Fixer, Fence and information broker
Liam ‘Mongrel’ Cooper
Liam never knew who his father was, but to be honest neither did his mother. Growing up in poverty with a mother who went from drugs to drink and back again, and from one abusive partner to another, Liam was always destined to have a difficult life. Of mixed race, Liam was nicknamed ‘Mongrel’ by one of his ‘step-dads’ and it seemed to stick. He was a thin, ungainly child, not the most confident, and partly due to his neglectful mother, never very healthy. His one gift was his near perfect memory – even though he was not the most academic child, his ability to retain and regurgitate information meant he was able to get on well at school.
Unfortunately, his gift also became a curse. He would recall things that his mum’s partners did, lots of which was illegal. He learnt that if he could make people aware of what he knew they would be more respectful around him, especially if he threatened to let it slip in front of the constant parade of police and social workers who came to his home. Normally this kept people off his back, but one of his ‘step-dads’, a brutish man named Shane, decided he didn’t like being threatened by a snotty kid.
One night in a drunken rage, Shane beat Liam into such a state that he was virtually unrecognisable, hospitalised for 3 weeks, and left him scarred for life. When he returned home, Liam refused to give a statement to the police. Shane thought that he had frightened ‘Mongrel’ enough that he would keep his mouth shut, but the boy had other ideas. The night after he returned home Mongrel stabbed Shane 48 times in the neck and chest. Liam was 17.
Liam spent the next 10 years in young offender institutes and eventually adult prisons. His amazing memory meant that he was able to pick up plenty of new vocational skills, such as mechanics and computing, while inside. He became a competent brawler by practising boxing in the gym, and worked to build his physique so he would never be on the wrong end of a beating again. Mostly he listened and remembered things the other inmates said and made a name as someone in the know. Over time he learnt, and became, a little bit of everything. He initially tried to keep his scars hidden, both physical and mental, but they were always present and eventually he came to embrace them and accept that part of himself.
By the time Mongrel left prison, Liam was gone, just a name he put on parole forms and job applications. His criminal record meant that those job applications invariably came to nothing and Mongrel turned to crime, the skills he had learnt inside, and his wits to survive.
Over the next few years, Mongrel became adept at breaking and entering, forging documents, fencing stole goods, and even cracking the odd skull when required. What he excelled at, however, was information. He knew who had their hand in what pie, who was dealing with who, what the police were investigating and where money was being made. He never forgot a face or a name and made sure that he turned information he had heard to his advantage. He had dirt on everyone and those people who owed him knew all they needed to do to stay on his good side was to let him have any juicy gossip that he had not picked up himself.
Mongrel could have become a real target to one of the more dangerous criminals, but he had learnt from his childhood mistakes and never made threats or used information against people if he did not have to. He was happy to share information with people too, for the right price or the promise to repay the favour in the future. It was not about empire building or becoming filthy rich, it was about protecting himself. He never got too close to anyone, his closet companion and only true friend was his faithful Pit-bull Terrier/Alsatian/God-knows-what dog named Mutt.
Although somewhat lacking in ambition, Mongrel had carved out a small fiefdom in the Lowlands of Crowburn almost by accident. He manoeuvred people to ensure that he was left alone and without really rubbing anyone up the wrong way made sure that things were kept that way.
However, Mongrel’s destiny was set to change when he started to look into finding out who was running things in the Docklands. Initially resistant to his normal manipulations, the key figures in the area seemed tight-lipped and uncooperative. He had to resort to more radical methods, involving hacking the public records office, creating false shipping documents and getting some of his contacts jobs there. He found that a lot of the documentation he discovered had also been falsified, cargo arriving did not appear to originate from anywhere and his people either stopped relaying info to him or simply disappeared. All the information he was able to gather seemed to point to a single, hidden overseer.
Mongrel felt he was getting very close to answers when unexpectedly received a visit him one night. A stocky, surly, cockney heavy called Morcock somehow tracked him down to his secret den and warned him against pursuing things further. The man seemed restrained, but there was a definite sense of menace as he growled his veiled threats and an indefinable air of the predator about him.
Mongrel heard what Morcock said, but felt he had to know what he was near to discovering. He followed his leads to a rundown warehouse on the waterfront in Docklands. As he got closer, he was suddenly surrounded him a group of shadowed, cloaked figures who seemed to come from nowhere. They grabbed him with an unnatural strength that he could not escape. He was dragged into the warehouse and feared a beating or possibly worse. What happened was beyond anything he could have expected.
The eerily silent mob forced Mongrel into the centre of the warehouse where he was chained to a pillar. As he awaited the killing blow he was instead approached from the shadows by a short, squat, man who put Mongrel in mind of Mutt. As the man came closer, Mongrel could see that the man was monstrously ugly and large jagged teeth jutting from his lower jaw, filling his mouth. Left scarred and disfigured from the attack he suffered in his youth, Mongrel was no oil painting but this was something else entirely.
The troglodyte introduced himself as Habermas and explained that Mongrel had stumbled onto something that he could not possibly understand. Habermas admired Mongrel resourcefulness and how he had helped exposed certain weaknesses in his security, for that he was grateful and he deserved to be celebrated. However, he could not allow such brazen disregard for his generous warning, delivered by his lieutenant Morcock, to go unsanctioned. Luckily for Mongrel, he had the perfect compromise of reward and punishment. And with that Habermas sank his oversized fangs into Mongrel.
The Nosferatu embrace is never a straightforward or painless process and Mongrel suffered greatly over the next few nights. Habermas took the time to explain Mongrel’s new situation to him and how he would fit into Habermas’ plans. Truth be told, all he would need from him was to carry on as he were, keeping his ear to the ground (or lower), but this time feeding information back to Habermas.
Ultimately, Mongrel is happy with his new position and has not had to adapt much to fit into his new life – he still skulks in the shadows, he is still very much connected to the streets of Crowburn and he still has Mutt by his side. Sure he has to drink blood now and Mutt is and even bigger and uglier than he used to be, but that is not too bad and he never liked garlic much anyway. Habermas leaves him get on with things, but expects loyalty, which Mongrel is happy enough to give – he does as he is told, does not ask too many questions and keeps out of the new Prince’s way. He stays out of the Harbour Master’s way and only gets involved when requested. In turn, Mongrel is left to deal with his little domain in Lowlands with some measure of autonomy, at least on the surface.