The supernatural has always been around in Dallas, mostly flying under the radar, but the activity really spiked in the last couple of years for some reason. People with more analytical interest than me will debate whether the formation of the Scooby Squad was a result of it or the cause of it, but regardless, the last month has been worse than usual.
The Scoobies are missing.
Back in September, some big stuff went down. The Freakshow went AWOL, and the Scoobies followed suit after investigating. Since then, the nasties of the supernatural set have stepped up their activity, and I’ve found myself cast in the unlikely role of trying to fill the Scoobies’ shoes.
Why unlikely? Well, here’s my story…
My background? Italian Mob. It means I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth (albeit a bit tarnished). I was your typical spoiled rich kid – in trouble all the time, but nothing stuck because I was bailed out in a heartbeat. That all said, I did pay attention in school, and to the family businesses – including the respectably legitimate (Camposso’s restaurants), the sleazy (strip clubs), and even the (ahem) less legitimate ones. My oldest sister, Amber, was learning the ropes of the overall empire from Dad, and she had eyed me to run the restaurants (including the money-laundering underside). I wasn’t interested, but since I had a knack for reading the stock markets, I made a pretty good name for myself within the family doing day trading. As a bonus for me, it was totally legit, and for the family, it served to further launder the profits from the restaurant chain.
However, the family was so well-established and the wheels and gears of operations so well-oiled, that it was … boring. For that reason (among others, as I’ll discuss further), I spent my high school years gradually distancing myself from the family. I didn’t cut ties completely – I was used to a certain lifestyle and access to resources – but I needed to find something that interested me – got the old juices flowing, as it were.
During my freshman year of high school, I finally got my education in what my family was. I’d always wondered why I got such a rush at the parties my family threw, or when I visited the strip clubs (yeah, I got to visit those as a tween). Amber kept encouraging my social life, pushing me to “go after” various girls at my school (which I sort of rebelled against just on principal, assuming she was matchmaking for the family’s benefit). I finally got invited to one of our famous after-parties during the spring that year, and that’s when I found out that I was part of a family of vampires. Not your typical blood-sucking Count Dracula types, but something equally deadly – if more insidious. Our family is part of the White Court of vampires, and we feed on emotions rather than blood, and for us, the emotion is specific – lust. The after-party was a time where family members could indulge in every sort and variation of hedonistic sexual activity you can imagine. The rush I felt was amazing, but the loss of control it seemed to encourage bothered me so much that I left. That was the beginning of my trying to distance myself from the family, both socially and financially. I’m no dummy, though – I started trading my own stocks on the side, with shell and hidden accounts to keep them away from family scrutiny.
It was the little acts of rebellion that kept me going through high school. I didn’t look the part (although I’m very aware that I wear “disheveled” well), and would only “dress up” when Amber specifically ordered me to be available for family business (although she never did approve of the fedora, but like I told her – for our business, I might as well look the part). Also, I discovered the group of geeks at school that were into comics, and thought that would be another good way to “thumb my nose at the family.” Little did I know that I’d come to love them as much as I do – especially Marvel. I also found out that comics were a good investment – especially rare ones, and I currently have two climate controlled storage units with a significant collection, including rare first issues and such. This was also how I discovered the con scene. I went to my first one on a whim, but in addition to discovering the dealer’s rooms as a means to expand my collection, the cosplay aspect generated the right kind of energy for my nature. The rush was just as intense at cons as at any of my family events, but the sheer number of people involved made it more palatable for me – a higher quantity of less intense energy. Not to say that I didn’t find ways to generate my own energy on occasion, if you know what I mean, but I was always very careful about it. I learned about the demon waiting for me to fully feed on someone, and I want no part of that.
It was at one of those conventions that I ran into a talented but as yet undiscovered young artist – Hiyashi Ren. Ren was a kindred soul in many ways – on the run from a crime family in her home of Japan, as well as a member of the supernatural community in that she is a Japanese Water Fae. Our mutual love of comics and art drew us together, our common circumstances kept us together. Even when the Jade Court of vampires made its presence known in the Metroplex, we stayed together on the run, collecting information and resources as we made our way to the New England area. That is, until she got a message from her Uncle that was only to be delivered if he had died. We returned to Dallas to find her Uncle’s shop burned to the ground, and we both assisted (in our own ways) with the Scooby Squad’s assault on the Erlking’s Daughter. Once that threat was addressed, Ren became focused on helping her Aunt resolve things surrounding her Uncle’s death. With Uncle gone, Wani and the Jade Court had a significant obstacle removed, so she and her aunt left town. I know she set up a comic shop in south Austin where she could be close to Lake Travis, but I haven’t heard from her since…
So, I’ve been puttering around Dallas a bit, laying low, avoiding my family as much as possible. Amber’s been impossible to deal with since she pulled off that thing at the Presidential Library, and the lust demon she’s shacked up with … well, better to avoid her altogether.
And yet, since the Scoobies vanished, I keep finding myself in the way when supernatural stuff happens. I saved a girl from a Blampire (Black Court Vampire – like Dracula), helped another girl avoid a small pack of Malks… when the hell did I become a hero? Of course, there are almost always side benefits to helping the damsel in distress… and it does keep my life interesting.