Veniczar B. Cullen
|"Cullen" redirects here. For the Sunrider Academy character, see Bas Cullen.|
|Veniczar B. Cullen|
|"En garde, Captain!"|
|Occupation||Governor of the Neutral Rim|
Veniczar B. Cullen is a major antagonist in Sunrider.
Greedy, pompous and a generally unpleasant person to be in the company of, Veniczar B. Cullen has painted a very poor stereotype for the leaders of PACT - an arrogant braggart drunk on his own imagined majesty. While ostensibly a PACT Veniczar, Cullen still surrounds himself with lavish riches and still indulges in all the comforts of Imperial life. While his subordinates uniformly despise him, Cullen’s political power has ensured his position in the PACT fleet as a chief military commander. Cullen was ordered by Veniczar S. Arcadius to complete the conquest of the Neutral Rim, and after this was accomplished, he was allowed to direct the attack on Far Port as the opener to PACT's war against the Alliance, where he met his end at the hands of Asaga Oakrun and the Sunrider crew.
(NOTE: In Sunrider Academy, his counterpart is "Bas Cullen." Due to the fact that every other character in Sunrider Academy shares the names of their Original-Game counterparts, it can be assumed that Cullen's full name and title is actually "Veniczar Bas Cullen" - though this is again simply a metagame assumption and not fact.)
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Cullen is a heavyset and somewhat aged Caucasian man. He is presumed to be in his mid-to-late thirties, as he was of sufficient age to consider fellow his fellow, Veniczar B. Fontana, a "young whelp." He has navy-blue eyes and short wavy, yet slightly thinned reddish-orange hair that is groomed back, with a thick mustache that is curled upwards at the ends and a prominent double-chin. He wears black pants, black dress-slippers, a maroon-red baron's coat with black cuffs, gold trim and black interior lining, with two black stripes etched with gold markings embroidered from the shoulders down and fastened with a cloth links and a black cloth belt around his waist. He also wears a short black dress-cape and a yellow-gold ruffled ascot with a black-framed ruby fastener.
Bio[edit | edit source]
NOTE: (WARNING - Spoilers ahead for Sunrider: First Arrival & Sunrider: The Novelization. Read at your own risk!!)
Leaving the Losing Team
Cullen, prior to becoming a Veniczar, was a former Imperial admiral, and was likely just as steeped in decadency as he was after defecting. When Arcadius began his rebellion against the New Empire and created PACT, it began to impact the crumbling empire harshly, and Cullen began to fear for his own safety as he came to believe his side would lose the resulting war. Resolving that it was only right to stand on the winning team, Cullen covertly defected and joined PACT on the eve of New Eden’s fall - and did so with a deal that would allow him to secure a luxurious life not unlike the one he had before. Cullen’s betrayal allowed the PACT fleet to sneak past the dark side of New Eden’s moon undetected and catch the remnants of the Imperial fleet off guard, conquering the capital of the old Empire and bringing it's regime down. For his part in assuring the fall of the Empire and taking part in the continuing mop-up of its broken and scattered remnants, Cullen was awarded lavishly and his reputation garnered him vast political influence, which he would come to abuse at every turn.
First Arrival[edit | edit source]
Following the Veniczar's Orders
After Arcadius suddenly changed tactics and began turning PACT against the rest of the galaxy, Cullen is subsequently given control of the forward PACT fleets and successfully uses the powerful forces to conquer vast swaths of the Neutral Rim, until the only possibility of opposition was crushed at the Invasion of Cera, when the technologically advance world was conquered. Cullen was even given control over the Legion at points in his campaign - a fact that may imply it was actually Cullen's tactic to nuke cities from orbit, insinuating that he may have been the one to give the order to bomb the planet of Cera. Despite this, his overconfidence and lack of talent in both tactics and leadership caused several loses for the PACT fleet that could have easily been avoided. The first was at Versta, where his scouting forces were destroyed and his blockade broken by the Sunrider and it's captain - however, Versta fell all the same, not due to his own credit but simply due to the overwhelming numbers of the PACT fleet under his command.
After coming close completing the conquest of the Neutral Rim with Versta, Cullen was then ordered by Arcadius to find his runaway bride - the Crown Princess of Ryuvia, Asaga di Ryuvia. For this, he was told to first find crystalline device known as the crown jewel of Ryuvia, since it would pinpoint the presence of the princess or any Ryuvian royalty even at astronomical distances. However, Cullen - ever the greedy one - took to privateering on the side as he struck up a deal with the pirate leader Cosette Cosmos, who had placed a sizable bounty on the Sunrider and its Captain. As Cosette was attacking an Alliance-registered trade ship - the "Mochi" - in the Mnemosyne Abyss, the Sunrider chanced upon her, and Cullen saw his chance to strike on Cosette's bounty. Calling Kayto a "rascal," he rather overconfidently introduces himself in a grandiose display of self-indulgent boasting as he proclaims he will unite the galaxy under PACT. Kayto retorts that slaughtering millions of innocents with orbital bombardments doesn't sound much like unification, but Cullen brushes this off as being "the necessities of war," informing Kayto to prepare for defeat. This in turn results in the second blunder Cullen would commit in his career in strategy, as both his forces and Cosette's were dispatched by the Sunrider and by the pilot of the Mochi. Blaming Cosette, her crew and his own soldiers for the loss as opposed to his poor command skills, Cullen was further enraged when the Sunrider's captain forced his retreat and dismissively regarded him as "Veniczar Porkchops," swearing revenge on Kayto for both the insult the defeat he had been given before warping out.Ava Crescentia as having been too precise and perfect to be anything but planned out by Arcadius somehow - as he managed to surprise Captain Shields just when the later had recovered the Crown Jewel, blockading the Sunrider with his invasion fleet of at least 60 vessels and totally outmatching him. He contacted Kayto with a demand of surrender. Fuming at Kayto's continued insulting of him - though shown in the Novelization as outwardly brushing it off as bluster due to Kayto being in such a dire situation - Cullen remarks on how Kayto was sent on his mission without knowing the full story. Cullen then reveals freely - as he had no intentions of letting Kayto escape or idea that the latter could do anything just by knowing - that the missing Ryuvian Princess was actually Arcadius' arranged bride, and had run away to escape the engagement. Having no desire to negotiate with Kayto after the insulting defeat he'd sustained at the former's hands, Cullen decided to toy with his prey by offering to spare the ship if Kayto gave him the Crown Jewel, though in the end he simply fired at the Sunrider anyway as revenge for his prior humiliating loses. His attacks caused crippling damage to the wayward vessel in short order, with Cullen eager both to recover the gem and receive the reward Cosette had promised him for killing Kayto. However, Assaga di Ryuvia, who was working incognito as a crew-member and Ryder pilot for the Sunrider, revealed and presented herself at Cullen, offering her compliance and return to Ryuvia in exchange for sparing the Sunrider. Having received his grand prize and, realizing he would prefer it if Kayto experienced first-hand what the lasting taste of failure and humiliating loss was like as the Ceran captian floated helpless in deep space, Cullen agreed and retreated to Ryuvia Prime, leaving the crippled Sunrider adrift.
Exceeding his Grasp
Returning to the PACT flagship Legion with Asaga in tow, Cullen would mock Asaga about her inability to escape from him and from PACT. Asaga attempted to dissuade Cullen by citing she was Arcadius' royal consort, but Cullen is unimpressed, denoting that the long-stagnant and decayed power of Ryuvia holds no sway over anyone anymore and that, as the Governor of the Neutral Rim, he is effectively the one in control of Ryuvia and thus, the one with control over Asaga. Cullen then expresses regret that it is Arcadius who is being married to Asaga, absentmindedly claiming that him taking "a taste" would surely be alright, encroaching on Asaga as the later disgustedly tries to brush him off. However, Veniczar B. Fontana cuts in just before Cullen can go any farther, foiling his intent to try and molest the princess before Arcadius arrived at the Legion. Fontana informs Cullen of Arcadius' being en-route to Ryuvia and warns him about trying to take things that don't belong to him. Aggravated by Fontana's actions, Cullen briskly demands Fontana get him the plans for the security arrangements and sulks off, muttering to himself that Fontana is a mere upstart and that he will show Fontana up once he is made Governor of Ryuvia.
Four hours prior to the state wedding, Cullen greeted Arcadius alongside Fontana upon the PACT leader's arrival at the Star Palace at Ryuvia. Arcadius remarks that he would have preferred to see the Star Palace as it was long ago when Ryuvia was at the hight of its power, but Cullen reassures the Veniczar that the Star Palace still had splendor enough, providing a brisk report on the details of the Neutral Rim conquests when prompted - essentially boiling down to the fact any worlds that don't join willingly are bombed into submission. Arcadius reminds Cullen that the Neutral Rim is simply the field test for the armada before they advance on Far Port, the gateway world of the Solar Alliance, and Cullen confidently boasts that he already has five of the best forward PACT fleets assembled for the invasion, intending to storm through Far Port and flood into five Alliance sectors before their unsuspecting enemy can even mount a defense. Fontana cautions that the fighting the Alliance will be different then fighting the ill-equipped, home-grown and undermanned militaries of the backwater worlds in the Neutral Rim, but Cullen dismisses Fontana as simply lacking a fleet capable of facing the Alliance. Arcadius ultimately decides to allow Cullen a chance to prove his boasts, granting him permission to lead PACT's attack on Far Port and their first battle against the Alliance.
Cullen is present at the state wedding when Acadius ultimately betrays and murders Asaga's father, King Jaylor XII, right in front of her after revealing he never intended to uphold his agreement to spare Ryuvia from invasion, and it is likely that Cullen was supremely amused by Jaylor's death and the futility of the dead king's efforts to save his daughter. However, when the Sunrider suddenly warped in barely ten meters above the Star Palace, Cullen was left stunned speechless, as the ship he had sparred had come back to haunt him. A force of combat drones, spearheaded by a security force led by both Captian Kayto Shields and his First Officer, Commander Ava Crescentia, storms the wedding hall and confront the PACT security forces, with Kayto himself coming face-to-face with Cullen personally, addressing him once more as "Veniczar Porkchops." Infuriated, Cullen curses having not killed Kayto when he had the chance - a distraction that allows Asaga to stomp Cullen's foot with her heals, sending the Veniczar to the ground calling for a medic. In the Novelization, Asaga instead stomped his hand and then went a step farther by kicking Cullen in the face and breaking his nose. Fontana tries to organize his forces enough to recover from Cullen's blunder, but by that time Kayto has already made off with Asaga, and in the chaos Arcadius himself is sniped by the Sunrider's new sniper - the supposedly long-dead Princess Sola vi Ryuvia - with Arcadius' flickering hologram form showing that he'd never even been present for the wedding. Fontana promptly takes command of the fleet to track down the Sunrider - presumably while Cullen is seeing a medic for his stomped foot
(NOTE: In the Novelization, Cullen's need for a medic is somewhat more genuine as Asaga had kicked his nose in and broken it, in addition to having crushed his hand instead of his foot)
Far Port and Death
After Cullen quickly recovered of his very "life threatening" hit by shoe's heel on his foot - or, as in the Novelization, his embarrassing and painful broken nose - he returned to command and prepared for the next step of PACT's plans; the invasion of the Alliance. Cullen took command of PACT's forces and prepared to lead the assault at Far Port with five of PACT's best forward fleets - a grand total of around 600 ships. Cullen takes the time to contact the lead ship - which is ironically the very ship that had caused him so much pain and humiliation, the Sunrider - and mock the small force defending Far Port as it is only a sixth of the size of his own fleet, claiming that his victory is all but assured. Captian Kayto Shields tells Cullen that over a thousand Alliance ships are en-route to Far Port, but Cullen brushes off the warning, telling Kayto that he and the rest of his defenders will die by his hand before cutting the contact and, once Arcadius gives his address to the troops, orders them ahead, charging forward with all five fleets at once in a move to steamroll the defending fleet as Arcadius and Fontana observe aboard the Legion from the rear.
However, Cullen's overconfidence ends up getting the better of him - having always been on the offensive in all his campaigns, Cullen had experience in overcoming defensive positions, though usually only through brute force and the enemy's own lack of supplies and manpower, and had never before faced a true offensive by his enemies. Kayto realizes this and has his ships charge forward, causing Cullen's advancing light fleets to overshoot their targets and leave Cullen himself wide open for attack, and the Sunrider and its fleet proceed to devastate Cullen's command vessels. Despite his immense advantage in numbers, Cullen found himself on the defensive, struggling to keep himself alive as the Sunrider cut through his command line and sent the PACT fleet further and further into disarray. As Cullen's ineptitude becomes painfully obvious to Arcadius, he has the Legion fire its main gun to support Cullen, albeit at the cost of two PACT vessels that cannot escape the Legion's line of fire as it cuts down a portion of the defending fleets. However, Cullen refuses to budge from his belief that he will ultimately win, confidently stating the battle is far from finished and ordering that his ship prepare to fire it's quantum torpedo at the Sunrider, having finally made a somewhat tactically correct decision in his career - namely that all he has to do in order to win is bring down the Sunrider, the vessel that commands Far Port's defense, and the Alliance's fleet will be leaderless and routed, which is ironically the very same strategy that Kayto is attempting to use on Cullen.
But before the torpedo can be fired, he is headed off by none other then Asaga di Ryuvia herself, who aims her Ryder's laser weapons at Cullen's flagship. Cullen mockingly asks what she intends to do with such small weapons, and in response, Asaga removes the limiters on their power output, which theoretically should overwhelm and overload the Ryder's core and cause it to detonate. Surprisingly, she is able to control the immense release of energy as her Ryuvian bloodline's innate enhancements activate, and she releases the laser cannon's energy as one massive burst akin to an energy sword, shocking and terrifying Cullen as he realizes that his ship, locked in its advance on both Asaga and the Sunrider, cannot escape the attack. Proclaiming the attack as being retribution for Ryuvia's invasion, Asaga brings the beam down on the disbelieving and horrified Cullen, who can do nothing else but panic as the laser blast incinerates him and his vessel in one stroke, killing him instantly.
In the wake of Cullen's death and the loss of their chain of command, the PACT fleet is left completely disorganized and in utter chaos, easy pickings for the Alliance's reinforcements - the Emerald Fleet led by Admiral Harold Grey. Arcadius, realizing the battle has turned against him, orders Fontana to have what remains of the fleet to pull back, and the first battle of the Alliance-PACT war ends in a resounding defeat for PACT.
Personality & Traits[edit | edit source]
Cullen's personality can be summed up as, quite simply, being that of a hedonist and a fool. He is greedy, self-centered and cowardly, believing that might makes right and that he is the one that has the most might to show. Cullen’s lack of courage or tactical wit is amply made up for by the sheer power of the PACT fleet against the lightly armed worlds of the Neutral Rim. However, due to his blundering nature, some whisper that Cullen had merely been sent away to the Neutral Rim by Arcadius to keep Cullen occupied while Arcadius deals with other more intricate plans, as the conquest of the Neutral Rim would be so simplistic that even a boar such as Cullen could do it if given enough vessels.
Cullen generally lacks intelligence, and compensates with brute force and bragging, puffing himself out like a peacock. He is blusterous and long-winded, yet easily intimidated and terrified of dying or even being the slightest bit injured, both on the battlefield and in his personal life. He has little shame in kicking an opponent when down or in slaughtering innocents, and he was most likely the one who was ordering the Legion to nuke planets from orbit - possibly including Cera as well. He brushes off such massive and wonton death as simply being an "unavoidable" aspect of war, though he is terrified of dying himself - and yet holds the contradictory standard of having no real sense of danger until too late, as he did not see his impending doom at Far Port until he could do nothing to stop it. His arrogance also cost him since, just as Fontana warned him, Cullen's own inexperience in fighting coordinated and experienced commanders proved to be his undoing as he lacked any real talent for leadership or for strategy. His boorish personality made him universally hated by his subordinates, but they never said a word about him if they could help it due to how much political power Cullen had, and how little restraint he had in throwing his weight around.
Cullen enjoys luxury and being lavished with fine delicacies - food, wine, fine clothe and finer women. He also has something of a perverse side, as he was not above trying to molest Asaga di Ryuvia in spite of the assumed decade/two-decade or so age-gap between the two. He was also rather petty as he would swear vengeance against any who so much as came close to slighting him, and had an over-inflated sense of both pride and self-importance in how easily riled up and distracted he got by Kayto Shields' persistent insults, or when he declared that he was to be the Governor of the entirety of the Neutral Rim. He did have a shrewd side as he not only knew to defect from the New Empire to save his own hide, but also to let Kayto Shields do all the work in recovering the crown jewel (although the latter instance could have simply been dumb luck in chancing upon Kayto at the right time). He also had an uncanny streak of luck at times, as there were many instances where he managed to pull off some rather impressive feats where they should have been impossible, foremost being his cornering of the Sunrider.
Relationships[edit | edit source]
Veniczar S. Arcadius - Cullen defected from the side of the New Empire over to PACT in order to ensure his own survival in the Compact Revolution. As a result, it can be said that Cullen respects Arcadius only because the latter is in a higher position of power then him - like a dog with its master, hoping for whatever bones come his way, and yet unlike a dog, he likely wouldn't hesitate to try and claim the top spot for himself if he believed it possible, which is proven when he tries to molest Arcadius' betrothed behind the PACT leader's back.
Veniczar B. Fontana - The one bearing the unfortunate duty of being, in Cullen's view, a political nemesis and rival. Cullen envies Fontana for his youth and and his position as the de-facto second-in-command of Arcadius, viewing Fontana as nothing more then an upstart to his own power. He generally looks down on Fontana as an overcautious and meddling child, believing that Fontana's lack of overt brute force is a sign of cowardice or lack of confidence and being unafraid to say so, brushing off any tactical advice the younger Veniczar opts to give him. Fontana on the other hand does not see Cullen as anything more then a fool who has too much power to throw around.
Kayto Shields - Cullen is the first major PACT figure that the Sunrider crew encounters, and Cullen considers the Sunrider's captain to be a personal nemesis on the battlefield and archenemy. Kayto has more then once used his superior tactical judgement to either slip away or outright defeat him, and openly mocks him by referring to Cullen as "Veniczar Porkchops." Cullen repeatedly swears revenge on Kayto for the actions, but it is rarely taken seriously by the Sunrider Captain. Like Fontana, Kayto regards Cullen as a simple foolhardy hedonist who has too much power.
Cosette Cosmos - Cullen was not above associating and even privateering himself out to Cosette in order to claim the bounty she'd placed on Kayto Shield's head, though he was quick to blame her as incompetent when her forces could not defeat the Sunrider. It is likely he does not think much of her and looks down on her as being a mere child.
Asaga Oakrun - The Princess of Ryuvia was little more then an object to possess in Cullen's eyes, seeing her as simply the last gemstone in a dying dynasty that he would soon be taking over as governor of. He also had no sense of concern for either the Princess' well-being or even sense of decency when he tried to molest her aboard the Legion before she could be married to Arcadius. Ultimately, Cullen would be killed by Asaga herself during the Battle of Far Port, after having mocked her as a mere child.