Bottle Street Beef
A long time ago, long before plague ridden rats and weepers roamed the streets of Dunwall, when the brilliant creations of Anton Sokolov had just begun spreading to the masses, a young man who went by the name “Slackjaw” found a new home with the Bottle Street Gang.
Slackjaw, supposedly the bastard son of an ex-courtesan from the Golden Cat brothel and a foreign prince from the Pandyssian continent. His early years were less than joyful, the backstreets of Dunwall have never been kind and he was no exception. But Slackjaw was resilient and resourceful, at a young age he'd become rather skilled in the art of pickpocketing and brawling with the other children. In his teenage years he set out on a whaling ship, intent on seeing the world and making something of himself. In his early twenties he fell in love with and married a woman named Clara. The two of them came back to his hometown and prepared for the new family they had started to form. But one simple act toward the wrong person would send his life spiraling out of control, and turn him into one of the most wanted men on the island of Gristol.
Clara sat on the balcony looking out over the sea from their third floor apartment just off of John Clavering Boulevard. “It's so beautiful, isn't it darling?”
Slackjaw stood next to her, rubbing his hand over her stomach. “Not so much as this little one oughta be, or his mother for that matter.”
“Now what makes you think it's going to be a boy? I wouldn't mind having a girl.”
“Ha! Only the strongest, healthiest boys come from Slackjaw.”
“You know I hate that name.”
Slackjaw leaned against the railing, “Tha's the only name Slackjaw's ever had. Stuck with me ever since I was a lad.”
The sunrise over the horizon was truly astonishing, Slackjaw couldn't believe how much his life had turned around since his days as a child. Even Dunwall itself had started to make great changes. The thought of this made Slackjaw uneasy as he walked inside and made sure that his gun and ammo were near in case of an emergency. Clara came in behind him, “You know how I feel about guns, I don't want them in the house when the baby arrives.”
“Man's gotta protect his own, an' I'll be sure to do that.”
Clara sensed his mood, and quickly changed the subject. “So, what do we have planned for today?”
Slackjaw tucked the gun away and faced his wife, “Figured I'd go down to the whale yards. See how the pickin's are for a job. And you're gonna stay in and get some rest. Slackjaw can't be havin' his woman gettin' too worked up, now can he?” They shared a laugh, and a kiss goodbye as he began his descent down the flight of stairs and out into the streets.
Down in the Rudshore District, Slackjaw encountered a man in a strange leather suit who wore a gas mask. He figured this man must've been employed around there somewhere, so he'd be good to ask if there's a job for him. “S'cuse me friend, might you be needin' any strong hands for a job 'round here?”
The man turned to him and looked him over, then pointed to a nearby building. “That's the boss's call, but we could always use more haulers.”
Slackjaw headed over to the small office where a man sat behind a desk covered in papers. “Hello sir, would you be havin' any openings for a young man lookin' to make a little coin?”
The man glanced up from his papers and eyed Slackjaw. “What qualifications do you have?”
“Well, I worked on a whalin' vessel for a few years in my younger days, but now I'm just lookin' for somethin' a little more landlocked.”
The man smiled, “Not a very big leap is it?”
“No sir, what can I say, Slackjaw works with his hands. I promise ya I'll be a hard worker. And Slackjaw always keeps his word.”
“We'll just have to test that out then, won't we?” Slackjaw's new boss stood up, and the two men shook hands. “The pay is twenty-five a day, sound good?”
“Good, then get to it.”
And so Slackjaw started his daily work in the whaling yards, doing whatever job his boss assigned him to. He came home everyday with all manner of muck and grime all over him, stinking of a stench that, according to him, “could knock a fly off a shit pile”. But he also came home to his wife, whose belly had grown in size each time he returned.
One day, while the two of them returned home from a trip to the store, a rat scurried out of a nearby sewer drain and ran right toward Clara. Slackjaw quickly jumped between them and swiftly kicked the rat away. A voice rang out from a side alley, “What have you done to my little birdie?” They looked over to see an old woman standing just beyond the edge of the building's shadow. She whispered as she shuffled away, “You'll pay for killing my little baby.”
In a frightened tone, Clara asked, “Who was that?”
Without moving his eyes from the alley, Slackjaw answered, “When we were kids, we were all scared of Granny Rags, thought she was a terrible witch. But now we know, she's nothin' but a sad old lady.”
Weeks later, an enormous storm hit Dunwall. It was bigger than anything Slackjaw had ever seen in his years at sea. In the middle of the work day, the boss's voice came over the loudspeaker, “Alright boys, you're done for the day. Water's risin' and the barrier can't take much more.” Moments after Slackjaw and the other men in his group got to higher ground the barrier broke, flooding the entire district. Slackjaw had just lost his one and only means of income, but the next day would be a new one with brand new opportunities. When he entered the bottom floor of his apartment building, he knew that the climb up the stairs would be a long one. On his way up the second set of steps, he heard a loud thud come from the floor above. His eyes opened wide in fear, and he rushed to his front door. He unlocked the door as fast as he could, but when he went inside it was too late. Down the hall that led to the soon-to-be nursery, only his wife's arm could be seen through the half open doorway. He slowly pushed the door, revealing the body of his wife. Blood streamed from her eyes, as if she'd been weeping.
Suddenly, something seemed to snap inside Slackjaw's chest. It was a kind of pain he'd never felt before, like someone held his heart in their palm and began to squeeze. When it became unbearable to hold it all back, he let out a blood curdling scream that could have echoed through the Void itself. After that one outburst, he sat for many hours into the night in complete silence, staring at Clara's face in his lap.
When the doctor examined her the next day, he told Slackjaw that his wife and unborn child had died from the plague, which she'd contracted after being bitten on the hand by a rat. The doctor told him that Clara's body would have to be burned to keep the plague from infecting others. “No, I'll take care of it myself.” Slackjaw hauled the body of his wife down to the shore where the two of them had arrived months earlier, and put her in a small rowboat. After dousing her with alcohol, he struck a match on the side of his boot and tossed it on top of her. He then slowly pushed the rowboat into the water with his foot, and watched in silence as the roaring fire grew further and further away from him.
That night, Slackjaw went down to a bar and began drinking his sorrows away, one bottle at a time. When he was starting on his third bottle, an already drunk thug kicked in the door. “Hey! Who's drinkin' in here without payin' out to the Bottle Street Gang first?!”
Slackjaw remained silent as he took another shot of whiskey. The thug slammed his cleaver into the bar counter. “Hey!” Now he was inches away from Slackjaw's face, “You gotta pay up!”
Slackjaw's gaze never strayed from the wall directly in front of him, “Slackjaw's already paid for this whiskey, get lost.”
“What's the matter friend, get a bad piece of ass?”
The question threw Slackjaw into a frenzy like he'd never experienced before. He grabbed the back of the thug's head and slammed it into the counter at least a dozen times before throwing his bloody, limp body to the floor. He then took a large swig from his whiskey bottle, lit the lighter that he'd taken from his pocket, and spit a huge flame that engulfed the thug's body, burning him to a crisp.
He placed a few coins on the counter, grabbed the bottle and cleaver, and walked outside the other waiting Bottle Street thugs. One of them questioned him, “Hey! Where's the boss?” They looked past Slackjaw to see their boss's burning corpse, then stared at Slackjaw in apprehension of what their fate might be. Slackjaw took another drink from his bottle and said, “Spread the word to the rest of your boys. These streets belong to Slackjaw now.”