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Hellknight is, what some prophet, the crystallization of generations of human strife, conflict, and a very long siesta. Known across the world of an infinitesimal, but exclusive, subsection of the maturing Millenial generation, his actions and history are seemingly (read: mostly) inconsequential to the world at large. However, it has been said by wise men inhaling incense that “an action as miniscule as a butterfly flapping its wings, can cause a hurricane half a world away.” This effect is crucial in the understanding of the true meaning and value of Hellknight’s existence. In the pursuit of strict objectivity, it must be noted that Hellknight cannot possibly be likened to a butterfly. A more accurate comparison would be the “Pygmy Moths” (Nepticulidae). Very small wings indeed.
Rising up from humble beginnings in the realm of Fenrir, Hellknight has amassed a great deal of wealth, prestige, and treasures that rival that of Fenrir’s most vaunted citizens. However, due to a chronic attachment to cancerous individuals, a strong resistance and reluctance to relocate social networks, and a biological disposition to enhanced laziness there is a gaping deficit between his potential and realized earnings. After a series of controversies that inflamed the popular base of Fenrir, including his own posse, Hellknight’s appeal as a pillar of Fenrir’s elite social class has begun to crumble.
Currently still active in the community at large, what future endeavors or crises of character may befall Hellknight remain unclear, but historians the world over have agreed that the zenith of his career may have well passed in 2006, partly to blame on the global economic recession. In his words though, he does not believe he has peaked and vows to be “the last guy standing on Fenrir, I’ll be the 1337est guy around.” Expert psychologists have testified that this may be evidence of preliminary acute psychosis, as by nature the “1337est guy around” is subjectively dependent on the population number, and if that number is one, “the last guy standing,” then the statement is true and disprovable. This, according to the experts, indicates a strong case for delusion.
Born as Roger Barragan on a warm sunny March 21, 1985, the child who would be Hellknight breathed his first without fanfare or world shaking heraldry. The product of a hasty, unexpected conception, he became the firstborn son of a quiet, respected Mexican family in Southern California. Growing in a loving, positive environment during his early childhood years, it is a conundrum that Roger turned out the way he did. His parents declined to verbally comment, but reports surfaced of a peculiar expression when posed the question in an exclusive interview last year. They have repeatedly requested to remain anonymous to seclude themselves from the publicity firestorm associated with their son, which by some media estimates, rivals the controversy of Orenthal James Simpson.
Upon reaching adolescence, Roger began to undergo changes. Enrolling at South Gate High in 1999, Roger dealt with an onslaught of new experiences and media from around the world as the internet age boomed. Due to a growing otaku influence on American culture during the late 1980s and accelerating through today, through icons such as Nintendo, Pokemon, and Iron Chef, Roger became obliviously engulfed in the media dragon’s serpentine jaws. It was during this crucial developmental period that Roger was exposed to the rhythmic poetry of Malice Mizer, the lyrical compositions of ViDOLL, and the soul crushing exclamations of Dir en Grey. This, combined with two distinct waves of the emo movement in the American music industry and pop culture, resulted in Roger blooming not into a pristine Dahlia, but into a rough, lonely black rose, littered with razor-sharp thorns, who bled profusely from where the stem is cut, and with petals that so efficiently collected morning dew that the flower seemingly cried when the sun rises. Evidently, a black rose is his favorite flower.
Birth of Hellknight
Eschewing the system of cliques and social hierarchy in American high schools, Roger chose to be a trailblazer, taking the path less travelled by. As California is among the most progressive states in the union, it is often that social experiments begin there before spreading to rest of the nation. Living in the nexus of the otaku world, Roger poured himself into the new hip Dance Dance Revolution phenomena, a nefarious scheme cooked up by the mad geniuses at Konami HQ in Tokyo. In a bid to heighten the reflex response time of its citizens, Japan conducted a vast number conditioning exercises under the guise of social enjoyment. It was hoped that one day, when the beast would emerge from the depths of Tokyo Bay, that the fruits of this subliminal training would well-equip humanity in the fight against likely Armageddon.
Roger, biologically endowed with a receptivity to rhythm, and having already sampled the genius beats of J-Rock—specifically Visual Kei style harmonics, fit into this world effortlessly, but almost drowned in it. At age 15, in the early months of 2000, a tumultuous year that had foretold of a revolt by the machine, the coming of the Anti-Christ, and substantial national turmoil, Roger became an initiate of this human enhancement program as an escape from the ills of the world. It was here that Roger began to first listen to his soul and name his zanpaktou Hellknight, taking on the alias as his own. At his peak, Roger became known as an expert “Perfect Attack” Type old-school competitor. This style of play focused purely on massing the highest numerical score in the dance, sacrificing visual performance-enhancing stunts and routines that depended on maintaining a minimal score to clear, akin to a “moron getting by with a D-.”
This newfound life culminated at age 18, when he competed in the 2003 South Gate Power Station Tournament, placing high in the rankings until being closely defeated in a nail-biting duel with DJTrunks. Upon closer inspection of the replay footage, courtesy of the North American DDR Federation, the raw data suggests that Hellknight had in fact won, with a longer, consistent chain of Perfects. However the judges of the event declared DJTrunks the victor. Outraged, zealous supporters and fans filed a petition on Hellknight’s behalf based on accusations of bribery and corrupt officiating. DJTrunks refused to fully comment on these "wild and preposterous allegations". The result of this battle is still heavily contested today among old-school DDR aficionados. But to stem an escalating media circus, and as a show of humility, Roger conceded the duel and retired from the world of competitive and recreational DDR. He then gained a few pounds and began a period of wandering listlessly, seeking a new avenue to unleash his ability. But he did take away one thing during this formative period of his life –he would henceforth take up the mantle of Hellknight (HK).
A Knight’s Training Continues…
With the mastery of the footwork skills needed to befit his name, Hellknight realized that he must also take up the art of the sword. It is said in Japan, the land of the samurai and mythic weaponry, that the sword, the brush, and Zen are one. To truly master the sword, one must seek the inner peace of Zen, and find the art of calligraphy. These words, heard in countless Hong Kong films, struck a chord within Hellknight’s very core. He decided to fill the lull once filled by DDR with the mastery of the arts. At the end of 2003, he scoured the archives of the livejournal network and came upon a similar portal to test the waters, Deviant Art. Already teeming with okatuites and japanophiles, Hellknight immediately felt at home in this new world. Deciding to explore in secret and like many creative artists do, Hellknight worked under the alias of Duo Maxwell. Quickly progressing through the 3 stages of graphic enlightenment, MSPaint, Photoshop, and Illustrator, Hellknight mastered the art of the crop, the vector, and the shoop. Unsatisfied with the level of training possible via the internet, Hellknight committed himself to advancing further. He enrolled himself at Cal State Long Beach and chose a graphic design curriculum to augment his knowledge and train under the watchful eye of old masters. As this is still an ongoing development, Hellknight has yet to fully accomplish his goals, but he recently released to the public his first masterwork, a piece that expresses the totality of his past, and a glimpse into the direction he will fly towards in the future. Curators of art galleries have not been frugal with their praise. Noted abstractist Jillian Sombrest was quoted saying, “Just what am I looking at… who are they…?” If an abstractist can be awestruck to the point of speechlessness that they cannot propose an inner identity to a piece, then the thought-provoking work must scream genius and inspiration.
However all was not rosy during this period. Due to his connections in the Deviant Art world, Hellknight soon came into contact with the Southern Californian gang, Los Sureños. He was caught in their snare, believing the group to be a safe haven for his pursuits. Hellknight quickly fell into the dark seedy underworld of guns and drugs. As a cover for his daylife, Hellknight was given a discreet position at the local Domino's Pizzeria. As a low level baker there, he realized could easily front his money laundering and drug trafficking trade in the pizza delivery network of LA. Quickly rising through the ranks of the gang, Hellknight became harder and rougher, increasingly dressing as a fearsome character to guarantee loyalty and submission from his underlings. After a dispute broke out over the ownership rights of one specific pizzeria in Hollywood, Hellknight made enemies with the wrong people. Public records from related trials of gang leaders show that in the middle of 2003, Hellknight was caught in a risqué position at Anime Expo, was stripped of his authority and was ousted from the gang, allowed to live if he renounced all former ties to the gang and denied ever being of membership.
In the wake of the technological leap that occurred through the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, advances in the manipulation of silicon, electromagnetic conductivity, and nanometric transistor technology resulted in the dawn of a new age of mechanical prowess, capacity, and power. What prompted this is not clearly defined. There is vague film evidence that this leap was made through painstaking reverse engineering research of a motherchip that passed through a brief temporal flux. However the leap was brought forth, there is no denying that the impact is profound. The birth of the Emotion Engine was greeted with much bombastic fanfare and brought about the supra-natural ability to communicate remotely with miniature parallel universes within the confines of an imposing, monolithic metal casing, known as a ‘server.’
As 2003 came to a close, an intrepid Japanese gaming empire, SquareEnix (Squeenix), launched a campaign to conquer the hearts and minds of the growing otaku movement and unite them under one flag. Already well established in the motherland, Squeenix determined that the growing pockets of followers were ripe for mental reprogramming. Chancellor Sage Sundi submitted his requirements to the Company's concentration camp of legendary Moogles and Chocobos to produce a plan of attack to spread Squeenix's monopolizing influence using its omnipotent abilities:
- Creation of a miniature universe that would appeal to both its committed japanophile base and slowly entice additional recruits across all platforms
- A blanket voluntary yet nigh-unbreakable submission of will and monetary funds to its own assets
- Minimal maintenance work and funds spent to operate the mental reprogramming structure.
The otherworldly beings proposed the package later deemed “FFXI:Online” to reap the needs of the rising, latent emo population for a place to unleash their energy, exhaust the pocketbooks of millions of individuals worldwide, and most importantly, consume the precious time and responsibility of citizens from troublesome nations that would otherwise pose a threat to Squeenix’s plans of domination.
After initially ignoring the impending threat, Hellknight sensed a disturbance and felt a beckoning to the server-world of Fenrir to defend the masses from certain calamity. He had finally received the call that he had been training for his entire life. He would become a Paladin in this new world and become the beacon of hope he so desperately yearned for, to atone for his sins during his Los Sureños years. And so it came to pass that Hellknight manifested himself in virtual form.
The Rise and Fall of a Hero
Although written documentation is extremely difficult to extract from these parallel universes, there are accounts of events that have transpired. At first, Hellknight quickly put to use his mastery of footwork and swordsmanship he garnered in real life and completed his training for the Paladin class. He then proceeded to use his gang experience as a tool to advance his Thief abilities. In gradual progression since, he has effortlessly advanced the careers of Red Mage, Warrior, Monk, Ninja, Samurai, Black Mage, and notably Dark Knight, a reflection of his raw troubled spirit, complete with self-inflicted damage abilities, and an affinity for blood. But it is in the Paladin class that he most identifies himself.
In that regard, opinions are mixed on the impact Hellknight has had in Fenrir. While it is without a doubt that Hellknight is extremely well equipped with treasures and bounty from beasts whose very names would destroy the souls of ordinary men, there are notable gaps, such as a holy ring that is bestowed only upon the greatest of warriors once every blue moon and the fabled Aegis. Also, Hellknight has indeed gone above and beyond the call of regular duty and subjected himself to hours upon hours upon hours of ritualistic repetitive monster slaying in an effort to bath himself in their blood and by the grace of the gods augment ever so slightly his powers. Meritorious conduct indeed. This, in combination with his relaxed demeanor towards scandal and libel, his keen ability to come to the rescue of his fellow companions at a moment’s notice, and his marginally above average executive skills highlight the aura of Hellknight the Savior.
However, in key battles that Fenrir historians have since determined as dark turning points in the war against the Shadow, Hellknight faltered in his quest to be the best tank and human shield in all of Fenrir. In early battles against the grisly white fangs of Byakko, one of the Shishin, Hellknight was repeatedly unable to save the small Tarutaru summoners who called forth a wind spirit to envelop him in protective magicks. This failure resulted in the deaths of untold numbers, and as Byakko stood triumphant over the growing mound of corpses on his aerial cermet pad, the path to the leader of the Shishin, Kirin, laid shut. Consequently, the elder Japanese established a stranglehold on the treasures of Tulia for at least a year, immensely slowing down the progress of the playerbase, and playing right into the will of Squeenix. It is said that if you stand still long enough, rarely if the wind blows just right, you can faintly hear the gentle clinging of hundreds of millions of yen cascading down into the coffers of Squeenix’s vaults.
Another instance in 2007 against Jormungand, the grand wyrm of ice atop the lofty Uleguerand Range, Hellknight was unable to perform as expected, and allowed several weeks of planning to evaporate in the blink of an eye. Unable to keep the grand wyrm’s focus, it quickly turned to targets it wisely deemed as greater threats -the powerful Summoners who again called forth the powers of astral beasts to keep the hope of Altana alive. With the arcane offensive might broken, it did not take long for the alliance to fall before the great wyrm, his wings paralyzing the remaining steadfast warriors who chose not to warp and flee. Frozen bones and swords still litter the lair of the grand wyrm, as a testament to the folly of hubris. In this event a new rising star exploded upon the tanking world, diminishing the prospects of Hellknight greatly.
It was reported by several sources that, after a lengthy rebuke by his generals, Hellknight went into seclusion inside the great Boyahda Tree to once again find his inner flame and peace. Witnesses reportedly saw Hellknight in the dankest depths of the giant arbor. There, he furiously honed his skills by trying to combine the evasive teachings of the Ninja clan with the brute force sentinel philosophy of the Paladin caste. Not to be outclassed by an upstart, Hellknight took it upon himself to pit himself against the vicious Robber Crabs of Boyahda, whose lord, the infamous Aquarius, had staked righteous claim over the innermost sanctum of the hallowed tree for generations. After watching the crabs balance their nimble transition from magicks to steel-shelled defense, Hellknight adapted the timing to his own routine and stumbled upon a breakthrough. Aquarius, upon seeing this theft of his clans secrets, furiously demanded that Hellknight pay tribute. Unwilling to be at the mercy of the Crab Lord, Hellknight pitted himself in a solo duel against the insulted crustacean. Although Hellknight proved unable to sunder Lord Aquarius’ diamond-hard blue shell, he did last longer than any foe in the past. Intrigued by this prospect, Aquarius took Hellknight under his tutelage and after a week, Hellknight emerged a new man, complete with the mastery of the combination Paladin/Ninja.
With this newfound knowledge, Hellknight reclaimed his position in the top tier of defenders in Fenrir, easily dispatching the mechanical threats in the deep abyss of Apollyon and in the soaring white towers of Temenos, preventing the rebirth of the Divine Judge Alexander, and setting free the virtues imprisoned in the Celestial Capital of Al’Taieu by the Jailers, led by Jailer of Love. With each victory he grew stronger, however he needed substantial support from the mages of Fenrir, both White and Red. In his blind arrogance and his ego regrowing, Hellknight is continually fixated on the high he experiences in facing large scale confrontations when the crux of battle depends on his sole survival. He began to take for granted the support he received, thus a revolt occurred among the mages of Fenrir, and he began to once again fall from grace. In one tally, he experienced an overwhelming 75% death rate in battle. In other accounts from sources close to the politics of the linkshell he is in, there is an ongoing joke that “it’s not a [DH] event unless HK dies at least once.”
During his long and lauded career on Fenrir, Hellknight has mostly navigated his way through the scandals that have claimed the reputations of other power-movers, even ones in which he was attached to by close association. This includes the turbulent struggles of TheUntouchables, a group that many have cited as the cesspool that nurtured the current generation of questionably immoral citizens. Hellknight was also involved with the infamous bounty hunter group Hazard, having intimate ties to key players in the inner circle. During the eventual corruption of Hazard however, Hellknight escaped the falling sky relatively unfazed. Efforts by his detractors and the paparazzi to link him to promiscuous activity with the leadership fell by the wayside and actually worked in his favor. Hellknight was also associated with two renegade leaders of the maritime group of fishermen, GuessWho. In each instance Hellknight deftly avoided inserting himself into the controversy. This is a pattern in his history, as Hellknight has successfully avoided the pitfalls that have plagued countless people, such as:
- automatic sensory and targeting assistance,
- money laundering and illegal transfers between Earth and Fenrir,
- the dark and seedy world of the competitive sport “MPK” whose signature stunt of “Spike Flailing” is a comedic respite for 80% of the population, and
In the last case though, rumors continue to plague Hellknight although no conclusive evidence has come to light as of October 2008. There are other cases of personal controversy however:
Among his peers, Hellknight has experienced a degradation of his illustrious renown, after admitting to the press corps in 2006 that he did indeed carry a ‘town gear macro’ to both advertise his budding carpentry business, and scorn the “little guy.” Although there are purportedly over a dozen testimonials of arrogant behavior there is one that may prove most damning. He was quoted in 2005 LS global message saying, “I am better than all these other trash purple guys [Paladins], lol… they can’t touch me in tanking.” This is in reference to the readily available Adaman Set, an item that only the most skilled iron forges could produce. This, during a time that the gear was the best 70% of the population could aspire for, reeked of egotistic condescension. The media reported that this elitist gaffe may have cost Hellknight the 2005 MVP Award and the subsequent 2006 Sackholder elections, of which he was the clear frontrunner for many months.
Lone Wolf Mentality?
Hellknight has a dogmatic belief that the true path of the warrior is a solitary life. Inasmuch, Hellknight prides himself on the idea that he is the trailblazer for those who would follow him, and the lone wolf of the pack. Emotions and attachments are trivial to him as he will often separate himself from the swirling world of server politics and personal conflicts. However, based on recent 2008 interviews with his few close associates, this may be a distortion of the true nature of his social relationships with the people of Fenrir. A revelation in this scandal may prove to be earth-shattering and bring about a drastic shift in public opinion.
They assert that although Hellknight claims to be a friend of all and an ally of none, he does in fact take specific sides in a conflict, often relaying his opinions on matters of leadership politics and social drama under the shielding veil of private tells, while officially staying neutral. This causes great strain on the in game relationships that he seeks to build to the point that many no longer value his opinion or ask, as his influence on policy is minimal. The line between lone wolf and black sheep is blurry, and remember, Hellknight does have an affinity for the color black.
It is well known that Hellknight is an avid fan of carpentry and woodworking, with his skill in the craft at the maximum level. He has been known to produce countless high quality staves to turn for a profit. However, rumor has it that he has been unable to produce an exceptional version of cursed gear and has developed an addiction to this risky endeavor, akin to gambling. Tax records and financial statements have shown that Hellknight has experienced both highs and lows during his career. The most recent low is tied to the Great Deflation as Squeenix, in an attempt to curb the rise of speculative gold farming bubbles of Chinese origins on the FFXI intra-server economy, drastically removed countless billions of gil from the system, the result of which devastated an estimated 90% of the population. In the month of March 2007 alone, 134 billion gil were seized and destroyed, a staggering figure by any account.
The aptly named “Gilden Era,” a time in which a consensus of economists now claim the inflationary rate exceeded 289%, was spurred by rampant underground gil counterfeiting and creation through the efforts of Chinese companies. The effect of these gilfarmers resulted in billions of additional unforeseen currency circulating in the economy. Due to free market forces, the price of items skyrocketed monthly. With exceptional masterwork items such as the all-purpose Scorpion Harness (painstakingly created from the venomous claws of the horrific scorpion lord Serket and his kin) doubling in value every 3 months, Hellknight conservatively maintained his net worth in capital assets and illiquid sources.
This Gilden Era was abruptly and harshly brought to a close by the Developer’s Council when they gave the order to electronically delete vast amounts of liquidity, imposed sweeping taxes and fees for entering fields of battle, and restricted the supply of credit from merchants. During the economic freefall that occurred in its wake, the value of Hellknight’s assets, in items held as value, plummeted and he declared bankruptcy. Feeding off the generosity of others, he quickly fell into the allure of “Synthesis Gambling,” a prevalent addiction in the gloomy economic times of the Great Deflation which compounded the crisis by further removing even more value from existence through lost ingredients. Losing millions of gil and the respect of old friends and business partners, Hellknight hovered between serious debt and skimming above poverty, often living day to day on a bankroll of 100k gil. He has also been accused by the Woodworker’s Cartel for vastly undercutting the established price agreements for the sale and supply of staves. His colleagues in the woodworking world have much scorn for his scorched-earth policy of dumping staves to sell as quickly as possible. Recently, avid tabloid photographers have captured images of an unshaven Hellknight perusing the aisles of the local Dollar Tree in stained pajamas, shouting profanities about the price of earth crystals and other incoherent babble. The strong odor of day-old whiskey and sweat permeated the air. It is unknown what the circumstances surrounding this event are.
- ↑ Televised interview April 23, 2007 on Fenrir News Network with Humphrey Killiard.
- ↑ March 2008 interview with Katie Couric.
- ↑ Courtesy of the Simpson estate media relations publicist, Gloria Hizura.
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5StoVFv_7Y
- ↑ Roger Barragan in his 2003 book, "Memoirs of a Perfect DDanceR".
- ↑ http://cloudjuinjutsu.deviantart.com/gallery/
- ↑ Sept. 2008 interview with The Gallery magazine, page 25.
- ↑ Gazpacho v. State of California, December 2003 testimony.
- ↑ US Department of Defense DOCUS 2331: Terrorist Threat Assessment - Rogue Chocomogs.
- ↑ Excerpted from a group of 2007 interviews with Istari concerning the descent of GuessWho with Oprah and Jerry Springer.
- ↑ Quoting Cloudstah 10/2/2008 via AIM.
- ↑ Quoting Istari during the GW/DH Abuse of Power investigatory probe conducted 2008.
- ↑ Quoting Maiev, Cloudstah, and Neomagnus in 2006-2008.
- ↑ http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/07/1336213
- ↑ http://www.playonline.com/ff11us/polnews/news10030.shtml
- ↑ http://www.ffxiah.com/big_graph.php?serverid=&span=1