The Pack is the largest shapeshifter society in the South, possibly in the nation, rivaled only by the werebuffalo Herd in Texas and Ice Fury Pack in Alaska. By the latest official count, the Pack includes twelve hundred shapeshifters and is constantly growing. Organized with military discipline, the members of the Pack value loyalty, obedience, restraint, and duty above all.
To understand Pack one has to understand the shapeshifters.In every shapeshifter, a monumental struggle is taking place, a battle between man and beast. When a beast wins, the shapeshifter becomes a loup, a homicidal maniac. Loups feed on human meat. They revel in cruelty and commit atrocities. They are irrational and incapable of leading a life within the human society. They die young and don’t leave pretty corpses. If a loup is sighted and apprehended, it is killed. There is no rehabilitation and no going back.
When a human wins, he does so through Code, a collection of writings which the shapeshfiters treasure. The Code outlines principles of shapeshifter behavior, teaches control and discipline through mental exercise. The shapeshifters who follow the Code view themselves as free of the burden of the Beast and refer to themselves as Free People of the Code.
The individuals who emerge from that crucible practice restraint in all things. They exist in a very regimented Pack structure. The Pack is segregated into clans according to the species of the beast. Within each clan there is an alpha male and an alpha female and a beta male and a beta female. The alphas rule the clan with absolute authority. They also bear the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of their clan. Should the clan be threatened, the alphas will be the first to fight and the first to die.
The betas assume position of second in command and will step in and assume the alpha status and responsibilities should one of the alphas die or become unable to perform their duty. More often than not, the alphas are married to each other. The exception is the Rat Clan, which is currently headed by Robert Lonesco. Lonesco is openly homosexual and his spouse, Thomas, is considered to be a beta male.
The alphas makes up the Pack Council, the function of which is to assist the Pack Alpha in governing the shapeshifters. The Atlanta Pack Alpha is known as Beast Lord, due to the unusually large size of the Pack. Currently the position of the Beast Lord is occupied by Curran, who rules the Pack with an steel hand. While the Council has the power to influence Curran, they can’t challenge his authority or override him.
The life of the shapeshifter is difficult. If they survive the hormonal surge of puberty without going loup, they become members of the Pack. Young shapeshifters quickly find out that not all humans welcome them and most come in contact with prejudice sooner or later. While the Pack rules of conduct may seem draconian, this lifestyle works for most because within the Pack they find warmth and understanding and safety. The alphas care about their people and will, and do, lay down their lives to keep them secure.
While each clan has their own base, they come together at the Keep, a huge fortress built specifically for the Pack over the course of two decades. No modern machinery was used during the construction, and the Keep is magic-proof. Besides the Keep, the Pack owns several large tracts of land, including a huge forested region in Virginia they call the Wood. The Pack also keeps several offices within Atlanta. Because the Pack’s influence is increasing, the People view them as rivals and the animosity between the two factions grows with every day.
- Clan Wolf: The largest of the clans and the most disciplined. Wolves are warriors. They work well in groups and prefer a team approach to most problems. Wolves also have the largest percentage of pups who turn loup at puberty: almost one in four. The pups who turns loup have to be killed. Wolves are maniacal in their loyalty to Curran.
- Clan Rat: Second largest of the clans, the rats are scouts, spies, and deadly assassins. Due to an unusually high metabolism, they eat continuously. The rats are prone to shakes, a crippling fit that results from severe depletion of nutrients. Like wolves, they work well in a group or on their own.
- Clan Hyena: Counting only two dozen members, hyenas, or boudas as they like to be called, still weild a fair amount of influence. Boudas are extremely violent fighters. They are prone to berserk rages, and other clansmen learn the hard way to steer clear. Boudas are also notoriously adventurous in their sexual explorations. Just like in nature, women dominate this clan, with men taking the secondary role. Boudas don’t play fair. Common Pack wisdom says that if you make an enemy of the boudas, you will never be forgiven. They will smile in your face and break your neck the second you look away.
- Clan Cat: Clan Cat consists of large and small felines. By nature, cats are loners. They bind into a clan only out of necessity, so they can have a representative on the Council. Of all the clans, cats are the most lethal and the most independent. They occasionally balk at orders simply because they can. They are also prone to cruelty. Currently Clan Cat has forty members.
- Clan Jackal: Clan Jackal is a quiet clan. The jackals are known not for their superior fighting abilities, but for their cunning. They are family-oriented and are peaceful. However, occasionally the long-standing rivalry between Clan Jackal and Clan Wolf rears its head. Like hyenas, jackals are susceptible to frenzy.
- Clan Heavy: Clan Heavy includes all of the shapeshifters with large beast forms, who do not fit into any other clans: bears, boars, moose, badgers, etc.
- Clan Nimble: Clan Nimble includes all of the shapeshifters with small beast forms, who do not fit into any other clans: mink, stoat, wolverine, fox, etc.