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Malachi Aaron Falx grew up among the vineyards of Greenleaf, happily helping his father and mother prune back the vines and supervise the pickers bringing bushels to harvest. His father David ran one of the vineyards (Lame Dancer Vineyards) for one of the middle-sized wineries (Talbot Crest) in competition with Sellers Vineyard. Running a vineyard for a winery is a little like being a tenant farmer: you are definitely stuck in the middle. With the help of his mother Eirene--a graceful retired Companion--his father managed to maintain a stable market position among the competition.
It didn't hurt that some of the unique pharmaceutical plants Greenleaf was known for could be grown in the same micro-climate as the grapes. And knowing a little about plant husbandry permitted some flexibility dealing with the genetic tags, so David Falx could sell plants to pharmaceutical companies and seeds to the black market, working with both sides. David was trying to hybridize some of the medicinal plants with grapes, but with little success.
While his father was a strong influence on the qualities of Malachi's character, his mother was the more direct influence on the path of his life. She was a gentle but firm hand guiding him toward Sihnon from an early age. When he would much rather have been playing in the dirt, she called him in to study. And no child fares well returning to play "chase" and "guns" after being schooled in dance, so from an early age, Malachi learned the importance of naked power. First it was learning to look threatening even when scared. Then it was cultivating stronger friends who would stand up when you felt like sitting down. And then it was the "nuclear option": when backed into a corner, retaliating with so much spectacular force that the other person would leave you alone for a good long time.
Of course, after Malachi's "little friend" Phil the Galoot got send to a hospital with a broken arm, Eirene realized she had to deal with this on a more sophisticated level. Through the medium of chess, Malachi learned what he came to call the Long Game: waiting and watching, listening carefully, and finally, silently, closing the trap so the erstwhile tormentor could do nothing other than look up at him in mute appeal. Even over the course of multiple games, Eirene taught him how to lure, reinforce, pacify, and then turn the tables swiftly, decisively, and irreversibly. With the unmistakable quiet smile of someone whose fondest wish has come true, she sent a wave to Sihnon to petition for Malachi's admission to training at House Madrassah on Sihnon.
Malachi took to training like a fish to water. With no regrets (yet), he forgot his earlier days running between the rows of grapes. Training opened up new worlds to him. He excelled in hand-to-hand martial arts, much preferring those over the use of weapons--with one glimmering exception: the rapier. Perhaps it was the symbolism or the history, or maybe the grace, but the thin, light blade became his favorite. While he performed passably at dance and music, his strengths were in different areas. Massage, for one. And in creating sensuous menus, food and drink that could be eaten off of a willing body. But most of all, he relished the talk. He read deeply in Machiavelli and the Mirror of Princes literature from Earth-That-Was, and the life of John Walsingham, candid advice to people of power from those who would forever be in their shadows.
Still, however, Malachi could not transcend and surrender the way others could. He thought back to his youth among the grapevines and remembered his father pouring out old wine as a libation when the seeds were sown. He thought of his mother and father dancing in the fields after the harvest, eventually pulling him down the rows as well. At last, he realized what he left behind on Greenleaf--and by this time, he was old enough to begin to argue with the religious tutors with firm respect. Instead of releasing sensual pleasures, they should be embraced and followed to the crest of the wave, more Tantric than Buddhist. He installed a small statue of Dionysos in his sleeping chamber, and poured wine libations for it each morning and evening. One night he asked some of the more talented student musicians to play drums and pipes, and led others in a frenzied dance under the full moon--under the watchful, cautious eyes of the tutors. He was the last one standing.
Leaving the House was one of the more ambivalent moments in his life. He had grown to love it, but also to miss the Verse outside of its walls. But it did not take long for the Real World to catch up with him, in the form of Imre--his first client.
Imre was a dark and shadowy man, about whom little was known to the House except for sterling recommendations from retired Companions. Whoever he was, he was a man of shadowed power and influence. With some trepidation on the part of the House, which was not certain Malachi was ready for such an unknown quantity, Malachi was permitted to take Imre as a client while Imre flew his shuttle between Core worlds on "diplomatic" missions Malachi never learned much about. (What Malachi does not know, to this day, is that his mother Eirene helped smooth the way. Imre was himself a former Companion who trained with Eirene on Sihnon, who has helped her keep the family out of trouble through behind-the-scenes political manipulations. Why he is not in the files as a former Companion himself is known only at the higher echelons of the Guild.) Malachi appeared with Imre as a young protege, who then entertained others while Imre stepped into the office with powerbrokers.
Between meetings, Imre taught Malachi about surrender, about the way powerlessness affects the psyche. The shuddering realization as someone else takes over, and how that paradoxically frees the mind. Imre encouraged further study of Dionysos and Machiavelli, and also taught Malachi about the sensuous joy of pleasures other than the sexual. Imre used the scent of decaying grape leaves to bring Malachi nearly to the edge of tears with a feeling of loss. The touch of the blunt edge of a knife was still sufficient to bring out Malachi's adrenaline when he could not see it properly. And Imre taught Malachi the way ginger, rubbed on taut skin, brings an astringent, tingling sensation coupled with a distinct earthy, fiery smell. While his education at the House was thorough, the master class offered by Imre--ostensibly a client--was formative of Malachi's approach to being a Companion. Needless to say, his chess improved too.
Malachi began to take clients referred to him by Imre, who tended to be loyal to him due to the specific nature of their relationship. What they believed were dark secrets were carried into meetings with Malachi, and as he proved that he would respect their trust and privacy, they delved more into deeper corners of their souls. Although tentatively based on Sihnon, he has turned into an itinerant philosopher, as much in demand for engaging discussion at dinners as for private sessions afterward. He often spends time on St. Alban's and visits House Daska on Persephone, but only rarely makes it home to Greenleaf anymore. Eirene passed away recently, of natural causes, and his father followed soon after. He nominally inherited the vineyard, but has become so distant from the day-to-day operations that he employs a foreman to watch over it (Gregor Tokai). What to do with it is still a difficult thorn in his side--not to mention whatever came of his father's experiments and connections with both the pharmaceutical companies and black-marketeers.
Malachi just finished a longer-term engagement aboard the Szikra, with one of Imre's former clients. Not long afterward, he contacted Aubrey about a particular low-key task--because Aubrey has been doing interesting things lately, and this proved to be no exception.
Polite, severe, warm, and dignified. And eternally flirtatious.
- Although few if any people know it, Malachi is quite claustrophobic. This uneasiness developed while traveling on Imre's shuttle, such that Malachi only felt fully comfortable once they had landed. He can control the effects with various coping mechanisms (praying a mala, reading intently, or staying near a window), but will often come across as peevish (which masks a carefully and strongly controlled panic).