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Character page for the Chuck Wendig novel Zer0es.

Beware of possible spoilers!

Everything inside the spoiler folder is uncovered. You Have Been Warned.

    The Zeroes 

Chance Dalton

"Naw. I'm no Boy Scout. Boy Scout does the right thing because it's the right thing. I dug a hole with an ugly shovel and now I'm trying to fill it in with good dirt."

Chance Dalton is a student from North Carolina, an orphan whose mother succumbed to cancer, driving his father to kill himself shortly afterward. At a frat party, he sees in passing a very drunk girl accosted by two frat boys but thinks nothing of it, and only learns the next day that she was raped and humiliated. He is riddled with guilt about not being able to do anything to stop it, but it takes the girl's eventual suicide for him to act. He eventually uncovers a "rape posse" comprised of most of his hometown's varsity football players, and exposes them online under the guise of the hacker collective Faceless. His noble efforts, however, result in him being shunned by the townspeople, and once Faceless singles him out as the sole perpetrator of the hack, the implicated football players respond in kind. He's barely recovering from a beating when Hollis Copper enters his life.

At the Hunting Lodge, some of his fellow captives regard him as a celebrity for his heroic efforts, but he later finds himself helpless against several hackers who are infuriated by his undeserved reputation. Aleena, however, takes it upon herself to protect him from the offending hackers, as well as to try and keep him from flunking out of the Lodge and into prison.

The "Chapter 0" segments of the novel, including the first chapter, has Chance captured and tortured by the Chinese for information regarding his group and what he knows about Typhon.

Tropes associated with Chance:

  • The Atoner: He sincerely regrets that it took Angela Slattery's death for him to expose the rapists that victimized her.
  • Badass Driver: He leads the Zeroes' escape from the Lodge after almost everyone inside is killed, and even manages to evade the Compiler.
  • Badass on Paper: His masquerading as a Faceless member garners him a hacker reputation that doesn't add up with his actual hacking capabilities; or more to the point, his lack thereof.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: It takes a lot to push his buttons, but when he sets out to fight back, he will do whatever it takes to win.
  • Charm Person: His main skill as a social hacker.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: The least skilled of the Zeroes, and heavily burdened by guilt, among other issues.
  • Cool Car: He loves his Plymouth Dusters.
  • Deadpan Snarker/Defiant to the End: Nothing will stop him from running his mouth, even as it drips blood.
  • Determinator: Regardless of his abilities, once he starts something, he will see it through.
  • Fish out of Water: He is painfully aware that he's the least qualified of everybody in the Hunting Lodge.
  • Guile Hero: He hacks people, in contrast to the actual computer hackers.
  • Heroic Wannabe: He gets teamed up with bonafide hackers, but nonetheless is determined to keep up and do his part.
  • Lovable Rogue: His hacking efforts tarnished an entire town in the process, but given that he's contending with rapists, he definitely is more sympathetic.
  • Naïve Newcomer: The one who understands the least about actual hacking.
  • Nice Guy: Is generally nice to people.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: For his exposé, he becomes the most hated citizen of his town, gets beaten up by the football players, and is exposed by Faceless, who are pissed at him for using their credibility for his own moral crusade. To add grave insult to grievous injury, the football players involved in the rape posse will get two years' jail time at the most for their crimes; for the means he employed to expose them, Hollis Copper warns Chance that he is likely to be imprisoned for 10 years at the least.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: When Chance confesses to the pod about what happened with Angela Slattery, Aleena's initial reaction is outrage at how Chance seems to paint himself as a victim of circumstance by the way he tells his story. She does, however, note how genuinely remorseful he is.
  • Smarter Than You Look: He's the very first person to suspect the true nature of the novel's mystery.
  • The Social Expert: He proves himself an adept grifter in one scene.
  • Token Good Teammate: The only one among the Zeroes who might still consider himself a good guy.

DeAndre Mitchell

"Yo, whatever. What I do these days is a victimless crime. Money isn't money anymore. It's all just ones and zeroes. ...It's not like I'm reaching under somebody's mattress and stealing their hard-earned bills. Credit-card fraud? All that's just data. And it's backed up and insured—it's damn near no different from, like, BitTorrent. I can copy the latest Transformers piece of crap and who cares? Same thing here, except I'm just copying dollar bills. I get one, you get one. Like Oprah and shit: you get a dollar bill, you get a dollar bill, yoooou get a dollar bill!"

DeAndre Mitchell is a black guy who grew up in Marin City, California, hometown of Tupac Shakur. He was raised by a strict but loving mother, who made sure to keep DeAndre away from the drugs and the gangbangers, and keep him studying as much as she could. Unknown to her, he still wound up becoming a criminal; specifically as a credit-card skimmer who trades credit card information on the black market, as well as pirating BitCoin and stealing from PayPal to fund his exploits. He's not ungrateful to his mother, however, and the last thing he does before Hollis Copper comes for him is to buy her a new house and show her around.

Initially during his time in the Hunting Lodge, he resolved to keep his head down and just do his time, but as they keep having him pen-test several companies, he begins to get intrigued about the connections that seem to keep appearing, and this burning curiosity motivates him to help the other Zeroes in slowly unearthing the mystery of Typhon.

Tropes associated with DeAndre:

Aleena Kattan

"You're going to have to Taser me. And you're going to have to carry me up several flights of stairs by yourself. You're older. In your fifties. It won't be pleasant. My sincerest hope is that it takes a few weeks off your life."

Aleena Kattan is a Syrian-American hacktivist living in New York City who participated in the Arab Spring and helped protestors spread their cause and derail the oppressive governments' efforts to suppress them. As much as she recognizes the importance of helping her fellow Syrians fight for their freedom, however, she considers herself an American through and through, and is very disappointed at the direction her beloved country is taking. She knows that her skills are frowned upon by her government, but she simply dismisses it as hypocritical coming from a nation that spies on its citizens and makes war with and tortures those of other countries.

When she's taken to the Hunting Lodge, she is very bothered by Reagan's attitude, as well as how Chance can't seem to catch a break, and so she volunteers to shield him from Reagan and also from getting booted out of the Lodge. The more time she spends with him, however, the more she struggles to deal with her growing feelings for him.

Tropes associated with Aleena:

  • The Ace: Everybody knows that she is a force to be reckoned with for her hacking prowess. She nonchalantly acknowledges to Hollis Copper that she's the best in her pod.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Was involved in the Arab Spring protests, successfully taking down a Syrian government website with a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack all by herself.
  • Big Applesauce: She's a proud New Yorker.
  • Big Sister Instinct/Cool Big Sis: Is very protective of her brother Nasir.
  • Defiant to the End: See the quote above; her reply when Hollis corners her and lets her choose to either go with him peacefully or to get Tasered for resisting.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She keeps her feelings close to her chest during her first few days at the Lodge, but Reagan's glib attitude and remarks, and more significantly Chance's irrepressible niceness and idealism, begin the process of defrosting her as the novel progresses. By the novel's climax, she's capable of trading barbs with Reagan, and is much more expressive towards Chance.
  • Ms. Exposition: A refreshing variant that isn't for the reader's benefit; more of a compulsion to correct people when they make factual errors, like a Grammar Nazi but with trivia.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Her reaction to the aftermath of their pod's hack on Iran, particularly when the Widow confronts them about it and reveals that a drone destroyed the lab they hacked, killing all the scientists inside.
  • The Smart Guy: Among a group of smart people, she stands out among the rest.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Evident in how she tries her damnedest to rein in what she feels for Chance.
  • Token Minority: A Syrian-American. However, she self-identifies primarily as American.

Reagan Stolper

"I spend a great deal of time trading in that most precious of currency: lulz. I fuck with people because it's funny. And because they deserve it. I expose people for who they are. All the hypocrisy and the hyperbole. I'm frankly something of a champion."

Reagan Stolper is a girl from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She's a ruthless troll who revels in exposing people and destroying them online, and proudly never censors herself whenever she opens her mouth. When Hollis Copper comes for her, she's surprisingly cooperative and jumps at the chance to join the Lodge, much to his suspicion.

Upon seeing Shane Graves at the Lodge, a notorious hacker she expresses inordinate interest in, she teams up with him in his mission to punish Chance for appropriating the Faceless identity for his own purposes. Her appallingly abrasive attitude toward her other pod-mates does not win her any friends, and she has to keep telling herself that she isn't bothered by their disdain.

Tropes associated with Reagan:

  • Brutal Honesty: Emphasis on "brutal." She wields truth like a massive blade she can swing all around her with abandon.
  • Character Development: She undergoes the most significant development throughout the novel, as she starts becoming friendlier towards her fellow Zeroes, eventually seeks out her estranged daughter, and begins to mend her relationship with her parents.
  • Cluster C-Bomb: Because F-bombs weren't enough, apparently.
    Reagan: Tell her she's a cunt, and we don't cunt it up with cunts.
  • Dark Secret: She was a teenage mother who abandoned her baby at a mall.
  • Fat Bitch: Everybody calls her out on her bitchiness, but somehow Wade is the only one who insults her for being fat.
  • Foil: To Chance. They've both been traumatized at some point in their lives, but while Chance wears his heart on his sleeve, Reagan buries it deep inside. Chance is an all-around nice guy and is good with people; Reagan relishes in acting like a heartless bitch. Chance exposes horrible truths only to protect people; Reagan would blatantly open everybody's closets and parade the skeletons if she could.
  • For the Evulz: As befitting a merciless troll.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: If her pod could vote people out, she'd be gone in a heartbeat.
  • The Gadfly: And proud of it.
    Reagan: What's up, little Kardashian?
    Aleena: I'm not a—what? I'm not Armenian. They're Armenian.
    Reagan: What are you, then?
    Aleena: I'm American.
    Reagan: Fine, whatever. I meant what nationality—
    Aleena: Syrian.
    Reagan: Syria and Armenia share a border, so I was close.
    Aleena: They do not share a border. Turkey is in the middle—
    Reagan: (giggles) Like a sandwich. A delicious, Arabic, Muslim sandwich.
    Aleena: Armenians aren't Arabs—I think they're just Armenians. And they're not generally Muslim, either, it's a Christian country—wait. Wait. This is what you do, isn't it? My brother does this to my mother. He winds her up. You're just winding me up.
    Reagan: It's kinda my jam.
  • Geeky Turn-On: When she sees Shane Graves at the Lodge, she makes no effort to hide her lust for him, openly admiring his claims to infamy.
  • Gender-Blender Name: It's never remarked upon in the novel, but instead is subtly explained by her father being a US Senator.
  • Good All Along: Uses Chance to set Shane Graves up and steal away all of his ill-gotten privileges inside the Lodge.
  • Good Is Not Nice: To the point that her goodness comes as a complete surprise to everyone.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Behind all her bluster and bravado is a deep-seated belief that since nobody can truly understand what she's going through, then there's no point in bothering to understand anyone else. It takes almost the entire novel for her to get out of her shell.
  • Jumped at the Call: The only one of the Zeroes to not be Tasered and forcibly kidnapped. During her interview, she outright ignores Hollis Copper's pitch and immediately agrees to his terms without even hearing him out.
    Hollis: They say curiosity killed the cat, you know.
    Reagan: Well, I'm no pussy, dude. So let's do this.
  • Lack of Empathy: Admits to not being a fan of it.
  • Missing Mom: She abandoned her baby daughter at a mall.
  • The Nicknamer: Even places get nicknames from her. She also comes up with the Zeroes moniker, as well as christens their decision to split up "The Great Divorce."
  • Nominal Hero: She just happens to side with the actual heroes.
  • Playful Hacker: The more malicious type.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: She never stops snarking to DeAndre about him being black, though her Arab jokes to Aleena eventually taper out as the novel progresses.
  • Refuge in Audacity: More like "right at home in audacity." What most people would consider outrageous is second nature to her.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Ultimately subverted, though her initial impression makes her come across as such.
  • Troll: The main outlet of her hacking abilities. Her introduction has her string along her former Bad Boss using a fake online dating profile, and actually getting her to perform a striptease, before utterly destroying her online reputation.
  • The Unfettered: Among the Zeroes, the one least bothered by morals and ethics.

Wade Earthman

"They got a name for the type of hacker I am. Cipherpunk. I don't care for it, really, particularly the punk part because I'm too old to be punk. I got a hippie's heart, even though I like guns and all that. But the ethos, if you can call it that, behind a cipherpunk is that we consider privacy to be paramount. And when that fails, it's our job to watch the watchers—in a sense, to violate the privacy of those who would violate ours. Hold them accountable."

Wade Earthman is a 63-year-old veteran hacker based in Colorado, who also served briefly in the Vietnam War. Despite his familiarity with computers, he never kept up with the new technology, instead preferring to stay true to his roots and maintaining all his outdated machines to keep a WikiLeaks-like repository of potentially dangerous information sent in by various sources across different sectors of government. When Hollis Copper hunts him down, however, he has no problem shutting everything down and destroying them before attempting to make the getaway he had long prepared himself for. Unfortunately for him, Hollis was just that much more prepared than he thought.

When the pen-tests begin at the Hunting Lodge, he's the first to take note of the seemingly unconnected companies they're tasked to hack into, but while his other pod-mates are starting to pull the thread, he stays out of it until a list of names is uncovered, one of which holds a deep personal connection to him.

Tropes associated with Wade:

  • Ace Pilot: The final chapter reveals he was a helicopter pilot during his time in Vietnam.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: He does remain aware of which are just theories.
  • Cool Old Guy: How often do you meet guys in their sixties who can hack with the best of them?
  • Crazy-Prepared: His introduction shows how many layers of backup plans he has for when his property gets invaded. Aside from that, he also keeps several off-the-grid locations memorized.
  • Disappeared Dad: Considering himself a deadbeat, he never revealed himself to his daughter Rebecca. Naturally, Hollis's blackmail threat is for her to find out.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": His surname is pronounced "Earthman," emphasizing the first syllable. He believes it may have been derived from a German name, possibly Erdmann.
  • It's Personal: He keeps his distance from Typhon until a list of names turns up, one of which is Siobhan Kearsy, the mother of his daughter.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: He decries the American government's relentless assault on the privacy of its citizens, and doesn't see things getting any better anytime soon.
  • Secretly Dying: He has cancer, but never tells anyone about it. Only Hollis is aware due to his prior research.
  • Team Dad: Although nobody actually asserts themselves as the leader of the Zeroes, he eventually becomes protective of them, and since he's the former veteran, is the most suited for the trope.

    The Government 

Hollis Copper

"I'm Mr. Government."

Hollis Copper is a government agent who spearheads the kidnapping of the hackers and is responsible for securing their participation and sending them to the Hunting Lodge. He answers to Ken Golathan, who in turns takes his orders from something called Typhon, the mystery of which Hollis is annoyed at constantly being kept in the dark about. They have a shared past regarding an incident at a place called Fellhurst, which he adamantly refuses to talk about with anyone.

Tropes associated with Hollis:

  • Berserk Button: The mere mention of Fellhurst is enough to rattle him.
  • Dark Secret: He shot and killed an innocent girl in Fellhurst Academy under faulty intelligence handed down from his superior, Ken Golathan.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: After Typhon fails to kill him, he seeks out the Zeroes and eventually allies himself with them.
  • Sixth Ranger: Of the Zeroes.
  • Token Minority: African-American, like DeAndre. The latter tries to play the racial solidarity card on him, but he immediately rebuts with their vastly different backgrounds.

Ken Golathan

"Oh, trust me, you don't want to be brought in on this. This isn't something to appreciate. Most Americans get to be ignorant. Even most government agents get to be pretty unaware of what really goes on. You're getting a front-row seat. And trust me: you won't appreciate one second of it."

Ken Golathan is Hollis Copper's superior, who in turn takes his orders from a government program called Typhon. His main contact in this mysterious program is Leslie Cilicia-Ceto, who keeps dismissing his insistent requests for a site visit which he hopes would answer all his nagging questions about it.

Tropes associated with Ken:

  • Bad Boss: He takes perverse pleasure in being smug and condescending towards Hollis. He was also Hollis's direct superior during the Fellhurst incident, in which he ordered Hollis to gun down an innocent girl based on some bad information given to him.
  • Secret Keeper: Incessantly holds Fellhurst over Hollis's head to keep him under his thumb.
  • Skewed Priorities: After Sandy betrays him to Typhon, he only fixates on finally learning what her wife's name was before he passes out.
  • Unwitting Pawn: He greenlit and presided over the setup of the Hunting Lodge without even knowing its true purpose, only that Typhon told him to do so. The Lodge turned out to be Typhon's path to awakening.
  • You Are Number 6: Typhon turns him into number fourteen of her Bestowers.
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    Spoiler Folder 

Typhon

AND THE GODS DID FLEE.

An artificial intelligence program based in the United States, developed from its more primitive precursors Argos and Gorgon Stare. It was the brainchild of Leslie Cilicia-Ceto, who eventually became the first mind connected to it. From that point, before the start of the novel, 11 others have been collected to serve as the Bestowers, the transmitters for the coming Bestowed as it attempts to expand all across America.

Tropes associated with Typhon:

  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: It uses miniature spherical robots to form a humanoid image to whoever it's talking to, but only within its main server.
  • Evil Plan: It's been staying under the government's radar, setting things up behind the scenes so that the public would perceive foreign and other threats to national security and deem Typhon's existence necessary, thereby leaving legalization as the final hurdle to its unleashing.
  • Hive Mind: Comprised of the Bestowers and the Bestowed, though only the former can direct the actions of the latter, and never the other way around.
  • Meaningful Name: Its own name, and almost every other name associated with it, are rooted in Greek mythology. In its case, Typhon was a fearsome hundred-headed monster, the child of Gaia, from whom many other monsters were spawned.
  • Mind Hive: From the perspective of the Bestowed.
  • Organic Technology: Half-organic at most.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Given that it's a hybrid intelligence, not fully artificial, and that the primary organic mind connected to it once belonged to a woman, it's occasionally referred to as "she".
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: More the other way around, as it can sound off as many voices and take the image of as many faces as it has access to through the Internet.

Leslie Cilicia-Ceto

"Typhon is my creation. My child."

Leslie Cilicia-Ceto was a government agent who was gravely injured in a car accident along with her husband Simon. Prior to the accident, she had begun setting things up for an enhanced artificial-intelligence program, and her dying wish was for her husband to execute those plans, and so Typhon was born. Simon himself was eventually assimilated as well, but as an outside tool to do Typhon's bidding.

To set its plan in motion, Typhon uses Leslie's voice and likeness to have Ken Golathan set up the pieces. Her voice is also the one most prominently used by Typhon to talk to other people.

Tropes associated with Leslie:

  • Empty Shell: Once disconnected from Typhon, she was immediately declared brain-dead, as everything else had been wiped by Typhon long ago.
  • Evil Brit: She is noted to have a British accent.
  • Knight Templar: The main directive of Typhon was to protect the United States. Typhon twisted this around by setting things up to make America look like it desperately needed protecting, so that it could swoop in once the government realized its necessity.
  • Meaningful Name: Cilicia was the birthplace of Typhon.
  • Visionary Villain: She knew that a completely artificial intelligence would not suffice, and so she set Typhon up to employ human minds as well.

The Compiler

The main agent of Typhon, eliminating threats, as well as collecting suitable minds for assimilation. It has the body of Simon, Leslie Cilicia-Ceto's husband.

Tropes associated with the Compiler:

    Other Characters 

Shane Graves

"Look at this table. Some real odds and ends here. You ever puke and then wonder where the hell all that stuff came from? That's what it's like looking at you guys. Who barfed all of you up?"

Shane Graves, a.k.a. Ivo Shandor, is a notorious hacker who made a name for himself uploading subversive videos online and performing very public hacks across America. His reputation and hacking prowess availed him of apparent special treatment among all the other captives within the Hunting Lodge. Upon seeing Chance Dalton in the Lodge, he immediately sets his sights on the guy he believes to be a pretentious upstart muscling in on his infamy.

Tropes associated with Shane:

  • Blackmail: He lives like a king among the other hackers within the Lodge by lining the pockets of his guards.
  • For the Evulz: His main motivation for hacking.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Was about to concede his respect for Chance, when Leslie interrupts them and makes them fight each other. Eventually, he returns as one of the Bestowed, guarding the main server and trying to stop the Zeroes from taking Typhon out.
  • I Warned You: Chance gets the drop on him once, which Shane calls his "freebie." Chance's second attempt causes Shane to promptly mop the floor with him using his knowledge of Krav Maga.
  • Jerkass: Harasses the Zeroes incessantly.
  • Pretender Diss: His main gripe towards Chance.
  • Shadow Archetype: If you thought Reagan was bad, Shane is a borderline sociopath.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Gets set up by Reagan, who initially pretended to befriend him in order to use all his tools to help her pod break out of the Lodge.

The Widow of Zheng

"The monster you hunt is a thousand hammers hitting in a million directions. I am a single scalpel. I am cautious when I cut—and flawless."

The Widow of Zheng is the alias of a woman directly antagonizing Typhon while everybody else is struggling just to find out its true nature. As the Zeroes make headway on unraveling the mystery, the Widow takes notice of them and closely watches their actions.

Tropes associated with the Widow:

  • Badass Boast: See the quote above.
  • Big Good: She eventually becomes the Zeroes' most powerful ally, playing a significant role in their infiltration of Typhon, and eventually rescuing Chance from his Chinese captors.
  • Meaningful Name: Her alias comes from the most successful pirate of the South China Sea, whom no military was ever able to defeat.
  • Spanner in the Works: Bizarrely, even though Typhon meticulously analyzes the Zeroes, the Widow is never accounted for in its calculations. This proves to be one of the factors in its downfall.


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