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Shrike (named Grike in North American editions), formerly known as Kit Solent, is a Stalker and a main character in the Mortal Engines series and minor recurring character in the Fever Crumb series.

Biography

Early Traction Era

Early Life and events of Fever Crumb

Kit Solent was an archaeologist in London, with a particular interest in Scriven artefacts. He met and fell in love with Katie Unthank, whose father had worked with Auric Godshawk. They had two children, Ruan and Fern, but Katie died of the blue flu soon after Fern's birth.

Some years later, Kit requested Fever Crumb to help him open a high-tech door he had discovered under the city. When Fever was being chased by Bagman Creech in the marshes because she was a suspected Scriven, he shot and killed Bagman with his handgun. In the ensuing riots, Kit was shot but managed to help Fever back to the Godshawk's Head where the two of them escape in a Hot Air Balloon. Kit's wound proved to be fatal and he died before the balloon landed. The Nomads subsequently took his body to be processed into a Stalker.

The Nomad Wars

Kit Solent's body was combined with technology the Movement had procured from the Remembering Machines to turn him into a Stalker; it was at this time that he was given the name Shrike. He destroyed two of his fellow Stalkers upon being resurrected but afterward proved an obedient member of the Lazarus Brigade for some time, fighting in the major battles of the escalating Nomad Wars, including the long-running Battle of Hill 60. He abandoned the Movement army after recovering a degree of self-awareness but continued fighting on all sides as a mercenary until the end of the Nomad Wars. At the Battle of Three Dry Ships he led a legion of Stalkers against his former masters but they, like the rest of the Nomad armies, were destroyed when Traction London entered the battle, though Shrike himself survived.

Later Traction Era

Shrike's whereabouts and deeds during the Wheeled War and the Zagwan Deluge are unknown, though it might be assumed that he fought in these conflicts given his general behaviour and fighting prowess.

He continued to wander the earth during the age of the Traction Cities, as there were many who sought the services of such a proficient killer. At one time he worked as an executioner in Paris, where he was greatly feared by criminals, who still thought him as a sort of dark god long after his departure. Later he served as an assassin in the service of the government of Kutsoi, but this ended when he turned on and killed the mayor who had sent him after the young children of a political opponent. Shrike then fled into the out-country and made a living as a bounty hunter, further developing his fearsome reputation.

The traveller Chung-Mai Spofforth interviewed Shrike in 923TE when writing her book In Search Of The Stalkers.

Eventually, Shrike came across a scarred young girl named Hester Shaw, whom he adopted. They lived together on the scavenger-platform of Strole for several years, before he and Hester left for the town of Twyne. At some point in this period he began collecting mechanical devices and tools.

Events of In the Bleak Midwinter

Shrike was hired by the government of Twyne to hunt an escaping bank robber. After killing his target, Shrike returned to Twyne along with Hester to collect their bounty, finding the town celebrating the Midwinter festival. Mayor Pilbeam and a pair of Shkin Corporation slavers ambushed Shrike and trapped him in a net, but Hester crushed them under a fallen tree before they could attack him further.

Shrike freed himself, and he and Hester went to the Town Hall. They found a warm fireplace and food, and Shrike attempted to tell a Midwinter story about a girl with a dog. Noticing his difficulty, Hester reminisced on the events of the past day instead.

Events of Mortal Engines

Shrike and Hester were separated sometime in 1005-1006TE when Hester set off to assassinate Thaddeus Valentine, but the Stalker pursued her, selling his mechanical collection to fund a journey to London. There he struck a deal with Lord Mayor Magnus Crome and London's Guild of Engineers: he would let them study him so they could manufacture their own Stalkers and in return Shrike would be allowed to kill Hester upon her arrival and have her turned into a Stalker. Eighteen months later, Hester arrived but was not captured, instead falling out of the city with Tom Natsworthy. Crome, concerned that they might have survived and possessed knowledge of MEDUSA, sent Shrike to kill the pair.

Shrike was flown to Airhaven, where he found his targets in a café with Anna Fang and Yasmina Rashid. He then fought the Aviators who refused to let Tom and Hester come to harm, wounding or killing several before continuing to chase his targets by airship. When Tom and Hester leapt out of their Hot Air Balloon as a diversion, Shrike pretended to fall for it, allowing them to have a head start.

Nevertheless, Shrike soon caught up with them, only to get run over by by two Traction towns in quick succession, which he survived. He followed the second town's trail until he found it sunken in the sea of Khazak, and from there tracked Hester's scent to the Black Island.

On the island, he intervened in Tom and Hester's impending execution, killing Mungo, Janny Mags and Mr. Ames before they could harm the pair, but immediately afterward confronted them with his intentions to kill them and return Hester's body to London to become a Stalker. Hester accepted this fate but asked that Tom be spared; Shrike agreed to feed London a false story of his death. Just before he was going to kill Hester, Tom stabbed him with a sword. Shrike fell back into the mud, and for a brief moment he remembered his past identity as Kit Solent before dying.

The Green Storm War

Events of Infernal Devices

Shrike was discovered by the Green Storm some eighteen years later and brought back to life by Oenone Zero. She gave him to the Stalker Fang as a bodyguard, or for her entertainment. Later when Oenone prayed at the Christian chapel for the downfall of the Stalker Fang, Shrike overheard her. Although Shrike wished to inform other Green Storm agents of her possible betrayal, he found he was unable to harm or otherwise act against her, due to her reprogramming.

When the Green Storm moved to attack Brighton, Shrike was present as Fang's bodyguard. During the heat of the battle, Oenone activated a program she had slipped into him, compelling him to destroy the Stalker Fang. Being stronger than his previous self, he seemingly destroyed Fang as well as several other Green Storm Stalkers. He discovered at this point that he was now incapable of killing humans, as he remembered all of the humans that he had killed in the past. He disappeared into the bushes when General Naga arrived on Cloud 9. He later met Hester again there as the floating platform crashed down, and prepared to enter the dangerous world of the desert with her.

Events of A Darkling Plain

Hester and Shrike then traveled the desert as bounty hunters. When they stopped at Cutler's Gulp for fuel, they rescued Theo Ngoni and escaped in a sand-ship. When a group of sand-ships attacked them, Shrike attempted to fight the soldiers, but again found he was unable to harm humans. After the sand-ship was destroyed, Shrike, Hester and Theo then traveled to Airhaven to rescue Oenone Zero, now known as Lady Naga. While Lady Naga escaped, Hester was injured; Shrike took her to a Green Storm command base so her wounds could be treated.

Shrike accompanied Tom and Hester to Erdene Tezh in the Jenny Haniver. During the journey, Shrike realised that Tom's heart was weak, and that he could not live much longer. When the Jenny crashed after being attacked by Stalker-birds Shrike fell out of the gondola, landing on the ground about ten miles away from Erdene Tezh, and began seeking Hester's scent again.

However, he arrived at Erdene Tezh too late, finding Tom, Hester, and the Stalker Fang dead. Shrike went to pick up Hester's body, intending to have her resurrected into a Stalker by Oenone, but noticed that she was holding Tom's hand very tightly before she killed herself. Sadly realizing that this was the right end for her, he decided to lay Tom and Hester to rest. Shrike then sat by a cave, and shut down all of his systems except for his mind and eyes, watching Tom and Hester's bodies decay over the years and an oak tree growing out of the latter, and gradually falling into a slumber.

Events of the epilogue

Centuries later, Shrike awakes and sees a young boy and a girl standing in front of him. He greets them, surprising them as the people there had thought he was a statue, and hung flowers around his neck for luck each year. The children take Shrike to a town hall, and he sees that the town walls are made of old city tracks and the watchtowers of wheels. He expects that there are no machines in this world, but then sees that airships are still in use, powered by magnetic levitation.

Shrike realizes that the Traction Era is over when he asks the townsfolk if there are any moving cities in the world and they respond that such things only exist in fairy tales. They ask Shrike what he is for, and he states that he is a Remembering Machine. He begins narrating to them his memories from the age of the Traction Cities - stories of London and Arkangel, Thaddeus Valentine and Anna Fang, and Hester and Tom.

Personality

Befitting his original nature as a killing machine, Shrike initially seems to be defined primarily by ruthless single-mindedness and a penchant for violence. Once fixed upon his goal of turning Hester into a Stalker he pursues her by land and air for days or even weeks across great distances; he fights his way through anyone who obstructs him in this quest, killing aviatrices and pirates alike; he refuses to stop until he is fatally damaged and after Oenone resurrects him he persists in following Hester right up until she dies.

Despite this behaviour Shrike is shown to have something of a conscience. He doesn't like to harm children and prefers to help them, such as adopting the half-dead young Hester and killing an employer who ordered him to murder children. In his interview with Spofforth he said that he remembered several occasions when he had spared or protected children for reasons that he could not explain; he doesn't know why he is so fond of children until in A Darkling Plain he remembers having children of his own in his past life.

After his second resurrection his compassion for humanity seems stronger, as he finds himself compelled to hold back from hurting living humans (though he has no qualms about destroying Stalkers) and he eventually allows Hester to rest in peace with Tom after seeing how tightly she held onto him even in death.

Portrayal in adaptations

In the 2018 film, Shrike is portrayed by Stephen Lang with heavy use of makeup and special effects.

[More detail to follow]

Gallery

References