While looking at the ebook page for Conflux: The Lost Girls on Amazon, I noticed a feature I never heard of before called X-Ray. It’s a feature that offers descriptions and optional commentary to capable Kindle readers while browsing. It lets you link directly to Wikipedia articles about highlighted terms, (for example some of the famous people, guns, or places mentioned in the book) as well as the book characters themselves!
This was a great opportunity to add or freshen up the descriptions for all the books’ characters and explain or reveal some info that readers may enjoy. So instead of promoting the book or working on Conflux: From The Grey like I should have been, I spent all night doing this. 😀
Warning: Major spoilers ahead. Do not read if you don’t want to spoil a lot of the book for yourself!
A green-eyed blonde teen who grew up a child sex slave trapped in Matty Goddard’s bondage, never knowing where she originally came from or who her real parents were. After befriending Kade and being torn from her by Matty, Kade helps her escape and the two girls give each other names, then Cade’s real personality starts to shine.
She’s independent, fiery, and beyond rambunctious, but usually keeps a level head despite constantly being intoxicated and fearing being captured and returned to her old life. Her only escape growing up was reading and TV, so she’s a pop culture buff despite having been kept from the real world, only knowing the scum of the earth. She’s realistic and distrusting, except of Kade, who earned her trust and very strong attachment and affection. A lifetime of horrific abuse has left her sexuality and ideas of relationships intense and impossible to control.
While she’s always moving forward, she struggles with hopelessness and nihilism, as well as guilt for believing she’s become evil like the people that harmed her for her whole life, so she looks for comfort in dangerous behavior and the bottom of every bottle.
A gruff, frosty-eyed veteran of the Vietnam War and a gun-dealer from the outskirts of town, Wallace ‘Wall’ Williams is an expert marksman and Christian man, skilled at gunsmithing.
Commentary: Good-hearted but worldweary, Wall struggles to better Piercing while keeping him and his family out of harm’s way. He raised his sons Jacob and Jeremiah, and his orphaned niece Jackie, to be the light that shines in an evil place, training them in paramilitary operations so they wouldn’t be helpless against the entrenched powers that dominate and corrupt Piercing.
A crusty deviant and medium-level pimp who enslaved Care for more of her life, Matthew ‘Matty’ Goddard is well-connected in Piercing and sold Care’s body for cash and goods out of the top floor of the Ryan, the town’s most infamous bar and brothel. Projecting an evil, sickening aura, he is described by Care as overwhelmingly heartless, greedy, and selfish, but not without wit or guile.
Despite his contacts in town, he avoids the local police who are more powerful than him, and isn’t welcome in the rural outskirts of town where simpler, cleaner folk despise him for his contemptible crimes. He’s presumed to be chasing Care and Kade throughout the book, seeking to return “what is his” to his possession.
Commentary: When Care gets her chance for vengeance, she shows no mercy on the man that took everything from her.
A tall, handsome teen who looks older than he claims to be, Dryden is highly skilled at combat, especially with his signature telescoping baton. After saving Care and Kade from a would-be rapist, Dryden offers them hints at his lifestyle and outlook, thinking of himself as a child of the streets who does what’s necessary to survive.
Commentary: After returning with his patron, a creepy old man with a penchant for drugs and sexual deviance, it turns out that his idea of survival means working for someone with more resources and power, a fact that Kade derides him for. After defeating him, Kade takes pity and forgoes the final blow, but is unsure whether he lived after she left him badly wounded.
It later becomes clear that Wall’s niece Jackie actually knew Dryden when he was younger, before he disappeared, took that name and became corrupted. Jackie mentions his incredible capabilities and paramility knowledge at a young age, as well as mysterious amnesia, leading them to conclude Dryden’s origin may be similar to Kade’s. Jackie’s reaction when Kade tells her she may have killed Dryden in combat implies Jackie and Dryden may have once had a romance.
A toothy old man from the more-rural outskirts of town, where people seem to be less evil and corrupt, Chuck spends his days drinking beers in his rocking chair on the porch, watching his adopted nephews organize and fight in amateur fighting matches that they make good money off of.
Commentary: While he’s a simple old native of West Virginia, Chuck seems to know more than he lets on, hinting at a darker truth to Piercing even as he sends them onto Wall Williams so they can find the pistol ammunition they need.
Rufus ‘The Ruckus,’ Chuck’s nephew. He’s a towering good-ol-boy who dominates the amateur fighting matches on the rural outskirts of town that his brother and uncle organize. He’s polite but simple.
Commentary: After reluctantly fighting Kade in an unlikely match and being deftly defeated by the teenage girl, Rufus is still good-mannered and only curious how she was able to whip his butt with such ease.
A charismatic party girl with guts and attitude, she quickly takes a liking to Care and helps her unload some of their ecstasy and other drugs at a party her and her friends were hosting.
Commentary: Jackie turns out to be Wall’s adopted niece, and works both as the Willams’ operations and logistical support, as well as their eyes in ears in town, “working from the shadows” to make the town a better place without bringing too much attention on themselves. She’s like a big sister to her cousins Jacob and Jeremiah, teasing them but working with them closely when they pull high-stakes operations.
When Kade comes to them injured and desperate to save Care from the police and mysterious “Spiders” that Kade seems to have come from, Jackie is the one that insists they have to help them. She tells Kade to pass it on someday in the future.
It later becomes clear that Jackie actually knew Dryden when he was younger, before he disappeared, took that name and became corrupted. They conclude Dryden’s origin may be similar to Kade’s. Jackie’s reaction when Kade tells her she may have killed Dryden in combat implies Jackie and Dryden may have once had a romance.
Rickie is a young teenager from the rural part of town. He and his uncle Chuck, who adopted him and his brother after their parents died, organize amateur fighting matches for money, while his older brother Rufus ‘The Ruckus’ dominates the fights. Rickie handles the crowd and bets, splitting the money between himself, his brother, and his uncle.
Kade is a grey-eyed tall girl with straight dark hair and pale lithe skin covered in scars. Severely amnesiac and prone to short blackouts and intense otherworldly visions, she is ready to “fall into the void” and return to nothingness until she befriends a nameless girl, who she later names Care, and finds a meaning to live by rescuing her friend and trying to keep out of danger while they attempt to escape Piercing in one piece together.
Physical touch and substances trigger dark visions and possible glimpses at her past. Despite little clear memory, Kade is mysteriously adept at weapons and combat, and displays unexpected knowledge seemingly at random. She’s prone to self-harm, forgetfulness and obliviousness at social norms, but cares strongly for Care despite little worry for her own well-being. She’s hesitant to use substances and bothered by Care’s abuse of them.
Commentary: Kade later learns she was trained by a mysterious group called “Spiders,” who produce mind-controlled agents from young kids with incredible capabilities, after she kills one named Hera who seeks revenge for nearly killing her in a scene vaguely described in chapter 0.
Hunter’s older brother, a young adult with a reputation for crime and robbery, supposedly having shot a man through his window just for sleeping with his girlfriend.
Commentary: After Bad John attempts to rob Kade and Care with a gun, Kade promptly disables Bad John with the baton she stole from Dryden. Care loots his and Hunter’s pockets and they steal about a thousand dollars, some cigarettes and low-quality cocaine, and a barely-used, loaded Glock 19 handgun that Kade is shockingly able to use, disassemble, examine and reassemble with ease, eventually leading them to the outskirts of town to find ammo for it, where they eventually meet Chuck, who directs them to the gun-runner Wall Williams.
A teenage skatepark kid with good weed. He introduces his older brother Bad John to Care and Kade so he can buy some of their ecstasy tablets in bulk. He’s cocky, and contemptful of the younger skaterat Bean.
Commentary: After his older brother Bad John tries to rob Care and Kade, Kade uses the gun she steals from Bad John to rob Hunter. He pees his pants in fear, soiling some money and a pack of cigarettes, which angers Care after they go over their plundered goods.
Jacob & Jeremiah
Jacob and Jeremiah are the teenage sons of Wall Williams. They are good-hearted kids trained by their father in advanced paramilitary-style operations. Though fierce and courageous, they lack the caution and worldweary wisdom of their father. They are accomplished hunters, and skilled in guns and tactics.
Commentary: When Kade comes to Wall for help, Jacob and Jeremiah both step up to help, looking up to the example of their cousin Jackie, who is like their adopted older sister, and acts as their operational support and source of information in the dark outside world. When Kade talks to them about death and killing people, they seem naive and curious, which disturbs her, making her wonder if she is doing right using their capabilities and if she is becoming like the corrupt person she apparently once was.
A rookie Piercing policeman who Kade takes as hostage in front of his fellow officers.
Being new and naive to the full nature of the evil that the department is caught up in, being one of the dominant forces in Piercing, Officer Stanley is the only policeman that Kade spares. She lets him go and tells him to quit his job, return to his family, tell the others what happened, then leave town.
A killer blonde who tries to take revenge on Kade for leaving her for dead in a smoky room where Kade’s programming failed, leading her to go on a berserk rampage, killing several others like her, referred to by Hera as “peers.”
Hera is covered with deep scars, presumably from being smashed by Kade through a glass plate table, puncturing her lungs.
Commentary: After ambushing and nearly strangling Kade with a garrote after Kade escapes the Devil’s lair, evading the police but losing Care, Hera reveals that they are both part of a mysterious group that produces high-powered agents called “Spiders.” She tells Kade she was known as Autumn then, though she doesn’t explain where they came from or who created them.
Hera also reveals that Kade carries some kind of key that makes her important to the shadowy organization to recapture, though Hera intends to kill her. That key is later revealed to be some kind capability Kade has to deactivate a whole generation of Spiders with her voice alone.
Kade through the gut with a knife, but Kade is rescued at the last moment by the Devil’s torture victim who Kade saved. He shoots Hera, thanks Kade, and runs away.
A cocky, horny senior in highschool who gets Care and Kade invited to a Halloween party without telling them it was a costume party. When he sees Care there and she rejects her advances, they both become hostile, until Jackie commands Dave to go away. She explains that she and Dave once dated and he’s since changed.
Care uses Dave as an example to Kade on how to manipulate dim-witted guys with feminine charm.
Sam / Samantha
Sam and Samantha, names that Care once thought of using for herself when she was younger and still Matty’s sex slave, though she was berated for it and wasn’t allowed to keep them.
When Kade suggests using them, Care sharply refuses them, considering them a part of her childish past. This leads to Kade suggesting the name Charis instead, which they shorten to Care.
Dryden’s patron and the owner of Dryden’s apartment. A creepy old man with a penchant for drugs and sexual deviance, Bill pulls out a box of drugs and sex toys intending to enslave and rape Kade and Care, with Dryden claiming they are teaching them a lesson for their own good and that it will be better for them this way.
Commentary: When it turns out only Care is drugged, Kade unexpectedly stabs and kills Bill before fighting and defeating Dryden. The drugs, alcohol, food, water, and knives that Kade steals as she leaves there with Care became their means of survival over the following days.
(Spoilers) ‘Greyburg’ is Care’s incorrect remembering of the name of the rural outskirts called Grauburg, the town of Roy Arthur in Conflux: From The Grey, which has since devolved into a dilapidated village now simply considered part of Piercing, though it retains some life and a distinct character, with its denizens seemingly simpler and less corrupted by the evil nature of Piercing.
Chuck mentions, “I tell ya this place has got the Lord’s curse on it. The river don’t flow so pretty anymore. The churches ain’t got no good preachin’ either. Most of ’em closed up,” which confirms that some corrupting force shrunk Grauburg to its current state while the evil of Piercing grew much greater in the over ninety years between the two books.