|Name: Cale Soto|
|Race: Shapeshifter, Leopard|
|Shortdesc: A fit, young hispanic man.|
|Position: Whatever is needed|
|Fame: Talented Tech|
|Temperament: Quiet and Reserved|
|Unknown as Cale Soto
Cale Soto is a young hispanic male who stands about six feet tall. His build is smoothly toned, with muscle that is tight and firm with gentle contours beneath the warm tan of his skin. His hair is black and shoulder length, streaked with blonde highlights. His hair is often unkempt and tousled, but clean. His face is handsome, with warm brown eyes, a proportional nose and a generous mouth given to smiles. Though these days, his expression tends towards a detached neutrality when not influenced by events around him.
A simple white t-shirt gives subtle hint to the contours of his chest, while the unbuttoned dress shirt above drapes the modest breadth of his shoulders. The overshirt is black striped and the cuffs are undone. Wrinkles plague both garments. His jeans are snug, giving a soft outline to his strong legs. A worn, brown leather belt wraps his waist, the tongue of it hanging down from the buckle haphazardly. Well broken sneakers of black and grey guard his feet and on cold days, an aged leather jacket wards off the chill.
OOC: Keep in mind that all of the information on this page, unless otherwise noted, is OOC knowledge and unknown to your character ICly.
Hooks and Links
Below is a rough synopsis of places where BGs can be linked or points of RP can be engaged with.
Cale was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1987. His parents built their way from common wealth to modestly wealthy as he was growing to his teens. So his exposure would be broad for those years, from simpler folk to the lower echelons of the well to do.
Between the ages of fifteen to eighteen, he fell in with the party crowd. Young, idle rich youths who would spend the time not in school doing whatever they wished. Often this would include road trips south of the border, a good deal of booze and sex. During this period he’d also encounter a lot of different people.
He was infected just after graduating from high school during one of these forays. He was on the border between high school and college. He never let his parents discover this and remained in Mexico to attend Universidad Autonoma de Nuev, which lay near where his parents originated from.
He’s had strong links with the Pard in that region, which I have not defined in any detail as of yet. He was with them through his college years and a few months after before he came to Chicago, following Jandra. So he’d have had interactions with that Pard and many college students around 2005 to early 2010.
Currently, Cale is deeply invested in CLAW, more or less running their IT department. He pulls semi-regular hours in the office, so to speak, but does a lot of his work on the go or at home as well. He’s always on call for computer related emergencies(of a sufficient scale – small disasters are handled by NPC techs).
However he is –not- an open shapeshifter. While not completely hidden, he is discreet about what he is, so few know ICly and he tends to keep himself out of the public eye as much as possible. His comings and goings to CLAW’s offices are discreet. He tends to come in early and leave at times when foot traffic is low. And, as noted above, do work from home whenever possible.
Cale has few regular hangouts. He tends to rotate common coffee houses and bars without much rhyme or reason. Whichever is closest on his way to wherever he’s going or is currently at. He does take regular trips out to Wavecrest Island, usually during the morning or mid evening when there are few people around.
Searching Inward, Outward
Wherein Cale withdraws from the environment he's put himself into and goes into the 'wilds' to try and figure out who he is and what he should be doing with his life. To try and remove himself from the stresses, urges and motivations that are making his life a struggle when it should be a joy. And where he finds a new path for himself that is unlike that which he's walked before. Sometimes what you need has always been there.
Silence all around, if not in his head. Only the light wind through the trees. The sound of the nocturnal critters as they make their way in the dark and the brush. His own footfalls and the soft creak and jingle from the pack on his back. No more cars, not more light bleed into the sky. No more people and complications. The nagging in his head lingers, but subdued. Distance and determination to focus dulling it some. For now anyway.
With his suitable sight found, he set to work at once. Clearing the ground of twigs and stones for his tent. Gathering larger stones for the shallow firepit. A mix of modern and rustic methods, all executed with his light knowledge of fieldcraft. a bit messy and imperfect, but serviceable. Soon, he had the tent set up and his gear stowed. The firepit ready, but lacking certain essentials.
It wasn't a bad way to spend the dark few hours. Just enough light by stars and moon to not run into things, but a pleasant and calming darkness all around. He knew the land was safe. one of the safer places for him to simply relax. To risk letting his control relax. Though in some ways uncomfortable and unfamiliar, he let his energy out to play. Let it loose from the soft coil within to simply be.
No stress here. No surprises.
The night is mature when he returns, a healthy collection of tinder, kindling and fuel to stack beside the tent, a smaller piece of plastic slid over it all in case of rain. Wet wood takes more effort to burn. But tonight he had no need of the fire. His belly full, he had no need to hunt or cook this night. Planned in advance, affording him time to simply settle in. With chores of the evening completed, he settled into the tent, flap open to let him lay near the entrance and peer out from the most modern of his comforts, atop the second most, the synthetic fiber sleeping bag.
For another hour he would be like this. His eyes half closed much of the time. Drawing in the sounds and the smells of the trees. The quiet promise of stillness and calm. The surety that nothing could go wrong this time. That thought prompting a soft smile. And with the deepening of the night, a fatigue. Eventually he closes up the tent, but leaves the side flaps open, netting keeping out insects while letting in breezes. And with the removal of cloth, he settles to sleep.
His first night truly alone.
The next day started well. A moment of disorientation. No comfortable nbed, no high, firm ceiling. But an instant is all it takes for him to come back to where he is and soon after why he is. A pang hits, but he just purses his lips and nudges it aside.
It helps once he’s up. He doesn’t bother dressing, the col grass of his campsite free of annoying rocks and sticks. He gets a fire going, low and warm and his kettle. Shoes come on as he walks down to the nearby water to fill the kettle a bit. Coffee may not be a physical need, but the mental aid of its regularity helps once he’s heated the water and got the mix in.
And for a time he will sit and contemplate the days before him. Days without the usual distractions and activities. He’s brought along his laptop, but it remains at the bottom of his bag for now. His camera, his cellphone. The latter silent and stuck in a pocket of his bag. Checked once a day for emergencies. But no more high tech conveniences. No movies, no music. No work for now. No socializing. No her.
And his thoughts skitter away as he finishes his coffee. Thinking is far too dangerous right now. Counterproductive. With a deep breathed sigh he gets up to tidy and starts to consider the slow hollow growing in his belly. Time to leave thinking behind. And time to eat. Time to commune with what’s inside. After his camp is made neat again, he walks out a few dozen yards before letting the shift overtake him.
Bringing up the mental state for the change easy, despite the moon’s distance. Part of him is too predisposed to panic and fear. Unquiet and uncertain. Though through the aching discomfort of the shift, the union of form and mind, such concerns fade to the background. He gives a part of himself over to an alien mind, letting it settle closely beside him and whisper its primal emotions and instincts into his ear.
And for now, he listens to it. As much as he clings to his humanity, he’s learned over the years that there are times to let go just a little. To sink into the strange pool of the primal mind. The beast that sees black and white. Friend and foe. Food and not food. The only other category being those who are not yet in one of the two categories. And foremost on its mind is food.
Hunting as the beast is still an odd experience for him. Parts of it more comfortable and compelling than others. There is a calming element to the hunt itself. Focusing on the senses. Smell to pick up the trail. The particular scent of deer that populate the area. Learning to determine the new and old trails a slow developing second nature. The beast knew how, teaching him the first year through slow osmosis.
Hearing, listening after bounding to where the scent grows stronger. Fresher. The soft pluck of the grass nearby letting him pinpoint his prey before his eyes fix on it. Then the stalk. Larger than normal he might be, but even a large leopard can steal upon the prey. This too is strangely calming. The low slink, feeling this powerful body respond so effortlessly and fluidly to let him glide closer.
The stillness shattered as the coiled up energy of the stalk snaps free in an instant of simple fury. The prey flees, of course. But Cale is faster, even if he does not immediately take it down. Letting the exhilarating moment of the chase play out just a bit longer. Letting his heart swell with the excitement of the kill. The physical impact of bodies slamming into one another. His jaws clamping over the throat unerringly. The beast’s touch, generations of instinct in the movement.
The gamy taste of deer quickly followed by the tang of warm blood, his teeth breaking skin, even has the tight grip of his jaws cut off the deer’s airflow. He’s done this dozens of times. At least once a month out of simple necessity. Rarely more often. Even after over three years, the taste of blood is strange. Not bad, but distinctive in a mildly uncomfortable way to the waking mind. Most notable when he forgets to rinse it away before changing back. Now, there is enough of the beast that it matters less.
And when it ceases moving, he eats. Again, a strange thing to the human mind. Tearing flesh to reach the warm meat within. Tearing free chunks of it with a simple, focused hunger. A faint queasy edge from the human side. Used to this, but not unaffected still. But the backbone of the beast keeps that side stable. This is natural. Normal.
Sated, Cale leaves the remains for the small scavengers to pick clean and he once more seeks the water. Dunking his head to clean his muzzle of the blood and taste of raw meat. The human mind’s touch. But it is brief as the wilds call to him. The need to stretch his legs and simply be. And for once the human mind hungers for this simplicity. So there is no resistance to it. He dashes out to wander the woods. Exploring, climbing and simply running. For a few hours existing in the moment and letting his thoughts, fears and uncertainties be silent.
Later that night be returns to camp wet, but clean. The dust and dirt of the run cleansed away with a quick dip. Back at his camp, he pulls on a pair of boxers for comfort, but only that. He fixes himself some more coffee. The deer still sits within him, though much diminished from before. Enough for tonight. Once activity has ended and he sits just inside his tent with coffee, considering the low embers of his small fire, does he feel those thoughts and worries creep back towards him.
Is she alright? Is she with.. what is she doing? Will she be ok? Does she need something? Does she care? Questions without answers that flicker through the mind in a blink, one to the other running in a smear of worry and uncertainty. He closes his eyes, trying to force calm and silence into his thoughts. Easier said than done, but he manage it somewhat. Quieting it to a dull buzz as he focuses on the taste of his coffee and the smell of it mingling with the cleaner air here. The sounds of the evening, the sight of the stars. The slow settle of fatigue that will soon have him sleeping.
Thoughts of what he shall do tomorrow. And the day after. And they day after. And..
Speak in Dreams
“Who are you?”
Cale started to awareness. Yet rather than seeing the dull light bleeding through tent fabric, he saw only the open sky. A few blinks didn’t dismiss this faulty view, prompting him to sit up. His propped hand brushing flat land with low scrub grass. And his eyes swept the smooth lay of land that looked more akin to an African plain than the expected deciduous trees he’d been in before.
“Who are you?”
The same voice, this time with a better sense of its composition. A mix of voices. Male and female. At the same time smooth and rational, yet with a soft, wild rumble nipping at the edge of each syllable. Calming, yet prompting a flutter of anxiety that send butterflies through Cale’s belly. The sweep of his eyes could not detect the source.. nor could he seem to pinpoint it by ear.
Cale scrambled to his feet, not needing a downward glance to know he was nude. Normally not something that troubles him, but in this place? A potential disadvantage that nagged at the edge of his thoughts. Though more obvious was the sense of expectation in the air. Something waited for him to speak, but only just.
“I’m Cale,” he says slowly, cautious. “Cale Soto.”
“Who is Cale?” the voice asked empathically in return. “What is Cale?” A pause, as Cale mulled the questions with uncertainty. “Do you know?” As if the source of the voice could read his thoughts.
“No,” Cale admitted after a few moments, his lips pursing. A logical part of his mind knew that this.. all of it should touch him deeper than it had. To be in a strange place, being questioned by a disembodied voice? Yet such considerations sat low in his thoughts. The situation simply accepted after the initial disorientation. “Who are you?” Curious, but not demanding.
A few moments of silence pass before it seemed to draw from the very air before him. Color flowing from some hidden place to draw in upon itself, curling about the invisible mold of a humanoid form. Yet not human. Spotted fur, a feline head. A leopard.. person. The form it takes a purely androgynous. Neither too masculine nor too feminine, yet hinting towards both.
“I am Cale Soto,” the voice spoke again, yet from the maw of this beast person. Cale could feel a soft flutter of uncertainty again as he studied the.. His mind skittered away from the possibility that briefly touched upon his thoughts. The creature seemed to sense it even as it happened, it’s head tilting. “I am you. You are me. We are one, now.”
Cale the human felt anxiety warm within. Part of him trying to rebel against this, yet enough feeling of fact weighed against it, leaving that part to flail uselessly in his mind. With such futility left to fling itself in ignored silence, more obvious questions came to mind. “Why? What.. what is this? Where am I?” His head turns just slightly, as if to look about. Yet he pauses before looking too far, not wishing to take his sight fully from the one before him.
Cale the beast shook it’s head. “You are where you always are. Where I always am. Within ourself. You dream, Cale. And I speak to you as you will not allow me otherwise.” A clawed hand lifts towards him, as if to brush his cheek. Cale flinches slightly and the hand pauses, a breath from the touch. “Why do you deny me?”
With himself becoming more accustomed to this. Slowly accepting what is said and what currently is, response comes more naturally. Quicker, without the need to think. “You’re dangerous. You are instinct run wild. Animal. The loss of what makes me human. The loss of remembering those around me are human.”
The clawed hand lingers, as if desiring the touch, yet unable to do so. “I am what I am,” it replies simply, neither confirming nor denying. “I am potential. I am perspective. I will not leave you. I cannot, even if I wanted to.”
Cale is very still. His eyes flicking towards the clawed hand uncertainly now and then. Cautious now. Tense with the restrained energy of fight or flight curling itself about him. Though his mind still works, trying to make sense of this. Of what is being said. Meaning does not come easily or clearly to him. “I know you can’t leave me. That I cannot remove you.”
“And yet you still push me away,” it replies, bright eyes focused towards his own. Warm with the intensity of its gaze. “Not as hard as you once did, but you hide behind your wall, despite what small kindnesses you offer like choice morsels. And now, you wish me to make things simple again. Yet you do not lower your wall. You want, but you will not give.”
Cale’s mind rolls with thought. Progressing through reason and explanation. The why of this, the what of that. The reasoned arguments that he has held close to justify his path through life. But none of them truly dismiss what it tells him. The wall is there. His determination to take in as little of his other side as possible, yet he does want things simpler. The simple focus of the beast washing away his concern for those things that are not essential to existence. A return to simplicity.
As he looks back into those bright eyes, he struggles to push back against then simple truths and finds that they remain. And yet.. “What do you want of me?” Asked with a guarded caution. The question that has always been there, if unasked before this moment.
“I want you,” it replies simply, the fingers of the clawed hand twitching as if brushing against an invisible barrier just a hair shy of Cale’s skin. Preventing the simple touch. “I am your potential now. I am not evil. I am not good. I simply am. What I am to you is what you make of me. Your heart and your wishes will guide us both.” The clawed hand drops slowly to its side. “I want you to embrace me. To let me walk with you. I will not promise you that our travel will be smooth. I am what I am. But I cannot be denied forever. I want, Cale. And I will have, one way or another.”
The low, certain menace in that last prompts a soft shudder from Cale. The first moment where a brief flicker of malevolence shows through. A possible glimpse at what could be. Wild.. savage. “I..” Cale pauses. “I don’t know if I’m strong enough. To stay away from the feral path.”
“I give you strength, Cale,” it tells him. “I have since we bonded. You had strength enough to survive. And I gave to you my vigor. My senses, my willpower. You know this, you have felt it all within. Learned to guide it. Learned well, yet you resist taking the steps that you must to complete our union. You cling too much to what once was. That is not what is. You must let us be together, Cale. Instinct cannot be denied forever.”
Despite the low menace in its tone, the simple truth of what this beast tells him is hard to deny. So too, a soft siren’s call of emotional salvation is there. Simple focus. A step away from the strictly rational and a step towards natural law. A far simpler law than the laws of man. The ways that have run him to distraction. What could come of it? He didn’t know, but the curiosity and the need for something.. better was strong.
Cale lifted a hand slowly before him, extended only half way between the two, in that slender space that separates them. At the same time the beast lifts its hand, matching Cale’s movement, yet its hand stops short of the touch again. Unable to force the touch. Yet. Indecision floods through Cale in that moment. Paralyzing, almost suffocating with the intensity of it. But then he pushes his hand forward that fraction, fingers mingling with those of the beast. Almost intimately.
“I am yours, Cale. As you are mine,” it tells him, the words breathed as if in relief. “It must be we. Not you, not I. We must be together, like this. I will become w hat you wish me to be. In your heart, what you need. What you truly want. I will be your truth.”
Cale nods, his fingers curling tightly with those of the beast. A strange sense of relief brushing back, the lingering jags of uncertainty and caution. Some linger, but the relaxation within is tangible. “I will try to be worthy. I.. I don’t know how..”
The other hand of the beast lifts, it’s fingertip coming to rest on Cale’s lips in a silencing gesture. The touch light, easily evaded. Cale does not. “I will help you. I cannot tell you each step, but I am there. Instinct and urge. Listen for me. Listen deep within when I speak. You will understand in time, if you are determined.”
The hand moves away and Cale nods his head. “ I will try,” he promises softly. Lightly uncertain still. But not so intensely as before. “I will try.”
Cale awoke softly, his eyes fluttering open. No more the open sky. Instead, the predawn light bled softly through the top of his tent. And unlike most dreams almost at once he recalled every moment of the one he had just woken from. His fingers flexing, but not feeling the furred hand of what lay within. Oddly, he felt a pang of loss. Before the simple, warm presence of it that has always been there settled in beside his consciousness. Not gone. Inside as always.
The dream lingered on his mind as he rose and made himself ready for the day. Coffee and oatmeal to take the edge of the morning’s hunger after stoking a new flame. An abstract thought to get more firewood. Yet such concerns were near drowned out by the thoughts that rolled through his head. The gravity of the dream and its meaning. And the mark It left on him.
He felt different. Why? How? Those questions were unanswerable. He just did. To what end? He did not know. But there was a tangible sense of waiting. Inside.. outside.. was it him or was it waiting? Why was it waiting.. what for? More questions without answers. And the more he thought about them, the more it was clear they didn’t matter. At least, not when it came to what he would do. He was in control. He would act, it would follow on his heels. Becoming what he wanted.
The only question is what he wanted. One obvious answer was quick to rise, but he was ready for it. She had no place here. Not now. So he tucked her into the back of his mind for now. And so his mind cast forth to consider again just what he wanted. What.. he wanted to do right now. That was what was important. The thought was simple enough to leave him sitting uncertain. Too easy. Too simple. And yet..
He dropped the half empty bowl and stood up. He stood for a moment, still and silent, then turned and went into his tent. A few moments of rummaging had him emerging with his camera. And without a pause, he went off into the threes. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t finished his breakfast. It didn’t matter that he’d not cleaned the bowl. Nor that he was just in boxers and lacking shoes. He wanted to explore and take pictures. So he did it.
It was a surreal experience. There was an instinctive edge to his awareness. He spent less time sighting and searching for shots and simply snapped away when the whim called to him. There was a glorious sort of spontaneity to it and from moment to moment he no idea what images he had stored away on the digital camera. And he found that he really didn’t care in the end. Finding the perfect picture was less important than the picture that felt right. There was no questioning the feeling and so no need to study the picture. At least, not right here and now.
He wandered about the trees for hours, simply snapping every now and then, only stopping when he finally ran out of space on the camera. Though just when that happened he wasn’t sure because until be saw it was full, he hadn’t bothered to c heck. But how long he’d been snapping pictures that weren’t taken didn’t matter either. Whistling and with a smile on his lips, he walked back into camp and set his camera away for study later. His belly felt hollow, but it didn’t matter. He’d be hunting soon and that would be fixed. He casually went through cleaning the bowl he dropped that morning and gathering firewood, feeling a strange new sense of fluid purpose leading him along.
And that night he hunted, ate well and slept deep and content. He wasn’t done out here, but he felt.. he knew that he was on the right track. And for once he didn’t think about her so much. A part of him let go, the need to g rip and hold relaxing. His feelings were unchanged, but a sense of peace with the way things would be had begun to settle in. For better or worse things would settle as they would. And he would do as he would with what lay before him when he discovered that settle.
The Last Night
"Who are you, Cale?"
When Cale found himself sitting across from the beast once more, he was less surprised than the first time. The dark, featureless surroundings made it the only thing to focus on. And focus he did, considering the question asked. "That's why I came out here. To find out who I am. What I'll do."
It smiles, in so much as it's animal head will let it smile. "Are you content with what you do?"
Cale embraced the new question with as much consideration as the others. Thoughtful. "I do like to work for CLAW," he says. "I do like working with computers.." A pause, his brow furrowed softly.
"But?" The beast seemed to draw the word from the silence and it settled in with a perfect fit.
"But.." Cale considered, letting his thoughts unravel. "Is it what I should be doing? I feel content, but.. I don't really know if I feel happy. The difference is a bit subtle, but it's there."
The beast nodded, considering Cale. "When are you the happiest, Cale? Be honest with yourself. Embrace it."
Cale nodded his head, thoughtful. "When I'm creating. IT gives me that.. sort of. I was happier when we were gearing up. Preparing, setting up, programming. Building.. creating from individual parts. It was stressful, but it was a good stress. The same with art.. and photography. Writing." He looks up and adds, "I love to create and build. New things."
"And what you do now is no longer as new as before," the best replies. "It does not capture you as it once did. And you wish to do further new things, yes? To build and create anew. To try new things."
Cale nods his head once and responds eagerly. "Yes, I do. I've not before because.. well, I'm not too sure why. Maybe because that is what life is supposed to be, isn't it? Family, kids, the comfortable surroundings that cement you?"
The beast shook its head. "That is one way to live. But it may not be your way. You are not like others, though you try to be. You are Cale. You are man and you are beast. You and I, as one. As it should be and is now. You must embrace what you, as you truly are, wish to do. Does your heart speak towards all of these steady, safe comforts?"
And Cale considered this quietly for a time. Though after time he was only able to offer, "I'm not sure.. I don't think so.. at least not as much as I thought they might. There are appealing aspects to them, but I wonder at times if there is more. If I should be doing more.. creating more." The beast looked at him intently. Bidding a continuation. And after a moment Cale did add, "Art.. arts."
"Like your photography," the beast suggested.
Cale nods as he says, "And more.. new things. Music.. I've always liked it. Maybe I should try it out.. and try more kinds of music than usual. Sable's music was interesting.. not the norm I tend to get. Maybe I should get used to more things."
THe beast nodded its head. "Perhaps you should. Listen to more, oet your instinct guide you. Let me help you find that which is right for you. We, together, will know what is best."
The prospect warmed Cale somewhat. The feeling of someone being there.. of a reliant confidant, even if more conceptual than real. Part of him was sure this was all an abstraction of his own mind working itself out, but the truth of matters didn't make a bit of difference to the ends. He smiled and nodded his head. "We will do it, together." He offers out a hand and the beast reaches out to touch him in turn.