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Neyu is the principal character in the story. At the story's beginning, she's 12-14 years old and stowing away in a cargo ship fleeing from a wave of carpet bombing. She has two older sisters and an older brother. The older brother lives on Radi, along with the rest of her family. One of the elder sisters, however, has gone off-world (possibly enlisted in the war) and is the person Neyu is trying to find.

Neyu stows away aboard Vikrannu's cargo ship when the local town comes under attack.

Family members

  • Mother - Somannu, who ran the goat farm and dairy of the household
  • Father - Hazan, who maintained the surrounding crops and goat grazing fields
  • Maternal Aunt - Kaaru, two whom Neyu was briefly fostered during lean times
  • Older brother - Eneswa, who leaves to work at the spaceport and eventually ceases contact with the family
  • Older sister - Pukka, who runs with Neyu as the farm is strafed by gunfire and bombs; it's clear during this even that their parents are killed; Pukka doesn't survive the escape
  • Older sister - Samsithi, who is off-world, possibly serving with the military of Vaasith, Hemun regions' controlling home world government

Character arc

Neyu's arc follows her as a person who is accustomed to working mutually with other people; someone who is used to always relying on others, as they rely on her (it's a mutual relationship). However, being the youngest, she is the one who almost always relies on others, though she always pulls her own weight. In the earliest parts of the story, she starts losing those props; the people she's relied on (and who have relied on her) begin to disappear. The world is no longer functioning properly, and her goal is to get back to the state in which she is leaning on others, as things should be (see interreliance).

As she travels with Vikrannu, she sees a different kind of "familial" relationship, a kind of clan-type structure with competence as the central dynamic (typical of Damamat). In competency structures, one or two central people coordinate and command a group of people, like a matriarch or patriarch, or a captain of a ship. These positions of relative leadership evolve naturally after the continued display of ability and competence. Neyu, who is struggling with the idea of being on her own without a stable group of people with whom to interrely, cn see how Vikrannu operates, and how she succeeds, in this different societal style.

Once she leaves Vikrannu to settle in Jutkara, she meets Suthan, a former indentured servant from Tanatha who has earned his freedom the hard way. he seemingly relies on no one, the very definition of the Outsider from Vaasith culture. In the beginning, this presses Neyu to search even harder for other members of her family, but at the end of Chapter 10, when she finally gets reliable word on where her sister Samsithi might be, she stands up for another person in a crowded marketplace and realizes that she might be able to stand on her own, be someone between captain Vikrannu and Outsider Suthan. She understands her world is no longer the one she grew up with, and never will be again; it's up to her to decide what that means, and make it happen.