Peter Julian Devereaux was a handsome man. Not overly tall but tall enough, lean but not skinny. He had abandoned his old military cut long ago, but kept his dark brown hair cut neatly. His hazel eyes sparkled with intelligence and his sardonic grin was almost always present on his face. His nose might be considered a bit big but it suited him just fine. After all, his other hereditary option for a nose was the cute button nose of his mother and sister. That would certainly not do on his angular, masculine face.
Come to think of it, he did not look much like either his sister or his mother. He supposed he looked like his absent father. He had never known the man. He had been long gone before Pete was old enough to remember him. Then his mother had remarried to Darrien's father. When that marriage had broken up, his mother had taken him to England where she had gotten a new job. Darrien had remained with her father. The two had not seen much of each other while they were growing up. It was not until Pete returned from England to go to college that they had gotten to know one another at all. By then, Pete had developed a bit of an English accent that contrasted drastically to Darrien's southern drawl. Truthfully, no one would know that they were related unless Pete or Darrien bothered to tell them. Despite their different upbringings and their separation from each other, they cared deeply for one another. It was Darrien who had come to his defense when he announced after his graduation that he did not want to go into the family business with their maternal grandfather.
Then he had announced his intention to enter the Army and all hell broke loose. Even Darrien was upset then. She accused him of running away from the family. Perhaps he had been running away. He had been so accustomed to it being just he and his mother that he was a bit overwhelmed by the realization that despite his solitary childhood, there was a large family around him, all interested in his next move. Darrien had forgiven him eventually and they did visit each other frequently over the next several years. He was happy in the military for a while. He became a Ranger and was recruited to work in covert operations. It was there that Pete learned that sometimes the ends do justify the means. But it was also in covert ops that he learned that sometimes the ends to be achieved are not always right either. After a mission that ended in the deaths of three of his friends and the near death of another because Pete had listened to the wrong people, he decided that he was finished with army life. He was actually paid off to keep his mouth shut about what had happened and with that money Pete had started The Devereaux Agency.
The agency looked, for all practical purposes, like a private investigations firm but in fact, Pete was a mercenary. His agency was high-class, high-tech and high-priced. But those that knew Pete knew the money they spent with him was well-earned. But Pete's new life meant changes for his relationship with his sister. Pete's life was now, in his opinion, much too dangerous to have too many close ties to other people. He made enemies in his line of work, enemies that would not hesitate to use those he loved against him. His hardheaded sister would not leave well enough alone, however. She refused to let him break away completely. He would send her things from time to time, a letter, a gift, and if something major took place, he'd call. But he knew she wouldn't stand for it forever.
Darrien Kathleen Devereaux was something of a paradox. She was small but not really petite. She was too solidly built to be petite. She was not waif thin but she was not overweight either. Her long auburn hair and blue-green eyes, when added to her lack of substantial height, made her look sort of like a child's porcelain doll.
But looks could be deceiving. She was not a fragile doll. Nor was she a hothouse flower. Darrien Devereaux was a woman to be reckoned with. She was strong and out-spoken. She was capable and self-sufficient. She had had to be. When Darrien's mother had gone to England, she had remained with her father, not out of choice, but because the courts said that she had to. It was not that her father was a cruel man. He was not overtly mean but he was a hard, demanding man. He insisted that his daughter know how to take care of herself. He required excellent grades and perfect behavior. Darrien missed her mother and she missed her older brother but she was not allowed to express that. Her father had an unreasonable dislike for Pete that she had never understood and he resented the fact that his wife had chosen her son over him and walked away.
When the man died when Darrien was 15, her aunt Jean had taken her in. Jean had been her mother's sister and she was an alcoholic. Darrien had gone from no freedom at all to the ability to do anything she liked, for Jean was most often too drunk to notice or care. It could have been disastrous if Darrien had not developed a fair amount of self-discipline. She knew that to have a better life, she would have to make it for herself. Her father, bless him, for all his faults, had made sure that she would have the money for college when the time came. So, when Darrien graduated at 17, she went straight to college that very summer. In three years, by going to school every summer, she had a nursing degree. She went right to work and was soon living on her own. She saved her money and went back to school. This time, she had decided that she wanted to be a psychologist. In fact, she wanted a PhD.
In the meantime, she continued to work and even joined the Third World Medical Corps for a short time. The Corps was a non-profit organization that provided medical help to people in remote areas of third world countries. After a close call with a corrupt military commander, which brought Pete running to her rescue, she completed her time with the Corps and came home. Less than a year later, she got that doctorate she had wanted and went to work at GMHI, the Georgia Mental Health Institute, in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life was going as planned except for the continued absence of her brother, Pete.
Steven Mackenzie Chase was the son of a Lakota father and a Scottish mother. His long black mane and nearly black eyes told none of his Scottish heritage, however. Only the skin that was not quite as dark as everyone else's suggested that Stevie, as he was called as a child, was not as Indian as the other children on the rez. Re-named Kit by his grandfather after his vision quest at thirteen, he had grown up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. His mother died in a car accident when he was eight. After which, his father drank himself to death. Kit was left to his grandfather to raise.
Charles Stormchaser, Charlie to his friends, was active in the American Indian Movement and brought his grandson up in the traditional ways. After all, Kit had the gift. His grandson was a shaman, like him. Not that Kit appreciated that gift for most of his childhood. Even into his early twenties, Kit resisted his grandfather's attempts to train him in the way of the shaman. Kit wanted to be a warrior, not a holy man. Hadn't his vision quest told him that he was destined to be a warrior? He had been taken in, adopted by the Fox, made a warrior in the Kit Fox Society. That was what his grandfather had told him his vision meant. Isn't that how he got his name? How was he supposed to be a warrior and a holy man?
Those were questions that would be left unanswered as Kit finished high school as the salutatorian of his class and won several scholarships to attend college. He went to college, still torn between what he wanted to do and what his grandfather wanted him to do. At Berkeley, where he had decided to attend college, he majored in Sociology and minored in Philosophy. What he planned to do with his degree, he had no idea. It was not until his senior year that the two parts of his nature, warrior and shaman, reconciled in his own head. He was in his last semester and oddly enough, he was taking a required Literature class that he had been putting off because he didn't like the professor when it happened. He opened up one of the required texts for the class and started reading. He read all night that night and when the dawn came and he closed Walden by Henry David Thoreau, he understood. He didn’t go to class that day. Instead, he drove along the coast until he came to a wooded area. He got out of his car and walked into the woods. When he came back out at dusk, he was determined to learn all his grandfather could and would teach him. It took every shred of will he had in him to stay those last few weeks at college and finish his finals and thus his degree.
Berkeley had taught him a lot but like Thoreau had said… what man learns more, the man who listens or the man who does. He was done listening and sitting idly, waiting for the knowledge to come. He wanted to do, learn, grow and take the knowledge he wanted and needed from life. Kit Chase went to college a confused child. He came home a scholar. When he left home again, he was a warrior shaman. He was going to change the world for the better. There were a few false starts, like the time he met Pete. So maybe blowing up the weapons arsenal of a white supremacist group was not the most intelligent thing he had done but it was fun. He was surprised when Pete bailed him out of jail and then got the charges dropped. He was even more surprised when the man offered him a job. And surprised yet again when he enjoyed the job and realized that he had found at last his place in the world.
Jesse James Riviera was born in Los Angeles, California to a lower-middle class Hispanic family. Thanks to his father's obsession with the Old West, he was named for an outlaw. The other Hispanic kids teased him about it mercilessly most of his childhood. After all, to them, the J's in his name should have been pronounced like H's. By the time he was six, he was incredibly tired of being called Hesse Hames. It was the starting point of many a fight in his early years. He lost only the first few. After he put the biggest kid on the playground on his ass one day, however, he was pretty much left alone. His mother grounded him for it. His father congratulated him for it. When his mother wasn't listening, of course.
Everyone said he had his mother's warm brown eyes. Well, everyone but his older sister who never got tired of telling Jess that he was adopted. While so many of his peers were joining gangs and getting in trouble with the law, Jesse was either in school, at church, or on the beach. The strict Catholic upbringing did inspire a youthful rebellion but it was more of a fashion statement than anything else. Jesse learned young that all it took to irritate his folks was for him to wear surfer clothes and refuse to get a haircut. As long as he kept his grades up though, they would just sigh, gripe a little, and then let it go. And keeping his grades up was no problem for Jess. He excelled in school, especially at anything that had to do with electronics and computers. The only time Jesse really got into trouble at school was when he took apart all the VCRs and TVs in the technology lab and challenged the technology teacher to put them back together himself. Jesse would still say that the guy deserved it. He had bitched at one of the girls, screaming at her for accidentally knocking off a VCR and breaking it until the girl had started crying and then called her a baby. Things like that really annoyed Jesse. For his stunt, he was suspended for three days. Worth every minute. His favorite teacher had tried to back him up but they didn't listen to her. He still kept in touch with Ms. Escobar.
After graduation, he went on to UCLA and majored in computer technology. Every minute he was not in class, he was on the beach. He graduated Magna Cum Laude, but there was just one problem. Jesse did not want a nine-to-five job behind a desk. Jesse Riviera wanted adventure, so he went in search of it. He was visiting an old girlfriend in D.C. when he heard about this guy who ran a private investigation firm in town. The rumor was that he had some of the most cutting edge equipment available. Jesse decided he had to see it. His college roommate had shown him a few things about breaking and entering so he found the guy's office, broke in, and found more than he bargained for. And then the guy found him.
Jess expected to go to jail that night but instead the guy hired him! Jesse was well aware that he was different than the vast majority of Peter Devereaux's employees. When he first went to work at the agency, the other guys were all ex-military. Jesse, with his multi-color string wrapped braids, oversized tie-dye t-shirts and ripped jeans, stuck out like a sore thumb. But strangely enough, Pete never asked him to cut his hair or change his clothes. It was as if Pete liked that Jesse was different. He once said that because Jess looked so different, he would not be suspected of anything but maybe purse snatching. Eventually, the braids went the way of all bad ideas but he couldn't bring himself to cut his hair. Then when Kit showed up, with hair even longer than Jesse's, Jess found a friend and kindred spirit.
Green-eyed, dark haired Alexander Michael Morrow grew up in London. He was 6' tall and lean, with an intenseness about him that sometimes intimidated people until they got to know him. Both his parents were teachers. They had aspirations of young Alex following in their footsteps. For quite a while, they thought they were going to see their dreams for their son come to fruition. Alex made good grades, especially in English. He loved Shakespeare and read everything he could get his hands on.
Then at seventeen, Alex and two of his friends went to the movies and an IRA terrorist opened fire on the people waiting to get into the theater because he thought that some family member of the prime minister was there amongst the crowd. The man killed four people and wounded six others. Alex was among the wounded. One of his friends was among the dead. He made up his mind that he wanted to be a soldier so that he could help end to such senseless bloodshed and violence. His parents were shocked and pleaded with him not to join the armed forces. They finally compromised. Alex went to college as they had hoped but instead of majoring in English, he majored in criminology and law. After graduation, he applied to MI5 and was hired.
He spent the next several years perfectly happy as an agent for the crown. Then he met Eliza. He was so in love. They married and he realized that he had only thought he had been happy before. They had been married for three years before they decided to try to have a baby. He was sent to Northern Ireland for an undercover assignment just as Eliza announced that she was late. He was only going to be gone for a few weeks so he went. But Eliza didn't wait until he got back. When she got the news, she decided to visit him. As she was an agent as well, she was not completely out of place. A little white lie and her supervisor approved her request. She arrived with the announcement that Alex was to be a father. Ten minutes later, all hell broke loose and when the smoke cleared, Eliza and his unborn child were dead.
Later, it was determined that it was friendly fire that had killed his family. When the man responsible was slapped on the wrist, Alex lost control and his mind. It took seven men to pry his hands away from the man's throat. He would not remember the needle's sting later, but he would understand that he had been sedated and then committed for psychiatric evaluation. Thirty days later, he was released but found that he was out of a job. MI5 considered him a security risk.
He was despondent until a strange call from the U.S. gave him new hope. He packed his bags and came to work at The Devereaux Agency. His new boss was not always exactly ethical but he did seem to be a good man. He had his quirks but so did Alex and Pete never looked at Alex like he expected him to explode at any given minute. Instead, he gave Alex purpose again and the opportunity to make other things explode. He could be happy with that. He grew his hair a little longer and grew a goatie. It was an attempt to NOT look like an English teacher. It was unsuccessful as his new friends often pointed out. Oh well. He supposed there wasn't anything wrong with that. Besides, skinny and slightly nerdy seemed to be in, especially if you had an English accent.
Dark-haired and green-eyed Van Tyler was born Tyler Van Rowe to a Dutch diplomat and his wife. When Van was four years old, his parents were killed in an international conspiracy that involved some practically untouchable high-powered businessmen and politicians. Van escaped death when a softhearted prostitute found the crying toddler next to his parents' bodies and took him in.
Maymie loved him and cared for him, but because of her drug addiction, often times they ended up living on the streets. It was a horrible existence, and the dregs of society preyed upon Van. When she died of an overdose when Van was nine, he found a new protector, his surrogate mother's sometime boyfriend. John Smith was the only name Van ever knew. Smith was not overjoyed to find himself saddled with a nine year old but looked after Van anyway. He explained once that maybe it was his penance for never loving Maymie the way he should have. He also taught Van his profession. Smith was a hitman. He was a tough teacher and a horrible "foster parent." As he grew, Van learned few social skills from his mentor, but he could take out a mark from 1500 yards out in bad conditions.
When Smith put him out on his own at sixteen after giving him some contacts for ways to survive in the life of a hitman, Van began working. Soon, he decided to find those responsible for the deaths of his parents. He did not really remember them that well, but Maymie had always told him that they looked like nice. What she meant by that, he never understood. She had only seen their dead bodies. He knew their names though and he knew that their murderers had never been brought to justice. Taking time to accept jobs to enable him to survive and finance his search for the murderers, he began his investigation. One by one, he found the men and women responsible and took them out.
He was on his last mark when he encountered a problem. Someone was protecting the man. More than one someone, and they were good. Van was determined. This man was the one who issued the orders that killed his parents. Then finally, he managed to get a shot off, and the man was dead. He was happy; his revenge was complete. He didn't know what he would do next, but that could be dealt with later. As he made his escape, however, he came face to face with the guys who had been protecting his mark. But instead of an arrest, he was offered a job. Having no other plans and almost afraid to turn it down, he accepted. But these people were all friends with one another, and Van didn't know how to be a friend. He'd never had a friend before. His boss is nice enough, funny too, and Van does his job, but he wonders if he'll ever fit in. He doesn't know how. Until the guy that annoyed him the most turned out to be guy willing to help him the most. At last, at the age of 31, Van Tyler had a friend. His name was David Solomon.
David Jonathan Solomon was the son of a police officer and a hairdresser. He grew up in Pittsburg, PA with his little brother Daniel: A perfectly normal childhood. Six feet even, with sandy brown hair and hazel eyes, he caught quite a few hearts, but he married his high school sweetheart, Sydney Patillo. He also became a cop like his dad. It should have been a happy existence, but it didn't last for long. First, Sydney decided she didn't like being married to a cop. She left and remarried to a dentist. He thought things couldn't get any worse.
Then David's career hit a snag. He witnessed his new partner taking a bribe. He tried to ignore it but couldn't. Within a few weeks, he uncovered a protection racket involving seven other cops in his precinct. He turned them in. Internal Affairs and the District Attorney swooped in and arrested all involved. David believed his other brothers in blue would back him. Instead, he was ostracized. Backup got slower and slower, and accidents seemed to happen all around him. He testified and then quit.
Heartbroken and at loose ends, he shared his problems with a friend on the D.C. police force. His friend tried to get him to join the DC force, but David wasn't sure he could stomach being a cop anymore. Then his friend suggested something else. The Devereaux Agency.
David made an appointment to talk with the owner of the agency. He liked Pete Devereaux as a person. He was smart and confident, but he was also a little shady. He almost said no thanks but then he met some of the other operatives. They seemed on the up and up. He decided to give it a try. He found he liked the work, but he didn't feel particularly close to anyone. Then Pete hired a sarcastic ex-hitman: just the kind of person that David despised and would have arrested as a cop. Van Tyler got on David's nerves, and apparently, the feeling was mutual. They traded insults and the little jerk even threatened to throw him out of a helicopter. But when another operative let Van's background slip, David felt ashamed of himself. Van became first David's project then his friend. What began as an attempt to tame and civilize a former street kid turned into the closest friendship David had ever had.