Aliases: Scuz, Lark, Piper, Sly, Imp
Race: Magically mutated human
Build: Slight/skinny, lithe, scant muscles.
It takes a very special person to look at Zi and not feel the urge to wince or look away. Her hair is unevenly cut short, her chin is too strong to be considered feminine, her nose is crooked, and her eyes just a hair too widely spaced apart. She's frequently dirty, greasy, and covered in scabs and various greasy concoctions to help her heal faster from all the scrapes she gets into. She stinks the same way the city stinks: saltwater dead things, a nauseating mix of foods, and human waste. There are no real feminine curves to speak of on her frame, as her breasts are slight and her hips more of a suggestion then anything else. She's slender, but not particularly appealing in any physical sense, having a sort of scraggliness to her that intimates unhealthiness.
She is also frequently afflicted with lice, much to her mentor's constant disgust.
Even so, she has a grin that is both expressive and open. She tends not to hide her emotions, choosing instead to display intense reactions that hide what she's feeling. She doesn't give a fuck what people think about either her looks or her hygiene, and is herself not particularly reactive towards the attractiveness of those around her. She cares primarily for the usefulness, and is most likely to favor those who are good at something over those who look good. Though, don't get me wrong, she'll gladly fuck you if you're drunk enough to want to fuck her.
She likes to count, especially money, a holdover from when she was young and in charge of keeping count of her mother's money.
Morality is a grey area to her. She doesn't understand the concept of things being good or bad in any righteous sense; to her, staying alive is good. Getting dead is bad. Survival is what matters first and foremost -- everything else is an afterthought. Comfort is a nicety, but why bother seeking after all its incarnations if you haven't secured your own safety first? Trying to argue over what's right versus what's wrong is pointless, fruitless, and just plain stupid to her. Do whatever it takes to survive. That's it.
Highly religious, Zhi believes in a local pantheon of Changers and Astral beings that control order in the world. While she has her own spin on it, and can be extremely irreverent, she believes to her bones that her own personal lodestone, Teodinus, measures every situation on his celestial scales. She fervently believes that he loves to fuck with her, and that, sometimes, if she prays just the right way or does just the right thing, he will tilt those scales in her favor.
Several changes of mostly shitty clothing that serves as disguises. She does have one beloved second-hand set of leathers that she uses when she expects to go climbing or out on surveillance.
A crappy, beloved wooden pipe. She's had the thing forever, and she's quite fond of it.
A serviceable, if cheap, steel knife. Primarily a tool she uses for everything from paring her nails to eating.
A serviceable, not quite as cheap, steel dagger. It's a relic from her days in the gang, and a reminder that people are assholes.
A pair of bone dice. Not rigged (not worth the risk), and something she always has on her in case of the need to play.
A flask. Never leave home without an emergency supply of alcohol.
Flint and steel. Gotta light up that pipe somehow!
Various substances to pack the pipe's bowl with.
Powers or Strengths:
- Zi is a natural when it comes to running, climbing, and jumping. She loves heights, is quick on her feet, and can haul herself up the sides of buildings lickety-split. It's saved her ass on numerous occasions; her ability to flee when she's outgunned (which is frequent) is second to none. Additionally, she is light of foot and sneaky enough to be able to spy on others -- though she's no lolninja, she can certainly catch a good portion of the population unaware. Against those who are trained to watch for tails and be aware of interlopers, however, she is average at best, and likely to be caught sooner rather than later.
- Life tends to shit on Zi a lot. She expects it. It's normal. As such, she is not put out when things don't go her way, or when something terrible happens. She figures out a way around it, and gets on with her life. She doesn't understand people who are incapable of this, and sneers at them who can't handle the sort of roughness that's routine on the streets. She'll get her own, one way or another, no matter what it takes.
Try to take her out? Yeah, fuck you.
- While Zi is unable to sustain a facade for any long gambits, she is able to pull on different attitudes when needed. This was a skill she learned when she was still thieving -- she can blubber if she needs to. She can pass as a boy if she needs to. She can play the cad, the empty-headed girl, a poor and miserable urchin, and many, many more.
- Zi is able to take a fair amount of beating. She's used to injury and pain, and can work through a lot. Actually, it's really more unusual when she doesn't hurt somewhere.
- While Zi, on her own, doesn't really have notable connections besides the usual street trash one becomes familiar with growing up in the ghetto, she is slowly being introduced to an array of professionals, dangerous folk, and those who hold either coin or power as she works with her mentor to learn the art of the courier. This is very important to have when you're running this side of the law.
- Zi's reflexes are second to none, which is particularly good considering half the time she's either high or drunk. It is this, primarily, that has made her desirable as an apprentice to someone who really doesn't suck.
- While Zi can't be described as cheerful or chipper, she does have a sort of cynically positive outlook on things. Nothing keeps her down for long, as she's more likely to grin or laugh than she is to scowl or act pissy (though, she does have plenty of sulks). Life is meant to be enjoyed, meant to be taken by the balls and twisted while you whoop and holler. Why bother living if you're not enjoying it? Just go kill yourself, otherwise.
- It's good to be a little paranoid, especially considering the circles Zi traverses. However, she takes it a little too far. A lot too far. Her relationships are invariably distant, and love is a concept nigh laughable to her. She believes that everyone betrays everyone, it's just a matter of time. This is fact. It doesn't bother her, though she thinks those who ascribe to romance or familial ties are foolish. People ally with other people for specific self benefits, nothing more or less. Once those benefits run out or are usurped by bigger things, the alliance is over.
It doesn't exactly make her fun at parties.
Or the fact that she's so twitchy, either.
- Getting off on doing dangerous stunts is good, to a degree, with anyone who lives a dangerous lifestyle. However, it must be controlled, and measured, and considered. These are things Zi is not so great at. Her need for the high that adrenaline provides makes her prone to making stupid decisions and taking unnecessary risks. For now, her dangerous behavior is largely curbed by the sense of her mentor, but should she slip his leash she's likely to be a liability to herself and anyone around her.
- Zi looks out for Zi. Before anyone else, she keeps herself alive. Though she can be brassy and sassy, can bluff and act tough, she isn't above groveling when she needs to. This is great when you're not in a position to trust most of those around you, but it also makes for a terrible ally or bedfellow. Zi doesn't hide her 'me first' attitude (or her belief that everyone should be this way), and anyone who gets to know her is likely to quickly realize that she's not trustworthy. At all.
Weaknesses and Flaws:
- Choices matter. Escape matters. Zi has a tendency to freeze up and slow down when she thinks she's been caught or trapped. While this doesn't make her completely immobile, it can fuck her over when in situations where seconds count. The moments she spends distracted or internally freaking out are moments someone faster and more capable can and will take her out.
This is something her mentor is probably trying to train her out of. Much to her hatred and discomfort.
- Malnourished growing up and unable to really put on any significant muscle beyond what's necessary for running and climbing, Zi is easily pushed around should she be pinned down or caught.
- Alcohol is her blood, smoke (of various persuasions) is her air. Zi cannot make it more than a few days at a time without having a drink or partaking in tobacco or something more seedy and less harmless. While she is still young enough that she's not going to keel over from liver failure any time soon, her bad habits often take a toll on her endurance and supply of money. Hard to be at your best when you're high or hungover, after all.
She could count as a functional alcoholic and drug user, but it would be a lie to say that her addictions don't interfere with her ability to make reasonable or even rational choices.
Something else her mentor might want to break her of, assuming he doesn't use it as a means to control her.
- Yeahhh. Relationships become especially painful when you assume upon meeting anyone and everyone that they will be attempting to stab you in the back at any time. Zi assumes that everyone has her worst interests at heart, since they are, of course, primarily looking out for their own. Sooner or later that will mean bad news for her. It doesn't matter how someone treats her, what they say or do: she's going to be looking for the ulterior motive that she absolutely one hundred percent knows is there.
Her relationship with her mentor is the closest she's ever come to trusting someone, but she's still far off target on that account.
- Zi loves gambling. Gambling does not love her. Major time and money sink.
- Zi sleeps around. Since she is pretty much below what any normal person would consider acceptable sleeping material, that means she tends to sleep with . . . . well, you probably don't want to think about the sort of people willing to sleep with her.
- Though on some puny level in the back of her head Zi does willingly acknowledge that she is fallible and as easily killed as anyone else, she still thinks that she's the shit. She tends to overestimate herself and underestimate those around her.
Yeah at this point it's best to assume that her mentor is just tearing his hair out getting rid of these bad habits of hers.
- People are less of a hassle when you don't bathe and fairly typically have lice. No, really. Seriously. You should try it some time.
Whoreborn would have been another suitable last name for Zi, but somehow it just doesn't hold the same charm. Her ma was a caring woman, all told; her dad fucked off well before she even knew to question such things, but she didn't mind. Zi was happy with her 'mam.' They made do, though they were never flush with money. It wasn't until her mother started shacking up with her pimp (though, at the time, Zi was too young to really understand the concept) that things started going downhill. Zi wasn't a stranger to abuse -- few street kids were -- but the violence that her mother's lover dished out was new and unsettling; Zi was not so used to seeing bruises regularly decorate her mother's flesh. It terrified her, and upset her, and she became sullen and withdrawn. She disobeyed him, pushed his patience, and eventually was driven to lash out against him.
The fury she provoked was a killing rage. Her mother shoved her out the door, and told her to never return.
She was ten, or eleven, at the time -- somewhere around there. Resentful of her mother and scared shitless of that man, she took to thieving on the streets. It wasn't new to her; she'd dabbled in it long before her mother had shacked up with the man. It'd been how she'd kept herself full on those days and weeks when her mam didn't make enough to keep them fed. Her mama had never approved, but children will do what children will do. Especially kids who cut their milk-teeth on the hard lessons the streets had to offer. Eventually she joined a small street gang. It wasn't big league, more a collection of young rabble with nowhere else to go, but they started taking on things that were questionable.
Zi was thirteen when she killed her first man. She was an ugly, gangly, small child. It was a surprise attack; the kind that took surprise rather than skill; the man she killed certainly had no excess of the latter. She was plied with drink, and smokes, rewarded with acceptance and the strange, cruel love that forged the loyalty such gangs thrived upon. She, in turn, was encouraged towards running the city streets, being a lookout, and making her way over the rooftops when able to act as an alert. She was light, and fast, and ultimately unsuited to the sort of thuggery that dominated street brawls; none of them were particularly skilled fighters, but they used brawn and quick reflexes when and how they were able.
Life was wild, and crazy, and rough. She had a backstreet abortion when she was fourteen. She fell in love at fifteen, and had another at 16, though this was at the behest of one of the lieutenants; an older, rangy girl who had no need for pregnant members. Especially not members who were supposed to be running lookout on future jobs. Though the father of Zi's second child did not love her back, alas, she was convinced that the child would prove the keystone to their relationship, such as it was. Boosted with hormones, and rage, and dizzy with a bad abortion that left her with fevers and a permanently ruined uterus, Zi did what no one should do: she left the gang.
It wasn't a good move. She was persona non grata, and though her idea of herself was inflated with ego and the certainty of many teenagers that she was, in fact, immortal, she was soon proven wrong. She was constantly on the run. Eventually, she had to admit that she was going to lose her life for her transgressions against the gang, and wound up indenturing herself to someone bigger, and badder than the gang she was running from.
The woman was named Agha. She was a dwarf. A rich, business-minded dwarf who dabbled in many things and took in down-on-their-luck kids like Zi. Agha was, of course, bad business -- just not the sort that would get Zi killed. Not unless Zi fucked up in a really bad way. But, there were many things that were distasteful to Zi, all the same; she had no desire to be a whore like her mother, and less to be used in ways that made others happier than she. So, that was the catalyst that had her disdaining silly things like hygiene, and though the battle she waged with Agha was long and protracted, Zi eventually won.
Zi became Agha's errand girl. One of many, but Zi was particularly decent. It was her brassy attitude and general grossness that eventually compelled Agha to cut her losses and sell her at a discount. Zi was, at that point in time, malleable. Though she was rough, she had the basics of a courier. She had speed, excellent reflexes, ability to climb, and was unafraid of using a dagger when needed, though she was untrained in its use and unused to any sort of diligence or discipline. She could be trained, given the right environment.
Her servitude was taken by a very specific man whose details will be ironed out at a later time DUN DUN DUN who owed Agha a favor. They did not get along at first. They didn't really ever fully get along, but Zi was not a stupid person, not when it came to receiving corrective punishment. She was not the sort who would defy if it lead to something she didn't like, though she was creative when it came to toeing the line. No, he was stern with her, and matched her creativity with some of his own. He eventually brought her (mostly) to heel, though her sass was expected and allowed (mostly).
For the first time in a long time, she was (secretly) pleased with herself and her station in life. Her ambition to not only survive, but thrive in this new and chosen pursuit overcame her cynical outlook on life. Though she would never admit it, she began to enjoy the work, the struggle, the pushing against herself and the odds that were often stacked against her. She was hooked on adrenaline as surely as she was on drinks and smokes, and though her nasty habits lost her more coin than gained, she never cared. As long as she could live life to the fullest, she could get drunk on it, and that was a love that she was never gonna give up.