By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
When I created the Time Warriors cast, Jacke was the first and most defined character of the four. Jacqueline ‘Jacke’ Baker was a black girl born and bred in Belfast. Her natural beauty belays a humble soul ready to help out anyone thanks to her upbringing. She was to empower and break stereotypes. I don’t think there are any Irish black people in science fiction never mind from Belfast. My intention was to reflect our changing times where the world is becoming more international than ever before. As a child Jacke had been abused by a family friend and I wanted to get the message across to any kid in that situation that there is hope. So I surrounded Jacke with a solid family and friends. Her parents, Rupert and Marlene are fiercely protective of their brood with Marlene being a force to be reckoned with just like her daughter. Jacke took her experience and refused to let it beat her. Instead she went to Queen’s University to study psychology to work with traumatised kids. She uses that same fight to battle alongside Varran against all the strange creatures and villains the Time Warriors encounter. She is a martial artist and designed to be the calm centre of the four characters. She is the reasonable one and steps in when Michael and Varran have a huge argument. My intention was to reflect our changing times where the world is becoming more international than ever before.
Jacke is also a tribute to the first lady I ever fell in love with; Star Trek’s Nichelle Nicholsaka Uhura. This beautiful lady captivated me as a kid watching the show and Jacke was created in not only her honour but for all other ladies of colour that followed in strong leads. If Jacke can have half the impact on the audience that Nichelle had then I’ll be a happy man.
Jacke for me represents the heart of the Time Warriors. When she is crippled by terrible nightmares when helping the Mordan colony we learn for the first time her past. Her past is the colony childrens’ present and she is subconsciously linked to their silent cried for help. When the Lothari come to rescue the children, Jacke goes with them to help ease the children into a pain free life. She returns weeks later once her task is accomplished but she is very stalwart in what is the right and moral thing to do.
We also learn that th Baker women share an empathic link that can warn them when one of them is in trouble as seen in Experiment Four. Attacked by giant jellyfish, Jacke’s mother has a vision her daughter is in trouble and calls her. The mobile phone ringing is enough to allow them to escape being killed. This link is further explored in Homecoming hen Jacke’s grandmother, veronica, dies. Grief stricken, Jacke quits the Time Warriors as she feels guilty her grandmother died alone. She feels she has spent too long looking out for the universe while neglecting her own loved ones. Veronica comes to her in a dream and gives her a talking to about quitting. Jacke rejoins the others at the story’s conclusion. She is almost killed by mutant jellyfish in Experiment Four, argues on behalf of humanity in Return To Eden and manages to realise they have all been infected by a nerve gas which is making them turn on each other in Meltdown.
In Tempest Jacke is apparently killed but has been in fact kidnapped by the Family, renegade Xerebans trying to make the Earth a new power base. Using all their own people with latent mental powers, the Family implanted each of them with a chip that reduced them to mindless drones ready to carry out their orders. Again Marlene realises Jacke is not dead after all and storms off to find her daughter.
In Venom Jacke reveals she has now bought her grandmother’s house and has a new boyfriend, Stephen. On his first adventure they are both turned into vampire drones. She is afraid that the experience will drive him off bit not so. Not only does he stick with her but Stephen moves in. She is Varran’s confidant as he tells her about a lost love in Trinity and is hurled with Michael into a future where the Xereban people have been exposed because of something she and Michael did. Battling friends and foes alike she must find a way to restore the timeline.
In The Skull Jacke is kidnapped to be fed to a regenerating Veldrox and faces down the Mentara in The Belbridge Mystery.
Jacke is a vital part of the stories and the team. What the future holds for her, who knows? I know this; I truly hope Jacke joins the likes of Uhura, Dayne from blake’s 7, Jackie Brown, Michael Burnham, Oda Mae Brown and Martha Jones amongst others. I certainly hope some kid scared of the dark will read her story and find the darkness is not as scary as it once was. I hope they look up and see that helping hand and smile that will ignite the light within them to defeat the darkness. It’s all any writer wishes for his characters.