Saturday, February 14, 2015

Captain Garrick - Character Sketch

The first character I've begun fleshing out in the Alliance universe is Captain Anslo Paul Garrick, who commands the starship Prospect.  This is the flagship of the Alliance Space Fleet (ASF) and is the oldest of its five ships.  Here's what I know about him...

Garrick was born on Earth, in the United States, in Central Ohio.  He has a brother named Matthew, but no other siblings. He attended Catholic schools, appreciating the education but not the religion.  He views religion as an archaic way to get people to behave the way they should naturally.  While he embodies much of what churches teach, this is because he believes it’s the right way to act.

After high school, Garrick joined the Alliance Academy in Florida.  It’s located on the site of the old Cape Canaveral NASA facility.  NASA was absorbed into the Alliance Space Fleet once the Alliance came into existence.  In the Academy, Garrick became a skilled pilot and leader.

As a member of the Alliance Space Fleet, Garrick became a test pilot for the earliest Alliance spacecraft.  These ships merged the existing human space flight technologies with those from other Alliance member races.  The designs didn't always work, and Garrick's life was often in danger.  On one particularly disastrous flight, the spacecraft went far off course and light years from its intended destination.  Part of the control system burnt out and he was forced to make a rough landing on an uninhabited planet.  Fortunately, Garrick was able to jerry-rig the control system and get the craft back to Earth.

Garrick was a test pilot for the Alliance for most of his career, and tested many of the designs for scout ships and research ships.  Most of his flights were solo, but a few involved a skeleton crew of as many as ten people.  Currently, he is the commanding officer of the Alliance Space Fleet's flagship, the Prospect.  There are only three other ships like it in space at the time of our story, and a fifth is in drydock being constructed.

Captain Garrick is physically fit but not muscular, and trains regularly to keep himself in shape.  He's five feet, eleven inches tall.  He has a dark complexion, black hair tinged with gray, and blue eyes.  Paul Garrick almost impeccably honest, but can and will lie if circumstances dictate.  His closest friends and family would describe him as considerate, thoughtful, generous, and empathetic.  

On his forty-fifth birthday, Garrick files forms with the ASF to be discharged.  On the same day, his brother Matthew dies in an accident at work.  Matthew was in love with a woman he was planning to marry later in the year.  Garrick was to be his best man. Matthew's death left their mother severely depressed.  Garrick took a leave of absence to care for her.  She now lives in a rest home.

Garrick enjoyed test piloting for the excitement and adventure.  Now that he's getting older he's more interested in getting married, having children, and settling down than exploring the galaxy.  Unfortunately for him, Admiral Laura Boxleitner refused his discharge request and assigned him to command the Prospect.  She promised him that she'd sign off on the discharge and a full pension if he would serve four years as captain of the Prospect.  

While on duty, he wears the Alliance uniform which is made of a gray material.  Rank and service branch are denoted by the collar, which is a mandarin style (banded) collar. As Garrick is a command officer and a captain, his collar is red with a silver band around the top.  When off duty, Garrick tends to wear button-down shirts and casual slacks.  His clothing choices are more for comfort than style, though most people who saw him would say that he is better dressed than many of his crew.

Garrick's friends call him Paul (rather than his given name of Anslo, which he actually likes but got tired of people mispronouncing).  His crew members refer to him as Captain Garrick.  Behind his back, they affectionately call him "The Old Man" because he's about ten years older than anyone else on the crew.  He is respected by his peers in the fleet for his achievements as a test pilot, but few of them know him very well personally.  Garrick makes it a point to know the names and faces of his entire crew, from the chefs in the galley to the officers on the bridge.  He greets them by name when he passes them, and has at least a basic familiarity with the record of every crew member who serves in a critical role.  At the same time, he keeps an emotional distance between himself and most of his crew.  He worries that getting too close to them will make it difficult to order them into harm's way.

The timeframe that Garrick inhabits is seeing a shift in mankind's tendencies.  Early in his childhood, it was not uncommon to hear of political scandals, greed, abuse of power, and acts of extreme dishonesty.  However, as mankind has begun moving out into space and learning just how many alien races are out there, these behaviors have shifted somewhat.  Corruption, greed, and racism are rare in Garrick's present.  There is a degree of xenophobia, but even this is receding as the Alliance grows and average citizens reap the benefits.  Garrick sees humanity as a single entity, and doesn't think of divisions within it along national boundaries, religious viewpoints, etc., but knows that not everyone shares that view.  He genuinely believes in what the Alliance stands for, and is working to make it a reality.

In Garrick's present, there is a single Earth government populated by people who are generally acting in the best interests of humankind.  The occasional "lapses" by the politicians in charge of the Alliance make Garrick a bit skeptical that he can completely trust the current Earth government.  He's a little more trusting of the Alliance Council than the Earth government, because he's seen nothing but honorable behavior from the council's membership.

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