I hope this gives a better idea of my novel/character/etc. than the first page did. Thanks all!
Idiots. I can't believe they keep trying, but I guess everyone needs a hobby. For the third time in as many weeks, someone tried to corner me in the Common. I guess it's a sign. I should probably change my route more often. It probably won't stop the idiots from trying, but I do get sick of fighting them off.
I don't actually enjoy hurting people. If they just asked, I'd be happy to give them what they wanted. God knows I have more than I need. That's the beauty of compound interest when you have nineteen-hundred years worth of investments.
Dragons used to hoard gold, gathering piles of it under drafty old mountains. But that was my grandparents. Now, we hoard savings bonds in safety deposit boxes. It's a much sounder investment strategy--a lot less likely to get you killed.
Unless you wander around Boston after dark, apparently.
"What is it with you people?" I muttered, as yet another nutjob with a knife thought he got the drop on an easy target.
No cliched conversation from this one, at least. He just swung a fist at me. It wasn't even the fist with the knife in it. Amateur.
Not a great fighter, the would-be mugger swung his arm so hard his own momentum took him down for me. He landed in a nice muddy puddle, at least. He wasn't hurt, other than his pride.
I shook my head at the kid, threw him a few twenties for his trouble, and kept walking. He sat in his puddle and glared at me. When he thought I couldn't see him anymore, though, he picked up the money and stumbled off back where he came from. Hopefully he wouldn't feel the need to go after anyone else tonight.
Who ever thought a walk from City Hall to Marlborough Street could be so dangerous? It's getting to be that way for me, and potentially for the people who adopted me into their family. There have always been bigots, people eager to hate you because you aren't exactly like them. No matter how much good we do for them, it seems to make them hate us that much more. Even when we defend their lives, it just seems to make them angry. Maybe they don't like needing our help?
The U.S. Government has been working with shapeshifters since before there was a U.S. Government. In fact, there might not be a United States at all without us. It's been a difficult couple of centuries, but nothing as difficult as what we all lived through before.
Back when we came here, we were fleeing Roundheads in England. They might sound funny now, but they weren't an army of Charlie Brown impersonators. They knew the shifters sided with the royal family, and we were probably the Crown's best defense. Oliver Cromwell's chief Roundhead, Lord Fairfax, began recruiting witches who'd be able to take us out. 1644 was the last time I saw another dragon, and my mother's life didn't end well. Fairfax and Cromwell saw to that at Marston Moor.
After my mother's death, my husband and I gathered up every last wolf, crow, cat, and bear we could find--every last shifter--and sailed for the New World. We'd seen enough death at the hands of the sorcerers who worked for Parliament. If they could kill one dragon, I wasn't going to stick around and give them a chance to prove they could do it again.
It takes an awful lot to do in a dragon, even more than it takes to harm most shifters. A bullet won't do it. I'm not sure nuclear holocaust could do it. It takes magic. In fact, it takes evil, dark, black magic. Not many people are willing to risk their immortal souls just to kill a dragon, but there have historically been a few with the gift who think the risk is worth it--and people with a dragon problem willing to pay them.
Shifters are strong, fast, generally smart, and nearly impossible to kill. All that, plus centuries of training and superhuman instincts, makes us good soldiers, and good cops.
Since we were first outed as shapeshifters back in the time of Beowulf, we realized we could stay safest if we worked for the powers that be, which nowadays means the U.S. government. As long as we sat on our piles of gold, dining on the citizenry, and stealing whatever we wanted, we weren't going to find ourselves in anyone's good graces. Being chased by villagers with torches and pitchforks gets tiresome remarkably quickly. Every once in a while, one of those villagers would realize they had the power to kill us, and they often succeeded back then.
My mother, Phoibe, was a good dragon, and a good woman. Her parents were killed in Crete by the first wave of sorcerers who realized they had the power to destroy dragons, werewolves, and other shifters. The magic that fueled their spell stole away a part of their own soul in the process, but you'd be surprised how many people aren't terribly bothered about that. We fled to what's now Romania when I was just a hatchling, after my father was killed by a coven of black witches in Greece.
Ironically enough, we had to flee Transylvania in the 1420's because of Vlad Dracul--not the Impaler, but his daddy. He took it upon himself to rid the region of dragons while he was waiting around for his brother to kick the bucket and hand over his throne. He thought he should be the only dragon in charge there, and he wasn't even a real dragon. The Catholic Church awarded him the title in 1431 for his "good works." Indeed.
We met Henry VI in Rouen a few years later, and he invited us to work for him, after seeing our potential value as a fighting force. That's also where I met Andre, my husband. Our ragged little band moved again, to London. Everything was hunky-dory until Ollie and the Roundheads decided we were too dangerous to live. To be fair, we did kind of slaughter them for a while, but it was on the orders of our liege lord. When Cromwell figured out how we could be killed, our fun was over, and it was time to run again. Or sail, as it were.
We decided to start a new life in the colonies. There was land aplenty, and we could help keep the peace in the relatively lawless wilderness. We set out as soon as we could gather the family, and never looked back.
After the Revolution, George Washington invited us to stay on. Since then, we've worked in the military and law enforcement, using our unique abilities to protect the citizens who have allowed us to settle here. Since the 1950's, most of us have worked with the NHRD, the Non-Human Resources Department, now a division of Homeland Security. If it makes you happy, you can call it NERD, since most of us do when no one else is listening. I fill in where I'm needed most, whether in the FBI, the CIA, or the military. It's an interesting job most of the time, and the government likes having essentially unkillable people on the front lines.
When I'm not on assignment, I usually live in Boston. It's changed a lot in the last three-hundred-fifty years or so, but it's never boring. As you can see, even my simple walk home often turns into the opening scenes of a CSI episode. After the life I've led, the occasional mugger seems like small potatoes. At least no one died tonight.
Safely back inside my house, I can be a little more myself. I still can't be entirely myself, even with my family. They don't even know what I really am. My husband, Andre, did, but he died during the Spanish-American war. Someone at Fort Caonsa figured out he was a werewolf, and brought along a brujo to stop him. It still took more than a hundred bullets to end his life, even with the brujo's magic sapping his strength. At least they didn't try that trick with me. I got their brujo, and every last bastard who'd pointed a gun at Andre. That was the last time I shifted to my real body.
If anyone knew what I was, there would be some horrible person who'd try to see me dead. Shifters might be accepted in society now, but a dragon is a lot different than a wolf or a bear. So I hide as a wolf with my husband's family. A dragon in wolf's clothing. Look out, sheep.
"Is that you, Thalia?" a voice echoed from the kitchen.
"Yes, Ellen, I'm home."
Ellen is my mother-in-law. No jokes, please. She's made me a part of her family for nearly six hundred years. Six hundred years voluntarily in my company makes her a saint. Dragons aren't noted for our stability of character.