Terinu

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Terinu
Author(s) Peta Hewitt
Website http://www.terinu.com/
Current status / schedule Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Launch date 1986
Genre(s) Science fiction

Terinu is a webcomic and print comic series (in Australia) created by Australian Peta Hewitt.

Terinu is a science fiction adventure comic, done in black and white India ink in comic page format. It is the story of the title character, a fifteen-year-old alien boy, the last known member of a genetically engineered slave race, who is a pawn in a brewing galactic war. Many of its themes echo classic Young Adult science fiction novels, though with a somewhat darker edge.

Cast of characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Terinu is a Ferin, a race created to serve the Varn Dominion. He was found as a child by Mavra Chan, floating seemingly unharmed in the vacuum of a destroyed starship. Chan dropped Terinu into the lap of Madame Cher, who at the time was paying protection money to the space pirate. When Terinu was about seven years old, Chan took him aboard her ship, the Celestial Marauder, to be trained as both a pirate and her personal assassin. During this time Chan successfully imprinted herself in Terinu's psyche, making him unconsciously view her as his master, and requiring him to obey her orders to the letter. Terinu's only friend aboard the Marauder was Matt Townsend, a human boy close to Terinu's own age.

Terinu's upbringing has left him emotionally scarred, and distrusting of other's motives. It doesn’t help that there are at least four separate power factions that want to either hold him captive or control him, making truth out the classic teenage complaint that the whole world is against him.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter One

Leeza Blake[edit]

An Australian native, born and raised in Anakie, Victoria, Leeza is a civilian engineer under contract to the Galactic Sapiens Alliance military. In her mid to late twenties, she is the daughter of Admiral Blake, and cousin to Lance Freeman. She was raised by Lance's mother, Vonnie Freeman, after her own mother died in an unspecified incident. At the beginning of the comic series, she is an engineer aboard the Treona, a GSA science vessel. In the course of the first issue she encounters Terinu, and they team up with Lance and Rufus to escape an attacking force of Galapodos Warriors, led by General Gisko.

In terms of personality, Leeza is forthright, moral, and empathic. She's uncomfortable with some aspects of GSA policy, such as selling prisoners as contract laborers. She is also sympathetic to Terinu's plight, but is sometimes frustrated by his flinty personality. She often finds herself defending Terinu against her cousin, who does not trust the boy's motives.

She has a troubled relationship with her father, who wishes to either kill or capture Terinu. After discovering that the human government had hidden knowledge of the Ferin race's destruction from the rest of the GSA, her father had her imprisoned when she threatened to go public with that information.

Currently Leeza is Terinu's legal guardian, having been maneuvered into the role by her father, after thwarting Admiral Blake's attempt to have the boy held by Bio-Tech. Unbeknownst to her, she is also Terinu's "Master", after the boy successfully transferred his loyalty to her from Mavra Chan in an act of pure will.

Leeza's only real known vice is an addiction to coffee, the lack of which tends to make her irritable.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter One.

Gwendolyn Freeman[edit]

A cousin to Lance and Leeza, Gwen is a young and slightly spoiled woman of fifteen, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. She has secretly received a "Cyber Glider" implant allowing her to mentally interface with computers (a very rare ability in the Terinu universe). She has a very rocky relationship with Terinu.

First Appearance: Season Three, Chapter Sixteen.

Lt. Lance Freeman[edit]

Lance is a demolitions expert in the GSA military, and had been assigned to weapons testing on a station that his cousin Leeza was briefly visiting, when it was attacked by the Galapados Warriors to recover Terinu. He's the son of Vonnie and Barry Freeman, and cousin to Gwen Freeman. He's protective of Leeza, but often ends up in arguments with Terinu, whom he regards as a troublemaker at best, and a convicted criminal at worst. Despite this, he has aided Leeza in helping Terinu escape both the clutches of Mavra Chan and Bio-Tech.

Lance is about four years younger than Leeza, and is 6’ 2” tall with brown/black hair and brown eyes.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter One.

Ru-Ofanius "Rufus" Brushtail[edit]

The son of Vulpine farmer nobility, Rufus is sociable, outgoing, and a born swashbuckler. Eschewing his family's money and influence, he volunteered for the Vulpine fighter corps as a flight engineer, and eventually refurbished his own ship to make his way as a mercenary fighter pilot. Something of a ladies man, he has recently found himself attracted to Melika Softpaw, a Vulpine singer at Madame Cher's Cabaret.

Of all the group, he's the one that seems to get along with Terinu best, often drawing the boy aside to calm down after yet another argument with Lance.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter One

Joleen[edit]

A young Creo female, formerly employed by Madame Cher's Cabaret. On the eve of the girl's departure from the Cabaret, Madame Cher arranged for her to take transport aboard the Treona with Leeza and the others, so she could be dropped off on the small moon where her family maintained a refueling station. Unknown to either Madame Cher or the crew of the Treona, Joleen's parents were being held captive by Mavra Chan, who had coerced the girl into sabotaging the Treona so it would land at the refueling station for repairs, and allow Chan the opportunity to capture Terinu.

Joleen and her parents escaped Chan with the aid of Terinu, though for unexplained reasons she is now working as a servant in Princess Ichichi's household.

First Appearance: Season Two, Chapter Nine.

Antagonists[edit]

The Gene Mage[edit]

The Gene Mage is a Varn, and apparently a high-ranking member of the Varn Dominion government. It was the Gene Mage that created Terinu's race, the Ferin, to serve the dominion as both servants and power sources. After the Varn were defeated by the combined forces of Humanity and former Varn client races, the Gene Mage then created the Galapados Warriors to serve as soldiers to the Dominion.

Personality wise, the Gene Mage is a commanding, patriarchal presence, expecting to be obeyed, but willing to listen when his subordinates offer suggestions. He regards the creation of the Ferin as the pinnacle of his accomplishments, and is determined to capture Terinu to restore the boy's race to the side of their Varn masters, thus restoring the Dominion to its former glory. He finds the boy's continual refusal to understand the glory of serving the Dominion somewhat puzzling.

He regards Gisko as a loyal servitor, and has forgiven the general at least twice when Gisko has failed to successfully complete the Gene Mage's orders.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter Two.

General Oryon Gisko[edit]

Gisko is the commanding general of the Galapados Warriors, the genetically engineered soldier race created by the Gene Mage. His scales are khaki colored, and his eyes are yellow and pupiless.

He regards the Gene Mage as his God, and is completely loyal to him, though on at least one occasion he disputed the Gene Mage's orders in order to save a damaged Galapados breeding facility. He bears no malice against his opponents, and has come to regard to Lance as an honorable enemy.

He is mated to Skorah, a female Galapados.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter Three.

Lady Mavra Chan[edit]

Chan is an ambitious, evil warlord, commanding a small fleet of pirate ships centered around the Celestial Marauder. She sports an artificial right eye, wiry muscles, and dark buzz cut hair. She discovered Terinu aboard the guttered vessel of one of her opponents when he was four years old, and arranged for him to be raised by Madame Cher while the boy grew. Somewhere along the way she also made the discovery that Terinu was a member of the Ferin race, and his mental block against disobeying anyone he identified as his master.

Chan has tendrils on several planets and moons, and is apparently able to run protection rackets on them without interference from the GSA government. At one point she briefly coerced Joleen into betraying Terinu and the rest of the Treona's crew, after kidnapping her parents.

First Appearance: Season Two, Chapter Eight.

Admiral Erwin Blake[edit]

The Admiral is a tall, heavyset man, apparently in his late fifties-early sixties with graying hair set in a ponytail. He's dedicated to protecting the GSA from the Varn threat, and is willing to use any means necessary to achieve that goal. He is aware of the existence of the Ferin, and apparently knows what happened to them five hundred years ago, but has not revealed this information to anyone else.

Admiral Blake has a difficult relationship with his daughter, Leeza. He is worried for her safety, and had pulled strings to arrange for her to be assigned to safe duty near Earth when the conflict with the Varn began to heat up. However, when Leeza deliberately thwarted his plans to have Terinu examined by Bio-Tech, he had no compunction against arranging for her to be fired by the engineering company she worked for, and sticking her with Terinu's guardianship. Later he had her jailed to prevent her from revealing the existence of the Ferin to the other alien governments that make up the GSA.

First Appearance: Season Two, Chapter Nine.

Princess Titalia[edit]

Titalia is the eldest daughter of the Ardactavian Hive Queen Ermenzebra. Tall and gaunt, she is an ally of the Varn Gene Mage, helping in the attack on the fuel station in Chapter One, and then manipulating her sister, Princess Ichichi, into leaving several asteroids leased to the Creo undefended so the Galapados Warriors could attack them.

Though currently aiding the Gene Mage's plans, she regards herself as his equal, not a subordinate. Whether the Gene Mage holds the same opinion is unknown.

First Appearance: Season One, Chapter Two.

Dream Stalker[edit]

Dream Stalker is a female Varn, with bright red hair in flowing curls, wearing robes decorated in flame accented patterns. She addresses the Gene Mage as "Brother", but it is not known whether this is a familial relationship, or a Varn honorific.

Unlike the Gene Mage, she harbors no hopes of integrating Humanity into the Varn Dominion, instead regarding them as little more than animals. This apparently stems from the defeat Humans handed the Varn five hundred years before. Despite this, she is willing to aid Mavra Chan in order to create a counterweight against the GSA government.

She is also aware of the Gene Mage's re-discovery of the Ferin, which is a fact he is currently keeping a secret from the rest of the Varn.

First Appearance: Season Three, Chapter Fifteen.

Races of the Terinu Universe[edit]

Ardactavians[edit]

Ardactavians are a bipedal race that shares many physical and social characteristics with colony forming insects. They have a hard exoskeleton that can be orange, purple or green protecting their heads, chests, pelvic area and limbs. Softer beige or gray coloured skin is exposed on their faces, necks, and abdomen and in between their joints. They are tall ranging in height from approximately 6’2” for the working class, 6’6” for the military and 7’2” for the female members of the monarchy. These royal Ardactavians also sport three curved horn like structures emanating from their brows. Their facial features are usually stark and severe with high prominent check bones, prominent brows and long chins. Their mouths are filled with many small sharp teeth. They have wide eyes and small irises, usually orange or red in colour.

Creo[edit]

The Creo are gray-skinned, with heavy muscles and thick brows, and no external ears. Males are completely hairless, females sport a white topknot that is often dyed. They appear to be well-suited for mining, and make their homes in extensive cave networks hollowed out of moons or asteroids.

Ferin[edit]

The Ferin are/were a race of servitors created by the Varn Gene Mage, uplifted from a tree-dwelling marsupial that possessed the natural ability create and project "Bion" energy as a defense against predators. After several hundred years of genetic alteration, the Ferin were able to walk on two legs, speak, and reason as well as any other sentient being, while retaining their Bion generating abilities. They stand at between 4’ 2” to 4’ 10” in height, have light grey skin, and lengthy (average seven-foot) prehensile tails that end in a large spade, used for maneuvering while jumping from tree to tree. They also sport two long, mobile spurs atop their heads, 5 to 7 inches in length, used to generate and project bion. These spurs can raise and lower depending on the Ferin's moods. Their hair comes in a variety of colors, in red, dark blue and all mixtures between.

As part of their expected role as spacecraft power sources, the Ferin have remarkable survival skills when exposed to vacuum. Using their Bion to sustain themselves, they are capable of operating in a vacuum for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, the Ferin drops into a state of hibernation, similar to that of a Terran bear. How long they are able to maintain this final state is unknown.

Modern Ferin were used by the Varn Dominion as servants, pets, and power sources. In the latter role, they proved to be remarkably efficient generators, processing sugars and proteins fed directly into their bodies via large intravenous tubes, and bleeding off the excess energy to be captured by the power cell in which several Ferin served at any one time.

Ferin are also able to use their Bion as a form of empathy or telepathy. In Chapter Ten, when Terinu is describing the first time he used his powers, he claims that he felt Symms’ confusion, and also felt his death. Later in Chapter Fourteen, Terinu attempts to use his empathic ability to tap into Earth's biosphere to try to plumb for memories of his origins. This backfires, and sends him into a panicked run as the Earth's incredibly diverse biosphere overwhelms his senses.

Despite their remarkable abilities, the Gene Mage built several safeguards into the Ferin psyche to prevent them from ever disobeying their masters. For starters, they have an instinctual inability to use their bion powers against any Varn. Attempting to fight this instinct results in a severe headache. Next, much like Terran ducklings, between the age of seven and fourteen a Ferin will "imprint" upon whomever they perceive as their master, following that person's orders without question, even if it results in personal injury. No Ferin may have more than one master, and Terinu was only able to switch his loyalty from Mavra Chan to Leeza through an act of extraordinary willpower. Finally, the Ferin are naturally dyslexic, unable to mentally process written words, though they are able to interpret the simple symbology needed for their roles as personal servants to the Varn.

At some point during the Human led rebellion against Varn rule, the Ferin race was wiped out. In Chapter Four Leeza possibly is referring to this when she says, “Together the allies discovered and destroyed the Dominion's power sources.” This would strongly imply that the rebellion deliberately targeted the Ferin race for destruction. This is not common knowledge in the GSA, as the existence of the Ferin is apparently a state secret. They are known to Admiral Blake, who is seen in Chapter Thirteen examining a sealed file containing reports and photographs of various Ferin (including an autopsy of one specimen).

Galen[edit]

A tall, slim, attractive race descended from avians, Galen could pass for human, except for the fine feathers that replace all hair on their heads, and the delicate bone structures on either side of their face that serve as ears. Most Galen come across as reserved and slightly haughty, with the exception of Ninetta, who is described as being an atypical member of her race.

Galapados[edit]

The Galapados are a race of reptilian warriors created by the Gene Mage specifically to counter natural Human aggressiveness. They have khaki colored scales and yellow, pupiless eyes, are heavily muscled, and stand on average over six feet in height. They are unable to reproduce naturally, depending on incubation units to create and incubate Galapados young. This probably is one means the Varn use to prevent the Galapados from attempting to rebel against the Dominion. It is unknown whether they also have the Ferin's natural inability to attack a Varn, though this would probably be a likely precaution for the Gene Mage to add to their psyches.

In the Terinu forums, Peta Hewitt has confirmed that the Galapados race was uplifted from Earth's Galapagos Lava Lizard from genetic samples gathered by the Gene Mage. The reason for the slight change in their race's spelling is unknown.

Manzi[edit]

A race of fine boned 'taur' like beings. The upper half of their bodies are thin and angular and have a hominid appearance and is bare of fur except for their scalps where it is extremely thick. The lower part of their body resembles a deer with all four hooves. Manzi society are driven by a passion for research and knowledge, so much so that their leaders are a collective of their greatest scientific minds. They also prefer to isolate themselves from the other races as they feel the pursuit of wealth and power as frivolous when faced with the pursuit of knowledge, a task they don't wish to be distracted from.

Maud[edit]

Squat, fur covered beings with small owl like beaks and large 'eyes' that are geared to detect heat rather than light. They live on a planet with very low light levels due to its dense atmosphere. Maud are secretive keeping mostly to themselves. They are extremely good at acquiring wealth through careful investment choices etc. The net worth of their accumulated assets are the topic of much nervous speculation.

Varn[edit]

The Varn are a tall, green skinned race, with yellow eyes, large straight horns emerging from their foreheads, remarkable intelligence, and a generally devilish appearance. Once the former masters of the galaxy, they believe themselves to be descendants of gods, and rightful rulers of all other species. With several thousand years to genetically tinker with themselves, the Varn are effectively unaging, and may possess survival abilities similar to the Ferin.

Vulpine[edit]

The Vulpine are a race resembling anthropomorphic foxes, averaging about six inches shorter than humans, with relatively short legs and digitigrade feet, long torsos, and bushy tails. They are described as being natural farmers and pilots, and appear to have a noble class based around their agricultural tradition. They are also described as being matriarchal, and actively worship a supreme being they refer to as the Holy Den Mother.

Glossary of Terms[edit]

Bion: A type of energy produced naturally by the Ferin, which they are able to utilize as either a conventional power source or a defensive weapon.

Bio-Tech: An interstellar biological research company, with offices on Luna Station. In the beginning of the story, Terinu is convicted of piracy and bought by Bio-Tech at an auction.

Bloody Plagues: A weapon, presumably biological, that was released against the Galactic Sapiens Alliance as a final act of vengeance by the Varn towards the end of the rebellion.

Bolt Hole: A colony world outside the GSA’s control, used as a haven by pirates. In the beginning of the story it is invaded by the GSA.

Cannon Ship: Lead ship of the fleet sent by the Gene Mage to conquer a Creo asteroid colony. It was equipped with a "Crust Breaker Cannon", which Terinu was forced to power using his bion. The ship was subsequently sabotaged and heavily damaged by the crew of the Treona.

Celestial Marauder: The flagship of Mavra Chan’s pirate fleet, commanded by Captain Aynish.

Cyber Glider: An individual with the ability to use a cybernetic interface to infiltrate computer systems. In the Terinu universe, this ability is rare and highly prized by both civilian law enforcement and military espionage organizations. Cyber Gliding is inherently dangerous however, with even experienced Gliders running the risk of induced schizophrenia and "brain frying."

Dampening Collar: A lockable collar used to dampen Terinu’s bion generating capabilities, that secures around his neck and the top of his head, forcing down his spurs. At least one version featured a remotely controlled stun weapon to control the young Ferin when he got physically out of hand.

Department of Social Harmony: An administrative office in the pre-war Varn Dominion charged with ensuring the happiness, or at least compliance of their servitor races. The usual methods included censorship and the occasional arrest and reeducation of social undesirables. The concept was originally fanon which was borrowed by Terinu's author.

Dust Jacket Generator: A type of energy shield used by spaceships when traveling at faster than light speeds, keeping them safe from interstellar debris.

Forced Labour: An increasingly common punishment in the GSA, where criminals are sold at auction to corporations to act as essentially slave labour. Leeza is uncomfortable with the idea, but Lance states it is preferable to having criminals sit in prisons “eating up public funds.”

Fragg: Teri's favourite expletive. Means the same as a contemporary word also beginning with "f".

Frell/Frelling: Rude curse words. Rufus occasionally uses the more polite “Fruit!” when under stress. First appeared in the science fiction TV series Farscape.

Galactic Sapiens Alliance: An interstellar government founded by the races that originally rebelled against the Varn Dominion five hundred years ago. It includes Humans, Galen, Creo, and Vulpine. Other races that may be members include the Manzi and the Maud.

Holy Den Mother: Patron goddess of the Vulpine race. Rufus and Melika often swear by her.

League of Pirate Warlords: A loose association powerful pirates, bound together by blood oath out of mutual self-interest. Their numbers have recently been sharply reduced.

Luna Station: A large space station shaped like a Catherine Wheel, in orbit around Earth's Moon. It is the site of a shipyard, and a Bio-Tech facility where Terinu is briefly incarcerated and examined. Leeza also has an apartment on the station, which Terinu implies she received due to her father's influence.

Madame Cher’s Cabaret: A live entertainment company owned by Madame Cher, operating out on the GSA frontier. Most of the entertainers appear to be female, and live together under the Cabaret's roof.

Power Cell: A padded, partially flooded chamber utilized by the Varn Dominion to collect bion energy. Several Ferin dwell in a power cell at any one time, with large intravenous tubes inserted into their bodies to feed them the proteins and sugars required for their increased energy output, which is collected by a pillar in the center of the cell.

Sleek Winged Fighter: A fast, hardy and highly manoevarble fighter once used by the Vulpine space force. It's now been supersceeded by a newer model but Vulpine fighter hardware romantics still drool over restored examples of this fighter at air and space expo's

"The black heart of Baltos!": A term used by Space Pirates. Baltos was a particularly brutal and infamous Space Pirate whose name is legendary amongst his peers. Other pirates swear by him.

Treona: An Epsilon class Y2Y Explorer (Deep Space Model). The ship Leeza was assigned to track down a problem in its activation crystal array. During the attack on the refueling station in Chapter One, Leeza was forced to abandon the rest of the crew and escape in the Treona, along with Terinu, Rufus, and her cousin Lance.

Varn Dominion: The empire once controlled by the Varn, including the races they conquered, and uplifted creatures such as the Ferin.

Vulpine Prime: Homeworld of the Vulpine Race.

The White Knight: Rufus’ personal spacecraft, a refurbished Sleek Winged Fighter. It is equipped with energy weapons, and is capable of interstellar travel.

References[edit]

  • Operation Funnybone edited by Glen Shearer. Melbourne, Vic.: Operation Funnybone, 2005. ISBN 0-9758075-0-1

Reviewed in:

  • Inkspot: the magazine of the Australian Cartoonists Association no. 40 (Autumn 2004)
  • OzComics: the guide to Australian comics no. 2 (2003)

External links[edit]