|“||Killing is ugly, whatever shape it takes. That's why we have to stop this war.||”|
Aleksandar, Prince of Hohenberg, usually known simply as Alek, is one of the main characters and protagonists of the Leviathan series. He is a 15-year-old Austrian boy. Alek is the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek, Princess of Hohenberg. Because his parents' marriage was morganatic, Alek is not allowed to inherit the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After his parents are assassinated, Alek goes into hiding with several men who worked for his father, including some of his tutors.
Alek is very sheltered and finds it difficult to adapt to a common lifestyle, but he still tries to make himself useful to his men (and later, the crew of the Leviathan) with his skills with piloting and plotting.
Alek was born in Austria-Hungary. In Leviathan, it is mentioned that he is "almost sixteen". He is part of the Hapsburg family, the royal house of Austria. Because his mother was not directly descended from royalty, his parents' marriage was morganatic, making Alek unable to inherit anything from his father. Alek is still a prince, a title he inherits from his father's royal blood, and had tutors of the highest caliber for all subjects. He was taught fencing by Count Volger and walker piloting by Otto Klopp. He was tutored in Latin, Greek, English, French, and Hungarian (the latter three of which he can speak fluently). Though he is a prince, he was looked down on by nobles for most of his life for being the son of a lady-in-waiting.== Alek probably spent most of his early life at Konopiště castle near Prague. He did not have many friends as a child. He seems to have been very sheltered, and was not allowed to see films or plays, or to handle money. His father did not allow photographs or paintings of him, to keep him safe from political enemies. Alek seems to have spent a lot of time reading novels, as he mentions Gulliver's Travels and also seems to be familiar with the school novel and adventure novel genres popular for young people during the time.
In the seriesEditLeviathan, staging a battle between Darwinists and Clankers in his room in the middle of the night. Claiming a training exercise, Count Volger and Otto Klopp take him with them on board a Cyklop Stormwalker, supposedly to practice night piloting. However, when Alek becomes suspicious of where they are going, Volger reveals that his parents have been murdered that night in Sarajevo and they must flee Austria to escape the same fate. While Alek technically cannot inherit the throne, the current emperor, Franz Joseph, does not have any heirs -- and with a war coming, people might "overlook" the nature of Alek's birth. Because of this, the Archduke's political enemies might try to kill Alek to prevent this from happening. Alek does not believe this and attempts to sound the distress whistle, but Volger drugs him with anesthetic.
After Alek comes to, Germans attack the walker, proving that Volger's story is true. Alek and his companions make their way through the countryside, hiding in barns and stealing from local villages. At the same time, Alek struggles with his grief over his parents' deaths as well as being a fugitive from his own nation. After a mishap at a small Austrian market that gives Alek away, they are hunted by Austrian and German patrols. They eventually manage to escape into Switzerland, where Alek's father and Count Volger have already prepared a fortress, having expected a war.
While they are at the fortress, Volger reveals a document that, by the dispensation of the pope, "adjusts" his parents' marriage and names Alek as his father's heir. The condition of this dispensation is that it must be kept secret until Franz Joseph dies. Until then, Volger plans for them to hide out in the Alps.
However, that night, the Leviathan crashes over the Alps. Though Volger advises them to wait for the airship to be rescued -- or for the crew to die off if rescue does not come -- in order to keep their location secret from the Germans (and to avoid capture by the British), Alek is unable to leave the stranded airship and crew and sneaks out over the glacier to deliver medicine and supplies. The first person he finds is an unconscious Deryn Sharp (who introduces herself as Dylan), who fell from the rigging during the crash. He revives him and claims (unconvincingly) to be a Swiss villager. Deryn does not believe him and sounds an alarm, resulting in Alek's capture. Alek is interrogated by Deryn and Dr. Barlow, who determines that he is not much of a threat and assigns the two of them to watch a crate of (mostly broken) eggs that she was bringing to Constantinople. While tending the eggs, Deryn and Alek share some of their experiences.
The next day, Deryn, Dr. Barlow, and Alek go to his hideout to retrieve food and cargo for the wounded Leviathan. On the way back, they spot two German zeppelins approaching. The three of them, as well as the crew of Alek's Stormwalker fight a fierce battle. Though they defeat the zeppelins, but both the Leviathan's engines and the Stormwalker are destroyed, and Alek unwittingly reveals himself to the Germans.
The Austrians' hiding place has now been compromised, and reinforcements are returning to finish off both the Leviathan and Alek. Trying to find a way to escape, Alek strikes a deal with Dr. Barlow: he will give them the Stormwalker's engines in exchange for passage to the Ottoman Empire . In the process of bargaining, Alek's true identity as the son of Franz Ferdinand is revealed. Both Deryn and Dr. Barlow promise that they will not reveal his secret.
With the more powerful Clanker engines now attached to the Leviathan, they lift off just as they are attacked by the Germans. The Leviathan escapes and sets off for the Ottoman Empire. En route, Deryn receives an order from the captain to tell him everything she knows about Alek and his men. Deryn lies to the captain that she does not know anything, and falsely promises to do her best to find out. Upon finding out about the order, Alek insists that Deryn reveal him to the captain, or she will be hanged as a traitor if her knowledge about his identity is discovered. However, Deryn realizes that they will not hang her, because she is secretly a girl. In order to assuage Alek's fears, she almost tells him this, but is interrupted by Dr. Barlow.
As Behemoth begins, Deryn has been teaching Alek how to climb the ratlines, and Alek begins fencing lessons with her on the spine of the Leviathan. Alek adjusts Deryn's position, and she fears that he will discover her secret, but she is reassured that he doesn't know when he tells her to make her chest "the smallest possible target" by standing sideways. During this lesson, they are interrupted by a German attack on the Leviathan by two ironclads, the Goeben and the Breslau.
Klopp points out that the Goeben has a Tesla cannon on its deck, and Alek asks Mr. Hirst to turn the ship around. Hirst refuses to act without orders from the bridge. When Klopp tries to turn the airship around, Hirst tries to shoot him but Alek interferes and is shot instead. Alek is kept under armed guard in his stateroom as he recovers, but Dr. Barlow manages to get in to see him, bringing Deryn with her.
Dr. Barlow is able to convince the captain to allow Alek and his men to repair the engines. When Captain Hobbes summons Alek and Volger to the bridge, the captain informs them that Austria-Hungary and Britain are officially at war. Volger tells Alek that he needs to find a way to escape from the Leviathan, as Volger has already been caught skulking around the airships's storerooms.
While sneaking around, Alek finds the message lizard room, and Deryn finds him there after he causes a bit of noise. Deryn tells him that she thought that it would be a good time to say goodbye, as she knows that the Clankers plan on escaping the next day. Deryn tells Alek the story of her father's death, and Alek tells Deryn that he thinks he may be "in love with" the Leviathan.
Immediately before the Clankers' planned escape, though, one of the eggs hatches into a perspicacious loris, Bovril, who refuses to be left behind, so Alek brings the creature with him. Volger tells Alek to kill Bovril to keep it quiet, but Alek argues that Bovril would make too much noise. While Alek and his men are escaping, however, an alert is sounded and Volger reveals that he and Hoffman have planned to stay behind to keep Alek from being chased by the Darwinists.
After the escape, Alek finds that he is now in charge of Klopp and Bauer, and decides to stay in Istanbul and find more information about what is going on in the war, rather than leaving to hide in the wilds as Volger had advised him. There, they stay at the Hotel Hagia Sophia, and Alek and Bauer go out and visit a coffee shop. There, they meet Eddie Malone, but before he can find out much about Alek, German agents recognize Bauer from a photograph and chase them.
Alek flees onto the streets of Istanbul, and, after falling off of a building, is rescued by Zaven, who is piloting the walker Şahmaran. After a brief conversation, Alek learns about the Committee for Union and Progress and offers to help the Committee.
Later, Alek meets with Eddie Malone again, and asks him to deliver a message to Volger on board the Leviathan. However, After meeting with Malone a second time to hear Volger's response, Alek is late for his meeting with Zaven and the Committee. On his way there, he notices a strange woman trailing him, who he later learns is Lilit, Zaven's daughter. He also meets the Committee's leader, Nene, whom he is surprised to find out is actually a woman and Zaven's mother. Alek has difficulty convincing Lilit and Nene to trust him, but Bovril convinces them, as well as Alek telling them his true identity.
Lilit offers to show Alek how to pilot Ottoman walkers, and Alek smugly thinks that he can pilot any machine that a girl can pilot. Alek learns to pilot Şahmaran, although he first breaks a wagon with his initial clumsiness with the walker's controls. Lilit also names Bovril, as she feels that the creature needs a name.
When Alek and Lilit visit Alek's suite at the hotel, Deryn arrives unexpectedly. She explains about her secret mission and tells Alek and Lilit that she is trapped in Istanbul because the Leviathan has left. She also offers to help the Committee. When Alek, Deryn, Klopp and Bauer are headed to the Committee's warehouse, they run into a military checkpoint, and must escape by hijacking a taxi walker.
At the warehouse, they all watch a military parade by the Sultan, and Zaven tells them that the Sultan controls the sale of weapons. Deryn suggests that they use hot spices to disable the walkers, as she did in her rescue of the Dauntless. Alek offers to pay for the spices using his final bar of gold. Alek also remembers that he left his papal scroll in his hotel room, and asks Deryn to come with him to get it back.
Alek also enlists Lilit's help to get the scroll back, and Lilit rents a suite of rooms to make it easier for them to break into Alek's old room. After Alek and Deryn retrieve the scroll, Alek confesses to Deryn that the scroll may have the power to make him emperor of Austria-Hungary, and he tells Deryn that Lilit has a crush on her. Deryn tells him about her mission, and about the imminent British attack on Istanbul. They decide to attempt to coordinate the revolution with the Leviathan's attack.
As they are leaving the hotel, Eddie Malone finds them and confronts Alek about his identity and involvement with a revolutionary group. Alek offers Malone an exclusive interview in exchange for Malone keeping his information about the revolution secret. Malone also gives them information that leads Alek and Deryn to realize that there is a Tesla cannon in Istanbul, which will jeopardize the Leviathan's attack on the city.
On the night of the revolution, Alek and Deryn pilot a djinn walker in a secret attack on the Tesla cannon. The djinn is taken down after disabling a few elephant walkers, and, as they watch their comrades' walkers also crash, they realize that they must try to take down the cannon with the loading arm of the Orient Express. However, Zaven manages to destroy the Tesla cannon by sacrificing himself, and saves both the Leviathan and the Ottoman revolution.
After the attack, Alek and Deryn say goodbye to Lilit, who kisses Deryn. Alek finds her "quite mad", Deryn says "at least she's not a bad kisser". They also find that Klopp has been badly injured in the battle, and Bauer offers to stay with him while Alek and Deryn escape from approaching elephant walkers. Alek asks Deryn to come with him, saying that he "can't do this alone." Deryn convinces him to come back aboard the Leviathan, though, saying that he and his men should stick together. After signalling the Leviathan using the crashed iron golem, the ship notices them and sends down men to rescue them.
Back on board the airship, Alek meets with Volger, who shows him Eddie Malone's article in the New York World. Alek is disturbed by the photograph in the article, the first photograph he has ever seen of himself. Volger also thanks Alek for saving his life by helping to destroy the Tesla cannon and asks him, "How is your friend Dylan, by the way?" Volger tells Alek that while he was in Istanbul the pope died, and that the new pope might not be so ready to confirm Alek's letter.
Alek is in the middy's mess with Deryn and Newkirk at the beginning of Goliath. Deryn and Newkirk attempt to teach him about navigation and great circle routes, but Alek has difficulty understanding the principles behind them. Somewhat upset and jealous of Deryn's usefulness, Alek mentions Deryn's father as the reason for her skills. Newkirk says that it was really Deryn's uncle who was an airman and Deryn becomes uncomfortable, but Alek misinterprets her behavior as unhappiness at being reminded of her father, rather than being reminded of her lie.
A two headed eagle brings a message from Czar Nicholas II, which Dr. Barlow refuses to share with Alek, as it is a military secret. When Alek and Deryn take the eagle to the rookery, Alek apologizes for mentioning Deryn's father, which causes Deryn to confesses that she has a secret, although she refuses to tell him what it is. Alek pretends to be mollified but is secretly rather angry that his best friend does not trust him.
Later, Alek visits Volger and discuss international politics. Volger again questions Alek's relationship with Deryn, and he also gives Alek a newspaper with an Eddie Malone article about Deryn and her rescue of the Dauntless in it. A messenger lizard arrives asking Alek to come to the cargo bay to work on a mysterious machine that was hidden in a package the ship picked up from the Russians. After Alek, Deryn, Klopp, Hoffman and Bauer construct the device, they discover that it is a device for measuring magnetic field.
Exhausted, Alek returns to his cabin and re-reads the newspaper article about Deryn, noticing a few inconsistencies that he had not noticed before. However, he falls asleep before he can really think about it. When he wakes up, he learns that the ship has picked up Nikola Tesla and a number of Russian airmen. Deryn asks Alek to translate, and they find that Captain Viktor Yegorov can speak French. Alek and Yegorov go to the navigation room to meet with the captain and officers of the Leviathan, and there Alek first meets Tesla. Tesla tells all of them about Goliath, a weapon he says can stop the war. When Alek tells Volger about Goliath, Volger suggests that they may need to murder Tesla to prevent Goliath from being used on Vienna.
Back in his stateroom, Alek reads the entire newspaper article about Deryn to Bovril, hoping that the loris will be able to tell him Deryn's secret. After Alek finishes the article, Bovril whispers, "Mr. Deryn Sharp." into his ear. Later than evening, when he and Deryn are trying to use Tesla's device to find out what Tesla was searching for in Tunguska, Alek tests Deryn several times to see if he can get her to confess to her secret. When Deryn goes into Tesla's room to find out what Tesla has been hiding, Alek waits outside the door and scratches on it to warn her when a Russian soldier comes to talk to Tesla.
After Deryn has obtained a sliver of the object under Tesla's bed, Alek tests Deryn again by adressing her by her real name. When she answers without thinking, Alek becomes upset and they have an argument and a fight. Alek can't understand why Deryn, his best friend, would not have told him her most important secret until he realizes, after Deryn has left, that she is in love with him and knew that he would not be able to return her love because of his position.
For several days, Alek and Deryn do not speak to each other, and Alek spends time exploring the airship. When Volger again confronts him about "dealing with" Tesla, Alek goes to warn Tesla, but then realizes that it might be best if the Leviathan took Tesla to America itself. Alek convinces Tesla to stay aboard the ship until they reach Japan.
After the Leviathan's battle in Japan, Alek sees Deryn again and decides to start talking to her again. Alek offers to go with Deryn to a Japanese tailor's shop to prevent Dr. Barlow from finding out her secret, and the two of them discuss the war, Tesla, their relationship, and Alek's destiny as they walk down Japanese streets and eat at a Japanese food stall. At Tesla's demonstration, a message arrives from the Admiralty saying that the Leviathan will take Tesla to New York City.
The next day, Alek and Deryn go topside on the Leviathan to help install a large radio antenna on the ship for Tesla. While they are on top of the ship, the ship begins to approach a hurricane, which makes conditions topside very dangerous. When part of the radio wire comes loose, Deryn and Alek must go out into the storm to fix it, and are caught out in the open when it hits. Alek falls and hits his head, and becomes confused about Deryn's gender and his location. Deryn tries to keep Alek talking so that he will not fall unconcious, and they both make a promise to each other to never lie or keep secrets from each other. Deryn kisses him to tell him that she is in love with him to keep her promise.
Alek has to spend several days in bed with a headache, but recovers by the time the Leviathan reaches America. The ship lands at the home of William Randolph Hearst, who wants to make newsreels of Alek, Tesla and the Leviathan. Hearst invites Alek and other important passengers of the Leviathan to dinner, where they watch The Perils of Pauline. While watching the film, Alek compares the heroine, Pauline, to Deryn, as they are both adventurous and can use hydrogen balloons.
The airship leaves for Mexico the next day, to avoid overstaying their 24 hour limit at a neutral port. At dinner, Alek meets Hearst's reporter Adela Rogers, and is reintroduced to Eddie Malone, who also came aboard at Hearst's mansion. Malone shares his theory that Philip Francis is a German agent, and Tesla uses his device to find smuggled, but unloaded, weapons, unused movie reels and sugar hidden in the supplies Hearst provided. In Mexico, the Leviathan's crew discovers that the items had been sent by Hearst as part of a movie deal. They Leviathan must stop in Mexico to repair damage caused by tainted fuel given to them by Hearst, and while there Deryn is injured by falling with a pair of gliding wings. Alek goes to assist Deryn and helps protect her secret by lying to Dr. Busk. Dr. Mariano Azuela treats Deryn, but insists on sharing her secret with Pancho Villa. Eddie Malone overhears them discussing her secret, and tells them that he will publish an article on it when they arrive in New York.
Alek helps Deryn after she is injured by convincing the officers to let her stay in her own cabin, bringing her meals, helping her walk to the bathroom and keeping her company during what they think are her last days aboard the airship. But when they arrive in New York, Alek and Deryn must part, as Alek leaves to assist Tesla and promote Goliath. Alek rides on a jitney when he comes into New York City, but the jitney is attacked by rockets as part of a German plot to assassinate Tesla. Alek saves Malone's life and decides to trade his final secret, that of his papal letter, to keep Malone from printing Deryn's secret. Alek and Deryn say goodbye at the Serbian embassy at the party the embassy throws for Tesla, and Alek meets Lilit again there.
For two weeks, Alek attends many fundraising events with Tesla. He recieves a letter from Deryn warning him about German water-walkers which will be part of a secret attack on Tesla's seaside laboratory. On the night of Tesla's test of Goliath, he recieves another letter from her warning him that the attack will be that night. After he alerts Tesla and Tesla's dinner guests to the news, Tesla decides to fire the Goliath in earnest on the city of Berlin. Horrified, Alek attempts to dissuade him, but Tesla insists that it is necessary to stop the war and prevent Goliath from being destroyed forever.
Back in the dining room, Volger brings Alek fencing sabers, and he, Alek and Bauer try to stop Tesla from firing the machine. Alek realizes that the Leviathan and Deryn are in danger from Goliath being fired. Although he is first electrocuted when he tries to stop Tesla with his fencing saber, he kills Tesla with Tesla's own electrified walking stick to save Deryn.
At the end of the novel, Alek is on board the Leviathan again, recieving a medal for helping Deryn fix Tesla's radio wire. America has entered the war, so the ship has been in America for a few weeks. Alek tells Deryn that he has a secret to tell her about Tesla, so they both climb the ratlines so they can have a bit of privacy. Alek confesses that he killed Tesla, and Deryn tells him that Dr. Barlow has discovered that the Goliath would not have worked anyway. Alek says that he does not regret his actions, because his real motivation was to save Deryn. Alek kisses Deryn and throws his papal letter off the side of the airship, telling her that it represents his past, and that his future is with her. Deryn tells him that Dr. Barlow may have a job for him, now that he is no longer going to be an emperor.
In a newspaper article, Malone reports that Alek has accepted a position with the Zoological Society of London. Among his men, only Volger stays with Alek and goes with him to London.
After the seriesEdit
In the Bonus Goliath Chapter, Alek wears a dress to the Zoological Society fancy dress party because he lost a bet with Deryn. When questioned by Adela Rogers, he tells her that he is dressed as Ada Lovelace.
Alek later becomes an honorary director of the London Zoological Society.
Alek has reddish-brown hair and green eyes, with "sharp, handsome features". In Behemoth, Alek seems to think that his ears are big, because he asks Volger about them after seeing the photograph Eddie Malone takes of him for the New York World.
At the start of Leviathan, Alek is shown as very sheltered and spoiled, but is still a good person. He finds it difficult to live like a commoner, and he has never even handled money before fleeing Austria. Because of his royal lifestyle, he finds the common people to be uneducated and trivial, and is unable to communicate with them without giving himself away by his superior manner. Also, for most of Leviathan, Alek is rather serious and does not often laugh or make jokes. He has also developed a stoic front to suppress the grief of his parents' deaths. After meeting Deryn, however, he begins to develop a more cheerful demeanor.
Still, Alek is also brave and willing to do what it takes to save himself or his men or to do what he feels is right. He has a firm belief in his own destiny, which others occasionally find irritating. He feels that it is his duty to end the war begun by the death of his parents, despite the number of times Deryn tells him it is not his responsibility. In some ways, Alek feels as though his position defines him. Possibly because of the early loss of his parents, Alek also seems to want to have a "family," and tells Volger that the Stormwalker crew is his family since his parent's deaths, and he allows himself to be somewhat "adopted" by Nene in Istanbul. And when Deryn tells him that he wants to end the war to fill the loss of his family, and that he will never be able to, he replies that he has Deryn now.
Alek likes to plan things, and also to plan for the future. He seems to feel best when he feels useful to others, and can find a sense of belonging and community with a group. His diplomatic talents are revealed in Behemoth and Goliath, when he arranges the Ottoman revolution and when he attempts to bring about peace through the Goliath. Despite this, Alek feels somewhat uncomfortable in the spotlight, and does not enjoy seeing his face in newspapers. He also has a talent for working with Clanker machines, both piloting and mechanics. He is able to work on Tesla's machine without instructions.
- Archduke Franz Ferdinand was Alek's father and next in line for the throne of Austria-Hungary. Alek seems to respect his father, who advocated for peace and education for everyone. Whether or not they were particularly close is unknown, but Alek still feels deep grief over his death.
- Alek's mother. Though Sophie cared greatly for her son, Alek somewhat resented her for costing him an empire because of her non-royal blood. However, he still seems to have loved her and is deeply saddened by her death.
- Alek's great-uncle, and the current ruler of Austria. Alek and Franz Joseph seem to have a mostly antagonistic relationship -- Franz Joseph looks down on Alek and does not consider him a real part of the family.
- Alek's fencing instructor. Though he knows of the secret dispension that grants Alek the throne of Austria-Hungary, Volger still looks down on him and treats him as nothing more than the son of a lady-in-waiting. His superior manner and frequent lectures irritate Alek, but he still trusts Volger and often looks to him for advice. Perhaps because of the deal he made with Franz Ferdinand, Volger is protective of Alek and does as much as he can to ensure Alek's safety.
- Alek's Master of Mechaniks. Because he himself is a commoner, Klopp is one of the few people who treats Alek like a royal. Alek greatly respects Klopp and his abilities. They have a mutual relationship of trust and respect. Like Volger, Klopp does as much as he can to protect Alek.
- The gunner and engineer for the Stormwalker. Alek is grateful for both of their assistance and appreciates their sacrifices; likewise, both Bauer and Hoffman look up to Alek as a noble. However, they are not particularly close and Alek finds it difficult to talk to them.
Leviathan's Crew and PassengersEdit
- Alek first meets Dr. Barlow when she interrogates him after he is captured by the crew of the Leviathan. Though Alek grows to trust her, he also finds her very annoying, and is at odds with her because she is a top scientist for the Darwinists. Alek eventually gets a job from Dr. Barlow after Deryn decides to leave the Leviathan and go work for the zoological society.
- Main article: Relationship of Alek and Deryn
- Alek meets Deryn when he wakes her up after the Leviathan crashes. They eventually develop a close friendship which turns into love after Alek learns that Deryn is really a girl.
- Alek meets Tesla on board the Leviathan, and does not respond to his dinner invitations until Volger tells him to find out what Tesla is doing. Alek eventually gets Tesla to use the Leviathan to get to America, telling him that it is the fastest way to get there. He agrees to support Tesla's use of the Goliath to end the war, believing that the machine will only be used to threaten the Clanker powers. When Tesla decides to actually use the Goliath on Berlin, Alek kills him with his own electrical walking stick to prevent the nearby Leviathan, which is carrying Deryn, from catching fire.
- Alek meets Eddie Malone in an Ottoman coffee shop when Eddie Malone is trying to find out about the German workers in Istanbul. Alek gets Malone to deliver a message to Count Volger. When Eddie Malone finds out about Deryn escaping the Ottomans and the Tesla cannon by the rail lines, Alek agrees to let Malone interview him about his parents' deaths to prevent him from publishing these stories. When Malone discovers Deryn's secret, Alek tells him about his letter from the pope in exchange for not publishing a story about Deryn. At the end of the series, Eddie Malone has published an article about Alek renouncing his claim to the throne of Austria-Hungary, so Alek has finally gotten Malone to publish an article that Alek wants to be published.
- Lilit confronts Alek when he is trying to find her father in Istanbul. She tells Zaven not to trust Alek, because she had been trailing him and had seen him talking to Eddie Malone. Zaven tells Lilit to teach Alek to pilot Ottoman walkers, and he tells her that boys are better at mechanics. Lilit eventually disproves him when she is able to pilot Şahmaran and Alek is not immediately able to use the walker's arms effectively. Alek respects Lilit by the time he introduces her to Deryn.
- Zaven rescues Alek from German agents, and he introduces Alek to Lilit and Nene. Zaven trusts Alek almost immediately, unlike his daughter and mother.
- Alek meets Nene after Zaven introduces him to her. At first she does not trust him, but Alek eventually convinces her that he is really the son of Franz Ferdinand. He calls her Nene, which she and Lilit think is very amusing because it means "grandmother" in Armenian. Nene tells Alek that "one can never have too many grandchildren," and Deryn describes Alek's relationship with Nene as like a grandchild.