Severin Reed Edit
Severin was born on the hive world Xanarius V, into a poor family in the underhive. The life he carved out for himself seemed to be following the pattern outlined by Thomas Hobbes for those unable to form a cohesive society with others – ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. The ‘state of nature’ befitted Severin well. Severin was the biggest and youngest of four brothers, not necessarily tall, but always very solidly built. He was muscular and physically powerful, but this was undermined by his lack of mental capacity – Severin generally allowed himself to be guided by his emotions, which usually fell somewhere within the realm of ‘jealous’, ‘angry’ and ‘hateful’. For Severin, actions spoke louder than words, and no actions spoke louder than a pipe to the head. No one would smart talk him after a swift blow to the head.
At the age of seventeen, Severin was initiated into a local gang, the Razorblade Ragdolls, not from fraternity, but because he was the only person they knew strong enough to carry any heavy weaponry. The gang was the closest thing that Severin had in his entire life to ‘friends’, and even they could not be considered such in any usual sense of the word. Between gang wars, Severin generally kept to himself, and this suited his fellow gang members fine – after all, no one particularly wanted to get in Severin’s way. He was a member of the gang in order to secure a roof over his head, and a steady supply of food – with the added bonuses of being able to fight, being given weaponry and the reputation that came with being in a gang. Making friends wasn’t even on Severin’s agenda.
However, one day the food stopped coming. The Razorblade Ragdolls were running low on credits, and they were in too weak a relative position to the other gangs to try and make a raid. In a desperate attempt to get some money, the Ragdolls decided to raid a Trade Guild caravan. During the raid, Severin was clubbed over the head and rendered unconscious, and when he awoke, bound in thick chains in the shadowy corner of what looked like a caravan, he realised that the rest of his gang were either dead or had abandoned him. Severin knew that his gang wouldn’t be able to pay some form of ransom for him – they didn’t have the money, and even if they did, they didn’t care about him. Severin presumed that the guilders would kill him, something which unsettled him slightly, but caused him no major concern – he didn’t have much to live for. Such a fate would have been merciful, but mercy is not what the guilders are famed for. The guilders told Severin in no uncertain terms that he had cost them a lot of money, and that they were determined that he should make some of it back for them, and once again, Severin’s world faded to black as he was struck on the head.
When Severin awoke, he couldn’t feel his arms. He could feel a great amount of pain around the shoulders, but no arms. He tried to move his arm and felt something move. It was definitely movement, but it didn’t feel as it was supposed to. He wished he could look at his arms, but the room he was in (or at least he assumed it was a room) was pitch black. He tried for a larger movement. He heard an odd sound, like the sliding of pistons and the crunch of shifting metal. He instinctively reached up to feel his left arm with his right hand. He heard a metallic clang. Even to someone as slow as Severin, the truth began to dawn. He smashed against the walls of his cell with both arms, hearing the sound of smashing metal ring out. Life began to feel unreal as adrenaline surged – his state of affairs was beyond understanding for Severin – there was simply too much for him to take in. He couldn’t understand how his life could have become so much worse when he had just yesterday thought he had nothing left to lose.
The wall opposite to Severin began to slide to the left and light began to pour into the cell. He squinted as his eyes adjusted, but even so he could see light glimmering off metal as he tried to look at his arms. Once his eyes had adapted to the light he could finally inspect his arms. His left arm was a large metal claw attached to a movable metal support structure with wires feeding back into Severin’s shoulder. His right arm had a similar layout, but the ‘hand’ piece was a circular saw rather than a claw. Severin struggled toward the now entirely open wall of his cell, now strangely calm – numb. There was a medium sized, circular dirt pit, with high ferrocrete walls. The pit was floodlit from above, but Severin could hear people shouting, cheering, and baying for blood. He heard a voice; ‘If you wish to live, you will fight. You better get used to your new equipment, because we’re sending in a playmate’. On the opposite end of the pit, a 2 meter square of the ferrocrete began to move to one side, revealing another cell like the one in which he had awoken. Severin was sure he could see movement in the darkness, but he could not quite work out what it was. A huge muscular figure with mechanical arms similar to Severin’s charged from the darkness straight towards him.
Severin dodged to the side and held his claw in the position where he was standing a moment ago. There was a sickening crunch of bone against metal as the man’s head collided with Severin’s claw. Severin didn’t know how he had moved so fast – it was like instinct, but much stronger. He now felt adrenaline pumping through him, but much more powerfully than ever before in his life. His vision burst into a white hot seething light, and when it returned he was splattered in blood and smashing his mechanical claw into a bloody pulp on the floor with two mechanical claws splayed out from it. Severin wasn’t sure how long for, but he realised that he had lost control. He was in such a frenzy he had lost all conscious understanding of his actions. All he remembered was a white hot rage. The audience cheered and screamed, and the sound faded back into Severin’s hearing as the adrenaline wore down. That man was no longer a threat, but Severin knew he was far from safe. He saw some movement in his cell, the door of which had opened once again, and he went inside to investigate. Some scraps of food had been dropped into the cell, presumably from some form of ceiling hatch but one which was now closed. Severin pounced upon the food as his cell door closed and he was again plunged into darkness.
Severin’s life continued thus for many months, earning his guilder masters money from his pit fighting endeavours, but staying alive. Severin killed many a man, and although he had never particularly cared about murder, he began to enjoy it. When Severin’s only choice was between hours of darkness and the chance to kill, the latter began to seem more and more like something he could look forward to. It would be wrong to say that he had Stockholm Syndrome; he hated the people that had imprisoned him, but he felt he could certainly imagine worse ways to live. He knew he had become bitter, deranged and hateful, but he no longer cared. He was reduced to his animalistic instincts – he wished to eat and to kill, and any thought beyond this seemed like a distant memory.
One day, the door opened and Severin prepared himself to fight, as usual, but as he emerged into the pit he realised that he could hear no voices. No chanting, no shouting and no baying for blood. Severin didn’t even notice the collar around his neck until he began to writhe and twitch with electrical shock. It must have been fitted while he was sleeping – they must have drugged his food. That same, unmistakable voice which narrated Severin’s fights rang out through the pit; ‘Good news; we’ve finally made back what it was that you owed us. We made up the remaining amount through your sale. Your our finest specimen, and fetched a good price. You aren’t free, but your days of pit fighting are over. Meet your new master.’
A small man leaped from high onto the floor of the pit. He was graceful yet measured, and landed in a crouch. He straightened up, dusting his long, green coat off. He had the biggest sword that Severin had ever seen strapped across his back. Severin made to strike him, but again fell to the floor twitching and wriggling. The man was wearing a gas mask, so Severin couldn’t see his expression, but he somehow knew the man was smirking. ‘I like ‘em with a bit of fight’. A new door opened by the side of the pit, one Severin had never before seen, and the man lead him through.
‘You WILL follow me’ said the man, and while Severin snorted at the idea of taking commands from such a runt he realised that he felt compelled to obey. The two of them made their way through a maze of ferrocrete tunnels and eventually came out of one to what Severin dimly recognised the underhive as looking like. The man led Severin to an abandoned, dilapidated building, and once they were inside the man turned to Severin.
‘I know you’re angry, and I know you want revenge. You’re sick of being a slave. Sick of doing the handiwork of others. Sick of killing because you are told. How about you start killing, because you want to? Your situation was not just the fault of the guilders. The guilders are an important part of the maintenance of the hive cities, which are in turn important for the hive worlds, which are important to the Imperium. What has the Imperium ever done for you? It has let you live in squalor, and let its servants do this to you. I think you want revenge, and I think I can help you.’
Severin felt the small man’s words wash over him, like an ebbing tide. He felt entranced by the man’s every word, compelled to agree. He couldn’t understand it, but he wanted to be in this man’s favour. He wanted them to share goals, he wanted to work for him.
‘I’m going to now give you something your Imperium never did. Something more valuable than you’ve ever had, and in return I ask that you only do what you feel is right. I’m going to give you your freedom, and I will ask, not instruct, but ask that you help me destroy this pitiful Hive World, and punish it and the Imperium for their crimes.’ The man reached to Severin’s neck, and put a key in a lock on the side of the collar. He turned it and the lock popped open, the collar dropping to the floor. Severin didn’t know why he didn’t kill the man then and there, or why he didn’t want to, but he didn’t. It was time for Severin to go meet some guilders and see about paying off some debts...
Severin has been travelling with Zophar ever since he was freed on Xanarius V. Like ‘Wicked Willie’ Zophar keeps Severin with him out of convenience more than anything. Pit slaves are not extraordinary as personal bodyguards for the wealthy in the underhive, and Severin has proved his worth through repeated battle. Severin works for Zophar as he has no purpose in life but to try and alleviate his sense of injustice, which Sarthuul has convinced him is the fault of the Imperium. Severin despises the idea of slavery and now considers the Imperium to be one big slave driving operation with the humans all enslaved to the Emperor. Severin ironically sees himself as a freedom fighter, a defender of virtue, not killing people because he believes them at fault, but killing them to free them from the slavery they live in. Better dead than a slave – Severin learned that the hard way.