William 'Wicked Willie' Hoffman Edit
‘Wicked Willie’, as he is called by those who know him, had a fairly inconspicuous start in life. Born in the Underhive of a hive city on Charnea II, a hive world, Willie was always ahead of his peers in terms of intellect. As his friends committed acts of petty vandalism, Willie planned which parts of his surrounding buildings would cause the whole thing to fall down. As his friends picked up their first stub pistols, Willie was already customising his trusty ‘Short, Sharp, Shock’ shotgun. When his friends began to join the gangs of the underhive, Willie was thinking politically, keeping out of everyone’s way while trying to find methods of playing the gangs off against each other for his own amusement.
It could be said that Willie was a product of his environment – a sensitive intellectual born in a wretched pit of scum and villainy, forced, in despair, to turn his skills towards underhanded methods of survival rather than becoming an engineer or architect, as was clearly his destiny were he only to be born in better circumstances. As a result of this, Willie has a large amount of repressed rage. Rage at himself, for not being able to achieve his potential, rage at his friends, for failing to understand the true value of a fine mind and rage at the Imperium, for allowing there to be people born who had no chance of becoming anything in life beyond another faceless drone. Willie’s rage manifested itself as a calm, calculating hatred. Willie could blow up a bar filled with civilians and not flinch. Not that he would, of course, not without reason. There would be no sense in risking being caught – not before Willie could find how he could best ensure that he brought his entire wretched hive to its knees.
Willie was more than ‘good’ with mechanical objects, in fact, he was more than a genius. Machinery ‘spoke’ to Willie, in a way which he felt no other human could understand. When Willie held a gun in his hands, he just knew how it worked – he didn’t even have to strip it. When Willie was making something, he just knew what to put where – he didn’t have to double check. In fact, Willie was sure that sometimes, he could fix or break equipment without even having to touch it. Willie made his living as a freelance gunsmith and arms dealer; selling, modifying and repairing guns for local gangs. He knew he could afford to be unaligned – no gang wanted to kill Willie, because no gang wanted to lose his services.
Willie’s life changed the day that the little guy in the gasmask came to his part of the underhive. He happened across a bar in which there seemed to be some sort of political speech occurring. There was a loud, enchanting, beguiling voice washing out across the crowd, and when it reached Willie’s ears, it enticed him. Willie joined the back of the crowd and he heard the man’s words – something reassuring, yet emboldening about them. The man was right, he had toiled for the Imperium’s gain for too long! He was sick of being stuck in a position from which he could never escape! It was time for change! Change in the name of the people! The ivory tower intellectuals and aristocrats no longer deserved to rule him and his fellow workers! The Imperium must fall! The men in the bar – mostly gangers or labourers were on the verge of riot, and this strange, masked man was ready to push them over the precipice. As soon as the man was there, he was not, and the bar began to erupt in shouting, pushing and fighting. Being near the door, Willie was about to leave, when he saw the masked man approaching, clearly intending to leave the bar. He was about to ask the masked man why he wasn’t going to stick around and see his handiwork when he saw the size of the sword the man was carrying and thought otherwise. Instead, he decided to ask the man what his plans were to free him and his fellow underhivers from this ‘Imperial oppression’. The man said that they needed to collapse the spire on the ‘privileged’ and ensure that the enforcers could no longer ‘suppress the people’s decision’.
Willie saw his chance to live his wildest dream. Willie could finally have his revenge. Willie told the man of his ambition, and his talents, and all the while the man stood there, unmoving in his gas mask and great coat, not an inch of skin showing. The man beckoned for Willie to follow, and Willie felt compelled to do so. He followed the man down some side streets and back alleys, until they came to what looked like a deserted building. The man entered and Willie followed. Inside the room they entered there were some utilities for living – a hammock to sleep in, an old industrial oil drum in which burned a fire – standard squatter fare. The man went over to a dark, shadowy corner of the room and retrieved a gun almost as big as he. Wilie knew from the first glance that it was a military issue autogun, fitted with a telescopic scope, laser sight, silencer and stock. It was a fine piece of equipment, and one which any ganger in the underhive would literally kill for. The man said that Willie had bragged about his ability with guns, and now it was time to put his arrogance to the test. Willie had, rather unashamedly boasted ‘I can make any gun do anything I want’, and the man said that he now needed to know whether that was true or whether Willie was just another faker – a wannabe with a mouth but no brain. Willie expected the man to hand him the gun, so that he could field strip it, or some such task, so it was more than a little of a shock when the man levelled the autogun at Willie’s head. ‘Now’ the man said ‘ask my gun, very nicely, to jam. Well, I say ask it nicely, ask it however you want, but you better ask it in a way it likes.’ Willie panicked, knowing that soon his brains would be painting one of the room’s bare ferrocrete walls. He focused on the gun, and focused harder than he had ever focused on anything in his life. He wqilled the gun to jam, begged it to jam. The man pulled the trigger. There was a click, but Willie felt surprisingly alive. ‘Congratulations,’ said the man. ’You’re an asset to the cause’. From thereon in the man, who told Willie to call him Sarthuul explained that there were certain people who could just ‘do things’ with their minds, and that he had hope that Willie was one of those who could ‘talk to machinery’. He said that, with Willie’s help, the two of them could bring the hive to its knees. Everything after that, as they say, was history.
Wicked Willie has earned his place by Sarthuul’s side by proving repeated usefulness and loyalty to the cause of the destruction of the Imperium. Wicked Willie acts as Sarthuul’s weapon smith and demolitions expert, scout, technician and any other role which he is able to fulfil. Wicked Willie often uses homemade explosives to destroy structures, demolitions being not only his area of expertise, but also his favourite past time. However, Wicked Willie also carries with him a variety of pistols as well as his ‘Short Sharp Shock’ sawnoff shotgun. Under Sarthuul’s guidance, Wicked Willie has learned a greater mastery of his power to manipulate machinery, and often uses his abilities to great effect, such as opening mechanical locks when a stealthy approach is being used. Sarthuul sees Willie as useful, and extremely convenient, finding it worth his while to bring Willie on his travels with him, and Willie sees Sarthuul as his mentor and master, allowing Willie to help him achieve both of their ends. When travelling with the Alpha Legion, Willie spends most of his time keeping out of the marine’s way, although he has proved himself useful to them, helping them fix weaponry and power armour time and again. The members of the Alpha Legion who provide Sarthuul’s transport ultimately see Willie as a pet or mascot – of mild value, but nothing they can’t afford to lose if need be.