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Character Name : Jake-19 aka 'The Butcher'
Player Name : Pallando

Background Story

[Dr Jacob Levy] is a member of the Upper Class, in the NeoVictorian?'s Desolation City.  An administrator with medical training, he is in charge of [the Aldgate block] that borders the subterranean docks, where fish and other food is produced hydroponically.

But Dr Levy has a secret.  His Swanson Meat Emporium, which claims to produce the most realistic meat-substitute from processed protein, is in fact a front for the largest meat smuggling operation in the city.

The way it works is that the Snake tribe of NeoBedouins? drive animals to pens near a logging waystation on the canal.  There the animals are slaughtered, and the meat is packed into hollow tree trunks.  These are shipped down the canal by the Tigani family of bargefolk, who deliver them to Desolation City, nominally for use in constructing airships.  However, on arrival, the specially marked trunks packed with meat, hidden among the legitimate trees, are categorised as rotten by an inspector in the pay of Dr Levy, and are hauled over to the Aldgate block for disposal, supposedly to recycle the organics.

The Jake series of automatons was commissioned by Dr Levy many years back.  A  dangerous place; full of darkly glowing cauldrons of molten tallow, billowing steam powered gut-spinner machines (making sausage casings), cold flagstones slippery with offal and the reek of tanneries and death; the company found humans demanded high wages or wore out too quickly - automatons were cheaper in the long run, didn't complain, and worked 24 hours every day of the year.  And, above all, they'd keep his secrets. (see footnote #1)

Not bright, but designed to be strong, hard wearing and single minded, these gangers stirred the vats, hauled the carcasses and kept fed the maws of the insatiably hungry colossal machines.

Jake-19 was just another one of this series, but his particular job was to haul the trunks from the docks, extract the carcasses and butcher them; and so, unlike the other Jakes, he actually came into regular contact with other humans.  And not just any humans - the free-wheeling Tigani bargefolk, who had a passionate belief in freedom and the individual.

So when Aldolpho Tigani, head of the Tigani family, requested a butcher automaton for the waystation, so smaller cuts could be fitted more efficiently into the hollow trunks, Jake-19 was chosen.

Once there, Jake-19 started to develop a bit of personality.  He put a flourish into his killing strokes, because that won applause from the onlookers.  He learned what did it more efficiently, and more stylishly, spinning away the dismembered limbs like an Italian pizza chef or New York cocktail mixing bartender.

Jake gained a taste of freedom, and he liked it.  The bargefolk treated him as an individual, rather than as a machine, and he learned not just to obey but to crave their respect, absorbing their virtues, their code of honour - never leave a buddy behind, never show cowardice.  He tried his hand at other tasks, because the bargefolk respected adaptability and a 'can do' attitude - to not try something new would be a form of cowardice.  Steering a barge was a failure, as was flower arranging (with poor fine motor control, he tended to crush the flowers), but cooking was a success.  He didn't have a wide range (bargefolk were not demanding gourmets), but he learned how to do one thing REALLY WELL - barbeque steaks.  He learned a wide range of dramatic ways to set a pile of wood on fire, he could discuss spices and sauces, and with automaton timing and single minded attention he could get a steak to bleu, rare, or seared to absolute perfection, every time.  And woe betide the guy who tried to interfere or snatch a bite before Jake considered the food to be ready.  The bargefolk expected and respected pride, territoriality and a bit of swagger and, like in everything, Jake copied them.

Meanwhile, the Chuno Ggun were making plans.  Snark the Hammer, boss of a Chuno Ggun camp in the wilds, had caught wind of the meat smuggling operation, and wanted to wipe out the neobeduins involved - the Snake tribe, led by Ezekiel Snake.  As a first step, he negotiated with the Tigani to deliver large amounts to meat to his camp, thus boosting the demand, and ensuring the Snake tribe would have to make regular deliveries to the way station.

Dr Levy, being well connected, learned about the operation and, to cover himself and not leave any evidence directly point to him, had Jake-19 officially declared defective machinery, dangerous to humans, and got a court to order Jake to be scrapped.  Jake was waiting, obediently, to be transported back to Desolation City to be disassembled, when the Chuno Ggun raiding party arrived to take over the logging way station and set up an ambush for the Snakes.

And, as he stood there, hearing the baddies just walking around him, treating him as a machine, discussing their plan to slaughter the tribe that evening, as if he were no more capable of understanding or reacting to them than a horse would be, a realisation crystalised in Jake's mind.  He could disobey an order if he choose to.  He wasn't an animal, he wasn't an unthinking machine, he was The Butcher, and he was NOT going to leave his buddies behind, abandoning the fight like a coward while others still depended upon him.  If he was declared defective, then he was going to be defective in his own damn way, and do it with STYLE.

His intervention swung the battle and saved the day.  But some of the Chuno, including Snark the Hammer, survived to run away, and might have seen Jake-19.  So it was explained to Jake that he couldn't stay there.  He was an outlaw now, and Aldopho would face horrendous fines if he refused to hand Jake over to the law.  But the Snake tribe was grateful, and Ezekiel arrange passage working on an airship headed away from the area, off to High Tortuga.

Footnotes - for GM's eyes only

footnote #1

Dr Jacob Levy is, in fact, a modern equivalent of Jack the Ripper, and for nearly a decade has been responsible for brutally torturing to death young women in his block.  He hides most of these as statistics, and disposes of the bodies by turning them into meat pies, but he leaves enough corpses on the streets (when surprised and not having time to remove the corpse) that the Peelers are aware there's a murderer out there.

Jake-19 will have witnessed enough to incriminate Dr Levy, if asked the right questions, but isn't bright enough to have put the clues together himself to know what was going on.

CategoryRolePlayingGame, CategoryGames

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