As not to become an unintended spoiler for the novel, I've confined my characters to those who begin the story with Mikial.
Mikial Haran is the novel's main character, and an unwitting pivot
point in events that will shape her world's future. She is a
seventeen year old Dathia Qurl - a rare female within her
specialized race. Like her male counterparts, she possesses a
physique designed for fighting. Heavily muscled and standing just
over six feet (ten hands), she is painfully aware of being anything
but petite. Retractable claws and a feral countenance are offset by
long cinnamon hair, a rich caramel complexion, and deep amber eyes.
Her heritage, while not unique, does set her apart from other females. Mikial was not born in her Holding, but was instead given over as a child by Servant parents unwilling to kill her nor able to raise a child with such obvious Qurl blood. This has not been a particular detraction in her life, and she enjoys both friends and family in her close-knit society. Her foster father is Jakar Haran - a powerful Datha and his sect's Principle. Her mother is Yeneen Haran, an accomplished Shandi surgeon. Mikial's best friend is an Ipper named Paleen Chimmer, who has little problems with coaxing her temperamental friend into mischief. Mikial's main love is her people's traditional dancing in which she excels. In many respects, it is also an avenue of defiance toward what she is and what her foster father expects of her.
Mikial also excels at her craft - pushed on by Jakar who is determined to see her at the pinnacle of her profession. This places her at the top of her graduating class, giving her the rare opportunity and honor to graduate under actual combat. This novel opens with that fateful battle, and a resulting guilt that will propel the headstrong Dathia down paths no one, including herself, is prepared for.
As a character, Mikial starts out as something akin to an unguided missile. All momentum but no clear destination. Like many her age, she believes herself to have the right answers even if she doesn’t fully comprehend the questions. Her focus derives from events that she initially careens into and eventually begins to shape herself.
With a mischievous face, hazel eyes, sandy brunette hair, and white ear fans, Paleen Chimmer best embodies the livelier traits of the Ipper Qurl. Her reedy body manages only to come up to Mikial's shoulders (ear fans not withstanding). Paleen makes up the difference in sheer exuberance. Like Mikial, Paleen is about to enter the mainstream of society as an Ipper Signaler. To her, this is all excitement and great adventure. Untainted by the grim business Mikial has been trained for, Paleen maintains an innocence for them both. Between the two of them, Paleen is the least able to cope when that innocence is torn away.
Large by even Datha standards, Jakar stands at fourteen hands (well over seven feet). With dark brown hair and mustache, the latter usually pulled down in a frown, he is as stern and demanding a foster father as one could get. He loves Mikial, and is determined that she have a bright future in the Datha Qurl similar to what he found. Jakar is Datha, but has some Cothra abilities as well thanks to entering Change early in his life - a rare happening that marks high achievers. As a "Sur", he could have pursued the Holding's one "Suria" and eventually became co-ruler with her. Instead, he chose Yeneen, and ascended up his sect to become its Principle instead. As can be expected, relations between father and daughter are strained as they do not share the same priorities.
Yeneen is a Shandi Counselor, the curly brown haired mother to Mikial an accomplished surgeon. She helps take the rough edges off of her husband's gruff but well-meaning treatment of his daughter. Yeneen also harbors an unusual resentment for her own sect. Her own blood is strong with the Servant race, enough that her sect denied her children in order to prevent such a birth. Her inward fear of losing Mikial may be irrational, but it rises to the forefront when Mikial tests the limits of her people's tolerances.
Tall, dark haired, and highly intelligent, Dalen is one of those males Mikial knows she'd never attract. Circumstances (Paleen, of course) bring them together just the same when this renegade Cothra scientist entices her to fly an air machine powered by forbidden technology. A recent immigrant from Kinset Holding, Dalen's departure from his home was "encouraged" to avoid serious trouble there for defying similar taboos. Knowledge is something to be used as far as Dalen's concerned. The consequences of using it are less clear...at the beginning.