Though he became a spirit-talker in early childhood, Vanya never had any interest in making a career out of it. His primary interest was always science, and he loved hearing spirits tell stories about the various technologies of other worlds, including Earth. However, because of the taboo against any Landian scientist or inventor being taught exactly how to construct any alien technology, Vanya never got a chance to fully realize his fondest dreams. This didn't stop him from trying to figure out how to make things he'd heard about in stories, and there was no taboo against that, as long as spirits didn't tell him how.
Meanwhile, he had various friends in the spirit-talker community, including Toros. In 892, when Vanya was 20 years old, Toros moved away from Ship, but he kept in touch with several old friends, including Vanya. In 902, Toros joined the Protestant Movement, and soon thereafter visited his home village, hoping to recruit spirit-talkers to the cause. Vanya was one of the first to join, though he didn't take a direct part in fighting against the Coming of the Order. But on 5 Win'yet, 904, after the Protestants had lost the war, Vanya fired on the flagship of the Navy, the Poseidon's Wrath, using an advanced alien weapon called a laser. The ship was immediately destroyed, killing Admiral Drake and a skeleton crew. The incident would come to be known as the Laser Plot. Vanya was soon found and arrested by the police, to whom he revealed plans involving unnamed co-conspirators to carry out a similar attack three days later, on New Order Day, in First Village. The Ship police warned the First Village police, who took steps to ensure the plans wouldn't happen. However, those responsible were never found, nor was any evidence of other lasers. The incident led to the enactment of the Prohibition of Off-world Technology.
Vanya was eventually transferred to a maximum security prison in First Village. Later, when the surname law was passed, Vanya chose the name 'Petard.' He claimed he'd hoped advanced weapons such as lasers might someday replace what he considered archaic weapons, such as petards. But it was obvious now that that would not happen in his lifetime.
In 912, at the end of the Chaos War, it was discovered that the Laster Plot had not been conducted by Protestants, as the public had always assumed. Rather, it turned out that Vanya had secretly been a spy working for Macen Illustri, on behalf of The Cabal (the existence of which had been discovered shortly before the Chaos War). However, Illustri himself had not known of the Laser Plot's true origins. It had actually been planned by another of his spies, Zeke Sanguine, who was also a member of the Cabal. After the revelation that the Protestants had been framed, the press took a renewed interest in Vanya, but he has refused to divulge any new information about the matter.
He continues to serve out a life sentence in prison.