Hu Xiao Chen, Scion of Dionysus

Approx 16,000,000,000 years ago: a violent tectonic event produces a strike-slip fault in the earth’s crust 1500 kilometres in length, with a uniform lateral motion of 1.1 centimetres per year.

May 27, 1951: The highest volcano in the northern hemisphere, western China’s “Ashi Shan” erupts. Hu Xiao Chen is born!

Backstory: Forged in the jungle-crucible of the Orient’s wartorn places, Chen devoted the best years of his life to turning the tide of a multitude of conflicts, always at the behest of the highest bidder.

Visitation 1, “Are you sure this is what you are supposed to be doing?”: While undertaking a particularly violent mission in a numerically specified region of Cambodia in the late eighties, Chen was quite take aback when a living god stepped forth from the burning, screaming jungle-night and declared that he was Chen’s father.

That said, Chen had been drinking quite heavily for a good few years by this point and sometimes the jungle can do strange things to a drunken man’s mind.

Their exchange was a brief one.

Dionysus explained that Chen was his son and heir to his divine birthright. Chen asked Dionysus what he expected him to do with such an outlandish revelation, to which Dionysus replied that he expected his Scions to live their lives in accordance with their essential nature and so achieve eudaimonia.

At that point Dionysus returned to wherever he had come from, presumably by the same means by which he arrived, and Chen soldiered on, unconvinced. As time passed however, Chen noted that his already prodigious athletic and strategic talents were beginning to exceed that which could be accounted for within the realms of mortal ability.

Visitation 2, “What will you do now?”: Just over a decade later Chen would be hit by a speeding car while staggering out of a bar a few miles from inland from the San Francisco Bay. The car would lift him up off the curb and carry him, drunkenly folded over the hood, clear across an intersection driving him deep into a store-front on the opposite side of the street. With the car seemingly pinning his presumably broken body within the ruins of the store Chen would spend a little while not drinking – thus interrupting an epic binge that began on the fateful night in Cambodia.

In the early nineties, the absurdity of Chen’s abilities was matched only by his recklessness. With the mysterious stranger’s implication that he might not be doing what he was supposed to be doing still ringing in his ears he defiantly plunged himself into his work, wreaking a fiery path through a hundred unnamed wars, territory disputes and military coups. Eventually battling militias, insurgents and counter-insurgents ceased to be a source of professional pride for Chen, his divine potency turning these once challenging conflicts into an activity as effortless as placing one foot before the other. Quite disaffected, he ended his career as a mercenary in spectacular style, providing the resistance group he had been employed to subvert with all the tactical assets and intelligence they would need to resist his employer’s territorial advances indefinitely.

And so he left the jungle behind and began a tour of the US’s many pool-side motels and bars, and would eventually end up underneath the crumpled hood of a car, buried in the façade of ruined store-front in San Francisco. Chen lay there for a while, watching the hazard lights blinking on and off, enjoying the smell of the gasoline, before he became aware of a long-haired youth perched among the rubble, smoking a cigarette. Somehow he recognised this entirely different individual as being the same person who had incongruously approached him in Cambodia.

”You’re not dead, you know.” Dionysus said, in a fairly offhand manner.

Chen tried to pretend to be dead, or at least asleep, for a few moments and then gave up, sighed, and shrugged the car off. The car groaned as it reverse-crashed back out onto the sidewalk and Chen straightened himself out, pointlessly brushing down his clothes. He then settled down on his haunches among the rubble, patted all of his pockets, located an ornate hipflask and a ruined pack of cigarettes. Chen tossed the pack to one side and took a long drink from the flask.

“What are you going to do now?” Dionysus asked from his perch atop a partially collapsed service counter, before tossing a fresh cigarette Chen’s way.