5’9, slim, long dark hair. Violet eyes and the rather more pointed ears — covered respectively as often as not by goggles and a grease-stained rag for safety around sparking machinery and jagged metal — hint at her end of the gene pool.
Miryam’s parents were much older than is usual for Nil, when she was born; undeterred by the immediate evidence of genetic drift in her eyes, they lived to see their late-life blessing grow up well in Nil. Her apparently insightful ability to diagnose internal problems with mechanical devices — and the knack for somehow having exactly the right-sized wrench on her, even 50 feet above or below ground — earned her a part-time Machinist apprenticeship with Wayne Kenwood . . . when she wasn’t crawling around Old World drainage and sewage tunnels for Babs Wilks, or called on for emergency rescue missions by Chief Ward. Not a soldier at heart, Miryam is usually called instead for more conventional disasters: fires, tunnel collapses, construction and excavation accidents. She has been outside the walls a few times for rescues — the Chief’s people sometimes encounter cliffs and crevasses that aren’t enough to kill them outright, only trap them with broken bones — but as a specialist, not an explorer or soldier.
Miryam’s knack, of course, is not luck at all. She learned at an early age that her mind could do things that most other people’s couldn’t . . . and if they could, those people tended to get a wide berth even from some of the egalitarian population of Nil. That just-right wrench she pulled out of her pocket just now didn’t exist a moment ago, and after she’s done with it, it ceases to exist again; she has not in fact mastered machines to the point she knows what’s wrong instantly, but rather can actually put her sight within the machine itself and see the problem. Sure, she knows her way around the stuff — Wayne and Babs have taught her a lot — but she is no mechanical savant, and certainly no Wayne Reynolds or Barbara Wilks. As for the amazing rescues . . . all she knows is that there is a whole other way to get from here to there, if she concentrates, and suddenly “there” is “here”, albeit a little unpleasantly so. She does her best to keep her “skills” hidden, to keep the minds of Nil at ease around her, and she knows she is not the only one in town with “a little more under the hood”, but if she has to use it publicly, she will — relying on either the goodwill and good graces of Nil’s people, or their all-too-human ability to convince themselves they didn’t see what they just saw. Left to her own devices, Miryam does as much of her work as possible toward dusk or dawn, when there are fewer witnesses and when she doesn’t seem to have as much trouble seeing as others do.
Radio, though . . . radio is the key. It has to be. All the tricks, all the skills — it’s tied to radio, somehow, and Miryam’s going to find out how, as precisely and scientifically as possible. Why, if this power can be controlled . . . or altered . . . or replicated . . . or augmented . . . well, the world might be a very different place, no? And not just for Miryam.