A silent and composed elf who lives by his own code.
Demian resides in Athens, in the area formerly known as Nea Ionia. He is employed as a waiter by Chris, the man who helped organize his escape from London. His small restaurant serves as a face for illegal arms trading operations, and Demian has made the occasional delivery on his behalf.
His inner ear system has been replaced with cyberears, featuring a sound damper and spatial recognition. He is the proud owner of a Walther MA-2100 sniper rifle and a Fichetti Security 600 light pistol with an integrated smartgun system.
It’s different on the outskirts of Athens. Around 10 km from the Ares Megaplex, parallel lines of rusty railroad tracks form wide curves leading to an abandoned, obsolete railway station. On the rusty brown bridge, formerly a pedestrian crossing, one’s stare is prone to wander in the open field, which is punctuated by the occasional derelict carriage, left to rust on the tracks. The sky’s gray, the ground’s dirty brown, the faded metallic sheen of the carriages, they all conspire to compose a landscape painted in a dull, heavy monochrome. On the bridge, one can see two figures.
“I’ve decided to talk to you…” the first one’s voice is heard. He is around 1,90cm, a gaunt figure, and is relaxedly leaning on the bridge’s handrail. His head facing downwards, he seems to be absent-mindedly looking at his joined hands.
His clear voice seems to wake the girl from her reverie, and she turns to face the speaker. She‘s clad in Ares’s loose, orange workers’ uniform, and one can only imagine how infamined she’s been, by seeing the deep creases on her face. Her mouth’s a slit, and her dark eyes are watching him without interest. Her dark hair is worn in a tight knot, and she seems to radiate a sense of abandonment.
The speaker raises his head. His own characteristics are simple, symmetrical lines. A pale, elongated face, a wide mouth and sharp, brown eyes which are accented by his jutted cheekbones. His messy black hair, are covering a narrow forehead. He watches her patiently.
“I grew up in Amiriyat. You probably aren’t aware of the place; it is a small village in Saudi Arabia. In the 30s, it wasn’t a good time to be a metahuman round that place. The Alliance of Allah was on the rise, and local warlords and religious figures were all too eager to show their devotion to Mullah Sayid Jazrir’s cause by slaughtering a few hundreds of us. The village was a haven for us, one of a few places to ensure relative safety from the marauding warbands. It was mainly held together by hobgoblins, which is known to be a Middle Eastern variant of the orc genome. Most were ferocious warriors, standing their ground with unshakeable conviction and near-suicidal bravery. Their steadfastness quenched the desperation of our state. When I came to be nine, I was also given my gun.”
“When a being is solely motivated by self-preservation, it nears its basest nature. It is degraded and devalued, and its most sterile urges come to the fore. This is the trap mankind should have evaded, and this is the river upon which it flows these last decades. Nevertheless, the image of the guardians of my early years has never left my mind. Them, standing on the outskirts of our small village, seeking their enemies like warrior-fathers of ancient myth. Their steely resolution and righteous anger, they had something pure in them.
She watches him, then lets out a low sigh and starts pacing along the bridge.
“On patrol , there were long hours of wakefulness, bad food and the fear for our lives. It must have been two weeks when we spotted the first enemies, and we repelled them with ease. That same night, flash-bangs blew in our campsite. Within minutes, all of my comrades were killed. I do not know if it was mercy or orders which moved my savior, but I was the sole survivor.”
“I was transported to the apartment of the man who was to be my stepfather, in Saeder-Krupp’s industrial complex outside Baghdad. He led me to my bed, and when I was over the shock, my education began. Regardless of my former life’s conflicts, I soon grew accustomed to this simple existence. Peace found me , and I just accepted it. Strange, how our mind works. My education was centered on the “lighter”, humanistic studies. It was wholly personal, as I was deemed unfit to be in communion with my peers, due to me having been found in an “almost feral” condition. This ruling suited me well; in the corporation’s knowledge database, I sought company in texts and works from older times. It is quite convenient, living in a past tense. You can influence and shape it in so many more ways than the present time… And when you do so, the past invades the present.”
The speaker wryly smiles to the girl, who keeps strolling, and appears not to be paying any attention to him.
“All present times have gained significance through their symbols. Strip the world of symbols, and it will crumble under its own weight. Sin; it once was a deadly unit used to measure guilt. Now, SIN means identity, an inadequate measure used in order to keep tract in a world that is progressively getting more and more chaotic. A symbol of integrity and order, in a world veering out of control. Through my research in times elder and forgotten, I found my own array of symbols –action and consequence, struggle and fall; majesty; altruism and greed, power and weakness, it all fell into place to form my ascetic. Which I followed then, and am still following now. And, so that I never forget, I have my notes here…”
The girl slowly turns to face him, and he slightly lifts his sweater to reveal the skin beneath. It is all covered in tattooed writing, small script. She observes it for a short while, gestures disinterestedly, and continues with her slow strolling.“Changes came to my life once more. My education came to a successful conclusion, and I gained a job in the complex. I was to evaluate lower-grade employees’ productivity. I used to work long hours, and was rather efficient at my work. This is how I got to know the security guard, who was tasked with patrolling the corridor outside my office. A simple man, he kept good company. Sometimes, mere coexistence with a person can lead to surprisingly strong bonds. We used to talk while he was strolling up and down the corridor, because his comlink was being monitored, and he couldn’t stop moving. The current scene reminds me of that, in a way…”
“I started passing my free time in the shooting range, as was my friend’s habit. Self-protection is an essential element of independence, so practicing soon became a part of my daily schedule. Or, it might have been memories of my childhood, which drew me towards it. Some months later, I had a curious encounter with a man training in the next cubicle, who recognized me as “the metahuman kid in those shows”. I was unaware of participating in any kind of shows, so I was led to try finding out what he meant.”
“While he was sleeping, I got hold of my friend’s comlink, and did a search for my name in the company’s database. I found a variety of information, inaccessible from mine. Documentaries and adverts featuring scenes from my life and education, all of them geared towards showcasing Saeder-Krupp’s “metahuman-friendly side”, the equality and opportunities it offered to my sort of people. As it seems, I was the face of their campaign addressing thousands of desperate, uneducated metahumans, who ended up toiling their lives away in the production lines to ensure a bright future for their offspring. And even more; my stepfather proudly presenting his findings regarding metahumans’ genetic structure, and promising that they would soon be able to correct the “anomaly” which led to my situation. After all, it wasn’t due to his caring too much that I was frequently obliged to have my “health” examined. Or perhaps, it was due to him caring too much about his own work…”
The girl casts a sorrowful glance, and he immediately continues with his narration, almost irritated.
“My world changed, and once again I had to adapt. The sight of my childhood’s protectors kept coming back. Since then, I had been initiated to civilization. Initiated to it… or tamed. Their anger was righteous. What Saeder-Krupp did using my name wasn’t an act of anger; it was an act of violence. And I was angry at them.”
“The event of my enlightenment coincided with the company finding out about the … uhmm … borrowed comlink, and I soon found myself demoted to a position of no significance. From which it was only too easy for me to start slacking and protesting. They did not wish me to publicly state my opinions, as it would sully the company’s “metahuman-friendly face”, so we reached a mutual agreement: I could leave as long as I kept my mouth shut.”
She looks at her comlink. She’s shivering.
“Being rid of all certainty in my life gave me focus. Having amassed a respectable amount to nuyen by saving my salary, I decided to travel to Europe. Reaching London, I felt like a travelling visionary, ready to leave his footsteps on the paths of fate. Fortunately, the first bum I encountered in a train carriage was kind enough to remind me that I was still “a filthy piece of meta scum” to him, waking me from my daydream. I expected to see the Victorian world I had read about in books, and found myself in the bristling center of European economy. But I soon found that between the landed gentry, the eco-punk underground and the worldwide business leaders, there exists a crack that can accommodate all the metahumans in the country.”
“I sought a job, and was soon posted as a teacher in an impoverished meta neighborhood in the London overground. Teaching languages and literature in an area ridden with gangs, crime and pollution, I didn’t attract much of the kids’ attention. They thought me useless, and perhaps they were right. They had to address more pressing concerns, such as survival.”
“Some months later, a private investigator sought to meet me, and demanded information concerning some of my pupils’ families. I knew what I had to do.”
She leans on the handrail, face towards the rails. The shivering’s stopped.
“I started investigation on my own account. I found out that some of the kids’ parents were on the verge of being able to prove that the increasing level of pollution in the Merseyside area was due to toxic waste, dumped illegally by Zeta-ImpChem. I contacted them, and covered their tracks; I misled the investigator, and helped them with research. And we soon came upon hard evidence. But before the facts were brought to the public, we had to flee from the UK. So I ended up here…”
He hears the whining sound of an old train gliding on the rails. As it comes closer, the bridge begins to shake.
And the girl leaps onto the rails.
The speaker now stands near the young girl’s battered, lifeless body. It’s the third one this week, he thinks. Corporate wage-slaves… With rapid movements, he removes the SIN chip from her comlink, and stores it in a hidden compartment in his clothes. He thinks he should lay off this habit, talking to them before they do it. Sometime, one of them may have second thoughts, and by then they will be knowing too much… Good thing he never says his name.
See also: Demian Cipher
See also: Gerhardt Schumann
See also: Eugene Sellers
See also: Iris Giannakou