Pavel Baronov
= Pavel Baronov

Born: 12 May, 1853
Occupation: Provisioner
Nationality: Russia
Height: 6' 3"
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown

First Appearance: Pilot

Pavel Baronov is a provisioner based in Mechanus who engages in anti-Enlightenment business. His contacts include Captain Genevieve Sparling, Catherine Rosser, and Nicholas Eason.

Early Life

Born in 1853 to a factory worker mother and a grocer father, Pavel Baronov developed an intensely anti-Enlightenment attitude early in his childhood. Though he and his family never went hungry thanks to his father's profession, Pavel witnessed the citizens of St. Petersburg wasting away while the Enlightenment did nothing. When the multinational government acculturated Russia, it obtained a proletariat that embraced communism—a concept the Enlightenment could easily corrupt for its own purposes. эффективность необходима к витальности became the mantra of St. Petersburg's taskmasters, and most of the workers were joyously compliant. Those that resisted were reeducated or, more commonly, shot.

Though this way of life struck Pavel as deeply wrong from the moment he first considered it, he didn't begin to take action against the injustice of the Enlightenment until his mother was quite literally worked to death. Marketa Baronova died of срывая дыхание, a disease unique to those who spent sixteen-hour shifts inhaling the soot and caustic fumes of St. Petersburg's manufacturing plants. Pavel was ten years old. At his mother's funeral he vowed to make his life's work the systematic elimination of the Enlightenment.

His callow decision might have led to his death soon after were it not for Sergei Gorlovich, a childhood friend who had made a similar oath after he watched his older brother die at the hands of a squadron of steamguards who saw him steal a pail of fresh water from the well they were guarding. Together, Sergei and Pavel formed the core of what would become Russia's most successful and longest-lived underground insurrectionist movement.

Running Dispatches

Once the influence of the so-called Gorlovich Ring (Pavel always joked that he was more than happy to not have his name attached to the faction) reached beyond the streets of St. Petersburg, communication quickly became an issue. Technology like civilian airships and telegraph machines were not accessible to the general populace, so dispatches had to be carried by messenger from one base to another. Though bulletins were encrypted with a complicated cipher, the interception of a message and its carrier in transit could still be a devastating blow to the Ring. Sergei trusted Pavel more than any of his other operatives, and put him in charge of the underground's communications.

By Pavel's mandate, couriers traveled in pairs at all times. He plotted half a dozen routes to each of the Ring's branches and made his runners memorize all of them. Though he trained each messenger personally and never advanced them to active duty if he wasn't certain they could perform to his standards, Pavel still spent more time carrying dispatches than training recruits. Whenever a message was of sufficient urgency, he took it himself with a reliable partner. It was upon returning from one of these journeys that Pavel met Genevieve Sparling and the Aether.

Association with Genevieve Sparling

His preferred route through St. Petersburg had been compromised, and Pavel found himself fleeing from a Gentleman in Black and two steamguards who had just shot his partner. Desperate to elude his pursuers, he ran into an airship dock and hid inside the nearest crate. Moments later his refuge was loaded by steam crane into an airship's cargo hold, and the next thing he saw was the very surprised face of Genevieve Sparling, who had not expected to find a pistol aimed in her direction upon taking inventory of the cargo her father had just been hired to transport. Pavel instructed her to make sure the Enlightenment's agents weren't still searching for him in the dock. Then, fearing that she would report him if he let her go, he kept his gun in his coat pocket and instructed her to accompany him. (In truth, Genevieve would have been quite willing to follow him without the incentive of the gun, since finding a Russian freedom fighter in the Aether's cargo hold was just about the most exciting thing that had ever happened to her and she was desperate to know more about the resistance.)

Much to Pavel's chagrin upon bringing the blindfolded Genevieve through the serpentine catacombs that led to the Ring's base, Sergei did not favor the idea of killing the young woman, but rather invited her into his office, served her tea, and told her far more than he reasonably should have about the Russian underground. Pavel began to suspect his old friend was going soft, until Genevieve breathlessly pledged the services of the Aether for the transportation of dispatches to branch bases. Pavel had to concede that she might be useful after all.

Of course, when Genevieve returned she had left the Aether's crew on rather bad terms, and after reporting that the Ring had not acquired the aid of an airship after all, she volunteered to be a courier herself. Sergei accepted, and gave Pavel the unwanted duty of training Genevieve. He tried to talk his old friend out of it; the girl had no experience in counter-Enlightenment operations, and more importantly, she wasn't Russian - how could she truly devote herself to the defense and liberation of the Motherland? But Sergei would not be swayed. He assured Pavel that Genevieve would eventually be a valuable asset to the resistance.

Though he would never let on how much it surprised and pleased him, Pavel found in Genevieve an apt pupil. Her experience with aerial navigation made her more adept at finding new paths through St. Petersburg than most members of the Ring who were born and raised there, and she followed Pavel's commands to the letter. After only nine months Pavel had promoted Genevieve to active duty, and she was his first choice whenever he needed a partner for an important dispatch. Sergei would often joke (and Pavel would vehemently deny) that the grocer's son and the air commodore's daughter had grown rather fond of each other.

Leaving St. Petersburg

Then came the day that Gorlovich's Ring obtained its most vital missive yet—a document that would lead to the dissolution of the underground, among many other significant events. No one in the St. Petersburg base could decode what was inside the envelope they had been given, but with it came a warning: the information in the document must, at all costs, be kept out of Enlightenment hands, or else the world would end. Hyperbole or not, Sergei and Pavel took the exhortation seriously, and ascribed the highest priority to the conveyance of the document, which had to be on a ship leaving Vladivostok in a fortnight.

Sergei gave Genevieve the envelope and told her where to meet Pavel; moments after she left, he discovered that there was a traitor in the Ring. Pavel returned to headquarters after procuring supplies for the journey to find the resistance members, minus Genevieve and Viktor (who was in fact the traitor), huddling in the catacombs. As mistrust festered among the freedom fighters, the Enlightenment attacked the hideout and Sergei died in the combat that followed. Pavel survived, and three weeks later he saw Genevieve for what he assumed would be the last time in the St. Petersburg rail station. He was on a train to Tveґ while she was preparing to board one bound for Prague, and though he turned away from the window upon seeing her, she spotted him and pounded on the glass as the train began to lurch out of the station, declaring, "It's safe, comrade! I still have it!" Though Pavel still wasn't sure Genevieve could be trusted, the fact that she still had the envelope put his mind somewhat at ease.

A New Profession

Five years later, Pavel had established himself as a provisioner of supplies both common and contraband, and managed to run his operation right under the Enlightenment's nose in the capital city of Mechanus. He retained the services of several light airship crews to keep his stock moving, but when none of his usual contractors would accept a particularly risky cargo, an associate advised him to request the services of the Aether and its captain, Genevieve Sparling. Through disbelief and hesitance he scheduled a meeting with Captain Sparling, and once both former insurrectionists had made certain that neither was in the Enlightenment's thrall, their reunion was a happy and vodka-filled one. Pavel gave Sparling his most lucrative - and hazardous - assignments, and she continued to prove herself to be a most valuable ally.

Though no one with a past like Pavel's could escape the Enlightenment's notice for long, he was confident that he could dodge any serious trouble that came his way. With that conviction and a bit of vodka filling him with boldness, he continued supplying rebel factions with illicit supplies while the vast machine of the Enlightenment rumbled on around him.

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