This article originally appeared in Terra/Sol Games’ Shipbook Mirador, and was reprinted the April 2013 issue with the publisher's permission.
Talia Mason (Human Female) UPP: 79ACEC Age: 54 (26) DOB: May 25, 2937
Skills: Computer 2, Research 2, Sensor 2, Survival 2, Art 1, Instruction 1, Investigate 1, Science (Physics) 1, Science (Biology) 1, Science (Planetology) 1, Science (xenology) 1, Vacc-Suit 1, Admin 0, Gun Combat (Energy Pistol) 0, Recon 0, Remote Operations 0, Science (History) 0, Vehicle ( ) 0
Talia Mason was born into the fabulously wealthy Mason family, who own a considerable amount of the planet Hanover in the Deramus Enclave. The Masons are guided by their matriarch, Hanna Mason, and a collection of fourteen Mason family Ghosts* that stretch back for two centuries, a fairly common arrangement in the Enclave, blending the lines further between organic and digital.
Talia, however, bridled against the sterile conditions imposed by the Masons, and elected not only to embark on a University education outside of Hanover (the family gives generously to Herrenhausen University) but outside of the Enclave as well. She set her eyes on the prestigious universities of the Terran Union. This was just after the Treaty of Assent, and though the Enclave and Terran Union had officially settled their differences, tensions still existed. Her perseverance (and family fortune) eventually got her to the University of St. Mary of Mars (at the main campus of Arsai Mons on Mars in the Earth/Sol system) where she earned a prestigious doctorate of Planetary Sciences (a multidisciplinary field), and a reputation as a serious researcher.
After this academic achievement, Mason moved to the Orion Confederation, and eventually to the fringe of the Confederation with the private exploration firm of Haddrick-Bosch. While working with Haddrick-Bosch, Mason was watched very closely by Orion State Security (OSS), especially after the discovery of the Kadenfeld Artifact in 2975, when she was forced out of the company despite early gains she made in unraveling the Precursors’ secrets.
Mason became an academic some time after that, moving to Terra/Sol and becoming part of her alma mater at the University of St. Mary of Mars-Kansas City, and later at the VanKila Kiertotahti branch, until she decided that she much preferred the thrill of exploration to the somewhat dry and predictable life of the University.
Gathering her finances—only a small portion of which came to her from her family in the Enclave—Mason purchased an aging Mirador and had the vessel reconditioned. In true Mason fashion, she auctioned off portions of the ship to collectors, hyping the nostalgia value of the pieces, and managed to get most of what she needed for the retrofit.
Of course, the auction did not cover everything. In the end, she did have to take on investors. One of these was Heymore Karsh, an explorer and prospector. He has since died during a mission in uncharted space. His only daughter is about to come of age and Talia wonders whether she should allow the girl to adopt the rough and dangerous lifestyle that killed her father or just get a cut of the profits. The other investor was the enigmatic Gannon Consortium. Mason received a rather hefty grant from the Consortium which has (currently) imposed on her work very little. Whether that state of affairs continues or not is another matter entirely.
Rather than conduct all research herself, Mason rents out the lab space aboard the ship. Her contacts and good name in Academia help her to get scientists looking for field opportunities and to procure grants from major institutions to go to specific worlds. On occasion, she hosts Xeno-Safari hunting expeditions (even during scientific surveys). Even though Dr. Mason finds these somewhat gauche, they have become very popular among the upper classes on Terra/Sol.
* Ghosts are digital downloads of a human mind which convert the individual downloaded to a digital entity similar to but not exactly like an Artificial Intelligence. The downloading process is destructive of the original organic brain, so this is a one-time process.