Tom had been nineteen when he died, killed only weeks before his elder sister's wedding. His life had been cut short, snuffed out at the whim of a soulless creature of darkness, and condemned by that creature to share in its fate. Kids born the same summer Tom had died were now old enough to buy their own liquor, and Tom had spent almost the entirety of that time being an abused pet of the thing that had killed him.

  He hadn't seen his sister's wedding, nor watched her become mother to a beautiful child.

Tom had been denied the opportunity to watch his sister's family grow and grow up, much less ever have the chance to make one of his own. His parents and sister had lost him, had the beloved baby of their family torn away from them, had suffered his loss and went on without him, missing his presence.

 He might not be able to re-insert himself in their lives, but Tom had had enough.

He had managed to trick his Master into thinking Tom was dociley subserviant, then cleverly operated within the context of his orders to get his Nest slain by Hunters. Tom had taken his Master's funds and used them to move into Signal Lakes, immediately south of his hometown of Miami. He discovered that his sister had moved there sometime in the past twenty-one years, and became a hidden protector of her family. Something unholy was threatening Tom's town and his family's safety within it, and he wasn't going to let that stand, regardless of what some sword-swinging holy zealot thought was the proper thing for him to do.

  Tom was going to protect his own; Heaven help anything that stood in his way.

Vampires are the classic corporeal undead, animated corpses that feed on human blood to maintain their unlife. They are soulless, the soul of the human victim who was turned by the vampire that killed them passing on with their death. This makes them unholy, suffering damage from holy items and incapable of entering holy ground, and even inhibited by mortals with true Faith. Their undead bodies are more agile than a human being's and much faster; they have keen nightvision and the ability to scent blood over a significant distance. Vampires also have the ability to manipulate the memories of beings who meet their eyes, often removing the memory of being fed upon from their victims, which they do by shifting into a more corpse-like state with pale skin, red-rimmed yellow eyes, and fangs (of course.)

Feeding on human blood maintains the spark of unlife that animates a vampire's body, as well as repairing damage to their undead corpse. Their bodies are in fact corpses that do not rot, so vampires have no body heat (other than what they absorb from a victim's blood,) no pulse, and do not shed dead skin cells, sweat, or need to breathe, although they do so in order to speak and smell their environment (and in order to appear human.)

All vampires are incredibly Sad creatures, but most learn to suppress this and fill the void of their missing soul with some form of activity. They have a number of paranormal limitations, being unable to cross running water or the threshold of a living being's home without being invited by a resident, and wood or living plants blocks their spark of unlife, leaving the vampire's body inert. Their greatest weakness is sunlight, which —unless their Hunger is fully fed— will wither their undead corpse and reduce it to ash if the vampire does not swiftly find some form of shade.

Many vampires belong to a Nest, a group of vampires all sired by the same Master or Mistress, or blood-sworn to them. Members of a Nest recognize fellow members even if they've never met before, and each member of the Nest has a mental bond to their Master/Mistress. Some vampires do not have a Nest, if their sire has been killed, or simply never gained enough power to become a Master in the first place, or if they turn their progeny out on their own or leave after siring them. A vampire who has no Master, Nest, or even sire is considered a rogue vampire by those who do not operate perpetually solo; a rogue vampire is seen by the rest of vampire society as either very foolish or very dangerous.