THE MEMORY OF THE CITY
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Serena tel Moukarhím
Personal Name: Serena
Familial Name: tel Moukarhím

Birth: 67123.342 lky

Species: Hatel
Gender: Other

Appearance: Olive skin, toned to muscular build, pointed ears, height typically between six and seven feet, but sometimes taller. Green eyes.

Biography: Serena's exact origins have been lost in time—we know with some confidence that she was born aboard the Hatel ship Windbreaker based on census records, but not where she was educated, how she went rogue, or exactly how she has lived for so long. Regardless of the ambiguity surrounding her origin, however, history remains very confident of her immense and negative influence on the planet of Wanisin.

A certain portion of all Hatel are born with an immense capacity for hedonistic disregard; depending on their upbringings, this can manifest itself either self-destructively or be projected outward at others. Hatel society, being naturally tolerant of virtually any peculiarity in the name of self-expression, rarely sees fit to intervene; even the most antisocial eccentrics are merely ostracised. It is noteworthy, then, that Serena tel Moukarhím's proclivities have nearly brought the fleet to a state of war on multiple occasions.

Serena's primary hobby was the non-consensual sculpting of others into forms she found pleasing, often reducing her victims to a state of non-sentience. She maintained an illicit business for many years in what law enforcement agencies politely described as human trafficking; during her most active years, she was also responsible for numerous cases of piracy, hijacking, and theft. Wickedly cunning and elusive, some have speculated she used her art to create body doubles to take the fall whenever the police caught up with her. Working dozens of centuries before the invention of phenotype respecification on Thet, Serena's skill in manipulating the forms of her subjects has been extensively studied from the many specimens found on the black market.

But none of this holds a candle to Serena's greatest accomplishment, Wanisin, which was almost exclusively phototrophic before her discovery of it, centuries prior to the arrival of the Lilitai. The entire ecosphere of the planet, besides a handful of detritovores and autotrophs, was either created or reworked by her, leaving no biome untouched. The subtlety and complexity of Wanisin's ecology is not as diverse as that of a truly organic world of comparable sophistication, but it has been argued that within ten million years there will have been a sufficient evolutionary window to completely obscure its origins as synthetic. Too, Wanisin bears its creator's signature in style: parasitism and violence can be found in almost every single interspecies interaction on the planet.

Serena vanished for a very long time following the arrival of the Mítradzhethíai—loyalist egrekelai who rejected Sarthía's philosophy and the Lilitai identity—on her world, dropping entirely off the radar except to a select few; her deep involvement in the planet's biology was only determined much later, when the Astroturfer, another Hatel ship, discovered the Wanisinese Empire. Knowledge of the Empire's existence was kept classified by the Astroturfer's crew, both because of the evident ecological tampering that had occurred, and the inevitability of war between Wanisin and Illera. Eventually a shroud was constructed to block all electromagnetic radiation from reaching or leaving the Kwarkë brane where Wanisin resides.

At first, the hypothesis that Serena was responsible for Wanisin's biology was based on circumstantial evidence; the Astroturfer had been in pursuit of her for more than a century, and there were strong indicators that she had vanished somewhere within the Ksreskézaian Expanse. Near-certainty was attained within a year of monitoring Wanisin, however, as Sensitive Affairs analysts determined that the military on the planet was using unmistakeably Hatelese technology. This technology was little improved over the type of equipment Serena would have had access to when she went into hiding, so for a time she was believed to have died, either to the intensely dangerous flora of the planet or of natural causes while in disguise—until first contact finally happened.

The Wanisinese had interacted with a handful of alien species, and some, particularly the Pesenese, occupied low-caste positions in their society. Upon meeting the first Hatel delegation, however, the Empress ordered them put into slavery, and informed them that their arrival had been anticipated, and that they would never capture the person they sought. Later missions to the surface only enlarged the captive population of Hatel, with little chance of recovery short of open war, which would be much harder to conceal from the rest of the universe.

It was not until the early second millennium tgc that Wanisin's existence became public knowledge, and another century before Serena was finally forced to flee from Wanisin entirely, though by that point she had tired of inventing, and her activities mostly pertained to transplanting Thessians selectively to Wanisin for amusement and experimentation. Her whereabouts since this time remain an unknown.