Hello again, Kindred revolutionaries. Today we have a vampire much younger than many of the others we’ve seen here, in that she’s only a year old (if that!) but has made quite a place for herself. In particular, what I like about this character are:
- The creative use of domain, in the form of a social movement rather than a geographical area.
- The presence of gothic literary elements in her cultivation and ultimate Embrace and tailoring them to the Toreador archetype without being a stereotype.
- The fact that a young Kindred can be important in her own way, and in ways that the elders might not have anticipated.
Tell me what you think!
In other news, the Children of the Revolution Kickstarter for the prestige print run of the title is already over 60 percent funded, and still has over two weeks to go as of this blog update. That’s great progress, and I just want to say thanks to everyone who’s pledged and backed already.
The Poet of the People’s Occupation
Everyone warned her, of course. “What are you going to do with a degree in poetry?” they’d always asked, as though they were the first to try and break the news to her that her dreams weren’t worth shit. Her answer had always been a smug “Teach, of course,” followed with a change of topic.
She did go into teaching. High school English Literature, while she worked on her Master’s Degree that would let her teach at the local university as she continued her own education. Poetry was her passion, and it showed in everything she did at that overpopulated inner-city New York school.
Her dreams of living out a real-life version of Dangerous Minds never quite manifested, of course. No one showed up to any of the Poetry Club events she sponsored, and the administration had to ask her several times to please stick to the lesson plans given by the school district.
It wasn’t the lack of interest that really did it in for her, though. It was the violence. Students from across the borough attended the school she taught. Students who were often part of rival gangs. The administration worked full-time to keep those enmities from exploding into open violence, but it still happened. It was inevitably in environments that couldn’t really be controlled: the front of the school after the last bell of the day, or in the middle of a busy hall between classes.
After a year, Lizette developed trouble sleeping, and used up her sick time and vacation days hiding in her bed, traumatized by the thought of walking those halls again. But she went back nonetheless. She took a year off from her night schooling, just to allow her to focus on rising to meet the challenge of teaching.
For all the good it did her. A half-year after she began to think of herself as capable of handling the rigors of teaching in the school long-term, her contract was terminated. Budget cuts, they said, the recession. They apologized because other, tenured teachers were going to be kept on, you see, whose class sizes had just increased by half again, but everyone had to make sacrifices, right?
For a week, Lizette raged, writing angry letters to the district, the teacher’s union, local newspapers, the mayor’s office, and the governor. Ultimately, none of it did any good. Her anger collapsed in on itself, became grief, and then numb depression. She collected unemployment meekly and had trouble getting out of bed on many days.
It was during this time that she turned to the one thing that had helped her through such episodes in the past: writing. She filled one black-and-white composition book after another with her couplets, stanzas, and whole poems. The first week was catharsis. The second week was expression. On the third, she had her muse available on command. The words flowed from her the way they never did when she was happy, and she lost whole days to the scratching of ballpoint on cheap lined paper.
In time, she transfered her writing – edited, polished, sharpened – to her laptop, and from there to a blog. She worked day and night on it, transferring her innermost feelings to something freely available on the web. It was a litany of her anger, her frustration, her helplessness, her grief. She railed against individuals, against the school district and useless unions, against the recession itself.
Two months later, she realized that she had come out the other side of all of that. She was still writing, but wasn’t doing so as a lifeline, desperate scribblings beneath a musty duvet that hid her from the world. Her blog had a small but loyal following, with a whole pantheon of commentors and friends who were nothing more than usernames and clever little icons. Eventually, Lizette realized wanted a bit more from the world. She took walks and visited friends she’d neglected.
On one of those walks, she saw them, a small body of protestors, gathered out in front of Wall Street’s tall churches to money. She stopped, listening to one of them who was standing and shouting something to them. Shouting something that sounded very familiar.
With a start, she realized that it was Burden of Scars. One of her poems.
She walked over to listen, and to speak with him after he was done. His name was Elliot Kemp and they spent the rest of the day together, talking. The next morning she showed up bright and early to join the Occupy movement.
Lizette’s life changed, dramatically and quickly. She found that her passion suddenly had an outlet. Not for apathetic adolescents or cynical administrators, but for people who shared what she had experienced. The stained gift-wrapping of the American Dream, as she said in one of her poems, and they roared their empathy.
The nature of her blog changed. There was still poetry, but it became fiery, inspiring poetry intended to goad her readers into action, and it worked in many cases. She volunteered for group-action committees and organized media responses, collected bail money for protestors thrown in jail and even got arrested a time or three herself. She self-published her poetry as an ebook that never made much money, but did earn the attention of both the publishing and academic world.
Lizette routinely performed spoken word renditions of her work at the Occupy gatherings, when she wasn’t working the food table, organizing the medical tent or writing furious e-mails to the alternative news sites. These events began to attract interested individuals, among them the handsome redhead she couldn’t help but notice. He showed up for a week to her performances before he introduced himself as Avery — just Avery — and told her how much he loved her work.
He was wealthy, it seemed, and he spoke not of her convictions and goals, but of the fire behind them. They discussed poetry seated on the Wall Street sidewalk at midnight, and he made substantial contributions to the movement’s food, clothing, shelter and legal needs. When she was arrested after one particularly ugly confrontation with the NYPD, he showed up first thing that evening, with a lawyer in tow who bore an order from the DA to not only release Lizette, but everyone else taken that evening.
She thought she was falling in love, and hoped that he was, too. He asked her one evening to come and perform a reading of her work to some of his friends. He was sure hearing her passion firsthand would convince them to support the work she was doing. Dressing in a new evening gown she bought for the occasion, she showed up to a salon that was all dark hardwoods, leather, and brass finishing. She shrank when she met them, though. They all seemed so cold and aloof, slightly amused at her expense. Even hostile. And one didn’t even feel like a person.
Lizette started by reading to them, and when the sable-headed beauty with the long neck that made her look like European nobility snickered at her, something snapped in her.
Fuck them. These were the people who were responsible for everything she’d been railing against for months. She stopped reading to them, and read at them. Something shifted in the room, a presence like incipient violence and sexual tension consuming one another.
As she stood there, on their rich carpet, she blamed them for the ills she’d faced, for what was wrong in the world. She called them villains to their faces, in perfect flowing meter and cadence. They sat awestruck, faces indignant and horrified — but wholly unmoving. When she finished, Avery was beaming, his hands clasped in front of his mouth as though he were trying to contain his joy. The black-haired, swan-necked woman dabbed a rich lace kerchief to her left eye, and then simply said: “Out.”
The others practically leapt to their feet, already snarling excitedly among themselves. She turned to Avery, who remained, and simply nodded. She stood then and crossed to Lizette, resting a single elegant finger on her chin and smiled. “Welcome,” she said, and left the room.
Avery and Lizette made love on the rich leather divan that night. After her orgasm, he chuckled and said “One for the road.” Then her world was sharp white fangs, sudden pain, dark blood and hunger.
Avery taught her about what it meant to be a vampire, what it meant to be a Toreador and what it meant to belong to the Camarilla. As she expected, his ardor for her cooled once she was his childe, but that didn’t really matter to her by then. She pursued her old goals with a new fervor, happy to use her newfound power to the benefit of the Occupy movement.
At least, until she ran afoul of the Ventrue. In short order, she found out who her enemies were, or at least who the hidden masters of the forces the movement railed against were. The short conflict nearly resulted in her Final Death. Worse, it nearly broke the ever-important Masquerade, which resulted in herself and the young Ventrue named Dayton being dragged in front of the Prince by the Sheriff. Both were warned against such stupidity in the future, and forced to drink of the Prince’s vitae.
Dayton was ordered to leave the Occupy movement alone entirely, no matter the trouble it caused him or his interests. In contrast, Lizette was given the Occupy movement as her domain in the city, with one condition: She must ensure that its efforts did not negatively impact the private domains of any of New York’s Kindred.
In the time since, Lizette has carried on her work. Sometimes, she fears that she’s stuck herself in a place of perpetual discontent, working openly to throw down the fat cats and make better lives for everyone, while working from behind the scenes to sabotage their efforts. The passion of the Occupiers is addictive, and continues to fuel her writing. To that end, the strength and significance of the Occupy movement as her domain has grown, giving her a degree of influence that the Prince likely hadn’t anticipated. Making things worse, her anger sometimes yields to the will of the horror inside her, the Beast, that occasionally results in depravities that make plundering the public treasure pale by comparison. Lizette has lied, stolen, taken blood by force, killed… and at the “coming out” party Avery threw for her, worse, at the behest of a truly awful Malkavian. Despite her passion, or perhaps because of it, she can feel her Humanity becoming brittle as she keeps the Beast on a taut leash.
Lizette continues to act as an unofficial leader for the Occupy movement, inspiring those around her to greater efforts and organizing its resources and recruitment. She frequently travels to other cities to help organize Occupy movements there, as well. During such travels, she is very careful to approach the Prince of that city and explain her purpose there. She does nothing involving the Kindred in such situations, if it can be helped, and she even tries to avoid the use of her vampiric powers while she is there. Her focus is the movement, and nothing else.
But somewhere inside, she knows that there is a clock ticking. Fiery rebellions do not enter stasis. They overflow and succeed in their efforts, or they eventually stagnate and boil away to nothingness in their failure. As well, she asks herself, given her vampiric condition, how much does she truly want to see a more equitable balance of power? When she, or any Kindred, needs to feed, isn’t it better to have a movement or an untouchable second class available, so that sustenance isn’t an ordeal? Does Kindred convenience trump the dignity of the human spirit? Or are the mortals, as some of the Damned contend, nothing more than kine for the consummate predators? Lizette plays a delicate game, keeping the movement boiling away steadily, neither succeeding nor failing, and asking herself questions that make her sleepless once again. But for how long?
Apparent Age: mid-30s
Physical: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social: Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Appearance 2
Mental: Perception 4, Intelligence 2, Wits 4
Talents: Alertness 2, Awareness 1, Empathy 2, Expression 3, Leadership 1, Streetwise 1
Skills: Drive 2, Etiquette 2, Performance 3, Survival 1
Knowledges: Academics 3, Computer 1, Investigation 1, Law 1, Politics 3
Disciplines: Auspex 2, Celerity 1, Fortitude 1, Presence 2
Backgrounds: Allies 3, Contacts 4, Fame 1, Herd 2, Influence 3, Resources 2, Retainers 2, Status 1
Virtues: Conscience 3, Self-Control 3, Courage 3
Morality: Humanity 5
Blood Pool/Max per Turn: 13/1
Image: Lizette presents the camera-perfect image of the modern Occupier. She wears slogan-emblazoned t-shirts over jeans or track pants, sometimes with a hoodie over that. She wears her fair briwn hair choppy, and often in a ponytail as though she hadn’t had time to see to it properly or because she’s been out in the elements. She alternates between an over-stuffed messenger bag and a backpack, always with a laptop and an HD palm camera in them.
Roleplaying Hints: Lizette is somewhat awkward in social situations that don’t involve the topic she’s most passionate about. In these cases, her speech comes haltingly, giving the impression that she’s afraid to say something stupid, and perfectly content to remain beneath everyone else’s notice. If she can, she’ll turn conversations back to the things with which she’s most comfortable: socio-economic reform and early 20th century poetry.
Allies & Contacts: Lizette’s Allies are the people she’s met working the Occupy protests. These include a very influential local political blogger, a police precinct captain who was a bit of a protesting firebrand in his youth, and a mid-level functionary in the city government. Her Contacts are primarily among the Occupiers, academia, the publishing world, and the local police.
Herd: Lizette’s Herd consists of a small handful of people who tend to congregate around the Occupy protest sites. They’re mostly other protestors, but also a pot dealer or two and even a couple of street teens from the homeless population that flocks to these sites.
Influence: Although her kingdom is a tiny one, Lizette is definitely a queen of the Occupy movement in her city. Protesters look to her frequently for her input and approval, and though minute, she has access to the various resources the movement tends to gather for itself, such as donated food, clothing, and money, as well as volunteers from all walks of life, including lawyers and journalists.
Retainers: Lizette has a pair of ghouls, who serve her in different ways. Elliot Kemp is a fellow Occupier with solid people skills and a head for organization whom everyone recognizes as Lizette’s right hand. He frequently tends to the Occupy movement during the day while Lizette is in slumber. Her other ghoul is Amanda Cortez, a beat cop who specializes in “crowd control” tactics, and so is at the forefront of any police presence at the Occupy sites.