Introducing: Friday

Friday, ‘real’ name Five of Twelve, Brood Three (stylized as 05.12.03), one of an unsettling number of nearly identical human-shaped drones. Collectively called ‘the Hive,’ they’re born from a mysterious biomechanical broodmother code-named ‘Fetahil’ by the still tentatively-named Incursive Security Agency. He’s a good boy, full of sincere curiosity about humanity and the earth. He and Aspen are very close friends, though various agents in both of their lives meddle to make that relationship as difficult as possible. Not to mention Aspen’s various traumas and the fact that, as human as he appears, Friday is an alien, with an alien mind and a muddle of different instincts, inscrutable even to him.

He was selected by lot from Brood Three to go out and interact with normal humans in the ISA’s various training/penitentiary programs. He’s not entirely certain why, as it was decided his explicit knowledge of the experiment’s purpose would distort the data. The most benign theory is that they’re studying if long-term distance from the Hive and Mother will change him any or cause him to develop differently. The more ominous one is that they’re throwing him into a dangerous, unpredictable situation to see what instincts and protocols activate. If this theory is correct, the ISA has knowingly put every single human being in his vicinity in serious danger. The drones are dangerous: stronger, faster, more durable, and pre-programmed to know how to defend themselves and the Hive. If one of them decides, quite possibly without any conscious input, to Go Apeshit…

Sylas Fortinghall, Aspen’s Horrid Father, is one of the researchers working at the facility around Fetahil. He’s been charged with discerning where, in this universe or another, Fetahil came from. He has a very uncomfortable interest in the drones, and Friday especially, since Friday and Aspen have become friends. He couches it in very friendly language and nothing he’s done is technically out of line or rude. Still, he gives Friday the creeps.

More than any other character, Friday reminds me that I haven’t done enough development on the mundane world. I’ve got a (very loose) cosmology and a general fantasy level (hella), but precisely how things are in every day life, how the agencies work, how the city itself and the law enforcement and everything works… I’m still in development Hell. But I tend to do characters first and go from there, so we’ll see.

Where Aspen’s personal narrative is concerned with exploring trauma and interpersonal abuse, Friday’s is concerned with systemic abuse and with questions of identity and free will. Fetahil doesn’t communicate with its drones in concrete words and orders. Instead, there’s programmed responses, there’s instincts, there’s inborn worldviews and behaviors. It’s not entirely clear where their programming stops and individuality begins. The drones don’t show much individuality, really, just minor personality tics and some physical differences that can be chalked up to epigenetic factors (overall size, build, immune system). But could that just be because of the way they’re treated, the way the researchers give them numbers instead of names and keep them strictly segregated from the rest of humanity? The endless tests and exams, the constant need for the more gentle researchers to argue on their behalf, like they aren’t even sentient? And how can the researchers discern what behaviors are healthy and unhealthy? Psychologically speaking, they’re in the Uncanny Valley: close enough to pass at a glance but still very off from the human baseline.

Friday just wants to learn about people and maybe cultivate some hobbies, once he figures out what options are available. He wants to take care of Aspen and his other friends. Is he going to get those things? Probably, but he’s also going to get a mountain of bullshit. Such is life.

2 thoughts on “Introducing: Friday

  1. I like his design. His expression reminds me a bit of Christine’s when the Phantom of the Opera brings her to his quarters on the underground lake; young and innocent. But i also see a touch of hesitation in his eyes. It’s a great detail that you made his eyelashes white as well; it adds a slight touch of disconcerting ‘otherness’ to his face.

    For me, I can write short scenes but making a bigger work is a challenge. In the game I had been working on (that’s currently in development hell, sadly) I found creating the maps was the thing that engaged me. (It’s like making a collage in the engine I use.) I then tried to look at them and drop the story in what I felt to be the right places.

    As for book writing, I read an article a couple years ago where various author’s discussed their creative methods and one guy said he just wrote and put the structure in later. I’m giving that method a test run now but am afraid it’ll turn into a logistical nightmare down the road. Don’t know your process, but maybe it’s something to try if you haven’t? (The idea being that the world will emerge as you write, connect, and revise.)

    Good luck with the writing, and I do hope this cutie gets a happy ending. 🙂

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    1. His universe is super low-priority as far as getting polished product goes. It’s super dark and the environment for dark fiction on the mainstream web lately is… mmmghhhh. Spooky. Anyway, it shines pretty well as episodic shorts and comics, so if it happens, it’ll be like that. Little episodes building up to something, like a slice-of-life but it’s an EXTREMELY WEIRD melodramatic life. As happens when you are an alien surrounded by wizards.

      Friday is only about two years old, the poor bean, and while he’s not entirely innocent, he’s still at the stage of experience where basic, tiny things that we take for granted fill him with awe and wonder. My goal for him is the always ride the line between endearing and creepy. Like if you didn’t know his deal you’d be like “oh this is a serial killer” or something like that, even though his initial impression is always “stupid and nice.”

      I’m sorry to hear your game is in development hell! That’s the worst. That’s a super interesting way of building a story, too. I like setting-based fiction like that, where the location is vital to the development, a vital part of determining plot in itself. I like when settings breathe.

      I gotta have at least a little initial structure or I get swamped by the sheer amount of stuff I need to write and that goes into development. It gives me some idea of what to keep and what can be cut. Writing goals for scenes and focussing on “just get to two hundred. Okay now fill in the next hundred so it’s a round number. Okay keep going, we’re almost to five hundred. Well you went over five hundred so you might as well get to six hundred.” And so on until there’s progress. Once I’m in the headspace, I can just… I averaged five thousand words a day for an older project, made it to ten thousand on one particularly productive day, but I’m having to train myself to get back into that headspace now that I’ve lost the workspace I was doing that at. Slow and steady and what not.

      I also have a thing where the second I start getting serious about something, it becomes impossible to work on for some reason. And if I’m not careful and push it too hard, I’ll end up hating it so much I never wanna look at it again. Autism strikes again, it seems.

      Friday deserves a good end, and he’s got good friends! Getting there, though… I’m gonna post the write up on one of his friends soon… and after that, his main antagonist. His friend Aspen’s creepy bastard dad is a minor antagonist to him, which should serve as an indication of the sheer story and character scope of his main antagonist. Bastard man.

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