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Sire: Hugh of Exeter
Physical Strength 3, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4
Social: Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Appearance 3
Mental: Perception 3, Intelligence 3, Wits 4
Talents: Alertness 3, Athletics 3, Brawl 2, Dodge 2, Empathy 2, Streetwise 2
Skills: Animal Ken 3, Melee 2, Drive 2, Firearms 3, Survival 3
Knowledges: Academics 2, Computer 2, Investigation 3, Linguistics 1, Occult 3, Science (Zoology) 3
Backgrounds: Allies 1, Contacts 4, Generation 3, Mentor 2, Resources 2, Retainers 1
Virtues: Conscience 4, Self-Control 3, Courage 4
Morality: Humanity 7
Disciplines: Dominate 2, Fortitude 2, Presence 3
Although very tall, Nick isnít skinny; he has a fairly well developed musculature from his extremely active life as a mortal. His dress is conventional enough (denim jeans, T-shirts, brown leather jackets and the like), but he tends towards clothing designed for rugged durability and ability to cope with harsh terrain. For example, he always wears good walking boots instead of sneakers or formal shoes.
Yup, I'm Canadian. I don't know whether I prefer Americans, who never miss a chance to crack a Canuck joke, or the Brits, who don't know the difference between a Canadian accent and an American one and just call me a "Yank." On second thoughts, I do know. I prefer Americans. They believe in equal opportunity accents. Brits tend to judge you by how you speak. You remember that line from My Fair Lady? "An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him / The moment he talks, he makes some other Englishman despise him"? Too true. Bernard Shaw said Americans and Brits were "Two countries divided by a common language." Daim snickered at me when I said that, and told me it was actually pronounced BERNard, not bernARD. Quick as a flash, I said "Oh, fuck off." I was always good at coming up with witty comebacks.
Okay, gripe over. My Dad was - still is, actually - an engineer. His specialty is adapting drilling equipment to extreme environments. Being raised in northern Canada, he knows quite a bit about extreme environments. He was big on the whole "back to nature" thing. First took me hiking and camping when I was about six, and lots of times since. In high school, I got into other physically demanding sports, like rock climbing, as well. I was the star of the school swim team too. Thank God for heated indoor pools, though.
I always liked animals, and for a while I thought I wanted to be a vet, but loving the great outdoors like I do, I guess it was a natural for me to get involved in conservation projects instead. Dad earns obscene amounts of money, and mom inherited even more obscene amounts without having to work for it, so I could afford to do what I wanted without having to worry about where the next meal was coming from.
Ecologists are ten a penny, but ecologists who can actually survive for extended periods without the little creature comforts which twentieth-century man takes for granted
they're rarer. So I was never short of work. I spent several years tracking moose, elk, deer, even bears and wolves. Happy days. Which came to an end when I was visiting my Dad on his latest project. Just your average little test drill, but it was complicated by unusual formations of rock, or ice, or both - whatever. They were camped out in this one-horse town in the middle of nowheresville, population about 30, all of 'em inbred mutants. A real dump. And two of Dad's crew get themselves murdered.
'Course, we didn't actually know it was murder, not at first. Their bodies were mauled pretty badly - almost torn apart - and there was virtually no blood left in either of them. Let me guess. A little light just came on behind your eyes, and you're thinking "Ah! He investigated, and discovered that it was a vampire!"
Don't I wish. Vampires don't eat the brains of their victims. We found the insides of both the poor guys' skulls picked clean. There was a faint trail leading away from one of the corpses. Very faint; I'd not have noticed it if it hadn't been for all my years of fieldwork. So I told my Dad, and we followed it, totin' shotguns and any other firepower we could lay our hands on. And we found what looked like a nest made of snow, with human footprints leading away from it. We were freaked, as you can imagine. Another hunter finding the creature we were after, that we could understand - but why would he go barefoot in this snow? The guy would have to be insane. We began to wonder if the killer might be some kind of psycho rather than an animal.
A blizzard blew up, and we had to get to shelter. By the time the weather cleared up, the trail was long gone, of course. We called in the police - who investigated and came up with squat, the trail was literally cold at that point -and slept with one ear open from then on. The test drilling was coming up dry, and there didn't seem to be anything more to do except pack the few personal effects the victims had with them, and clear out. Because I didn't really know them, I volunteered to do that. Less painful for me, I figured, than guys who'd known them years. Only, when I opened the door of Rick's room - Rick was the first victim - there was someone already in there. Someone who looked exactly like Rick. He was standing there bare-chested, sorting through a pile of Rick's clothes. He shrugged when he saw me.
"Too bad, Nick. Unlucky for you that you walked in on me."
Then the skin of his naked chest started to ripple. So did his face. I just stood there frozen as he literally dissolved in front of my eyes, into a mass of squirming things. How can I describe them? They were blood red in color, slimy and glistening like maggots, with moist, segmented bodies. The tails had what looked like a scorpion's stinger. The front opened up into four jaws, each of which as equipped with tiny, sharp teeth. There was a compound eye, like an insect's, above each jaw section. And they stank like nothing I ever encountered before or since.
I just stood there. I couldn't move a muscle. I wasn't so much terrified as disgusted and simply disbelieving. Behind me, the door burst open again, and I felt something shove me aside. I went sprawling onto the floor. The guy who'd pushed me was tall, and thin, with iron-gray hair and a two-day growth of stubble on his face. And he was holding - absurd as it sounds - a garden sprinkler, which he was using to spray the maggots. They didn't like it. They writhed and burst apart in disgusting globules of black pus. The stink grew even worse. My jaw dropped open. And a single maggot, on the very edge of the swarm, leaped down my throat.
It was more revolting than I can describe to you. The taste was foul beyond anything I can find the words for, but my gag reflex refused to work. I felt the thing slithering into my gullet, and a sudden savage pain in my gut. The stranger knelt beside me. The rest of the maggots were a pile of reeking goo on the floor.
"My poor child," he whispered softly. A single tear rolled down his cheek, but it wasn't clear. It was blood red.
"Listen to me, please. You have only a few minutes of rational thought left. The creature within you is eating you alive and spawning more of its kind in your body. Very soon, it will eat your brain and consume your memories and personality. I can stop it by killing you. But you need not remain dead." Vampire fangs, unmistakable from a dozen bad movies, slid from his gums for a moment, then retracted. "Little time remains to you. Choose quickly."
I felt a cruel wave of pain and nausea from my gut. "Please. Just help me."
Most other vampires I've spoken to describe their Embrace as a mingling of agony and ecstasy. What I felt was mostly pain and nausea. As my body started to die, the maggots could no longer find any sustenance inside me. My first memories of my new existence consist of puking up a dozen blood-maggots - they'd bred that fast in a matter of minutes - and watching my sire reduce them to ooze with his spray. Disgusting.
The next few weeks were frenetic. Rick wasn't the only maggot-creature out there - Andy Drake, the second victim, had been similarly "absorbed." My sire recruited me, and then my Dad, into the hunt for him - or it, I should say. At least I don't have to hide what I am from my Dad - when Andy did the dissolving trick in front of him, he was just grateful to Hugh for saving me from that fate, even at such a cost. Hugh taught me a lot over the next few years, but then he suggested that I needed to strike out on my own for a bit. He pulled some strings amongst some old allies in the York Camarilla to set me up there, and I got involved with some other neonates who share my interest in whatever Truth is Out There.
Nick's sire and Mentor, Hugh of Exeter, was a priest Embraced into Clan Ventrue during the plague outbreaks of the fourteenth century and the demonic manifestations, which accompanied them. His sire wanted an able and intelligent warrior against the various infernalist threats, which were starting to encroach on Ventrue interests; Hugh exceeded his wildest expectations. Now a powerful elder, Hugh serves various Justicars as a specialist Archon dealing with strange and unusual creatures.
Over the centuries, Hugh has assembled a formidable array of information resources - scholarly societies, libraries, ghoul occultists, and lately, Internet based technologies. (He has little understanding of computers himself but has taken care to recruit servants who do). Nick, his latest child, can call upon a portion of this impressive array of Contacts. Nick's Dad has become a staunch- if still slightly freaked out - Ally. His Resources come from an allowance from his father, while his Retainer is a drummer in a heavy-metal band based in York, whom Nick once saved from a zombie.
The Blood Maggots
The blood maggots area an unusually corporeal type of Bane. Their life cycle begins as a single maggot, which infects a human host. The maggot reproduces itself at a tremendous rate, consuming the majority of the host's body, particularly the blood and brain. The mass of maggots then swarms away from the corpse and buries itself in snow. In this larval stage, the maggots are very vulnerable to temperatures above freezing, and will dissolve almost instantly if exposed to them.
After gestating in their "nest" for a few days, the maggots amalgamate themselves into a single group creature, with the exact appearance, abilities, and knowledge of their victim. (But not the victim's spirit; the consumed person is irrevocably dead at this point, although the maggots may serve as a Fetter if he has become a Wraith). The new creature must consume a sentient victim each lunar month or it will sicken and dissolve within a few days; it reverts to its "swarm" form to feed. A maggot-creature is effectively immortal as long as it continues to feed, and is every bit as intelligent and adaptable as the creature which formed it "template." It may create others of its own kind by infecting a victim with a single maggot from its own mass; the new creature will not retain any of the "parent's" memories or abilities. The creatures cannot absorb dead flesh like that of vampires.
A twelfth-century manuscript from Germany (author unknown), describes a solution to which the maggots are vulnerable. Pure spring water, mixed with certain herbs and alchemical preparations, can be brewed into something, which slays them on contact. Unfortunately, when a maggot dies, it dissolves into a toxic waste, which is absorbed into the bloodstream and kills almost instantly, so drinking the mixture after infection simply grants a merciful death. The blood maggots, which infected Nick were a nest bound by Uktena Bane-tenders in the distant past, and freed by the exploratory drilling; it's uncertain why the Uktena abandoned the nest.