The Count was some sort of energy-draining vampire until he drains Sollus, and--oops, the Count turned good. Count was much happier for it, and so is pretty understandably heartbroken when the man dies. Naturally, he uses the powers he sapped from Sollus so long ago to save lives, literally using Sollus's own powers--and then his own energy-drain powers, using them in reverse to save a little girl from the verge of death.
It turns out a portion of Sollus's soul is in the Count, and Sollus himself gives the Count a hearty metaphorical pat on the back.
The Count is possibly the best character in the first round. He has a very direct connection to Sollus, which really should have been everyone's intent. Not to imply anything, but he's written quite eloquently for a former crazed murderer, especially that moment of change in the origin description. The fact the Count simply isn't very good at saving people at this early stage is well shown as well, with his injuring the girl he's trying to save more than he helps. It's brilliant.
I'm not sure I like Sollus being alive in some way, nor the tone his soul takes of knowing something the Count doesn't. Sollus is meant to be dead and gone, and I'm not sure him being around will assist anything, or if it's even being true to the storyline. Not to mention it's just the eensiest bit convenient a apartment building happens to collapse when the Count's around. Finally, we don't know enough about the Count's powers. Does he keep Sollus's powers forever? If so, he must have quite a collection of superpowers built up. If not, then he's in the danger of reverting to his old ways.
But overall, this is a really solid character with stellar writing, a compelling main character and a great concept behind it all. The fact the Count just attempts to save a building and a life is a refreshing, endearing change from fighting off killer monsters, killer asteroids, and killer robots.
The unnamed narrator (let's call him Vyse, 'cause Skies of Arcadia rocks) is the battle-loving captain-general-guy of a flotilla of conquering battlespaceships that descend on a planet I'd guess was Earth, except for the stuff about how half the planet is in eternal night. That doesn't even make sense. Anyway, Vyse's ships are met with unexpected resistance, and, despite Vyse's intervention in the form of awesomely smashing his way out of his falling ship and punching the opposing craft to bits, they are forced to retreat when a motherfucker of a ship that Vyse somehow knows the name of appears.
Vyse crash-lands, and is eventually found by
Ma and Pa Kent an old farm couple, who take this bizarre man with unknown powers into their home and embrace him. Vyse may or may not have amnesia, but in any case is taken by their rustic country ways of worshiping Sollus like a graven image. When Sollus is dead and the Sentinels not good enough to face up to coming threats, Vyse realizes to protect the people he's come to love and their folksy country traditions, he has to become their flying guardian. A "Sky Guardian," if you will.
This is one of those characters that was really hurt by the word limit. There are simply too many questions left unanswered at the end of the night. Why does Vyse have these powers anyway--does being general-captain of the Empire grant you them? What exactly made him crash-land after the battle, and was that battle on Earth in the first place or not? Did he have amnesia after the crash-landing? If not, what happened to his devotion to the Empire and his lust for conquering worlds? If so, why does he remember all his powers? And just what the hell happened in that flashback in the personality?
It's a okay character with an interesting protagonist, very good writing, and an appropriately humble setting and tone. It just deserves to be a lot more. You've come a long goddamn way, Darkender.
THE BOTTOM LINE
VS. Sky Guardian