The Pack is the largest shapeshifter society in the South, possibly in the nation, rivaled only by the werebuffalo Herd in Texas and the 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 else.
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 the Code, a collection of writings which the shapeshfiters treasure. The Code outlines principles of shapeshifter behavior and 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 the 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 a 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 clan: 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 clan: mink, stoat, wolverine, fox, etc.
Information below may contain spoilers. It’s segregated by books. Click the title to read details it reveals.
The Pack’s sign is a howling wolf’s head silhouetted against the semicircle of the moon. (p49)
To prove humanity and control over the Beast, a shapeshifter will thrust their hand into a flame because one who has let the Beast take charge cannot touch it. (p95 and 112)
A rare result of Lyc-V can be the insertion of human DNA into an animal and the production of an animal that can shift into a human. Most are idiots and die quickly, but some learned to speak and become individuals, such as Corwin. (p179)
Mostly they are sterile, but not always. (p180)
They are the children of beastweres. They are born beast, but as they grow, they lose the ability to become beast. (p180)
There is an old, elitist custom of killing beastkin, but Curran doesn’t follow it, though some of the Pack would. (p183)
The Importance of Food
“Food indicates hierarchy.” Nobody eats before those higher in the hierarchy unless permission has been given.
In addition, food indicates love. An example is your cat bringing you mice because he want to take care of you. When a shapeshifter likes someone, he or she will bring the other person food. If that person likes them back, they might make them dinner. It is a way of showing interest. To physically put food into the other person’s hands is a sign of a very serious interest.
In public, fathers put food on the plates of their family to indicate that if someone wants to challenge the wife or children, they will have to challenge the father first. (p198)
The Pack’s maps are of high quality, up-to-date, and precise, with practically everything mapped. (p22)
Many would give a lot to photocopy them. (p23)
- Curran‘s First Law is that no member of the Pack shall participate in, aid, or bet on the Midnight Games. (p36)
- Visiting shapeshifters have three days to approach the Pack for permission to stay in its territory. (p72)
It is all about proving you are clever, capable, can provide for her or him, and defend her or him and your potential children. In essence, it’s breaking and entering, proving you can enter their territory and escape unscathed. In addition, every clan has their own traditions. The Rats are all about food. The Wolves are about class and propriety. The Boudas try to be funnny. Cats…Cats are weird, and there’s no telling what they’ll do.
There are 32 species within the Pack. (p49)
- The mate of an alpha is important because Pack members can go to her/him for assistance if they have an issue approaching the alpha. The mate has the right to question the alpha’s decisions, so she/he is an avenue of appeal for the Pack (p247-248)
- Wednesday afternoons are set aside for the Beast Lord and his mate to hear petitions and disputes. (p348)
- Punishment is typically death or labor, and in rare instances isolation and exile to a remote area. They do not believe in jails. (p304)
- Standard Pack clauses for businesses they support include: precedence of Pack requests, priority of Pack member safety and Pack interests, and alerting Pack lawyers if a member is suspected of criminal activity outside the Pack. (p348)
- Second Chance Law: any shapeshifter joining the Pack has a one-time right to a new identity. (p342)
- When a Pack member has parents from different Clans, at the age of 18 they choose which Clan they will belong to. (p335)
Alphas and Challenges
- The Council confirms a new alpha in their place, but true authority is earned over time and with several kills. (p304)
- When an established alpha takes a mate, the mate remains a rank-and-file member of the Pack, though one treated with courtesy, until they prove themselves. (p304) Challenges must come from the lower member of the Pack to the higher one. (p337)
- A challenge fight allows no weapons beyond natural ones and a six inch knife. It is to the death. (p337)
- Miscellaneous but important rules of conduct once Kate is Curran’s mate:
- The minimum distance between another female and Curran is three feet unless it’s a battle. Any closer is a challenge. (p249)
- When walking into a formal gathering, the alphas rise as a demonstration that Kate acknowledges their power, the rest stay seated in submission. (p250)
- If a shapeshifter shows teeth when greeting her and has their head bowed, then it is a smile. If they are erect, then it is a challenge. (p25)
The Mating Frenzy
- After a pair is mated they become extremely possessive to the point of being a little crazy for a few weeks. There is unreasonable aggression and snarling at anyone who looks at their mate a second too long. (p117)
- Pack law says alphas do not have to punish a shapeshifter during the mating frenzy. They can, but they can overlook transgressions without losing face if they so wish. (p251)
Going wild is when a shapeshifter completely forgets their humanity, to the point where they lose the ability to shift, speak, and maybe even form coherent human thought. The cases of this happening are rare, and usually result from extended periods of time being forced to stay in animal form. But it is possible for a shapeshifter to become so terrified that they will go wild. Unfortunately, they still carry Lyc-V and could transfer it, and the Pack would bear responsibility, so the wild ones have to be tracked and put down. (p183)
The dead virus turns grey, so when a shapeshifter bleeds black blood, it means the Lyc-V is present in record numbers, and only loups have that much running through their system. (p278)
They are special shapeshifters. “The First were there first.” They have more power, better control, and other shapeshifters flock to them. Curran is a First. (p226)
This is a method for calculating the likelihood of a shifter going loup. A number under 270 is safe, and anything over 1,000 is certain loupism. (all Lycos Number information from p230-233)
A coefficient that reflects the percentage of the body that is changed during a shift. For an example, a shift from human to animal would have shift coefficients such as the following:
100% human = 1
20% animal = 2
30% animal = 3
40% animal = 4
50% animal = 5
60% animal = 6
70% animal = 7
80% animal = 8
90% animal = 9
100% animal = 1
Units of Virus
This is the level of the virus in the blood. It varies with emotion and injury, and it is different for each individual.
Average Units = 10
Ave. when agitated = 12
Ave. after an injury = 17-18
Time to Shift
This is the number of minutes it takes the person to complete the shift. If someone is stuck in the middle of the shift, the minutes since the shift began is used.
Lycos Number = Shift Coefficient x Units of Virus x Time to Shift
There are 5 stages of infection (p204):
- Beginning of Shift
- Advanced Shift
The Europeans have an herbal concoction that reduces chances of loupism by a third. (p205)
All members of the Pack are trained to fight, but while the rank-and-file have other jobs, warriors are only warriors and are specialized according to their beasts. (p85)
- Bear – Tank
- Wolf/Jackal – Jack of all Trades
- Cat/Bouda – Render
- Kills a lot in a very short time