Maya Reyes was born into a troubled family that did not need another child. George Reyes and Maria Lopez were suffering from difficult financial situations. Living in New Mexico with low income jobs, the couple had two jobs each, and so they spent little time at home to raise their two kids. When they were actually home, they were too busy screaming at each other about money, drinking, and/or beating each other up in a true trailer-trash fashion. The kids were all but neglected at times, or shoved into the spotlight. Love is there somewhere, supposedly, but with every fight and every drink consumed it got harder and harder to find it.
Ever since she could remember Maya stuck close to her older brother Eric. He was four years her senior and took care of his baby sister pretty well. Though they wrestled and fought like any other brother and sister, he liked her well enough to protect her from the brunt of their parents' wrath, and let her sleep over in his room when the fights got vicious and frightening. Unfortunately, as he grew older Eric started to act out himself. She was eleven and he was fifteen when he decided to run away. What hurt Maya most wasn't the fact that he went but the fact that he didn't take her with him.
George and Maria panicked at the disappearance of their son. Their fights increased as they blamed each other for him running away. As for Maya herself, with no brother to protect her, she started to feel the brunt of her parents' attentions as well. Eventually she followed her brother's footsteps and decided to pack up and runaway as well. She grabbed what possessions she could stuff into her backpack, as much money as she could find around the house, and her favorite of her mother's necklaces that she had always wanted before hitting the road. What she did not realize, however, was that her brother came back home a week later.
Once on the streets of New Mexico she bought a ticket for the greyhound bus with her money, taking her as far north as it could. It wasn't until Maya got off her stop that she realized there was a missing person's report on her and that it got surprising publicity. As she walked down the street she tried to keep a low-profile, but she overheard two policemen who wondered if she was the missing girl. Maya automatically panicked and ran into the nearest alley, unfortunately they noticed her nervousness and followed suit. She pressed against the corner of the dead end alley and slid her eyes shut as they approached. The little girl started to will herself to disappear, to change her appearance, to somehow not look herself and to not get caught. She willed it, she begged for it, she wished so hard and so fiercely that the laws of reality started to heed her prayers. Hearing the policemen stop right before her, she kept her eyes closed until one of them asked the other if he is sure it's her; he didn't remember the missing girl being blond. Blinking in surprise, Maya looked at them then at her hair. Blond it was. The second policeman confirmed, saying that her eyes were brown, not blue, and so they walked away.
Maya found herself scared and alone, with odd looking features; eventually fear turned into exhaustion and she passed out in the alley by the trash. Once she woke up, her features transformed back to normal. Since the only thing different about her was the new necklace she wore, the girl attributed her new powers to the necklace she stole from her mother. She moved on eventually, and when she was alone she tried to experiment with her gift. Sometimes she succeeded, sometimes she didn't. What Maya discovered, however, was that with more practice she was able to shift more easily. It came to her with ease. What she didn't realize is that the necklace she wore and her own natural aptitude towards the ability helped her immensely.
When she was still only able to handle human-like transformations at a basic level, Maya befriended a bunch of homeless bums. They took pity on her and thought she was a cute little kid that reminded them of their lost loved ones. They kept her with them, better they ensure she was alright rather than have her be the victim of some rapist or conman. Jimball, Stevie and the Doctor (whether because he was a scholar or a medic, no one knew) took care of her pretty well. Stevie, being a still young Gulf War veteran, helped Maya learn a few things for self defense; just the basics to ensure she wasn't always picked on or caught in a difficult situation. Jimball was the kind of man who loved to climb and hide in spaces no one would expect him to be, and he showed her exactly how to do that; his theory was that avoiding detection in the first place meant you wouldn't get in trouble to begin with. They called him Jimball because he bounced all over the place (Gym ball, get it? Ha ha.) The Doctor, well, he didn't teach her much at first, until he discovered her attempts to shift when she thought she was alone.
Apparently the Doctor knew a few things about the occult. He told her that if she practiced hard enough, she would be able to do more than just change her features. With his help and guidance, Maya's talents flourished. Soon she was able to shift greater parts of her body, and thanks to the necklace, she was able to do it much quicker than expected. The Doctor, at first, figured it was her own natural talent and was impressed by the prodigy. Maya, who glowed under the guidance and attention of someone, never told him that it was the necklace that made her shift (in her beliefs). She wanted to be special enough to be a prodigy.
Two years passed while she remained under the protection of her street teachers. They took great care of her and they traveled together for the most part. It wasn't until she turned thirteen that things took a turn for the worse. While her necklace was off, the Doctor approached Maya for one of her lessons. When she reached for the Talisman he started to notice her dependence on it. Since the Doctor himself is not exactly the most astute or strongest of practitioners, he had to call in a favor from another Sorcerer, Paulie. While Maya was busy with her other two mentors, the Doctor had Paulie check out the Talisman from afar. Sure enough, it was enchanted and far beyond that of a simple Sorcerer's relic; it was an old Mage's Talisman. It supposedly enhanced the wearer's abilities. Once the Doctor realized that he won't be the bottom scrubber of the Sorcerer's pool for long with that necklace, his greed got the better of him. Maya was a simple girl, what did she know about Talismans? Besides, it would be better for her to learn how to cast spells on her own and not depend on the necklace, right? Right.
Maya was asleep when he approached; unfortunately the Doctor was no Jimball and his attempts to steal the necklace from around her neck woke Maya up. He still made a mad dash for it and started to choke her due to his grip on the necklace; but the little girl managed to kick him in the balls and escape from his grip. Horrified and hurt, she ran away from her old friends without looking back.
Thirteen and alone again, she began to wander once more, but this time she stayed away from the streets and slipped into the forests of New Mexico. She continued to practice her abilities, but struggled to survive on her own. She learned some basic survival skills from Stevie and used them to the best of her abilities, but she was scared, hurt and barely making it from day to day. Still, she experimented with the vegetation she came across; unfortunately diarrhea, vomiting and poisons were a common occurrence until she learned to differentiate the plants. When in luck, she raided the camps and cabins she came across, which eventually earned her a little reputation around the campers. Maya lost a lot of weight and was gaunt and weak from hunger, but her will was strong and she was tenacious. A survivor through and through, she managed somehow. Eventually, while in her weakened state and after she ate a bad mushroom, she went through a dazed haze of hallucinations which helped her into the next round of her Shapeshifting abilities.
Once she discovered that she can take on the half-forms of animals, life became immensely easier in the forest. The urban legends that concerned her grew as people swore of a half-cat half-girl, or half-rat half-girl, or half-something or another that loomed in the forest. They called her everything from Little Bigfoot and Chupacabra (especially when she took on lizard half-forms) to the Missing Link. Still, she learned to hide herself and her tracks; there was never enough evidence to actually bring about a cult following. The girl, however, took an intense interest in animals once she discovered she could shift into them. She studied them from afar, or took care of the ones that allowed her near. For example, once she found a lost baby bird she nursed it as much as she could. She used her abilities to help feed the baby bird and took care of it, nursed it until the bird was healthy and old enough to fly on its own.
Once the link between her and her animal instincts were established, Maya found it be intoxicating. She constantly wanted to be in different forms, to take in different sensations and experiences. She loved the forest more than anything and called it her home. Once you have Mother Nature figured out, it was easy to take part in it; there is no duplicity there that she saw and grew wary of in the city.
She was fifteen when she finally broke through and shifted fully into an animal. It was the cougar that fascinated her and influenced her to try. Maya has seen them more than a few times, and their solitary nature and beauty mystified her. It was the animal that she wanted to be and so it was that animal that she shifted into. To say that she adored being a full four-legged creature would be an understatement. The first time she shifted her mind gave into the animal side, however, but she pulled out within the day and regained control. Unfortunately, considering how often she shifted she would slip and the animal side would take over every now and then; but she didn't care as she usually pulled out of it eventually. She loved it and she felt empowered by it.
Without realizing it, her abilities slowly changed Maya. She was so used to being alone and in animal form that she began to think and act like it even when she didn't mean to. Her mind sometimes blurred the lines between what was human and what was primal instincts. A part of her was scared that she was losing her humanity, a greater part of her reveled in it.
It wasn't until two years later, after much practice and concentration while immersed in the forest that Maya finally discovered how to shift into another animal. Unfortunately it came with devastating consequences. She wanted to shift into a wolf, to see if she could somehow join a wolf pack she had been keeping track of and trailing behind. If she managed to join them, she figured it will prove how much she had perfected her craft, sort of a proof of her accomplishments. It took her the better part of six months of careful partial shifting and painstaking work to finally shift into the wolf. When her fur sprang forth, her tail and ears perked and her teeth clicked, Maya had a brief moment of pure elation as she realized she had done it before her mind slipped away and a wolf's howl ripped through her throat.
She was lost to the wolf, this time it was for far longer than she realized. Four days passed, the longest she has been under and she couldn't remember most of it. The small corner of her mind that struggled to regain control was in a panic whenever it did manage to realize what has happened, but the wolf would not relent. She moved, trekked, and migrated, lost completely to her human side. It was on the fifth day that she finally regained consciousness by some miracle of will. In a battle against another wolf for due to territory, the other wolf decimated her. As her animal part began to panic once it was cornered, her human mind found a foothold and she pushed for control. The girl shifted into human form and that caused the attacking wolf to not only pause but back away in fright. Weak and injured, she managed to pull herself up a tree and nurse her wounds while she took in her surroundings and see where the wolf has deposited her. This was not home she remembered and this strange forest is definitely more than it seems.
After nearly losing herself to her animal side, Maya is using her new experience as a warning in how fragile the link is between her human mind and her animal instincts. Unfortunately the girl is still overconfident about her abilities and may still take advantage of them without taking the consequences seriously. Furthermore, she has found herself much closer to her animal side than her human now. Her behavior has changed to resemble something that is feral and wild. She can be rather territorial and may seem greedy and self-involved to those who aren't used to her. Maya also has a short-fuse but is overconfident, a dangerous mixture that makes her pick the 'fight' part of fight-or-flight more often than not, leading her into dangerous situations that she may not be able to handle.
She isn't fond of the city, and is even less fond of the people that live exclusively within it. Since she has felt that she has been deceived by people so many times before, she makes it hard to befriend her, though she does have a soft spot for the underdog, the scrapper and those who are willing to fight for what is right and what they want. Long-sufferers, angsters, or those who whine without even trying only get her wrath, as do cute fluffy things; she isn't the type who 'awwws' at the sight of a cute puppy. Usually blunt, forward and with no real regard towards etiquette or manipulation, she is usually brash and aggressive but can be easily manipulated into doing things if one realizes how she functions.
- Relic: Necklace (Rank 2 Talisman, Time 3 sphere only) – The necklace Maya stole from her mother is quite an important and powerful one. A Talisman, it grants the bearer the ability to cast magic swiftly, replacing the need for a ritual and concentration. It allows the bearer to 'quick cast' without penalty and while under duress. Thus Maya is technically able to will her transformations within the same pose for abilities 1-3, and within the next pose for abilities 4-6. She still needs to roll her willpower vs 6 to ensure whether she retains her mind or gives into her animal instincts, and she still needs to spend willpower in order to shift. Treat it as a Unique Foci, if she loses this necklace she will need to relearn her Shapeshifting Paths due to her dependency on it but at half the experience points/time.
- Sanctuary: A large cave with a small entry and a decent clearing outside. Not much to the place, it is just what she calls home. Her version of 'warding' is basically scenting it while in her animal forms (yes, that means she probably peed around the area more than a few times while human as well.) (OOC: not been made ICly yet, this is apped ahead of time.)
- Athletics: Free-Running - basically running, climbing and maneuvering around obstacles.
- Survival: Specific Environment - Forests.
- Stamina: Tough as Nails.
- Linguistics: Spanish.
- Animal Ken: Feral animals.
Plot Hooks Edit
- The Doctor: Maya spent a few years on the streets with her three ex-mentors. The Doctor is the one who wanted her relic. He could come back any time in search of it, hoping it will give him the extra power to no longer be the bottom rung sorcerer.
- Eric: Maya's brother who is about 22 by now, is also up for grabs if someone is interested. Not much is developed on him; he could be a sorcerer, a Mage, a Vampire, or whatever at this point.
- Talisman: Not much is known about Maya's necklace or how it came into her mother's possession. Whether her mother stole it from one of her cleaning jobs or she inherited it wrongfully from a Mage who wanted to spurn his Chantry. Feel free to pick it up and go with it!