I think I have now completed the main bulk of TBTBSG's battle section. There are still two or three big additions I need to make (including the ability to actually win a mission), which hopefully won't prove to be too much of a headache. Other than that, as far as the program goes, what's left are menus and such-like, which I am hoping to create as a kind of (hopefully intuitive) map of whatever location your character is in, á la Wing Commander. The real hard stuff begins when I have to actually create a coherent, flowing story mode - which must not be easy and boring, or hard and frustrating (and boring) - coupled to a story which I want to edge towards low-key epic, without crossing the line into 'too pretentious for a low-tech retro game'.
What I also need is more sketching. This is the first one I attempted, and also the one I'm happiest with - although it could still use a little work, and may be coloured depending on how much I overestimate my ability. This is 'Mercury' one of the two characters at the start of the game who'll give the player respect without making them earn it. The purpose of the other such character is to give you (the player) an honest and encouraging assessment of how well you're doing (in contrast to your direct superior who'll find fault with everything you do). Mercury on the other hand is your second in command. She exists to give you a strong unit early in the game, and to give you hints about how best to use your other, weaker (and in some cases quite peculiar) units.
In treading the fine line between allowing variation between characters and preventing needless complication, I've decided that each character is defined by four different numbers. All of Mercury's numbers are likely to change as I try to come up with a suitable level of challenge - except for her ludicrously high 'nerve' value. It's kind of what defines her for me. Although just what that means in terms of her abilities in the game and her personality in the story, I shall leave mysterious for a little longer.
(It is really late now, so I shall attempt to sleep, despite the cloying heat...)