Private Oleander Clay is having a ball! She's made it into Special Forces, the most elite police department in the city, her friend and partner Isidore hasn't gotten himself killed even a little bit, and they're going to take this fair city by storm.
Well, they will as soon as they get things sorted out- they're the new fellas, they'll figure it out soon! And sure, there people are muttering about another gang war, and alright, everyone's a bit jumpy after one of that mob boss' lieutenants turned up after every thought they'd all skipped town for good... but it's not as bad as all that!
Sure, the upper management isn't the best- they've still got a military governor, and they've been a part of the Empire for three generations. And okay, it's... not great, that the head of police has been missing in action for a decade now and there's still no official replacement. And there's crime and mass murder and all that, but hey! Everywhere has its problems.
But Special Forces and the rest have been handling things fine; they'll get through this- Oleander's sure of it! So she's not even a little bit worried when Saul Sibiryakov, the Lieutenant Colonel and right-hand-person-turned-fella-in-charge puts her and Isidore on the case of investigating the gang that's moving in on everyone else's territory and getting everyone all balled up. They can handle it, and while they're working on it that dame from Records is hard at work tracking down some kind of leak.
Funny, though. That... she thinks it's one of them at Special Forces.
Tropes in this series include:
The smallest and most effective branch of the citys police force. Theyre hand-picked from members of the other divisions by the Chief of Police, who is traditionally a member; theyre on top of the hierarchy of police divisions. Respected throughout the city for their effectiveness, though seen by the other divisions as arrogant and aloof.
- Action Girl: Any female member is probably one given the focus on combat in the armed forces.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: How the other departments view them— they're undeniably good at what they do, but they come across as thinking that they're better than everyone else just because the police chief is their commander.
- Badass Crew: Undoubtedly; while the members are picked for honesty and incorruptibility rather than pure skills, anyone who actually lasts more than a year on SF has to be a badass.
- Big Brother Is Employing You: All of them are members of the military police force of a repressive imperial government, though the city and its own politics are their main concerns, not the rest of the empire.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Colonel Sibiryakov, the charismatic and elegant commander who makes the plans for the big picture, and his right-hand woman, the brutally straightforward and honest Captain Victrix, who forces everyone to get their butts in gear and actually get things done.
- Child Soldiers: Not in the present, but all of them were first drafted into the imperial army when they were 16 or 17 years old; serving in the military is regarded as part of coming of age.
- The Dreaded: Has a reputation for being a bunch of Knight Templars who are very good at their jobs; when they're after you, everyone knows you don't fight, you run.
- Fantastic Rank System: Their ranking system is closer to the Soviet Militsiya than anything else, with some modifications.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Most partnerships end up becoming them out of necessity; you aren't very effective if you're working with someone you can't stand.
- Oleander and Isiodre didn't have much in common or know anything about each other both they were partnered, but the stresses of being the New Meat in SF and being thrown into dangerous situations together quickly sparked respect for each other's skills that turned to friendship.
- Sibiryakov and Westbrook outright disliked each other when they were first partnered together; by the end of their first case (and life-or-death situation where they saved each other's hide), they'd struck up an Odd Friendship that's endured since.
- First-Name Basis: Partners are usually the only ones who call other members of the armed forces by their first names, so they're usually the only ones on a First-Name Basis with each other. Apart from that, Jonah and Rosaline are close enough friends to be on it, and Sibiryakov is close enough to his old partner Westbrook that Westbrook still calls him by first name.
- Last-Name Basis: Most members of the police force call each other by last name unless they're particularly close (i.e. partners) or for some other reason, like Victrix preferring her middle name and going by that.
- Like Brother and Sister: Oleander and Isidore; even aside from the Incompatible Orientation (while Isidore is bisexual, Oleander is a lesbian) neither of them think of the other in any sense other than lovable-but-irritating sibling that they'll go through hell through, and would be horrified at the thought of dating.
- Mildly Military: Somewhat; they don't keep as strict discipline as the border-army (partly because they're based in their hometown and aren't as isolated), but they're stricter than a civilian police force would be.
- Non-Uniform Uniform: To the police force's uniform as a whole; their uniform is very similar to the standard one (which is itself very similar to the standard military uniform) but it's a blue-gray instead of tan, and has a slightly different cut and badge design. (And they usually don't bother to wear the required-but-hated Commissar Caps unless it's a formal event).
- Platonic Life-Partners: Sibiryakov and Westbrook, who were partnered when they started out and remain the most important people in each other's lives after ten years. Westbrook is the only person Sibiryakov trusts completely, and Westbrook in turn values Sibiryakov above himself and would do nearly anything for him, no matter the cost.
- Pretentious Latin Motto: Non Sibi Sed Patriae; "Not for self, but for country". It's the motto of the entire city's police force, not of Special Forces.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- Oleander and Isidore; Oleander is the brash, idealistic, and physical Red Oni of the partnership while Isidore is the cynical, cautious, and cunning Blue Oni.
- Sibiryakov and Victrix have this dynamic. Sibiryakov is the more (apparently) emotional and idealistic Red Oni, with Victrix acting as his more level-headed and rational Number Two Blue Oni.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Oleander and Isidore have this dynamic in their partnership, with Isidore contributing pragmatism and street-smarts and Oleander being the driving force and enthusiasm to actually get things done.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: What they pride themselves on: above all else, Special Forces has never been corrupt.
- Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Oleander is the physically bigger, stronger, and better trained one of their partnership, with Isidore having connections in the underworld and enough guile to make up for her naivety and lack of experience.
- Vitriolic Best Buds:
- Oleander and Isidore, who can't stop giving each other grief for more than five minutes; while Isidore is the more sardonic about it, Oleander gives as good as she gets. They're still the best of friends; they'd feel awkward if they weren't making fun of each other in between cases.
- Westbrook and Sibiryakov, though played with in that though Westbrook still regularly interrupts, snarks at, and expresses his irritation with Sibiryakov, he's a lot nicer and less vitriolic towards him than he is everyone else. Sibiryakov, for his part, snarks back, though it's so deadpan that few people other than Westbrook realize it's snark.
Private Oleander ClayOne of the newest members of SF, and partnered with Isidore. She's worked hard to become as skilled as she is and has a lot of natural talent, but tends to be rather naive. She sees things pretty black and white at first: the police protect the public from evil!
In the course of that work she does very well, easily making a name for herself and becoming a very effective officer; of course, she also tends to be easily influenced by people, and strives a bit too much to emulate the people she admires.
- Adorkable: During the times when her enthusiasm for life in general and her awkwardness from her lack of experience combine, which is quite a bit.
- Amazonian Beauty: Taller and brawnier than her male partner, and a real hit with the ladies.
- Ambiguous Gender: She's 'mostly a girl', and partly not. She mostly goes by "she", but is also okay with people using "they" to refer to her.
- Ascended Fangirl: She used to daydream about getting to work with the Special Forces division one day; now she's actually one of its members.
- Badass Adorable: If anyone in SF qualifies as 'cute', it's her, in both looks and personality.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She's got a long fuse and is kind to a fault, but she tends to get... carried away, when she loses control of her anger.
- Blood Knight: She likes fighting (and hurting) people, and it disturbs her greatly when she realizes this.
- Boisterous Bruiser: As part of being a Genki Girl who's also one of the strongest people in SF. If anything, she's usually more upbeat after a fight than before it.
- Chaste Hero: She's never fallen in love with anyone, or has even wanted to be in a romantic relationship. Messing around with someone on the side is a different story, though.
- Chick Magnet: Oleander never has a hard time getting female attention; when she tries to act as a wingman for her friends, she usually ends up getting asked out on dates by the women she tries to introduce to her friends. Part of it is that she's far from bad looking, part of it is her idealism and playful personality that people want to stay around with.
- Constantly Curious: She wants to know a lot of things, and she'll often get off track asking a witness about something interesting but completely unrelated to the case.
- Cool Big Sis: To her little brother, who's three years younger than her and looks up to her despite how they argue. Admittedly, she's one of the dorkier examples of one.
- Cowboy Cop: Like (and partially because of) Sibiryakov, she believes that the rules can be fudged if they get in the way of preventing further crimes from being committed, and will go against regulations in a case if she thinks she needs to. Unlike Sibiryakov, she's not high ranked enough to get away away with it without consequences.
- Dreadful Musician: Her kazoo playing is bad enough to drive people to tears; Isidore asks if she's punishing him for something, and, if so, he sincerely apologizes for whatever it was.
- Geek: She's a fan of the relatively new genre of science fiction, enjoys the records of musicians it seems no one but her has ever heard of, and drags Isidore along to midnight showings of the worst horror movies she can find because of how enjoyably cheesy they are.
- Genki Girl: Out of SF, she's probably the friendliest person you can find, and when she's excited about something she usually ends up dragging the rest of the unit along for the ride.
- He Who Fights Monsters: She started out horrified at the cruelty of the criminals she fights, but began using methods like theirs more and more as time went on.
- Innocently Insensitive: She doesn't mean anything by it, but asking about things like Victrix's girlfriend and Isidore's family usually ends up tugging at wounds that haven't fully healed yet.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": She's looked up to Victrix and Sibiryakov for years, and dreams of being as great as them one day. For their part, both of them, though not without their flaws, really are fundamentally good people who Oleander still admires even after getting to know them enough to realize that they aren't perfect.
- Meaningful Name: Oleander is a very toxic plant that's often cultivated for its beautiful pink flowers; appropriate, for someone who seems downright adorable until she's pulling a gun on you.
- Naïve Newcomer: To Special Forces; she's a bit too tough to be New Meat, but she's certainly not used to SF's level of intensity in its cases and what it requires her to do as part of the job.
- One Head Taller: Than Isidore; she's 5'10", he's 5'4".
- Pragmatic Hero: Becomes one over the course of the story as her idealism gradually gets worn down by Awful Truths and she starts taking more and more morally ambiguous acts with the justification that the ends justify the means, though she never quite loses sight of her ideals and never slips far enough to be an Unscrupulous Hero.
- Skilled, but Naïve: She has a lot of skill and natural ability as a police officer, but her naivety tends to put her and others at risk if no one's there to help her; this is why she was partnered with Isidore.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Genuinely thinks the best of everyone and knows that things will turn out okay, no matter how bad they seem at the time. Which... isn't always the best thing to assume, in her line of work.
Private Isidore NevrakisAn ex-convict with a long string of misdemeanors (petty theft, tampering with a vending machine's seal, disorderly conduct, acting as a master barber without a license, public mischief, etc.) and one felony.
After being interrogated and his service on the front observed, he was offered a choice between either a decade in the military or 15 years in the slammer. He chose to serve (even if he's got restrictions, at least he's outside), and he eventually proved good enough to be given a spot on SF and partnered with Oleander.
- Amicable Exes: He's often on pretty good terms with his exs, mostly the ones who were friends before they started dating and ending finding out that they're Better as Friends; Rachel in paticular is still a very close friend of his after they broke up.
- Big Brother Instinct: Has a finely tuned one after spending most of his childhood looking after his two younger brothers.
- Black Sheep: The rest of his family are perfectly law-abiding and honest members of society.
- Book Dumb: School was never his most important concern growing up, so he usually relies on Oleander to handle the stuff that requires that kind of knowledge.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Pointed out by his own brother: while he might have started out committing crimes for a good cause, by the end he was committing larger and larger crimes just to feel powerful, long after his stopped family wanting or needing his help.
- Disappeared Dad: His biological dad was never in the picture; when he was very young his mother married the man he would consider his dad and who treated him as his son. Unfortunately, he died of influenza when Phobos and Deimos were infants, when Isidore was around five.
- Dye Hard: Started dying his hair bright red when he was a teenager as part of a an attempt to impress a girl he liked; she thought it was ridiculous, but he still thinks it looks good on him. Oleander almost doesn't recognize him when he stops for a while and his hair returns to its natural brown.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Even when he was at his worst (a violent thief who took advantage of people in even worse circumstances than his), he geniunely loved his mother and brothers, and wanted desperately for them not to know the truth so that they'd still love him.
- Guile Hero: How he survives on the streets of a Vice City when he's not actually good at fighting: when he tries, he can be very good at playing people against each other and has an instinctive way of working local politics to his advantage.
- I Have No Son!: His family (apart from Phobos)'s reaction to finding out what he's done. While his mother's gradually come to forgive him, Deimos refuses to speak to him even when he's standing right in front of him.
- Justified Criminal: Started off working for small-time gangs to pay his mom and brothers' rent on their apartment. As their financial situation stabilized it got less and less justified, and eventually he was just doing it for the sheer rush of getting away with it.
- Little Brother Is Watching: The prosecution of being a bad influence to Phobos and have him end up like him is a large part of Isidore's motivation to stay on the straight and narrow.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: He's got a long list of ex-girl(and boy)friends, none of whom last longer than a month or so, mostly because the people he starts relationships with usually aren't good for the long term.
- Lovable Rogue: He's an unrepentant (for the most part) thief and stays out of trouble now less because he actually regrets what he's done and more because he's afraid of Victrix. Still, he's got standards, and after he's resigned himself to the job he tries his best and helps back Oleander up whenever she gets into trouble.
- Hero with an F in Good: He's greedy, dishonest, and has a very checkered past... but that doesn't make him a bad person. He's really trying his best to turn his life around and make the most of things, even though he's seen as a former criminal first and foremost.
- The Münchausen: He loves telling stories about all ridiculous number of weird jobs he's had in his life, frequently exaggerating them to make himself look better/cooler/more interesting than he was when it actually happened. Oleander gets pretty practiced at cutting him off before he wastes too much time on them, though sometimes the grain of truth in them does actually prove relevant to the situation at hand.
- Pungeon Master: Notorious for making awful puns whenever he can; Oleander finds some of them to be Actually Pretty Funny, though she'll still give him a Lame Pun Reaction so he won't get encouraged.
- Reformed, but Rejected: He's obeying the terms of his service in good faith and really is trying to be a person that his family won't be ashamed of... though very few people (including Victrix) believe that it's not just an act to avoid prison.
- The Scrounger: He can manage to get his hands on quite a few of the things that he and Oleander end up needing for their investigations, even whatever it is isn't strictly 'legal'.
- Street Smart: He's good at reading his surroundings and the people around him, and knows both around the city well enough to get by without many other resources.
- Sticky Fingers: Has a habit of 'borrowing' things without asking and without the intent of ever actually returning them.
- Tattooed Crook: He's got winding tattoos going over most of his upper chest, shoulders, and neck. He got them partly to seem tough, partly because he just really likes how they look.
- Technical Pacifist: Even back when he was a criminal he'd rather run than fight, even if he got hurt for it. Now that he sometimes has to, he'll fight... but when it comes down to it he still can't bring himself to actually pull the trigger on someone.
- Trading Bars for Stripes: The deal he made: he would serve out his full term of duty (three years), and then could choose whether to take a lengthy prison sentence or serve the military in some other department for a slightly less lengthy period.
Lieutenant Colonel Saul Sibiryakov
The one in charge of Special Forces, and the commander of the entire city's police force. He's got a constantly chipper and upbeat attitude, no matter what the situation is; in some ways, that makes his moments of cold ruthlessness more unnerving rather than less.
He's been in control of the police force for five or six years now; in that time he's established enough favors owed from people in high places to overlook various eccentricities and built enough of the system up from scratch around himself that it's an open question whether it would function at all without him there. For the most part it's a moot point, since he never takes a break.
- '20s Bob Haircut: Which helps his androgynous appearance; his hair is actually slightly longer than average, going down to his chin.
- Alliterative Name: Saul Sibiryakov. Played with because in the part of the empire he grew up in it was more common to refer to people by first and middle name instead of first and last, so that it wasn't until he transferred to the city that alliteration became how he was normally addressed.
- Ambiguous Gender: Sibiryakov identifies as a non-binary gender (androgyne) and has an androgynous appearance: a flat chest, high voice, narrow shoulders and hips, and delicate features. He's fine with being being referred to as either "he" and "they", with no preference between them.
- Asexuality: He just doesn't see the appeal of sex, and can't be bothered with it.
- Chaste Hero: He's not attracted in a romantic sense towards anyone, either, or even wants to be in a relationship; the term is aromantic.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Splits the job with Victrix, handling together the paper work that keeps SF running; he regularly works past midnight at it.
- Big Brother Mentor: Becomes one to Oleander and Isidore, showing them the ropes and stepping in when they get in over their heads.
- Broken Ace: He's beautiful, charismatic, well-respected both in and outside of the police force and knowledgeable both in the field of medicine and in combat. Underneath that, he's compulsively dishonest about his own emotions and broken up with a mix of perfectionism that makes him unable to live up to his impossibly high standards for himself and a mess of trust, intimacy, and abandonment issues that he hides as best he can.
- Cannot Convey Sarcasm: His jokes and sarcasm are said with such a sincere tone that people usually don't pick up that he's joking.
- Colonel Badass: The highest ranked officer of the entire city's police force, and a badass at both commanding and when on the field himself.
- Combat Medic: Keeps up with the latest medical journals and has extensive knowledge of first aid and surgery. He had actually wanted to be a doctor when he was younger, and had taken specialized medic training when he was serving his three-year tour of service. And when the army realized it needed more medics his position was changed from sniper to field medic, and he spent most of the war as the closest thing to a doctor that his division had. After that, he couldn't stand the thought of being a doctor, and so ended up in the police force after the war ended.
- Conspicuous Gloves: He's always wearing his (admittedly nice) leather gloves, even in the height of summer or while he's writing something down. It's less because he has something to hide about his hands, and more because he's got a bad habit of scratching at his skin to the point of drawing blood without them... Though honestly, over time they've become a comfort object and a physical way for him to distance himself from upsetting situations, which is probably the real reason why he feels vulnerable and uneasy without them.
- Consummate Liar: He's so good that even people who've known him for a decade or more (Westbrook) can't tell from his demeanor and reactions whether he's lying or not.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: His vivid blue eyes are repeatedly referred to as unnervingly bright and empty. They seem to people like they should be Innocent Blue Eyes, but there's just something off about them.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: He has his father's pale blond hair and his mother's brown skin, which makes his hair stand out even more.
- Distinguishing Mark: The symmetrical pattern of his piebaldness is what people usually mention when trying to provide a description of him; in in-universe newspaper cartoons, he's usually caricatured with a (much more distinct than it actually is) stripe in his hair and the two white patches on his neck.
- The Dreaded: He's more than a little intimidating to civilians and criminals who know his reputation for cold pragmatism and skill with guns. Even the rest of the police find the thought of talking to him daunting.
- Exhausted Eye Bags: He has them almost constantly since he gets so little sleep.
- Fair Cop/Good-Looking Privates: In-universe, he's remarked to be very easy on the eyes.
- Forgets to Eat: He'll get so caught up in his work that he'll inadvertently work straight through meals. Westbrook usually drags him off to a 24-hour diner no matter how late it is if so.
- Friend on the Force: Invoked; Make calls him one and he'd give help with her cases in the past, but these days Sibiryakov only helps reluctantly and getting any information out of him is a crapshoot at best.
- Friendly Sniper: Played with. While he definitely seems like one (sociable, accepted as part of the team, upbeat), he has a lot of the same traits as the Cold Sniper Beneath the Mask— emotional detachment from other people, being feared for his lack of mercy and unpredictability, and being something of an enigma even to his own side.
- Gentle Giant: Subverted. His cheerful personality and complete lack of a threatening appearance except for his height (see: Exhausted Eye Bags, Fair Cop, '20s Bob Haircut) make him seem like he should be one. He's not. He's really, really not.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Unlike Westbrook, Sibiryakov never curses— the most you'll ever get out of him is a frustrated "darn" or "shoot".
- Heavy Sleeper: On the rare occasions that he sleeps at all, it's difficult to wake him without physically touching or shaking him. He's slept through a fog-horn when Westbrook tried once to wake him up using one.
- Height Angst: His height is particularly noticeable in the early-twentieth century setting, where people are somewhat shorter than in modern times. Sibiryakov really just wants to look normal and not constantly be the center of attention because of it.
- The Illegible: Most of the time Victrix either outright asks him or just has to make her best guess as to what she thinks he meant; his handwriting is so bad that at one point it takes around fifteen minutes of squinting at a page of incomprehensible scribbles before she realizes that some of his records are not only in terrible handwriting, they're in shorthand, which uses a completely different alphabet.
- The Insomniac: He functions perfectly fine on around three or four hours of sleep, and he barely even gets those because of the hours he works.
- Lethal Chef: Sibiryakov burns everything he creates, including coffee; Victrix, who's just as bad, and Westbrook are the only ones who can drink it.
- Living Emotional Crutch: To Westbrook; he's the closest friend Westbrook's ever had, the one person he knows trusts him without reservation and who gives him an incentive to do the right thing because that's what Sibiryakov would think he's a good enough person he'd do. He stops Westbrook's more self-destructive tendencies and keeps him (mostly) out of trouble, and Westbrook's come to depend on him.
- Married to the Job: To such an extent that his landlord thinks that he just rents his apartment for tax reasons, he goes home so rarely. It concerns Westbrook immensely, and he's the one who intervenes when Sibiryakov becomes so caught in his job that he's damaging his own health by staying up for days on end working on a tough case.
- Military Maverick/Cowboy Cop: He gets away with bending (or outright breaking) the regulations because there isn't really anyone people can report him to other than Imperial command, who mostly just care about the fact that he still gets the best results out of anyone else.
- Nice Jewish Boy: Polite, cheerful, and personable to everyone, even while he's planning a hit. The fact that Sibiryakov fits the trope so well is something Westbrook's family enjoys teasing him about, asking why he hasn't proposed to that nice Jewish fella already.
- Number Two: Sibiriyakov is officially Lieutenant Colonel and deputy police chief; since the colonel/police chief has been gone for over a decade, he's the one in command in all but name.
- One Head Taller: At almost seven feel tall, he's this to everyone in Special Forces, usually by even more than one head.
- Perpetual Smiler: He is always smiling; it varies from an unconscious small smile that is his resting expression to a Stepford Smile to hide his actual emotions to an outright Slasher Smile when he's smiling when he really shouldn't. It makes talking to him incredibly unnerving sometimes when people realize that his expressions have little bearing on what he's actually thinking, which is part of the reason why he does it: it puts people off their guard, either because they don't realize it and are comforted or they realize it and are intimidated.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: He was just about to finish his tour of duty when the war broke out and it was extended to 'the duration'. If you want to find out why Sibiryakov has so many tropes about problems dealing with emotions in a healthy manner, that's a good place to start.
- Stepford Smiler: A combination of all three types. He's afraid that expressing his negative emotions is always destructive so he just pushes them down under a cheerful facade. This leads to them just building up and stewing until he reaches a Rage Breaking Point where he just can't hold them back anymore. This usually leads to him snapping and lashing out in an immensely destructive way, which further convinces him that he should never express his negative emotions at all.
- Skunk Stripe: There's a streak of white in the middle of his hair, though the rest of it is a pale enough blond that it isn't immediately noticeable. It's a symptom of Waardenburg Syndrome, which he inherited from his mother (whose streak was much more noticeable, as her hair was brown).
- Tranquil Fury: Sibiryakov never seems anything other than calm, even cheerful, even while dealing with problems that he solves with a sniper rifle. What keeps him from Dissonant Serenity is that his calm is a very well-practiced mask, which he admits at one point; he does get angry like a normal person, it's just that he doesn't express it in a normal way.
- Unscrupulous Hero: Sincerely wants what's best for everyone, but there isn't much at all he wouldn't do if he thought it was for a good enough cause. It's garnered him a not entirely undeserved reputation for brutality and ruthlessness in the name of the greater good.
- Vetinari Job Security: He's responsible for taking care of so many things that no one else even knows how to handle that his Military Maverick/Screw the Rules, I Make Them! tendencies are ignored.
- Weighted Gloves: His (non-standard issue) gloves are weighted-knuckle (with powdered steel sewn in a compartment on the knuckles), though it's almost completely unnoticeable— unless you know what to look for or pick them up and find out they're heavy, they just seem like a regular pair of nice leather gloves.
- Workaholic: To a downright unhealthy degree; he devotes his entire life to his job out of the (not entirely unreasonable) belief that without him there to handle the number of burdens that he's taken up and never delegated, the police department would collapse.
- You Are in Command Now: After Fairlie disappeared; as his lieutenant, Sibiryakov was the logical one to step up to it.
Captain V. Victrix VenusThe captain in charge of the Special Forces division, and thus reports only to Sibiryakov. Most of her time is spent commanding and keeping SF running, though Sibiryakov has come to depend of her enough that she's his unofficial second-in-command and has ended ding quite a few things that aren't officially her job.
She believes very, very strongly in following the law to the letter. No matter the situation, no matter the cost. Without the law, there is nothing.
- Alliterative Name: Venus Victrix Venus. She finds it very silly.
- Almighty Janitor: While captain is by no means a low rank, she's got significantly more power and responsibilities than it would suggest due to being essentially the Number Two to the leader of the entire police force.
- Always Someone Better: Her older brother, which only spurred on their Sibling Rivalry. Her junior baseball team won twelve out of fourteen games, his won thirteen. She got admitted into the top college in the empire, he got a partial scholarship to it. She graduated magna cum laude, he graduated summa cum laude.
- Badass Bookworm: Her idea of fun is reading obscure legal texts, and she's fully capable of breaking a person's jaw with a single punch and then dislocating both of their shoulders before they realize they should be running.
- Bad Liar: Her rare attempts at deception are utterly transparent and fumbling from lack of practice.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: She really wants to help, but they're chronically understaffed and she's doing all she can just to keep things running.
- Badass Bureaucrat: More than able to hold her own in a fight, with particular skills in handling sub-machine guns.
- Bifauxnen: She's beautiful, and the masculine way she dresses only accentuates it.
- Black Boss Lady: Technically not the boss (and technically, Siribyakov isn't either), but when she's commanding the rest of SF she fills the role in nearly every way.
- Boyish Short Hair: Taken further than most by keeping the military buzz-cut that the border-army required.
- Brutal Honesty: Often ends up being so, though she usually doesn't mean to come across as harsh as she does.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She's socially awkward and doesn't really know how to interact well with people in person, but she's got a keen eye for detail and her ability to command the respect of a group of weirdos like SF is impressive enough to have let her climb to the rank of captain.
- By-the-Book Cop: Deconstructed by the way that this often renders her ineffectual due to her refusal to try and circumnavigate the red tape or allow any leeway in the regulations no matter the circumstances... and reconstructed by the number of times that her taking the time to carefully document and ensure the cases are done by the book has saved everyone from audits/internal investigations/bureaucratic hell.
- Cain and Abel: The Abel to her brother's Cain (she's a law-abiding member of society trying to do good, he's a mob boss only out to help himself no matter how many people he hurts), and Victrix hates him with a burning passion.
- The Captain: Commander of the Special Forces division (AKA, the main characters), which is small but very well-respected.
- The Comically Serious: Usually when she's interacting with Oleander or Isidore.
- The Dreaded: Victrix is well-known among the smart criminals as someone to run from instead of trying to fight. It's from a mixture of her extreme effectiveness, her brutality when dealing with people who she thinks are lawbreakers (and thus, scum), and her complete, terrifying, single-minded devotion to her principles in spite of anything else.
- Embarrassing First Name: She has one that gives her a Repetitive Name that she finds silly and embarrassing; she goes by her middle name instead, which is at least slightly better.
- Fair Cop/Good-Looking Privates: Oleander repeatedly (in her narration) comments on her beauty- her delicate facial features, her flawless skin, her intense, riveting eyes... not that Oleander is cares!
- Felony Misdemeanor: Any crime, no matter how minor it seems to everyone else, is an offense to her principles and she will stop to correct it whether it's a bank robbery or someone jaywalking.
- The Fettered: At her best, she's unwavering in her devotion to defending the innocent and ensuring that justice is done, no matter the difficulty, and carries it out through her utter obedience to the law.
- Honor Before Reason: She'll hold to her principles come hell or high water, no matter what the cost is to herself.
- Innocently Insensitive: Her 'post-mortems', where she'll grill soldiers about what went from on their cases, how they screwed up, and why. She genuinely just wants to know the situation, though it comes across as a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the people she's talking to.
- Iron Lady: Utterly unyielding and commands complete respect from her subordinates; she's the backbone of SF.
- Lethal Chef: Anything more involved than boiling water usually ends with someone getting food poisoning.
- Married to the Job: Not as much before, but she threw herself into her work after the death of her girlfriend in order to try and ignore the grief; in the process, she's gotten into the same habit of overworking herself Sibiryakov has.
- Meaningful Name: Victrix Venus was Venus worshiped as a goddess of war; for a very beautiful and very dangerous soldier, the name makes a lot of sense.
- Minored In Ass Kicking: Spends most of her time behind a desk rather than on the streets, but that that doesn't mean she can't kick your ass.
- Missing Mom: Her mother died of a long illness a few days after she was born.
- Number Two: To Sibiryakov, as the head of one of the of the divisions that report to him who works with him most closely. While she's not officially his lieutenant, she fills the role in practice and is treated with the appropriate respect by the other division heads.
- Principles Zealot: She is perfectly willing not only to die for, but to let everyone else die for the sake of her principles. The way she thinks of it, the law is the collected will of the people, improved and solidified over the centuries: defending it is the same as defending the people, and violating it (or worse, suggesting that it could be wrong) is the equivalent to trampling over everyone else to declare yourself above them.
- Repetitive Name: Her full name is Venus Victrix Venus, or Venus V. Venus; she's never really forgiven her father for naming her like that.
- Rules Lawyer: She'll insist on every regulation being followed to letter, no matter how inconvenient it is or how little it matters to the outcome of the case. She does, however, apply the same standards to herself.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: She served in the infantry during the war, and still has scars from gas attacks. The experience of fighting in the catacombs under one of the border cities is what caused her fear of the dark.
- Smart People Know Latin: She learned it in college, mostly so that she could read the Corpus Juris in the original Latin.
- White Sheep: Her father was an Amoral Attorney, and her brother is in organized crime; she's the only one who became an actual upstanding citizen, not a Villain with Good Publicity (her father) or a straight up villain (her brother). Given her views on the sanctity of the law, she's essentially disowned them both.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She's desperately afraid of the dark and has the job that regularly leads to her working until past midnight. She can usually manage to keep the fear under control by keeping a lantern with her... so of course it gets broken right before she needs to go out and deliver an urgent message to city hall.
- Will Not Tell a Lie: She absolutely will not, on the grounds that deception goes against her moral code; she takes it to such an extent that she refuses not only to lie, but to even lie by omission or purposeful misdirection.
- Workaholic: Despite all the difficulties and frustration, she still loves her job and knows that what she's doing does matter; she's gotten so wrapped up in it that she really doesn't have many friends outside of it anymore.
Detective Einion Westbrook
A short tempered and rude detective, who takes a lot of pleasure in being a jerk. He's the resident expert on working undercover, and is good enough at his job to justify keeping around despite his rudeness. He joined SF at the same time Sibiryakov did, and was his partner for a fair amount of time; even now, they're extremely close.
He had some sort of unfortunate accident years ago on the police force that nearly killed him and ended up taking his senses of smell and taste; got a pretty striking scar over the side of his face from it, too.
- Asexuality: He's demisexual; he's only ever attracted towards people that he's already formed a relationship with, and even then it's pretty rare.
- Affectionate Nickname: Sibiryakov always calls him "West"; he's the only one Westbrook allows it from.Isidore: So, West I-
Westbrook: Don't call me West.
- Badass Driver: The driver of SF; if it has a working motor and at least two wheels, he can get you where you need to go on it.
- Badass Longcoat: Wears a worn, too-big trenchcoat, partly because it's in style in the setting, partly because it has a lot of pockets and it makes it harder for people to center a hit on his torso, and partly because he's too cheap to buy something better.
- Blood from the Mouth: He doesn't have enough blood palettes as is normal because his immune system attacks them; when he has very little, his gums spontaneously start bleeding. Genre Savvy people are immediately concerned when they notice it because of how Blood from the Mouth is associated with death/serious injury; minimizing or exploiting that perception effects him more than the blood itself does.
- Celibate Hero: He's not really interested in other people most of the time, and he's decided by now that he just doesn't have time or energy for romance.
- Cold Blue Eyes: They're repeatedly described as flinty and cold, especially when he's undercover.
- Consummate Liar: Being a good liar is a necessary part of his job as detective, which often involves going undercover.
- Cultured Warrior: He has a deep appreciation for poetry, and is well-versed in classical history and art theory. He never shows it, of course.
- Deadly Nosebleed: Gets nosebleeds too, and usually looks pale and sick from the low palette count while doing so. Again, seeing someone obviously sick having an unexplained nosebleed concerns the Genre Savvy, who assume that it must be incredibly serious instead of just a cold.
- Embarrassing First Name: He finds his to be one, which is why he insists on being called by his last name. (It's Einion, which he thinks is embarrassingly old, obscure, and pretentious... and also sounds quite a bit like 'Onion'.) Only his family calls him by it; even Sibiryakov calls him by a nickname instead of it.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: It's Alter, though it's only embarrassing if (like him) you know Hebrew.note
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Shortstop", from Carmine; it's half a jab about his height, and half a back-handed sort of compliment that he'd actually managed to run fast enough to catch tackle her and slow her down enough for her to be caught.
- Every Scar Has a Story: The long, jagged scar down the side of his face, which is tied to into the larger story of the 'accident'. Played with in that no one but him and Sibiryakov seem to know what actually happened, with Sibiryakov outright refusing to say and Westbrook saying he stubbed his toe getting out of bed, what does it look like?
- Fool for Love: It's storge and philia rather than eros, but his love for Sibiryakov is the one soft spot he can never get rid of.
- Forgets to Eat: He'll remember to get lunch, sit down, pick up a fork... But then he'll usually end up just waving it around to make a point while he talks to someone without actually remembering to eat any of it; Sibiryakov usually prompts him when he's around that the food isn't there to be a decoration on his plate. He's become a lot more prone to it after he lost his sense of taste and stopped being able to enjoy food the way he had before.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Pissing him off is often as simple as trying to talk to him, and he picks fights with people at the slightest provocation.
- Hardboiled Detective: While he genuinely does fit most of the requirements (cynical, tough, visibly scarred by life), he deliberately goes out of his way to invoke the thematic elements of it because he's a huge fan of pulp detective stories.
- Ill Boy: He's chronically ill with an immune disorder (common variable immune deficiency), though in the setting they don't have the medical knowledge to tell. All he knows is that he's always coming down with something and he doesn't have enough blood in his body for some reason.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's rude, mean, and takes a delight in being rude and mean to other people... but deep (really deep) down he wants to make the world a better place, and shows genuine care and compassion for his few friends when they're hurt.
- Jewish Complaining: He'll complain about everyone else being apparently Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket, he'll complain about Sibiryakov making him look bad in comparison by being too competent, he'll complain that no one listens to his complaints... Honestly, it's more for the sake of it than anything else.
- Jews Love to Argue: One of the few people who'll dare to argue with both Sibiryakov and Victrix. In general, he just likes to pick verbal fights with people, and has enough confidence to do it with everyone.
- Knife Nut: Keeps at least three or four on his person at all times, and prefers them to guns. Quieter, for one thing. For another, a gun isn't much help when you're trying to cut loose of restraints or prying a sealed letter open.
- Knight in Sour Armor: He's a jerk to most everyone he meets and doubts that any of them will be able to actually make much of a positive difference, but that doesn't mean he won't devote most of his life to his job of trying to keep down crime and help people who need it.
- Lean and Mean: While not Noodle People levels he's 95lbs, visibly scrawny, and is, at best, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Mostly he's just a jerk, though.
- Living Emotional Crutch: To Sibiryakov, who needs him from running himself into the ground with his work and completely isolating himself from other people when he's upset. And even though he doesn't fully realize or acknowledge it, he keeps him from turning from an Unscrupulous Hero to a full-on Knight Templar.
- The Napoleon: He's less than five feet tall, and makes up for it with his sheer belligerency.
- Not a Morning Person: He needs breakfast and at least three cups of coffee before he's remotely functional; Sibiryakov, who's up at the crack of dawn by choice even on his days off, finds watching him stumble around half-asleep amusing... though he'll usually take pity and leave breakfast out for him if he's leaving before Westbrook is.
- Prematurely Grey-Haired: His hair was originally black, but started graying in his late teens; it was completely gray by the time he was twenty. This is partly from genetics (his whole family gets gray hair pretty young, though not to that extreme) and partly from stress— when he was in his teens, he was conscripted into the Border Army and was delivering messages in a war zone.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Delivered messages as a trench runner during the war in his late teens. Decades later, he can't stand the sight of people lighting up: he'd seen other soldiers he befriended shot by snipers because the lights of their cigarettes gave their position away.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Partly from all the time he spends undercover with characters he'd look weird to if he didn't curse, but he's foul-mouthed even on his time off.
- Sour Supporter: To Victrix; their dislike is mutual and he doesn't bother to hide it, but when the chips are down she has his support and trust in her decisions.
- Street Smart: Has a combination of a lot of experience going undercover for months at a time in the worst parts of the city and a natural ability to improvise and read people.
- Unstoppable Mailman: During the war he was a trench runner, someone who (due to the unreliability of radio at that point) would run over the top the ground between trench to deliver messages from one platoon to another. This involved regularly being shot at by the other side's snipers, navigating through bombed-out and dangerous terrain at night and at a sprint, and periodically having to escape from skirmishes that he happened to get caught in on the way (trench runners carried a smaller weapon and much less ammo than regular troops, due to the need to travel light so they wouldn't exhaust themselves); unsurprisingly, trench runners had a higher mortality rate than anyone but the stretcher-bearers.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Learned it growing up in a Jewish family who spoke it, and teaches it to Sibiryakov, whose family didn't.
- Younger Than They Look: He's in his mid-thirties but people tend to think he's much older due to the scar and the gray hair; it actually started graying when he was nineteen, so he's been dealing with this trope for a while.
Junior Lieutenant Jonah Neptune
The lowest-ranked officer (officer in the sense of commanding others) of Special Forces, Jonah is a bit of an outlier. He comes from a prominent, wealthy family that was outright nobility until a few generations ago; unlike the rest of the Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits, Jonah has money.
Admittedly, his family don't particularly approve of his career choices, and he has been somewhat estranged from them since he joined the police. Through a combination of awful luck and mistakes he should really be beyond by now, he can never seem to accomplish anything when Sibiryakov is counting on him.
Something about all this tends to make him a bit gloomy.
- Blue Blood: His family was outright nobility until a few generations ago, when the Empire annexed the city. Now they're merely extremely wealthy and influential, practically nobility.
- Born Unlucky: Nothing ever goes his way, and he knows it even if he doesn't know why.
- Butt-Monkey: Gets no respect within SF, which he admits himself is fair since he's kind of useless as a police officer. In general, his life usually ends up as a series of near-victories and embarrassing failures.
- Cunning Linguist: Has a good grasp on multiple languages, and is usually the one called in to translate whenever there's something the rest of the unit can't parse.
- Distinguishing Mark: The 'Neptune-blue' eyes characteristic of his family, which are a rare deep, dark, blue color, with the sclerae of the eyes also tinted blue.
- Elegant Classical Musician: He and his siblings were given tutoring in music as children, which is common among the upper-class. Unlike his siblings, he actually enjoys playing the piano and is very skilled at it.
- Ensign Newbie: Due to his family's status, he received training at the Military Academy and started his tour of service as a commissioned officer in the navy. When he transferred to the police, that rank changed to the equivalent rank, junior lieutenant.
- Gentleman Ranker: Jonah is the lowest possible rank to still technically be an officer, despite his Blue Blood and wealth. His family actually is quite embarrassed by it, though he himself knows it's probably more than he deserves deserved.
- Half-Identical Twins: Him and his twin sister; apart from Jael's long hair, they're identical.
- High Hopes, Zero Talent: He's a very skilled writer, translator, and interpreter who always keeps a cool head, but can't fight his way out of a paper bag and couldn't follow a lead with a map. In other words, he'd be a great diplomat... but with his complete lack of combat or detective skills, he's awful as a police officer.
- Non-Action Guy: He's the only member of SF who avoids combat altogether, mostly because of how frail his bones are.
- Old Money: His family runs a large shipping company, and has been wealthy for as far back as the city records go.
- They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Unlike everyone else, he always uses rank and last name when referring to people, even when just talking about them to other people. Oleander and Isidore keep telling him to just call them by first name (or at least lose the title) but it's a pretty ingrained habit from a family that had a heavy emphasis on formality.
- Shrinking Violet: He's not a very assertive person by nature, and he tends to be overwhelmed by all the stronger personalities of SF.
- Silk Hiding Steel: A male version of it; beneath all the formality and meekness, there's a whole lot of iron.
- Smart People Know Latin: Was taught it as a child, along with Greek; it's one of the few things he and Victrix can find common ground to bond over.
- Spoiled Sweet: As sheltered and privileged as he was growing up, he joined the police out of a genuine desire to help people, becoming estranged from his family in the process.
- Unfit for Greatness: The brief period he spends as colonel/chief of police does not go well for anyone involved because he just doesn't have the skills or experience needed for the job.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He's always been a disappointment to his family compared to his twin sister, and not being able to stand it anymore is why he left the family business and left home to go join the police force.
Commissar Rosaline Turns
The commissar, who is very unhappy both at being assigned to work in the city, and at essentially being given a desk job. Officially, she's there to supervise the city's police department and make sure they don't try and subvert Imperial rule and start a coup or something. In reality, she tries to do as little of her work as possible in between the time spent trying to get Sibiryakov fired; the hatred is between them is completely mutual.
She gets on surprisingly well with everyone but Sibiryakov and Victrix, and tries her best to cheer Jonah up when things inevitably go wrong around him.
- Being Personal Isn't Professional: When Oleander runs into her after work, she's surprised to see how enthusiastic and passionate she is when she's off the job.
- Commander Contrarian: Whatever Sibiryakov and Victrix are for, Rosaline is against.
- Desk Jockey: Much to her disappointment and frustration, her job is to supervise and report to Imperial command, not to actually do any police work on the field.
- Has Two Daddies: Her dear Dad and Papa, who raised her and always supported her.
- Happily Adopted: She was adopted as a baby by the Turnses, as they couldn't have children of their own. From her own account, her childhood was a happy one.
- Happily Married: One of the only members of SF to actually have a stable and happy romantic relationship outside of their job; even though she wears a ring, people are still surprised to hear it.
- Laborious Laziness: The amount of time and effort she spends coming up with plans to avoid Victrix's attempts to get her to do her job is probably less than it would take to do it.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Is deliberately preventing Imperial command from officially declaring Fairlie dead and allowing his successor to be appointed.
- Badass Bureaucrat: When she actually gets the chance, she is very effective in a fight.
- The Political Officer: Her job as commissar is to represent the Imperial government and make sure the commanding officers aren't getting too out of control/mad with power; to her frustration, this makes her essentially a Desk Jockey who never gets to actually go out on patrol. The balance of power in the station balances between her and Sibiryakov, with Victrix usually being the deciding element at critical junctures.
- Professional Slacker: Rosaline puts far more effort into doing nothing than actually doing her work would probably be. At least part if it is resentment at being a Desk Jockey, hatred at Sibiryakov and Victrix and a desire to make their lives harder, and the rest is just plain laziness.
- Rapunzel Hair: It reaches down to her waist, much to Victrix's disapproval— they have a dress code, after all, and hair is strictly forbidden to reach past the shoulders!
- The Resenter: Hates Sibiryakov because he gets the excitement in his job that she doesn't get in hers.
- Statuesque Stunner: At 6' 3", she's the tallest member of SF after Sibiryakov.
- Ultimate Job Security: The commissar can only be forcibly removed from where they're stationed by the agreement of the highest ranking officer there and the second-highest ranking officer. Since Sibiryakov is still technically the second highest-ranked officer, not the highest, and he has no way of contacting the highest ranked because he's missing in action and Sibiryakov is trying to formalize his position as his replacement, he can't fire her.
A well known and very feared crime boss, who runs a large mob centered outside of the city. He's known for his skill at manipulating people, and the main supplier of illegal weapons to the city. He's incredibly ruthless, but doesn't often hold personal grudges, seeing it as impractical.
Oddly enough, he can be surprisingly affable in person... though it's usually an act to get people off their guard. He has a few personal connections to Special Forces, and keeps tabs on the city even after he moved most of his operations of it.
- Amoral Attorney: So amoral that he was disbarred from the bar for ethics violations; the time he spent as one proved a useful way to make connections that he'd later use, though.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to his sister's Abel, and she's vowed to bring him to justice for what he's done. Even back when they were kids, though, they had a bitter Sibling Rivalry.
- The Dreaded: Jupiter is by far the most feared mob leader of the area; even years after the gang wars ended and he'd left the city for easier pickings, mentioning him is enough to quiet a room.
- Embarrassing Nickname: From Carmine pretending to mishear his name and then making it his nickname, "Juicer".
- Faux Affably Evil: He's remarkably polite and seemingly-considerate for a fella who's willing to drive a man and his whole family to financial ruin for accidentally insulting him and who runs a ruthless criminal organization smuggling illegal weapons.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Jupiter is well-dressed at all times, which he affords with the money he makes with his weapons smuggling and protection rackets.
- Manipulative Bastard: What makes him so dangerous: he knows exactly what makes people tick, and how to play them against each other to his advantage.
- Mismatched Eyes: He has complete heterochromia- one of his eyes is brown, the other is red.
- Missing Mom: His mother left his father before he was old enough to remember her.
- Not So Different: Repeatedly discusses it and believes it applies to Sibiryakov; it's part of the reason he doesn't deliberately try and kill Siniryakov, and instead tries to 'reason' with him.
- Only One Name: He's just Jupiter; in-universe, people aren't sure if it's his first or last name, though most assume it's his last.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: He's a ruthless criminal with one dull red eye, which is well-known enough that it's part of his standard police description and what people who know of him immediately look at when they first meet him.
- Sparing the Aces" Why he let Sibiryakov live: it seemed a waste to kill someone who could be of so much use if he'd just apply himself.
- Villain Has a Point: The worst part of the things he says is that they're often true; part of why Sibiryakov comes to hate him so much is that Sibiryakov knows he isn't entirely off the mark on his analysis.
- Wicked Cultured: Enjoys Shakespeare, classical music, and going to the opera when he's not running the illegal arms trade; at one point Carmine interprets his appreciation of a glass of fine wine to ask him if he actually likes the stuff or if it's just so he'll look even more pretentious.
- You All Meet in a Cell: How he met Sibiryakov: they shared a cell in jail for a few days. While Sibiryakov didn't think much it, Jupiter found him fascinating, and has kept an eye on his career ever since.
The Four Lieutenants
Jupiters most trusted subordinates. They report directly to him, and handle the various lower levels of the organization.
- Elite Four: A group of four who are the highest members of the mob that anyone is likely to ever meet.
- Five-Man Band: With Jupiter, they fit neatly into this.
- The Big Bad: Jupiter: The leader of the organization and the man whose vision and intelligence is directing everyone else.
- The Dragon: Sydney: Jupiter's foil and the most down-to-earth and remarkably approachable of the four; she's the one who makes sure Jupiter's plans are actually reasonable and makes sure they're carried out if they are.
- The Evil Genius: Holloway: In charge of financials, and the most patient and logical, often seeming emotionless. They're the first to propose purely pragmatic course of action, no matter how distasteful, and never acts out of anger: any retribution from them is ruthlessly planned, organized, and executed, and is thus extremely difficult to evade.
- The Brute: Carmine: The leader of the ground-level mooks, and well known for her tendency for random moments of violence; she's the most short-tempered of the group, and the most widely feared.
- The Dark Chick: Keitel: The One Guy of the four lieutenants, and the one Jupiter 'likes' the most; whether he's kept around out of genuine usefulness or some sick sense of amusement, Keitel doesn't know. He organizes the suppliers, and tries to keep his skin intact, which often translates into trying to keep the peace between everyone else.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering : Despite the fear they inspire and the general air of implacability they seem to have, Jupiter and the four spend a surprising amount of time arguing with each other instead of smoothly coordinating villainy.
The mob administrator in charge of most ground-level mooks, and is the one with arguably the most direct power over the organization. Of the four, she talks to Jupiter alone in order the work out the day to day jobs, but is the least fond of him. She argues with him the most of the four, which he puts up with out of respect for her skills.
- Blood Knight: She relishes fighting for its own sake, much more than is normal.
- Dark Action Girl: The one of the four who gets in the most direct, physical fights, and is usually the only one to walk away from them.
- The Dreaded: The most feared of Jupiter's lieutenants, for her unpredictable temper and tendency towards physical violence.
- Evil Redhead: Jupiter's most openly violent lieutenant, and has )natural) red hair that reflects her hot temper.
- Fiery Redhead: Her temper makes her overlap with this as well.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: When she's already irritated, any sort of imagined slight, like just looking at her funny, is enough to bring about her wrath. And she's often irritated.
- Hire the Critic: The reason Jupiter hired her, and puts up with her disrespect: he wants someone around that he knows will tell him when he's wrong, and someone who makes no secret of the fact that she dislikes him is as good of a candidate for that as he's going to get.
- Mood-Swinger: She can flip between cheer and furious rage and back again within a couple seconds.
- The Nicknamer: Gives one to everyone, from Jupiter himself to the cops who try and arrest her. Usually they're seen as Embarrassing Nicknames, but from her point of view (especially for Worthy Opponents), they cross over with Affectionate Nicknames.
- No Badass to His Valet: The one person Jupiter cannot intimidate, which is part of why he keeps her around.
- Terms of Endangerment: The aforementioned Affectionate Nicknames for her Worthy Opponents; she's not going to go easier on you just because she has a cute nickname for you when she's trying to cut your throat.
- Underdressed for the Occasion: Always dresses casually, even when meeting with Jupiter.
- Worthy Opponent: She gets attached to the people who actually survive fights with her, and figures that if they lasted against her they must be good.
The unofficial spokesperson of the four, due to her likable personality and her lack of most peoples timidness around Jupiter. Sydney is cheerful and enthusiastic, fair to her subordinates, and is generally seen as the most approachable one of Jupiter's inner circle. (Approachable is relative; she probably won't have you killed just for making a request and asking her to bring to up up the others.)
She justifies her actions to herself as just being the middleman and not really being the one to cause harm to people; the ruined lives and livelihoods of more than a few people would disagree. Apart from trying to keep Jupiter and the rest of the four in line (which is a full time job in itself), she's in charge of organizing the suppliers for the organization.
- Affably Evil: Unlike Jupiter, she really is nice; unfortunately, that has no bearing on how she performs her job.
- Only Sane Woman: She's probably the most normal of the lot, without the rest of the four's dysfunctional personality quirks or Jupiter's arrogance.
Officially in charge of legal and finance, but most other miscellaneous jobs eventually end up reporting to them too. They're the most level-headed and reliable of the four, and is the one to keep the peace when the four of them meet together. Privately wonders why everyone they work with is a complete weirdo.
- '20s Bob Haircut: A longer than average one (down almost to their shoulders), with long bangs.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Tall(ish), respected and mature, with long-for-the-setting dark hair and a cold and composed personality; the only part they don't fit is the pale skin.note
- Ambiguous Gender: Holloway doesn't feel that they have a gender a gender at all, and goes by 'they'.
- Amoral Attorney: Provides legal advice to Jupiter, and heads the Army of Lawyers.
- Cannot Convey Sarcasm: Their tone of voice varies so little that everyone thinks they're being serious even when they're being sarcastic. Oddly enough, Carmine is the one who's best at catching that Holloway is trying to be sarcastic.
- The Comically Serious: Becomes this when interacting with Carmine, Keitel, and Jupiter's dramatic antics; they don't care about the knife Carmine is brandishing at Jupiter because she felt he insulted her hair, they just want to get back to the agenda.
- Creepy Monotone: Their voice is a monotone cold, flat tone, which tends to make them come off as more than a little eerie to most people.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Snake-Eyes", from Carmine, though she meant it as a compliment as to how intimidating they look in the courtroom.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: The meticulously polished black glasses only emphasize their coldness.
- Gentleman Snarker: When they snark, it's this variety- they're too dignified for anything less.
- The Spock: They're in charge of financials; cold, calculating logic is literally their job description.
- The Stoic: They keep an impassive, stern expression nearly twenty-four seven.
He's the weakest of the four and usually follows the others' lead when they push for him to do something, especially Carmine's. His bad nerves leave him quiet and nervous, even when around subordinates.
Keitel greatly regrets getting involved with Jupiter at all, but knows he would be killed if he attempted to leave— he knows too many things at this point to be allow led to just walk away, and he has no faith in his own ability to disapear. Most of the time he tried to stay out of Jupiters way, with little success since Jupiter enjoys either his company or tormenting him.
He is the person primarily in charge of information and intelligence.
Carmine's select group of 'problem solvers'. Theyve got intense personal loyalty to her, rather than Jupiter; for all their flaws, theyre very reliable, which is why everyone else tolerates them.
- Morality Pet: They really do bring out the best of Carmine, and she's the closet she she ever comes to being to a decent person when interacting with them.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: They're below the Lieutenants but above the regular Mooks of the organization.
The head of the Shepherds, and the one who reports directly to Carmine. She (possibly deliberately) seems to constantly be on the verge of tears; Carmine is thus uncharacteristically gentle when talking to her.
The planner of the group. Knows far more than her official position should allow her to- she knows quite a bit about Jupiter that he thinks is secret, and has contacts with George's network that she doesn't report.
The most professional and efficient of the Shepherds; the one Falk relies on the most to keep things running. Very emotionally closed off; no one really knows why she's working for Jupiter apart from Carmine and Falk.
She wants to finally retire and find a nice girl to settle down with, and resents Jupiter for getting her caught up in the mob business. Suspected by some to be a mole, but Carmine loudly vouches for her.
A major information exchange place for anyone with the money or the knowledge to trade for it. Known to most major criminal rings in the city, as well as the police. It functions as an unofficial neutral ground between the various gangs, mobs, and the police departments in the city.
- Bad-Guy Bar: George runs it, and it's full of various people of the underworld making deal in exchange for information on rival gangs, undercover cops there to investigate and get dirt on people, and a few people who are actually just there to drink and play pool.
- Good-Guy Bar: Arguably a borderline case, since it's kept in such control; yes, it's full of criminals, but it's remarkably civil; everyone politely pretends they aren't going to kill each other if they ever meet latter, and for the most part it's about as peaceful as a bar can ever be.
- Knowledge Broker: An entire group of them run the bar; it provides a convenient place to meet and make deals, as well as explain their income when taxes are due.
- Truce Zone: Anyone and everyone is welcome- as long as you don't start trouble in the building. Most people respect it, since George doesn't make deals with people who start trouble in their bar.
An information broker well-known to both the police and the underworld; they run the information hub in the city out of the bar they and their group run. In person, they're very personable and warm; very easy to talk to. They've got a good eye for what information to ask for and how to get it, and are very hard to discomfort or shock; theyve already seen it all.
They know most everything that goes on in the city, but don't really see a need to be actually involved in any of it. As long as business is good, they're happy.
- '20s Bob Haircut: In the setting, it's very fashionable.
- Ambiguous Gender: George is always referred to as 'they'; when Westbrook asked at one point what gender they were, they asked what gender they weren't.
- Being Personal Isn't Professional: It surprises people to meet them off the job and find out how social and irreverent they are when they aren't coaxing information out of people.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: In a bit of an ironic situation for a bartender, they really cannot.
- Disappeared Dad: Him and their mother weren't married, and he was never a part of their life; their mother raised them alone.
- Dye Hard: Dyed their hair white to look more distinctive, and it's become too much a part of their image to change.
- Seen It All: After all they've seen and heard during their career as a Knowledge Broker, there isn't much left that could shock them.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Downplayed; they'll sell information to the highest bidder and certainly aren't a good person, but they aren't cruel or deliberately malicious, just amoral.
Clarion de Havilland
George's right-hand woman (aka, bar-back): she's the one who keeps the bar running smoothly when George is busy negotiating the information business. She's more personally invested in the other employees than George is, and usually spends her time teasing them and acts as something of an older sister to the younger ones.
A bar-back who splits the workload with Clarion, and acts as her (usually-exasperated) assistant. Likes to be in the background, and get very nervous when put on the spot. He didn't actually know that the bar was a front for the information business when he applied for the job and feels like he has no idea what he's doing, but he's doing pretty well for all that.
A waiter at the the bar, and is usually out interacting with customers and delivering drinks and meals. They try to subtly eavesdrop on the various news that they hear, but usually can't resist jumping into the conversation themself.
- Ambiguous Gender: They're nonbinary (a gender that isn't male or female), and use "they" and "them" to refer to themself.
- Constantly Curious: Their curiosity has a tendency to get the best of them, and they often end up jumping in to ask questions in conversations that they weren't supposed to listening to.
- Ambiguously Human: The Rat King communicates with the characters only through messengers, and never appears on-screen. The few characters who've seen it, Victrix and Sivbiryakov, describe it as "degenerate filth" (Victrix) and "about what you'd expect" (Sibiryakov). In-universe there's urban legends that it's actually a giant sentient (possibly immortal, as there are records of treaties with someone called the Rat King stretching back over a century) rat, though most dismiss the idea as ridiculous and think it's a Legacy Character who's Properly Paranoid about interacting with people in person. This is a Vice Citys.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Jonah's, who, while respected, wealthy, and can trace their lineage back centuries, ended up creating enough of an atmosphere of repression and resentment growing up that none of Jonah's immediate family are on good terms with each other. His parents were both Well Done Son Guys with undisguised Parental Favoritism towards the older twins, Jonah and Jael. This led to Deborah and Demas, The Unfavorites, resenting their older siblings for it and rebelling against their parents while simultaneously longing for their approval and love. It wasn't much better for Jonah and Jael, who were groomed from birth to together take up the helm of the family and were expected to be utterly perfect even as children. They were isolated as kids (even, thanks to their parents, from their younger siblings), with no friends except each other, leading to Jael becoming The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask and Jonah becoming a Shrinking Violet. When Jonah eventually couldn't do it anymore and ran off to join the police, it shattered the close bond between him and Jael, leaving her alone to head the family business.
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Played with/inverted:Oleander: Are you trying to extort us, Jupiter?
Jupiter: Extortion is such an inaccurate word. The correct term, I believe, is blackmail.
- Bleed 'em and Weep: Oleander is horrified and distraught after her first kill on the job, even contemplating quitting so she'd never be put in a situation where she had to choose between letting someone she cares about die or killing someone else. Sibiryakov notices her brooding on the roof and gives her a harsh but truthful talk about his own experiences with a hostage-taker who was going to commit a murder-suicide if Sibiryakov hadn't sniped him from a distance, and how he had felt afterwards.
- The City Narrows: The Cliffs, a section of the city on the south-east; it's where the poorest residents live, where a number of tiny, short-lived gangs continually fight with each other with numerous civilian casualties, and where any number of illegal operations are based.
- City Noir: It's corrupt, crime ridden, perpetually smoggy from the steel mills and the factories. It's gone downhill in the past few years, though it's still nowhere near as bad as it was when the gang war was going on.
- City with No Name: The characters (even the villains talking about what a hell-hole it is) always refer to it as "Our fair city".
- Conscription: The Empire has a universal draft in place: everyone serves for three years in the armed forces, regardless of gender. In return, the higher education of a draftee who's completed their tour of service is completely covered. The only exceptions are people who are determined to be "unable to serve" due to medical conditions, who have to serve in whatever capabilities they can in the army, either in non-combat/administrative work and maintenance of facilities for their three years; this is seen as honorable and their education is also covered, and those declared to be "unfit to serve". "Unfit to serve" usually means your family's made an enemy in high places or you've got an egregious enough criminal record that they're baring you entirely; they're seen as Acceptable Targets by the rest of the population.
- Divided We Fall: The infighting in SF (especially between Sibiryakov and Rosaline) persists even as stuff like Jupiter's mob and escaped murderers starts to threaten the cast.
- Don't Tell Mama: Isidore tried his best to keep the truth of how he got money for rent from his mother and younger brothers, who were, as he feared, disgusted with him when they found out.
- Dress Code: The police force (Special Forces included) has a uniform and dress code, and Victrix strictly enforces it. The only one who gets away with violating it is Rosaline, who has Ultimate Job Security, and thus always wears fashionable but completely non-regulation clothing in order to spite Victrix.
- Embarrassing First Name: Isidore's younger brothers, Phobos and Deimos, prefer to go by their middle names because of this. Their first names are Pantaleon (saint of physicians, livestock, lottery tickets, witchcraft, and loneliness, among other things) and Defendens (saint that guards against wolves and fires), respectively.
- Everyone Can See It: Everybody can see how much Xavier likes Ariel... except Ariel.
- Face of a Thug: Xavier, who definitely looks the part of a big mean bouncer, even if personality-wise he's a almost a Shrinking Violet; his intimidating appearance is why he was hired as a bouncer, since half the job really is looking big and mean enough that people don't start trouble.
- Family Theme Naming:
- All of the Clays have poisonous plants for their first name, from young Private Oleander to dear sweet Aunt Bloodroot.
- The Nevrakises have a theme too: they've got the first name of a (usually obscure) Catholic saint, and their middle name from a Greek war god. Thus, Isidore Enyalios Nevrakis.
- Jonah's family names children after minor prophets or other people from the Bible.
- Gaining the Will to Kill: How Sibiryakov describes his experience when he was a rookie sniper in the army, deciding that the deaths he causes are justified to protect everyone else in the empire. He keeps that mindset when he joins the police deciding that he was and is right to kill when it appears to be the best option.
- Gender Is No Object: In the Empire, gender matters very little to the government or most of society. They have plenty of other problems, sure (most prominently a downright authoritarian government and rampant nationalism that leads to xenophobia), but gender isn't one of them.
- The Ghost: The Rat King never appears on screen, though it is mentioned several times as controlling the Sanitation department and Victrix apparently needs to negotiate with it periodically.
- Great Offscreen War:
- The (Second) Andromedan War, aka The Eruption, which took place about 15 years before the story took place, on the border region of Eta Carinae. Trench warfare and infantry charges were prominent parts of it, with the lines stabilizing roughly where they started but with millions dead. When people talk about "the war", they mean this.
- The gang war that happened about ten years before the start of the story applies as well; when it was over Jupiter had left, the major gang leaders had been killed or arrested, and for a while the city was nearly safe... though Fairlie was lost, forcing Sibiryakov to step up and take his place.
- Incompatible Orientation:
- While it's speculated by in-universe tabloids that Victrix and Sibiryakov are in a relationship, that would never be able to happen: Victrix is a lesbian (though Sibiryakov's gender is pretty darn ambiguous...) and Sibiryakov can't feel that way about anyone.
- For the same reason, Sibiryakov and Westbrook would never be in a relationship, though in that case Westbook canonically had a crush on Sibiryakov at one point.
- Innocent Cohabitation: Sibiryakov doesn't technically live with Westbrook but he ends up sleeping over at Westbook's house more than his own apartment, the guestroom is full of his things, and they're so accustomed to it they've adapted their Morning Routines to each other. There's nothing romantic about it; Westbrook knows that Sibityakov tends to be self-destructively caught in his work unless he stops him, and Westbrook's house is closer to the station (and nicer) than Sibiryakov's apartment.
- Intimate Artistry: Westbrook often draws Sibiryakov when they're off duty; Sibiryakov doesn't understand why he would bother to do so, but he is touched by it nonetheless.
- It Gets Easier: What Oleander finds over time, gradually getting more and more comfortable using lethal force and seeing maiming and brutality as harsh but useful tools to keep down crime through fear. Isidore is very concerned about this change, and does his best to rein her in.
- It Was a Gift: Westbrook's gold watch, which Sibiryakov got him for Hanukkah; Westbrook realized how long he must've been staving to be able to buy him something that nice, and promise that he'd never let it get a scratch on it.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Oleander to Carmine when she gets the upper-hand in their fight, stomping on her neck hard enough almost to suffocate her; it's only hours latter that the weight of what she did drops on her.
- Lonely Piano Piece: Jonah often plays to let his emotions out when he's upset; due to his family drama, this meant he'd sometimes inadvertently provide Source Music for someone else's crisis.
- Mistaken for Romance:
- Sibiryakov and Westbrook are sometimes mistaken for a couple from the way they obviously care about each other and the way they act Like an Old Married Couple. The fact that they tend to call each other their "partner" (which they were, in the police sense, and still think of each other in that way) doesn't help.
- And sometimes Sibiryakov and Victrix's Red Oni, Blue Oni dynamic is seen as romantic, to the point that tabloids discus their 'relationship troubles'.
- My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: The most practical way to argue with Victrix.
- Never Found the Body: Fairlie's body was never found, but there's only so many things that could've happened to you when you suddenly vanish while leading a manhunt for a wanted killer and are then never seen again. In-universe, the smart money is that he's tied to a cinder-block in the harbor somewhere.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Carmine's fight with Oleander turns into one, with Carmine stomping on Oleander's chest hard enough to break her ribs and Oleander latter cracking her skull and then continuing to beat her down after Carmine went limp and she could barely focus her eyes from the head trauma.
- Not Actually the Ultimate Question:Oleander: Hey, Colonel Sibiryakov? ...What's going to happen to us?
Sibiryakov: To all of us?
Sibiryakov: We are going to die.
Sibiryakov: But I'm guessing you mean in the more immediate future.
- Police Procedural: Albeit one where the police is a military rather than civilian agency. Still, the plot is about the members of the Special Forces department of the police force solving crimes of varying levels of complexity and danger.
- Government Procedural: Raimonda's investigation reads like this, as she's searching for evidence of embezzlement and a larger conspiracy in the ranks of the police force while navigating SF's internal politics.
- Private Detective: Make; she specializes in locating missing persons and occasionally her cases bring her in contact with the police department... though they don't particularly like working with a civilian.
- Present Absence: Fairlie's disappearance has a profound effect even years later: it pushed Sibiryakov into becoming a Broken Ace to handle the responsibilities he was suddenly given, and prevented any lasting peace from taking hold in the aftermath of the gang war, indirectly leading to the entire rest of the plot.
- Rank Up: Sibiryakov's efforts to get himself ranked up to colonel is a continuing tension between him and Rosaline, who ultimately has the ear of IDIA over who, if anyone, gets the rank.
- The Roaring '20s/The Great Depression: The series takes place in a rough equivalent of them; the slang and technology are mostly the same, though the differing histories and societies have changed the fashions.
- Russian Naming Convention: The central-northern districts tend to follow them, and so appointees from the Empire tend to have them as well; in the city, it's thus associated with high status, though over time it's drifted so that most of the city natives descended from those appointees only have Russian last names. Saul Liebovitch Sibiryakov, being from the capital, is one of the only main characters whose name completely follows it, though his first and patronymic are Hebrew-based rather than traditional Russian.
- Secret Police: The Empire has them, though they've got more power in the capital and central parts of the Empire than in the city. Sibiryakov's implied to have some sort of history with them, possibly as a member.
- Shame If Something Happened: When Jupiter drops into his office unannounced and nonchalantly picks up the DA's picture of his young daughters, commenting on how much he must love them; the implications are obvious to the DA.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Sibiryakov, Westbrook, Victrix, and Jupiter all were drafted to fight during the Eruption, and they still carry the mental scars from it.
- State Sec: Inverted; the police don't have their own military force, they're outright part of the military itself (in the the Imperial Department of Internal Affairs). All police officers are soldiers; while there's a rank of detective and they're commonly referred to as "officers", they're still part of the military, with only the Department of Record Keeping having a majority of civilian workers.
- Stealing from the Till: $500 somehow going missing in SF's records is what spurs Raimonda's investigation; while the amount itself isn't very signifigant, she knows that it's often true that Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot, and SF has more than a few things that they're hiding.
- That's an Order!: While it's normally not an issue, Sibiryakov does occasionally have to pull rank and remind Westbrook that he's his commanding officer, not just his friend."I'm telling you this as Chief of Police: You are not coming in today."
- Theme Twin Naming: Twins run in Jonah's family, and in addition to the Family Theme Naming, they're always given names that start with the same letter. Thus, Jonah and Jael, and their younger siblings Deborah and Demas.
- Ungrateful Bastard: While Nem reads Sibiryakov's reactions as No Sympathy, keep in mind that Sibiryakov is patching up Nem's wounds while they're talking, and that Nem is being a less-than-ideal patient.Nem: You could show a bit of sympathy here, you know!
Sibiryakov: I definitely could.
Nem: I got stabbed, you know!
Sibiryakov: [trying to stem the blood-loss in Nem's shoulder while Nem moves around] That's neat.
- Up Through the Ranks: Part of the reason people transfer to the police force instead of staying with the border-army is the greater chance of advancement through merit; while a command in the border-army requires either Blue Blood or attending Military Academy (often both), a commander in the Internal sector of the army has far more freedom to raise people to officer ranks based just on performance. As they're all officially still part of the same army, those ranks are universal: someone who's been promoted to lieutenant in the police force has that rank in the border-army if they transfer back there.
- With All Due Respect: What Victrix says just before she is about to tear into something Sibiryakov said; she really does mean it with respect, even if it doesn't seem like it.
- You, Get Me Coffee: Plus 'Deliver this report to the mayor', 'Search the filing cabinet for the autopsy records and get it to me', 'Make Rosaline finish her report'... These kind of boring, low-level tasks are often given to Jonah, since he's at the bottom of the heap and they keep him out of trouble.
- Zeppelins from Another World: While airplanes exist and are valued for their speed and mobility, they have yet to gain the widespread of use of zeppelins, which are used by both military and civilian agencies.