The Grim Saint
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
If the Grim Saint and Jacob Pakulski are indeed the same man, any worthwhile history must begin with his early years. According to the Paragon Department of Family Services, young Jacob spent three years in a group home after his apprehension by a truant officer at age seven. It remains a mystery to this day what became of Jacob's birth parents, or how long he had spent on the streets prior to his discovery. Whatever the case, he would remain a ward of the state until being adopted by Martha Pakulski at age ten, an apparent stroke of luck which would quickly prove only the latest in a long line of misfortunes.
A prolific welfare cheat, Martha Pakulski had already adopted five children under various names by the time Jacob came under her care, and would go on to adopt six others before being brought to justice. Her house—a tenement in the High Park neighborhood of Kings Row—was said to have housed its inhabitants in "a state of perpetual squalor,” with the children sleeping on newspapers among "stray dogs and other vermin" according to the FSO’s report. While Jacob's siblings were eventually taken from Martha's custody, Jacob himself remained until age sixteen, whereupon he fled the house and joined up with the Skulls as a low-level enforcer. By what circumstance Jacob was forced to stay with his adoptive mother is currently under investigation by Internal Affairs.
Jacob caught his first criminal charge at nineteen, following the raid of a Skull Superadine warehouse he had been tasked with overseeing. In addition to conspiracy and drug possession, city police charged him with the suspected murder of three Hellions lieutenants who had fallen in the gangs’ ongoing turf war. On advice from his lawyer, Jacob remained silent throughout the prosecution, a tactic he would take to heart for the rest of his life. Jacob ultimately beat the charge and returned to work shortly after his release.
Jacob built a fearsome reputation following his brush with the law, earning the street name "Doc" for the clinical precision with which he dispatched his enemies. Cries of "Doc! Doc!" became commonplace among Hellions members as they fled corners threatened by Jacob’s approach. His imposing physique contributed much to his infamy, as did his brutality. It was during this time that Jacob was first suspected of having involved himself with The Martyred Eye (see section below), a clan of martial artists who may have trained him in the tactics for which he later became notorious.
In 1976 Jacob caught his second murder charge, but this time he was not so lucky; traces of his hair and skin cells were found embedded in the body of a state's witness who had been savagely beaten to death. The jury was quick to close the book—life without parole at Zigursky Penitentiary. Jacob was fated serve his time, but not for another fifteen years.
It was while awaiting transfer that he was first approached by a representative of the federal government, who negotiated Jacob's release into his custody despite the Might for Right Act having been overturned for nearly a decade. Though no record exists of the organization for which Jacob was recruited, it is reasonable to assume the group was one of only a handful of Anti-Communist bureaus left over from Roger Vrabel's OSS, still operating covertly on the extreme right-wing fringes of the U.S. government.
Jacob disappeared for twelve years following his release. The year was 1976, and U.S. conflicts in Cambodia and the Gulf were on the horizon. Anonymous sources during those tumultuous years make spotted references to an agent who personally spearheaded dozens of morally ambiguous operations including civilian bombardment and assassination. One tale alludes to an operative with "the size of a truck and the speed of a panther," who at one time forced a dozen Irani officials to walk a minefield their government had lain in order to clear it.
In 1989 Jacob reappeared in Kings Row. Locals largely failed to recognize the infamous "Doc" who had brought terror to their corners only twelve years earlier; to them he was a merely a fixture of the neighborhood dives, a boozy wanderer sleeping on bar stools during the day and in alleyways at night. Ever silent, he spoke to no one regarding his years with the agency, nor of the circumstances which led to his departure. Word of his return eventually made its way to the ears of Vieri Marcone, a mid-level Family underboss who was owed substantial interest on bail bonds taken out by Jacob's recently paroled adoptive mother.
According to rumor, Vieri had Jacob taken to the boiler room of his warehouse and demanded he make good on Martha's debt. When Jacob refused to pay, Vieri had Jacob's eyes burned out with an iron poker, promising further injury should he fail to pay within the week. When Jacob was released from the hospital four days later he walked immediately to Vieri's warehouse in Independence Port, crawled down a manhole, lit a cigarette, and planted it in the building's gas main with a wad of gum. Vieri's dental records were later pulled to identify the body.
Incarceration & Escape
Perhaps fearing his volatility, Jacob's former government associates immediately disavowed all history they had shared, and Jacob submitted to his life sentence without complaint—a career overthrowing Marxist republics in Southeast Asia and five years in a Sudanese hellhole had more than prepared him for the Zig, after all. Indeed he appeared perfectly content in his new environment, spending his days quietly meditating in the prison courtyard. Despite his imposing figure, few could reconcile Jacob’s mild manner to the notorious inferno in which thirty-six men, some of them honest dockworkers, had burned alive behind the barricaded doors of Marcone's warehouse.
Like many prisoners of the Zig, Jacob allowed himself to be tattooed by Pha Xiong, the man known today as the mentor of Tub Ci, who had been released from prison only months before Jacob's arrival. Jacob apparently never pressed Pha Xiong for knowledge of the mystical tattooing which had given rise to the Tsoo, preferring the mundane marks which had been given to his fellow inmates. The two developed a tenuous friendship, and Pha Xiong agreed to further hone Jacob's skill in martial arts.
By all accounts Jacob was a model prisoner. His only reported act of violence occurred when a fellow inmate, looking to take advantage of Jacob's blindness, attempted to steal a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. Jacob broke the man's arm in four places. Prison psychologists assessed Jacob's outburst along with his refusal to speak as signs of mental illness, and agreed to have him transferred to Butler Psychiatric Hospital where his condition might better be treated. When guards entered Jacob's cell on the morning of December 10th 1991 however, Jacob simply refused to leave. Witnesses to the encounter have declined to comment on its details. Extant prison logs from that morning contain only the phrase "prisoner 1822 has decided to stay" with regard to the incident.
Twenty years later Jacob was an old man, and in the two decades since his incarceration not a single word had passed his lips. Then on one unremarkable morning Jacob simply vanished, leaving only a note that read "Better now, returning to work." In the weeks following his escape, several of Jacob's former partners managed to have their necks broken. The subsequent drowning of the organization's acting director, the bombing of its headquarters, and the theft of its most potent military technology saw its permanent dissolution shortly thereafter. Had any of them remained alive long enough to read the headlines that surfaced in the Paragon Times some months later, they would surely have recognized the handiwork of their vengeful former colleague.
Early Career and Exile
Though the identity of the vigilante now known as the Grim Saint remains a mystery to the public, what Jacob meant when he said "work" has since become common knowledge to the criminals of Paragon City, who whisper of an enormous creature draped in black with the strength of ten men and the white mask of a harlequin. But truthful accounts are scarce, and the Saint has a reputation for leaving more bodies than witnesses.
When he first appeared in Paragon, the Saint made a name brutalizing organized crime, eventually turning his attention to more dominant threats like the Council and the Rikti. It did not take long, however, before the Saint's ambitions turned inward, raising a hand to corrupt authorities and politicians with the same savage fury once reserved for fascists and monsters. It was a turning point—crooked legislators were suddenly ending up in the ground instead of in court; cops on the take were taking trips the bottom of Liberty Harbor; even judges turned up dead. The response was staggering. The Grim Saint rose from unlicensed vigilante to public enemy in a matter of days. A message had been sent and it was not written in gray; it was entirely black and white.
The Saint's most conspicuous appearance occurred at the Easton Museum during a gala fundraiser for Councilman John Hollis amid the 2004 mayoral primary. Attendees recount a power failure in the midst of Hollis's speech, followed by the implosion of the grand skylight. Seconds later the hall was filled with smoke as secret service agents fell to their knees, blinded by a powdered cocktail of soot and broken glass. By the time the smoke had cleared the Grim Saint was gone and Councilman Hollis was dead, his spine snapped in half at the eleventh vertebrate.
The morning after the incident, a parcel of letters was delivered to Chief Bochco's desk, letters revealing Hollis had been on Crey Corp's payroll for years prior to his campaign. Regardless of the evidence, Statesman publicly condemned the Grim Saint's actions as "wholesale political assassination" and vowed to see him brought to justice, a task he pursued until his own death at the hands of Darrin Wade several years later. The resulting backlash of Statesman's denunciation seemingly forced the Grim Saint to go to ground for a number of years.
The Rogue Isles
During the five years between Councilman Hollis's assassination and Statesman's death, the Grim Saint relocated his war on corruption to the Rogue Isles, where his ruthlessness blurred the line between justice and villainy even further.
His first blow came to the Cage Consortium, when thousands of inflammatory pamphlets made their way to the hands of laborers on Sharkhead Isle. The pamphlets, signed "GS," accused Kirk Cage of embezzling wages to build condominiums on Villa Requin, and even included letters addressed to prominent stockholders admitting unequivocally to the plan. The so-called evidence was in fact an elaborate forgery, but the response was staggeringly real.
Hundreds of miners revolted, setting fire to Consortium offices and savagely attacking factory foremen who were seen as shills for the company. In response, Cage made a public statement calling the Saint a "coward" and an "enemy of honest men everywhere," demanding his just capture. The next morning Cage was found gagged, naked, and beaten on the steps of the Hellforge with the words "honest man" burned into his chest with cigarettes. Stock prices for the Consortium plummeted and Kirk Cage relinquished his hunt, declining to speak on what had happened during his abduction. Later investigations into the origin of the pamphlets could only produce descriptions of an unidentified homeless man said to be "blind, with the build of a linebacker."
The Grim Saint nourished a fearsome reputation on the Isles during his time there. Impressed by his activities, or perhaps looking to stem them, contact was eventually made by Scirocco, who brought the Saint under his wing for a short period of time. How or why this partnership evolved is unknown. Perhaps a mutual sense of honor begot the alliance, though considering their disparate goals and the Saint's disinclination for compromise, many believe his service was involuntary, a notion that only begs further questions. Whatever the reason, it was no secret the Grim Saint was among Scirocco's private retinue of contract killers before their cooperation came abruptly to an end. The circumstances of their parting remains as mysterious as their joining. The only clue comes from the confessions of a captured Wolf Spider following his squad's failure to bomb a Longbow facility on Peregrine Island. It should be noted that the Spider's collected statements contain numerous inaccuracies, and ought not to be considered reliable evidence:
- "I heard Scirocco ordered this old woman kidnapped, some old drunk. Took her someplace secret. No one knew where it was but I heard about it. Tons of security. Then one morning someone goes into her room and she's dead. Poisoned. Someone snuck in past all those armed guards and slipped her something in the middle of the night. Then the Saint went missing and Scirocco goes nuts. Now you tell me that ain't related. I ain't a detective but I ain't stupid neither."
- - From the confessions of a captured Wolf Spider
In the wake of Statesman's demise and the Praetorian invasions, public demand for the Grim Saint's capture waned and he was able to make his return to Paragon City. Still, he is wanted by a number of hero groups including but not limited to Longbow, the Legacy Chain, Wyvern, and the PPD. The Knives of Artemis also bear a notorious grudge—something regarding the matter of a high-ranking Hand's paralysis after a six story drop in the slums of Grandville. Ask any authority in these organizations, however, and they are likely to tell you their search is "ongoing," which is to say "in name only." Few wish to stir the hornets' nest in earnest, and even the most righteous among Paragon's hero clubs sneak furtive glances at the shadows, forever fearful of reprisals from a man whose unflinching moral code remains a secret to all but himself.
The Martyred Eye
In the winter of 2012, the Paragon Times released the sensational story of a 35 year-old sanitation worker named Scott Rogers who had gone missing when a group of Lost ambushed his team in the sewers beneath Kings Row. To escape, Rogers fled deeper into the labyrinthine network, and allegedly survived for days in the bowels of the city, dodging all manner of monsters before finally taking refuge in an abandoned treatment duct. When he emerged on the other side, Rogers was shocked to find himself in a massive underground chamber whose slime covered bricks and pipes were supported by ancient stone pillars. Manicured trees surrounded a central bonfire while a supercomputer hummed beneath the insignia of a mysterious eye. Rogers heard a noise, and when he turned he was faced with an enormous bearded man whose eyes were wrapped in cloth. Rogers later awoke in Kings County Hospital with traces of halothane in his lungs. The particular cocktail struck a definitive resemblance to compounds used by the Grim Saint.
The story might have remained nothing but a curiosity had cryptographers not linked Rogers' description of the symbol he observed to a clan of ninjas called The Martyred Eye who had gone extinct shortly after the Rikti invasion in 2002. Prior to the invasion, The Martyred Eye had garnered attention as a brutal clan of vigilantes committed uncompromisingly to the elimination of criminality in Paragon City by means of intimidation and murder. What scarce information that was drawn from its members suggested The Martyred Eye made its home in the sewers where Post-War construction had unwittingly built over fringe sections of the underground city of Oranbega, only to be driven out when fleeing Rikti soldiers flooded the same sewers in the wake of their defeat.
Though expeditions into the sewers have failed to relocate the same chamber Rogers described, experts suggest the Grim Saint may very well be using the abandoned headquarters as his own base of operations, and perhaps even more disturbingly, as a training ground. A recent column in the Times, authored by the same journalist as the original Rogers story, speculates the Saint's widespread activities imply the cooperation of more than one individual. Certainly the description of a "shadowy figure" leaves room for the involvement of multiple vigilantes, and if the suggestion is true, it may mean the Saint is training his own army of lethal crime fighters in response to ever-growing city corruption. Multiple sightings of graffiti bearing the message "殉教目がをを見" (translated roughly to "the Martyred Eye is watching you") have been observed in recent months.
A wealth of speculation surrounds the Saint's equipment, with some specialists pointing to prototype Japanese stealth technology and rocket-propelled flight boots as an explanation for his ability to quite literally appear and disappear at will. What limited security footage that exists may even suggest he makes use of a short range teleportation device in addition to stealth and camouflage. He has also been known to employ blinding powder, caltrops, and smoke bombs to subdue or distract, and has even used impact-combustion gel on his gloves to ignite his victims with unarmed attacks. On a number of occasions, criminals have mentioned the presence of robotic attack drones shortly before the Saint's own appearance. These reports alone suggest a staggering level of technological prowess. Some have even cited his occasional use of more conventional firearms, though these reports remain even less substantiated than most.
As far as anyone can tell the Grim Saint has never said a word to anyone. His name, in fact, is owed to a deacon who mistook his stoic figure in the church alcove for a nearby statue of Saint George. Upon realizing his error, the deacon fell to his knees and begged the Saint to spare his life, at which point the Saint simply vanished. "I'd done nothing wrong, but in that moment I was convinced that I had," the deacon later recounted.
When Statesman's effects were searched after his death, an unparalleled piece of evidence was found among them, namely a crumpled letter inked roughly on loose leaf paper. It remains, to this day, the most comprehensive clue into the Grim Saint's mind. The transcript is as follows:
"You underestimate evil. You think good and bad can live together like cats and dogs. They can't. Someone will force you to know that. It won't be me. You're naive but you're not a liar. I know because I've watched. You won't find me but I won't hunt you either. GS."
- - The Grim Saint in a letter addressed to Statesman
Since his first appearance, criminal psychologists have routinely applied the term "violent sociopath" in an attempt to profile a man whose only psychological evidence can be found at the morgue. More recent journals have suggested the Saint suffers from paranoid personality disorder, explaining that his brutality stems from an inherent lack of faith in the goodness of humankind. Had they the wherewithal to obtain the truth, they would simply take the train to the Garment Works factory in Kings Row, drop a coin in the cup of the blind old war veteran who sits outside, and ask him what he thinks of the Grim Saint.