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Ardent
Ardent
First Appearance Comic 6
Species Augmented Human
Gender Male

Ardent Gemini Cardamom Vicissitude XVI, better known as Ardent, is an augmented human and a main character [1]. He is blue and has a tail.

Ardent is supposedly visiting the habitat as a space tourist, wanting to "absorb the local culture, sample its cuisine, drink its fine alcoholic beverages and enjoy the company of its ladies" [2].

Biography

Pre-Comic

Ardent is from somewhere that he describes as 'up' compared to the habitat, evidently somewhere in space. He is able to persuade one of the 'transport volunteers' to 'hack the console' and deliver him to the habitat. He did so despite knowing that visiting the habitat and thus potentially 'contaminating' its inhabitants is forbidden.

Chapter 1

Ardent is first seen apparently asleep on the farm operated by Uncle John. No one, not even Alice is entirely sure what to make of him. When Jack pokes him with a stick, he awakens and reacts with joy to being in The habitat. Ardent claims to being from somewhere 'up' and claims to be a visiting tourist.

Although Alice is suspicious of Arden's real motives, she takes him on a tour of the Town. During this, it becomes clear that Ardent is not familiar with the local culture or its social order. He even shows a degree of ignorance about the fauna of the habitat, describing a chicken as a 'weird dog'. Even after Alice reprimands him, he continues to expect others to indulge his desire to enjoy a 'vacation' in the habitat and expresses his opinion that Alice is a bad 'tourist guide'.

At one point, Ardent appears to be the cause of a disturbance in the town. However, instead, the townsfolk had gathered to thank Alice for her many good works on their behalf. Instead of reacting to this clear indication of Alice's importance to the Town, Ardent instead complains that no-one had admired his 'elegant tail'.

Whilst Ardent and Jack are waiting with Alice at the outskirts of the town, there are a series of explosions from the town centre. Alice runs off to investigate, ordering Ardent and Jack to keep away. However, Ardent follows her and is thus able to intervene and stop her from killing Gavia.

The group (now with a quickly-healing Gavia) now move to Alice's cottage, where Gavia explains that she was just trying to locate her brother and get him out of the habitat. Ardent insists that he only wants to have a vacation and explains how he managed to get to the habitat, something that Alice states ought to be 'impossible'. Gavia cuts the conversation short and tries to leave with Ardent. However, Cupressaceae, their Praeses, does not respond. It seems that Ardent's 'vacation' may last longer than he imagined.

Chapter 2

Ardent and Gavia have now been living with Alice for several weeks. Alice is a strict guardian and has the two youngsters helping keep her cottage. However, Ardent is chafing at the isolation and has asked several times to be allowed to visit the town. He isn't particularly keen on Alice's reasoning for refusing his request and even less keen on her calm dismissal of his objections.

One night, after watching Gavia make another unsuccessful attempt to contact the Praesides, Ardent announces to his sister that he is going to the Town. He brushes off her worries and expresses his confidence that she would be able to protect him from the potential threats to their safety in the forest.

The night-time journey through the forest quickly proves to be more than Ardent expected. After encountering several scary creatures, they flee into a cave to escape the Night Walker. There, after a somewhat-comical encounter with two Giant Birds, Alice catches up with the two runaways.

Ardent's usual irrepressible nature enables him to bounce back from this setback. He even shrugs off the implications that Alice is far older than she looks, preferring instead to focus on his overriding goal of visiting the town again. After stopping his quick-tempered sister from killing a few local children when they attack them, he is overjoyed as Alice finally agrees to escort them back to the town.

Ardent seems largely not to absorb the important events that follow, preferring to simply take in the sights and question the locals about the proper use of farm implements (when they are not potentially about to be used to kill he and his sister).

Chapter 3

Whilst Alice and Gavia discuss their differing perspectives on history, Ardent remains with Amos, he town elder. He ultimately eats all of the old man's peanut butter before setting out in a desire to find a young woman to woo. He comes across a suitably voluptuous member of the female population of the Town on her way to a pump-fed standpipe. The pump is not working and, when the young woman goes to fetch 'The Witch' to repair it, Ardent absent-mindedly touches it. The result is spectacular; the pump is nearly instantly repaired (accompanied by the tell-tale white glow of operating nanotech) and upgraded to a level that its water pressure is high enough to blow off the stand pipe and create an artificial geyser that drenches the area.

Alice drags Ardent back to the cottage and begins to rave about Ardent being a tool of the Praeses with the intent of destabilising and ultimately destroying the Habitat. She refuses to consider any other explanation, dismissing Ardent as a 'pawn' and Gavia as a 'distraction'. She then states that, to protect the Habitat, she has to kill Ardent. Although Gavia is willing to fight to protect her brother, Ardent persuades her to stand down, saying that he is unwilling to be the unwitting tool to cause harm to innocents. He then submits to Alice's mercy with a warning that, if she is wrong, she is about to shed innocent blood.

Alice is unable to go through with her threats. She tells Ardent that she, too, was a weapon once and collapses in apparent grief and exhaustion whilst Ardent tries to comfort her.

Appearance

Ardent is blue, has blue eyes and a tail, and is somewhat feline in appearance. He is of medium height, being shorter than both Alice and Jack. When initially discovered [3], he was wearing only a small pair of red shorts.

At some point during Alice's initial confrontation with Gavia, Ardent's tail was severed near the base [4]. He apparently didn't notice until later, when Alice pointed it out to him [5]. This injury had completely healed several weeks later in Comic 36.

At the beginning of Chapter 2, Ardent has started wearing clothing suitable for the local culture. Specifically, he now wears an off-white button-up long-sleeve shirt, beige pants and tan boots. The pants have been modified to accommodate his tail.

Ardent has explained that his appearance is not typical of people from his home area. In Comic 37, he stated that his appearance has been modified by means of technology, possibly the same Nanotech used by his sister.

Speculation — The following material is not confirmed.

The word "ardent" literally means "fervent" or "committed to a cause"; it has an older meaning of "burning brightly". His other names: Gemini = "the constellation of the twins in the zodiac", Cardamom = "a type of aromatic Indian spice", Vicissitude = "Changes in fortune, ups and downs". Ardent and Gavia are also both names of USS minesweepers. XVI is the Roman numeral for 16.

Speculation Ends

Background

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Ardent came to the habitat supposedly as a tourist [6]. He was able to travel there by convincing a "transport volunteer" to hack a console, allowing Ardent to make the trip [7]. According to Alice, in doing this he apparently managed to "trick" his praeses - a feat which Alice believes or considers to be impossible.

He is originally from a location that he defined to Jack as 'up'. It is most likely that this is somewhere in space.

Physical Traits

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Ardent's tail is prehensile and he moves it about to emphasise his moods. It seems to have no function beyond the fact that he considers it 'elegant'.

Ardent also has an augmented nervous system and healing capabilities. When his tail was completely severed during Gavia's attack on the town, he only felt a brief pain, suffered no bleeding and the tail regenerated within a matter of weeks.

Special Ability

In Comic 77, Ardent repairs and upgrades into a far more efficient form a broken electric pump with nothing more than a simple touch. He is very surprised by this outcome and it is clear he had no conscious control of or awareness over this ability.

Alice later speculates that Ardent was infected with some type of nanomachine that, when introduced to any technological artefact, will upgrade it to a more advanced form. She interprets this as a subtle form of attack on the stability of the habitat by the Praeses.

Personality

Ardent is overly enthusiastic, seemingly to the point of being oblivious to a lack of enthusiasm from others [8]. He appears to have an innate sense of curiosity, which is not easily controlled [9]. He also seems to enjoy people appreciating his appearance, in particular his tail, which he describes as "delightful" [10].

Like his sister, Ardent can sometimes be childish and can be immature when he doesn't get what he wants. However, he clearly enjoys the culture of the habitat and is keen to go into town to socialise with the local inhabitants.

Unfortunately, Ardent is basically irresponsible, thinking of his own immediate desires first. He rarely considers the possible negative consequences of his actions and clearly expects others to deal with these for him.

Ardent is something of a naturist and this may explain his very minimal attire in chapter 1. It is his belief that technology has become a barrier between humanity and the natural world. He feels that only by interacting with nature "through the senses evolution gave us" can a human properly experience things. He can see no obvious contradiction between this belief and using technology to modify his body's appearance and functions.

Despite his curious nature, Ardent does not have much interest in matters outside his areas of fascination. In Comic 68, he tells Amos, the town elder, that he 'tunes out' his sister's arguments with Alice.

Family & Relationships

Gavia (Sister)

Ardent has a sister, Gavia [11] [12]. When Ardent traveled illegally to the habitat, Gavia followed him with the aim of forcing him to return. While this incident has obviously caused some tension between them [13], the fact that they apparently resolved their conflict so readily would seem to indicate that the disagreement was simply typical sibling behaviour. Regardless, it is obvious that he does care deeply for his sister, as seen when he intervenes during Alice's fight with Gavia [14], and afterwards when he looks after her [15] and begs Alice not to hurt her any more [16].

Ardent and Gavia have a typical sibling relationship. Whilst they squabble on occasion, Ardent cares for his sister's safety. It is possible that their philosophical differences contribute towards the tension between them. It is also clear that Gavia is unsettled and annoyed by Ardent's irresponsible behaviour.

In Strip 54[17], Ardent had to stop an angry Gavia from hurting some of the children of the townsfolk. He clearly understands the problems arising from Gavia's quick temper and is ready to react to it.

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