Childhood or Early Background
The Maz family worked for the Lattus family, high-borns within the Realm, originally the polity over all Gelt. As with the Orias family, a Warrior clan, the Lattuses treated Tishla like extended family. As such, Tishla spent a lot of time with their sons, Kai and Brac, and considered both Kai’s father and Orias Palak surrogate fathers.
Of the two brothers, Tishla fell in love with Kai. As essentially a peasant, she could not marry Kai without damaging his social standing. Tishla later suggested that she had been the first girl Kai had “tasted,” a reference to the penile functions of the male Gelt tongue.
Kai’s parents loved Tishla as much as her own parents. Tishla expressed a desire to study genetics as she believed she could find a way to reverse the generational decline in lifespan among Gelt since their homeworld was destroyed. At the age of fourteen, legal adulthood for Gelt, Kai’s father agreed to bind her in an indenture contract for five years in exchange for paying for her honors (Degree in most human languages) in genetics. Upon Kai’s fourteenth birthday, his parents gave Tishla to him as a gift. She would be a concubine for the duration of her contract, with an option to extend to ten years.
In the beginning, Kai had to break her of a slave mentality, forcing her to acknowledge they were married in all but name. She admitted she would have remained with him after her indenture, even become a mistress if Kai had to marry for political reasons.
The couple traveled to Essenar, a planet obtained by the Lattus family. Kai would become governor. Tishla, who diligently studied beyond her specialty, became his closest advisor, even more so than Orias Palak.
Essenar, however, proved a disaster. The rains made planting and harvesting food extremely difficult. Additionally, the acidic soil when soaked ruined most crops. Add to that outmoded food processing plants and a population of transported criminals, and the colony teetered on the brink of failure for most of Kai and Tishla’s time there.
In 428, an alien named “Marq” arrived after a particularly bad episode of riots. Representing an entity called “Juno,” he presented them with a simple potato as the solution to their problems. He had a ship full of them in space he gave freely to them, telling them to use the peels to grow more and allow some of the new plants to flower if they could find pollinators.
By the beginning of 429 (Sapiens calendar), the crops once again failed after two successful harvests of potatoes. Marq returned and offered a solution he had worked out with a Warrior leader, Laral Jorl. Marq’s people had two colonies he labeled as rogue. His polity did not permit settlement there. Kai and Laral would be well within their rights to invade and take the planets for themselves. One, a planet with a single settlement, they dubbed Gilead. A more developed planet Laral called Cyal, had about a million “squatters.” Laral experimented with an invasion plan by destroying a terraforming project on a world the Gelt called Farii Gar, named ironically for the forest where some Gelt creation stories claimed their species came into being. In another irony, the settlers called the world “Farigha,” which they would later say meant “the big empty” as it was a desert world.
Laral Jorl agreed to help Kai take both worlds in exchange for Essenar. Additionally, Kai would allow Laral’s loyal troops a presence on both worlds and agree to ten percent of the crops and revenue from Kai’s new colonies.
The Gelt Incursion
Kai oversaw the invasion of what became Hanar. Inexplicably, someone detonated a fusion device in the colony’s sole city. Laral denied knowledge and would later mention two such explosions on Cyal. A prisoner asked why the Gelt destroyed the city. Further questioning revealed the colony to be Gilead, a very legal colony of a Compact core world called Metis. Realizing he had been lied to by both Laral and Marq, he moved to make peace with the survivors. He also knew if he were killed, Laral might attempt to usurp Tishla’s indenture contract. Knowing Tishla to be pregnant, even though she did not know, he signed her contract over to Marq without revealing her presence within the Compact would nullify her indenture. He ordered Marq to take her to his homeworld, which appeared to be Metis.
Upon her arrival in Metisian space, Tishla staggered as the nanites binding her originally to Kai disintegrated. However, because the Gelt were, at the time, an unknown species, Compact security personnel stormed her ship and took her into custody.
In a hospital on Metis, she endured a grueling and invasive exam, which she described as inadvertent rape. The doctors examining her did not understand anatomy and shoved a probe through her navel. After the exam, she learned she not only had become pregnant but carried twins.
An assistant Compact Attorney named Athena Jovann befriended Tishla and arranged a degree of freedom for her. In her effects, Tishla found a message from Kai, suggesting he might be dead already, but also announced that, because she had been freed by alien law while expecting his child, she became his wife under Realm law. Tishla took Kai’s dagger and tracked down Marq, where she assaulted him for his subterfuge. Fleeing certain arrest, she took refuge at the Laputan Guardianship consulate in Sophiopolis. There she presented the dagger to a man named Delda Rallis. Delda recognized the weapon as one Kai stabbed him with in the Guardianship’s war of first contact with the Realm. The Gelt custom of giving weapons as gifts, especially one used against a former enemy, served as a message Kai was in trouble. Delda learned Kai had been killed in dubious single combat before the Sovereign. Delda got her off the planet and spirited her to Armaneya City over the Laputan world of Ramcat. There, she reunited with Kai’s brother Brac.
Tishla sent word back to the Sovereign announcing she had lived and expected Kai’s twins. She demanded another challenge against Laral Jorl. Brac took her back to Hanar, forcing a ceasefire. Upon the Sovereign’s arrival, she chose Laral’s son Umish as her champion. The choice between dying at Umish’s hand and killing his own son drove Jorl to take his own life. By default, Hanar became Tishla’s with an additional option to run it as an autonomous world. Tishla turned to the human survivors and made an offer: Either work with her to build a new world now that the Realm and the Compact had effectively abandoned them or she would let them kill her as penance for all the suffering the Gelt had put them through. The humans wanted her blood, but admired her balls, or “tonsils.”
Shortly after work began to build a new world, an assassin shot Tishla. She recovered quickly, but the bullet contained biogel laced with mersa. As an adult Gelt, she resisted it. However, her unborn twins couldn’t fight the infection. While one of her physicians traveled off-world to find a cure, she miscarried. The daughter, whom she named Athena after Athena Jovann, survived long enough to go into stasis. Her brother Kai-ban (or “Kai, Jr.”), however, died at birth. The shooter turned out to be Nolan Rosc, a human separatist, but Tishla declined to execute him. Instead, she exiled him. The weapon and toxin traced back to a legal counselor, Yrdesh, who arranged Tishla’s assassination at the behest of Laral Umish. Angered, Tishla decided to travel to Amargosa to kill him.
While she trained, she began a casual sexual relationship with Trevor Colt, one of her closest advisors. As she discovered, she enjoyed sex with humans, setting the later stage for (not unwelcome) tension with JT Austin. Soon enough, she “went into seclusion,” in reality, traveling to Amargosa in hopes of confronting and killing Amargosa.
Capture on Amargosa
On Amargosa, allies of Orias Palak met Tishla and retrieved her from the former Gene Cernan Spaceport. However, during the trip east to Palak’s friend, a human resistance patrol attacked their vehicle, killing both escorts. One of the humans opted to take Tishla prisoner when she made obvious signs of surrender. The human was JT Austin, his partner Eric Yuwono. They took her back to their unit, led by a pilot named Suicide. In the interest of safety, she concealed her ability to speak Humanic. This allowed her to listen in on conversations. JT behaved in a hostile manner toward her, his manner softened after Davra Andraste scolded him. Early in their trip west, she witnessed the units panic as local wildlife carried off Ellie Nardino. A few nights later, two Goshenites, Hauser and Cannon, attempted to rape her. Davra defended her, killing Cannon. Suicide convened an impromptu tribunal. It resulted in Davra’s exile and Hauser’s execution. JT began showing a more protective attitude toward her.
As they plunged below the former city of Lansdorp, Tishla became submissive to JT in an attempt to kill him with kindness. She learned he had been widowed a few months before. The unit located the bunker housing the governor of Amargosa, a paranoid human man named Croix. Afraid they would all be imprisoned, she revealed her name and ability to speak Humanic. Stalling for time, she offered to be “examined,” knowing Croix would likely violate her on purpose. Not willing to submit to Croix’s limited rule, Suicide broke Tishla out. The unit stole weapons and supplies and continued their mission to reach a fallen starship.
JT became more friendly to Tishla, explaining the bullet locket around his neck. She would kneel to him and often offer her wrists for restraints. After he fought off another Goshenite named Riley, Tishla informed JT that, for his wife ‘s death, JT could do with her as he pleased, even kill her. JT declined to kill her and also to use her, as she put it. He said he saved her because he wanted to be better than the war had made him and his fellow resistance.
Near the end of their travels across the continent, Tishla asked JT to kill her if they could not avoid capture. JT earned her undying trust by keeping a grenade he would detonate between them to save her from her enemies and Lucius Kray.
The unit reached a ship called the Ban Ki-moon only to find Kray had reached them. In her first encounter with the warlord, she faced the prospect of vivisection. Suicide, JT, and broke her out ahead of the Ban Ki-moon‘s crew scuttling the ship. Suicide had hidden two projection-drive ships on a nearby island. As they fled the planet, Tishla convinced her to travel to Hanar, what they knew as Gilead. Once in system, she revealed she as the First Citizen and wanted Suicide to contact both the Compact and Metis.
Liberation of Amargosa
On Hanar, Tishla finally met Athena Jovann of Metis once more, the human woman now acting as special envoy. She also met Admirals Burke and Austin and Fleet Admiral Tran. While the Compact Assembly refused to recognize Tishla’s regime, Metis went ahead. Additionally, The Navy opted to use Hanar, at the new government’s invitation, as a staging ground for liberating Amargosa.
During the leadup, Tishla and JT became very close. She also worked with Ambassador Douglas Best and his wife, Jayne Best, to plan Amargosa’s future. She would offer Amargosa the option of joining with Hanar, but the original inhabitants, meaning the humans, would decide, not her or the Compact. The Metisian government agreed to this.
As the liberation began, Tishla traveled to watch with Fleet Admiral Tran. Seeing the destruction of Riverside and learning JT had gone missing, she demanded to be taken to the surface. Tran took her. They did not find JT, but they did find Davra Andraste. After briefing the pair on the situation on Amargosa, Davra drew off approaching soldiers from Lucius Kray’s resistance. Their own escorts were able to take them to the Northern Resistance. To Tishla’s amazement, the leader Chapaan turned out to be Ellie Nardino. Her people put her into armor to protect her from the Gelt suicide toxin. She was then taken to the front of the lines of mechs to directly confront Kray herself. Kray tried to shoot her only to have JT, who had infiltrated his camp, leap in front of the bullet. Moments later, Ellie had Kray devoured by , dubbing it a Section 11.
At a field medical station, Tishla promised JT she would stay with him at his cabin to nursemaid him back to health.
Tishla frequently took advantage of JT’s open invitation to use his cabin whether or not he was home. She almost always went while he was there. On Hanar, after the government went through a series of provisional charters, she expressed a desire for a replacement as First Citizen. She preferred a human take over when she stepped down.
In 433, JT resigned his commission to the Navy. Hearing of his rift with Suicide, she traveled to the cabin to talk some sense into him. A year later, after JT helped rescue Suicide and bring the mission to capture or kill Gerard Kurz to a close, she had him brought to Hanar to recover from a wound received in the final battle. They attended the wedding of Mitsuko Yamato and . However, by 434, they had still not solidified their relationship beyond close friendship.
Tishla started her adult life as an indentured servant. Both she and her master, Lattus Kai, saw that as a way for them to be together while she studied genetics for her honors. When Kai died, Gelt law made her his wife as she carried his unborn twins. She reclaimed her deed to Hanar and offered the surviving humans a choice of rebuilding with her or killing her. Suddenly, the former concubine, daughter of servants, found herself in charge of a world.
Perhaps more than anyone in the Children of Amargosa, Tishla had an outsized sense of duty. Several times, she offered her own life to atone for crimes largely committed by those around her. She especially felt a sense of guilt over the death of Lizzy Parker, for which she felt indirectly responsible.
When she met JT, she learned he was the son of ultimate privilege among humans, and he walked away from it. She felt drawn to him because he had seized the normalcy she craved. At his cabin, she would lose herself in mindless chores and endless tinkering, indulging in a passion for cooking she shared with him.
Lattus Kai: Tishla and Kai grew up together. Needing a way to pay for her genetics honors, she agreed to indenture herself to Kai’s family. Kai’s parents gifted her as a concubine to him on his fourteenth birthday, when Gelt become adults. They behaved as a married couple. Tishla, despite grumbling from his subordinates, freely scolded Kai when she thought he was being stupid.
Kai offered to extend her contract and eventually impregnated her, fulfilling her obligation. However, when he learned the invasion of Gilead was illegal, he gave her contract to Marq on condition he take her to Metis. This not only freed her, but as mother of his unborn twins, made her his wife. When Kai was killed in a dubious single combat match, she returned to Hanar, demanded his claim back, and proceeded to rebuild the world with the help of humans.
Orias Palak: Like Tishla’s family, Palak’s worked for the Lattuses. As such, Kai and Tishla were raised together with Palak serving as a second father. Palak followed them to Essenar, then Hanar. When Tishla created a new colony from the ashes of the former human one, Palak became her chancellor.
Trevor Colt: Colt was a resistance fighter and the first to receive Tishla’s unusual offer: The humans could kill her and boot the Gelt off the planet, or they could let her guide and direct the building of a new world. Colt gave his voice to the latter option when the Sovereign restored her claim as Kai’s wife. When Tishla’s son died at birth and her daughter was born, Colt began a casual sexual relationship with Tishla. However, Tishla could not bring herself to go much beyond “friends with benefits” so soon after Kai’s death. Nonetheless, Colt promised to guard her with his life, even snapping her back when she offered to let him kill her if he thought she was being brutal. He suggested instead she learn from her mistakes.
During the medal ceremony on Amargosa, Colt met JT and said, “So, you’re the one I had to worry about.” Tishla’s daughter Athena made no secret she wanted JT to come live with them.
Suicide: Suicide oversaw her captivity as her unit pushed toward Amargosa’s Western Ocean. When Tishla revealed she could speak Humanic and offered herself as a prisoner to Governor Croix, Suicide decided she was more valuable with her unit.
Suicide watched the pair closely, afraid a hurt and lonely JT would fall in love with Tishla. She warned Tishla about JT’s proclivity to sleep with Gelt women who resembled her. At the same time, Tishla grew to consider Suicide a valued counselor. After the Amargosan liberation, she named Suicide an honorary in the Hanarian Navy.
In 433, Suicide and JT suffered a rift over her Cubist beliefs. Tishla went to Amargosa to talk some sense into him. On her return trip the following spring, she told him she expected him to reconcile with JT.
Ellie Nardino: Tishla never got to know Ellie Nardino when she first became a prisoner. The human girl met a mysterious fate with local creatures who turned out to be sapient, and Tishla had yet to reveal she could speak Humanic.
Their next encounter came during the liberation when Tishla came to the surface and was rushed into the Northern Resistance camp. Taken to the leader, Chapaan, Tishla was stunned to learn the hooded figure was Ellie. Ellie let Tishla confront warlord Lucius Kray before the sapient lycanths devoured him in a bizarre execution.
In 433, when JT returned after resigning his commission, Tishla came to Amargosa to talk some sense into him. When Ellie arrived, she talked the human woman into considering a relationship with him. The pair spent a winter together. While the romance had cooled by the time Tishla returned, Tishla knew Ellie would marry JT if he met two conditions. The first involved Tishla’s blessing, which she considered a dumb question as it was her idea. The second involved reconciling with Suicide. Ellie retrieved JT when Suicide was abducted on Aphrodite, which all but assured both Ellie and Tishla he would make the effort. From then on, Tishla considered Ellie a close friend.
JT Austin: Initially hostile to Tishla when he took her prisoner, JT nonetheless surprised her when he treated her, if not friendly, then honorably. He fought off the former Goshenite war criminals and had Davra Andraste escort her to relieve herself, implying a level of propriety.
By the time they reached the Western Ocean, the pair realized their mutual attraction. Tishla offered her life if he felt his late wife deserved blood revenge. Otherwise, she informed him she was his to do with as he pleased, implying sexual submission, which he declined. However, when the possibility of capture by Kray’s insurgents or the Larals became real, she asked JT to kill her before she could be taken if it came down to that. JT offered to explode a grenade between them if it came to that. From then on, Tishla acted as both his servant and protector. He was her motivation when she convinced Suicide to fly to Hanar to make contact with the Compact and Metis.
On Hanar, Tishla had JT train with her forces. When his father arrived, she explained to him his treatment of her on Amargosa, calling JT “the most honorable man I know.” However, she also became aware of his habit of bedding young Gelt women who looked like her. That hurt her, but she forgave him, saying she wanted him to fly under her forces command in the liberation effort. Before the invasion, Tishla lowered herself to personal servant for JT, cooking a meal for him and giving him her bed. This was not to convince him to serve her but to simply show gratitude for saving her life and getting her back to her daughter. When JT awoke in the middle of the night from nightmares about Lizzy, Tishla made love to him as the thought of being with her made the nightmares go away. She told him she needed it as well, promising this would be a one-time thing.
Nonetheless, when she arrived at Amargosa and learned he had gone down in a fusion blast, she demanded to be taken to the surface. However, she did not see him until she confronted warlord Lucius Kray. Kray attempted to shoot her only to have JT intercept the bullet, breaking three ribs in the process. As they performed initial aid on him at a field station, Tishla promised to nursemaid him back to help before returning to Hanar. She proudly presented him with one of the first Orders of Hanar a few weeks later.
Tishla would frequently visit his cabin when taking a break from her duties as First Citizen. While there, she appointed herself cook, housekeeper, and groundskeeper, saying the work let her take her mind off the pressures of her role.
When JT and Suicide had a rift, she promptly flew to Amargosa to give him a good talkin’ to. Ellie Nardino came to visit. Tishla informed JT if he took her, she would be his. JT countered Lizzy’s rules, where Tishla would have to, as Gelt Warrior women put it, “bring me your gift.” (This implied an encounter with a female Warrior at some point.) At the same time, because of her role as First Citizen, she pushed JT to consider a relationship with Ellie Nardino. On her next visit, she teased him about the then-cooled romance.
Afterward, Tishla continued to be protective of JT. When he was wounded on Aphrodite, she had him brought to Hanar to personally nursemaid him back to health. She took him with her to Mitsuko’s wedding.
Birth Year: 410
Occupation: Indentured servant, genetics student, head of state
Spouse: Lattus Kai (post-humous, 429, his death)
Children: Son – Kai-ban (429. Died at birth), daughter – Athena (429 – )