|Position||Leader of the Dust|
Daniel Peck was a problem child. In his words: “I cheated on tests, I’d lie to my parents, I wouldn’t listen, I’d fight…. My last few years at school I spent more time with the principal than I did in class…more time at home than in school…and I was a bully.” Despite his struggles, he became the best friend of Logan’s sister Lily.
Lily turned thirteen before Peck did. When he heard that Lily had flunked the Pledge, the news sent him into a tailspin. He exploded, swearing that a conspiracy was at work, and then fled his home for life among the Markless. Since Lily was already gone, he thought that he could do nothing but try to avoid her fate himself. Slog Row became his refuge, the one place where he thought he could forget the past.
But Peck found that he could not forget Lily. Even on Slog Row, he would sometimes hear rumors of other Pledges who had not returned. Tormented by survivor’s guilt, he began to investigate whether his suspicions were true—whether flunkees were the result of calculated selection rather than “procedural risk.” Eventually he concluded that flunkees did not die when they went to receive their Marks. Instead, they were sent away to an unknown location.
Peck decided that he needed to save other Pledges from Lily’s fate. He began trying to determine which Spokie middle schoolers were likely to flunk. When he located a potential flunkee, he watched them until he found a chance to warn them of the danger in person. Out of loyalty to Lily, Peck also kept an eye on her younger brother Logan, guessing that Logan might run into similar problems.Peck eventually became friends with Blake, a runaway who shared Peck’s suspicions, as well as Joanne, a teenaged native of Slog Row. Together they formed a rescue group of sorts that they named “the Dust,” after one of the slurs against the Markless. The three of them focused on locating, tracking, and alerting at-risk Pledges.
The Dust was not always successful. Some of the twelve-year-olds that Peck warned ignored him, Pledged, and successfully received the Mark. Others listened to Peck and went Markless. Evidently most of them joined other Markless huddles, but a few remained with the Dust. One of those who remained was Eddie Blackall, a notorious troublemaker. Another was Tyler, a Markless orphan who had wanted to Pledge before the Dust adopted him. Meg Steward, an autistic girl, was the last of these. Unfortunately, her kidnapping left the material evidence that caused much of Peck’s later trouble with DOME.
DOME had begun looking for Peck even before Meg's kidnapping. They were able to learn Peck’s last name, as well, and they issued a warrant for his arrest. Finding Peck proved harder than they had thought, but they did manage to locate two of Peck’s Marked friends, Jon and Trenton. The two boys had provided Peck with food, clothing, and shelter when necessary. Additionally, Trenton had connections that allowed him to give Peck chloroform, which the Dust used when a Pledge had to be kidnapped outright.
To frame Peck with murder, DOME sent an agent to attack fifteen-year-old Jon, who died from a blow to the back of his head. They had plans to kill Trenton as well, but Blake learned of their intentions and warned Peck. Peck arrived at the scene just as a DOME agent was attacking Trenton. Brandishing a chair, Peck fought the agent and injured him. Trenton, however, was already seriously hurt. The DOME agent had not been able to kill him, but Trenton had received a severe head wound which would leave him in a coma for months to come.
After Meg's kidnapping caught the attention of the national DOME organization, Peck realized he had no choice but to go into hiding. An abandoned book warehouse became his new home. Since the books there were all illegal, Peck spent most of his time studying topics that had not been taught in school. Jo brought him food and carried his messages to Blake, who began running surveillance in Peck’s place.
“Logan. We’re so glad you’re here. After all the trouble. I’d offer you a drink if I didn’t suppose you’d assume it poisoned.” —Daniel Peck
Peck appears during only a few scenes in Swipe, but his influence is felt throughout the book. On the night of the failed playground meeting with Logan, Peck hides nearby, waiting to talk to Logan. He stays near the playground after the rest of the Dust leaves and investigates the surveillance powder and tape that Erin had put around the play structure. Peck says a few words around the surveillance powder, which Logan’s ear gel picks up—just enough to let Logan know that Peck knows what Erin attempted. Then Peck dumps water on the powder, ruining it.
Peck meets with Blake in the old warehouse the next night to strategize. After discussing Logan’s situation further, Peck decides that the Dust should focus on Dane instead, using Hailey to track Dane and keep tabs on Logan.
Peck does not appear in person again until the end of the book, when Hailey brings Logan to the old warehouse. Peck tells Logan his story, describes the danger of Pledging, and explains that flunkees are sent away, not killed. He manages to convince Logan that he is telling the truth, but his revelation that Lily is still alive leads Logan to Pledge anyway in an attempt to learn what happened to his sister. The next day, Peck and the Dust are forced to flee the warehouse as a result of Logan’s unwise openness with Erin.
"I will be a part of Lily's rescue. DOME and I have a score to settle." —Daniel Peck
Despite Logan’s mistakes, Peck remains determined to help his friend’s brother, particularly since he hopes Logan may have learned where Lily was taken. Peck keeps in contact with Hailey, finally using her to bring Logan to the Hayes’s farm. As soon as Logan tells him Lily’s location, Peck wants to help find her, even though the rest of the Dust vocally opposes that idea.When DOME raids the farm and kills Papa Hayes, Peck and the Dust (excluding Logan, Dane, and Hailey) raft down the stream to escape. Even Peck’s best friend, Blake, continues questioning his judgment, and so Peck issues Blake and the Dust an ultimatum: accept the mission to rescue Lily, or get off the raft. The ties of friendship between them are strong enough that Blake chooses to stay, despite his misgivings.
When Erin finds the Dust in Beacon City, Peck is unwilling to trust her. Logan convinces him to listen to her, but they do not listen long enough for Erin to tell them the real nature of Acheron. Peck goes along on the initial Acheron break-in, but he remains hidden in case something goes wrong. When he sees Lily’s betrayal, he returns to the Dust and tells them what happened. This time Peck is more willing to listen to Erin. He goes along with her plan to empty Acheron and helps free Logan and Jo on the second Acheron break-in.
"I dropped everything for you. I gave up my friends. I gave up my life. I gave up my future. All for even a guess at what they did to you.... I learned how to lose you, Lily. It took time, and it hurt. But I learned how to do it. And now I realize. What I never learned was how to see you again. Not like this."
Peck drives Logan, Erin, and Hailey to Sierra City after Erin falls ill with Project Trumpet. At first Peck is highly distrustful of Dr. Rhyne, since she is extremely direct, does not always offer explanations, and can be cold. Erin’s confidence in the doctor helps Peck to relax, but he still gets into occasional disagreements with her, as both of them are strong-willed and very firm in their convictions.
Peck spends his time in Sierra City raiding the library, which is stocked with many banned classics, and talking with the town intellectuals. His time there is both illuminating and disorienting. Peck’s conclusions about the Marking process have been proved correct and taken as far as they can go. But Peck realizes that the challenges facing the citizens of the Global Union are far more serious than even the injustices against the Markless.
When Lily hacks the POD with Logan in it, Peck follows, and it takes Logan’s and Lily’s best efforts to convince him to trust her again. For Peck, Lily’s betrayal was personal, since he gave up his future to learn what happened to her. But Peck eventually agrees to help carry out Lily’s mission, helping Logan and Hailey make the necessary preparations. At the last minute, however, Peck tells them that he is not going. Logan and Hailey will be capable of handling the mission without his help. All that Peck learned in Sierra City, along with visions he has been seeing, have made him realize how little any of them understands the world’s real situation. Peck figured out quite a bit in relation to the Mark in Spokie, but now that the IMPS are public knowledge, the Dust's old methods of operation are defunct. In order to make a difference, Peck needs to understand the situation in a broader way. Parting with Hailey and Logan, Peck then leaves Sierra City, and eventually the American State.
"There's only one supreme Ruler, and your Chancellor Cylis ain't it." —Daniel Peck
Peck's visions--engineered by the Ultranet to appear on screens he saw and electronic books he read--ultimately led him into the Dark Lands. Utterly alone, he struggled across fifteen thousand miles of foreign territory, braving ancient leaky submarines, hostile strangers, and strange pre-Unity robots. He appears in the prologue to Spark at a village in the Russian Dark Lands, asking the frightened inhabitants about the girl in his visions. They know nothing about her, but they do warn him that heading toward Central Asia is dangerous--the home of the tincher legends.
Peck continues on, eventually coming into contact with the "tincher" robots in al-Balat. They become his army, helping him mount an attack on "Uncle Nico's" Taurus Mountain home to free the girl--Ali. Peck and a few select tinchers dig into the house through the basement while most of the other tinchers attempt to distract Uncle Nico with an assault on the outside. He finds Ali, but the IMPS protecting the house charge down into the basement and nearly take him captive. Ali uses her abilities to stop the IMPS, saving Peck's life. Peck then goes to free her from the brain-computer interface into which she is locked. But before he can intervene, Uncle Nico--who is actually Chancellor Cylis--pulls out an old pistol and shoots Ali. Having accomplished his mission, he flees the house, leaving Ali to die.
Peck wraps Ali in a blanket and allows the tinchers to take them to the old hospital in al-Balat. Initially Peck thought that the tinchers should have taken Ali to Third Rome for help, but the tinchers perform a successful surgery on Ali, saving her life. While Ali is unconscious, she releases all the Global Union's secret documents through the Ultranet, and the Markless of the Dark Lands declare war on Cylis. Peck joins their cause. By the time Ali wakes, he has adopted the Markless mark--a circle of ash on his forehead. He and Ali later find her mother's village, where the tinchers build "smart" homes for all the inhabitants. They build a room for Peck as well, allowing him to be near Ali, waiting for their next mission.
Peck stopped shaving at some point after he left Sierra City. By the time Ali meets him in Spark, he has a scruffy beard and long hair. His skin is dirty, presumably from helping the tinchers dig into Cylis's basement.
Peck is harder on himself than on others, which may account for why he paints such a negative picture of himself as a child. Most likely, Peck either views himself as worse than he actually was, or there was another explanation for his difficulties in school and at home. At any rate, Lily, who, by all accounts, was extremely sensitive to injustice, trusted Peck. Peck’s misbehavior led many adults to issue threats about how he wouldn’t come back from the Pledge if he didn’t behave, which initiated his suspicions about the procedure. This independent way of thinking may have been among the things that instigated some of his early conflicts with authority.
Whatever Peck was like as a child, as a young man, he is generally thoughtful, empathetic, and sensitive toward other people. Peck can overreact when feeling threatened, but otherwise he behaves with generosity toward the failings of people whom he believes are well-intentioned. The visionary of the Dust, he has built his life around a desire to protect the rights of others.
Family and RelationshipsEdit
Peck did not have a close relationship with his parents. His difficult behavior alone would have precluded any sort of close affinity between them. He never describes what they were like, and he almost never mentions them. Although Peck kept in contact with other Marked people from his childhood—Jon and Trenton in particular—he has not communicated with his parents since he became Markless.
Highly intelligent and widely read, Peck shows a remarkable ability to reach accurate conclusions when very little information is available. Peck is also very perceptive, having an almost uncanny knack for recognizing endangered Pledges. He easily adapts to different circumstances, whether that be mounting clandestine surveillance or organizing nationwide protests.