Kistna is a space alien who appeared in several Valerian, Space-Time Agent graphic novels. She was first featured in 1988, in the On the Frontiers graphic novel.
For more about the setting and context, see our character profiles for Valérian and Laureline.
Kistna is a member of a rare alien species. Its name isn’t mentioned, as other species refer to them as “the Masters”. This folk name alludes to their extraordinary power and sophistication.
The Masters’ society has been all but crushed under the weight of its own history. There’s simply too much of it. As a result the small population of Masters has drifted apart. This diaspora seems irreversible – with such a small population scattered over an entire galaxy, it is rare for a Master to ever see another Master.
Furthermore, Masters have a short lifespan. This greatly lessens the odds of seeing another of their kind. This life expectancy is never specified, but they apparently reach their adult form within a few years. Perhaps they live for 30-ish years ?
On the other hand, a Master who dies (from any cause) will reincarnate. Their new form will be random, and may not even be tied to their homeworld species. Kistna mentioned that she could even have reincarnated as a Schniarfer, as a random example.
Masters keep their entire, vivid memories from life to life. However, it is possible that these are only accessible when their incarnation is in a Master body (or “ideal form” as they call it). For instance, if an incarnation is as a worm or insect, it likely won’t have the brainpower to process the data.
This may in turn explain why Masters cannot deal with their own history. It may be the same small population since the very beginning, all remembering everything.
Furthermore, an unclear percentage of the lot at any point will logically be “throwbacks”. They spent several lifetimes cut off in non-Master form, likely on other planets. These would be, in a sense, travellers from the past always dragging back old business into the present.
The Masters seem to have religious beliefs about unspecified “gods of the universe” presiding over what their reincarnation will be. However, it could simply be a metaphorical turn of phrase.
Since they’re so scattered and there can so few Master births, the species is fading away. There simply aren’t enough fresh Master bodies for them to reincarnate into.
“God”: “You DARE enter God’s house without knocking ?”
Jal: “Well, if you insist upon stuff getting knocked…”
(Kistna silently and ominously raises her hand with a white-hot glow of energy).
Kistna was a victim of Jal’s plot to recreate the Galaxity timeline. Back then, it was thought that the future of Earth had been shunted out of conventional time-space forever. The three known refugees from the erased era were Space-Time Service agents – Laureline, Valérian and, unbeknownst to them, Jal.
Jal tricked Kistna into thinking that he was a Master male. As she was excited by a rare opportunity at romance, sex and children, she let her guard down and shed her body armour. Jal tortured and killed her in a specific way, allowing him to steal her energies and gain superhuman powers for a time. These were instrumental in his plot to recreate the future he was from.
However, Kistna immediately reincarnated in full Master form – a low-probability event. She soon grew back to adulthood. Both she and Jal were traumatised by the experience.
(How Jal could pass for a Master, how he found a full-body Master armour to disguise himself, etc. is unrevealed. However, we know that he lost his lover when the Galaxity timeline was supposedly erased. Our No-Prize Hypothesis would be that this woman was a Master, or a Master reincarnated in a form sufficiently advanced (perhaps a Human) to access her memories. This would have provided Jal with unique inside intelligence about the Masters).
Jal’s plot was eventually defeated by Valérian and Laureline, after he expended his stolen super-powers.
Jal retired to the abandoned Terran habitat on Point Central. He lived alone in contrition for what he had done. He did not know that Kistna was already back in Master form.
For the Masters are above hatred
In 1988, Kistna ran into Valérian and Laureline during a luxury space cruise. Seeing Humans distressed her, and she required that they be kept away from her.
Days later, Laureline was accidentally kidnapped by the Quatuor Mortis as they snatched their actual target. The QM then stole Kistna’s ship to make their getaway, as it was the fastest and most impressive small vessel docked on the cruise ship. They did not know that Masters are psychically linked to their ship, and Kistna could thus easily locate them.
Not knowing of her past with Jal, Valérian beseeched Kistna’s help in rescuing Laureline. Kistna very reluctantly agreed, as her vast Master senses could tell how much Valérian loved Laureline. Her yacht was now on Point Central, and when they reached PC Valérian docked his ship at the Terran habitat.
Thus did Kistna and Jal unexpectedly run into each other, to their mutual shock. Jal fell on his knees and begged for forgiveness. He then explained to the puzzled Valérian what had happened. Kistna forgave him, stating the the Masters did not know hatred.
(One suspects that this ability not to feel hatred may come from the Masters trying to cope with the weight of their history.)
But we only have 48 hours to save the Earth !
Kistna and Jal eventually became friends. He did everything he could to make up to her for his vile, desperate actions. They also felt kinship as they both belonged to a fallen species without an apparent future.
This led to the powerful Kistna occasionally helping Valérian and Laureline. For instance, she soon rescued Valérian. He had painted himself into a corner as he rescued Laureline from the Quatuor Mortis and their employers.
When Laureline and Valérian organised a war effort against the Order of the Stones, both Kistna and Jal joined. They started by recruiting “Ralph” from Glapum’t.
Kistna’s extra-fast, light yacht was dispatched on several time-sensitive missions. During one such run, she and Jal rescued the stranded Shingouz spies.
Kistna, Jal and Ralph later went to confront the “holy trinity” on Hypsis. Their goal was both to neutralise the trinity, and to use the roaming planet Hypsis to facilitate freeing Earth from its prison.
Princess Kistna was the lynchpin of the mission – as muscle. Even the “holy trinity” couldn’t face a Master in battle without taking casualties. As a result they agreed to Jal’s terms. Presumably, they did not realise where the arcane vectors provided by Ralph would send Hypsis.
Powers & Abilities
The abilities of the Master are not defined – Valerian is more about poetic storytelling than geeky universe-building. What is demonstrated is :
- Extraordinary senses. Kistna mentions her kind can observe the universe in far richer ways than other species. She also seems to have paranormal empathic abilities.
- Some sort of telelocation ability that works at the very least on her spaceship. It may also have later allowed her to quickly locate Valérian. The latter may have been done using her ship’s sensors, though.
- Probability manipulation powers. Jal used this to rake in millions within a few days of casino gambling.
- Blue-white energy blasts from her hands. These could range from beams leaving people thoroughly dazed but unhurt, to boulder-pulverizing blasts.
Valérian once told Monsieur Albert that the Masters were “princes of spirit, science and the arts”.
Renowned cosmopsychiatrist Van Stu De Bi also mentioned a legend about the Masters. It said that even in their humblest of reincarnations, the Masters could shine like a star and create life ex nihilo where they trod.
There was a loose implication that the Masters may thus have contributed to the growth of much of the organic life in the Milky Way. Perhaps they are the reason so many sapients are more or less humanoid. After all, it would seem that their reincarnations often take place on random planets with but simple lifeforms.
Kistna was also powerful enough to have the “holy trinity” back down, despite their high level of technology and “God”’s ability to hurl Zeus-like lightning. Perhaps she can use her probability manipulation abilities to disrupt other energy powers.
It is also worthwhile to note that the “holy trinity” wasn’t sure whether they could withstand blasts from Valérian’s high-powered Galaxity disintegrator rifle. Kistna’s blasts likely operate on a similar level (or higher) as this advanced gun.
The princess seemed far more vulnerable without her armour. However, this might have been a simple effect of major psychological shock upon discovering that Jal wasn’t what he seemed. It would have left ample time for Jal to hit her naked body with some sort of incapacitating attack, like a narcotic.
Kistna’s small spaceship has two one-person cockpits, but it can take in a few passengers in a pinch. It seems real fast and sophisticated. It is capable of atmospheric flight and hovering.
She seemed immensely wealthy, perhaps through investments done over multiple lifetimes.
Kistna’s intricately sculpted body armour likely is an homage to both :
- H.R. Giger. It precedes the Sil design by years, but evokes Giger’s work in general.
- Certain aesthetics from 1970s sci-fi French comics, for instance Philippe Druillet’s work.
The armour is a skintight, carapace-like hardsuit. Kistna wears various embellishments over it, but these are essentially clothing and accessories for her armour. Somehow, Laureline could wear one of Kistna’s dresses as a loaner. Thus, the clothing may include some sort of wearer-adaptive nanotech.
Though of course, it is always possible that Laureline has a hidden super-power pertaining to designer clothing.
Under the armour Kistna looks Human-like, but with blue skin, needle-like teeth and four luminous, yellow eyes. Her blue hair has a slightly feather-like aspect. But that likely due to the art style used at that point. Jal’s hair in the same panel also had a feathery aspect.
A melancholic, romantic space princess usually living in solitude. Her scattered species is at the end of its rope, and adrift. Yet it is widely resented for its sheer power, immortality and aristocratic demeanour. The Masters are treated like space nobility, but this is in no small part out of fear.
Kistna seems to spend most of her time on luxury space cruises. She’s super-rich, and these cruises usually visit beautiful areas that she can enjoy with her extensive Master senses. It’s also an environment where she can demand respect and be tip-toed around. She’s paying a fortune, and only idiots would anger a Master.
Kistna is occasionally addressed (or refers to herself) as a princess. But one gets the impression that every Master in “ideal form” is considered a prince or princess by heritage.
The Masters seem emotionally removed, and not to know hatred. However, Kistna was very excited when romancing Jal, back when she thought he was a fellow Master. Rare opportunities to form bonds seem treasured by the Masters, as they appear to see most other lifeforms as not worth their while.
She also very much looked forward having sex with a Master male, which seems to have greatly diminished her focus.
Kistna seems to consider the three Terrans as acceptable associates, and to enjoy her friendship with them. But even there, she remains aristocratic and aloof.
On the other hand, she is easily moved when her friends’ goal are romantic enough, such as reuniting lovers or saving their homeworld.
Kistna hates being nagged, interrupted, disrespected, etc.. She won’t hesitate to zap the annoying party with an energy blast. It’s thoroughly non-lethal, but will leave them stupefied for about a minute.
Marvel Universe History
Kistna is reminiscent both of Shi’ar nobility and their enemies the Scy’ar Tal (originally the M’Krann species).
Perhaps the Shi’ar once attempted to enhance their royal genetics using the DNA of captured, powerful M’Krann elders. This would result in a more powerful Imperator, and follow their imperialistic religious imperative of forced “marriage” of species into the Shi’ar Empire.
But these aristocratic hybrids rejected the Shi’ar Empire and left, denouncing its militarism and announcing that they would concentrate on the arts and science. Renaming themselves the Masters they dispersed, not wanting to be reminded of the burden of the blood-soaked Shi’ar history. On its end, the Aerie erased all records of this project having ever taken place.
(See our Deathbird character profiles for more about the Shi’ar stuff).
DC Universe History
Kistna would be one of the scant survivors of the Second World. That was the universe before the explosion of Godworld. Godworld’s destruction resulted in the Godwave that created Earth’s divinities (and many, many others).
Crossgen Universe History
The First in the Crossgen Universe are also slightly reminiscent of the Masters.
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 02||Motivation: Not really.|
|Int: 05||Wil: 04||Min: 04||Occupation: Idle rich.|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 04||Spi: 03||Wealth: 015|
|Init: 013||HP: 010|
Analytical smell/tracking scent: 06, Detect (Gravity waves, Rangefinding): 05, Empathy: 05, Extended hearing: 07, Energy blast: 13, Extra-sensory tracking: 12, Iron Will: 07, Mental blast: 13, Mental shield: 05, Microscopic vision: 05, Probability manipulation: 09, Recall: 12, Reflection/Deflection: 12, Stagger: 13, Super-hearing: 06, Telescopic vision: 08, Thermal vision: 12, True sight: 03, Ultra-vision: 12, X-Ray vision: 04
Bonuses and Limitations:
- All OVs/RVs for Extra-Sensory Tracking are reduced for -2 CSes for objects and characters she has extensively attuned herself to. The known example is her starship.
- Reflection/deflection only works on energy, but it has the Indirect (+2) Bonus.
Accuracy (Energy attack Powers): 06, Artist: 07, Charisma: 05, Medicine: 05, Scientist: 07, Vehicles (Space): 04
Familiarity (Xeno-anthropology, Xeno-zoology, Astronomy), Headquarters (Confined), Mystique (People aware of the Masters).
MIA toward Romanticism, MIA toward Aristocratic demeanour, Creepy Appearance (she’s feared as a Master), Loss Vulnerability (all OV/RVs are +2CS when using her Powers, unless she’s wearing her ARMOUR).
- MASTER ARMOUR [/BODY/ 09, Damage capacity: 04, Obscure: 05, Sealed systems: 12].
- MINI-YACHT [STR 08 BODY (Hardened Defenses) 11, Acuity: 10, Damage capacity: 06, Data storage: 32, Flight: 38, Radio communications: 26, Radar sense: 24, Sealed systems: 21, Skin armour: 06, Bonuses & Limitations: Acuity has a special +7 Range Bonus, Skin armour only vs. structural damage, Note: counts as Confined Headquarters.].
The stats are HIGHLY speculative given the paucity of data. A lot of it is downright arbitrary, in fact.
Source of Character: Valerian graphic novels and the expanded Les habitants du ciel sourcebook.
Writeup completed on the 23rd of May, 2017.