As if the cast of Without Bloodshed wasn’t big enough, I’ve added even more characters to Shattered Guardian, such as Dr. Josefine Malmgren. Or so I would say if Malmgren hadn’t gotten a passing mention in Without Bloodshed by virtue of being Claire Ashecroft’s old university friend and sometime gaming partner.

Curry and coffee for breakfast?”

I almost forgot.” She retrieved a small container of mint chocolate chip gelato from the freezer. “Thanks, Hal.”

Not what I meant.”

Call it lunch. It’s late enough in the day for it. I’ll work it off later in the simulator. I’ve had a jones for some Ultraviolence ever since Mindcrime Interactive released the new expansion patch yesterday. Maybe Josefine will join me, if she’s not busy working.” She shook her head, annoyed by her old university friend’s tendency to let obsession with work rule her life.

Of course, Josefine has reasons for spending so much time at work. One of them weighs about sixteen pounds, has white whiskers and a little pink nose, and needs near-constant adult supervision.

Josefine Malmgren and Zero. Art by Sandrine NANY, commissioned by Matthew GRAYBOSCH

In the original Starbreaker, one of Josefine’s first projects for the AsgarTech Corporation involved creating suitable bodies for miniaturized and predatory artificial intelligences. Her job was to create “kitty emulators”, more realistic and much more useful versions of mechanical toys currently on the market.

Unfortunately for Josefine, she made her prototype a little too well. It’s a little too smart, a little too advanced, and altogether too talkative. Zero’s favorite song, which he sings when he’s flopped onto his back, goes like this:

Belly-rub!
Belly-rub!
Give a cat a belly-rub!

Naturally, it’s a trap.

Not only is she stuck with Zero as her biomechanical purr-baby, but she attracted the notice of AsgarTech’s CEO Isaac Magnin, who tapped her for Project Aesir’s research and development lab but never bothered to tell her that she was actually working on weapons instead of artificial bodies for existing artifical intelligences to transfer into for a “hardware upgrade”.

What did Josefine do in Project Aesir? Let’s just say she got her Frankenstein on and awakened one of the test subjects into the real world, convinced that VR testing wasn’t sufficient. Polaris, the new model asura emulator, will also appear in Shattered Guardian.

But before I show Josefine’s misadventures with Polaris and how she came to make the acquaintance of Morgan Stormrider and his friends, Josefine must first help Morgan accept that he has died and been resurrected. Unfortunately for her, her studies in artificial psychology weren’t quite enough to prepare her.

Josefine is fundamentally a sweet, innocent young woman. She’s a bit naive partly because of her focus on work, and partly in reaction to her friend Claire Ashecroft’s cheerful cynicism. To Claire’s chagrin, she has a bit of a crush on Isaac Magnin, and thinks he doesn’t know it and isn’t exploiting it — and her.

The artwork in this post is by CakeChoz, who did an excellent job with the commission I gave her.