I am Victor Valen which means "strong victor", though I have gone by many names. Victor Genevre. Victor Starr. The Grey Wolf. Each name acts a milestone in my life that led me to who I am today.
I have to start with my mother, because she brought me into this world. Her name is Madeline Genevre. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She had large, watery brown eyes. Her face seemed to shine amongst her sea of wavy black hair. She would look down at me when I was sad as a boy, grab me up in her arms, and press me against her petite frame. She was so gentle, so warm and loving. It still surprises me how she could remain so pure and good even when times were not.
She never talked about my father. I don't know anything about him except that he left before I was born. She never told me why, and I hated him for leaving her. But hatred never marred her heart nor poisoned her against him.
After I was born, she travelled from France to the United States to find a good job and a new place to live. We settled in California which is such a long way from her home country. The jobs she got didn't pay that well, but we always had food and each other. Though we were poor, we were happy. And those were probably the happiest times in my life.
When I was about seven, she began working at a more high-end restaurant about half an hour from our house. She never lost her enchanting French accent after crossing the Atlantic, and I think it was this and her simple beauty that attracted him. While waiting tables, she caught the eye of a wealthy widower. His name was Leonard Starr. He was a business owner who had lost his wife some years ago to cancer. He was always very kind to mother, and he began frequenting the restaurant just to see her. He soon fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. Mother was unsure at first because of me. I think the reason was, though she never said anything, I reminded her of him. My father. But eventually, she and I consented to the marriage.
I was adopted into the family as Victor Starr, the older of my two step-siblings. The one closest in age
to me was Caleb. He was short with blonde hair and green eyes. His sister was named Claire. She was quite similar in appearance to her brother. But I was taller and had black hair and grey eyes. There was no doubt I was adopted. They were both spoiled by affluence, self-centred, and ignorant. And for that, I am glad we are not blood related.
This strain only got worse after mother died. I remember that day I stood looking into her open casket. She was still beautiful, but all of the shining brilliance was gone from her face. She was like a lifeless porcelain doll, perfect but cold. I was surprised I didn't cry more than I did. I felt tears run down my cheeks, my breath caught in my throat. But it didn't seem to do my love for her justice. I felt dead myself. All the life felt like it had left my body and all that remained was an icy, empty void. Leonard, I could see, understood some of what I felt. He had such a fragile heart. It was as if I could see its broken pieces in the tears that poured from his eyes and hear the continual cracking of the shards in his sobs that pierced his soul. I pitied him. It must be awful to lose two wives. I know how hard it was for me to lose one mother.
I was very smart in school, far more gifted than Caleb and Claire. But Leonard's attention bent more toward his "real" children. To gain some of his attention, I began pursuing athletics. This interested him, but only for a short time. Caleb soon found the need to become my carbon copy in this way. I played sports; he played sports. I began gymnastics; he began gymnastics. I took martial arts; he took martial arts. And he matched me in all. In fact, in gymnastics he was better. But I was better at just about everything else. I remember the year he entered middle school. His voice was childish, his face was starting to break out, he had a mouth-full of expensive orthodontic appliances, and he was a pathetic sixth grader. On the other hand, there was I with my dark hair, more developed build and voice, smart and well liked by the girls. To look back and see myself it is a wonder that I ever envied him. But though I seemed composed on the outside, on the inside I was lonely and yearning for acceptance, if that's what it was.
I went to college in New York. That's when my hair started turning grey (I'm one of those lucky people with prematurely greying hair) and I changed my name to Valen. It felt good to shed some of my old life and begin a new one. And after college was a new life. I moved back to California and started a vineyard. From there it blossomed into a chain. And it went international. I was filthy rich and a very eligible bachelor. Life was good.
But it wasn't enough. I had just about everything I ever wanted, but there was not thrill. I went back to New York where all the good things had started and lived there for a while. I began to get a little reclusive, looking through books, walking out in nature. Alone. On one of my wanderings up north, I saw a gray wolf. It was strong, frightening, and enigmatic. It was beautiful. From then on I began to develop an infatuation with the creature and really all species under the genus Canis. I studied them, developed a kinship with them. I discovered ways to train my hearing and sense of smell. I built up my body and continued the physical activities I had done as a boy.
As I delved into the wolf, I could understand more of man. I learned to interpret subtle clues in people--the scent of sweat, change in pulse, eye contact, and posture. To a wolf, body language is a central form communication, but humans seem to have lost their powers of observation. Instead humans seek explanation in their own limited experience and understanding. I used the wolf's observation to develop a sort of detached empathy for people; I understood them more. This observation required going out into society. I made New York my laboratory and it's inhabitants were my mice. I discovered men were more intimidated by me while women found me more intriguing and mysterious. I was meta-human.