Q: Why a Team Two? What’s their origin?
A: When I came up with the Alien Relations Unit, I already had a plan that they would work very much like an extended family of sorts, very much like how a police station or a fire house would. I saw them as similar to the units from animes such as Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell (Chief Inspector Dylan Farraway was based on Chief Aramaki early on before I decided to make him a bit younger), and Bubblegum Crisis.
I also wanted a few characters who were involved in the story, but not as deeply as Caren and Alec. They would be a part of any investigations, they would react to situations very much the same way, but they were able to give everyone else a clearer point of view, thanks to their distance.
Q: Are they based on anyone in particular?
A: Not really; I really wanted to give them unique personalities separate from most of the other characters in the trilogy. Sheila is that one person in your circle of friends who’s loud and boisterous and fun and most likely the first to get into a scrap; Nick is the outsider who’s just recently joined the group and is still trying to figure out how to fit in. Both last names are Tuckerizations of 90s memories of mine: Kennedy is the former MTV veejay, and Slater is Christian Slater.
Q: What’s their background?
A: Sheila is from quite a large family, of which she’s the second youngest; her parents were also ARU agents (they knew Caren’s parents well), her older siblings (two brothers, three sisters) are agents either in the police or fire forces. Her little sister is training to be part of the Governor’s Special Forces Unit. She’s extremely proud of her family’s dedication to the city and is glad to be a part of it. She joined the Branden Hill ARU the same year that Caren did; they met during training and hit it off quickly. She and Caren had a brief and slightly awkward romantic relationship before they broke it off for professional reasons. They’re both still great friends.
Nick is an only child, and his parents live just south of Bridgetown at an outpost not that far from the outer B-Town hamlets across the Sachers River. He chose to become a cadet for the B-Town Metro Police and was assigned a position in South City Sector. He stayed there for about five years before requesting a transfer to the Branden Hill ARU. The reason for the change in unit is unknown at this time; he never revealed it to anyone, other than stating that he wanted to work closer with the Mendaihu. [Sheila seems to think it’s because he worked with them so often in South City that he’s created a tight connection.]
Q: Are either of them Mendaihu?
A: Sheila professes not to be, though she has very strong innerspeak and soulsensing abilities and could very easily be initiated if she so chose. She does not want to, however. She’s fine enough with being the ARU agent that she is.
Nick grew up with no psionic abilities whatsoever, and he doubts he’ll ever acquire them. To make up for his shortcomings, he’s trained himself to be an incredibly resourceful and quick-thinking profiler for the Unit.
Q: Anything else?
A: Sheila is fiercely loyal to her coworkers, friends and family. She always speaks her mind, and more than a few times she’s gotten written up by her superiors for her actions. Despite that, she’s still highly respected by them. She likes a physical connection, so will always be touching someone on the arm when talking to them. She loves to listen to music and always has something playing in the background, even if it’s a contraband radio in the patrol car she’s driving. She works out a few times a week and has a devastating right hook.
Nick is the only person who smokes as much as Alec does. He’s also a coffee fiend. He’s a few inches shorter than Sheila and she likes to tease him about that, as well as him being a Wilderlander (i.e., someone who grew up in the sticks). He looks up to Caren and Alec as mentors, even if he never comments on it, and he always appreciates their help and direction. He’s friendly with almost everyone he meets, but he’s also got a surprisingly short temper and a low tolerance for bullshit. He tends to play the straight man to Sheila’s wildness, sometimes to comedic effect.