All Mixeds twelve and over living in Citadel-controlled areas must have an ID mark. This is usually part of the job of census staff. When conducting a census they will check the small mark on the upper arm that is initially given for the date of birth, which is made during the first year after a Mixed is born, at the registration centers in the sectors where mothers are required by law to bring a child more than three months old. This mark is not intended to last the child’s entire life and can sometimes be so faded and warped by growth that the census taker has to make an educated guess. If the child is twelve or older they will have to be taken to the registration centers for the full ID, also given on the shoulder of the left arm.
The mark denotes age, sex, species of mix, and whether or not they are a free worker. The free designation, a small replica of the Citadel phoenix, is purposefully the most delicate and difficult to replicate part of the tattoo. Citadel employees use a stencil, but there are many street fakers who cater to runaways, and their faked free marks can range from almost indistinguishable from the Citadel design to flagrantly incorrect. Most good fakes are very expensive, so many runways prefer to take the risks of not having the mark, at least until they can earn enough money to pay for a good forgery.
The ID marks used in Dalton come from Genext’s method of labeling their creations, since each lab had their own system but Genext was the one based in Dalton, so most Dalton Mixeds were already Genext marked.
The first mark designates quarter of birth, with First Quarter running January through March, Second April through June, Third July through September, and Fourth October through December. After this comes the year of birth, then a symbol denoting the Mixed’s sex. A filled hexagon is the mark for male, while an open one is the female symbol. The species designation is a two-letter abbreviated name after the sex, followed by a unique serial number. the number of digits in the serial number and the first number of that set are good indicators of how old a Mixed is, even if the age part of the mark is faded or damaged. The serial number’s first digit shows which ‘generation’ the Mixed is, or how many times their genetics have been diluted or mixed since the initial lab creation. Only a few “first gens” are left, and they are only considered such because they are the children of two of the same exact species and thus have undiluted genes.
The Citadel-given tattoos are done with a chemically made ink, and using an electrically powered needle gun. The tattoos have a very distinctive color and look that is difficult for street artists, with their improvised tools, to replicate. Most street modifications to an ID are simply to put the free designator on the end. However, a few rarer changes are to serial number or one of the other sections.These are more risky because the color difference is more likely to stand out when the modification is made on an existing portion than in the separate free mark. Occasionally an entire ID mark has to be faked, for a newcomer planning on staying. This is especially dangerous because there is no guarantee that the fake serial number will not be checked and either match with the wrong Mixed or be an unused number. These tattoos will only pass a cursory inspection.
Most street artists use sewing needles or porcupine quills as needles, and ink is generally made from soot, to attempt to match the black Citadel ink. Sometimes, for a closer match, the more reputable artists will tint the ink with natural dyes from flowers and berries to try to come closer to the blue-black tone. They use other mixtures of these natural dyes to give tattoos that Mixeds choose for themselves, often denoting a particular band of street fighters they belong to, honor of a dead family member, or their allegiance to a protest movement. These are rarer, since to display evidence of being involved in street fighting gangs or protests can be used to legitimize an arrest. Some Escorts are tattooed to show what house they belong to or to identify them to Sector guards.
If a Mixed is sent to Reconditioning, they are branded with a hot iron rather than having any change made to their tattooed mark. A hot brand is harder to cover up or modify in any way, and cannot be mistaken for any other marking. It also makes a distinctly separate designation between any mixed who has been through Reconditioning, as all that will be needed will be to look for a brand, rather than inspect the serial ID mark, which can fade or be drawn over to disguise an addition. The brand is given on the left collarbone, and is simply a serial number that matches the year and date the Mixed was admitted to Reconditioning, and if necessary, also a number to separate them from others also admitted on that date. The brand is usually given by drawing a heated metal rod across the skin, and thus is often less legible than the tattoos. It changes based on which person is doing the branding on a day, and also can leave large scars if the iron is left still too long or slips. Many brands become infected and scar badly, and some Mixeds even die from the infection while imprisoned. A Mixed with a brand is often alienated and has a difficult time finding work if free. If a slave, they are likely to be treated more harshly than others.