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Azantlyr was born to a prestigious family in Ishanshyr. Both his parents are members of the Science Council - his mother is a theoretical physicist, his father a heavy-duty engineering specialist. Their duties took up a great deal of their time, and Azantlyr was raised largely by his grandmother, a retired Magistrate and staunch traditionalist. He excelled at his technical studies, as was almost expected of him, but it was his grandmother who shaped his attitudes - honor, duty, loyalty and honesty were the background music of his childhood and adolescence.
Yet for all his familial connections and abilities, he had a restless, questing spirit that left him dissatisfied with the prospect of spending his life in a lab or workshop. He wanted to explore the world for himself, learn about it and experience it first-hand. From early childhood, he was fascinated by the sky-ships that cris-crossed the planet, linking its diverse communities together, but his family were nonetheless shocked when he announced his intention to join the crew of one of them. His grandmother, strangely, was the one member of the family who didn't make strenuous efforts to talk him out of it. Martians had a proud tradition of exploration and discovery, she told him; she was glad to see him maintaining it. She was happy for him to follow his heart, so long as he held fast to his principles.
The sky-ship he chose, the Dawn Chaser, wasn't the largest or richest vessel that frequented Ishanshyr, but it was one of the most widely traveled, and they needed a new engineer. They were only too glad to sign one who'd been trained in the City of the Ice Pyramids, although the crew were uncertain of Azantlyr at first. That didn't last long; his combination of friendliness and naivety quickly led to them taking him under their wing. Azantlyr had been on the Dawn Chaser for five years before Kranesh's pirates captured him, and the rest of the crew had long since become his surrogate family. He's determined to rescue them, no matter what.
Azantlyr is driven by his curiosity - about other places, other races, other cultures. He joined the crew of a sky-ship to satisfy that eagerness to learn. The combination of his open-mindedness and the traditional Martian virtues of honor and loyalty made it easy for him to accept - and be accepted by - his predominantly human crew-mates. He enjoys solving the technical problems thrown up by day-to-day life on a sky-ship, both for the intellectual challenge they present and the respect it earns him from the other members of his crew.
Azantlyr is basically a good-natured and slightly impractical nerd, quiet, good-humored and friendly, but with an implacably stubborn, argumentative streak when he feels certain that he's right. He almost never loses his temper, but he'll keep on and on and on politely making his point until until his opponent is worn down through sheer exhaustion.
Watch Commander Grunveld and Dr. Jesselyn Feltarn
Grunveld comes from a clan of Ogrons who've lived in Nexus for generations. His family have hired themselves out as security on the sky-ships for almost as long, and Grunveld followed in their footsteps in his youth, distinguishing himself in a campaign to hunt down one particularly vicious and audacious pirate band that took a serious chunk out of the Nexus' profits as well as claiming the lives of many of its merchant crews. He rose on merit and ability to become chief of security to Nexus' largest merchant consortium, a position he held for seven years before being head-hunted for the post of Watch Commander. He was a compromise candidate; the city's ruling families had spent many years struggling to put their own placemen into the post, but the end result was a leadership that was both unstable and ineffective. The politicking at the top was starting to impair the effectiveness of the Watch, which none of the families wanted, so they agreed a compromise - a candidate who was sufficiently strong-willed, and had sufficient personal integrity, than none of them could easily control him, and sufficiently competent that he could put the Watch back on its feet.
They hadn't counted on Grunveld proving so effective and so popular that the Watch would become something akin to his own personal power base, but by the time they realized it was happening, trying to do anything about it would have caused more trouble than it was worth. An uneasy dynamic exists between Grunveld and the ruling families, with Grunveld trying to make the Watch an impersonal agent of justice - or at least the law - the families trying to use it as simple enforcers for their own interests, and neither side entirely sure how far it can push the other.
Grunveld is a frustrated idealist. He'd prefer to serve the cause of justice, but he knows that quite often, in a city as corrupt as Nexus, the best he can hope for is to keep order and try to keep the innocent from getting hurt too badly. Still, he continues his uphill battle to do the right thing whenever he can.
Brisk, blunt and to-the-point, Grunveld has no time for social niceties. He runs the Watch like a military operation, disciplined, ordered and uncompromising. Despite that - or perhaps because of it - he's hugely popular with his men, who know they can rely on him for fair - albeit stern - treatment. He's also widely respected by the city's general populace. They might not warm to his personality, but they do trust him, something that makes him almost unique among the venal, self-serving rulers of Nexus.
Born to wealth and power, Jesselyn Feltarn has no real interest in either. As daughter of one of Nexus' richest and most influential merchant families, her love of science was regarded by most of her relatives as an irritating distraction from more important matters - such as making money. She bowed to her family's wishes to some extent, by making a political marriage with the son of another prominent family. Technically, she's still married, but although she's on excellent terms her son and daughter, her relationship with her husband is best described as cordial mutual indifference.
Her willingness to let her family run her life only went so far, though. She insisted on pursuing doctorate-level studies in biochemistry and pharmacology, even though they had little commercial value, and then compounded her rebellion by joining the Watch as a junior scientific officer so that she could put her newfound skills to worthwhile practical use. Thirty years and a decade of post-doctoral studies in pathology later, she's risen - on merit, not familial connections - to become the Watch's chief pathologist and the head of its scientific division.
She and Grunveld were allies almost from the first. Their skills and approaches are complimentary - Feltarn is the detective and the investigator who discovers who the bad guys are, and Grunveld the tough enforcer who takes them down.
Grunveld accuses Dr. Feltarn of being driven by frustrated maternal instinct, but there's a strong undercurrent of mutual respect beneath the gibes. Like Grunveld, Jesselyn Feltarn is primarily motivated by concern for the well-being of Nexus and its people. Unlike him, she sees that task as extending to their prosperity and happiness, as well as their physical safety. She's a quiet advocate for using the Watch as a mechanism for social change, under the cover of "outreach" and "crime prevention" programmes that she sells to the skeptical ruling families as a mixture of cost-saving measures and good PR
Feltarn cultivates the amiable and slightly scatterbrained mien of an eccentric maiden aunt - even with close friends like Grunveld, whom she's not fooling for an instant. Friendly and slightly motherly in a vague sort of way, she prefers to let everyone else do the talking - which, as she observes dryly, most people are only too willing to do. It's only in moments of stress or crisis that her highly organized and incisive scientific mind is visible through the facade.
Kransesh came from an unremarkable lower-middle-class background - both her parents were office clerks - and rose in the ranks of the Perseus Imperium through a combination of scientific brilliance and total lack of scruple.
Kranesh no longer has a physical body. Her consciousness exists as a semi-organic computer system built into a small military scout ship. (If using the Time Lord RPG, the scout has the following stats: Strength: 7, Damage Resistance 3, Size: 1, Weight: 6, Move: 9)
If the PCs enter the scout ship to confront Kranesh, they'll see a small, cramped cockpit with room for only three people to stand comfortably. The seats and instrument panels have been stripped out of the cockpit, and the walls lined with computer banks instead. In the middle of the cockpit is a waist-high plinth supporting a translucent globe about twice the size of a human head. Inside the globe, it's possible to catch a faint glimpse of something grey and glistening, threaded through with silver wires and crystalline components. Transparent tubes filled with various-colored fluids run from the plinth to the wall that separates the cockpit from the cargo hold. The room has an organic, yeast-like smell.
Kranesh can speak to the PCs in a simulation of her own voice. It sounds flat and synthetic, but ironically that's more a reflection of Kranesh's (lack of) personality than the quality of the speech circuitry. If she's out of other options, she'll plead for mercy, citing the benefits that her medical and scientific skills could offer to those in need, but she doesn't have it in here to sound sincere - and she isn't.
Kranesh was always driven by two things - scientific curiosity, and her own survival. As a human being, she suffered the occasional qualm of conscience regarding her experiments, but she quelled them without too much trouble, reasoning that if she didn't give the Perseus Imperium's ruling junta what it wanted, it would simply have her shot and replaced, so there was no point in sacrificing herself. As a semi-organic computer, what little human compassion she once possessed has been lost, and she's now a classic sociopath, pursuing her new goal - regaining a human body - without the slightest regard for who might suffer and die in the process
Kranesh was always a cold and unlikeable woman, who seldom experienced emotions other than professional pride and the occasional bout of icy rage. In her new incarnation, even those emotions are muted, and she comes across as a humorless, monomaniacal fanatic with the barest ability to co-operate with others and no social graces whatsoever. Even the Rani has been known to make the occasional joke - or at least, exercise her acerbic wit at someone else's expense. Kranesh lacks even that level of interpersonal skill.
The Berand family is the second richest in Nexus. Jafan was the third child of his parents, materially pampered but emotionally neglected in favor of the Heir and the Spare. His family position gave him a sense of entitlement, his pampered upbringing made him self-absorbed and egotistical, and the lack of expectations displayed towards him made him both resentful and unfamiliar with the concept of hard work. It proved a dangerous cocktail.
He ran for election to the City Council, as was expected for someone of his background. He won as seat, as was also expected for someone of his background. Traditionally, Nexus' ruling families arrange for their offspring to do something socially worthwhile - and preferably, time-consuming - when first voted on to the Council, partly to keep them out of mischief and partly to drill it into their heads that power comes with responsibilities as well as privileges. The point was lost on young Jafan, who saw running the city's prison service as a job unworthy of someone of his obvious talents.
Unfortunately, it was also a job that brought him into personal contact with a number of unsavory characters, including former pirates. When it finally crossed his mind that he could use staged pirate attacks to undermine the other councilors who had so snubbed and overlooked him, he had the means to act on the idea. Needless to say, it all went wrong, and the Watch wiped out most of his pirate allies, nearly uncovering their connection to Jafan in the process. When the leader of the pirates turned up at his mansion, looking for help in making his escape, Jafan panicked, murdered him, and fed the body to the Seetus. It was the first time he'd had to get his own hands dirty, and he didn't much care for the experience, but the Seetus have proved useful over the years in helping several other members of the city's elite dispose of similar problems.
For all the favors he was owed, though, he didn't wield enough influence to stop the city's leaders - including his own brother and sister! - from slowly dismantling his business empire. The deal with Kranesh was his last chance.
But this time, his luck has finally run out...
Berand is a shallow dilettante. He thinks that he wants power, but what he really wants is the fawning adoration of others - without the irritating distractions of responsibility or (horror!) the need to do any work. His laziness and lack of scruples lead him to take short-cuts to his supposed goal of ruling Nexus, and his lack of ability means that his half-baked plots tend, more often than not, be be exposed before they have a chance to get under way.
Berand can turn on the charm when he wants to, simulating a generosity, concern for others, and eagerness to help that he's never experienced in his entire life. If met at the party, he will be the very epitome of a gracious host; it's expected of him, and he has an image to maintain. If he doesn't have any use for someone, however, he's brusque, rude, dismissive, and sometimes threatening. (His threats are seldom very impressive or credible, but he tries).
Berand is a slightly plump, swarthy-skinned man with long black hair and beard coiled into elaborate ringlets. His clothes are expensive, loud, tasteless, and often lacking in color coordination - the sixth Doctor would probably approve of his fashion sense, if nothing else about him - and his fingers are laden with gold rings