I think the most difficult character I’ve had to write so far would be the Mawreg, who are the alien Big Bad in my Sectors series. They’ve been present since my first published scifi romance Wreck of the Nebula Dream. I didn’t describe them in too much detail and it‘s been an accepted part of Sectors canon that it drives humans insane to even look at a Mawreg with unshielded eyes. So far, so good.
The Mawreg are the apex predators in the Sectors galaxy and have a number of ‘client’ races serving them, so I’ve been able to describe the Chimmer, the Shemdylann and the Betang as they take part in the action in various novels. The Mawreg remained ominous, mysterious and unrevealed.
But eventually one does need to lift the curtain on the enemy to some extent – and readers had been asking when they might see more of these deadly sentients in the books – so when I had the right plot, in Danger in the Stars, Miriell (who isn’t human) encounters one. Here’s the description:
Miriell swallowed hard and forced herself to endure her first glimpse of a Mawreg.
She could understand why humans might find this creature hard to look at. It was like a hybrid of several beings, or perhaps a group of parasites emerging from a single host. The body appeared to be turned inside out in places, with unpleasantly pulsing, dripping organs and vessels slathered with slimy goo and leaking pustules emitting a foul odor. In another segment of the entity’s structure–the head perhaps?—there were what might have been numerous, giant, faceted eyes, but the components or lenses moved and twirled and morphed so fast Miriell found the effect dizzying and nauseating. She couldn’t get her eyes to focus on the Mawreg’s hindquarters at all. Her vision blurred with each attempt to glance at that part of the alien.
But what fascinated Miriell and drew her away from any thought of the Mawreg’s disconcerting and disgusting physical form were the colors of its being. Unbidden, her power sprang to life and showed her plates of colors in the Mawreg’s aura, sliding across each other to form new hues. Indeed, some of the colors were nothing she had ever seen before, could not begin to name and had no idea what their presence portended. The display, visible only to her, exerted a pull on her senses, and she took a step forward before she’d even realized she was moving.
Later in the book Miriell does battle with a Mawreg in her own fashion, using her empathic powers.
I was satisfied I’d done the best I could to bring these aliens to life. In The Fated Stars I offered a bit more backstory on this issue of humans going insane when looking at a Mawreg.
Larissa swallowed hard. “Another fact you should probably know—most humans can’t even look directly at Mawreg. There’s something about them that can drive a human insane.”
Samell stared at her, even as Pete and Donnie nodded. “When we go on sorties into their camps to rescue people or take the entire operation down, we have to wear helmets with special filter goggles and even then a few guys have lost their minds. Mawreg are bad ass, spooky.”
“And we haven’t got any of those helmets here,” Donnie added. “Not a piece of tech I can whip up from spare parts either.”
“Are you serious? I find this concept hard to grasp—how can merely gazing upon the alien can make a person lose their mind?” Samell’s voice was polite.
“First encounter between our kind and the Mawreg was a peaceful scientific expedition, all excited to have met another spacefaring race,” Larissa said.
“The Peronelle. Learned about it in school, in Sectors history class.” Pete confirmed the tale. “Hundreds of years ago. Luckily the humans already had a few interstellar allies.”
“The Peronelle survivors the Mawreg spared to tell the tale described in gruesome detail how their comrades went insane when forced to watch their hosts. The ship’s AI had vids to corroborate. The vids also showed the Mawreg eating people alive, and conducting horrific experiments on others. Apparently the aliens thought it would frighten us into surrendering and accepting their rule, but all it did was make us determined to do battle every chance we got. No truce, no quarter given.” Larissa sighed. “And the war’s been raging ever since.”
So there you have it – my most difficult character to write. A close second would be Moratiu, the ancient, sentient tree…but I’ll save that for another blog post.