The following factbook is strictly OOC. While most the characters depicted therein are likely to have IC dossiers and profiles somewhere, there would be very little cause for all of them to be gathered in the same place. As such, it serves primarily as an infodump on characters whom I have (or plan to) develop, for the purposes of RP, factbook storytelling, and everything in between.
Notable Personnel of the UYDF
"Officer I may be, but if you think that this entitles me to sit back and watch my men die, then you might as well demote me here and now. And get out of my way before your successor has to court-martial me as well."
-(then) Junior Lieutenant Strelnikov during the Siege of An'kala
Matvey Strelnikov did not originally plan on becoming a soldier. Born to a wealthy family of bankers just after the dawn of Yeglan Unification, he was practically shoehorned into following the family profession by his parents from a young age. Their plans were somewhat skewed, however, when the rapidly-mutating economic climate of the Islands finally began to consolidate into its novel, pseudo-socialist form. Centralization and governmental oversight rapidly encroached on the job market, and an aggressive campaign of nationalization practically devalued most financial trades overnight - while serving as a horrifying prospect to his parents, it did little to faze a then-adolescent Matvey. Family tensions caused him to grow distant, created a disparity of opinions between himself and his father in particular. Disagreements grew into debates and rows - now rapidly gaining an interest in the political spheres (though perhaps merely as a form of rebellious phase), he began to empathize more with the views held by the current administration than his progenitors. His friend circles grew to encompass the like-minded - at his local school, he joined an unofficial pro-governmental youth movement, much to his father's charign. This led to further divisions, further conflict. And so it was that on the eve of his eighteenth birthday, he eloped home to enlist in the then-fledgling UYDF.
The army was, admittedly, not all it had been painted out to be. Conditions were rougher, organization was lessened, and the still-forming conglomeration of patchwork men, doctrine and arms bore little resemblance to the well-oiled machine he had envisioned. These were the early days, after all. But Matvey was stubborn enough to not allow this to faze him - persevering, he sought to find an identity within the roiling mass of soldiery. And he did, after a fashion. Though his pig-headedness did him few favours with his superiors, his conduct was stellar, on the whole. And in a force that operated primarily on merit, that sought results above all else in an environment where every competent soldier was perhaps the most precious resource of all, this served him well. He rose through the ranks with reasonable ease, even as the system making up those ranks was still being finalized. His parents had taught him a few important tricks, if perhaps unintentionally - to game the system, make use of the bureaucratic caveats to benefit oneself. Here, such an approach was very much called for.
And so it was that Strelnikov witnessed the growth of the UYDF, its final consolidation into the force that it is today. He served with distinction throughout the Crescent War - coming to the end of his first tour during the months-long Siege of An'kala, he chose to reenlist for a full-time military position without a second thought. He rejected transfers and reassignments into overly specialized roles - perhaps out of a personal perception of the value of the average soldier, or a distaste for specializations he saw as "lazy" - whatever the case, he remained an infantryman all the way through his promotional track. Reaching officerhood, he gained a certain measure of fame for shunning logistical and backline command positions. He may likely be credited nigh-singlehandedly with the creation of the "frontline commander" sentiment that went on to permeate a significant portion of the UYDF's officer corps, and bear a considerable measure of influence on the Amphibious Assault Division's infantry doctrine for years to come.
Today, Lieutenant Strelnikov continues to serve. Remaining fit in mind and body, he may come off as gruff and jaded at times, but the respect and care he displays for the men serving under him (and thus often alongside him) remains a staple of his character. Much-decorated and much-respected, he is often lauded as a war hero within certain circles - a title he himself is rather stubbornly unwilling to accept.
"Oooh, what does this button do? Oh, I know. Because I designed it. And you're about to find out, and I apologize in advance, because I designed the things it does too. And they're not very nice things."
-Captain Zhukina, radio transmission during the Battle of New Asan. Recipients unknown.
Sonia Zhukina's rather turbulent life began on the doorstep of a small orphanage on the island of Somt. A surprising sight for the local staff - to abandon one's child voluntarily was hardly common practice in Yeglan social circles. Financial issues weren't typically extant - the state would provide amenities commensurately with one's situation, children included. Most of those to end up in the care of an orphanage had known parents, either deceased or relieved of custody. Sonia was a notable exception - left with little save an embroidered blanket and a small slip of paper listing her name, she was taken in from abandonment and raised alongside other orphans. She was a troubled, rowdy child - incessantly getting into scrapes and raising trouble for her caretakers, she was also possessive of an inherent curiosity about the world around her. Rather than draw or play around with toys, she would often take apart old appliances and mechanisms, marveling at the interconnection of the parts within. Her tendency for doing this regardless of whether said appliances were still in use earned her further disapproval from the orphanage staff, to whom she had by this point become a veritable menace.
This trend continued until an eventual visit to the site of the orphanage from one Professor Yefim Zhukin - a prominent engineer and researcher under the research and development wing of the BDDM. Zhukin had been looking to adopt for a while now - as a carrier of Tay-Sachs disease, he was reluctant to directly father children for fear of passing on the typically-fatal disorder. Having now come in alongside his wife in search of a potential adoptee, he found Sonia apart from the remaining orphans, tinkering with an old radio. Curious, he inquired as to what she was doing, and was taken aback to hear her explaining - in rather basic, but still serviceable terms - the internal operation of the device. A brief round of questioning the staff revealed the peculiarities of this particular child, alongside several rather hopeful expressions directed towards one who may, perhaps, take her off their hands. And so it was that, following a rather spirited conversation with his wife, Zhukin informed the staff of his decision to adopt Sonia. Less than half an hour later, the paperwork was in order - having packed up her meager belongings, Sonia cast a last glance at the building that had served as her home for all of her life thus far, and left it behind with nary a second thought.
Zhukin was, predictably, a far better caretaker than the orphanage staff. Encouraging his adoptive daughter's curious streak, he often spent evenings off-work teaching her tidbits of basic electronics and physics - knowledge which she now turned to further tinkering. The supply of spare parts and broken electronics from Zhukin's lab was nigh-endless, and he would often come home to find Sonia excitedly showcasing some strange contraption she had built. Zhukin lived on-site, as most of his peers did - his residence was part of the massive laboratory-complex in which he worked. Sonia used this to its fullest, spending a considerable portion of her out-of-school hours exploring the non-access-restricted nooks and crannies of the place (and, on certain less scrupulous occasions, certain areas that were, in fact, access restricted - it's amazing what a stolen keycard can get you). She seemed to have a natural aptitude for the engineering trade - while the Professor appreciated this far more than his wife did, even he found it somewhat disconcerting at times. Despite their shared passion she remained distant from her adoptive father - immersed far more in what was starting increasingly to look like work than any typical childhood pursuits. When enrolled in school, her performance was lackluster - while undeniably a brilliant student in theory, her lackadaisical approach to most subjects and even the institution of schooling itself left much to be desired, and her grades suffered correspondingly.
One evening, while Zhukin was at work in the lab sector, a then-thirteen-year-old Sonia decided to venture further out than usual. She had always wondered what exactly went on in that far-off, sealed area of the complex that her father had mentioned only in passing. Where he occasionally went to work, typically putting in all-nighters and returning exhausted the next day. She already had a copy of his keycard - her understanding of microcircuitry at this stage would likely have surprised him considerably, had she bothered to explicitly share it with him. And so it was that, after a lengthy bout of slinking through darkened corridors, crawling through vents and evading the odd guard - tasks made trivial by her diminutive frame and years' worth of knowledge with regards to the facility's architecture and workings - she arrived in a rather imposing chamber. It had to stretch for a few hundred meters in every direction, at least - the ceiling was shrouded in hill-sized shadows. A hangar, of sorts - from her vantage point behind a vent cover, she could see a multitude of scientists milling about near a series of platforms - perhaps one of them was her father, but they were far too distant to make out. Each platform rose out of the concrete floor by a small margin - supported by what looked to be heavy-duty hydraulics. Some were empty, some stacked with crates, and a few had strange masses of machinery piled in their midst. Vehicles, of a sort - steel skeletons, bound with plates, messes of wiring and pipes being welded and tinkered with by the attending researchers. And then there was one more...
This platform was the closest to the vent in which Sonia sat. And on it was... a submarine? It certainly looked like one, though not a particularly large example. She had seen submarines aplenty - on clear days, you could see entire groups of them patrolling around the local waters. This one was tiny by comparison, but it still looked like it could fit about a dozen people. And it had legs - eight spindly, hydraulic things, like a robotic spider. No scientists attended to it at present - only a solitary guard, slouched over a chair on the corner of the platform, and even he seemed to pay minimal attention to the thing he was supposedly guarding. And so Sonia unbolted the vent, taking care not to make a sound. She crept on over to the hulking machine, and onto it. There was a hatch, and it appeared to be open. She glanced around - no-one appeared to have noticed. Quickly, she hopped inside.
Within, the contraption was surprisingly cramped. Dials and switches lined the walls, surrounding a central command seat. There were a few dim strips of fluorescent lighting, washing over the many controls for whatever this thing actually did, or was. And it was there that Sonia felt... an inherent understanding. Some urge to grasp those selfsame controls, alongside the nigh-certain knowledge that she could. Guided by that ephemeral want, she placed herself in the padded seat - she seemed almost comically small for it. Her hands slid over to the nearest panel... and punched a large, red button.
Simultaneously, several things happened. First and foremost, the hatch atop the vehicle shut with an almighty clang, echoing around the chamber. The guard, jumping up from his post, spun around in confusion - just as the lights around the fuselage lit up to illuminate a roughly-sprayed, squarish number on its side - 01. Distant scientists were now running over in confusion, as a hydraulic hiss signified the flexing of the eight mechanical legs the thing possessed. It rose onto them - the central hull now lifted off the ground, it stood to attention. Within, Sonia stared in awe at the series of screens which had now lit up around her - video feeds of the outside room, technical information, warning monitors... the information was barely-comprehensible to her, and yet she knew precisely which two of the three joysticks to grasp. She did so, and pushed them gently forwards - at the same time, she brought her elbow around to rest on a pedal-esque device on the armrest of the chair. It just felt right, somehow.
Now, the thing walked - if walking was indeed a suitable term for the lurching, sporadic gait with which it barreled off the platform. The elevation didn't cause it to lose footing - with a few gentle tugs on the controls from its unwary pilot, it stabilized itself nigh-immediately. Where it was actually going was uncertain - moving in jerky, uneven circles, it wandered the warehouse for a good half-minute more, before a door at the far end dislodged a group of masked guards. One of them stopped, readying a bulky launcher-esque device on his shoulder. Taking a moment to adjust his point of aim, he pulled the trigger.
Sonia was having fun. This was exhilarating - the way the machine responded to her commands almost instinctively was like an upscaled, intensified manifestation of that base curiosity impulse she felt with regards to tinkering. And then there was a crackling sound, and an almighty lurch, and she felt that control wrested away from her by some unseen force - the projectile fired by the launcher-wielding guard had just impacted the side of the walker, and exploded into a cloud of fast-hardening foam. Four legs were struck - while the remaining four could feebly thrash about, they did little to aid in locomotion. Soon, they too were ensnared, as the guard was joined by a similarly-armed compatriot. Now they all rushed the vehicle as a group. Unable to move, it could not evade them as they climbed over its hull and forcefully unsealed the hatch. And trained their guns on... the thirteen year old girl within, largely unfazed by all that had happened.
The next few hours went by quickly. The guards identified her almost immediately - she was known as something of a troublemaker, even here - and soon she could see Zhukin arguing with what must have been their commanding officer. He was joined by another scientist, then another. Soon there were half a dozen people locked in heated discussion - calls were made, photographs were taken, and now everything had moved to an adjoining conference room. Where a rather grim-faced man looked over them all impassively. Everyone seemed weary, respectful towards him - everyone save Sonia herself. All she knew is that he was probably giving her father a talking-to for something he wasn't at fault in. At one point, she stuck out her tongue at him. She could have sworn she saw the hint of a smile on his otherwise impassive countenance - but then, it was probably a trick of the light. He didn't look to have ever smiled in his life.
She would learn, later, of the significance of that day. Of the prototype military vehicle she had so carelessly taken for a joyride. A Koschei unit - designed to be operated by a crew of eight, with two of them acting as pilots alone. And she, a child of thirteen, had taken the role of both with no prior training. This happening would travel far, far further up the chain of command, and work to reshape the majority of her future life and career... but of course, she knew none of this. Instead she was treated to a stern scolding from her father, and a far, far sterner one from her mother later that day. She was grounded for weeks - after that incident, she would rarely wander around the facility without supervision. Besides, security appeared to have been tightened - an understandable response, likely more for PR than anything else.
Her education, too, took a more serious turn - now faced with a steady specialization into subject-matter she actually cared about, Sonia picked up some of the slack she had been neglecting during her early schooling. The years ticked by - on and on she traveled towards the path of her adopted father. Engineering was fascinating, certainly - and she was already ahead of her classmates by leaps and bounds - but it wasn't quite the right calling, she felt. There was something more hands-on, more primal to be pursued... and then, the opportunity to pursue it came in the form of a letter from the BDDM itself. An invitation to a rather enigmatic job interview.
The interview turned out to be little more than a series of tests. First, multiple choice. Then a rapid-fire psychological evaluation, and then... she was led into a hangar, up to a towering shape swathed in tarp. Pulling it off, the attending supervisor presented her with it. That selfsame vehicle from all those years ago - touched up, certainly modified extensively, but still bearing the faded "01" on its side. Directed to enter, she found its interior... different. The dials had been moved, seat realigned, all seemingly to grant her a greater degree of personal control. The hatches leading to the remaining compartments were nowhere to be found - it was just her, the chair, and the controls. And now, she understood a lot more of them. Dials for pressure, engine output, synchronization. Thrusters and pistons, motors and springs. Hands practically shaking with excitement, she punched that selfsame red button once more. Now to a crowd of observers, gathered outside, taking notes.
She piloted the thing around the chamber with laughable ease - and laugh she did. She drove it to run and jump, skip and hop. Clamber over the obstacles that had seemingly been set up for that very purpose, duck and weave between them. On and on this went for a good few dozen minutes, before she was directed to leave the walker. She did so, though with notable reluctance. The attending scientists appeared to be smiling - she had done something well. Among them was Zhukin himself, who hugged his daughter tightly and congratulated her. She understood little of what he meant - what was so "fantastic" about what she had just done? How had she "surpassed expectations"? It was all explained, at least in part - the nature of the vehicle, the ease with which she had performed a task designed for two expertly-trained operators... her natural aptitude, it seemed, for things such as this. And she was offered an opportunity to continue doing it. To have around-the-clock access to this wondrous machine, to pilot it for a living. To enlist in the UYDF, although at the sound of this particular caveat her father seemed rather sorrowful. She barely noticed - eyes awash with anticipation, she gleefully signed the proffered contracts.
Sonia's service record within the UYDF has been unusual, to say the least. Serving in an unofficial capacity from the age of sixteen, she has worked to perfect her skill in piloting the Koschei. While attempts to teach her skill to others have been largely unsuccessful, she herself has since mastered the operation of the spider-like craft to an unprecedented degree. Piloting be damned - thanks to whatever eldritch knowledge it is that drives her, alongside the express-modified controls of Unit-01, she is able to fill the roles of all eight crewmembers alone. And Unit-01 is far apart from the mass-production Koscheis in oh so many fashions - given a practically blank cheque with regards to modification funds, alongside free reign to tinker as she pleases, she has worked to turn it into what may perhaps be the single most overengineered (and terrifying) vehicle in the Yeglan military roster. She seldom sees deployment, and her impulsive, often reckless attitude lends itself poorly to the command position she occupies almost by default. However, her skill is undeniable, and she proves herself a fearsome foe to any who would face the mechanized divisions of the Bureaucracy.