Dathan has been a challenging character to create and to write. I subscribe to the ideal that the best villains are the heroes of their own stories. (I can’t find the source of that quote, as it seems that many people from George R.R. Martin to Tom Hiddelston have quoted it and clouded it’s origin, but I can’t take credit for it.) So while Mason was Channeling his inner Han Solo, Dathan is more about channeling his Inner Steve Jobs. In a way that is kind of what Dathan is, the Steve Jobs of the Apocalypse, and the world of After. Only instead of electronics he is selling his vision of the world and instead of Apple fan boys and girls he has an army of murder/rapists. (Me, I’m not 100% sure which is really worse.)
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5(ish) of Part 2 of Dathan giving what amounts to a Keynote address…
“Thank you Brothers! Thank you all for the gift of your strength. The gift of your fire! ” Dathan’s voice carried over the arena at the heart of the camp.
The arena was pretty impressive for a temporary structure. Several large trucks had been pulled into a broad semicircle and tiered benches had been hastily assembled in front of and on top of the vehicles. A field had been marked out in the center of the arena for Slamball, a brutal game where five man teams compete to drive a ball in between narrow sets of posts that acted as goals. Throwing or kicking the ball between the posts was worth a single point, but carrying the ball through the posts was worth five. These goal posts were in the mid-point of the four sides of the field and the one in the center of the field was worth twice as many points as the side goals. Players were allowed to use any means necessary short of weapons to score points or stop their opponents from scoring. This iteration of a slamball field was a little smaller than normal which led to much fiercer competition and more injuries. Several players had been dragged off the field already in the direction of the medical trucks as the slamball tournament had progressed through the afternoon. As he addressed the crowd, Dathan stood upon the Hover Tank that was his mobile command center. The tank was now pulled out onto the field allowing him to be seen by everyone in the arena.
Looking out at the several hundred Brothers, conscripts and other camp followers that were attending the games, Dathan gestured to the five Brothers who stood dirty and sweaty at the central goal post of the field. They were the winners of the last match and the champions of the Slamball tournament. “These men are each a pillar of what I try to be!” This brought a cheer from the crowd. “They came together!” he called when the cheer subsided. “They faced their opponents together. As a team. As brothers! They fought as one!” The crowd burst into a cheer that was much louder than the first. After a few seconds Dathan held his hand up and the crowd quieted down enough to hear him again. “These men were divided before these games, no?” Dathan asked the crowd. The five men looked at each other and there was some friendly pushing and shoving among them as if acting out Dathan’s point. The crowd laughed with the men and Dathan let that play out for a few moments. When it ran its course, Dathan spoke up, “I have a confession to make to you all.” The crowd hushed quickly and hung on his admission.
“I stacked the teams.” He admitted with a shrug.
“Then I’m not paying up on that bet Dathan!” someone from the crowd called and there was a burst of laughter.
“Hah! I knew you couldn’t cover it when I made the bet, Brother!” Dathan called back and there was more laughter from the crowd. Dathan allowed that ripple of laughter to ebb on its own, and then continued in a quiet voice that somehow carried throughout the arena. “I made sure the teams were all made up of Brothers who did not know each other, in some cases did not like one another. Did not agree with one another. I believed that men, good men, could work together despite all of that.” His voice rose as he continued to speak. “I believed that good men would put down their grudges and disagreements when it mattered. I believed that Brothers would come together as one! That they would become something better than they were by themselves!” Dathan reached a crescendo and the crowd reacted with a burst of riotous applause and screams of agreement. Again, Dathan held up his hand and the crowd grew silent, albeit more slowly than the last time. When they were quiet again, he looked down at the five men. “Brothers, you have shown me once more that my belief in you…” he looked around the arena, “…my belief in all of you, is absolutely fucking right!” The crowd exploded into cheers and Dathan joined in, clapping and pointing to the champions.
After this wave of cheers subsided, the champions headed out of the arena accepting lots of hand slaps and shakes from the crowd as they were absorbed back into it.
Dathan held up his hand to collect the crowd’s attention once again.
“I believe in our brotherhood and that belief was yet again proven today. But I believe in more than that…” he looked around at the crowd, turning around so he looked at those who may be behind him. “Our brotherhood is strong. It is mighty! We shake the world when we move! We change the world where ever we deem change is needed! We are the fire that burns away this rotten world around us!” This brought more cheers from the crowd that echoed his words. “But every fire has a spark. Every fire has its fuel. Without that it cannot be. Each and every one of you are that spark. You are that fuel. Individually you all make up our fire and that fire is only as strong as the weakest spark, the weakest tinder. I believe in you all as individuals. Each one of you feeds your strength to our fire. Each of you makes us stronger. That is why we also celebrate our individual strength with this last game.”
With this several men walked out onto the field. There were some cheers and calls from the crowd and the men responded with wave or in some cases a rude gesture back to the crowd.
“Our last bout will be an open fight to the finish. Last man standing wins.” The crowd cheered and in some cases jeered at the men in the center of the field.
“These men are the winners of the fights earlier today so each of them have earned their place here.” Dathan continued after a few moments. “But while I love a man who earns his place in the world, I also love a man who seizes opportunity by the balls and calls it his own!” The crowd roared at this. Dathan’s voice rose above the roar, “Who among you will step into the arena and take that challenge!?”
So what do you think? Would you buy what he is selling?