If you’ve been reading my books and stories, you might have noticed a common theme that runs through many of them: culture clash and cross cultural communication. Seeds Among the Stars is rife with these issues because I have a galaxy of different cultures to play with.
In Shafter, the clash is between internal cultures that rose out of a planned colony drawing from Western European countries. In Trainee (book 2), all that changes and the potential for conflict expands exponentially. The Spacer Guild draws from every human settlement in the galaxy. Candidates come all the way from Earth as well as from cultures established in spaceships that are no longer tied to a single planet. These are not generation ships in the traditional sense but rather self-contained cultures often with a disdain for those who limit themselves to a ball of dirt.
This is where Jade came in.
She’s a minor character who sprang from the need for Trina to interact with someone on the team she’s assigned to. Intended as a simple, throwaway character, merely a foil for the main storyline, I should have known that would never work. I went from asking my husband for name suggestions to dreaming about what brought her to the guild and why she’s aggressively deterring Trina’s attempts to befriend her.
Remember that disdain? Well, it rears up in training where colony-bred candidates are treated as liabilities by the ship-bred ones. Jade is able to pass as ship-bred though. She’s from an indie trader family that has a home base and trades in a single solar system. Jade can pass as ship-bred, though, because she knows the common language and her way around a ship. None of that will matter in the slightest if her teammates remember she’s bound to a sphere, so she does everything she can to prevent the possibility.
Socializing with Trina would only raise questions she can’t afford, not when she’s established as an authority. There’s too much to lose.
Still, she’s driven, not cruel. Despite the risks, she does what’s necessary for the team. You can see Jade’s struggle for yourself in this excerpt:
They rode the air stream together to the central hub when the Medicals broke for lunch, but usually her teammates went one direction and Trina the other. Today, she caught Jade’s arm to stop the other candidate from following the Medicals.After lunch, she’d be returning to Fred’s class so had no better chance.“What is it?” Jade’s irritated voice offered warning enough without how the candidate plucked Trina’s hand free and dropped it as if getting rid of something particularly disgusting.Trina straightened, her full height bringing her eyes in line with Jade’s sharp, light-brown chin. She took a backward step so she could see the other candidate’s face, the full expression no more welcoming than her pointy chin.“I’d like to join you after classes. For the extra drills. To review the scenario and try out your suggestion.”“Well you can’t. I’m not wasting my free time coddling you.”Jade went to join the others, but Trina slipped around her to block the way.“It wouldn’t be coddling. I don’t want any favors. I need the extra training if I’m to catch up with all of you. If you help me, I’ll improve that much faster. Maybe next time I’ll be able to contribute and the scenario won’t be a complete failure.” She spoke quickly, unsure how to hold the other candidate without physically restraining her, a fight Trina could possibly win but one that would get both of them into a lot of trouble.Jade glared down at Trina, her face a mask bordered with a severe frown. “I don’t want to be seen with you.”About to protest, Trina stopped when Jade held up one finger.“You’ll meet me here, at the air stream, as soon as class ends. I won’t wait long, and if anyone from my team comes before you do, I’ll leave without you. The only reason I’m doing this is because as leader, I reviewed the records from previous runs. I know you’ve done some good, and you didn’t parade it in front of us, either. You have it in you to become a decent member of the team, and you’re willing to work.”Trina smiled at the other candidate’s softening.“Don’t think this means anything. I’ve worked too hard to get the others to forget I stood on the dirt before coming here. I’m not losing all that because I spend too much time with you. It won’t take much for them to remember my home planet and forget that I flew ships before they were allowed out of the family areas. You are not going to cost me what I’ve earned. I’ll help you now, but you will stay out of my way afterward. Understood?”The sentiment came as no surprise to Trina. She’d heard variations of it since setting foot on the station. Whatever the instructors might hope for, even they valued colony candidates less, especially those kept from technology. They’d never admit it to themselves, much less to others, but events made it obvious.