| “You can shoot me, sir, you very well can, you can shoot me dead a thousand times over and water the palms with my blood. You can make me a rotting carcass for the buzzards and the armadillos and the snakes. But you cannot kill what I stand for, because I am no mere man, I am a manifestation of the will of every man, woman, and child in Mexico who is forced to wear a chain and bend their knee to a slave master. Until the fetters with which you have bound me and so many more of my brothers and sisters are broken, I will never go away.”|
— Pascual Silvestre's response to the sentence of death.
|Date of birth:||December 9th, 2165|
|Date of death:||December 2nd, 2203|
Slave, martyr, bushwhacker, husband, and father are all words that were used and still are used to describe the man who was known as Pascual Silvestre. A folk hero across Tamaulipas, especially in the Border Country, Silvestre is a legend for his one-man resistance to the slavers of Rio Roco and slavery in general. Revered by the poor, the downtrodden, and the enslaved to this day, Silvestre earned eternal fame for the defiance he showed when brought back to captivity and the fearlessness with which he faced the firing squad of his former masters.
Pascual Silvestre was born in Comales in the Border Country of Tamaulipas in 2165 to a farming family. The third child and first son, Pascual grew up a Roman Catholic farmboy who was literate thanks to his mother, a former schoolmarm who retired to her husband's farm to tend to the children. Life was hard for Pascual from a young age, while his family was fine and his basic needs were provided for, farm life was tough and from the time he could walk he was working alongside his father in the fields. A good boy, but a bit skittish he was with his family only nine years before being taken in a slaving raid on the town.
One day in 2175, a band of mounted Comancheros rode into Comales from the south, passing the Silvestre farm. Pascual and his father were on the field when they heard the comancheros coming, his father told Pascual to hide in the stalks of corn while he ran for his shotgun he kept in his shed. While running for the weapon, Pascual's father was shot. The comancheros next proceeded to burn the farmhouse down, killing Pascual's family. They next took a torch to the crops where the poor boy was huddled, shaking in fear. Fearful of the flames he ran out into the field where he was spotted and grabbed up by Juan Perez, the lieutenant of Flavio Restrepo, the slaver warlord of Rio Roco. Seeing the boy was healthy and wanting a bargaining chip in case the alguacil of Comales managed to work up a posse in pursuit of them, Juan Perez took the boy a hostage. Thus nearly three decades of slavery had begun for poor Pascual as he was hauled away to Rio Roco.
The journey to Rio Roco was hard for the poor boy. He grieved his family and was beat for it by the slavers who had killed them. He was always given the scraps of what little food the marauders had, and forced to walk all the way there with his hands tied to a rope attached to the saddle horn of Perez's horse. When he reached Rio Roco, he was exhausted and starving. But the worst was yet to come. He was thrown in the bunkhouse where the slaves who worked the fields were kept and left to fend for himself.
In the morning he was awoken by shouting guards who had no problem whipping anyone who didn't rise to their feet fast enough and was then forced out to work in the fields of eggplant, corn, beans, and peppers that Rio Roco grew to sustain itself, self-sustainability being necessary as the few merchants who would trade with a slaving community generally weren't in the food business. Life in the fields wasn't new to Pascual, but it was much harder. One break a day was allotted at lunch when a large bucket of food was brought out and given to the slaves. The workers at Rio Roco had devised a system where children were given the first grab at the food bucket, and that was how Pascual met his future wife, a slave girl named Eliana Pinyol. He allowed her to skip him in the line, in return, she invited him to sleep where her family slept in the bunkhouse that night. He became acquainted with Eliana's mother, Xiomara, who took him in as her own.
With the Pinyols caring for him, he learned the hard ropes of being an agricultural slave. Eighteen-hour days and no days off nearly broke him. But he grew up strong, and grew up tough in his new family. By the time he was fifteen, he could work twenty hours easy and did so to allow Xiomara and Eliana time off by covering some of their work. Life was tough, but he adapted and in a few years time, his best friend became his woman, in 2183, at a ceremony held by a slave who was a former missionary from The Papal States, Pascual and Eliana were married.
Married, Pascual and Eliana debated a long time about having a child. Pascual, being a hard-working man of compassion and care wanted a child. Eliana, however, didn't want to bring a child into the world just to be a slave. Thus she was opposed. When the child did come, it was by surprise when the two were both twenty-four. The pregnancy was not intended to happen but after two missed cycles, Eliana told him the news. Pascual was thrilled, he had never been happier in his life, he was going to have a child.
The wait was long, and he worked double in the fields to cover for his wife. In a few months time though he had the greatest joy of his life, his daughter, Alejandra Silvestre, who was born in 2190. He watched and looked after her for thirteen years. For thirteen years he was about as happy a slave as there ever was, the work was hard and grueling and humiliating, but he had a family he loved and would have done anything for. And when tragedy struck in 2203 he would become a legend for them.
The conflict happened when in June of 2203 news came out that San Fernando down in Cattle Country had legalized slavery inside its borders, and several men were looking for women to serve as sex slaves in the brothels. One day when he came home from the fields, Pascual found that his sweet Eliana and Alejandra were gone. His mother in law explained they had been taken to be sold to the harems there. It was there that the gentle, caring, and submissive Pascual lost it. The fear of the whip or of the noose was nothing to him, he went into a frenzy of rage and with a garden hoe, he killed the two men guarding the barracks. He had only ever fired a little .410 on his family's farm when he was younger, but he had seen guards do it enough time that he understood the basics and thus he was ready to step into legend.
Dressed in some gear looted from the guards, Pascual made his way out of Rio Roco sneaking through the fields and through the alleys. He killed one more man on his way out and then made for the thicket and brush around the town. He realized finding his family was futile, he didn't even know what way Cattle Country was. But he swore that the slavers of Rio Roco would pay dearly for how they had wronged him and so many hundreds of others. With a pair of pistols and a .270 bolt gun, he set out on a guerrilla campaign.
For months, Pascual Silvestre fought a war of vengeance. Just a man alone, he stalked the thicket around Rio Roco. Bushwhacking patrols and the parties sent to hunt him and picking off sentries with the scope of his rifle. In close combat, he was able to fight like an animal with a pair of hatchets. It seemed no matter what, that the slavers couldn't route him. They tried burning the thickets down and in response, Pascual hid himself in a small pond under a capsized boat for a day straight, hanging onto the steel dingy and breathing in the air pocket.
His defiance humiliated the slavers, and he became the talk of the slave barracks. A hero, an icon, a beacon of hope, a symbol of the dream of abolition. Each time a new body was brought back inside the walls, more talk of him spread. He humiliated the slavers in how he refused to be caught, each time evading them and picking one off, but making sure to always leave at least one survivor to spread the tale. But it wouldn't go on forever.
It was late November of 2203, for six months, Pascual Silvestre had been waging his war on the slavers of Rio Roco, a one-man offensive guerilla campaign that had claimed seventeen lives. Finally, the slavers decided it had gone on long enough. They posted signs on the trees and phone poles everywhere they could that they would kill one innocent slave a day until he surrendered, starting with Xiomara, his mother in law. Full of hate for the slavers but unwilling to let innocents die, he decided to face his fate. He marched into town waving a pre-War Mexican flag. The border's sign of truce. Once inside the gates, he laid down his arms and was immediately beset upon by a mob of slavers who beat him within an inch of life for close to half an hour before he was brought up to trial.
There he was "tried" by a court of slavers, presided over by Juan Montoya Pacheco, the Slaver Baron of Rio Roco. There he was condemned and sentenced for murder. In five minutes the trial was over, and the verdict was death by firing squad at the crack of dawn the next day. There Silvestre famously claimed himself to be the embodiment of the oppressed slaves of Mexico. Claiming he would never "go away" until slavery was a dead institution in the post-War world as it was in the pre-War world. With that, he was beaten more and thrown in a cage until morning came.
On the morning of December 2nd, 2203, seven months after losing his family, Pascual Silvestre marched in front of a firing squad of slavers proudly and bravely. His ribs broken and arm fractured, bleeding and bruised, he stood tall and stared down the bores of the rifles and looked in the eyes of his executioners. When the order was given to fire, the slavers would later recount they had never seen a man die any braver than Pascual Silvestre as he fell to the ground, dead. Four bullets in his upper chest. After his death, his body was hung from a billboard outside Rio Roco as a warning to all who would dare defy the slavers of Rio Roco. His body swung there for months, and while his corpse withered away, Pascual Silvestre ascended to join the ranks of the martyrs for freedom.
Silvestre has been remembered as a folk hero since the day he was shot. In hindsight, all the slavers of Rio Roco did by killing him was make him a martyr. As slaves from Rio Roco were sold off, they spread the story of this kind, gentle, hardworking slave who fought like a dog to avenge his family. While he fought for personal vengeance and not for abolition, he was obviously a supporter of it and prophesized that there would always be anti-slavery partisans as long as slavery was an establishment. Stories of him are spread across slave camps and in free towns across Tamaulipas, he is a known figure all the way down in The Royal Dominion where he is taught to schoolchildren in the Royal Protectorate of Tampico as a hero. While these stories of his exploits in his months of a guerrilla are often fictitious, and his killing abilities exaggerated, he is still fondly remembered as the slave who fought back, and one of the few good men who have earned fame in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mexico. His birthday, December 9th is actually celebrated as a holiday in some towns in border country such as Comales and Pocas Plantas. Additionally, his image has been used as a rallying cry for others, particularly the skilled PR man who is Pancho Mendoza. He has used the image of a lone guerrilla taking on an oppressive regime as a symbol for his militia, La Legión de la Gente. To legitimize his claims of freeing the paisanos of La Ciudadela and his desires to establish a Marxist utopia, he was repeatedly claimed that he and his legionnaires are carrying on Silvestre's work.