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This week's the award goes to Captain Black
What is an antagonist?
In storytelling, the antagonist is the opposer or combatant working against the protagonist or leading character and creating the main conflict. In conventional narratives, the antagonist is synonymous with the “bad guy,” while the protagonist represents the “good guy.”
Antagonists and villains in the Rapier Universe
In most novels there is a clear antagonist, or villain, for the protagonist, the hero, to defeat. The antagonist puts obstacles in the way of the hero to deter or destroy him or her, and in the end there is a open confrontation between the two that usually ends with the heroes victory over his or her enemy. This is a tried and true formula for story telling that has existed for as long as there has been story tellers. In Rapier this is not the case. In the Rapier Universe, as in real life, there are many antagonists and villains, and not all of them can be defeated by the hero.
There are some reviewers of my story that would say that Captain Black and his crew are the villains. After all they raid merchant ships traveling between the colonized worlds (pirates?). They have no problem ‘dispatching’ the crews of those ships. They sell the loot they take from those ships to pay for their adventures (nobody ‘works’ for free). And they sell their captives into slavery, not the normal behavior of your everyday hero.
Add in they use the same tactics the German U-Boats, and American Submariners, used in World War II (something you history buffs might have picked up on) and it becomes hard to decide if the Rapier and its’ crew are the good guys or the bad guys.
So what makes the crew of the Rapier the heroes in this story? Simple, it is being told by Kathy Masters the main protagonist, and Cindy, the daughter she adopted and raised while being on the Rapier. And that makes almost everyone else the antagonists, and in a couple of cases true villains, in the story.
The two ‘main’ antagonists to the crew of the Rapier are the Chinese and American navies. If you read the story you’ll understand why this is the case, but how are they the main antagonists?
Both the Chinese and American navies are attempting to hunt down and destroy the Rapier, and all the ships of ‘The Brotherhood’.
‘The Brotherhood’ is a shadowy organization that almost all pirates and privateers belong to. It has bylaws its’ members usually follow, and these bylaws guide its’ ships and crews on how they handle themselves in regard to each other, and towards the outside world. Adherence to the bylaws is expected (not mandatory), but violations of them can have severe consequences (something that will be seen in more detail in future releases).
Back to the Chinese and American navies.
Captain Black has a deep hatred of the Chinese (for some very real and personal reasons). His raiders are the most effective against them, and so the Chinese continue to devise tactics and traps to destroy the Rapier and the other ships under Captain Black’s command. There are many close calls, and deep losses, because of the Chinese drive to destroy him. This is a conflict that can have only one outcome, for no matter how skilled and intrepid they are Captain Black and his ships cannot defeat an entire empire.
For different, but just as painful, reasons the Rapier also raids American commerce. In fact, it was a raid on an American luxury liner that led to Kathy and little Cindy being captured and brought aboard the Rapier. Because of these raids the Americans establish a special task force to hunt down Captain Black and his raiders, and permanently terminate his command.
One might think that these two antagonists would be sufficient for the story, but heck, what fun would that be? So, there are some specific individuals in the story that should be mentioned, especially as many of them appear in Razor, and the other follow on stories.
First is Prince Chou Yen Yi. Prince Yi is the patriarch of the Yi family, and ruler of the Yi Principality, an important part of the Chinese Prefecture. It was the Yi families forces that attacked Captain Black’s home world, reducing it from a prosperous colony of two million people to a barely surviving population of just over twenty thousand souls. There is much background as to what really happened and why, but that doesn’t come out until Razor is published. Suffice it to say that when Captain Black captures Prince Yi and his three grandchildren he is so filled with hatred for the Prince that he forces Prince Yi to watch him sell his grandchildren into slavery before ransoming him back to the Chinese Prefecture (this is how Princess Lien Lan Yi ends up with Kathy and Cindy on the Rapier). Needless to say there is a great deal of animosity between the two men but, as it will be revealed in Razor, Prince Yi is not the villain Captain Black believes him to be.
Martin Lee Black is the mayor of the survivors of Safe Port, Captain Black’s home world, and the younger brother of the Captain. He is also Captain Black’s main antagonist, and intends to keep him out there “even if everyone here dies before you, even if I do. Damn you to hell James she chose you.” Clearly this is because the woman they both loved chose the Captain over the Mayor. To do this the Mayor uses the ‘contract’ (Letter of Marque) to keep the Rapier and its’ crew on the edge of oblivion.
Colonel Bengt Chang Chén is a competent tactician and strategist. You meet him only briefly in Rapier, but he is the reason the Rapier attacks the SS America at the beginning of the story, and this attack is what leads to Kathy and Cindy being brought onto the Rapier as captives. From the interaction between Captain Black and Colonel Chén it is clear they know each other, and despise one another. Though highly regarded in Chinese Imperial circles Colonel Chén is corrupt to the core, and uses his rank and position to enrich himself (this guy is a true villain). He is also a brilliant genetic scientist, and his work, and the work of others that is based on his research, is the reason why the last war between the Chinese Prefecture and the Americans and their allies is known as The Genetics War. Colonel Chén makes his return to the story line at the end of Razor, and he is a major threat to Kathy and Cindy in the fourth book of the series, The Black Wolves.
Ahmed Mustafa bin Abdullah is tall, handsome, articulate, well educated and unimaginably rich. Think someone that is as wealthy as Klaus Schwab, George Soros and Bill Gates combined. His wealth and power is far reaching. He owns politicians throughout human space, including on Earth. He has worked hard to protect his wealth, and insulate himself from accountability for his actions. And he needs that insulation, because he makes the Marquis de Sade look like a choirboy. The man’s sadism and debauchery knows no limits. And he will go to great lengths to get what he wants. He purchased Colonel Chén, and the other Chinese traveling with him for his ‘playroom’ from Captain Black. He wanted Kathy and Cindy as well, but Captain Black wouldn’t sell them to him. So Ahmed has manipulated the situation in the background to get what he felt he was unjustly denied. You meet him early in the story, and you think that that is that. But he returns at the end of Razor, and he appears more in The Black Wolves.
Captain Black Jack Bartholomew is a true pirate. He is cruel and vicious beyond imagining. He is an excellent starship captain, and he knows his business. Captain Bartholomew is the biggest villain in Rapier. Though it is not described in the story there is previous history between him and Captain Black. The specifics of that history will be detailed in a prequel to Rapier currently titled James Ulysses Black. Captain Bartholomew’s biggest weakness is his own ego. Unknown to him his ego allowed Ahmed Mustafa bin Abdullah to manipulate him into pursuing Kathy and Cindy for him (one of the things that comes out at the end of Razor) while believing he was getting revenge on Captain Black.
So here are the main antagonists and villains in Rapier. Some get their comeuppance by the end of the story. Others recur in future releases. Also, expect more antagonists, and allies, to appear in the upcoming stories.
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