In my first science fiction novel Tabitha’s monstrous companion, Seven, is a living weapon. But where did he come from? I’d like to add in some back story.
Over time Earth’s conquerors, the Watchers, have become very adept at repurposing their world’s native life into weapons they can control. Inhabiting a small planet with relatively little in the way of natural materials, the Watcher race is resourceful, aggressive and use what they have to fight their wars: living things.
Historically, their farms and factories’ most abundant raw material: living flesh. To us it seems deeply sinister. To them, it would seem as natural as working stone or wood. Over thousands of years their walls and tools and tech haven’t been built, but bred.
The Watchers have genetically engineered Seven and his brothers and sisters to work as ships, artillery and beasts of burden. Lethal in combat and, being solar-powered, having no need for refueling or rearming. As military hardware, they’re the holy grail.
I didn’t want Seven to be just military hardware though. Through his interactions with Tabitha, Seven’s animal side is allowed to flourish. He has his own thoughts, and feelings, and personality. From a storytelling perspective, I wanted Seven to be the best of both.
Back on the Watchers’ light-starved homeworld, I see Seven’s ancestors as much smaller flying reptiles. An ancient species, all but extinct, but perfectly evolved as hunters. Unchanged in millions of years, like the airborne equivalent of the crocodile or the shark.
Engineering this ancient species into something much larger, the Watchers have had more room to incorporate their own sinister brand of living hardware: weapon system, propulsion, living armour. But the most important aspect of Seven, for me, was that he wasn’t just equipment. As a science fiction fan, I like the idea of the advanced ship – but how much better if it’s a ship with its own thoughts and feelings too?
Seven isn’t just Tabitha’s ship though, but her friend. Her protector. Her primal machine.