Blog Post Number 18 Written: 06-04-2021 Uploaded: 05-20-2022
Captain Lydia Litvak is not a happy story, but she’s not a sad story either. Her father was a hardcore career military man, and her mother passed due to cancer in her early teens. As such, her teenage years were hard and lonely. She spent much of her time alone, or at least unsupervised as her father was in the service he was off doing Russian space navy stuff and wasn’t there for his daughter. She often acted out seeking attention, getting into trouble, she was one of the ‘bad students’ and earned the disapproval of her father, and learned street smarts hanging out with the rough kids, falling in with the wrong crowd. After she finished her compulsory education she didn’t have any goals or direction in life. Nor did she have funds or motivation to go to college and her father became increasingly intolerant of her and her delinquent unproductive ways. Eventually, when Lydia was 19, she had one argument too many with her father and decided she was an adult now anyway, he had better things to worry about, as his military career was nearing its end and he left her to her own devices as he had more important things to worry about.
She suddenly found herself alone, with no parents, no friends, no goals, and no prospects. That last angry conversation with her father still on her mind, she enlisted in the military herself. She was gunna show him, prove to him she had what it takes. That she wasn’t a useless lowlife. She was going to earn his respect with her rank. She vowed to reach a higher rank than her father had in the navy, so he would have to acknowledge her. So she enlisted, starting at the bottom of the food chain as basic seamen, or seawomen in her case. Her gender was never a problem, as the Russian military has been more inclusive than many other large nations, for a long time.
For her, basic training was easy, especially after her rough and tumble years with the street kids, or as close as you can get to “street kids” after growing up on space stations. By the time she finished basic, she had already separated herself from the crowd of other cadets.
She was rugged, unafraid to get dirty or work hard, didn’t complain or fuss as is common with new recruits, and perhaps most importantly, her peers liked her. She drank and swore and fought with the best of them. She set boundaries and let people know where they were, she put people in their place when needed, she would go to bat for others, she was reliable and fair.
She worked her ass off and got ripped/shredded/fit/cut whatever term you want to use. She was a regular Navy serviceman, but as she ground her way through the lower ranks she studied manuals and references and was able to pass multiple promotion tests on her first try as well as showing good aptitude because she was so driven. Quickly earning herself a reputation as a hard-ass go-getter, the work hard play hard mentality followed in her wake, and she was beloved by all who served under her despite her straight-laced tight ship approach to military life. Her unit always performing well when drilling underway and even breaking record times for some firefighting drills. She took on other tasks, learning and doing the job of the rank above her “working outside her rating” glad to pick up the slack for her commanders that were willing to take the opportunity to be lazy. Advancing to the next rank at the earlier possible opportunity. Her rise was borderline meteoric. Later, due to an officer becoming dangerously ill while underway she was able to take his responsibilities, and after only six years in the service, she was able to seize his job, where she got stuck for the next two years.
This position was typically a dead-end job and those who attained it never reaching a higher rank. Serving as the liaison between the navy and marines. Almost all ships carried at least a squad of space marines in case of hand-to-hand combat should the ship be boarded by the enemy. So if the navy needed the marines to do a specific job, they would have to request that task be accomplished through the liaison officer, who would submit it to the Marines, and then they would or would not fulfill the request depending on their abilities.
Lydia Litvak was loved by the Marines she worked with, and often drilled and trained with them, on paper her excuse was to learn the capabilities in order to better liaison between the two military branches. Personally, she also wanted to because it was something her father, now retired had never done, she was doing more than he did, proving herself more capable than he was, and keeping herself in peak shape, something hard to do when living in zero gravity.
Beyond this point in the post is considered spoilers as it pertains to events that occur in the books and Lydia’s role in them. So if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading here.
In the second book, with the crash of the Tsaristyn Battlecruiser that was Lydias’ current assignment, there were many casualties and actions were required of the marines, where she faithfully performed her job as Liason. Which had been her role for two years at this point, she had her own set of combat armor and handheld weapons so she could better work with the Marines. She also helped with a great many repairs and logistical tasks after the damaged ship made planetfall, and then later even deployed outside the ship suited up, weapons in hand. Due to her technical knowledge she was able to help facilitate some repairs and perform some of the tasks of other high-ranking officers who had been killed in space combat or the resulting crash, she received a field promotion by Captain Vitus Bering, and later after Captain Bering’s assassination by AACR admiral Chen Zheng ( which was done as a power move to ensure the cooperation of the crew he had taken captive Lydia and Captain Bering’s first officer who was after her field promotion her equal in rank were left in command of the survivors or the Tsaritsyn even as they were prisoners of Admiral Zheng.
*Warning more spoilers Read at your own risk*
Later, the crew of the Tsaristyn was returned to Russian space and handed back over to the Navy she and the surviving marines from the Tsaristyn were assigned to a different ship on their return to Tasritysn’s’ crash site due to archeological discoveries the crew had made while on the ground there, as well as looking for more information about the unknown alien force that had nocked the Tsaritsyn out of action. Upon returning to the planet she again deployed ground side, recovered the archeological assets from the planet. As well as being a large if not the only reason why the combat-damaged ship she had arrived on was able to return to port under its own power after another disastrous engagement with the aliens. Due to her having been acting captain of the ship for its return journey, managing to complete all mission objectives despite the massive damage to the ship high approval ratings from subordinates robust service record she was promoted to full-fledged Captain. Arguably this never would have happened had it not been for the combat casualties suffered by the ships she had been serving on, but Becoming a captain at the age of 28 made her a higher rank than her father ever had been, and she did it in less than half the time he had been in the service. She went on to captain multiple other cruiser class warships for the Navy of the Russian federation and survive multiple combat engagements with the aliens before her luck finally ran out, and her ship was destroyed in combat with the aliens while protecting a colony and her along with it.
Lydia is one of my favorite characters in the series, and for reasons, I won’t name, yet, she is also one of the most important characters too. She was initially only supposed to be three sentences at the beginning of the second book, I needed someone with weighty rank to bring distracting information to Captain Bering, and then she was useful again later, and then again and again and she just kept coming back, she is as persistent and strong-willed with me, in my head as she is with other characters in the book. I hope she means as much to the readers as she does to me.
This character is named after and partially inspired by the real-life hero Lydia Litvyak who was a female fighter ace for the Soviet Union in WWII, and it wasn’t until after the turn of the Millennium that her remains were found and appropriately laid to rest Here’s a link to her Wikipedia article if you like a bit of history to go with your science fiction.