This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Freelance Traveller.
Angus “Papa” Owensby 478B95 Age 54 (Other) 9 terms
Itinerant Holyman and Ship’s Engineer
Handgun-0, Grav Vehicle-0, Computer-0, Admin-1, Vacc Suit-0, Brawling-1, Persuasion-2, Streetwise-2, Mechanical-2, JOT-1, Electronics-2, Carousing-1, Engineering-1, Intrusion-2, Survival-1, Microbrewing-3, History-2, Curling-2, Religion/Philosophy-4, Linguistics-2 (Haitian Patois) (Spanish)
Angus grew up in Marsters, on the outer edge of a poorer neighborhood just west of the elevated maglev tracks, and butted smack up against the the Downport’s thick ferrocrete outer wall, on Koenig. A few blocks away loomed the massive Pak-Messner Industries pharmaceutical factory, which, operating 28 hours a day, made the entire neighborhood reek of chemicals that might make one think of burned plastic and fruit punch.
An adventurous youth, Angus would routinely evade factory security to climb up and over the side of one of the factory’s 10m-high rubbish skips to search for valuable trash—ordinarily such treasures as 12-year-olds find fascinating: resealable containers; cellulose boxes in various stages of repair; not-quite-empty cans of paint or volatile industrial chemicals; bubblewrap; and the like.
One evening, Angus found a smashed crate that’d had solvent spilled on it. Inside, the boy found a plastic container about a quarter full of punch-cards full of some sort of pill. He had no idea what they were, but the fixer over by the Monster’s Mongolian BBQ certainly would.
On the way, Angus ran into Mr. Mbutu, a withered old raisin of a man in his trademark fedora. The greybeard eyed Angus knowingly, telling him “You may not like what you find, boy!” like usual.
Trading most of the pills for quick cash, Angus was the founder of a feast consisting of gyros, nachos, and large, squat bottles of Curuther’s Old Tymes beer. Breaking out a punch card, pills were divvied out to the gang—two each, with Angus getting three. They’d all assumed the pills were some sort of mood stabilizer that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol, as usual.
Angus awoke from a horrific, red nightmare to find himself strapped to a bed in the hospital ward of the jail. His arm and jaw were broken and he was covered in bite marks and scratches. Turning his head, he could see Willum similarly strapped down and in comparable condition. The rest of the gang, however—Ida, The Breeze, and Napoleon—were nowhere to be seen.
Later that day the Advocate for the Prosecution informed the pair that they’d murdered their friends—ripping them apart and gorging on their flesh. The Advocate wrapped up the conversation with “No Penal Batallion for you two, I’m afraid—you’ll be going straight to the Body Banks.”
Willum strangled himself during the night using his prison-issue boiler suit. Angus’ family failed to visit first for a week, then two…
At the trial, Angus’ parents were nowhere to be seen, but he could see his friends’ parents in the gallery, as well as that old Mbutu character. The Advocate for the Defense presented evidence that Angus, Willem, and the others all tested positive for an unknown compound. A representative from Pak-Messner reluctantly identified the pills as coming from their troubled CuChulain Combat Drug program.
Ultimately, the Prosecution’s Advocate was wrong, and Angus did get sentenced to a Penal Batallion.
As spectators, journalists, and interested family members filed out of the courtroom, little Mr. Mbutu stepped up to the Judge and the two spoke for a few minutes. The Judge decided at the last to release Angus into the custody of Mr. Mbutu, whom he said would have a positive influence on the boy.
Being both an animist and skilled Technician, “Papa” Mbutu taught young Angus about the spirits that resided in the world all around them in nature, and—since machines were creations within nature—the spirits that resided in machines as well. With such teachings came a working knowledge of mechanical, electronic, and Engineering principles.
The court had ordered Angus to remain with Mbutut until age 25. Angus came to like life with the old man, and he remained of his own volition. Eventually “Papa” Mbutu died, and Angus sold the garage and moved on.
Angus is a short, thick individual with a pronounced handlebar mustache. His head is shaved and he is covered most places with tattoos. He is almost never seen without his sunglasses, and often goes about just in a loincloth (weather permitting). He carries a gnarled, old, 2m-long walking stick, all carved and decorated with odd bits of feather, leather wrapping, carving, etc, which he took from his mentor upon his death.
Angus is a good all-around Mechanic, as well as a passable Engineer, and is usually found aboard a ship on working passage.
Should anyone want to discuss private or troubling matters, Angus has, over the years, counseled many in his position as Papa Mbutu’s Apprentice, and is happy to oblige.
Angus enjoys the slow precision of Curling, and, when not on duty, can be found watching recorded matches in his stateroom, or sitting in the crew lounge watching space as the ship travels. He is a peaceful guy, and will only get into a fight if pressed.
Angus is allergic to the musky smell of ferrets, and hates it; bitching no end if someone aboard has one.
His beliefs don’t proscribe him from seeking out companionship. He loves the company of women, and spends a lot of his time trying. He also enjoys brewing his own beer, and will offer anyone coming to his cabin a mugfull.
Before turning on any device he’s serviced or is about to use, Angus will first perform a ritual honoring the spirit of the device. He’d never think to not do this, and would be shocked at the suggestion.