Master assassin, hell-bent on revenge for the destruction of her home world when she was a child. The link to the Skamensis family is only discovered at the end of the story.
Emperor Julian Skamensis
Shayla's target. Head of the Skamensis family, direct ruler of 83 worlds and effective emperor of the whole of human civilization. Many years ago, the teenage emperor gave the order to Cleanse Eloon, Shayla's home world ... or did he?
Julian's uncle. Firm believer in ruling with a rod of iron, all in the interests of law and order and upholding the status quo ... preferably with himself at the top of the status pyramid.
Shayla's brother and reclusive cryptographic genius. Brandt is the backroom boffin of the brother/sister juggernaut. He helps Shayla from afar ... until he gets dragged right into the center of the action.
Shayla and Brandt's mother, but don't assume the existence of any maternal instincts. Her interests in her offspring are cold, calculating, and purely mercenary.