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Quote: "I'd rather be surfing..." Background: Alexander Hoya grew up in the small town of Skidegate, one of only a few on the Haida Gwaii islands (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte islands). His father, Jack Hoya, was a craftsman by trade and his mother had died giving birth to him. As he grew, Alex learned from his father how to shape and build canoes, kayaks, and pretty much anything else that was made out of wood and designed to float. Alex took to the art quickly and enjoyed it, but his real passion was always the open ocean and the wild outdoors – and there was plenty of both in and around the Haida Gwaii. And so Alex's childhood was spent running through the wilds of the woods that dominated the island he called home, or paddling across the bays and inlets that surrounded his island, but always in his heart was an urge to paddle further and farther out, onto the open ocean. For some reason, for as long as he could remember, Alex felt that he belonged out there, out in the water. The land beneath his feet seemed solid enough, but he only ever felt really real – really at peace – when he was in the water. As he grew older, Alex began to range further into the wild terrain of the Haida Gwaii, and even further out into the wild waters that led, eventually, to the open ocean of the Pacific. It was during these later trips that he first began to have close encounters with the sgaana – killer whales – and from the first such meeting the connection between the young boy and the giant predators in the waters underneath him was immediate and readily apparent. Also, as he grew older, he began to more and more frequently witness strange and difficult (sometimes impossible) to explain creatures and events as he wandered in the wilds away from the homes of men. In the forests he would often see strange and often frightening forms watching him from afar, and once he encountered a strange old crone living along a deserted beach; she seemed to mean him no harm and even read his fortune, but she also seemed to know more about him than she should have and told Alex that she had more to tell him 'when he was ready' and would be waiting for him there on that beach when the day came. Out on the water he loved, Alex's encounters with the mysterious were even stranger, and he often worried that he was hallucinating, so strange and, at times, terrifying were the things he saw down in the waters beneath his canoe or kayak. At times the things he saw were enough to frighten him away from the ocean for a time, but always the longing in his heart would eventually draw him back. When Alex was sixteen his drive to explore the ocean's vastness finally outreached itself and he found himself caught in a severe storm with nothing but his canoe to keep him from the churning, and now very ominous-seeming waters below. During the two or three years leading up to this, Alex had become more and more difficult to control, and would sometimes disappear for days at a time. His father and the other villagers began to warn in increasingly strong terms against going so far afield and venturing so far out into the open waters in just a small boat, but the headstrong youth would not heed them, and indeed, at times he seemed absolutely uncontrollable – wild even. But now Alex was caught in a storm that was bigger and stronger and more heedless than he would ever be, and it seemed that he would finally pay the price for his hubris. Of course he lost of control of his boat and was hurled into waves and the water, but what happened to him after that is not something that Alex can adequately describe even now. What he remembers is being found and rescued by killer whales, but instead of taking him back to the surface they took him further down into the ocean depths, eventually reaching what seemed to be a village – like those his people used to live in before the Europeans came – that sat at the bottom of the ocean. There the sgaana treated him like a guest of honor, introducing him to their chief and holding an old-fashioned potlatch festival in his honor, along with dancing and feasting and the telling of old stories. Finally, they asked him if he was ready to join them and become one of The People, to which the young man emphatically answered 'YES!'. And so they awarded him with his very own dorsal fin to wear and, putting it on, he became like one of the sgaana, a killer whale. Then he and all the killer whales swam out of the village to begin their hunt; they tracked down and killed a great whale and feasted on it, and it was good, and Alex felt more alive and more free than he had ever felt in his entire life… That's what Alex Hoya remembers, when he tries to think back on that night. All he can really say for certain, though, was that he woke up naked and alone, floating in the tide of a far beach the day after the storm sank his boat, with blood and whale blubber still clinging in bits and gobbets to his face and hands. After a brief (and very traumatic) period of discovering what he now was, Alex began to slowly make his way back towards civilization. If there ever was a 'magical village beneath the waves', where a tribe of killer whales go to feast and dance and entertain foolish boys who paddle out into storms, Alex has never found it or seen any sign or hint of it since then. What Alex did find when he finally made his way back to Skidegate, was that his father had ventured out into the storm after him in his own, larger fishing boat and had drowned after the storm capsized it the same way it had capsized Alex's boat. Alex was still struggling to come to terms with what had happened to him, so learning what had happened to his father nearly sent him over the edge. Reeling with guilt at having caused his own father's death (even if unintentionally) and overcome with remorse at his loss, Alex found himself cast adrift. He hung on and stuck around long enough to attend his father's funeral, but as soon as that was over he ran away before the civil workers could come and haul him off to some orphanage or place him in foster care. Alex wandered from port to port and truck stop to truck stop, introducing himself only as "Finn" (after the fin that the orcas in his vision had given him to make him one of them). Eventually the teenager managed to make it all the way out to Hawaii. Hawaii was, in many ways, ideal for a young Oceanborn Feral struggling to figure things out without any parents or mentors to turn to for help. Civilization was always ready to hand on any of the islands, but so was the wide open ocean, and it was easy for 'Finn' to slip away and give in to his 'wild side' for a time, learning how to be what he now was out among the waves; swimming, playing, hunting and killing – often alongside other, mundane orcas with whom he now found he had a greater connection than he'd ever had before. Back on land, amongst 'regular' humanity, Finn had little trouble finding work. He was surprised and very pleased to discover that the 'alaia' – the original wooden surf boards that ancient Hawaiians used before European or American colonists ever showed up – was making a comeback amongst the surfing community, and that his skills in wood water crafting were perfectly suited towards the wooden boards. Soon, building the boards turned into using them as Finn took up surfing himself, and after a while the young man was almost always either near, on, or in the water. For the next few years Finn managed to find a measure of happiness and, even more importantly, peace in the life that he'd built for himself on the islands of Hawaii, but he'd known in his heart almost from the moment he'd arrived there that he couldn't stay forever. And so, with a certain amount of regret, Finn left the Hawaiian Islands. For a time he traveled through Indonesia, hitting some of the best surf spots in the world, but he could only ignore the urging in his heart for so long, and eventually he gave in and followed that urging, which took him back home. The other villagers in Skidegate were both surprised and happy to see Alex 'back from the dead', but the young man had changed so much that he found he no longer had much of a connection to the town he'd grown up in. He was the only son of an only son, his mother was long since dead, and after travelling through so much of the world, the tiny harbor town really didn't seem to have much to offer or people that he could connect with. The villagers, meanwhile, found that 'little Alex' had quite grown up, and that he had become a strange and imposing figure who was, if anything, even wilder than he'd been as a child – there was just something disturbingly other about him now. Finn wound up spending the majority of his time in his primal form as a killer whale, swimming the bays and inlets surrounding the Haida Gwaii. It took more than two months before he finally stumbled across that lonely stretch of sand he'd found as a boy so many years before where the strange old crone had been waiting for him and had read his future. A part of him wasn't even surprised to find that she was there waiting for him still, all these years later. This time the old woman introduced herself to him as 'Grandmother', claiming that this was because Finn was actually her grandson. 'Grandmother' went on to explain to him that she was the mother of his own mother, whom he'd never gotten a chance to know. Far more amazingly, she revealed to him that, while his own mother had been as 'normal' as everyone else Finn had ever known, Grandmother was like him. It seemed that the Changing Gift had skipped a generation, she said, adding that it sometimes did so. For more than three years Grandmother taught her grandson a great deal – things about the history of their people (or at least what she claimed was their history – it wasn't like there was anyone else around to dispute or correct her if she were wrong or not telling the truth), amazing things about his own nature that he would never have guessed otherwise, and perhaps most importantly, about the mysterious Spirit Realms that border our own. Grandmother had explained to Finn about how it had always been the duty of the Xa'aidlatha* (as she called 'their people') to watch over and protect the border between the realms of flesh and spirit, just as they watched over the border between the ocean depths and the surface world that abutted them, and so it was vitally important that he embraced that portion of his heritage and learn to interact with that strange and ominous world. Finn will never forget the first time his Grandmother helped him cross the Gauntlet – he still has nightmares about it sometimes, actually. Through his training he learned much about maintaining a balance between the Spirit Realm and the physical world he'd grown up in – and about maintaining a balance within himself as well. His Grandmother also taught him the importance of cultivating the environment – in both worlds – rather than simply 'managing' problems as and when they arose. He learned more than he really wanted to about the word 'chiminage'. And, finally, Finn also learned about the uratha – or at least, he learned how much they disapproved of 'interlopers' like he and his Grandmother 'interfering' in their business. Fortunately, the wolf-blooded did not have much of a presence on the Haida Gwaii and knew that they couldn't adequately watch over the entirety of the islands themselves, and Grandmother had been living and operating in the area for longer than most of them had been alive, so she and Finn were grudgingly accepted. Also, as Grandmother was keen to remind him (and the werewolves, when they would listen), the Xa'aidlatha had been operating amongst the Haida Gwaii for at least as long as the Uratha had been, and their domain was the waves and the sea where the wolves couldn't go anyway, so there was no reason for disagreements between them. Though the Spirit Realm was strange enough, stranger still – and more disturbing – were his occasional brushes with the dead. Finn has always seemed to be a magnet for the otherworldly and the unnatural, but even for him ghosts are something out of the ordinary. Even so, he's had a few encounters with them and one of them has left its mark on him, literally. The ghost of a young woman from Skidegate who had recently disappeared began to appear to Finn whenever he was in town, and though he at first tried to ignore her (he's no more comfortable around ghosts than most 'normal' people), the woman would not leave him be. When he finally gave in and started paying heed to her gestures and attempts at communication it led to him discovering where her body had been left. He got the local police involved at that point and they quickly determined that she'd been raped and then murdered, but there were no further leads forthcoming and the woman's spirit wasn't showing any signs of leaving Finn alone. More problematically for Finn, he was now under suspicion after mysteriously finding the woman's body "by chance" (he couldn't exactly tell the police that her ghost had showed him where to find the body). As it was, the townspeople of Skidegate had found him to be increasingly strange and disturbing since his return, so he honestly seemed like the likeliest candidate for the murderer to most anyway. Now just as eager to clear his name as he was to be rid of the disconcerting presence of the ghost, Finn continued to investigate the killing on his own and, with the spirit's help, managed to track down her killer, who turned out to be one of the town's most respected members. Though Finn had no doubts that this man was the killer, he had no proof. Hoping to provoke the man into a confession, he lured him out to the ravine where he'd found the young woman's body and there confronted him about what he had done. Far from confessing, the man instead became angry, and then violent. The two men fought briefly before the ghost appeared, manifesting not only to Finn but also to the man who had raped and murdered her as well. She rushed at him with a horrifying expression on her ghastly face as a blood-curdling and otherworldly scream poured out of her. In his terror as he scrambled to get away from the ghost of the woman he'd murdered, the man stumbled and fell into the same ravine that he'd dumped her body in, breaking his neck on the way down. Seeing her killer's unmoving body lying at the bottom of the ravine that she herself had been left to die in seemed to satisfy the woman's vengeful spirit, and she began to discorporate as Finn watched. Before she vanished for good, however, the ghost silently reached out and placed her ephemeral hand against Finn's chest, just over the heart. After she'd vanished, Finn found that a handprint remained where she had touched him, almost like a tattoo, and it remains there to this day and shows no signs of fading. While Finn was glad that the woman had found some measure of peace (or at least had her vengeance) and wasn't all that heart-broken over the death of her rapist-killer, he knew immediately that he was now even worse off than he had been before. The police already suspected him in the woman's death and now there was a second body tied to him. Wasting no time, he stopped briefly by his place in town to gather up what few possessions he still had (and would actually need on the road), and then made his way back out to the remote beach where his Grandmother lived. He explained the situation to her there and, though she would be sad to see him go, she agreed that her grandson would need to leave immediately, and so Finn once again left home for the open road (or ocean, as the case might be). Though he misses his Grandmother – and even his hometown of Skidegate, filled as it was with people who never quite understood him – at the same time he is privately pleased to be wandering again, as it seems that being continually on the move is in his blood. Since leaving the Haida Gwaii Finn has slowly worked his way down through British Columbia, into Washington and Oregon, and finally into California. He stopped for a time in Seattle, building back up his meager savings and supplies, before once again going on the road. He's recently arrived in Los Angeles, and his funds and supplies are once again running low, meaning he'll probably need to hunker down for a bit, find a job, and save up some more cash before he moves on. How long he'll hang around the City of Angels remains to be seen – maybe just a few weeks, maybe much longer. Who knows? Maybe he'll like it here. *- "Xa'aidlatha: This is a made-up (by me) First Tongue word that's supposed to mean "The People of the Boundary of the World". It's based off of a word from the Native American Haida language, "Xhaaydla", which means something along the lines of either "worlds" or "place between worlds" (I'm not entirely clear on this point). Anyway, it's understood in the original language that "worlds" here refers to the sea and sky, specifically the "border" where the two meet – or in other words, the horizon. I thought it was a fitting name for Feral orcas who, as aquatic mammals, are creatures that are neither entirely of the sea nor of the land, and who are only really at home at that place where sea and sky meet. Appearance: At 6'6" and 264 lbs., Finn is a very big man and certainly qualifies for the description, "tall, dark, and handsome" (or just 'hawt', as all the girlz like to call it these days), if not quite in the old-fashioned sense that was perhaps once intended, what with both of his arms, all the way up to the shoulders, being covered in thick, bold tattoo sleeves made up of various tribal designs. Finn also has what appears to be a tattoo of a hand print done in unusually black and glossy ink on his left pectoral, right over the heart. He avoids discussing the meaning behind this tattoo if at all possible (and will resort to "lies of omission" if it can't be avoided). Even as good-looking as he is, what really stands out about Finn isn't his height or his looks, but the sheer intensity of his presence that is, at times, simply overwhelming for many people. The man gives off a notable sense of wildness and the 'other', and there is a literal, if subtle scent as well as a 'feel' (for lack of a better word) about him that reminds most of the open ocean. Meanwhile, his expressive brown eyes seem to stare right through a person with a gaze that virtually defines the word 'piercing', making many on whom that gaze falls feel that he can see more about them than they might like. And then there's the fact that while he has one of the most open and friendly grins most people ever get to see, there's something that's just unmistakably predatorial about it. Finn's primal form is that of an enormous killer whale over 35 feet in length and weighing more than 11 tons, with a dorsal fin that stands as tall as he does in human form. Aside from being enormous even for an orca, his eyes also radiate a sense of calculating intelligence that goes beyond even the not-inconsiderable intelligence that most mundane orcas display. Very unusually – and somewhat unfortunately for Finn – his 'tattoo' of a handprint (actually a ghostly mark left behind where the spirit of a dead woman touched him as she went to her final rest – or perhaps judgment) does not fade as normal tattoos do when he undergoes the Change. The print remains even when in his animal or throwback form, and can be clearly seen against the white underbelly of his orca body. In his 'Throwback' form, Finn transforms into enormous man-like creature with the gleaming black skin and patches of brilliant white that his killer whale kin are so famous for. In this guise he stands almost ten feet in height and weighs over one thousand pounds. His face becomes broad and round, with an equally broad (and most often smiling or grinning) mouth, and a broad nose with wide-flared nostrils. His lips, nostrils, and eyebrows take on a brilliant blood-red hue while the bridge of his nose and his forehead turns a deep dark blue color. The result closely resembles the killer whale masks used by Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest in their ritual dances and ceremonies. Though his smile is usually friendly enough, it's also filled with the sharp teeth of the ocean's deadliest predator and this, combined with his enormous size and an appearance that seems like something out of a shamanistic vision, is enough to provoke the Delusion in almost any mortal. Personality: Finn has the intense personality and dangerous aura that one might expect from a Feral whose Breed happens to be the world's largest and most successful apex predator of the past 10,000 years or so - and it can be positively room-filling when he needs it to be – but he is also surprisingly laid back and lacks the often domineering and hyper-aggressive demeanor possessed by most other Feral predators. This is absolutely due more to his Breed than to his personality though, as Finn is actually somewhat unusual amongst his kind (or what's left of them at any rate), being more aggressive and more of a loner than is typical for one of the whale-kin – though this isn't surprising given his calling as a Wind-Dancer. Unusually aggressive or not, Finn can't escape what he is, and killer whales – despite their fearsome name – are not known for their aggressiveness, even if they are known for being arguably the most sophisticated, efficient, and effective pack hunters on the planet. Orcas have a matriarchal society and, moreover, it is always a given that the oldest female present is in charge of her pod and that there are never any challenges from younger females, and certainly never any challenges from any adult males. So, needless to say, as an orca-blooded Feral male, Finn generally lacks the desire to – as he would put it – posture, strut, and generally behave like a bully, all in an effort to prove to everyone watching that he somehow deserves to be the asshole in charge. If at all possible, he'd rather let some other asshole take the job, support the guy in that role if he can, and try not to laugh out loud – or too hard at least – at all of his no-doubt-very-impressive posturing. True to his Breed, Finn is also highly social and unfailingly supportive and trusting of anyone he calls a friend, to the extent that some would call it naivety or foolishness. He will readily share anything he has to give with those who seem to be in need, even when he has little enough to give, and will do so without a second thought (and he has been taken advantage of because of this on more than one occasion). On the other hand, those who do betray that trust leave him feeling deeply hurt, and the ability of a killer whale to enact its vengeance upon those who've wronged it is the stuff of myth and legend – literally. As vengeful as he can be towards those who wrong him, those who are stupid enough to wrong his friends are the ones who truly experience his full wrath. Such unfortunates would have done well to remember that one of the lesser-known names for a killer whale is 'the smiling assassin', and still another is 'the grinning killer'. Name: Finn ("just Finn") Real Name: Alexander Hoya Concept: Shape-shifting Surfer Species: Orca Accord: Wind-dancer Virtue: Charity (compassion) Vice: Pride (ego) Height: 6'6" Weight: 264 lbs. Hair: black Eyes: dark brown Age: 24 Attributes Mental: Intelligence: 2, Wits: 3, Resolve: 2 Physical: Strength: 4/8/11, Dexterity: 2, Stamina: 3/7/8 Social: Presence: 3, Manipulation: 2/1/1, Composure: 3 Skills Mental: Crafts (wood water crafts): 2, Investigation: 1, Occult: 1 Physical: Athletics: 3, Brawl: 3, Drive: 1, Stealth (moving through water): 2, Survival (hunting): 2 Social: Animal Ken: 1, Empathy: 2, Expression (singing): 1, Intimidation: 1, Persuasion: 1, Streetwise: 1 Merits Direction Sense - 1 Feral Heart – 6 (+2 dots) Language (First Tongue) - 1 Pleasing Aura - 3 Quick Healer - 4 Striking Presence - 2 Nahual: Oceanborn Feral Heart: 3 Harmony: 7 Respect: 3 -Insight 3 Willpower: 5 Health: 8/15/24 Initiative: 5 Defense: 2 Speed: 11/15/21 Size: 5/8/16 Favors & Aspects Favors: Aquatic Echolocation Fang & Claw (Bite) 3 (L) Size 15 Limbless (-1) Aspects: Darksight (1) [Can see in the dark, reduced penalties in poor visibility conditions, and gains +2 to Stealth rolls in the dark] Extraordinary Specimen (1) [+1 Str and Size in Primal Form] Keen Sense (hearing; 2) [+2 on Perception rolls and distance-related penalties reduced by up to 3 in all forms] Shadow Bond (3) [Can Sidestep and cross the Gauntlet] Weather Skin (1) [immune to extreme weather conditions] Tell (-1) [What appears to be a tattoo of a handprint is visible on his chest in all forms] CREATION LOG ATTRIBUTES Mental: Intelligence: 0, Wits: 2, Resolve: 1 Physical: Strength: 3, Dexterity: 0, Stamina: 2 Social: Presence: 2, Manipulation: 0, Composure: 2 SKILLS Mental: Crafts: 2, Investigation: 1, Occult: 1 Physical: Athletics: 3, Brawl: 3, Drive: 1, Stealth: 2, Survival: 2 Social: Animal Ken: 1, Empathy: 2, Expression: 1, Intimidation: 1, Persuasion: 1, Streetwise: 1 SPECIALTIES: Crafts (wood water crafts), Stealth (moving through water), Expression (singing), Bonus from Accord: Survival (hunting) MERITS Direction Sense – 1, Feral Heart – 6 BEGINNING FAVORS Aquatic Echolocation Fang & Claw (Bite) 3 (L) Size 15 Limbless (-1) ASPECTS Darksight (1) Extraordinary Specimen (1) Keen Sense (hearing; 2) Shadow Bond (3) Tell (-1) Weather Skin (1) Experience: 50/50: 10 points spent on Dexterity 2. 10 points spent on Intelligence 2. 10 points spent on Manipulation 2. 6 points spent on Pleasing Aura merit. 8 points spent on Quick Healer merit. 4 points spent on Striking Presence merit (2 dots). 2 points spent on Language merit. Xa'aidlatha: Wolves of the sea Breed Favors: Aquatic, Echolocation, Fang and Claw (Bite) 3 (L), Limbless (-1), Size (15) Breed Bonus: Orcas, like dolphins, can ram opponents, inflicting an additional three bashing damage (this is, in fact, one of their favored hunting techniques). Throwback: Strength + 4, Stamina + 4, Manipulation -3, Size + 3, Health + 7, Speed + 4 (species factor 5), + 1 to perception rolls, Fang & Claw Favor (Bite) Primal Beast: Strength + 6, Stamina + 5, Manipulation -4, Size +10, Health + 15, Speed + 9 (species factor 8), + 3 to perception rolls.