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Created in response for the Paper Doll Gang Blog City.
Another character from one of the many worlds stuck in my poor head...
Character: Rufus Varne
World/Story: Event Horizon/Sci Fi
Place in the story: A charmer and a bit of a con man, he helps get the tricky deals done on the ship as they soar through the stars. He puts on a good face to everyone, but he has a darker past than he lets on, a crueller side to him he currently tries to make up for.
Let me tell you, it isn't easy living the life of a brigand. The crew I bunk with are diverse in their ways. I don't think I'd ever meet a crazier gathering of people in the whole universe, and believe me. I've seen a few crazies in my time. You work on various planets operating with the underbelly of each civilisation, they all come crawling out of the woodwork to add to the excitement.
We rake the galaxy, do rum deals, get chased a lot - I charm my way into the trickier areas and pet up the criminal networks. I have connections, and a lot of them. I spent years ironing the wrinkles. I like to consider myself a valuable asset to the team.
The crew I hang with? I wouldn't give up for anything. Captain Densell, Akari, Ella, Lewis - they've all got a place in my heart. I treat them horribly at times, especially Akari, but secretly? I think she's amazing. Homicidal, but amazing.
Just don't expect me to admit it, ever.
I grew up on an Navolean core planet, in the deepest, dankest shithole imaginable. Capitalism ruined the economy, so the locals decided to refute to a more Feudal origin, making the poor slave on the land to generate food for the upper echelons. Thankfully, my family were amongst the wealthiest there - and they ran an entire criminal operation through several planets and factions. A galactic mafia at your service, tromping bodies and spitting blood like nobody's business.
The arakar particularly got it bad. When you're a race of pointy horn people whom got enslaved by the invading humans just over five hundred years ago, you're not going to be treated nice. We had arakar servants in the household. I remember one got executed for impregnating one of the female human slaves. The human was six months gone at the time. Our solution for the unborn child: tear it from her hands at birth and rear it as a bona fide slave. Interracial incidents happened all the time. We used it as an excuse to bump off the arakar involved. Even though human slaves got treated like nothing, the arakar existed at the even shorter end of the stick.
I killed my first person when I turned eight. Father made me hold the gun to the trembling man's head. He ballsed up some sort of trade deal, I never found out what - but I got to blow out his brains with a small handgun.
I hated doing that.
I was always up for daddy's approval though, so I did as he asked, and rose up through the ranks as a fearsome and intimidating gangster. I had the looks as well, and realised I could use them to my advantage. Whereas most of the thugs in our ring went for physical violence, I went for charm and psychological warfare, and got a reputation as one sick kid.
I never truly enjoyed what I did though. I just thought I had no other choice but this life.
One little moment in my life sticks out. At the tender age of sixteen, I headed an operation to clear out a nest of our rivals. The night before the mission, I sat outside a seedy pub, drinking beer - with a few lackies tearing up the place inside. They caught an arakar couple, beat the daylight out of them and chucked them out the pub. I remember the raucous laughing as I gulped my drink. I sat alone, and the couple - would you believe it - crawled over to where I was, and joined me at the table.
To be honest, they didn't notice me at first, being slumped under the shadow of the sparse trees. When they finally did, they apologised and went to leave.
"Hey. You can stay here if you want," I managed to say. I tried a smile.
I remember their faces; stunned. It made me squirm uncomfortably inside, like some sort of conscience bug took up residence in my stomach. I could tell right off these people were used to being treated like animals. It didn't really take a genius to figure that out, since all arakar got tossed to the bottom of the garbage pile. This couple were regulars of the pub, so god knows how many times they'd been beaten by some asshole human, or worse. I glanced at the woman. Sure enough, purplish bruises weaved on her wrists.
So why the hell did they keep coming back?
"No thanks," the male said politely. He gave me an insincere smile. Veiled hatred simmered in his eyes. I shrugged, and went back to nursing my tankard. Then as an afterthought, I threw my wallet at them. They ducked, startled.
"Take it," I said. I turned my back to them, lapping up the last of the beer.
When I creaked around a short amount of time later, they were gone, and so was the wallet. I didn't expect a thank-you. In this world, people grab onto opportunities like starving animals. There's a lot of hate and some guy throwing his wallet at someone isn't going to shift it. My livery also stamped out a message to the people in our world; I was a rich bastard, and probably killed people for breakfast.
But not to eat them. Because that would be wrong.
The next day, the operation kicked into effect. The lair contained a lot of rival members, so shots rang out through the dust strewn air like wasps. We had the advantage, and pressed on what should have been a clear victory.
At least until the entire rival gang turned suicidal bomber on us. The whole warehouse exploded into thick, smokey mess. Shrapnel pounded through most of our team. I got three shots of it in the stomach, shoulder and leg. I didn't remember much else, having passed out.
I know the rest of the team that remained scuttled out, leaving me for dead. Only three of them survived out of the thirty or so sent into the base. None of the enemy made it.
When I woke up, I was in a filthy bed, but my wounds all tended to. The linen seemed clean, apart from the seeping blood resulting from my little excursion into trigger-happy land.
Turned out my carers were the same arakar couple whom I'd negligently tossed money to the day before. They scavenged the site for any resources or remains, and spotted me.
And despite the awful, diabolical way we treated them, they took me in and helped me back to waking life.
How nice of them.
The money gesture affected them a little deeper than I previously expected. I lay snug in the middle of the arakar community, in their dirty little hovels, and they treated me...
Pretty much better than I'd ever been treated. I'd been treated with fear, with disdain, with rough pride and as a useful commodity.
But not like I actually mattered. And all for a small thing, no skin off my nose.
It completly uphauled me. And from then on, the way I acted changed. Sure I was still daddy's perfect little mafia boy, but I started making my own connections. I started assisting anyone and anything for a price. My network became neutral, and I roped both arakar and humans into it. I got some very steadfast arakar workers - and my best man was an arakar male known as Darexx. The guy was slippery and intelligent, and it was thanks to him my network really started to kick off.
The couple who helped me got killed in a raid, but they had a surviving son. I discreetly made sure the son made his way into hands on another planet, safe from the world he would have been brought into. Safe from slavery.
I drifted, aimless for a while after my father died. His whole operation crumbled down from petty bickering and internal feuds, before eventually being taken over by some stupid, cruel bastard. He tried to bump me off, being the heir and all, so I fled. I decided to try and branch off from the lifestyle after that. An epiphany, if you will. Darexx ended up taking over the entire ring for me. He kept me informed, and I still helped on certain matters. The most important thing we did was attempt to evacuate some of the slaves from my home planet to positions in our work force or greener grass on other worlds.
We did some good.
I met captain Densell on a small time operation on the distant planet of Yevis. He wanted some meds and fuel for his ship.
Somehow I ended up becoming a permenant member.
Thank the gods he found me. Being a swashbuckling buccaneer of the dark horizons is infinitely better than grubbing around in the dirt of my old home, fighting gang wars on enemy turf or defending your own. I felt like I had a purpose, a status unlike anything I had as a petty criminal. We were terrorists to some and heroes to others, and we bunked the galaxy as freedom fighters and tricky traders.
And I still love every second of it.
One day we'll most likely stick our noses in too far, but until then, we can drive this rusting tinbucket all the way to the next star.