Short Biographies

Fotis

Fotis Porfyros

 

Fotis was born in 1928. He had a pretty easy life with his mom and dad, he was a precocious kid, and his parents had great dreams for him. He was going to follow in the family trade (being a doctor like his dad) and he was already becoming groomed for the profession (learning English, studying, hard, that sort of thing).

Fotis more or less lived in a glass bubble until the war erupted in Europe. But as early as 10 he heard his father discussing the developments with his mother, and when he asked his dad was candid, knowing from experience (WWI and the 1922 catastrophe) that his son would need to be prepared in case war struck and unthinkable things occurred. So he taught his son first aid, and some basic survival skills. Nothing too extreme though- his father knew his wife would watch over their kid.

However when the war did strike Greece too, and his father went to the front, Fotis and his mother, like many non combatants sought to help with other kinds of support rather than staying home. His mother, a schoolteacher by profession,  helped out in one of the orphanages of Athens that popped up like mushrooms as the war raged on. Fotis helped there, too. It’s where he met up with Alex, one of his first streetrat type friends.  News that his father had been killed in action reached them there.

After the Nazis occupied Athens, more orphans, homeless kids and the like started to pour in. In vain though, because the building the orphanage was housed in was old and neo-classical in style, one of the prime-cut picks for German officers. So they confiscated the building and turned out the orphanage. Fotis’ mother tried to stop that from happening, but in the ensuing altercation she was shot dead along with one more nurse. Fotis wasn’t there when that happened, but he was there when they were dragging out the bodies. He tried to attack, but one of the surviving nurses held him back, and told him to stay his rage, and use it later, when he’d have a chance to win and avenge his family.

And that’s what he did. He couldn’t return to his home either, as it was confiscated too (it was two storey in a good part of Athens, and it was used for German officers and bureaucrats) and he roamed the streets a good full week before he found a place to stay in the sealed off and abandoned brewery. As hunger begins to reap through the beleaguered Athenians, he too lines up at the commons to get something to eat. But it isn’t enough. It’s never enough, and he is always hungry. He is soon reduced to an emaciated version of himself. He only realizes when he meets up with Alex again, who has trouble recognizing him because of how thin he has become.

At that point Fotis decides that he prefers to die with his stomach full and sticking it to the Germans (and Italians) than pathetically and hungry as hell. So with Alex they leap for the first time and steal some real bread from a passing german truck. It’s the beginning of their leaping career, and around him Fotis soon gathers, Alex aside, Diomedes.

Their leaping becomes more and more daring as it is successful until at some point they make a mistake, that almost gets them in the crossfire of some very angry petty officers. But that’s when Basil steps in and gets them out of the sticky spot and teaches them how to strategically go about their business. He later on brings Anna to Fotis’ gang, with strict instructions never to take her leaping. 

 


 

Basil

Basil Lokrides

Basil was born in 1917 to a pretty traditional middle class family. His father was a career military man in the Evzone elite regiments (back in WWI Evzone regiments weren’t ceremonial like today, but they were actually Greece’s finest battalions. Their equivalent here to day is the Mountain Raider Squadrons. Pretty tough guys), and fought in WWI. Unfortunately he was killed in battle before ever seeing his son being born. Basil’s mom was a pretty traditional type housewife. She had completed all of three elementary school grades and that was that. But she wanted her son to be great, to be ‘one of those knowledgeable guys’ and made plans for having him schooled all the way to university. As she raised Basil though, she did her best to discourage him from choosing a military career.

But in the end she too didn’t last, and died from illness when Basil was around 12, and then just he and his grandmother on his father’s side were left. Money was pretty tight, and Grandma Pelagia worked two to three different jobs at a time to make ends meet, and make sure that Basil would still get access to schooling (education wasn’t actually free back then, practically speaking). Basil wanted to contribute to that, and so he took up various odd jobs here and there to chip in, from working in deli shops and as a jack of all trades in the summer to being a shoe shine boy at the sidewalks in winter.

Working at the streets gave him streetsmarts, but alongside that he also got a good bitter taste of injustice, unfairness and violence. One of the turning points in his life happened when a rival shoe shine kid took his spot at the sidewalk, on a particularly nasty day he was having. The argument between the two boys (Basil was around 15 then) ended up in a pretty violent brawl. Basil broke the other kid’s nose and was arrested over it, and brought before a prosecutor. It was his first time ever at a court, and he was more embarrassed and shamed and frightened at what his grandmother would think (and how he was disappointing his late parents) than anything else. But he was lucky; the prosecutor took an interest in his case and asked the right questions, and in the end he ruled against prosecuting Basil for the whole battery thing. He simply took Basil’s written statement that he wouldn’t take the law into his hands like that again.

The experience had a profound effect on Basil, this power of meting out Justice and being a protector as well as a punisher allured and charmed him. He stayed true to his promise not to take the law in his hands again… like that. But his mind was made up and from then on he never wavered on his decision to become a Prosecutor himself.

He continued working assorted jobs throughout high school and university. One of them involved being a cashier at a textile shop in downtown Athens. That’s where he met Martha, the shop owner’s daughter who was working on the side at her father’s shop too, while studying to be a language teacher. Once they realized their classes weren’t far away from each other at university, they walked to and from there together and Basil would always walk her home at nights before returning to his place. The year is 1937 and Basil proposes to Martha. She accepts, and they exchange rings. Back in the day an engagement usually lasted for two or so years, until the young man prepared for assuming the role of breadwinner and head of the family, setting up his business and the like to ensure from the get go that the new couple would have a steady income that would allow for creating a family.

Basil was going to be employed in the Greek Prosecutorial Offices as soon as he finished his extra training and passed his examinations, in three years at the latest. They are a very loving couple in the meantime, Basil is hoarding like crazy on every extra cash he can make, and life looks promising.

Then WWII strikes and along with all young men of his age he is shipped off to the front, up north in Greece’s mountain ridges, in the Greco-albanian borders to repel the Italians. Basil earns the rank of sergeant while at the front, basically because of his capacity to rally his fellow soldiers and his knack for strategy and atypical thinking- what the Greeks needed to face the superior Italian army. However he is wounded seriously over a mission that he won’t talk about, where he got his scars and the arm injury that eventually brought about amputation.

He was shipped back to Athens, a medal richer and an arm short. At first, with Martha’s and Grandma’s support he did his best to cope with his new handicap, but eventually the pity from assorted people and the whispers that he was really an invalid in no position to support a family made him steel himself, tear his heart up and go and abruptly break the engagement with Martha, with very little to null explanation why. Martha, being the fiery woman she is, took it very badly. Harsh words were exchanged, and the marriage was off.

Then, the Nazis invaded, the Occupation occurred, and here we are. Basil doesn’t realize how capable he is working around his handicap but he knows Fotis needs his guidance if he’s to survive with his gaggle of friends. He does his best to help everyone resisting the Nazis (he rescued Anna from being shipped to the concentration camps) but he is very untrusting, expecting everyone he doesn’t know well to eventually turn on him. He fears that Martha joining the Resistance is going to get her killed exactly because there are bound to be traitors or weak people in it that will spill the beans if they are caught…