Novak Beran was born in Elektrozavodsk to an impoverished mother, Ana, in the year of 1992. His father was a foreign worker on a cargo ship that came to Ana for illicit services whilst they were in port for a few days offloading cargo. He visited nearly every day for the three days they were in the country, before leaving Ana, who at the time did not know she was pregnant, and returning to the sea. Upon discovering that she was pregnant, she was shunned even moreso than before, prostitution was frowned upon, single-parenting was frowned upon just as much. Despite her efforts, she was unable to find employment or better housing due to prejudices held against her, so Novak was born into her small, grimy apartment. For the most part, they would live in relative squalor until Novak reached the age of 10. One day, when he was returning home from school, he was stopped by a CPF officer and taken to the local station. Before he knew it, he was beset by a whir of officials, paper, concerned officers and stone-faced clerks. Despite not being fully aware of what was going on, he gathered just enough information from the whispers between officers to learn that his mother had been found dead in an alleyway behind their apartment block, her hair and clothes torn to shreds, with a large, ugly bruise forming on the side of her head when she was discovered. The police believed she was killed by a client, one of the men she tended to when Novak was in school, for what reason they did not know. Money, sex, bad luck, it didn’t really matter, Novak didn’t have a mother anymore, he couldn’t think about anything else. Hell, he didn’t understand anything else beyond that. One of the officers, the others called him Dal, sat with Novak throughout the entirety of the trial ahead of him. Once they were finished with arranging her cremation, it would be conducted by the state, they sent Novak to a state care facility for minors. The name may have sounded normal but the place was a madhouse, filled with all kinds of children from mainly poor backgrounds, sons and daughters of the most dysfunctional parents the country had to offer. After a month of waiting, he was moved to a slightly better facility in Novigrad, the capital, and spent the remainder of his childhood there. Once he reached the age of 18, he finished his schooling and was officially released as a ward of the state. Without hesitation, remembering the way his mother was killed, how they had never caught the man and the kindness of the police officer in charge of his case, he acquired the necessary forms for enlisting with the CPF, after returning to his home of Elektrozavodsk. After two years of training, he was inducted into the police force and began his first year on the streets of Elektrozavodsk, policing the same streets on which he had grown up. Nothing had changed in the city, it still had the same industrial stink he remembered, the same despotic scent of urban living reeked out of every corner of the city. Many of the older members of the service, those who served around the time of Ana’s death, had retired or moved to other cities, though, as fate would have it, Officer Dal was still operating in the city. He had moved on and become Sergeant Dal since they had last met and, after a few pints at the local pub once they recognised each other, Novak and Dal became fast friends. All was well for his first year in the service, in the meantime he had found himself a small apartment, slightly bigger than the one in which he grew up, to live in during his down time from work. The apartment rarely saw use beyond being a place to sleep and store his books, Novak loved reading more than anything, though he was a workaholic and rarely made it home before 10 at night. Life was going well for him, he maintained an excellent arrest record, made inroads with the local population to the best of his ability and took part in community ventures whenever he could.
One chilly March evening, Novak was on his beat when he received a hail over his radio, apparently a body had been discovered behind their local supermarket with signs of foul play being involved. Novak was the second officer on the scene behind Officer Pechkov, a veteran of the force though he had remained at a low-rank for all of his career. Saying that there were signs of foul play was an understatement, the body, incidentally a young woman, carried several large bruises and cuts around the neck and lower head, clearly inflicted by some kind of blunt instrument. The circumstances of the woman’s death had chilling parallels with the death of his mother: a young, attractive woman killed with a blunt instrument and left in a discoverable location. Though he thought he had put what happened to his mother to rest, he felt a swathe of anger bubbling in his chest, left buried from his previous experiences. As it would happen, Pechkov decided to crack a joke to lighten the mood, perhaps he saw the harrowed look on Novak’s face and decided to cheer him up, but that was not how it went. Novak turned to him with an angry expression and, after a few seconds of hesitation, came out with an unceremonious ‘fuck you’ and struck him heavily across the cheek. He then followed up with a kick to the gut and, despite the stir it would cause, walked away from the scene of the crime after assaulting a fellow officer. Needless to say, his dismissal for misconduct followed shortly after.
Novak found work sporadically after his dismissal, mainly a mixture of working part-time at a local warehouse, supplemented by occasionally acting as a ‘finder’, as he put it, for the locals of his town. His life continued in this way, growing bitter and resentful, until the outbreak of 2017. Once the wave of refugees found their way down from the north towards his city, he saw an opportunity to profit from the skills he acquired as a ‘finder’ over the years. Amidst the trials and tribulations that come with mass movement, people were bound to lose their friends, family or precious possessions. There were risks to be sure but, at the end of the day, what did he really have to lose? A shitty apartment, a torn up bag and a stack of books nobody would ever read. Not much of a loss. Perhaps, as a ‘finder’, he could be of assistance.