Emerald City Nexus
Female, 20, were-mountain lion, hispanic and caucasian decent, laid back personality until crossed
Hight: 5 ft, 7 in
Appearance: long jet black hair and bangs, long and slender limbs, has several tattoos including a cougar on her upper back
Parentage: hispanic and caucasian, both were were-cougars
Personality: Laid back, spends much of day time napping, moves around quietly, attacks quickly when threatened, strong beast call
Hobbies: napping, painting and art
Renee’s origin story
At twenty years of age most young adults don’t find themselves crashing through the woods in rural Oregon being hunted by half-dozen red necks and their energetic dogs. Most people my age aren’t half mountain lion either. This is where I found myself on the day commemorating my 20th year on the planet Earth. Happy Birthday to me.
I was always destined to be in the situation I was in. My parents were both were-cougars and had fallen in love over a buck carcass. They must have thought it was romantic. I was told that their attraction was instantaneous. My mother grew up in Northern California mostly sheltered from the supernatural world. She hid her second identity from her friends and family, awkwardly stumbling upon the rules of the second world. My Father grew up in Central America and traveled around as part of a small group of vigilantes who tracked down and eliminated other-world nasties.
I was the lucky one. At least this is what I am told. I never had to figure out my identity on my own. I had a safe paranormal network to rely on. Today on my Birthday, one that should be filled with cake, sneaking alcohol and late night clubbing in Phoenix, I don’t feel so lucky. The hunters had spotted me in puma form on a sheep ranch a few miles outside of the poe-dunk town I had spent two weeks trying to establish a new life. I was aware that the local farmers were sensitive about their stock but I did not put as much thought into their reaction at spotting a real cougar. I was not going to taste their mutton and would just pass through mostly undetected but one of their guard dogs caught my sent after the wind changed directions. It leaped out from under the mobile home’s porch and alerted its owner that someone was going after the flock. It was amazing how fast the group of three young beagles and the Rottweiler mix were dispatched by the mobile home’s owner. The dogs were on my trail quickly and the man followed in his beat up truck. He must have called up some buddies before joining because after twenty minutes of weaving through brush in twilight and climbing over a small rock face, more men were yelling and shooting off guns just a mile from my location. From that moment I knew it would be a long night. I could try crossing the local river a few times to shake the dogs but with men following it would be difficult. They would be able to spot me easily on the flat open stretch around the river and then pick up my trail again as I moved south-west. I wouldn’t have an opportunity to shift back to human form as running around naked in the woods would probably provoke the men even more. My other option was to travel north through the mountains and hopefully escape. I wasn’t a fan of this plan knowing that my motorcycle, crafts for sale and clothes were going to be left behind. I had already left behind my childhood home three weeks earlier and leaving behind even a small portion of what I had left frightened me more than I had ever been.
My mother was shot by human hunters while in cougar form a year after I was born. Then at five years, my father was murdered by vampires somewhere outside of Mexico City. My parents had arranged for my care by my Godfather. Ted was also a were-cougar. He was probably the oldest were Cougar in North America. His survival wasn’t by chance; he was resourceful in his connections, meticulous in defensive plans and stubborn as hell. My personality was more shaped by Ted then my parents, who I don’t even remember. All I had a faded Polaroid of my parents and myself as a baby in my mother’s arms, but that went up in smoke when Ted’s house got torched.
After my father was killed Ted brought me to Arizona where he lived on some acreage in a very sparsely populated area. As a cub, Ted taught me the basics: how to tie shoes, ride a bike, hunt for your supper and make a living creating art.
Ted crafted ceramics. Lots of locals in Arizona throw pots but that is why he had set up his life in the desert. He would make bowls, water jugs and planters for the tourists and then craft sculptures, mostly totems, for his own pleasure. I am fairly good at molding clay by my real passion is painting. I enjoy mixing colors and watching the image appear on the canvas. Much of the time I am not certain how the art will look up until the point that it tells me I am done. There is a spiritual connection between the artist and her art. Much like the cougar spirit within myself connects with me while I transform and become closer to nature.
While I was still a child my transformations from child to cub and then back, happened randomly. I was able to control the change as much as any child is able to control emotions. It was through coaching and a little bit of harassment from Ted that I was able to reduce this. Because I have two cougar-were parents, I have a higher connection with my cougar spirit then other weres. I can say that I have near full control of my spirit half but under strong emotions of fear and anger it becomes difficult to come back to humanity.
This control of the spirit, fueled by fear, is what pushed me North away from the hunters, their dogs and over a mountain. By the following morning I could see the Columbia River. I traveled west after collapsing to rest in a pine tree most of the day. After finding a bridge spanning the river, I crossed at night taking care to hide from passing car headlights. Once in Washington State I knew I was no longer hunted by humans but by vampires. I could have attracted local vampire population’s attention but it was more likely that the vamps that killed Ted were determined to eliminate me as well.
I was a pre-teen when Ted started teaching me self-defense. The training started out as a cover for protecting myself against strange men in dark allies. I didn’t fully believe that reason because where we lived there were very few allies and I knew all the local people. Occasionally we would hunt wildlife together, pouncing on small critters for fun. Soon I took more hunting trips by myself pushed by my spirit to become a lone predator. Ted would also spend more time away on business trips. When I was younger he said that he was selling art in the city, but when I became more aware of the world he told me about what was beyond life as a human. Ted introduced me to other men who worked with him to track and locate vampire hives and exterminate them.
Ted had started a small group of vampire hunters about the same time my parents had met. My father came north to the United States to join this group having done the same in Central America. His group wasn’t affiliated with any larger group of wizards or were communities, they were just a rag-tag group of rebels tired of vamps being the top predator. Some of them were werewolves, or others born with a beast sprit but they also had some with magical talent. There one common goal was to track down red court vampires that were infecting and defiling most of South and Central America. Ted’s group didn’t have too many problems with hives setting up in their neighborhood but occasionally a wandering vamp would be dispatched to the area to scout. Then Ted and his buddies would show them who the top predator of the South-Western States was.
The men most recently working with Ted included: a rogue werewolf, Robbie Hu; a part faun of the summer court fae, Charles Vickers; and an ex-Catholic priest from Guatemala, Bother Serna. This group of men was well balanced for combating the reds. The werewolf was the tracker, the fae would hide their presence until they had the moment to strike, Ted would pounce first eliminating the weakest and the priest would serve the final blows driving them to the netherworld via God. I had known all of them growing up and they taught me as much as they could about their kind after I became an adult. It was difficult leaving home after high school. Although I was a loner and didn’t really connect with my peers at school, I was connected to the land and to the community that I grew up in. I started college at Arizona State University so that I could come home on the weekends. I stayed in contact with Ted closely my freshman year but then after that I got involved in my studies and he became deeply involved in a larger operation with his group. I came home for winter break, only a month from my twentieth birthday, not knowing the trouble Ted and his friends had gotten into.
Now the trouble was after me. At night time Vampires are difficult to escape from. They are stealthy, but it is their speed and strength that is more difficult to avoid. If there was just one of them on my tail I may be able to set up a trap and take care of him myself, but if the number exceeded one, I am pretty much screwed. If I didn’t get away from them and fast, I would be dead by sunrise. Then I got lucky. A slow moving cargo train was passing through the valley on the other side of the river. If I could catch up to it, I could hitch a ride away from this area and hide until the sun came up. Okay, it is a very poor plan but between me and the wheat fields, I didn’t have many options. With my cougar power and speed I caught up to the train relatively quickly. I found an unoccupied container and leapt aboard with no more effort than a housecat jumping onto a book shelf. I settled down into one corner watching the dark landscape flash by. The train picked up speed and I recalled what had happened when I had returned from college a month ago.
Ted had left a note on the kitchen table: “I’m out on a raid. Be home soon. Food in the freezer.” At the bottom corner Ted had scrawled his name. I knew the food he was referring to was a collection of frozen meat varying from half a cow to a whole rabbit. This was normal fare for us but since college and living closer to mortal humans; my appetite was more for tacos and pizza. I decided to take my motorcycle into town when I got hungry and pick up some burgers. I loved my bike. It was fast, it growled, but it mostly frightened the hell out of Ted. I can take care of myself. I felt that Ted was just telling me to be careful too often.
Ted returned the next night looking fatigued and a little on the thin side. His cheek bones were visible under his beard that seemed thinner and almost completely white. He just seemed so much older suddenly.
“How’s it going, kiddo?” He greeted me with a deep purr that I reciprocated as our puma greeting.
“Not bad. Say, how did your hunt go?”
“…Uh, Well… Not so good. We tracked a hive down late last summer and we were planning on getting them then but Brother had come down with a cold so we had to delay it until later. We were planning on hitting them once spring came but there has been some unusual activity recently. We thought that they were turning some locals.”
The hair on the back of my neck rose in anger. Vampires’ preying on local humans is a big dis to Ted’s group. It sounded like the vampires were planning a takeover of the area. That could mean the end of safety in our town.
Ted rubbed the back of his neck as he sat down in his favorite chair in front of the wood burning fire place, “Charlie’s veil failed” He visibly winced as he said it. “I didn’t have time to set up for the first blow.” He sighed looking down at his hands. “They took down Brother and Charlie. Robbie and I barely made it out alive.”
I was shocked. Sure he had men die to vampires before but never in an operation where they were the ones on the offensive. These men were his close friends. I could tell he felt personally responsible for their fate. “Aww, Ted.” Was all I could say. I had no idea how to comfort him.
Then glass shattered in the back bedroom. We were both on our feet instantly. We fell into fighting mode when two red court vampires entered our house through the bed room windows and one from the back door. They were in their nasty black bat-like form. Mucus ran from their deformed noses, fangs protruded from their snarling mouths and their wings defended their bodies. They were immensely bigger than I thought they were. All I could think was that Ted was crazy for voluntarily hunting these monsters.
Ted began shifting into cat form as I stood lamely behind him.
“Hold it there cat-human.” The creature that had entered through the door hissed. “I believe I have something of yours”. Its mouth formed into a distorted sort of smile. From behind it another vamp pushed forward Robbie with its fangs threatening his neck.
“Oh shit!” Ted and I gulped at the same time.
The lead vampire continued, “I do not appreciate your little group trying to attack my family. I came to this country because it is the land of the free, home of the brave.” The patriotic phrase sounded evil. “I expect to live out my life without cats, dogs and goats trying to kill me. All of you are animals!” The vampire screeched “animals” as if it was swearing.
Ted became defiant “We had a human priest too!”
“Oh yes, I remember. He’s over there, now one of us. I think he saw the light.” One of the smaller vampires that had come in through the window waved a claw. “Yes, he was kind enough to help us inside your house.”
Ted, Robbie and I exchanged glances. We all knew that meant that Brother Serna had been previously compromised, most likely when he had been sick in late summer. No wonder their mission had gone sour. He must have recently killed for blood, converting him completely into the monstrous form presented to us. He could easily have pretended to continue to be human hiding under an ectoplasmic skin. He was no longer a man championing for God. All his humanity and source of good was gone.
“Now you have the opportunity to join Brother Serna and become part of my family. So, who would like to be next?” The way it was phrased I knew it was not a question.
The vampire began to approach Ted. Robbie gave out a howl, “Don’t let them take us alive!” He elbowed his captor in the blood filled stomach and frantically pulled himself loose. Ted took that small distraction to transform his hands into claws and started slashing at the ring leader. The Brother turned vamp moved into attack me.
I shook myself out of my stupor and defended myself with the only vampire defense within grasp: a flaming log from the fireplace. I waved the fire at the vamp pushing it back. A large claw knocked the log out of my grasp and onto a sofa that began catching fire itself.
Ted yelled to me, “Get out of the house!”
Robbie was punching his vamp in the stomach, Ted was tearing two others to shreds with his claws and I grabbed one more protruding log from the fire and a bottle of lighter fluid to defend myself. Blood, smoke and flame seemed to be everywhere. I doused the vamp blocking my exit from the house with the lighter fluid, squeezing the bottle like a projectile weapon. Then I quickly rubbed the flaming log on the front of the creature. It screeched in pain as the flames started eating away at its flesh. It flailed its arms knocking into the other vampire tangling with Robbie. The room was small enough that each fighting move was close to hitting both opposition and ally. Out of sheer luck all three of them clumsily toppled out of my way but unlucky caused the entire room to become engulfed in flame.
“Get out of here!” I heard Ted roar again as I stumbled out of the door.
I coughed and spat having breathed in toxic smoke. The roof must have caught fire and I could see part of it cave in blocking my view through the open door to the living room. I ran around the house frantically looking for Ted or Robbie to escape the burning structure. I was lucky and all the vampires had been in the house when the confronted us. They had been cocky thinking us small prey when attacking our den. I knew Robbie and Ted would fight ferociously against the vampires until they couldn’t anymore. The house had burned quickly and no one exited. I would hear the occasional death shrieks of a vampire as it melted out of existence. My cougar side’s roared for the loss of my Godfather through human tears and sobs.
I stayed with the house until it was just smoldering ashes. The fire trucks had come only to put water lamely on it. Policemen tried to ask me intrusive questions. Everything I had was now gone. I had nothing to say to these humans that could explain how I came to be standing in front of the burnt remains of my house. I must have said enough to satisfy them because they eventually left. The sun had risen at some point during my amnesia. I gathered myself up and crawled onto my motorbike. I rode away from my house, my town and I blindly left the state.
When I had fallen out of my numbness I was in a small tourist arts town in Oregon. I had run away from everything that my life had been until this point. But it wouldn’t be enough to escape those who were after me.
Sitting on the train, I remembered who I was facing. The vampires on my trail would probably not stop just because I got out of the area. They were probably of the same hive as the ones that were killed in the fire. They would be expert trackers able to follow prey over hundreds of miles. I snoozed for some time and awoke to the train’s whistle as it pulled into the commerce and shipping area of the largest city in the Northwest, Seattle. Great more people, I thought. I would need to find some clothing and change forms before I was spotted and hunted. Again.