Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Kes and Fear

Going back to fear reactions for this week’s post; they’re usually good for some exploration. Today I’m going to look at my old long-runner, the demon hunter Kestrel.

It’s not that Kes isn’t afraid. She takes the battlefield against things that would probably be able to kill her if she ever let them get within striking range on a pretty regular basis, and they haven’t managed it yet, that’s true. There was that one time she doesn’t talk about that pretty much rewrote her outlook on history and showed her that fear and boredom are a very, very bad combination.

She’s always been better when she could mistake it for something else, and that something else, fortunately for her, is almost invariably anger. When she’s fighting, she harnesses it directly, lashing out harder and more viciously the more concerned she is for her safety—even if the threat is far away, as long as she’s not fighting someone whose life matters to her, she will rip them apart. Her superiors have pointed out to her that anger gets people killed. She’s replied that she’s not sure why she should care; there are plenty of things that could happen at the end of the battle that are worse than simply dying. She’s had teammates taken from her, she’s been captured herself, and she’d much prefer a productive death with a chance of taking the opponent with her than all the not knowing and the fate in someone else’s hands and that whole mess.

When she’s worried and not in a fight, she still tends to lash out. She’ll insult whatever comes near her, she’ll belabor people with the truth, she’ll fall back upon the skills she has rather than let anyone push her to the skills she hasn’t yet mastered. Her mind seizes up, and she’d rather do anything than trust to knowledge that hasn’t quite reached certainty; “I’m a demon hunter,” she protests, “not [whatever they want her to be].” Woe to whomever gives her a chance to take that fear out on something, as then the anger returns.

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