Nova

Description:

“We are all broken… that’s how the light gets in.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“It’s not always just the heart. Sometimes your mind breaks as well.”
—r.h. Sin

“For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your
destruction.
This is your birth."
—n.t.

novalarge.jpg


Description


Before

Her insides didn’t used to match her outsides.

She was mousy. Large eyes, a crooked smile, hair the color of the burnt blonde roast from your local coffeehouse. Pale, but not in an attractive “I wear SPF 50” kind of way, in the wan, drawn out, tired way that highlighted the bags under her eyes and meant she just never got enough sun. Gawky limbs, too long for her frame, too bony to be anything other than a potential eating disorder. Thin, except where she wanted to be thin, with too much padding on her chest and stomach and thighs, which only highlighted how absolutely disproportionate she was. She grew up fat. They used to call her Flubber (yes, after the movie) and make that loud “beep beep beep” sound whenever she passed them by.

Children can just be so cruel, can’t they.

She lost it eventually—most of us grow out of our “ugly duckling” phase—but the damage had been done to the younger her, and she’d always see herself as fat. No matter how many times her husband told her that she’s beautiful. No matter how many people say her smile is infectious. Every time she looked in the mirror she’d see the fat girl.

Oh, how she hated that girl.

That’s why she changed. Metamorphized. Killed the fat girl and found the real her, the one that came to the surface after her Embrace tore all the doubt and lies from her eyes.

After

She’s on the taller side of the feminine gender with legs that stretch for miles, thin in a way that could kindly be called “willowy” and snidely be called “skeletal.” Her skin stretches across her bones. There’s otherwise little that draws the eye to her body as it’s simply nothing to write home about. It’s her face that invites stares. Duality, she calls it, the two sides of a person etched across her very flesh. The left side of her is normal enough if one ignores the perpetually smudged makeup around her golden eye and ears that have been drawn into delicate points. It’s the right side of her face that has been scorched away to reveal the haunting thing inside of her, bone fragments cracked apart across the orbital bone and lips and gums pulled away to show her teeth in their sockets. A purely white eye stares out from the black cave that threatens to swallow it. She keeps her hair long, half of it black and half of it white, with golden cord wrapped around handfuls of strands to give it a messy, almost-braided look.

Now her outsides match her insides.

Bio:

History


Caged Bird

When you’re young you never consider how you’re going to die. It’s not that you think you’re immortal, it’s just that death and non-being are simply too alien a concept to wrap your mind around. How can you think about what it means to not exist when all you’ve ever known is to exist? People around you might die: your grandparents and great aunts and the elderly neighbor, and you get that they’re not around anymore and aren’t coming back, but the acceptance that they’re gone isn’t quite the same as understanding what it means.

The older you get the closer Death dances with his sickle or scythe, the more you feel it in your bones. Maybe you lose a parent. An uncle. A sibling. A friend. The young ones are accidents, aren’t they? Drunk driver. Overdose. Murder, sometimes, or suicide. Sometimes they leave a note. More often than not they don’t and they leave a hole behind and the ever-illusive question, “why,” and that’s a scab you’ll pick and pick and pick at until it scars over and it will never really stop throbbing, but some days you’ll be able to ignore it better than others, some days it won’t twinge when you move the wrong way or think the wrong thing.

But it’s still not you. How could you die? You’re the main character in this story, aren’t you?

The thing they never tell you about getting older—or maybe they do and you were just too young to understand—is that at certain point you just stop aging. Not physically, no, your body is going to fall apart until you’re a pile of ash and dust in the ground, but mentally and emotionally you just stop. Not that you can’t learn new things. You can. You learn plenty of new things when you aren’t wasting your time on the local CityWatch pages talking to your neighbors about the fact that the garbage pickup is running fifteen minutes behind again today and why do we pay these people for being lazy, and maybe sometimes you learn new things even when you are on CityWatch because that’s where Cindy from down the block announced that she’s having a baby girl (and you ignore the small twinge that news brings up), but that’s not the point.

The point is that even though you get older and your back starts to hurt when you sit for too long and you’re a little more winded when you run up the stairs doesn’t really address the fact that inside of your head you’re still the eighteen or twenty-two year old girl you once were.

That never changes.

You still think you’re relevant all these years later, and you believe your husband when he tells you that age is just a number and you’re still attractive at thirty-four and that dress definitely makes your booty pop, but not in a bad way, and then he’s showing you what he means when he strips it from your body and lets it pool on the floor beneath your feet and then you’re too busy enjoying the same sex you’ve had for ten years to think about the existential crisis going on inside your mind about how mentally and physically you just don’t match.

And maybe for a little while it makes you forget about your dead friend and murdered sibling (it wasn’t an overdose no matter what the county said), and maybe it even lets you forget that time you went to the bathroom and there was a shower of blood from between your legs that slid right into the waiting porcelain bowl and you realized that you’d just flushed your future baby. And months later you still haven’t told your husband because you know he wants a child but your body just doesn’t seem to want to cooperate because even though you feel the same inside your body just keeps on aging, and it’s the worst sort of betrayal when you wake up one morning to see the first gray hair on the side of your head (“silver,” you optimistically dub it) and think that maybe you should have been using that eye cream your coworker recommended this whole time because when on earth did those bags appear?

After that you start to do everything right. You change your diet. You put down the bottle of wine. You stop ordering pizza on Fridays and put your veggies and chicken over rice and don’t ask for dessert on the odd occasion that you go out to eat with the family you have left. You take longer walks with your dog and he, no stranger to this age thing, seems to both love and hate it, and you can’t help but get mildly annoyed with him every time he stops to sniff for a solid minute before finally deciding he’s going to lift his leg to claim the tiny bush on the corner of your street. You pick up pilates and yoga and have a handful of little weights and resistance bands that you incorporate into your daily routine, and you buy a yoga ball and one of those under-desk treadmills for your office (which honestly is kind of a waste since it never seems to work right and you should have just splurged for an actual treadmill, but you don’t want to give your husband the satisfaction of being right so you stubbornly refuse to get rid of it).

You do other things right, too. You carry your keyring in your hand when you walk to your car with the keys tucked between your fingers because this is the parking lot where that guy was held up at gun point—why is crime spreading so far from the downtown center?—and you stick to well-lit paths in winter when your dog demands that he wants to go for a night time walk. You carry a knife, too, but you’ve never had to use it, it’s just a black thing that sits in your pocket that your dad gave you when you were 21 and moved into your first apartment in an area that he didn’t think was safe, and you realized that maybe it’s a little bit illegal because it’s definitely a switch but some part of you feels like a badass. Better than mace, isn’t it, and how satisfying would it be to hold someone off if they jump you for your purse?

Then again, you stop carrying your purse because it’s an easy thing to grab on those late night walks you so frequently started taking when you realized that you loved your dog more than you love your husband, and it’s been almost a year since you bled that tiny clump of cells into the toilet and you still haven’t told him. But he packed you a lunch last week for work and wrote an old joke on the note he tucked inside so you know there’s still affection there even if it’s not the passion you once had.

And maybe you start talking to your dog a little more than you need to. Maybe it makes you happy when he looks at you with those trusting blue eyes of his and licks your hand when you tell him that you love him, and you call him your baby because apparently this is the only one you’re going to get.

Maybe that makes it all the more devastating when he’s the reason you die.

Embrace

It was just another night. Another late night walk, sticking to the well-lit paths and main streets even though there’s not enough for your dog to sniff at and pee on, and he’s a little salty that you tug his leash when he decides that he wants to check out the lamp post because the dog from down the block definitely marked this spot earlier and your dog knows he’s the best thing since sliced bread and just wants to make sure it’s the dog he thinks it is before he re-claims his turf.

“Come on dog-dog,” you coo at him in a voice most women use to talk to babies, and he falls in line beside you when you start walking again.

You step into the light.

But it’s not the light from the streetlamps over your head, it’s the light from the black Escalade down the block that sweeps its headlights over you as you walk past the side street. You try not to think anything of the way it turns the same direction you’re moving, and you find the knife in your pocket and get ready just in case this turns into one of those horror podcasts you’ve been vibing on lately.

Only you never get a chance to use it.

Something warm washes over you and you tell your dog to hold still while you tie him to the bike rack before you step toward the car (he’s barking his head off but that’s nothing new, he’s generally pretty loud around new people and dogs and cars and honestly everything interesting that catches his eye). You remember a face, a flash of white, then you’re suddenly struggling against the urge to step into another bright light that keeps tugging and tugging and tugging at your soul.

Nothing really seems to matter then. Not your barking dog or the lunch you never finished eating or the clump of cells your body rejected. Just that light. That warmth. The overwhelming urge to disappear inside of it and find whatever secrets wait for you on the other side.

So you do.

Untethered

You see the world differently.

That’s what you’re told when you wake up with a thirst burning in the back of your throat, the kind of itch that you’ve only ever experienced after an hour on the elliptical at the gym when Cindy from down the block said that your pants look a little too tight and went on to tell you about the diet she’d started after the birth of her daughter that helped her “lose all that baby weight, maybe you should try it!”

You’re not really thinking about Cindy right now, though, just the hunger that consumes the entirety of your concentration so you don’t really hear what they tell you—something about a secret you have to keep?—but they sure get your attention when they offer you a bleeding wrist and it smells like the most mouth-watering meal you’ve ever experienced, then you fasten your lips around that bloody wrist and your body seems to know what to do because you swallow mouthful after mouthful of that delicious nectar until they say “enough” and pull away. And when you lick your lips to make sure that you got it all you feel the point of something sharp in your mouth, and you remember how both of your siblings got braces in their teens but you only had a crooked tooth or two that your mom said “adds character” and it meant that your right side canine was a little more pronounced than it should be, than it would be if the dentist had affixed the metal contraption to your mouth to pull it into its rightful place, but you never remember it extending this far.

That’s when you see them in the rearview mirror: fangs.

And maybe then you start to pay more attention to your surroundings, but you’re quiet when the person sitting next to you talks because something inside of you feels a pull toward them, maybe like you’ve known them all your life and only just forgot for a while, and they’re talking about you and anyone who says that “me” isn’t their favorite subject is probably just a liar. This person isn’t lying, though, because you hear the echo of truth in their words:

you see the world differently.

Untethered, they call it, like you’re a petal dancing on the wind. You see things others don’t. You understand things others don’t. You have a completely unique way of looking at things and that’s beautiful, you know, but the way that others tried to constantly put you into a box would have killed you eventually, and that’s why the meds that you’ve been on since you turned eighteen haven’t ever really seemed to do much for you except smother the spark inside of you that made you you. They put you in a cage and poked at the glass and asked you to perform.

You were dying, they say, and they touch your chin to lift your gaze to theirs and you know that they’re telling you the truth: you would have died. Maybe not physically, maybe your body would have gone on aging, but the spark inside of you would have withered and died until you were simply an animatronic going through the motions.

You were dying because you were locked in a cage. They set you free.

Sirius

A week later you’re back on that street where you found freedom staring at the bike rack where you tied your dog. He’s not there anymore, but you knew that. Your sire—and what a funny word that is, sire, but it feels like home to you now—had the driver take the dog back to your house at your request so that he didn’t somehow work himself free and get hit by a car.

But of all the things from the life you walked away from he’s what you miss the most: the cuddling in your overstuffed chair at night while you watch a movie even though when you bought the chair you swore that you wouldn’t let him in it because you didn’t want his fur everywhere, but the way he had to literally clamber up over the armrest to get to you and the way he spun around behind you and the way he made sure his paw was touching you while he dozed in the chair made it hard to stick to that rule, and eventually you caved and stopped pretending that he wasn’t allowed up there, and even though you were conscious of his food restrictions you decided that sometimes a little bit of popcorn wouldn’t hurt him so every time you made a bag he’d sit at your feet while the plate spun around in the microwave and the kernels popped inside the bag and he’d follow you into the other room to wait expectantly at your feet while you found a movie to watch and then look at you in a way you knew meant he wanted the popcorn so you’d toss him a piece or two and snuggle on the chair while your husband puttered around the kitchen or garage or slept.

So you want him back.

But then you’re there, standing in the dark bedroom while your husband tosses in his sleep, and the dog is at the foot of the bed and lifts his head when you walk in and you see the way he sniffs at you, watch the confusion cross his face, and his tail bristles and his ears flatten against his head and his lips pull back from his teeth and he barks. Not the high-pitched whine or yelp you’ve heard from him before when he’s excited, but a real bark, a true bark, the sort of deep, gravelly sound that might make someone else take a step back but you’re already dead so what can the dog really do to you now?

This is the night that you learn some wounds are more than skin deep.

He lunges. His jaws close around your forearm. You shake him off—only it’s not you anymore, it’s the thing inside of you that rises to the surface that your sire calls the Beast but you think of it less as a feral beast and more as a cornered animal—and when you take control back from the animal inside you see your dog, your good boy, your baby doggy, you see him lying on the floor with bright red blood splashed across his white coat. His throat has been torn out and gashes run down his sides.

And something inside of you breaks.

You don’t see your dog anymore. You see a hound made of fire and brimstone, a hound bathed in golden light while music plays all around you, a hound silhouetted in stardust whose fur has become galaxies from the night sky. His eyes burn like falling stars, suns in their own right. They glow. And you know.

This is the physical manifestation of unconditional love.

You see past the dog’s outsides to what lies within. Then you scramble forward, reaching out with hands bathed in his blood, stretching your fingertips toward the good boy whose love and acceptance burns as vividly as the aptly named Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest in the sky.

You think you killed him.

You think that his torn throat and the blood on his fur and floor means that he’s gone. But when you touch him, when you let your hands pass through that dancing stardust, you hear the soft whine from his destroyed vocal chords, and you feel his pulse spike as his heart struggles to account for the volume of blood loss—stupid heart, it only pumps fresh red platelets out of his body and further weakens him—and you see the slow expansion of his ribcage as he struggles to breathe. He lifts his head to look at you with those shining eyes and you feel a tug in your chest when his tail wags once, thumping heavily against the floor as if he can’t summon the energy to fully move it, and it lifts a second time but never completes the motion because this being of stardust and galaxies is dying in your arms.

There’s a path before him now, a route he can take, because when a star collapses and dies it can go a handful of ways, and you bleed as you watch the star swell to become a red giant (isn’t that fitting, you think, with the red blood in his white fur), and you think that maybe this is it, that he’s going to end in a colorful display like the God’s Eye planetary nebula and cool into a black dwarf that gives off no heat and disappears into the nothing… but then he keeps going, keeps expanding, and you realize he’s not a giant at all, that he’s become a red supergiant, and he sheds his mortality in an explosive supernova, and the love that you saw burn so brightly in him means that there’s no way he becomes the black hole you feared because there is no force in this universe that can keep him from you, and from the explosion he is reborn.

Lazarus, you christen him.

His tail wags.

Reflections

Your insides don’t match your outsides.

At first it was just something you thought about yourself, but once the veil was torn from your eyes you couldn’t stand the sight of your face in the mirror anymore. The reflected 34-year-old woman with the crooked canine and mousy brown hair is just an ill-fitting mask pulled over the real self, the person inside who wants nothing more than to be free.

You see it in others, too. How their insides don’t match their outsides. You shy away from the pretty supermodel-esque women with the shallow hearts because their monster turns them foul, but the withered crone begging for change has the most beautiful voice you’ve ever heard and you’re certain you could listen to her stories for hours.

You try not to see it in others like you because none of their insides match their outsides, and some of the ugly ones are pretty and some of them are worse than their pustule-ridden skin suggests, and some of the most pretty have horrible monsters coiled tightly around their hearts that leer at you when they think you’re not looking. Sometimes you hear them whispering.

You learn how to turn it off, after a time. To only see one thing when there are two or three. To prevent the shadows from slipping uninvited into your vision, and to prevent their whispers from reaching your ears.

But your insides still don’t match your outsides, and no matter how hard you focus on the mirror the inside doesn’t disappear. Just the outside. After that you can’t see yourself at all, so you don’t know what you look like to the rest of the world, and the girl your sire gave you to take care of you has to see to your grooming needs.

One night you finally tell your sire that you can’t stand it. That your insides and your outside are at war and it’s going to tear you apart.

Your sire takes you to see the night doctor.

You try to turn it off around the doctor, but there are so many inside things staring at you from behind her eyes and you catch glimpses of them whenever you move your eyes, waiting in the wings of your vision for you to notice them. The doctor asks what you want to look like and you try to paint a picture with your words, but there’s a little blonde girl with blue eyes that keeps trying to touch you, and a teen with unruly curls whose shoulders curve inward as if to prevent anything else from widening the hole in her chest, and your words jumble when you try to explain how you see yourself. So the doctor smiles—it’s a pretty smile, even if there are a handful of mouths—and asks if she can take you to the Dressing Room.

You let her.

It’s a quick trip. You don’t even have to move, you just lay back on the table when she tells you to and close your eyes and suddenly you’re in the biggest closet you’ve ever seen in your life. The doctor is there, but so is the little girl with the blonde hair, and she giggles when you look at her and ask if she can help you pick. She shows you how to do it—how you only have to imagine what you want inside this space and it will appear. She shows off by bringing out a unicorn, and again by giving herself a mermaid tail, and again when she fills the room with bubbles. You get the hang of it. You summon Lazarus, which prompts the little girl to get rid of the bubbles and her tail so she can pet his head, and he likes the way she squeals “doggie!” when she sees him and licks her face. Here he’s less corporeal than he is in the real world so you show the girl how he’s made of stardust, and she tells you that she was named for stardust and grandpa said she came from the heavens only she thinks her daddy might be the devil and she doesn’t know how one can exist in tandem with the other, and you mention that the devil is a fallen angel and maybe she’s his way back to God’s grace, and she seems to consider that for a moment before she nods her head, pets Lazarus one more time, and digs through a pile of shoeboxes to find a gray cat snoozing on a bed of tissue paper.

“This is the kitty,” she says to you, and you see the tether that connects the pair of them together and realize that this is just another facet. (Eventually you will learn the kitty’s name, but she hasn’t yet been christened, so they all just call her kitty.)

After you summon Lazarus it’s easier to imagine things, so you bring the mirror from your bedroom and peer into its depths to find the reflection of your true self, and you show it to the girl. She tugs on the doctor’s sleeve until the doctor comes over to take a look and nods her head, and she tells you that it’s going to hurt while she does her work, and you just smile and say “mountains cannot form without an earthquake” and that’s that.

The next time you look into a mirror your insides match your outsides.


Influence


Status

Despite her sire’s Anarch leanings and grandsire‘s firmly Unaligned stance, Nova was drawn toward the Sanctified faith. While she wasn’t a bible thumper or avid church-goer in her mortal years, she found herself more receptive to the idea of faith after her Embrace. After all, if vampires are real, why not the rest of it? They all had to come from somewhere. She thought the Hardliners were too into their faith to want to join their numbers and appreciates the more relaxed atmosphere in the Quarter, where she can ask her questions and explore the faith at her leisure. Some Hardliners sneer that the Bourbons only treat her well because they hope to woo her grandsire to their side, but those are the same licks who don’t seem to understand that she sees insides just as well as outsides. (Bourbon Status •)

If someone were to ask Nova, she’d say that she was born for the Embrace. While many Malkavians spend years trying to fight their madness and struggling with themselves, Nova adapted quickly to her undead state and the new reality of her Requiem—including the curse of her clan. Perhaps it comes from her “emotional support animal” and the rebirth of Lazarus, or perhaps it comes from finally being free of the cage she’d spent so many years in and giving up the medication that tried to control her. Either way, she’s relatively lucid once you get used to her peculiar views. (Malkavian Status •••)

Relationships

Nova gets on well with her sire, Frank, for the unique way that they both see the world rather than any political or spiritual reasons, though they’ve seemed closer now that the Movement has been split. She was content enough to be a periphery member of his krewe prior to her release and got on as well as anyone could expect her to with Arzilla, whose barbs she often said were only thorns. She was less interested in Arzilla’s broodmate or the Gangrel they run with. Nova has frequently been seen in the company of her grandsire, but never speaks of what they do together or if she has met her great-grandsire. Some people think that she gets her affinity for animals from him. On occasion she’s been overheard asking Veronica Alsten-Pirrie about her devotion to Lilith, has gotten into more than one debate with Jade Kalani about various mythologies and ancient religions, and engages Rosa Bale in regular conversation about the ancestors. She hasn’t been known to publicly associate with him, but Nova tends to stare at Peter Lebeaux while she’s in the French Quarter, and has stalked both Roderick Durant and his sire Coco through the halls of Elysium. She has a habit of petting Micheal Kelly when he’s on the end of his master’s leash and says that he and Lazarus are good friends. She’s also close to a number of Gangrel and the Brujah who named herself for the god of chaos.

Ghouls

novag.jpgAriana Newcombe (g. late 20th century, Ghoul Status •)
Nova was drawn to Ariana the moment she met the young woman. Since the moment of her Embrace the veil has been torn from her eyes, and she sees that a lot of people are not who they appear to be. Some are simply liars for the hell of it, while others don’t mean to deceive: they simply aren’t comfortable enough with who they want to be that they become who other people would like them to be, wearing moderate clothing and safe makeup and neutral colors on their lips and nails. Some pretend to be tough. Some pretend to be important. Some make up for defects they’ve felt since childhood. Some peacock themselves and say that “this is who they are.” Ariana is different. Authentic in a way that few are, vibrant because that’s who she is, not who someone else wants her to be. She wears clothing that tells stories and inks art across her skin on a whim (Nova introduced her to a certain night doctor that Ariana has traded a handful of favors with for removal, touchups, and new pieces). She’s blunt without being rude, uncensored without being vulgar. She simply is. Ariana was one of Monty’s before she was passed on to his childe, Frank, and Nova has since asked her sire for the girl. She serves as a general personal assistant and herald to Nova. It’s uncertain if she was this authentic prior to being blooded, or if her time spent with Monty made her more disposed to the Truth. Ariana herself enjoys gardening and horticulture, though she’s remarked more than once that “flowers are pretty, but they die.” She says that she was a Wiccan prior to her ghouling and keeps up with her spiritual leanings.

lazsmall.jpgLazarus (g. early 21st century, Ghoul Status 0)
The goodest boy.


Genealogy


• 6. “The Mother” (e. unknown, d. uncertain)
 • 7. The Malkavians will not speak this Kindred’s name.
  • 8. Uriah Travers (e. early 19th century)
   • 9. Hercule “Monty” Lestrange (e. late 19th century)
    • 10. Frank Larsen (e. early 21st century)
     • 11. Nova (e. early 21st century)
 • 7. The Malkavians will not speak this Kindred’s name.
  • 8. Clarice Barabet (e. early 19th century, d. 2005)
   • 9. Harlequin (e. early 20th century)
    • 10. Marceline Duval (e. early 20th century)
     • 11. Ophelia Hensley (e. mid 20th century, d. late 20th century)
      • 12. Janine Clairmont (e. mid 20th century)
       • 13. Catarina Glapion (e. early 21st century)
     • 11. The Man With The Silver Smile (e. late 20th century, d. 2016)
    • 10. Elyse Benson (e. mid 20th century)
     • 11. Rachel Elliot (e. early 21st century, d. 2005)
   • 9. King Bolden (e. early 20th century)
    • 10. Martin Neal (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
     • 11. Julia Tilbrey (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
 • 7. The Malkavians will not speak this Kindred’s name.
  • 8. Rachel Naomi Massoteau (e. early 20th century, d. late 20th century)

Lineage

Nova is the childe of Frank Larsen, a tabloid photojournalist with a penchant for capturing improbable photographs and member of the Twenty-Twenties Anarch krewe. Frank is the childe of Monty Lestrange, an Unaligned Malkavian whose only loyalty is to the Truth, and who the Kindred of the city both distrust and respect. Monty is the childe of Uriah Travers, a reclusive hermit who dwells in the bayous beyond New Orleans. The lunatics refuse to speak the name of Uriah’s sire, but he is believed to be the grandchilde of an enigmatic elder known only as the Mother.

Nova

Blood and Bourbon False_Epiphany duckftw