Illustration by Remko Troost
In classic vesk fashion, Obozaya Ymeros lets her friends shorten her name to "Obo," but not even Damoritosh himself can protect those who attempt to use her nickname without earning it first.
Obozaya was born on Vesk Prime, the planetary capital of the Veskarium, to a family of low-level military bureaucrats. Distinguishing herself with her determination and ferocity on the sports field and in the dueling ring—if not in her academic studies—Obozaya quickly established herself as a top-notch military cadet, enlisting as soon as her basic studies were complete.
Obozaya took to military life like a swamp lion to water, and soon outpaced many in her cohort. In Veskarium society, social status is most easily earned through excellence in combat, and Obo had no desire to spend her entire life at the same forgettable rank as her parents. Though her dreams of glory were hardly unique, she nevertheless proved herself in several early battles, putting down a vicious rebellion among the feline barbarians of Vesk-6.
Yet in her youthful arrogance, Obozaya overlooked the power of political connection. After dueling and deeply shaming another member of her unit—one with family ties to high-ranking military officials—she found herself promoted and assigned to patrol a section of frozen tundra on Vesk-8, where the staunchly pacifist residents refused to give her any opportunity for righteous combat. It soon became clear that neither appeals to her superiors nor prayers to Damoritosh the Conqueror were going to get her a better assignment. Thus, as her first term of enlistment drew to a close, a frustrated Obozaya took the Soldier's Due, the time-honored vesk tradition of being honorably discharged and taking your government-issue armor and weapons with you.
Still in love with the idea of one day becoming a major player in vesk society, and disgusted by the idea that politics could exist within the Veskarium's vaunted military meritocracy, Obozaya followed in the footsteps of many other legendary vesk warriors and left home to work as a mercenary in the Pact Worlds. Here, at last, she found what she'd been searching for: an endless series of battles and adventures, with no restrictions but her own sense of honor. Rather than signing on with an established mercenary company, Obozaya found herself better suited to working with small groups of explorers and adventurers. Small teams mean more glory per person when you succeed, and she often finds herself the sole front-line fighter on a crew, which appeals to both her vanity and her showboating style. As she's fond of saying, battle is too important to leave to amateurs, and Obozaya believes that the best way to win a fight is to move fast and hit hard. Though she's drifted away from Damoritosh's faith in recent years, coming to appreciate some other races' criticisms of the Conqueror, she still adores using his sacred doshko for her close-up fighting.
Personality-wise, Obozaya is a study in contrasts. While she appreciates material wealth and creature comforts, her true desire is for recognition. This is perhaps best exemplified by the holoprojector on her back, which usually projects a modified version of Damoritosh's symbol to advertise her as a warrior for hire, but which is capable of projecting a personalized holographic war-banner in combat to make sure the enemy knows exactly who's coming for them. Brilliant on the battlefield, Obozaya nevertheless finds herself a little slow on the draw in most intellectual pursuits, having little patience for any education not directly related to her vocation. She believes that honor demands honesty, and while she's not against lying by omission, she would rather die than break her word or renege on a contract. In conversations with new people, she's either unnervingly stoic or direct to the point of rudeness, and thinks that most species talk more than they need to as an attempt to cover up their cowardice.
All of which makes it that much more surprising to discover how much her companions adore her. Sure, Obo may explain her loyalty as a mercenary's pragmatism, yet everyone in her crew knows they can count on "the big lizard" to pull them out of a scrape, no matter the cost. As with many vesk, her gruff manner is punctuated with sudden outpourings of emotion, and with her characteristic directness, Obo finds no fear or shame in telling her friends how much she loves them. Much of her life is spent on or training for missions, yet when Obozaya sets out to celebrate a success, it's with her trademark bombastic zeal. Eschewing the berserker drugs favored by some of her kindred, she's nevertheless fond of the Veskarium nose-hookahs sometimes called "dragon's breath," as well as the mildly hallucinogenic brain snails of Vesk-2 and other traditional vesk snacks. More than one bar has been sacrificed to (and well compensated for) her parties, and the heavy bass of her beloved revelaz dance-pop beats is notorious for bursting rivets on ship bulkheads.
James L. Sutter