Sukun'amert, or Three Star Hawk
Small Town Boy
My life didn't really start until I came to Seattle.
Now, don't get me wrong. I had a decent existence before then, growing up an hour outside of Vancouver in the Salish Sidhe nations. I know a lot of people in the cities – even in places like Vancouver, who should know better – have this vision of the rural Salish lands and the people who live there. To hear them tell it, we all walked around in loin-clothes, spoke with the spirits and chased the buffalo.
The fact is, life was much less interesting than that. Changes don't happen overnight, and you can't reverse progress. We lived in a little rural town called Starwater (I'm not sure what it had been called before the birth of the NAN), among other Salish-Sidhe. About half the town's population was made up of elves, including my parents.
My father – whose Salish name was Cacarlosulth, but who was just called Carlo – earned enough managing a local vineyard to allow my mother (Lehun'ult, or Lea to those who knew her well) to stay home with us. Before they'd moved to the Salish-Sidhe, she was a teacher in Boise, certified in all those trendy, “awakening your child's potential” sort of Montessori type techniques. I was their only child, and so was the sole target of her teaching ambitions. In addition to attending the state-sponsored school where I learned Salish, I also basically had a whole other school regimen at home.
You'd think that all of this would have combined to make me some kind of super-genius, a master of my combined elven and Salish heritage, with the power to master spirits, and whistle up storms or some shit, but that's not how it was.
From the time I hit puberty, I was obsessed with one thing: getting the hell out of Starwater as fast as I fucking could.
I hated the little town. No matter where you go, little towns are all the same. Now, I knew that I was a queer from an early age. I didn't have the problems you sometimes hear about in places like the CAS, or something. No, we were taught in school to embrace the diversity of the People, and that those who were gay, bisexual or transgendered had an ancient legacy as upholders of culture in the First Nations.
Which was, I surmised, the same thing as being told that queers, all throughout history, were the people behind decorating, music and gossip. Same shit, different scene.
The problem was, I didn't want that scene. I wanted the city. I had memories of going with my mother to Seattle for a funeral. My grandmother – a human, apparently, whom I'd never met – died in a nursing home there. I was eight, and accompanied my mother to her funeral. I don't remember a fucking thing about the funeral, but the sight of the city at night, of the dangerous feel of its streets and the sight of the gorgeous people that roamed them stuck with me forever.
I had to fucking get out.
Run For the Border
So, I did, about six months after my 15th birthday. I saved for months, raided the grocery fund late one night on the household credstick and purchased a bus ticket out of there. By the time anyone knew what was going on, I was in Seattle. I know that for the first few weeks, I had to avoid the better parts of town because the cops knew what I looked like and my parents had “Missing Child” posters up here and there looking for me.
Then, my money ran out.
I went from paying for coffin hotel rooms to sleeping in doorways and alleys. I gradually learned to avoid Lone Star for other reasons – they'd long since stopped actually looking for me, and just harassed me into moving my sleeping spots further and further out of decent neighborhoods. Within six months, I was sleeping in a doss on the edge of Touristville in Redmond.
That's when Asmodai found me.
Little Leather Boy
I was hungry and homeless, begging for change in Touristville. A lot of the corp kids that came out there from Bellevue were assholes, but some of them – particularly the ladies – liked my looks enough to spare some cred here and there. I got to know the local element at Touristville pretty well – trannies and hookers walking the streets, the other street kids, the hardcore party people who made the scene what it was. They were the freaky, fierce, beautiful people that kept the clubs and bars in Touristville trendy, and were the reason the corp brats kept coming back. I tried to run something like a business for myself. I made a deal with a couple of bar and nightclub folks that if I brought tourists and partiers to their clubs, they'd hand me some cred. I was just starting to get a reputation with some of the corp brats as a sort of guide when I met Asmodai.
I'd just left these three partiers, who had to be about my age or maybe a year older, at the Skeleton. The big bouncer at the door handed me some scrip that he said Lucy's, the diner a couple of blocks over, would take when I noticed him.
Asmodai was thick-built, with a pointed goatee – like a lot of the Leather Devils like to wear. His black hair was slicked back, he had big silver rings in his ears and he was shirtless, with a set of fucking fantastic nanotattoos showing guys fucking in the middle of hellfire. The flames were done up with bioluminescent inks, so they cast this light reddish glow on him. His nails were painted flat black, like the jeans, chaps and boots he wore. He was pure fucking sex, I swear to God.
He was leaning against the wall, smoking, talking to another Leather Devil. They were standing near their bikes, and his jacket was thrown over his handlebars. The tank of his bike and back of his jacket were decorated in silver and red with some weird symbol (which I later found out was the goetic symbol of Asmodeus, the Prince of Lust).
He caught me staring and just smiled and winked. I nearly tripped over myself getting out of there.
Asmodai found me about an hour later or so, eating at Lucy's. The place was almost empty, but he looked around, saw me, smirked and walked over. I looked up at him, but he didn't say a word. He pulled the chair out and sat down, and I quickly started to stand up, picking up my plate.
“Sit down,” he said, smiling. “I'm not taking your table, little man. I wanna talk – keep me company while I eat?”
I slowly sat down, and flushed a little. He chuckled and said I was cute.
Within the hour, we were chatting and laughing. He asked me my story, and I told him, warming up to him quickly thanks to the little shots of whiskey he kept adding to my soda from the hip flask he had on him. He offered me a ride on his bike that night, and I remember holding onto him, slipping my hands up under his leather jacket. He was all heat, sweat and muscle, and I kept trying to convince myself that even if I'd fallen completely head-over-heels for this guy, he was just being nice to some street kid. There was no way he was interested in me. He could have anybody, right?
We tore around Bellevue on his bike, and even outran a corp security car that didn't like us taking a short cut through their company parking lot. I felt so alive, and dangerous, and free. As the sun came up, we hit his place, and I was so fucking nervous I couldn't figure out if I was going to cry or laugh. I lost my virginity that night, and was completely in love.
The next five days were probably the happiest days of my life, to date. We fucked all night, slept all day, and then he'd wander off to go do things with the rest of the Devils. I wondered if he was going to invite me join them or something, but he didn't seem to keen on doing that. The only time I ever really saw any of them was when they came in early one morning – they'd all obviously been drinking and were all pretty coked up. The scene turned into a big orgy. It was like something out of a pornsim, I swear to God.
Things changed after that night. When we got up the next morning, the others harassed us into coming to the bar with them. Asmodai seemed hesitant, but when I told him I wanted to go, he agreed. Looking back, I could tell he'd been kind of keeping me to himself.
I just had no idea that wasn't how the Leather Devils worked, you see.
That night, at the bar, we played pool and got drunk and rowdy. No one at the bar bothered us – faggots or not, there were some mean, violent motherfuckers in the Leather Devils. They're obviously a gang first. Everything else is secondary.
Later that night, Asmodai came up to me – he didn't look happy. He told me he wanted me to go home with Totentatz, one of the big leaders in the Leather Devils. I looked at him. I thought he was kidding. When I saw he was serious, he pushed me up against the wall, and got in my face.
“You'll do what I say, little chicken. Don't fuck with me on this, you hear?” he snarled. He was pissed off, and on the edge of violence.
That was where it started. It was a slow progression, and one where I never really made any decisions. He'd lend me to one of his gang buddies, and I'd come slinking home. First he would hold me and tell me how sorry he was, how fucked up all that was.
The only time he ever told me he loved me was as he was apologizing for making me go spend time with someone, and just before telling me that I needed to do it again.
It progressed pretty quickly into sex with strangers. The Leather Devils make a mint in the queer prostitution trade – they're pretty much the center of that particular branch of vice in Seattle. Soon, I was being sent – sometimes multiple times in the same night – out to have sex with strangers, to collect their money, and bring it back to Asmodai.
He became colder. He stopped caring, and we stopped being intimate. Shortly thereafter, he moved me into an apartment with two other of the hustlers who worked for the Devils. I was a full-fledged whore, then.
It took about six months of this. I woke up one morning, sick and miserable from an all-night party me and my roommates had been hired to work. We'd been fed all kinds of fucking drugs, and we'd been passed around the party like goddamn party favors. I didn't even remember coming home. I got out of bed, grabbed a shower, and found one of my roommates, Derek, asleep on the sofa. Only he wasn't asleep.
He'd died that night. Passed out, dropped on the couch, and choked on his own vomit while there.
I freaked, and ran. I just wanted to get the hell out, to find some way to escape that fate. So, I split.
The Devils found me in no time, and it was Asmodai who beat the shit out of me for running. I fought back, though, and continued to try and get away. Soon, it was clear that I was too much of a handful – a hellion, they called me. I figured when they told me this, it meant that they were going to kick my ass a final time, and then send me on my way.
That's when the troll and the greasy, fat old man walked into the room. The Devils had sold me, you see, and made a pretty penny. I was now the “property” of one of the sleaziest porn studios in Seattle.
I don't actually remember much of time with All Star Studios. The troll knocked me unconscious, and I woke up in a drugged haze, and remained that way for months. I have vague recollections of being used in a variety of ways – some of which were distinctly unwilling, even in the stupor they kept me in – all under bright lights, with too many people around.
When not in the studio, I lived in a big loft apartment with five other “employees” of the studio. We formed a freakish little family, reacting to our abuses by lashing out at the only targets we had: one another. The infighting was miserable, and violence happened there too often, although none of it was ever of the sort to leave marks, you know. That just got people hurt when the studio found that someone wasn't able to appear on camera because of ugly bruises.
The loft was equipped with a simple weight set, and we were expected to work out. We were sent two meals every day, and the candy-man stopped by a couple times a week to make sure we were capable of doping ourselves up quite nicely.
When we were good, we might be cleaned up and given a night out on the town with some john, showing up as arm candy for his night of debauchery, and keeping stride with him. Those were the only times I felt human, anymore – times out among other people, dressed and not taking orders from anyone (other than to fulfill whatever the john had a taste for). I also got a little taste of celebrity; after all, I was something of a star in the porn world, albeit a minor one. I was there to be famous arm-candy for some john who wanted to prove what an important guy he was, able to date porn stars. What a stud, right?
Ironically, I'd tried to flee prostitution, only to be brought into a situation where acts of prostitution were the only reprieve I got. I even saw some of the Devils on those nights out, and they just howled. Some even told me they'd liked my latest movie, and told me they regretted not getting a shot at me while they could.
“And now, you can't afford it,” I took far too much delight in telling them. It pissed some of them off. Others found it terribly funny.
Asmodai only looked away with sad eyes, and I hated him for it.
Those were the rare nights, though. Most of the time, I lived in a slightly drugged or drunken stupor in that fucking apartment. I think I even tried to kill myself once while I was there, but I don't really remember how. I just gathered that from things my roommates said, after I had nearly a week-long blackout.
When I was working on a movie, I lived at the studio. All Star Studios had what amounted to a set of barracks tucked away where we all stayed, to make sure we would be available for every day of shooting. They provided us food, drugs and everything during those times.
It was during one of those shoots that All Star Studios was made the target of a shadowrun.
I'm honestly not sure what the deal was: whether they were there to kill someone, to take something, or what. It's hard to tell what the original goal of most shadowruns is, because they end up doing it all: killing people, taking everything of value that isn't nailed down, and generally trashing the place.
I was actually on-set, in the middle of being pounded by this big Brazilian orc, who knew just enough English to call me every filthy name for elves while he did it. I feigned my struggling, like the script called for – some ridiculous fantasy bullshit that porn studios seem to love so much these days, mainly because they're a great excuse for some poor elf to get buggered by as many trogcocks as they can line up and make stand up.
I heard the gunshot, but I just figured it was one of the overheads popping out. It wasn't until I saw Rafe, the security guy fall over, spraying blood all over the wall, that I realized what was going on. Everything went nuts. Most of the guys who hang around those sets are armed, and so the one who weren't sitting in a dark corner beating off watching us reached for their guns. It got bloody and crazy; I dropped off the table, and crawled my naked ass under it. My co-star yelped, and dropped, clutching the long line of blood where a bullet had scored his arm. I grabbed him and pulled him as far under the table as he could go, but he wasn't a small guy. Nor was the table very big.
When the gunfire stopped, the only sound was of our panicked breathing, the moans of the dying, and the boot-tread of shadowrunners. A dwarf dropped low and looked under the table, pointing a gun at us, and I think I nearly swallowed my tongue. He grinned a nasty grin.
“No danger from these two,” he said, chucking. Suddenly someone planted a combat boot against the side of his head and shoved – not really kicking him, just giving him enough of a shove to throw him off-balance.
“Don't be more of an asshole than you really have to be, Grift,” a woman's voice said, and the boot's owner squatted, shoving the sides of her long coat out of the way. The orc in my arms had passed out already, and was bleeding all over me. I just looked at her. I seem to remember her looking sort of blurry, but I'm pretty sure that's because I was crying.
“Hey, it's okay,” she said, lowering her old-fashioned wire-rimmed shades. “No one's going to hurt you guys. We know the kinda condition they keep you guys in. You just stay under there for now; we're going to finish up here, and in twenty minutes, you're free to take off. Got it?” I nodded, she smiled and they left the studio.
Twenty minutes later, after riffling through the pockets of the corpses in the room, and making a make-shift bandage for my co-star, I fled. I had a couple of guns, some really nice (if a bit too big) clothing, and a couple of credsticks from where the manager kept the petty change stash to pay his dealers.
The orc wasn't awake when I left, but I'm pretty sure he'd stopped bleeding. I hope he made it out okay. I didn't even catch his name, really – not that any of us used real names.
I was asleep in an alley, two days later, when I met him. Something smacked me in the temple, and I woke up, scrambling for a gun. The man who continued to stare at me looked kind of bored, even when I pointed the gun at him. I looked around, and found the rock he'd just dropped on top of me.
“What the fuck was that for?” I snarled.
“Wake up,” he said. He was a man with short black hair, greyed at the temples, and dressed in slacks and a vest. His shirt was white and very loose, and he wore a variety of pieces of jewelry – through his ears, one in his nose and eyebrow, plus plenty of rings and bracelets.
“I'm fucking awake, asshole,” I said, standing. I kept the gun pointing at him. “Now tell me why I shouldn't shoot you right now.”
“Oh, for fuck's sake,” he said, and started to turn away. He paused and looked beside him, as though he were listening to someone standing next to him. “You're such a pain in the ass,” he finally sighed.
“Fuck you,” I said. He chuckled as the turned back to me.
“I wasn't talking to you,” he said. “Now are you going to follow me, or not? Sanjor is pretty intent that I bring you home with me, and I don't think either of us are up to defying him on it. So why don't you just come with me?”
I turned and fled, then. I didn't quite get to the end of the alleyway before a man was suddenly there. Or rather, the shape of a man – I got the impression of burning eyes, and deep black skin, black as coal. And, before I could even skid to a halt, I was out.
I've been with my master ever since. Adama was his name, and he was a full-blooded Rroma – a gypsy. He learned witchcraft at his mother's knee, and he taught it to me. He could tell I had the wanderer's spirit, he said. He could also tell that I'd been spat on, used and abused by others, too, just like any gypsy. He said that witchcraft was the tool of an oppressed people, a people who have no real power, and so it should be used to those ends.
His familiar, Sanjor, was just as terrifying as my first meeting with him. Sometimes, he looked like a man in a black robe and cloak; othertimes, he looked like someone wearing a long coat, and standing in the shadows. Occasionally, he looked like he wore horns. Adama said that he was the Black Man, the one who traveled among covens of witches, acting as messenger and guide to them; he said he'd found the formula for conjuring him in an old set of books written in Basque, but I'm not entirely sure I believe him.
Master Adama was strange. He was the only person I've ever met who didn't want something from me, I think. Even my parents wanted something; even they had expectations of me. Adama made it clear – once he'd seen me through my Awakening, he was a resource. If I wanted to learn more, he was there, but he wasn't going to play bullshit power games, and demand that I call him “master” and bullshit like that. He was too busy for that kind of nonsense, and I believed him.
It's the reason why I chose to call him “Master.”
I lived with Master Adama for a while, and then moved into the spare building the XXX kept, on the edge of Touristville, in Redmond. Really too close to my old haunting grounds. I even recognized some of the people there, though they didn't really recognize me. I was neither the street kid struggling for his next meal, nor the porn star hanging on some sarariman's arm.
I ended up taking the name of Lucifer. For one, it reflected part of my origins with the Leather Devils, and reminded me where I came from. But Lucifer is also the god of witches, the Lightbringer, who pierces the darkness with the morning star. He's something of a trickster, and something of an avenger. Plus, the name is one that freaks some people out, so that's always a plus.
My time with Master Adama was too short, really. He never wanted anything from me, and when I tried to offer him things – when I tried to thank him using the only currency I'd been taught I actually had in the world – he only smiled and kissed me on the top of my head.
“Your self-respect and spirit are of the highest value, little Lucifer. Share your light because you want to, not because you feel you must, even to survive. Love fiercely and vibrantly, but never come to anyone's bed as a lesser, as a slave. We are a free people – learn to let your sex free you, not enslave you.”
Plus, he was, you know, straight.
Alone and Free
Master Adama and the others are gone. Those of us who weren't in the higher echelons have been cut free, as it were – or more specifically, they cut themselves free, leaving the link to us.
And now, I'm not entirely sure what to do with all this freedom. I kind of wish I'd spent more time with Master Adama, instead of out partying all the time. I thought I'd have forever to learn from him, and now I regret wasted time.
But no joy is ever a waste, he'd probably say.