From Mile-High Ashes
Jack "Shrike's Thorn" Kinneson
The Man Trying to Make His Own Way
Jack is in his early 30s, though he looks older. He dresses in dark colors and has a beloved leather jacket that’s survived his werewolf experiences so far. He has premature gray hair at his temples and piercing blue eyes. He tends to look around a lot, always keeping track of his surroundings and especially his packmates. In wolf form, his fur is a rich white.
Jack grew up in a well-to-do, middle-class home in Colorado Springs. All he knew about his father was that the man “worked overseas for the government” — at least according to Jack’s mother. One night, as he was leaving the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver after a rock concert, he felt as if he were being followed, though he didn’t see anything. On the highway leading back home, a van driving without headlights nearly ran him off the road. It sped ahead and then swerved around, racing at Jack’s borrowed Honda. They narrowly missed each other, but there was a thump on the ceiling. Metal squealed as a pale, delicate hand ripped open the roof. It looked like a young girl, maybe sixteen, but her eyes glowed red, and her mouth was full of inward-curving, razor-sharp black teeth. Jack lost control of the car and it plowed through a fence. He lost consciousness for a second but came to in great pain, pinned beneath the creature. Before Jack could even figure out what was happening, a massive white paw yanked the thing away from him, and an enormous wolf’s head looked down at him. It paused for a moment, then bit him in the same place the creature had. Jack passed out.
Many years later, Jack had attended and dropped out of college and worked his way through a disastrous and depressing string of failed jobs and relationships. His life was spiraling out of control and possibly taking his sanity with it, and one night he just snapped. He doesn’t remember (or won’t admit) the circumstances that led to it or what he did when his Rage finally boiled over, but he woke up in his bed the next morning, with his father standing over him. His father explained Jack’s heritage, and that he hadn’t thought that Jack was also a werewolf like him; he’d expected the Change to occur earlier in Jack’s life (just as it had when he, himself, had been younger). After that, Jack’s life was different. He tried to go back to school and balance it against his father’s harsh training, but he eventually dropped out again. Something had to give, and his father (who’d taken the rite name of Bearskull) was more convincing than any college advisor.
After his Rite of Initiation, Jack surprised his father by agreeing to join the multi-tribe New Hope pack rather than join his father’s pack as Bearskull had hoped. Jack painted it as a chance to show the other tribes the old ways that only the Bone Shadows kept. His father suspects that the real reason was to avoid him, but he’s kept bitterly quiet. He even presented his son with a short fetish spear upon finishing his Rite of Initiation.
Now, Jack tries to balance the worlds he walks between. His pack looks to him for leadership, not just because of his auspice, but because he’s a natural leader. He isn’t the wisest (Arden), the smartest (Nikki), the strongest (Gears) or the fastest (Amy), but he can see how to best use the strengths of the pack and create something more powerful than the sum of its parts. Of all of the pack, he’s the most “humanized”, having had a relatively sedate suburban upbringing. He even manages to find time to take a class or two a semester, trying to finish his psychology degree. He knows he’ll never be able to attend medical school or practice, but he wants to finish it. He hates leaving things unfinished.
Jack is a planner and a thinker. He certainly has the passion and fire that all Uratha do, but he tempers it with will and wits. The others listen to him because he can take their disparate talents and put them together in new and surprising ways. While any one of them is a formidable opponent, Jack can turn them into something more. Though his pack holds him in high esteem, Jack is often harder on himself than anyone else would be. As the pack’s alpha, he takes each defeat as a personal stain, though he conversely sees all of the pack’s victories as a group effort. He hopes to someday be sure of himself enough to stand out of his father’s shadow and show everyone who he really is.