Series Created by Jeff
by Jeff Williams and
At one time
or another, the idea of a multipart story written using the "round
has been suggested, and while the idea is intriguing, the logistics
(coordination between writers, heavy oversight to see that plot and
development are proceeding normally, etc.) make this a very difficult
proposition. Because of this, I have
devised--to borrow a phrase from Blackadder--a cunning plan!
What if the
idea is adapted to something more akin to the Mare Inebrium stories or,
for that matter, to episodic television? A set of characters is devised
and parameters defined, but each writer
can provide his or her own "script" for this shared universe.
below is the idea for the series along with some basic character
possible recurring characters, etc.
The time is
the near future though we will never pin down exactly when in the
stories. (When you read what has been
written so far, however, there are clues such as the number of Popes
last Polish one, the name of a Pink Floyd song you might not recognize,
paintings by an artist you’ve never heard of, etc.)
In the Georgetown
suburb of Washington, DC, a think tank and NGO known as the Nightwatch
Institute for Strategic and Economic Studies turns out ideas for
from world peace to humanitarian issues to allocation of funds for
institute is founded on the idea that if you can think it, and it is
common good, then it can be done. A
strong sense of idealism is present in every aspect of the
workings, at least in theory, and the institute is involved in projects
throughout the world (reconstruction of war torn regions; humanitarian
such as irrigation, food distribution, etc).
Nightwatch is also an NGO and has some presence in many of the
also has a thriving consultancy business as well, providing advice and
strategies for various public and private entities.
realities have, however, worked their way into the matrix of thought at
institute, including a strong (idealistic) desire to right perceived
injustices, to prevent technological and ecological disasters,
etc. Those behind this darker arena of the
institute have set up what amounts to a covert operations force, which
works to solve whatever crises this branch of the institute
perceives. While rumors of this group do circulate, very
few know that it actually does exist.
is a civil engineer by training but in reality is more of a
jack-of-all-trades, with a great interest in many things and a talent
for pulling together disparate threads to (eventually) see the big
picture and arrive at a course of action. He is very well
and has a great appreciation for music of all kinds. Dr.
Litchfield is officially associated with the institute’s
committees on the rebuilding of infrastructures in war torn or
neglected regions. Unofficially, he is
the head of the “covert operations” team that is
to solve the
Litchfield is in his early to mid-fifties with silver hair
and brown eyes and a penchant for comfortable khaki suits and hats (and
occasionally tan cloaks if he is feeling particularly ostentatious)
is not above “dressing or acting the part” if the
requires it. He has been married twice, and his ex-wives
tended to be very much like him (which was probably the
He refers to his second wife, Morna, as his
“precious ghost” or “my darling
some similar combination of words. Simon is also a bit of
ladies’ manLitchfield was originally born in England
but moved with his family to Baltimore, MD at the age of
He has degrees from Johns Hopkins, Carnegie
Mellon, and University of Illinois—Champaigne-UrbanLitchfield
far more pragmatic than many of the idealists
who populate the official arm of the Institute, which in part left him
to the plans of the “unofficial” arm. He
has extensive martial arts training including ju jitsu and
However, he is not above using “street”
tactics either (learned during the long walks home from piano lessons
in Baltimore). (See “The Kindness of
is generally healthy though he does suffer from arthritis.
The arthritis can be painful, particularly in
cold, wet climates, but it is not, at this point, debilitating
Simon drives a gray Saturn VUE when he is home.
appear to be a certain element of coercion involved in motivating Simon
action at times, implying that there is more to Litchfield’s
past than meets
the eye. (A good example of this can be
seen in Part I of the “The Kindness of Strangers.”)
heavily with computers (though she adamantly does not do secretarial
word processing beyond the articles she publishes about computers, drag
etc.). Stephanie is one of the major
computer gurus at Nightwatch and is also a wizard at finding
particularly if someone does not want it to be found.
She also is
a big fan of Junkyard Wars (though she decries the damage done to it by
Megawars) and often goes on challenges devised by her friends to build
items inspired by the series. Because of
her talents, she is more than capable of improvising in the field, of
modifying/building/jury-rigging equipment in the field (though not
so), etc. Stephanie could modify the
software on a computer to make it run more quickly and perhaps do some
it couldn’t do before, but she could never build a bomb with
a road flare, some
copper wire, and a russet potato!
because of her background in programming, Keel enjoys challenges to be
overcome, and if she is truly engrossed by a particular problem,
can be quite difficult.
has black hair and hazel eyes.
Stephanie’s normal wardrobe tends towards to the
end of things though she is quite striking when she wants to be and has
rather impressive collection of formal wear if the situation calls for
it. While she is very feminine, she is not so in
a stereotypical sense. She is
ferociously opposed to any suggestion that she use her
“feminine wiles” to gain
information or access and tends to resort to their use only if no other
alternative is available. She is, in
fact, very good at finding extremely viable alternatives!
at heart, is also the bravest of the group, or at least the most
take necessary risks. She is not
foolish, but she also does not believe in holding back
unnecessarily. She is also quite opposed to killing people
and seeks to avoid deaths.
spends most of her time working as a computer goddess and as a writer
various subjects for various publications.
She is also
the least sentimental of the group, which doesn’t mean that
she isn’t a sucker
for cats, babies, or the love life of the narwhal. (There is
no great significance to the
latter. She just loves that particular
type of whale!)
however, a much darker side to Stephanie as well, stemming from a
episode in her past. She was held
prisoner and experimented upon by a man named William
Gryphius. The first meeting, in fact, between Simon and
Stephanie occurred when he came to rescue her from Gryphius’
horrors. This tragic time in Stephanie’s
life is covered at length in Kate Thornton’s
“Cardenio.” While Stephanie has moved on
and has in many
ways thrived since then, her time in Gryphius’ dungeon has
Because of her drive to never go
through such treatment again, she learned krav maga and small-arms
a female Mossad agent.
Both Stephanie and Simon are avid
Stephanie owns a thoroughly exciting
(and thoroughly impractical) small sports car.
Weldon is a
psychologist, though as with
Dr. Litchfield he has a variety of interests, including
body-building. If a situation calls for
can certainly hold their own, but Tom is the best suited for the
role. Weldon wears black suit pants and jackets but
with a black t-shirt and a Wild Turkey belt buckle. His hair
brown and his eyes are blue. He is also stocky though not
not officially associated with the Nightwatch Institute. He
is the senior counselor at Arlington
Counseling Group in Arlington, VA. Arlington Counseling Group
and the building
where it is housed are discussed in
Weldon does, in fact, have a doctorate, but either through humility or
dislike of pretension, he does not like to be called Dr.
acts as the unofficial counselor to both
Simon and Stephanie. Tom suffers from Claustrophobia- the fear of
small, enclosed spaces -which tends to keep him out of caves, dislike
elevators, etc. He can over-ride this fear, but it is always there to
nag away at him.
claims to not be involved because of any particular idealistic bent
sometimes accuses himself of being somewhat
“Quixotic.” In fact, his reasons for
involvement are up
for discovery, and there certainly seems to be some very mysterious
him (a penchant for travel to odd locales, the ability to speak fluent
his out-of-town trips on “personal
Ian Callow, described later in this document, dislikes Weldon and
dislikes the fact the portions of Weldon’s past
can’t be adequately researched
the way, is the most likely of the three to be overcome by
emotion. He has never been able to make
it through the ending of Casablanca
without crying! He also has a great fondness for poetry.
and Stephanie form the core of the Nightwatchmen--a jack-of-all-trades
engineer with a keen, analytic mind; an observant psychologist who can
kick in the doors if required; and a computer confident junkyard
can prod the others along if they need a kick in the pants.
There is no need, by the way, to include
everyone besides Simon in a story, particularly if the story
doesn’t call for the
talents of either Stephanie or Tom.
The Lower Echelon
This is the
name, or at least the only name ever used, for the
“activist” branch of the
institute, and the group seems to include some very influential people
the Nightwatchmen have very little trouble obtaining needed funds and
types of relatively hard to come by equipment.
- The primary
representative of the Lower Echelon is Callow (first name
Ian, though no
one besides Litchfield ever calls him anything other than Callow or Mr.
Callow). When the Nightwatchmen are needed, Callow
summons Litchfield to the institute’s library, specifically
the popular culture
section (which the others hardly ever visit).
It is also sufficiently blocked from the view of the security
cameras. (Not every story has to begin
with this library scene though a great many of them will.)
Some good examples of library scenes can be
found in “Dragon’s Egg,”
“Alconost,” and “The Orion
strongly in the Echelon’s mission, enough that if the
situation calls for it he
will threaten to blackmail Litchfield, damn the consequences.
He does have a decided affinity, however, for
the trappings of cloak and dagger, which irritates
Litchfield. Very often Callow provides computer disks or
CD Roms, passports, false identities, etc.
Squibb is the
institute’s Inventory Control Manager, and in addition to
being a wiz at
obtaining paper clips and copier paper, he also can get for the group
specialized toys. Squibb is not ‘Q’ by
the way. There are just some things he
cannot get no matter how hard he tries, and he cannot simply invent
gadgets. Squibb also should not be
portrayed as a “geek” or
“nerd,” partly because this is too convenient a
device and partly because I would like to see stereotyping kept to a
minimum. Squibb is seen most prominently
one of the pilots employed by Nightwatch, and he is usually assigned to
where hazards are expected. He is a
top-notch pilot, a former Top Gun winner, and he probably wishes that
aircraft he flies were equipped with everything found on an F/A-18
SuperHornet. Starsmore is seen for the
first time in “Dragon’s Egg.”
another Nightwatch pilot, first featured in the story
Corwyn is a
Nightwatch co-pilot and former Air Force crew chief. She was
primarily responsible for F-15E
Strike Eagles. Allison also appeared in
Within reason, you are free to create other minor characters
for the institute and for
the Lower Echelon.
One is a
converted Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) equipped with an opulent
at the front followed by a large fuel tank (which has tripled the range
plane) and a modified cargo bay allowing the transport of oversized and
specialized items for Nightwatch. The
plane is also equipped with a significant number of goodies including
shielding, extensive defensive capabilities, military-quality
and engines that are definitely not commercial standard. The
plane is kept at Manassas
Airport about 30 miles south of Washington, DC. The
plane is described in greatest detail in
both “Dragon’s Egg” and
Nightwatch One is a standard CRJ for more routine
It is safe to say that Simon and company normally will not fly on this
Nightwatch Two is a Boeing Business Jet used for more routine
Simon and company rarely if ever use this plane.
Nightbird Five is a highly experimental stealth plane that is
very expensive to
operate and maintain.
NB-5 is a variant of the SR-51 design, combined with elements of the
Soviet stealth MiG and the US F117A. The cabin has room for the pilot,
co-pilot, and a maximum of four passengers. Cargo space is
less than the
average minivan. There are no weapons, but electronic countermeasures
state-of-the-art. The aircraft is
supersonic (Mach 3 at altitude) and has limited VTOL (Vertical Take-off
Landing) and limited water landing capabilities.
NB5 (so named because it was the
fifth aircraft of its type built) was described by Tom Darby in
Affair” as being a white elephant. The
fuel, JP-88, has to be specially ordered, an expensive undertaking in
and a process made more expensive by the fact that it has to be
surreptitiously through “back channels.”
For lengthy flights, refueling stops or in-flight refueling is
required. Tanker service for this type
of craft is limited under normal circumstance and, again, is made more
by the need to obtain it through “back
channels.” Flight time at subsonic speeds and
in-flight refueling is
4.2 hours, absolute maximum.
Like the F-117, there is simply no way for the plane to blend
in with other
aircraft, so it is limited primarily to night missions and is
forbidden from taking off or landing in public view. The
underground hanger for the plane is also
expensive to man and maintain. The
hanger is under a deserted airfield roughly an hour's drive from the
Finally, the plane is in many ways a mechanical nightmare
with balky software and engine turbine problems brought on by the
fuel. Because of the extraordinary difficulties
involved with operating the plane, and because of its limited
availability is limited to extreme emergencies.
Nightbird Five is described in detail in “The Orion
The following is some geographical information for Nightwatch:
1. The Nightwatch Institute is a cluster of
buildings off of Whitehaven Parkway (and near 35th Street).
Whitehaven Parkway is on the outer edge of
2. Nightwatch also
leases some office space in
the Foggy Bottom area of Washington, DC, primarily
because of its
proximity to the State Department. Of course, the institute
occupies) temporary working spaces as needed throughout the world.
3. Simon lives in a townhouse on
Reservoir Rd NW
near Georgetown University. It is a two-story
bedrooms, a library, a fireplace, a kitchen, a
etc. The library is modestly sized but crammed
with books, maps, and other items of interest. His office is
of his bedroom. The outer walls and fireplace are a
brick. The interior walls are primarily
4. Stephanie lives
in an apartment near the Keeger Museum. The apartment is
described in “Cardenio.”
5. Tom lives and
works in Arlington,
VA. He owns a small brick house and lives
Tom’s practice is in the L’Enfant Building (a
structure) near a DC metro station on the Van Dorn
Extension. (The current Van Dorn area can be found
of Arlington and is located across the river from Washington,
6. Because of his
training as a
Simon, particularly when he is troubled (when he is home, that is),
to go to the old Chesapeake
canal (now a monument). You can, by the
way, still take horse/mule drawn boat trips along the canal.
Actually, the history of the canal is very interesting if you get a
research it! The canal is mentioned most prominently in
“Dragon’s Egg” and “The
Kindness of Strangers.”
7. While Simon is certainly at home
in the world
of fine dining, his favorite place in town to eat is the Cannon Moon
(which is fictional, by the way) on 31st Street, NW.
It has a view of the canal. While
it is not fine dining per se, it is a lovely place to eat a
bisque and has an owner--Gillian Eckelberry--who keeps on hand
favorite wine and has a particularly nice bottle of Black Label if he
the way, maps of Georgetown can be found at www.georgetowndc.com
and at www.earthamaps.com.
is the Executive Director of Nightwatch.
While she is the unquestioned leader, she only becomes directly
in the day-to-day aspects of running Nightwatch when she absolutely has
Molinski is the
chair of the Major Projects Committee.
Nearly every major activity of the institute branches out of this
committee, and many subcommittees report to it.
is the chair of the Asian Affairs Committee. He also teaches
Georgetown University. Dr. Divakaruni is, apparently,
the Lower Echelon as indicated in “Dimensions’
Paula Mankiller is
the chair of the American Affairs Committee (comprising both North and
Safian is the
chair of the European/North African Affairs Committee.
- Dr. Molly
Wilcox runs the
Middle Eastern Subcommittee,
is the Chair of the Sub-Saharan Africa Committee.
Rosalyn Chambers is
the Director of Economic Affairs.
Economic Affairs handles the consulting side of
Nightwatch. She also teaches at Georgetown
the Nightwatch Comptroller.
Willis Eddison is
in charge of Nightwatch Analysis and also heads the Special Tasks
which reports to Jared Molinski. Ian Callow, incidentally,
is the Vice-Chair. Special Tasks is
modestly budgeted and, honestly, does very little within
Nightwatch. Eddison, in fact, only convenes the committee
once a year just after the New Year’s holidays.
There is nothing remarkable about Special Tasks. Officially.
information above is provided to give you a glimpse at the overall
of Nightwatch. The people above (along
with anyone else associated with those individuals) need not appear in
stories unless there is a driving reason for their presence.
More than likely, the most you will do with
them is bring them up in conversation.
some other important characters who have appeared in Nightwatch so far.
Yakonov is a representative of a Russian
intelligence agency. He has appeared in
“Dragon’s Egg” and “Ghost
Rockets of Sweden.”
Litchfield is Simon’s second ex-wife and is a
molecular biologist. Morna is seen in
“Rogue Harvest,” and a little of Simon and
Morna’s history is also discussed in
“The Kindness of Strangers.”
Gryphius is a
woman who is hard to
kill. Gryphius’ story is a complex one
and is best learned by reading “Cardenio” and
“Dimensions’ Gate.” Suffice it
to say that
Gryphius often leaves
a significant body count in her wake.
Eckleberry is the owner and head chef of the
Cannon Moon Café. She is one of Dr.
closest friends, and there are indications that more, in fact, may be
between them. Eckleberry is seen in
“Cardenio” and “The Kindness of
- Dr. Lyman
Eckert is Nightwatch’s resident mad
scientist, someone primarily concerned with the mechanics of time
travel. We first meet him in “The Kindness of
Strangers” though some additional background material about
him can be found in
You are, of
course, free to plumb the depths of the various Nightwatch stories for
characters of interest (except for Tom Darby in “The Orion
Affair”). Dr. Litchfield’s first wife is
unavailable at this time and should not be discussed.
has a time machine. The device was
designed and built by Dr. Lyman Eckert and is powered by the egg-like
discovered in Afghanistan
in “Dragon’s Egg.” The machine
located in an underground lab beneath the popular culture section of
Nightwatch library. As stated in “The
Kindness of Strangers,” few people know about the
machine. Neither Stephanie nor Tom currently know of
has several operational limitations.
First, it cannot currently scan the future nor can it send anyone into
the future. Second, it can neither scan
nor send anyone more than 100 years or so into the past.
Finally, it is only capable of scanning and
sending travelers to a limited area, an area roughly the size of
Georgetown/Washington, DC. To send
someone anywhere else would either require that the machine itself be
that the person undertake his or her own travel upon reaching the
As you can
imagine, the time machine brings with it its own set of dangers and
challenges, so its use is limited to extreme situations. The
machine is first used in “The Kindness of
Strangers,” and the currently known properties of the egg
itself are discussed
in greater detail in “Dragon’s Egg.”
motivations of the Lower Echelon itself may be drawn into question as
carry out their orders. For instance,
some of their operations may produce results that on the surface are
favorable but carry with them brand new potential
consequences. The benefit of some operations may even be
difficult to see at all.
skeletons are lurking in Litchfield’s closet, and you are
certainly free to
allude to them if the moment is right, without, of course, being
specific…unless being terribly specific is an absolute story
which case we’ll talk! J
I have some
story ideas if you need them though, of course, I can’t post
them in this
online bible. J
Nightwatch, however, is not X-Files. Strange things
can and do happen, but the
series shouldn’t dwell on alien and government conspiracies
(though if you have
a good idea for a story featuring something like that, I’m
certainly open to a
pitch). Nightwatch should also
not be an ‘alien invasion of the week’ series.
the time being, writers should not use the old doppelganger device
course, you’ve come up with a really unique idea for one,
best way to learn what Nightwatch is about is to read a selection of
Nightwatch is a little unusual in that I’m
trying to achieve a series feel. Because
of this, seven new stories will run each year in series format,
analogous to a television season. The
third “season” will run from March 2006 through
approximately September 2006.
If you are
interested in writing a Nightwatch story, I’ll begin
pitches and submissions in July and will continue through January
2006. Potential writers will be given additional
series information as needed.
must be at least 7,501 in length.
Submissions and story ideas should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
graphics except “The Nightwatch” and
“Nightbird Five” created by Robert
Moriyama. “Nightbird Five” created by
Testors Modeling Co.