|“||No superiors can relieve me of my duty, you bulldozed them all to a mass grave for trying to free humanity.||„|
Iosef Lilianovich Dros, called The Deserter in the game, is a character in Disco Elysium.
Born in the year '92 to a welder and his wife, Dros was ten years old when the Turn-Of-The-Century Revolution reached Revachol and the Commune of Revachol was established through the March Decree. At age fifteen, the year '07, he was recruited from Jamrock as a volunteer revolutionary soldier, receiving both warfare and ideological education in the Ecole de Controle Aérien. However, his training was cut short by the Coalition of Nations' assault on the Commune in the year '08, resulting in an assignment as political commissar of emergency defence duties in the Sea Fortress.
As commissar of the Communist Party, Dros' duty was to ensure the revolutionary militia always answered to civilian control and followed the ideology of the Commune: scientific communism. In addition, the commissar was looked up to as an exemplary ideologue and officer, being seen as a knight-philosopher of the Revolution, a future human.
On May 13th, '08, the assault gave way to the Landing: Operation Death Blow. Coalition aerostatics filled the skies, dropping troops at the beachheads in Martinaise, Ozonne, and La Delta. As the massacre began in Ozonne, Dros became deeply afraid, later describing his feelings as "Reaction", and abandoned his posting, leaving his unit behind and climbing across the supply chains into the mainland, before hiding in a bunker.
As morning came, Dros emerged from his hiding spot and swam back to the islet. The fortress was shelled to rubble, and all of his comrades were dead: some shot, some drowned. In the crucial moment, the anti-aircraft gun malfunctioned, and the tower was left defenceless, as well as without ideological direction. Believing that the revolutionaries would still be able to resist, Dros consigned himself to an eternal fight against the monstrosities of capital.
Though the Insulindian Citizens Militia would eventually sign the Revacholian Instrument of Surrender, reforming itself into the Revachol Citizens Militia, a subordinate organization to the Coalition and Moralist International rule, Dros and other still-resisting communards considered themselves loyal to the Party, and refused to stop fighting. Revachol West would thus become the bulwark of communist resistance, with independent units, bunkers and caches in Jamrock, Faubourg, Grand Couron and especially Boogie Street continuing active into the '10s and the '20s before being ultimately eliminated by the Coalition's mass executions and pervasive investigations.
Even as time went on, Dros refused to reintegrate into society. His sneaking under the city, through the tunnels and bunkers, would gradually give way to simply walking in plain sight, as most people no longer recognized him as anything more than a vagrant. He moved hideouts over the years: first, the island of Résurrection, turned into a spa in '18, which led him to the islet named E48, itself swallowed by the sea in '29. Finally, he returned to his original posting, in the ruins of the Sea Fortress. Though he no longer held out hopes for Revolution, he still held his old rifle, and would use it to watch citizens of Martinaise through his scope and snipe those who he particularly disliked. One particular target was René Arnoux, a similarly-aged royal carabineer of the Suzerain of Revachol, who the revolutionaries deposed. Dros watched René often, still wearing the colourful uniform and freely marching through the plaza ruins. Dros had a special hatred for René, considering him a "race traitor" and refraining from killing him until his so-called "blackest day", when Dros would also commit suicide.
At a certain point, the brothers Claire found out about Dros' presence, and Edgar went to visit him personally. The two discussed at length, regarding subjects such as social-democracy, Kras Mazov, and the role of the Dockworkers' Union in modern Martinaise. Dros also received items of aid for his survival, such as blankets and a gas cooker, and was offered social housing. in order to facilitate the brothers' ascent to power. Momentarily convinced that the Claires could reform the Union into a radical socialist institution, Dros agreed to assassinate Tiphaune Holly, the forewoman. Though Dros enjoyed killing the bourgeois woman, he grew to despise the "new" Union just as much as the old one.
Unbeknownst to him, Dros' mental state was being affected by the presence of the Insulindian Phasmid, which had made its nest on the islet. The Phasmid's pheromones hid it from Dros' perception, also prolonging his life and increasing his resilience, keeping his mental state and ideological fervor the same he had as a young revolutionary. Under the Phasmid's influence, Dros would eventually develop a fixation with Klaasje, the fugitive corporate spy who arrived at Martinaise. Dros became invested in the woman's behavior and appearance, and would watch her do drugs and have sex through her window in the Whirling-in-Rags. Eventually, he snuck into the building through the abandoned pinball warehouse, watching her through a peephole in her room's wall, and leaving her a "gift" of Dried May Bells on her balcony, a symbol of spring and Revolution, which bloomed in the islet before anywhere else in Revachol.
Eventually, Klaasje began to have relations with Ellis Kortenaer, a mercenary colonel for the death squad Krenel hired by The Wild Pines Group in order to deal with the Union's latest strike. Dros felt betrayed and disgusted by the couple, and decided to kill both the next time they had sex. When the time was right, Dros shot at Ellis first, the 4.46mm Bullet passing through the colonel's head and killing him on the spot. However, he could not bring himself to kill Klaasje too.
His hesitation would create a trail of evidence and witnesses, eventually leading to his arrest at the hands of RCM Officer Harrier Du Bois. Away from the islet and the Phasmid, Dros would have little time to live remaining. He resigned himself to this fate, and prepared to deliver his "termless surrender", considering his duty fulfilled. Upon the emergence of the Phasmid during his arrest, Dros would shut down into a catatonic state, especially after the Phasmid's departure, no longer under its effects.
- The Deserter is encountered in the final area of the game, at the Sea Fortress. Confronting him gives the player the opportunity to identify him as the murderer, closing the case (and extracting a motive too), obtaining the murder weapon, and also meeting the Insulindian Phasmid.
- At the end of the player's interaction with him, he will shut down into a catatonic state, essentially locking himself on the islet and allowing the party to return to the mainland so they can call for help in transporting him.
- "Jealousy is a reactionary concept. I didn't *like* the reaver enjoying himself -- drugged out, soothed in the arms of a young woman. I wanted him to die so he could not enjoy life anymore."
- "I didn't think I had a shot like that in me anymore. I did. I saw him kneel there with his mouth full of death and that stupid look on his face. And his dick still in her..."
Behind the scenes
Iosef, the Deserter, is voiced by Chris Lines in The Final Cut. He was voiced by Mikee W. Goodman in the original version of the game.
- THE DESERTER - "I was just sixteen years old, fifteen when I volunteered. I had a lapse of faith..." He clears his throat. "And of courage too."
- THE DESERTER - "From the Insulindian Citizens Militia -- the Army of the Revolution. I was recruited in Jamrock in '07, trained in the Ecole de Contrôle Aérien and consigned to emergency defence duties in '08."
- KIM KITSURAGI - "His job was to assure the army answers to civilian control -- and follows the ideology of the commune," the lieutenant says softly.
- THE DESERTER - "Scientific communism!" The tracksuit-clad old man is suddenly reanimated. "A *comissaire politique* is a knight-philosopher of the Revolution, a future human."
- THE DESERTER - "May the 13th, '08, 44 years ago," he looks north. "The horizon was black with Coalition airships. Their petroleum rose to the sky and it looked like... like it *formed* the clouds. Storm clouds. When they started shelling it was... dark magic."
- RENÉ ARNOUX - "Martinaise was used as one of the three footholds in Revachol during Operation Death Blow in '08. The other two are off in Stella Maris and the Delta." He points to the northeast.
- THE DESERTER - "You could say I misunderstood the historic role of the proletariat, and thought Mazovian socio-economics were fallible. For a second I doubted the irreducible laws of historic materialism."
THE DESERTER - "A second is all it took."
YOU - "For what?"
THE DESERTER - "For Reaction to take hold."
- THE DESERTER - "...huddled on the floor. The artillery was eighty kilometres away in Ozonne but I *knew*, I knew the Commune would fall. We would all be turned into ash. So I said I was going to the map room..." He looks east.
AUTHORITY - A terrible shame, still within him. The lobes of his ears are red with it, the shame and smallness of what he became.
- THE DESERTER - "No. I climbed the chain link across the water and hid inland. In the bunkers there, like the weakest of the weak... a mouse. Frightened of the ordnance all night and the sound of the rotors in the morning, whirring -- *thith-thith-thith...*" He looks at the sky.
- THE DESERTER - "Aerostatics. The Landing had started. I climbed out -- into hell. There were ships all above. Hissing, whirling, and men pouring out. The chain was submerged so I had to swim back. The fortress was half submerged too, shattered."
- THE DESERTER - "They'd all drowned in the lower levels, or got torn to shreds above. The anti-aircraft gun had malfunctioned -- so had I. I left them without ideological direction..." He opens his eyes and stares right through you. "It was real. I'd seen it. I'd seen it *in reality*."
- THE DESERTER - "I had to, I *had* to fight it. I had to never stop..." The old man falls silent. His black eyes keep piercing your skin as he looks to some great distance behind you, shaking his head slowly -- retreating from it.
- YOU - "The communards signed the Revacholian Instrument of Surrender."
THE DESERTER - "Liberal reactionaries signed that instrument -- traitors, who should have been burned alive..." He draws his breath. "I answer to the Communist Party."
- THE DESERTER - "We communards still hoped and they needed to snuff that hope out. The East capitulated, Martinaise and Coal City were turned to dust..." He looks south. "But Jamrock, Faubourg, even Couron; and Boogie Street of course -- those fucking kipts had Mazov coursing through their veins..."
- THE DESERTER - "From bunker to bunker..." He nods. "Not anymore, no one cares now, I don't even have to hide. They think I'm another antisocial vagrant. I could walk straight into that town if I wanted. I just..." He falls silent, his gaze fixed on the shacks huddled together across the water.
- THE DESERTER - "I was on Résurrection until they turned it into a *spa* in '18. Then I was on E48, a nameless sound, until the sea washed over it. Then I came back here. That was..." He thinks. "Twenty-two years ago."
- KIM KITSURAGI - "And if you don't like it..."
YOU - "...if it's part of the *shit* you see..."
KIM KITSURAGI - "...then you pull the trigger?"
THE DESERTER - "Yes." He looks the lieutenant in the eye. "Think of it as a form of *critique*."
- THE DESERTER - "Every *fucking* morning, for thirty-four years..." He grinds his teeth in rage. "Throwing that ball. One ball against the other... I've always loathed that game. That is *not* a working class game. I don't care what they say on Radio June."
THE DESERTER - "Royalist ghouls play it like it was *life itself*! Click-clack," he makes the sound of balls connecting, "across the water each day. And that uniform, like a parrot's plumage! I won't even mention that he's a traitor to his *race*. A pétanque maniac *race traitor*."
- THE DESERTER - "He *is* a juicy bon-bon, that one. A real treat. For the black day -- the blackest. When I put that gun in my own mouth. I think: no, don't waste it. Put this lead in that cock René. For the boys he killed -- and then I look at him throw those balls and I suddenly feel..." He lets out a wistful sigh.
THE DESERTER - "Better. I even hid one bullet so I'd always have one. For him..." The lines on his face straighten as he looks inland. "Haven't seen him there lately... must be down with arthritis. Old cunt..."
- THE DESERTER - The old man chortles with a nod. "He talks a big game about *uprising* and *social base* -- they must have sent the smart one to some University in Le Jardin where it's 'alienation' this and 'hegemony' that..."
SUGGESTION - He's been sweet-talked by this Edgar. They must've met in person for such animosity to have developed.
- THE DESERTER - "Never trust a social democrat who quotes Mazov..." he suddenly remembers: "Oh, and charity too. They love their charity -- offered me blankets and social housing. I still have the gas cooker he brought."
- THE DESERTER - "That bourgeois cow... Tiphaine Holly was her name." He narrows his eyes. "Licked the rich man's hand every time he came to town. Never seen a labour leader so hot on mutual cooperation..."
- YOU - "It was you." (Make a motion, like shooting a rifle.)
THE DESERTER - "Heh." He does not fall for it. "It was someone. *Someone* shot her," he shrugs. His eyes grow cold suddenly.
THE DESERTER - "Or maybe she just fell. I get these violent ideations.... My memory is filled with holes, especially the Thirties. All I know is..."
HALF LIGHT Another, big spike of rage. Different from the one he has for her...
THE DESERTER - "Nothing changed. Not in the *material base*, not in the *hegemony*, there was no uprising. Just words... The Union fizzled, sogged. Nothing came of it. Nothing."
- THE DESERTER - "I *had* them in my sights, both of them -- him and the whore. I was breathing with them, in phase, and I pulled the trigger and flew on the air until I landed in his mouth..." He begins to smile.
THE DESERTER - "I didn't think I had a shot like that in me anymore. I did. I saw him kneel there with his mouth full of death and that stupid look on his face." The smile quivers. "And his dick still in her..."
ELECTROCHEMISTRY - There. A hot flash of rage almost carries the smile away. Some dark piece...
YOU - "Then what?"
THE DESERTER - "Nothing. I went to sleep. Next morning there were May bells everywhere. The world was white -- or what's left of it anyway. My last spring here... I knew the fascists would come to avenge their own..."