What is Backstory Friday? Every Friday there will be a new article showcasing the backstory of characters past and present. Characters range from various settings, systems, players, and writing styles. The whole point is to share our creative works, and potentially the creative works of our listeners. Perhaps one of these characters will inspire other Players or Gamemasters, but primarily they are for entertainment. Enjoy.
Who all can submit backstories? Anyone! Listeners, Fans, Hosts,  YOU! Just shoot any off to Backstory@BearSwarm.com
Who is this character? Leto Hurst is Rob’s old character from an Iron Kingdoms game. The GM gave him permission to play a Soulknife with some unique twists to better fit the cannon of Iron Kingdoms. Leto was an Idarian orphan from Sul that ended up being raised by the Cygnarian Military. He showed “magical” potential at a young age and was groomed for Warcaster training. After flunking out, due to a total lack of arcane ability, he ended up working for the  Cygnarian Reconnaissance Service, Cygnar’s spy network, as a black-ops agent. His designation was Hellhound 1-2, “Unseen Harrier” which you’ll see referanced in the story.

From the Mind of Leto Hurst
The train rumbles north towards Corvis and I feel apprehensive. Its only been months since the incident and despite the fact I’ve been busted down and won’t be able to call those kind of shots for awhile, the sicking dread that I’ll cost another man his life hangs heavy in my gut. I stand up and pat Laross on the knee as I make my way over to the cargo door for a breath of fresh air. I grab hold of the oversized leather strap and heave the door open enough to step out onto the ledge. I grip the metal bar on the side of the car and lean into the wind a bit, just enough to ruffle my hair. I glance back in at the other guys sharing this luxury box car ride with me. Most of them are heading to Caspia to repel the new menace thats crawled out of the Marches. There are rumors Realthorne is behind it but I can’t believe that. I’m not sure why but suddenly I wish I would have made a different choice and just enlisted with the rest of these grunts. I’ve got a bad feeling about this new assignment.

“Yo, Harrier. You gonna freeze us all out? Shut the fucking door.” Marcus barks at me in his usual gruff-but-playful tone.
“It’ll be a cold day indeed when your fat ass freezes Bucky.” I smile and step back into the car, giving the strap a good tug to slide the door back into place.
“Yeah Bucky, I thought us front liners were suppose to be in shape?” Reeves chimes in and I can already see another the moral rising in the car.
“I’m in shape, rounds a shape.” Marcus chuckles as he takes a playful swing over at Reeves. “Plus I told you guys to stop calling me Bucky. My name is Ravenous Buckshot, get it right.”

The conversation carries on like that for awhile, we all take pot shots at each other and joke around. But I can see behind everyone’s eyes that their scared as hell. We joke to keep the fear at bay and when we can’t laugh any more we fight. After awhile I make my way over and flop down on the hay next to Laross again. Laross is a new kid, fresh from the draft office and already being sent to a different town to fight a foe none of us know that well. I shoot the kid a smile and he grimaces back at me.

“How can you guys fuck around? I mean, we could all die in the morning?” Laross is looking at me with a sick desperation in his eyes.
“Kid, before you die is the best time to start laughing.” I say back.

No sooner then its across the lips I realize it was the wrong thing to say. Laross goes deathly pale and swallows hard. The kids only a year younger then I am and I try to put myself back in to my head before my first big mission. I had been working a desk for a year and had been itching to get some field time in. I was part of a four man infiltration team. Low-priority assignment in Sul. Three of us were green faced rookies and the other was a seasoned veteran. It was so cool, we had cover identities and everything. At that my mind snaps back into the now and I realize I can’t ever know what Laross is going through. I was running around playing spy, I’ve never seen the front line. I try to think of some macho bullshit to recite to the guy but nothing comes to mind.

“We’re all in this train for a reason Laross. I owe my life to Cygnar and I plan on repaying my debt.” I point over to Marcus.
“Marcus was in Lleal when they were invaded, he lost is family and friends.” I gesture to Stevens
“Stevens over there was born military, his great-great-granddad fought to free us from the Orgoth.” and I look back over to Laross. “Whats your story?” I give a half-felt but warm hearted smile.

And my tension over saying the wrong thing moments ago melts as Laross sighs and starts talking.

The door had been open for the last couple miles and the boys were hanging out the sides watching Corvis grow closer. Hoots and hollers of joy had been ringing from this train car for about ten minutes now and I was glad to see Laross over there with the rest of his brothers. I didn’t join in the merrymaking because I wasn’t at my final stop yet and there was no glorious battle waiting for me soon. I moved over and grabbed my duffel and slung it over my shoulder just in time to turn around and see Capitan Turner bursting into our box car.

“What in the bloody hell are you maggots doing? Cygnar’s invested good money into your worthless carcasses and I’ll be damned if I see that coin laying in a mangled heap on the train rails! Get your asses back in here and start grabbing your gear…” Turners tirade continued on like this for a few minutes.

Everyone jumped back in and both doors of the box car slammed shut with loud duel clangs in a moment. The car was a commotion as the soldiers scrambled to gather up their gear. I snapped to and saluted the Captain, which he dismissed with a quick wave of his hand. In the cacophony of the other troopers Turner marched up to me and leaned in next to my face.

“Unseen Harrier; You’re to report directly to the CRS office once this train stops. Understood?” He spoke barely above a whisper and I had to strain to pick out his words among the din of chaos around me.
“Sir, yes sir.” I chimed back, barely above his volume.
“Good. Do us proud Leto. I’ve heard the boys talking about you and as far as I’m concerned you’re an honorary member of the 63rd. Do you know our motto boy?” Again barely audible.
“Sir, no sir.” I whispered back, a slight shame in my voice.
“We fight for Crown and Country, but we die for each other.” Turner whispered into my face.

Turner smiled slightly, barely noticeable but enough to let me know what he was thinking. Then he snapped around and returned to barking at the others for a few minutes before departing. I smiled to myself for awhile, standing in place, still in shock from the Captain’s words. Thats when Stevens came over and gave me a punch that was a little to hard to be considered playful.

“I heard what Capt said to you.” Stevens snarled at me.
“Thats why you’re their entry expert isn’t it? Those serristeal ears of yours.” I tried to joke back with him.
“Cut the act Hurst. You never told us that you weren’t deploying with us.” Stevens said, anger turning to hurt.
“Aw, damn it Stevens. I didn’t think it’d matter much.” I flushed a bit.
“Well it does, but I guess spys don’t know how camaraderie works.” I could see him biting back curses.

The train started slowing and the boys had already thrown the doors back open. I saw the platform rolling up so I broke away from Stevens glare and hoped out of the car onto the platform into the cold winter air. I fast walked towards the closest building when I heard an uproar from inside the car. I slunk my head down and continued to hustle into the station.

I was feeling a bit ashamed of myself when I changed into my uniform before heading into the office. I wrestled with the guilt Stevens planted in my head while I dressed and by the time I was done my head was clear of such nonsense. I glanced out the inn window and saw some snow begin to fall and frowned at myself.

“I hate the North.” I snarled.

I pushed open the door to the CRS office just as a snow flurry started to pick up. Behind the front desk was a slab of a man who looked up at me and gave me a warm, fatherly smile. He took my name and rank before waving me back into a small waiting room behind him with a stump of a right arm. I inquired in my terse military speech and he replied warmly that he lost it serving his country during the Llael invasion. I nodded and thanked him for his service before moving into the back room and taking a seat. I waited for what felt like hours before Major Cordry stepped out of his office and waved me in. Another few minutes sittings across from Cordry before he looked up from his papers and at me.

“I hear you caused a bit of a brouhaha down at the depot.” He spoke in clipped words.
“Yes sir. Some of the infantry were under the impression that I was one of them sir.” I replied with traditional military respect.
“Lets see it not happen that way again.” He glanced back down at his papers and then back up at me.
“You’re going to Korsk. New operation up there.” He recited in a practiced manor.
“Korsk sir? I thought I was being deployed here.” I questioned.
“Yes, you were suppose to be. But we need someone of your… talents. Up there more then we need another pencil pusher down here.” He said, not harshly but not friendly either.
“Pardon me sir but I’d rather not. I felt it was…” I started to explain
“Your feelings don’t matter here. You’re off to Korsk, deep cover. You’re be serving as a Second Lieutenant to Olen Stonedale. So deal with it.” He barked at me.
“Sir. Yes, Sir.” I chimed back.
“Dismissed”

I walked back out of his office and waved off the friendly goodbye of the desk Sergeant. I stepped out into the cold Corvis snow and looked hard into the icy cold. I wasn’t very happy at the moment. I didn’t want to be back in the field yet, I just cost a man his life with my rash decisions. I just wanted a few months behind a desk again to muster my strength. I sighed heavy.

“Looks like I’m going to have to get used to you, snow.” I spit onto the ground.

Another night in Corvis. I’ve been laying in my inn room for the last couple days waiting to deploy out to Korsk. Every night since the incident I have dreams of my last mission. I had a few kills under my belt and the higher-ups had thought I was at least squad leader material so they gave my a low-priority assignment in Sul….

“Harrier, orders?” Falcon whispered to me.
“Forward, next door, hallway, third door, right.” I whispered back.

We made out way into the next hallway and down to the third door with Falcon and Piranha taking point. Piranha moved forward and slide his toolkit out of his belt with his left hand while he sheathed his dagger with his right. Falcon leveled his pistol at the door and Monkey and I flanked Falcon a few feet behind him. I had my shortsword out and Monkey had his rapier in hand. I reached up and tugged my hood down a bit more to obscure my eyes without hampering my vision and I head the lock click into place. Piranha slid his tools back and withdrew his dagger again as Falcon reached forward and grabbed the door handle before glancing back at me.

“On my mark.” I whispered.
“Three.” I started the countdown.
“Two.”
“One.”
“G….” I began.
“I hear armor!” Piranha gulped
”…o!” I said.

But it was to late, the words were out my mouth and Falcon reacted automatically turning the handle and kicking the door open. Falcon lunged into the room, taking a quick look around and leveling a shot into one of the guards laying in ambush. Piranha Pushed his back against the wall and Monkey grabbed me at the last moment before I charged in behind Falcon. I heard a couple heavy whacks and the distinctive sound of a body hitting the wood floor as Monkey and Piranha dragged me down the hall to the window we climbed in through….

I sit up in my room in Corvis awoken by the sound of knocking on my door. I slide from my bed and pull my dagger from the sheathe under my pillow. I make my way across my room to remove the chair from under my door knob when I hear Steven’s voice from the other side of the door.

“Damn it Hurst! Open up!” Stevens bellows.

Tension rises in my chest. Either he’s here because of what happened on the train or something else horrible has happened and he’s come to call on me for help. Either way, I don’t set down my dagger as I pull the chair away from the door. I turn the knob and try to pull the door open just a crack but as soon as I start to pull it open Stevens pushes his way into the room. I fall back into a fighting crouch and raise my dagger up in defense. Stevens looks at me and smirks.

“You’re well trained but I’m not a hostile.” Stevens grunts, and with a bit further thought. “Not tonight anyhow.”
“What are you doing here then?” I ask, a bit harsher then I meant to.
“It’s Laross. We were out drinking, we ship out tomorrow morning to the front and we just wanted to celebrate o…” Stevens begins.
“Cut to the chase Private. I don’t need to hear about your leave time.” I snap.
“Sorry sir. Anyway, Laross was pretty wasted and he mouthed off and picked a fight with some guy. We all go out to the alley to see Laross whoop on this civilian an…” Steven tries to continue
“Fighting with civilians? You know tha…” I start to lecture.
“Yes sir, I know sir. But it happened. Ok?” Stevens is starting to look desperate and I suppose thats how I looked when we lost Falcon…

Piranha and Monkey had managed to drag me back to our base. We had laid low for a day or two before Monkey had gone to get orders from our local contact. We had caught rumors that Falcon was captured and brought in for questioning but our mission was totally busted. Our covers had been blow and the Protectorate was out looking for us now. Monkey returned with bad news, the pencil pushers back in Caspia order an immediate extraction. We knew going into this mission that if our cover was blown we’d be pulled out but none of us ever thought we’d have a captured man left behind. Dead we were prepared for but still alive was something none of us ever counted on. Piranha and I had been plotting Falcon’s rescue when Monkey returned.

“No go guys. HQ wants us out tonight.” Monkey said frowning.
“Bullshit.” I all but yelled.
“Orders boss?” Piranha looked over at me and asked.
“Yeah sir. Orders?” Monkey somberly said after a moment of silence.

I knew what they were doing. They would disobey direct orders to save Falcon if I just gave the go ahead. I sat for a moment thinking over everything. Falcon had been with me since my first mission and I’d be damned if I left him behind. I choked back memories and looked up first at Piranha and then over to Monkey. I held eye contact with both of them for a moment.

“We fight for Crown and Country, but we die for each other.” I said and both men nodded…

”…thats when we found out Laross was taken by the Gertans Family.” Stevens finished.

Great. The Gertans were a major player here in Corvis’s seedy underbelly. The worst part was they were loosing turf quickly to the reckless Griffons and the tyrannical Black Hand which makes them desperate for anything that could turn the tide of their personal little war. My guess would be that they use Laross as a bargaining chip with the Cygnarian Military to get some weapons or the like. Normally I’d let the Military sort this one out but with how thin they are stretched right now they are likely to just give into the Gertans demands and punish Laross or worst just hang Laross out to dry. I sighed heavily.

“Where’s Laross being held?” I asked as I turned around and pulled my duffel from under my bed.
“They have a warehouse by the Eastern Docks that we followed them to.” Stevens said, then his eyes grew wide as I started pulling out my gear. “Your not a spy are you.”
“Not as such. More of an covert operative.” I said as I strapped my drop sheath onto my arm.
“So whats the plan?” Stevens asked with a gulp as I pulled on my armor and black robes.
“You show me where this warehouse is and I get Laross back.” I said as I strapped my shortsword to my belt.
“What are we going to do?” Stevens asked, looking more apprehensive then ever as I pulled my hood down to obscure my eyes.
“Wait for me here.” I said, then before he could object, “Now, show me the warehouse.”

And as I stepped out of my door my stomach contracted much the same way it did when we went to rescue Falcon…

It was raining in Sul that night as we made our way thought the darkened alleys and across the moonlight rooftops. Soon we found ourselves on the window ledge of our target building like three black cloaked birds. Piranha asked with gestures if he should try to pick the latch or break the window. In response it pointed to the sky and when the next roll of thunder sounded Piranha slammed the hilt of his dagger into the window shattering it. Monkey climbed in and holding his rapier in the guard position, waved us in. I followed after letting Piranha take up the rear. We moved quickly down to the cellar where our intel had said Falcon was being held. Everything was going smooth when Monkey glanced around a corner the signaled that there were two guards stationed outside of Falcon’s room. I nodded and signaled for Monkey to pull distraction while Piranha and I snuck up and and tried to get the flank. Monkey nodded and hopped around the corner.

“Have at you ruffians! I’ve come to rescue my friend!” Monkey bellowed at the guards

Who promptly came charging down on him. Piranha and I lurked around to get behind the guards but one of the guards got a lucky shot in on Monkey and pierced him through the side. Piranha broke formation, lunged at the guard who stabbed Monkey and managed to score a deep blow under the guards rib cage. I wasn’t expecting the sudden violence and when reflex took over I called my blade to my hand and fell the second guard only moments to late. His blade had slid cleanly into the back of Piranha’s neck, killing him instantly. Monkey fell to the floor and was breathing hard, but still alive. He looked up at me with terror in his eyes and just started at my blade. I barked at Monkey asking if he could walk which got him to snap his eyes to mine and give a single nod. I smiled at Monkey, said a silent prayer to Piranha and turned to Falcon’s door. I took a breath and gave his door a hard kick right next to the knob. The door splintered inwards and…

Stevens and I were crouched outside the wall to the Gertan’s warehouse. I started to climb the wall and Stevens began to protest his being left behind. I stopped momentarily and told him to stay in place and secure my exit if I need help with Laross. He smiled and nodded vigorously. I pulled myself over the wall and slipped down the other side into the back courtyard. I made my way over to the building and peaked in through one of the windows. Sure enough Laross was sitting there tied to a chair with a half-dozen surly looking thugs around him. I smirked to myself, for a major player the Gertans must be low on resources to only have six guys on a highly trained Cygnarian Infantrymen. I crouched down and picked up a decent sized stone that I promptly flung into the window. Glass shattered and I ducked around the corner out of sight.

Two of the guards came out to inspect the noise leaving only four inside with Laross to contend with. I focused for a moment, pulled my blade and ducked back around the corner to confront the two guards to came to check on my distraction. Showing their true colors as underpaid thugs neither had bothered to draw arms when the came out. I moved quickly and quietly up behind one of them and slid my blade into his spine. His friend turned quickly and went to draw a longsword when his eyes caught my blade protruding from his friend’s chest. He dropped his weapon and tried to flee back into the warehouse. I focused for another moment and flung my blade into his back. It bought me enough time to catch up to him before he hit the door and with a fluid jerk of my arm I slide out my dagger and sunk it into the back of his neck. His screams had alerted the guards inside and I could hear footsteps coming towards the door. I pressed myself up against the wall next to the door just in time.

The door flung open and two more men came charging out. One went straight for my last kill and the other looked over in time to catch me pulling out my blade again. His eyes grew wide and he reached for his friend’s shoulder. With my right hand I brought my blade up across his wrist removing his hand before he could reach his friend. At the same time, my left arm shot out bringing my dagger in under his ribcage. His demise caught his friend’s attention who turned around, promptly yelped and darted back towards the warehouse door. I swung my left arm, still planed firmly under a dead man’s ribcage, towards him and caught him off guard. He stumbled and I fell on him with my right blade. A clean slice across his neck and I stepped into the warehouse. The two remaining guards had pistols leveled at me and I barely managed to dodge behind some crates before their shots rang out. I slide soundlessly into some shadows and began to stalk around the warehouse avoiding the flickering torch light. I heard the two guards reloading as they moved around the warehouse looking for me. The fools played right into my ploy by splitting up.

After a moment of cat and mouse I slipped behind one. I slid out my dagger on my left again, fearing the gleam of my right blade would alert the other guard and moved in for the kill. I got close behind him then pounced forward, clasping my right hand over his mouth and sinking the needle tip of my dagger into his temple. His fell almost silently to the floor and I began to slip over to the remaining guard. I must have misheard his footsteps because as I stepped around the corner of some boxes I almost ran into him. I guess he wasn’t expecting me either because he shot wildly at me, missing by feet. Already face to face, I focused and drew out my right hand blade. The usual look of shock hit his face, men always look surprised when they know their about to die by my blade, and I buried my blade up to the hilt into his stomach. His gargled but didn’t go down until I slid out my left dagger and ran it across his neck a moment later.

The guards down, I put my weapons away and moved over to where Laross was tied. I felt a pang hit me when I saw his slumped form and I feared the worst…

Falcon was dead. He was bloody and beaten but his death marks were clear as day. He bit into his own wrists and bleed out onto the floor. He knew from the moment he was captured that he was a dead man and rather then die by enemy hands he opted to take his own life. Our primary mission failed, my rescue of Falcon was a bust, Piranha was dead, and Monkey had a gaping hole in his side. To say I was feeling low would be an understatement. I turned and stepped back out into the hallway and looked over to Monkey who looked at me in confusion.

“Where’s Falcon?” He asked, blood trickling from his mouth.
“Dead. By his own doing.” I said somberly and watched Monkey wince.
“Orders?” Monkey said stone cold after a moment of shock.
“Retreat. Return to HQ and report in.” I said a big gruff.
“But… we’ll be in the shit.” Monkey looked panicked.
“Then disobey my orders like I did to my commander. But do it after I get your ass out of here.” I spat at him.

I moved over and threw Monkey’s arm over my shoulder and helped him hobble back to our window perch. Monkey climbed out and sat on the ledge in the rain. Then he looked back over his shoulder at me and shook his head before jumping down to the ground. I heard a crunch and I jabbed my head out the window. Monkey took a three story fall but I saw him slowly limp-running away. I sighed and climbed out the window and onto the roof. I made haste back towards out base but after putting a few building between myself and the destruction of my team I slowed to a more somber walk. I found a dark alley and stripped out of my infiltration clothing and into my civilian disguise. From there I made my way home like any one else would, expecting the worst when I made it back to Caspia…

Then my apprehension faded. Laross was still alive, just passed out from the pain. I cut his bindings and hefted his body over my shoulders. I carried his body out and back over the wall to where Stevens was waiting. Marcus and Reeves are waiting there with him and I hand Laross’s unconscious body over to Reeves, the strongest of the three. Marcus and Reeves both look at me in awe and Stevens asks if Laross is dead. I shake my head and pull down my hood.

“He’s alive, a little beaten but he’ll live.” I say somberly.
“Look man…” Stevens begins but I cut him off.
“No, we were wrong for…” Marcus picks up but I wave him off too.

Reeves just looks down to Laross then back up at me and nods.

“If you ever need…” Marcus tries to put in but I wave him down again.
“This never happened.” I say as I pull my hood back up.

I turn and walk away into the night. Its a long walk back to my room and I take my time. It feels like how the night I went for Falcon should have felt. I feel redemption but there is still trepidation for my next actual assignment. Tonight was a solo trip and I did fine, but will I be able to hold up when I have a team again? These thoughts haunt me as I walk the streets of Corvis. The City of Ghosts. I always thought that was a pretentious name but as I’m dogged by my own spooks I can understand its metaphorical meaning if not its literal. I get back to my Inn soon and open my door…

Monkey is sitting in our room. He looks up at me and sighs. I run in and clasp him in my arms. We exchange words, my excitement to see him not going AWOL and him being upset about our certain punishment. I try for awhile to cheer him up but he won’t have any of it. Finally we swear to each other that we’ll tell the Morrow Honest truth and take out bits as they lash out our punishment. Decision made us both sleep soundly that night and the next morning we packed up and headed back home to Corvis. I never did ask Monkey why he decided to come back to our base that night. I’m glad he did, but he had every reason to run…

The next morning I was awoken by pounding on my door. I crawled from my bed and grabbed my dagger, making no pretense of silence this time. I pulled my chair out from the door and swung it open with gusto. I almost brandished my blade in the face of Leo Trask. Luckily I checked my reflexes in time and managed to slide the dagger onto the chair I just set next to the door. Leo Trask stepped into my room and looked around before addressing me.

“You look like hammered shit.” He gruffed at me.
“Rough night sir.” I said sheepishly
“Tough. Get your gear, we’re shipping out this morning.” I said firmly.

With a turn he marched out of my room and left me half-dressed, half-awake, and half-sure that I wanted to do this. I mustered and began to gather my gear. I climbed into my civilian clothing after getting everything packed up. Once again I slung my duffel bag over my shoulder and headed out into the cold Corvis winter. I stare into the falling snow and mutter to myself.

“I should get thicker clothing…”

The End

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