Welcome to Earth
In the infancy of mankind, when the first modern humans walked the earth, Dragons arrived on our world. They journeyed from a distant solar system, just before their home planet crashed into one of its twin suns. Dragon scientists found Earth possessed areas of arid desert and rocky desolation, similar to their home world.
Dragons settled in to become acquainted with the native life-forms, satisfied they were THE apex predators. Soon, they became aware of another top-level predator – one that preyed exclusively on the most intelligent and adaptable creatures of Earth. Vampires. Dragons had no desire to eat humans – they required too much energy for too little reward, and most found them unpalatable – but they could not allow the challenge to their superiority to pass.
Thus began the vicious war between vampires and Dragons. As part of their strategy, Dragons adapted their chameleon-like ability to masquerade as other life-forms. They developed the power to shape shift into human form. The battles were monumental, with torrential bloodshed, but neither race made a great deal of head way. In the end, the war only kept both populations in check. Neither prevailed, or flourished.
Early in the Middle Ages, humans, terrified of both vampires and Dragons, revolted. Brave warriors went on quests to kill Dragons, and mobs hunted vampires by day, when they rested, and killed them. With both their populations decimated, at dangerously low numbers, the Regent, or leader, of a vampire Territory, approached his Dragon counterpart, the Patriarch of a community. The vampire suggested the two groups band together for mutual protection. Seeing the logic of the proposal, the Dragon Patriarch accepted.
Word of the truce spread, and other leaders joined in. Over time, the leaders agreed a governing agency was needed, and the Inter Racial Council was formed.
By far, the most important duty of the Inter Racial Council, IRC, is keeping humans from learning of the existence of weredragons and vampires. Folklore and rumor are dangerous enough, without confirmation.The IRC, is made up of twelve members, elected from within their race, except for the human members. Members can be of either sex, according to their race’s customs and laws. The human members are selected by the other members of the Council and are required to maintain strict secrecy.
The laws of the Council are enacted by majority vote. The Council is responsible for settling disputes, pronouncing punishment on lawbreakers, sitting in judgment of accused lawbreakers, enacting laws, overseeing the fair enforcement of laws, incarceration of criminals, and overseeing other punishments of criminals. The Council also enforces each race’s laws in the event that the leader of the race is unable to do so.
The Council has a support staff consisting of clerks and secretaries, guards, medical staff, cooks, housekeeping staff. Monetary support comes from a tax enacted on vampires and weredragons. Every member of both races is registered with the IRC, with the data maintained in an extensive database. The IRC also has covert access to every single database that can be reached through a network – financial, medical, government, law enforcement, education, media, and on and on. Nearly every single person on earth, no matter their race, can be found by the IRC. The only exceptions are the rare individuals whose names have never been entered in any electronic device anywhere.
The world is divided into districts by the Council, with each district being governed by a branch of the IRC. For example, the US is divided into four districts. The district branches are all overseen by the Global IRC, with its headquarters in Paris, France. The Global representatives are selected by the district members from among themselves. Global representatives serve one fifty year term. Rules to keep the Global representatives from becoming corrupt are strictly enforced. For the worst lawbreakers, there is a Global Enforcement Agency, made up of the best and brightest of the Enforcers. The Global Enforcers go after terrorists, serial killers and the like.
Weredragon and vampire warriors enforce the laws of the Council. The Council selects the warriors recruited for the Enforcement arm based on recommendation by the training warriors. Warriors must pass a variety of tests before they officially become Enforcers, including weapons, hand to hand combat, combat in their alternate forms, and personality tests to determine if they will be suitable to enforce laws fairly.
The Enforcers are organized into units of four to six warriors, with each member responsible for a particular aspect of their missions. The unit leaders are usually selected by seniority or outstanding performance in the field. Some units are made of members of more than one race, other units are all one race. Units are assigned missions by the Council, based on geographic location and particular qualifications. Enforcers must not use their position to intimidate citizens or to benefit, and must not accept bribes or favors in return for any consideration. They are paid to do their jobs, and live in their own homes.
The Enforcers have a support staff made up of clerks and secretaries, computer experts, arms experts, medical staff, trainers, transportation specialists, negotiation experts, profilers. The same staff supports the Investigators, the arm of the Council charged with investigating crimes. Some of the Investigators are placed in the Enforcer units, others work alone or in pairs, depending on their area of expertise. Some Investigators are warriors, others are regular citizens. Most receive specialized law enforcement training, but in special cases, there may be no time for training. In such cases, the Investigator is trained on an as needed basis.
Dragons became known as weredragons when they began to use the human form almost exclusively. The practice started because of the need for secrecy, and they retain the ability to shift into dragon form at will. Now, they can pass for human in nearly all aspects and can even be attended by human physicians with no one the wiser.
Weredragons are predators by nature and hunt from the air in dragon form. These days, deer are their primary prey, though in the past they were known to steal cattle and horses, as well as prey upon larger animals. In human form, they tend to hunt game for sport and food, though many prefer larger, more challenging game and choose law enforcement careers. Those with a need for even more challenging game seek to become Enforcers.
A weredragon’s first shift typically happens shortly after puberty, but it can happen at any time after puberty. Some prefer to wait, hoping that age and experience will ensure a safe first shift. The first shift is a risky time. The weredragon can be trapped in dragon form. In such cases, they have to be put down to keep from endangering the entire community, since a dragon can’t be explained away as an exotic pet. Another risk is that the dragon can come on unwillingly, during which the body is usually ripped to pieces as parts shift and parts don’t, resulting in death. For those reasons, some weredragons go through their whole lives without shifting, keeping their distance from other weredragons in the hope that their dragon won’t come on unexpectedly.
In human form, weredragons must eat more than a typical human, roughly two to four times as much, depending on physical activity levels. They need less dietary fiber than humans, and need a high protein, high carbohydrate diet. They are not susceptible to diseases like diabetes or atherosclerosis, or cancer.
In terms of lifespan, weredragons are immortal, for all intents and purposes, though they age normally until they reach their mid-twenties, then aging slows. They reach sexual maturity, meaning they are able to procreate, at around forty years, though they can be sexually active after puberty. They go through a normal, human-like puberty in their early teens. Weredragons age so slowly that at seven centuries, one would pass for a human in their early forties. An important nutrient, with no alternative source, is derived from the sun, making regular exposure to natural sunlight essential. Lack of sunlight causes illness with flu-like symptoms at first, and becoming more serious until eventually death results.
Weredragons are susceptible to injury while in human form, though they have the ability to rapidly heal all but the most serious wounds. For severe wounds, the weredragon may need to shift from human to dragon and back again in order to heal. In rare cases of the most extremely survivable injuries, time is the only healer.
Each weredragon is allowed to have five young, three males and two females. The sex of the young is determined consciously by the male at the time of conception. The form of the offspring, throughout the pregnancy and at birth is determined consciously by the mother. The reason more male young are allowed is that in the past, males were more likely to die from violence than females. There is a movement afoot to limit the number of young to two males and two females.
To keep friends and neighbors from noticing their lack of aging, weredragons are generally required to move periodically and change their identities, unless they are part of an exclusively weredragon community. The exclusive community is rare in modern times. These days, most weredragon communities are part of the larger human community. Just a few decades ago, the majority of weredragons lived in communities made up exclusively of members of their own clan and allied clan members. Such communities were almost entirely self sufficient, greatly limiting the danger of exposure to humans. Modern advances have made that lifestyle nearly impossible in many locations.
Weredragon society is divided into clans, or family groups. Each clan is led by a Patriarch, elected from all the males of the noble class within the clan. They also divide themselves into classes: nobles, artisans, clerics, academics, and warriors. Nobles are the ruling class. Artisans are the blue collar class. Clerics are concerned with spiritual matters. Academics are the largest class, everything from teachers to bank managers to scientists. Warriors are the soldiers of the clan.
In human form, weredragons are stronger and faster than humans. They have to work to not show their exceptional strength and speed when with humans. An Inter Racial Council Law forbids them from competing in sporting events against humans because they would have an unfair advantage.
The original vampires evolved when modern humans first arrived in Europe, as a survival strategy during the harsh winters. In the dead of winter, when there was nothing to eat, certain individuals drank the blood of their people rather than starve. The habit passed down through generations and some Blood Drinkers began to consume human blood exclusively. There were several notable advantages to be gained, not the least of which were increased speed and strength. Over time, greatly decreased aging became another benefit, and grew to near immortality.
One would think, with all the benefits, there would be a tremendous waiting list. There wasn’t. The disadvantages were serious. Blood Drinkers grew unable to tolerate sunlight, with exposure resulting in the body withering away to dust in mere moments. Human food caused serious gastro-intestinal problems, sometimes resulting in death. Unpredictable, ravening fits of bloodlust endangered every human in proximity with the Blood Drinkers. To protect those they loved, they were forced into exile. They evolved to become the fanged creatures of the night currently known as vampires, feared and hated, mercilessly hunted.
That isn’t the end of the story though. After many millennia of living only by night, subsisting on blood alone, some vampires began to push the limits. They forced themselves to their maximum capacities for tolerance of sunlight and consumption of human food. The first managed a few seconds in the pale light of sunrise, and a crumb or two of food. However, they passed those achievements on to new vampires they created, who in turn, pushed their own limits, and passed the progress on to the next generation.
Today’s vampires can eat a complete and varied diet of human foods, and can withstand the full light of the sun. They still must consume human blood, and tend to be stronger after sunset. Their fangs have evolved to remain hidden in the roof of the mouth, behind the incisors, descending only in certain circumstances – the scent of fresh blood, the intent to feed, extreme fear or anger, sexual excitement, and sometimes physical trauma. With conscious preparation, the bite of a vampire can cause intense pleasure, usually of a sexual nature. Without preparation of the donor, the bite is extraordinarily painful. A great many willing donors become addicted to the pleasure of a vampire’s bite, so much so that they sometimes endanger their lives by allowing too many feedings too close together.
The majority of vampires now feed from banked blood, rather than ‘off the hoof’. Those who do feed directly from the source are required by law to obtain willing donors, and they cannot feed to the point of causing serious injury to, or death of, the donor. The law was enacted and is enforced by the IRC, which maintains a registry of willing donors and monitors their wellbeing, as well as who feeds from them. Bagged blood is far less expensive than the compensation required for live donors, and the IRC operates a blood bank that caters to vampires.
Fortunately, the bloodlust-fueled rampages of old are no longer a concern for most. In order to turn a human, a vampire must be an approved Sire, and adhere to the IRC laws governing procreation. Chief among those laws is the requirement for the Sire to see the new vampire adequately fed. The Sire must also train the new vampire in the laws they must follow, and how to live alongside humans without calling attention to themselves. Regular, adequate feeding from nutritionally sound donors have all but eliminated vampires being overcome by the uncontrollable need to feed.
Vampire procreation is strenuously controlled by IRC law. In order to change a human, a vampire must pass stringent testing and education requirements to become a registered Sire. (The term Sire is used to refer to both male and female vampires allowed to change humans.) Humans wishing to be turned must submit, through the potential Sire, an application. If approved, the new vampire-to-be is drained of blood, nearly to death, then fed the blood of a vampire who will become his/her Sire. The number of humans a registered Sire can change, as well as the process, is strictly regulated. The permissable population increase is roughly equal to that allowed for weredragons. There are allowances for emergency transformations, if the human is in imminent danger of death.
Vampires developed, and still retain, the ability to communicate telepathically, influence humans with their voices, and mind-search – the reading of thoughts and memories of individual humans, or subordinate vampires. Today, telepathic communication is often considered bad manners, particularly if some members of the company aren’t proficient. Constant and intense practice is required to maintain all the telepathic abilities, so many modern vampires have only rudimentary skills, for various reasons. Some individuals are lobbying the IRC to prohibit outright the use of any telepathic ability. The logic is the rights of the person on the receiving end are violated. To receive telepathic communication, a person must drop mental shields, allowing the sender access to their thoughts. The subjects of influence and mind-searches typically have no say in the matter.
Vampire society is divided into clans, groups of vampires who choose to live in the same geographic territory. Clans are led by Regents, the strongest, and often oldest, vampire in the territory. Wars between clans used to be common as Regents sought to expand the hunting territory of their clans. Blood banks made the need to expand hunting territory obsolete, so clan wars have mostly fallen by the wayside. Modern disputes are commonly settled through mediation by the IRC. Clan warfare is considered a violation of the laws protecting the secrecy of vampire and weredragon existence, and the participants severely punished.
Solitary vampires exist in the buffer zones between territories, owing allegiance only to themselves. A solitary’s existence is precarious. They have to be careful not to stray too far into a clan’s territory. Some solitaries choose eventually to join a clan. A solitary existence with no clan to turn to is difficult. In the times of humans hunting and killing vampires, every effort was made to settle the survivors of massacres into new clans as quickly as possible. Today, the IRC monitors and provides limited support to solitary vampires.
Rogue vampires deliberately disregard the laws and customs of modern vampire society. Often, the law-breaking is a conscious rebellion against the IRC. These rogues feel vampires have ceded too much control over the race to their government, or they object to the role weredragons play in the legislation and enforcement of those laws. A number of rogues rationalize their criminal behavior, calling it rebellion. The IRC maintains a Rogue Task Force, vampire warriors dedicated to hunting down and executing rogue vampires.
© Copyright Kenra Daniels 2011