"The Dust" was the original name for the Markless. Although considered a slur by most people, the Dust chose that name to show its countercultural nature.
- Daniel Peck--Eighteen years old, Peck figured out the real meaning of the Mark before anyone else. He formed the Dust and serves as its leader. Peck was Lily Langly's best friend before her disappearance.
- Blake--Fourteen-year-old Blake is Peck's second-in-command. When Peck is away, he takes on the responsibility of guiding the Dust's day-to-day operations.
- Joanne--Although, at fifteen, Jo is only slightly older than most of the other members, she serves as Peck's assistant or Blake's enforcer, as necessary.
- Logan Langly--After his Pledge convinces him that Peck is right about the Mark, thirteen-year-old Logan joins the Dust. A similar goal drives both Logan and Peck--that of somehow saving Logan's sister Lily.
- Hailey Phoenix--Hailey, at age twelve, served as a spy for the Dust within Spokie Middle School. Under suspicion by DOME, she later left Spokie in order to join the Dust.
- Tyler--Thirteen-year-old Tyler is excellent at upsetting DOME and an utter failure at sitting still.
- Erin Arbitor--Unlike the other members of the Dust, thirteen-year-old Erin is Marked. Once the Dust's biggest enemy, her research convinced her to side with the Markless. She is an expert computer hacker.
- Shawn--Teenage computer hacker Shawn was known as "the Tech Whiz" for his ability to erase Markscans. After meeting Erin, Shawn ended up using his hacking skills to help the Dust.
- Meg Steward--Although, at age thirteen, Meg's autism leaves her largely nonverbal, Meg is a vital part of the Dust's missions. Out of all the Dust, Meg probably has the greatest skill wielding a frying pan.
- Rusty--Six-year-old Rusty, a Markless orphan, was rescued from DOME by Blake.
- Eddie Blackall--Captured during the first Acheron break-in, Eddie was brainwashed and Marked before the Dust could rescue him. The brainwashing was not permanent, however, and he began helping Lily Langly in her plans to overthrow the Global Union.
- Dane Harold--Thirteen-year-old Dane left the Dust in order to serve as a radio link between the Dust's operations in Beacon City and Logan's and Hailey's families in Spokie. Although he is no longer physically with the Dust, his radio program helped the Dust instigate the Markless protests.
Daniel Peck formed the Dust several years before Swipe. The original members were Peck, Joanne, and Blake. As a result of Lily Langly's disappearance, Peck began to understand that the Marking program was partially intended to eliminate potential troublemakers, and he wanted to prevent that from happening to any more of Spokie's middle schoolers. Since he, Joanne, and Blake could not approach Pledges with those facts under normal circumstances, Peck developed a set of techniques that involve observing Pledges to ascertain whether they might be at risk and then luring them to a place where Peck could alert them to the danger. Usually that location was Spokie's old wooden playground, since it did not have lights or surveillance cameras.Eddie Blackall and Tyler were next to join the Dust. Peck kidnapped Eddie, an infamous troublemaker, too keep him from failing his Pledge. Tyler, a Markless orphan, was pulled into the Dust through friendship. Two of Peck's Marked friends also provided help to the Dust--fifteen-year-old Jon and seventeen-year-old Trenton.
Like most other Markless in Spokie, the Dust lived on Slog Row during most of its early existence. About a year before DOME's national organization began investigating Peck, the Dust began living at the Fulmart on Slog Row. At that point, the Fulmart was a black market operation run by the elderly couple known as Mama and Papa Hayes, and the Dust slept in the store at night in exchange for guarding it against intruders. The Fulmart served as a home base for the Dust as it endeavored to warn at-risk Pledges.
Meg Steward, like Eddie, became part of the Dust somewhat unwillingly. Her kidnapping brought the Dust onto the radar of the national DOME organization, leading to Jon's murder and Trenton's brain injury at the hands of a DOME agent. Following these disasters, Peck went into hiding, and Blake took over the day-to-day operations of the Dust.
The Dust kidnaps Meg Steward in the prologue of the book. Its members go on to kidnap Dane Harold and to track Logan. At last Hailey, whom Joanne recruited as a spy, brings Logan to meet Peck. Logan ultimately decides to Pledge, against the advice of the Dust, in order to find out what happened to his sister. Unfortunately, he confides what he learned to Erin Arbitor, who reports it to DOME. As a result, the Dust's hideout is destroyed, and the Dust are forced to flee into the woods in order to escape DOME.
SneakEditAfter several weeks in the woods, the Dust found its way to relative safety at the Hayes's farm. When Logan arrives at the farm, however, DOME is not far behind. Although Logan, Dane, and Hailey are separated from the rest of the Dust, Peck is determined to rescue Lily anyway. Blake, Joanne, Eddie, and Tyler object, but when Peck issues an ultimatum, they decide to stay together, following the Unmarked River eastward. Reunited in Beacon City (except for Dane, who chose to stay in the Appalachian Mountains), the Dust attempts to rescue Lily. The attempt fails, leaving Logan, Joanne, and Eddie trapped inside Acheron. With the help of Erin Arbitor's strategizing and Dane Harold's radio broadcast, the Dust then engineers a wave of Markless protests that allow them to mount a second rescue attempt. The Dust is successful in saving Logan and Joanne, but Eddie becomes an IMP before they arrive.
The Dust splits up again. This time, Peck takes Erin, Logan, and Hailey west to Sierra City in order to find help for Erin, who is ill with Project Trumpet. The rest of the Dust remains in Beacon City, trying to find Eddie. While Logan, Hailey, and Peck attempt to end the drought caused by the Lahoma weather mill, the Dust in Beacon City find the activation protein that helps Dr. Rhyne develop a cure for Project Trumpet and save Erin's life. Before Logan and Hailey go to deal with the weather mill, the Dust splits yet again. Peck believes that the situation they are dealing with is complicated in a way that he does not comprehend, and he leaves Beacon City, and possibly the American State, in order to get a better understanding of how to take action.
The Markless in the New Chicago metropolitan area largely revere Peck and the Dust. Peck recognized early on, however, that the Markless, as a group, were too desperate to be trusted. As a result, once DOME began investigating the Dust's activities, Peck kept his whereabouts unknown to most of the Markless. This strategy helped to protect him, although most of Slog Row's Unmarked residents would have refused to put Peck at risk in any case, as Logan and Erin found out when they initially tried to locate Peck.
Markless who have offered direct support to Peck and the Dust include Mama and Papa Hayes and the Unmarked community in Beacon. Workers on the Unmarked River also helped the Dust, although they did not know the Dust's identity or goals.
Marked supporters of the Dust are rare, since the Dust, by its very nature, exists to oppose the Mark. The earliest Marked supporters of the Dust were Jon and Trenton, who both paid an extreme price for their contributions. Once Hailey Phoenix's Marked mother, Dianne Phoenix, became aware of the Dust's activities, she gave Hailey her approval and emotional support. After Hailey and Logan had both left Spokie, Dianne joined with Logan's Marked grandmother Sonya to form a pro-Markless radio broadcast that helped the Dust fulfill several of its missions.
Shawn's Markscan-erasing services have left him with a number IOUs from his Marked clients. Some of these clients, such as the Sweeneys, allowed the Dust to use their apartments during the Dust's IMP-instigating attempts to find Eddie. Additionally, Charles and Olivia Arbitor, Erin's parents, gave up their earlier opposition to the Dust after learning that Erin had become a member. They fed and sheltered the Dust in exchange for the Dust's help in contacting Erin and, ultimately, in saving her life.
The Dust is, understandably, disliked by many Marked citizens. It has its opponents among the Markless, as well--some Unmarked people believe that the Dust's aggressiveness endangers the Markless community as a whole.
Designation as a Terrorist GroupEdit
As soon as the New Chicago chapter of DOME discovered Peck's activities, it identified Peck as a threat and took extreme steps to secure his arrest. The local DOME agents managed to cut off Peck's support by killing Jon and severely injuring Trenton, but they failed to locate Peck. Following Meg Steward's kidnapping, the national DOME organization finally stepped in, transferring Charles Arbitor from Beacon City to coordinate the investigation. Until the night of Dane Harold's kidnapping, however, DOME did not know that Peck was working with a group. Following this discovery, the Dust was labeled a terrorist cell by the government.