Vlad Astar, a.k.a., "The Hole"
Hound looking for revenge
Vlad Astar, (an assumed name, not his birth name) is the son of a merchant trader from Dagger Isles. Like his siblings, he is a swarthy-skinned blond with gray-green eyes. And in the tradition of the Isles, the story of his life, year by year, is recorded in the mandala- like tattoo on his chest and duplicate on his back. The tattoos faintly shimmer, and it is rumored the ink the shamans use is infused with tiny amounts of leviathan oil. He grew up in the tropical heat of the islands blissfully unaware of the rest of the imperium, spending time with friends exploring the jungle, catching frogs and snakes, and taunting the ghosts. As he grew older, his father began to inculcate him the ways of the family business, as he did with all his children. Legitimate trade was adequate to support the family but never enough to get ahead under the imperium’s onerous boot, and there is only so much money to be made from trade in stone figurines, glass works, and obsidian blades from antiquity. As a result, the legit family business was merely a front for the real money in exotic and illicit compounds found in the flora and fauna unique to the Isles. This meant young Vlad had a lot of contact with smugglers, leeches, and whispers.
Like any strong-headed boy with a bullheaded father, they clashed. And Vlad found the life of a merchant trader as dull as the slow pace of life in the Isles. When war broke out, it seemed a good opportunity to free himself from family obligations and see the world he heard in the smugglers’ tales. He joined the Imperial military (to the chagrin of his father, who viewed the action as a betrayal of the family business), one of the few Daggerites to do so, and was quickly recognized for his ability to move quickly and quietly through underbrush, to climb trees, and to intimidate the ghosts. During a training exercise in the deathlands, his squad’s portable lightning fence around their bivouac malfunctioned. As the ghosts closed in, Vlad removed his shirt, moved outside the perimeter, and confidently confronted the wraiths. Upon seeing him, they stopped and cowered, then slinked off. When Vlad’s squad leader asked him how he induced the ghosts to retreat, he merely responded, “I am Daggerite, they know better.”
After initial training, recognizing his special skills, Command assigned him to a ranger unit in which his experience allowed him to excel. Since he seemed to be able to slip behind Skovlan lines with ease, he began to work closely and directly with the intelligence officers to reconnoiter situations that regular rangers were unable to. This was mostly due to his bold, but quiet, capture of enemy soldiers and his uncanny ability to “convince” them to talk. Vlad’s intelligence handlers began to call him The Hole, because when someone would not talk, they’d send them to The Hole.
Despite Vlad’s competence, he was always considered an outsider by Command (“that dirty islander” was muttered on occasion) and never given the respected he deserved. The intelligence officers he worked with directly felt differently, and Vlad’s reputation in
Military Intelligence circles steadily grew, sometimes mythically, that is until he was easily captured during a top secret op.
The circumstances of his capture were both confused and alarming. Reports indicated that, given the conditions and his skill set, it would be extremely unlikely he was captured, leading to speculation that he had turned; a conclusion that many in Command accepted all too easily. To Vlad, it seemed that the Skovlan unit that captured him knew he was there, and indeed they did. During his brutal interrogation, his captors revealed a high level mole within Imperial Command uncovered him and his mission. Despite the savage torture his interrogators employed, including the removal of his little finger on his left hand a knuckle at a time, he did not talk. But he did take notice of the six men who were directly involved in his two week ordeal. He would not forget them.
Concerned that Vlad, under duress or willingly, might reveal sensitive information about the impending operation Arcane Lace, Command decided to move up their timetable for invasion. During the multi-pronged assault, the facility in which Vlad was being held, Gymnasium Eight, was badly damaged, allowing he and others to escape. At first opportunity, he clandestinely contacted his current M.I. handler, Veleris, eager to tell her of the mole in the ranks. But she informed him that Command was scapegoating him for their hasty and botched invasion, accusing him of revealing landing spots and troop strengths (knowledge which he did not possess), and he must not resurface. As far as anyone knew, he was killed in the assault on G8.
Since the war, Vlad keeps contact with a handful of his former M.I. handlers, Veleris chief among them, and supports himself doing various off-book jobs. He occasionally considers returning to Dagger Isles and patching up rifts with the family and updating his tattoos, but never feels real motivation to do so. Besides, it is probably too risky for him, and maybe them, also. In his free time, he collects Pre-Cataclysm artworks and tracks down the six men that tortured him. It’s not an obsession, more like a hobby. Some people make ships in a bottle for relaxation, Vlad tortures and eventually spectacularly kills his former tormentors for peace of mind. Three down, three to go. And if he could ever find out who the mole was… well, that might be the closest Vlad would ever come to a spiritual journey.