Here’s a clue. It is small, black, and intrepid. It is curious and brave. It has red gleaming eyes, poor eyesight and an eye for a bargain. It sings lustily as it enters battle. It is dedicated to vengeance without being vengeful. It is simple without being shallow. Above all it is funny. Sidesplittingly, irreverently funny. And loyal to a t.
Can you guess?
Awesome is a hamster client of the Terrans and Fringe Space would be a colder, lonelier place without him. Let me spell it out for you… Awesome is awesome, or in his own words; “- no, really, that’s my name, my parents gave it to me when they took me in, and otherwise I am awesome in everything I do, so...”
Our narrator introduces us to Awesome immediately after he has described Lilly’s violent brush with the slavers of Fringe Space. This shrewd tactic, by the sage, firmly positions the uplifted clients of Terra in their central role within this narrative. This is extremely important going forward, as it shows that the Terrans operate in direct conflict with the Galactic Authority from the outset. The scene is set.
By revealing his deep involvement with, and sympathy with, the Terran clients in this escapade, the Black Knight is able to convey the details of both Lilly and Awesome’s PTSD, - recurrent nightmares, startle response, and flashbacks, in a very sympathetic way. Knowing how much they suffer endears them both to the reader. This is an noteworthy factor because, not only do the clients have extreme loyalty to the Terrans, but they also both became traumatized at the hands of other races, (and once again I find myself wondering: was the Black Knight there? How does he know these intimate details? Will I ever know what role he played in this saga?). Neither Lilly nor Awesome allow their trauma to interfere with their mission however – true bravery. This is worth taking note of as the narrative unfolds – it’s the little guys that have the bravest hearts.
The flyhamster’s adventures started with his job on the IMS Mushishi, and its destruction by the horrid slavers. Awesome is the only survivor. Undaunted and without the capacity to brood, he bravely gets on with life. Life, in this case, means drifting through space for three months until he luckily encounters a decimated Terran space station. Once on board the little guy gets to work without missing a beat, in pretty much the same way as Dozan does. Awesome begins the daunting task of salvaging any and everything still useful on the wreck. He’s after a bargain. And a vehicle that can take him back to the supply colony of Cav.
Another awesome result of his awesomeness, is that in his meticulous exploration of the completely slagged space station, he runs into, and downloads, an extraordinary Virtual Intelligence named Alice. He instantly forms a strong bond with her, and she with him. They work together like a well-greased machine from the get go, destroying tazzies with aplomb, laughing, dancing, and joking. And singing. Awesome has a strong affection for a crack team of lethal female starfighter pilots, “Brilliant Space Senshi”. Their beautiful renditions of original hits, send their ardent fan to levels of magnificence, rapture, and delight, so much so that their performances can move him to tears. Their dulcet tones reverberate through his cockpit as he pilots his craft through debris field or enemy squadrons, wreaking havoc as he goes.
Apart from being just generally awesome, with an attitude, Awesome is also an awesome mechanic and he scavenges the necessary parts to rebuild a shuttle that can take him back to Cav. As he explores the battlefield that the station has become, he runs into a variety of Terran victims of the vile Taz’aran attackers. He is awesomely kind, making digital notes of all the deceased inhabitants on the ravaged space station, so that he can inform their loved ones and return, or pay for, the property he is accumulating. You see Awesome is mightily proud of his Terran heritage and hence he is meticulously honest and respectful towards the dead Terran crew that he encounters. He holds himself to a high standard, proud that he is not an “ungrateful, cheeky, junk-grabbin’ bastard”. Now, once again, I’m going to mention that nobody knows for sure why the Black Knight chose to reveal all this to us. It will probably remain a mystery for all time. But I thought I’d just point out the great compassion that he shows towards us, the readers of this tale. Only he knows the levels of depravity we are about to witness through his words. Torture, death, slavery, cannibalism, intrigue, betrayal, death, death and more death. Awesome provided the crew of the Starshatter with the antidote to all of this evil, and the Black Knight bestows a similar blessing on us. Without the antics of Awesome we would probably fail to comprehend the brutal seriousness of this narration.
Death and Resurrection are an ever-present theme within this narrative. The good guys, constantly facing enemy armies of much greater strength and numbers than their own, willingly give their lives for each other, and luckily the technology exists to resuscitate and restore their broken bodies. This archetypal rendition of the Hero narrative provides a deeper layer of meaning that the Knight reveals to us, in advance. Deep levels of reverence and spirituality surround each character in wildly different ways. Awesome, the diminutive hamster client, bearer of “The Great Hamster Burden”, known by the bad guys for being one of the “Tiny Feet of Doom”, regards the Terrans as Gods. He calls them Patrons, and he views them as compassionate and magnanimous. Indeed, this perspective is common to all hamster clients of the Terrans. (In a secret meeting of the Elders of the uplifted hamsters, Terrans were declared worthy of a lifetime of Joy. Awesome takes his responsibility – “The Great Hamster Burden” – very seriously). It is his duty to provide the depressed, burdened or downcast Terran with enough jokes - each told only once - to fill their lives with happiness and laughter. His reaction to the murderous Taz’aran, on the other hand, is to carefully, and conscientiously, attempt eradicate every one of them.
About his spacecraft then… he builds it himself (awesome). He constructs a ‘bastardized fusion reactor” which provides twice the power generation as normal, a mainframe from a slagged mecha, and an “abomination of an engine that possessed insane speed and vector thrust to boot”. In addition, he has four mounted guns, including a chargeable, armor-piercing laser that he also constructs out of available parts. He christens his ship Insanity – of course – and just before his maiden flight he loads a (defused) 50 megaton bomb into his ship, and is ready to go. By the time I got to this place in the story – I realized that the Awesome had stolen my heart.
But that is not all. This lovable little fella is - obviously, an awesome pilot – trained by Amelia Earhart, (the “Zen Goddess” of starfighter combat). His reaction speed, a product of his hamster heritage, allows him to perform feats of skill the likes of which the Taz’aran have seldom witnessed. He totally owns them, and although they come back time and time again to challenge him, Awesome is just too good for them, as he shoots them out of the sky singing “Fighting evil by starlight...”