Originally, it was purely a safety issue. You play around with fire, explosives and dodgy turbo engines enough, you get views on safety equipment. Then I found it better if people didn’t see my face. Being half not-human, I stand out.
That means green, partly scaly skin and straight black hair. Even these days, that’s odd and I was born five years before the Palziru Federation made contact with Earth. My mother didn’t notice my father wasn’t human, they met at a music festival in the dark and there may have been face paint involved. Then, I didn’t turn green and sort of scaly until I passed through puberty. Mum doesn’t know much about my father but she does remember him quite well, unfortunately most of what she remembers comes under the category of ‘too much information.’
I got into this line of work through cars. I like cars. I’m a good mechanic, I enjoy driving and, back when I was a kid and all this started, I belonged to a car club. Our cars were being pinched, and not just our cars, more than half the car clubs of various sorts across the city were losing vehicles. It wasn’t just car clubs either, members of outlaw motorcycle gangs were having their custom bikes stolen. Anyway, a few of us investigated and tracked the missing vehicles to a warehouse just off Parramatta Road. There were three of us: a Hell’s Angel, okay yes, that Hell’s Angel; a hot goth chick who was a rally car navigator; and me.
The Hell’s Angel and I were agreeing that there was very little chance we could get the police to come out for our bikes and cars when the hot goth chick, who has a name but has threatened to kill me if I ever use it in one of these stories, pointed out that in the shelved vehicles she could see an Australia Post van, a police car and two ambulances.
We called it in. The police were wonderfully prompt. The tenants in the warehouse were an off world cultural objet trader and his people. The police, and later the courts, were very firm that collecting cultural objets for his business had to be carried out in accordance with our laws. There’s a few more years to run on those sentences.
An off-the-cuff comment by the Hell’s Angel led to a series of inspections then raids on off world zoological traders worldwide. Aside from the endangered species’ issues there was the little matter of enslaving humans.
It was in the police station that night that I first saw a Zemari in person. The leaders of the Federation are oddly beautiful, three-eyed humanoids whose skin has a slight metallic shimmer. It was some sort of embassy liaison for the trader and it passed me in the corridor deep in conversation with the trader’s solicitor. Close enough to smell. To me it smelt rancid. Not just that one, every one I’ve met since. I’ve paid attention to the news too, run a few more investigations, rescued those kids that time and I have a theory.
The Palziru Federation isn’t a political organisation, it’s a criminal one. The Zemaris are the crime lords and we’re territory they’re opening up. I’ll be wearing the Hood and Mask for a while yet.