While The Cassidy Chronicles may center on Aiyana and Kendra, there is quite a large cast of characters around them. As with most novels, the larger the scope of the story, the broader the net is cast for ‘other people’ to populate the universe that is created.
There are two hierarchies running parallel in a novel: protagonists and allies, and antagonists and their allies. At the top of the protagonist hierarchy are your main characters; in this case, Cass and Ken. Then come the major secondary (or supporting) characters, and this can change from book to book. In Volume One, Lisa, Mac, Cris, and the Chief fill that role. In Volume Two, Mac and Cris are still fairly prominent, Lisa steps out, the Chief steps back, and Alley, Kiri, Kyran, and Mia step up. Volume Three sees the Chief stepping back up, Mac and Cris stepping back, Mia out, and Flashdance and Double Dip coming in, as well as Alley, Kiri, and Kyran.
Then you have the tertiary characters. These are the people you need to have but don’t intend to have as more than a placeholders, cameos, or even redshirts, There usually isn’t much character development, and if they’re a redshirt they’re likely to be killed off in some most unfortunate manner. However, sometimes a tertiary character will rise in the hierarchy; Flashdance and Double Dip were two such.
In The Road to the Stars, the setting moves from Earth to (primarily) space. Kendra is busy building starships, but what’s a starship without shuttlecraft? And each shuttle, which are technically Wolf-class Multipurpose Orbital Vehicles, requires a pilot and an engineer. The starship carries six of them, plus they are the main transfer engines from Earth to space, so that’s lots and lots of names.
So who is Flashdance?
In Road, she is introduced as the pilot of the Brahmagupta with the rank of Coxswain’s Mate. She’s first seen piloting Kendra, the Chief, and Kendra’s daughters from Earth to the habitat. Here’s the beginning of the scene:
“Coxswain, can we have the screens active back here? Just the outside view?”
“Yes, ma’am,” answered Coxswain’s Mate Shannon Fowler. She wasn’t part of the Enterprise crew, but when Kendra had established her Federation many of the people who had been working on the Wolves, Diana, and Endeavour suddenly found themselves with military-type positions. The adjustment was going well, generally. It probably helped that Kendra was remembering to wear her uniform.
At this point, Fowler was just a placeholder in the pantheon. Anyone could have been in that position and done equally well.
Later, during the climactic battle, Fowler is one of the participants; she has a total of one line, her Wolf is mentioned five times. But then the fickle finger of the author intervened, and the majority of the Wolves are wiped out. Fowler ends up the senior surviving pilot and command falls to her. This happens right at the end of the book, so she’s still a placeholder but showing some potential.
In The Measure of Humanity, Fowler grows into her role as a commander, leader, and mentor, She’s still flying, in the Alexander, but she and her bunch of cutthroats are even more important to the defense of the Federation than before. Through a series of scenes we see her strong hand at the helm of her command, her hard-won wisdom when counseling a friend, and also the side of her which simply loves what she’s doing. She has become a supporting character, which surprised me, but she’s a good one. And her role continues in Cassidy 4.
So, without further ado, here is a representation of Senior Lieutenant Shannon ‘Flashdance’ Fowler, Commanding officer of Wolf Squadron and pilot of the Alexander. Click on her image to get your copy of The Road to the Stars