Hi! My name is Richard M. Mulder, and I’m the author of Conquest: Rise of the Fifth Horseman. Each Wednesday I will be featuring a character of my book. Feel free to ask questions about characters in the comments below.
Lily Thatcher was born with fiery red hair in Omaha Nebraska, and was originally known as Brandi Wilson. Orphaned at birth, she was raised in the state’s foster care system. In school she was a brilliant student, excelling in all levels of mathematics. She later goes on to college to study Cryptology. Below is a deleted scene from my book, which identifies a bit of her background and introduces her vehicle ‘Scruffy’. The details I included of Scruffy were from first-hand experience. Once upon a time, Scruffy actually existed in real life. The 1990 Isuzu Trooper described below was given to my wife by her parents, and for the first four years of our marriage he was our only vehicle. Notice I said ‘he’ instead if ‘it’. Even though he was ugly and had been considered by our insurance to be ‘totaled’ twice in its long lifetime, Scruffy was like the family pet that you both loved and hated at the same time. I can’t even begin to count the hours of my life that I wasted repairing him!
Please enjoy this deleted scene:
The elevator quickly reached level C of the subterranean garage. Her vehicle was parked on row seven, and it stood out like a sore thumb. It was a beat up 1990 Isuzu Trooper, and as usual the two spaces on either side were oddly vacant in the crowded parking garage. Her driver side door opened with a loud screech of metal grating against metal. She climbed in and threw her briefcase onto the passenger seat. She reached to close the door, but it was stuck open again. With a forceful yank and a loud pop the door slammed shut, causing chunks of rust from multiple old dents to rain down to the concrete below. Despite its run-down appearance however, her engine started with a purr.
Scruffy, as she had named it, had been classified by her insurance company as ‘totaled’ twice so far in its lifetime. The driver side door had a massive dent in it from one of these collisions, and the bumper had been bolted back on from another. Last year she had to replace the catalytic converter and the entire muffler because they fell off on the freeway when she hit a pothole. The suddenly loud sound of the engine should have clued her in to the problem, but she didn’t realize the issue until she took Scruffy in to the shop the next day.
Each year she had met a new challenge while trying to get the beast to pass safety and emission testing, but she persevered because Scruffy was practically a family member. Finally by the year 2015 she was no longer required to make Scruffy pass emissions, for by legal standards it was now classified as a ‘classic’. Allan had offered to replace her vehicle on multiple occasions, but she had declined. He could never understand why Lillian was so attached to Scruffy, and there was no way Lillian could really ever explain to him her reasoning for keeping it. In truth, Scruffy was the only item she had retained from her former life before being recruited by the NSA six years ago.
She threw the gear shift into first, and Scruffy came to life with a jolt. As she gripped the worn-out steering wheel cover, she smiled in memory of when she had first gotten it. As a teenager her foster father had taught her how to drive, but she was mortified when she learned that Scruffy would be her’s. Trying to make the best of her situation, she had picked up some pink fuzzy dice and a fuzzy matching steering wheel cover. The dice had long since gone missing, but the ratty steering wheel cover remained to tell the tale.
The dice had long ago been replaced with two sets of tassels from her graduation caps. The shiny numbers flashed and bounced brilliantly as Scruffy rumbled through the garage. In ‘10 she graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics. She was offered a scholarship from UC Berkley, so she originally intended to complete her Masters there. It was during her last year at UC Berkley however when she joined the NSA. Her true identity, Brandi Wilson of Omaha Nebraska, had been erased and all of her records and transcripts were changed to accommodate her new identity as Lillian Thatcher of Buhl Idaho. The task of changing her identity wasn’t too difficult, for she had grown up in the foster care system. Because of the potential risk of a peer discovering her change in identity however, she was required to complete all of her remaining courses online through Western Governors University. In ‘12 she graduated with her Master’s degree in Cryptology.
During her last year of school she also completed a year of covert training with the NSA. Upon graduation, she successfully infiltrated Motif Global Encryption, Inc. (MGE) by getting hired on as a cryptographer. As the years passed she utilized all of her skills to move to the top of MGE and became the NSA’s primary source of inside information.
This deleted scene gives a great background story to Lily’s character and personality. I really struggled with whether or not I should keep the scene, but eventually I made the decision remove it.
As the story unfolds, not only is Lily an undercover agent for the National Security Agency (NSA), but when she gets dragged away to the World of Zion she begins to discover powers of divination. Eventually she meets a sentient dragon named Tiamat who acts as her totem and spirit animal, and she learns of her destiny as The Last Oracle. The fate of both worlds bears down upon her shoulders and only time will tell if Lily has what it takes to save mankind.
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