a result of the Republican Guard failing to duplicate Xalcus' far more powerful, alien technology, but successfully co-opting via bribes, intimidation, or threatening the families of certain Xybears. The Kodiaks resulted as a result of Xalcus' early failure to adequately screen the ethics of his pupils before granting them such incredible power. Some Kodiaks work against Xalcus' fellow Xybears overtly and openly, while others opt to act as double-agents within Xalcus' Resistance community.
How does Balcor fit into all this?
This will all be revealed soon as well, but here are the basics. Balcor is Xalcus' son and only surviving child. Balcor opted to adopt Xalcus' ideals on a much smaller scale, preferring to serve on an obscure level helping more ordinary Tararians, rather than adopting his father's much higher profile vision of freedom for all. Balcor feared such a high profile role would only put his life in greater danger, and also feared being captured or used as a tool to harm or break his father's spirit.
That fear, unfortunately, has become a reality. The Republican Guard government discovered Balcor's existence and identity, and were able to subvert his commanding officer in a wide conspiracy to frame him for murdering his wife, fellow Xybear Shira. They also released an interplanetary criminal named Torvale, jailed by Xalcus three decades ago. Together with Torvale, Balcor and Shira were assigned to raid one of Torvale's weapon smuggling schemes, only to discover it was all a ruse. It was actually a trap intended to murder Shira and frame Balcor for it. In addition to having Balcor as a valuable political prize, demoralizing both father and son with the scandal of the murder, it was gambled that this would break his father's spirit and pressure him into surrendering.
Instead during a freak accident in which Balcor attempted to defeat Torvale by firing a hand weapon at a component of Torvale's warp gate device, Torvale was sucked into the warp gate and vanished without a trace.
With a video now apparently depicting Balcor murdering his wife Shira, Balcor must now fight not only to clear his name, but expose a conspiracy that threatens to annihilate billions of lives across the galaxy.
Only Xalcus, his daughter Tamira, and a handful of officers loyal to Xalcus believe in Balcor's innocence. The rest see Balcor either as an escaped criminal who must be brought to justice, or a dangerous loose end to the conspirators organizing the entire plot, having sworn to eliminate him.
Who is Tamira?
Tamira, in the beginning of the story, is Balcor's daughter. She is left in Xalcus' charge by Balcor and her mother Shira just before embarking on the fateful raid on Torvale's fortress. Despite Tamira's youth of only eight years old, Tamira demonstrates astonishing courage and technical ability. The rule of thumb is that if it's a mechanical or electronic device (especially if it has an electronic chip in it), Tamira can bend it to her will. Thought bewildered by the circumstances she is in, her mother apparently dead, her father accused of her murder and on the run, as well as mysterious forces seeking to capture her and her grandfather, the storm surrounding Tamira forces her to grow up faster than she ever realized.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Xybears and Kodiaks?
Strengths: Enhanced computer controlled vision, audio, chemical sensing in their noses and tongues, all kinds of sensory capabilities in their touch, advanced strength, speed, as well as specialized powers which vary widely from one Xybear or Kodiak to another's. Advanced healing and concealment abilities using their uniforms as well. For the most part, the applications of the technology are limited only by the imagination of the host.
There are actually two versions of the technology, Level One and Level Two. Nearly all Xybears and Kodiaks use a less potent version of the technology called Level Two. Xalcus engineered the weaker Level Two technology after his brother Darex was temporarily granted Level One power, subsequently attempting to overthrow Xalcus, as well as killing a female Xybear both of them had a romantic interest in. So devastated was Xalcus by the betrayal and loss of life as a result, he developed a less powerful version of the technology. Aside from Xalcus, Balcor, and a few others, nearly all other Xybears and Kodiaks are Level Two.
There are a few in the Republican Guard who are aware of the Level One conversions, and their attempt to acquire the technology is key to the conspiracy behind framing Balcor.
Three things are needed to enter a Level One conversion chamber, safeguards engineered by Xalcus: someone from Xalcus' DNA family line, the Primar gauntlet, and the passcode.
One ominous fact about Darex is that he posseses two of the needed three keys: the DNA, and he knows the passcode. The conspiracy centers are attempting to acquire the Primar gauntlet, the final key.
Weaknesses: Xybears and Kodiaks must recharge their power packs at least once every 72 hours, or lose their physical abilities and tactical abilities. Sensory and surveillance systems are partially functional from their metabolism, but full functionality requires maintaining their power levels as well. Additionally, they require yellow solar energy, as its the only type of solar energy compatible with their technology. Other types of energy have the incorrect power density.
While the nanites are capable of neutralizing some poisons and toxins, and acids, this often takes time, and if the poison or acid damages their systems faster than the nanites can repair their host bodies, death eventually occurs. Powerful electric shocks, certain types of energized projectiles, as well as some physical or trauma attacks can also neutralize Xybears or Kodiaks.
Plain ballistic attacks (bullets) are typically ineffective, as the impact can either be absorbed by nanites in their uniforms, or body damage can be repaired too quickly by the nanites to affect Xybears. Ordinary Tararians also have a basic resistance against ballistic attack, but it's not as strong or effective as Xybears or Kodiaks. As for larger ballistic attacks such as missiles, their surveillance systems typically provide sufficient warning, as well as advisory countermeasures, to take cover to avoid serious damage.
Also, certain Xybears or Kodiaks are resourceful and experienced enough with their systems to come up with innovative ways of protecting themselves from attack.
Any other differences between Tararians and humans?
Ordinary Tararians are on average 25 percent larger, maturing 25 percent faster than humans, as well as being 25 percent stronger and faster than humans. Their lifespan is also roughly double that of humans due to differences in their physiology (average lifespan is 150 earth-years, with some living as long as little more than two centuries), as well as having a slighter greater brain capacity.