The Cains – a family living in an Isoland village
Axel is 17 at the start of the novel New Messiah, the same age as Heidi Vorn. Born in Isoland, Axel manifests the ancient powers of his ancestral people. Verging on autistic as a young child, Axel was aware of other beings living alongside his own kind. Suspected of mental illness, Axel’s parents eventually realise these are their tribal ancestors, and Axel is acting as some kind of conduit. At the age of seven, around the time of Heidi’s twin sister’s death, Axel begins to speak of his dreams. His voice and his words are magical, catching listeners in their spell. His visions speak of a different world based on equality and love, not just between people but of all creatures. People who refuse to listen often fall victim to AI-Biotech variants, but those who follow and believe seem to be spared.
Axel has seen many terrible things in his short life, including many deaths. He brings comfort to the dying, but each one adds to his burden. One voice always dominates the others, telling Axel what he must do, but the mission to save the Earth seems impossible.
Mother to Cain and Emmy, Una has raised her people to survive, but has struggled to protect them from her hatred for Maxim Vorn and his kind. Una is a strong woman who will do anything for her children, often saying, ‘whatever it takes’. Una was at one stage a consort to Maxim Vorn, before a younger woman replaced her.
Cynical older brother to Axel, Salus has always resented him and disagrees entirely with Axel’s teachings. He is a member of an underground movement, but fighting back leads to his capture and the deaths of his parents.
12-year-old sister to Axel, Emmy loves him dearly but like her parents, finds it hard to entirely believe what he tells them. One of the key people in the novel, Emmy survives the taking of Axel but he believes her dead, for which he blames himself and seeks redemption.
Terminally ill father to Axel, Emmy and Salus, Pieter has secretly supported Salus and admires him. Equally, he fails to understand Axel, rejecting him even at the end.
The Vorn Dynasty
The Vorns have an embedded belief that their people will rule the Earth, but see this as an ultimate goal that may take generations. Therefore, serving the Brights (as unwritten superiors in the Cabal) is seen as a stepping stone.
Sent to military school at the age of seven, 50-year-old Maxim is a typical product of AmRus. He saw little of his parents before then, although he was belt-whipped by his father Rosco more than once for crying. He was a sensitive child, and never forgave his parents for sending him away. Military School gave him acceptance of hierarchy and faith in rules, and these would become his future weaknesses. Maxim made his first kill at the age of 16, taking part in an execution. The experience made Maxim decide his future was on Earth. Despite his methods, Maxim wants the best for all people, and he knows that there has to be a change. Just not yet.
Heidi was the first in her family not to go to a military school. She was born and raised in Isoland, and had private tuition from the Vorn magus Patricia Tollen (known affectionately as Cat because of her unusual ears).
Heidi has also been schooled by Maxim, who wants her to succeed him and instills in her the Vorn family values – Service is All, Greatness Must be Fought For, and Do Whatever It Takes. These values formed the bedtime prayer and dictates for the young Heidi.
Heidi adopted an injured deer foal and brought it back to live in Paradise, much to Sirena’s anger. The young deer damaged the plants, and Heidi witnessed its execution by Sirena. She was then forced to eat the flesh, and has never forgotten this act of cruelty.
Growing friction with Sirena, Heidi’s mother has also damaged her relationship with Maxim.
Heidi’s twin sister Theresa died aged 7, succumbing to one of the many E-Fed variants. Her death had a profound impact on Heidi and her father. Sirena once said that the wrong twin died, because Theresa was so much more like her father. This one comment drove a wedge between them forever.
105-year-old father to Maxim, Rosco chairs the Cabal and wants to retain control, denying his son. He has seen immense changes in his lifetime, also orchestrating and responsible for global falsehoods, causing misery to untold millions of people. Rosco is a cruel, intolerant person and a poor role model – therefore worshipped by Maxim. However, Rosco will die under strange circumstances, triggering a power struggle.
As committed to power as her husband, Sirena is disappointed in Heidi for her weaknesses. Sirena prepared well for office – military school, followed by training in diplomacy and espionage, and plastic surgery to attain sufficient beauty for office. She never says what she thinks and her actions are often a surprise. Sirena is in fact the real powerbroker in the family, and Maxim is wary of her.
Sirena chose Lucia to be her husband’s consort. Lucia experienced a brutal upbringing, witnessing the deaths of her family as a child. From Puerto Rico, she travelled to Isoland with other orphans, and only her exceptional beauty saved her from experimentation. Lucia began serving Maxim (and Sirena) at the age of eighteen. She is now twenty-eight and terrified that she will be too old to serve, condemned to experimentation or executed for what she knows. Lucia is also a friend of Heidi, although they rarely meet.
Once an influential and brilliant scientist, 83-year-old Cat was imprisoned for telling the truth about global warming. Her husband died from his injuries following prolonged torture at the behest of Rosco Vorn. Also fluent in several languages, Cat responded well to reprogramming, and was eventually sent to Isoland. Heidi befriended her and asked if Cat could be her teacher. Sirena saw value in the idea, and so Cat became a member of the household, but always as a servant. Cat enjoys a secret relationship with Heidi, teaching her to be independent of thought.
Cat will become one of Axel Cain’s followers.
The Bright Dynasty
Father to Drew and Amica, 50-year-old Walther is imperious and intolerant. Walther has known Maxim from childhood, both attending the same privileged school and then military academy. Their relationship is based on mutual admiration and rivalry.
Even at the age of 26, Amica has decided that a woman should lead the ruling class, and that nothing can be allowed to stop her. In doing so, Amica is a mirror-image of her father Walther. Amica is a beautiful psychopath, dangerously jealous of her brother Drew.
Drew (28) does not live up to his family name, being neither bright nor ambitious. He is more interested in self-indulgence. He is clearly favoured by Maxim, who agrees to his marriage to Heidi, thus uniting the two great dynasties to ultimately rule all people. Drew does love Heidi in his own way, but it is a shallow affection based on physical attraction.
Mother to Drew and Amica, Reeve is secretive and deep, and a powerful influence over her psychopathic daughter. Reeve does not reveal what she truly thinks about the Cabal or the state of the world, but is prepared to step in, if absolutely needed. When she does, people listen.
Cain’s 5 followers
Axel chooses 5 disciples whilst held prisoner in Homestead. Having managed to save them, he arranges for the 5 to work with him in the Bio plant, and subsequently, they miraculously escape.
Erin Hood (age 34)
Orphaned with many others by a biotech that killed her parents and other adults in her ethnic group. Erin was abused as a child, becoming a tearaway teenager drawn into drugs and crime, then into the resistance. Erin is damaged and trained to kill. Axel meets her in building 1 as he is beaten and conditioned.
Zara Zack (age 50)
A former schoolteacher who loves children. Zara was taken for criticising the Cabal and spreading information on-line following an E-Fed sickness targeting children in New York. Zara is a pacifist who would rather die than take a life, but recent events have made her question her beliefs. Axel encounters her in building 2 as they are tested for vaccines and helps her survive.
Chas Schaeffer (age 48)
Once a cook working in a top London restaurant used by the Cabal. He has travelled widely and was married with two children but lost his family to an outbreak. Chas was vaccinated on the orders of the Cabal, but his family were not. His subsequent actions identified him as a risk. Axel discovers Chas in building 3, where the three are subject to behavioural experiments.
Kief Miller (age 35)
Ex-military, an SAS commander who eventually refused to carry out executions, on ethical grounds. He also meets Cain in building 3, where they should be tested to destruction, but Cain persuades Maxim to keep his new followers alive and they are instead forced to work in the Bio plant.
Cain meets Cat in Paradise, shortly before he takes his followers and miraculously escapes from Homestead using Drew Bright.