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.
The Imperial security team
Chalwen ap Gwynodd
The ruthless Commander in Chief of Imperial security services, Chalwen manages security with a ferocious determination and fanatical loyalty. However, her brutal manner is driven more by a deep-rooted fear of failing her Emperor than any innate nastiness.
Paul looks after the planetary boundaries of the Imperial home world. Quietly efficient, methodical, and rather unimaginative, he is the teddy bear to Chalwen's grizzly.
Petite and impishly playful, appearances are deceptive. Fleur's playfulness is definitely of the cat-and-canary variety, and make no mistake about who's wearing the feathers!
While we're on the animal theme, Henri conjures up images of snakes. Snakes with a thousand unseen and far-reaching tentacles.