He's a stubborn bastard, I'll give him that.
Most people just know him by one of his monikers people give him. ‘The Hooded One', 'The Painted Man', or 'The Grey Hunter’ are a couple of the more respectful ones. ‘The Savage’, ‘The Warlock Assassin’ or ‘That Murdering Lunatic That Always Gets Away’ are some of the less flattering ones. But I just know him by his name. His real one: Connor. Ratonhnhaké:ton if you’re an Indian.
He doesn’t really talk much, but I’ve managed to coax a piece out of him from time to time. He’s a Metis, or mixed. White father with a Mohawk mother. Grew up in the Appalachians as tribesman. He had a more or less happy life as a kid, the tribe accepted him, and he grew strong and agile and enjoyed the world for what it was: peaceful, free. That is, until Imperial Expeditions attacked. Heard he lost family and friends that day. He saw his mother die when he was a lad. What kind of person would you think would grow up from an experience like that? His tribe managed to escape from the war machine that subjugated even the mighty Iroquois nations. He was safe, living out a similar life that he had. He turned into a fine hunter indeed.
But he wasn’t at peace any more. With the Empire encroaching all the time, how could they stay safe, he argued with Elders in the evenings. How could they be free, when they could be shot by Imperial Guard for being poachers on their own lands? How could they rest easy knowing that many of their own people were forced to live in the cities, the only life offered to them being slaving away in the factories along with the slaves and immigrants, putting out strange, whale oil powered machines that cemented the rule of the ruling classes? How could he claim to be ‘free’ when he had so many more people were treated little better than pack animals for the Empire? The arguments he had with the elders often went nowhere. Then one day, he just said ‘to hell with it’ and decided to journey to the city of Boston to see how he could change everything himself.
Oh Connor… such a young, brash and naďve lad you were then. The city almost ate you right up. Got your ass handed to you by gangs and almost got summarily executed by the Watch for being a nuisance. But you still didn’t give up.
And that got the attention of a certain somebody didn’t it? The Black-Eyed Boy. The Outsider.
He came to Connor one night, about a week after he had arrived in the city. I don’t what happened, I don’t what he saw, but The Outsider had seemed amused by the actions of Connor. So he gave him his Mark. His power. Apparently, The Outsider always wanted to know what would happen, if an immovable object was hit by an unstoppable force…
So Connor became much more than an angry young man. On The Outsider’s advice, he travelled to Davenport, where he found an old man known as Achilles. I think he used to be pirate. Or was it a witch doctor? I’m not sure about that part. He taught Connor how to harness his abilities, how to move across the room in the blink of an eye, how to live in a fish or a rat, how to stop time itself. And it wasn’t just the Mark that helped him. He started to dabble in the totemic magics of his own people. He harnessed the powers of the land, had the ferocity of a bear, and the agility of a wolf. Its little wonder Iroquois warriors are still feared, even today. And he used that power alright. I hear a community of people live near his house for the protection he provides. I’ve met a few of them. The way they talk about him, Connor really seems to care about them.
I ran into him right after that slaver, Burton was killed. I certainly didn’t miss the bastard. He swindled me a few times in a few deals. So when I went out to feed my cat that evening and find Burton’s killer all bloody, wounded and tired, catching his breath in my back yard, I didn’t call the Watch. I put the two and two together and I helped to bandage his wounds and hide him from the Watchmen. After that, I started to teach him how to get by in the city. Where to hide, how to shake the Watch off, how to plan his attacks among other things. Connor may have been a tough student, but we became good friends. I even convinced him to go to some of those lectures we give at the academy on new ideas about government and rule of the people.
And boy oh boy, has he grown out to be quite the figure. About, once every two or three months, some big shot in the aristocracy or the Guard gets killed. Doesn’t matter if they’re under guard by the Watch, Connor always gets them sooner or later. Lord Hamilton, General Champlain, The Earl of Massachusetts: only a few of the scumbags that tried to rule the land like it was a plaything. He’s becoming a legend. The Watch, the Guard, The Overseers… even with their new technologies, like Tallboys at their disposal, they all seem incapable of killing or capturing him. The establishment loathes him, brands him a killer and a heretic, but the underclasses speak of him like he is a legend, a force of nature. He’s a good man. I swear to the Lord, he’s even entered a relationship with this lovely young lady from the Indian Quarter. Seems strange to think that a man like him, focused as he is on his dreams of a free America, would take time out for a woman like her. But these are strange times we live in.
But I worry about him. He’s good at his job, we all know that. I heard he once carved his way through a battalion of guardsmen one time in New York. Thing is, I once saw him in action. Bunch of the Overseers had us cornered. They raised their pistols at us, I thought it was the end so I closed my eyes. I opened them up a few seconds later to see that all five Overseers are dead, and Connor is just standing there, covered in their blood, eyes and mark glowing, and looking… satisfied. Hell, he looked happy of all things.
A year or two ago, a Cherokee guy once told me a story. He said that within every man there are two wolves in a struggle with each other. One of them is their strengths, hopes and virtues, the other is their fears, hates and greed. I asked them witch one would in the fight. He answered ‘The one that’s fed.’
That’s what worries me about Connor. I look at him, and I see that one part of him wants to right the wrongs inflicted upon everything, and make the world better for all of the people of America: Indian, black and white alike. The other part… I fear that the other part of him… the one fuelled by his loss and rage… simply wants to send the whole system howling into the Void.