Name: Todd Oscar Fowler [has been legally changed once. Formerly
Lyle Nicolas Hart
Date of Birth: 12.20.1996 [26 y/o.]
Hair: Dark brown. [Variable; see below.]
Eyes: Pale blue. [Variable; see below.]
Height: 6'3". [Variable, see below.]
Weight: 130 lbs. [Variable, see below.]
Current Residence: Pittsburgh, PA.
Family: Unknown. [If alive, does not maintain contact.]
Todd has a predator's biology. His senses are heightened above average, especially smell, with the capacity to track people by that alone. He has above average hearing as well, and can see marginally better in the dark than most people. His weight is primarily muscle mass, but even so, his strength and speed are clearly superhuman at full function. While he has plenty of experience in street fighting, his reflexes and the force of his hits make up for his lack of formal training. He has also learned to be creative in a fight, although despite his nature, or maybe because of it, he rarely uses deadly force. The strongest muscles and most durable bones in his body are located around his jaw. He possesses a bite force similar to a hyena's, capable of crushing bone.
Aside from this, Todd has a limited healing factor. This functions best shortly after he's eaten, as it draws from energy his body has stored, but works on a less impressive level even when he's stretched thin.
Todd's figure is one of chronic malnourishment. This might come as a surprise to someone who has seen his superhuman strength or speed, as the condition is typically accompanied by weakness and lethargy; or by someone who has witnessed his avid appetite. The only food that nourishes him long-term is the human body. It does not need to be cooked, and Todd does not opt to do so. To gain all benefits, he must consume a significant part of it in one sitting, and usually manages all of it, which also serves to destroy almost all evidence of his actions. For non-human food, Todd seems to have an extraordinary metabolism, and the energy he receives from anything but his apparently required cannibalism passes quickly. His thin figure is usually obscured by numerous layers of clothing any time of year. As one symptom he does have from the malnutrition is the apparent inability to become warm, this does not appear to bother him.
His other significant metahuman feature is the ability to change shape at will. Todd can only adapt features from people whose DNA his body recalls -- that is, people he has eaten in their entirety or near-entirety. He may either alter his form completely, or borrow certain features, such as voice, hair color and texture, or eye shape and color. The act of changing shape does have an energy cost, and while Todd doesn't know the exact math, he can make a relatively accurate guess based on his personal experiences. Additionally, when adapting another person's full body structure, Todd must take into account the size difference between himself and that person. To increase his mass, he needs the reserved mass to do so. To decrease his mass, his body stores the excess until he returns to his natural form. If he is knocked unconscious or falls asleep, Todd reverts to his natural size and shape.
Due to his wandering lifestyle, Todd has very few personal possessions he actually cares about. In terms of electronics he owns the works -- smartphone, laptop, personal camera (for his nature photography), car. His 2002 Malibu is his oldest possession, and in his mind, his most important. The car has taken him across the country. He maintains it with his own two hands whenever he can, and keeps a set of tools for this in his trunk. He doesn't bring the car with him when he's on patrol, for obvious reasons, but he has used it for storage of his Cryptid costume and kit in the past.
His costume is simple: a hard PVC halloween mask, with bony ridges and an open, grinning mouth full of sharp teeth; a heavily padded black leather longcoat, both to conceal his narrow frame and to offer extra protection; thick, long, dark, but comfortable shirt and pants, with scraps of military surplus armor for dangerous situations; and black boots. Cryptid's weapon of choice is a pair of Indian bagh nakh , or tiger claws, which he found at a pawn shop back when he was first starting out. Affixed to a knucklebracer bar, these fit comfortably over his gloves. The sharpened claws align with his fingers when his hand is open and relaxed, and are "extended" when he closes his hand into a fist. Again, he has no formal training with the weapons, but years of experience with their use and function has given him ample time to learn whatever he can without an actual teacher.
While he is not licensed to own or carry a firearm, Todd has a handgun he lifted off its previous owner early in his career. He isn't a great shot, but he's not terrible, either. He doesn't usually carry it unless he expects more than a normal amount of trouble on patrol, as part of his non-lethal policy.
He has other items one might expect to find on a vigilante -- surplus police scanner, flashlight, zip ties, first aid kit, zippo lighter. Most of this fits in his pockets. His black duffel bag is for the other, more gruesome work he's required to undertake: a butcher's kit. In a pinch he can do everything with his bare hands or tiger claws, but the knives make the work faster. The tools he carries are a fillet knife, a bonesaw, a cleaver, a heavy steak knife, and a whetstone. He's only as good as the average person with any of these in a fight, except maybe the cleaver, which he can use in conjunction with his unusual strength if need be. If he's done everything right, though, he doesn't even have the duffel bag on him when he's in a confrontation. The bag is his most incriminating possession, and he keeps a close eye on it when he can, and hides it well when he can't.
Todd Fowler is all about balances.
Jokes about a "balanced diet" would be too easy, and too lighthearted. That's only one aspect of his lifestyle that this affects. But, yes, one of the hardest balances he has to take into account -- and the one he tries the hardest to maintain -- is between people and food. That balance should be simple. If they're alive, it's a person. If it's dead, they're food. Except that's a very fine line that can be crossed with one punch if you know where to hit. Sure, people have crossed continents with broken bones or survived for years with failed organs, but all it really takes is one misaligned joint in the spine, or getting hit a little too hard over the head, and the body collapses.
Todd has by now realized that there are plenty of jobs out there that would allow him to eat sustainably. Hell, he could even get paid for it. It's weird that someone who engages in cannibalism would draw the line at mercenary work. Or even just refuse to become a run-of-the-mill serial killer with an otherwise normal life. There are probably more appetizing people out there than the common criminal or street scum, not that Todd's tastes are that refined.
Out of anyone, Todd has witnessed what happens to people who live on the wrong side of the road. He's no fool, he knows good people die horribly every day. He's seen it happen first hand -- once or twice at his own hands, much to his regret. But all that aside, he can't shake the feeling of cause and effect, that every action has consequences that will eventually catch up with him. Maybe it's just a superstition, even without any faith in reincarnation or gods to judge him. Maybe this is just an excuse for otherwise senseless personal guilt, a manifestation of a strange, self-oriented retributive justice. Although there might be one other, even stranger possibility even Todd has written off: the serial cannibal has a soft spot.
Now, he won't crumble at the slightest sob story, and he doesn't do extensive research on his victims. He can't afford philanthropy, and most volunteer work requires one too many background checks for him to be comfortable. He just... has standards. He'll help others when it doesn't jeopardize his work, safety, or habits, and he draws a line around torture and minors whenever he can. There are exceptions. Have been exceptions. He'll torture if that's the only way to get information, and admittedly he's not half bad at it, but he doesn't let himself enjoy it. And the rule about kids was a lot easier when there weren't teenagers hopping around in masks trying to do his job with more morals.
Todd has been able to learn to balance what ultimately boils down to his survival and his conscience. While the potential for food always lingers in the marrow of his bones, he's found ways to stave it off. He has hobbies. He's also allowed himself some more harmless habits to keep his addictive personality in check. He's a habitual cigarette smoker without a preference for brand. Black coffee can help him completely ignore the cold for hours at a time. And with his high metabolism, alcohol gives him a pleasant but temporary buzz even in large quantities.
Outside of his current odd job he'll try to keep to himself, but he's hardly rude or even standoffish, just quiet until approached. There's even a boundary between the Cryptid, a vigilante open to working with others in the field, and the hidden killer dragging people away to be dismembered and consumed. The only time that boundary is ever crossed is if he's starving, and it's line he's found himself crossing more and more recently.
He does have something like a normal life, outside of all that. He has an almost childish love for animals, even if he doesn't think owning a pet is a good idea with his lifestyle. He enjoys work that makes him move around or use his hands, and can often be found doing his own routine maintenance on his car or taking nature hikes if his current home has parks or trails. As his wardrobe might suggest, he frequents second-hand and thrift shops. He doesn't really have the time or space for sentimental dust-collectors and baubles, but it's not the worst way to pass the time and the clothes are cheap and concealing. It's not exactly fashionable, but the style lets him hide in plain sight while not raising questions beyond, "why suspenders?"
Although, yeah, the hat is a choice.
Are you looking for a confession? I don't give those out to just anybody.
I mean, given our situation, I'll be happy to answer your questions. You're looking for some kind of tragic backstory, right? 'How does someone become a monster like you?" That's a funny word. Monster. Is it monstrous to do what nature says? Sure, I've done some monstrous things. Don't ask -- I just told you, this ain't a confession. But would I be a monster without all that? If I just killed and ate the scum of the earth, clean and quick. Would that be monstrous?
I did promise answers, and it's not like you can prove anything I say from here, anyway. So where'd you want me to start? Take it from the top? My hometown, my parents - were they monsters like me? Maybe. Or maybe they were a different kind of monster. The normal kind that doesn't have a bone-deep, aching excuse for what they are. Or were.
Hey, if I say the words "foster care," will you look like I just explained everything? You shouldn't. Those were actually the most normal years of my life. The cold wasn't so bad back then. Sure, it wasn't pleasant. I never had a real home. The parents I ended up with treated us like wards of the state, but because of that we were at least cared for. They even got me counseling a few times. And with my medical symptoms -- never a diagnosis from either the shrinks or the doctors, but I'd had symptoms ever since my first home. I got plenty of families investigated. One of the reasons I got moved the first few times. What the inspectors thought was malnutrition just turned out to be what one guy called a "high metabolism." But even with all that, I stood out in a bad way. Aside from one little incident, I kept my nose clean. I adapted. I learned the rules. Make friends, keep your head down. Be respectful. Help if you can. If you can't stay out of the way. Not the best years of my life. Just normal.
And I ran as soon as I legally could. All it took to leave it behind was a name change, and the car I'd spent the money I could've been saving for college on. Hell, I didn't even finish high school. First week of January I'd gotten everything squared away. February saw me halfway to Montana. No, I hadn't decided that's where I was going. I had a whole year of wandering around before Billings. That's just where I thought to get an actual apartment. If I hadn't, I never would've met--
Ah. I told you. This ain't a confession.
I spent some time there. Some more time... not there. Maybe this is all about that, or that's got nothing to do with this. Not like you'll ever actually find out. No, I've already said too much to let you live anyway. What it comes down to is that my bones hurt. My organs hurt. And my throat hurts -- don't really spend this much time talking to food. Or anybody, these days, if I can help it. This isn't about my pain. Or yours. Don't worry too much. Dying's scary, but I've heard bleeding out's a lot like falling asleep. Too bad you won't be able to tell me. Anyway, thanks for the ear. It's been enough to tide me over for now. And... thanks for the rest, too.
There isn't a mask and cape bad guy hidden in his cave on Skullcrusher Mountain, plotting to take over the world, just for an underdog to swoop in and save the day. Your run-of-the-mill criminal is a guy or gal down on their luck, addicted to something, or just plain psychotic. They don't really wear masks and they definitely don't wear capes. You also can't just spend a week learning kung-fu or whatever's in right now and think you can fight armed thugs.
And yet someone, somewhere is always playing hero.
Todd had been there - he'd made that mistake early while trying to fight off the cold. Luck had kept him alive, luck and some abilities he hadn't understood yet, but at a cost. Turns out while heroes that last are kind of rare, the villains crop up whenever you know how to look for them. Sometimes he's the drug runner, the guy with the briefcase. Sometimes he's the dealer on the street corner. Sometimes he's the buyer who somehow gets a knife while high on meth. Sometimes he's someone who can't even afford meth, or even alcohol. Sometimes he's just a normal guy, distanced from you but always wondering what you look like when broken down into little pieces. Something wrong with his brain, sure, but a guy with a job and a car and a suburban house with far too much time on his hands.
And sometimes the villain's a friend.
Everybody assumed Todd liked the last part, that the liking was what caused him to do it. Todd wouldn't blame them if they just had to rationalize the senseless violence somehow. Even if, by the time they came to that conclusion, it shouldn't be senseless anymore. Todd used to explain his situation in that last conversation, made his apologies, even, although it started to get weird saying "sorry" to food. Even if that food had once been a friend. It would make more sense that they'd hate him for being a violent cannibal by necessity than try to rationalize that he got some sick pleasure out of killing them anyway. But he didn't explain to them that his favorite part was always the hunt, whether literal or just a drawn-out series of lies and misconceptions put to good use. You don't tell a lamb that your least favorite part of the day is butchering it, or that your favorite was luring it close enough to act in case it ever realized you're a wolf.
First time he hadn't meant it. It was sloppy, but Arlo had caught him with some drug runner who he said he'd be interrogating. He did interrogate him, for the record. He actually got some decent information out of him, and it was a crying shame that he hadn't been able to actually do anything about it except leave a tip for the police. There'd been way too much blood everywhere to lie. And the truth was too much for Arlo. His fellow vigilante had pretty much snapped on the spot, his tender moral code triggered. It was the first time he'd ever seen murder in Arlo's eyes. And he -- the senseless serial murderer -- had killed Arlo by accident. Just hit him too hard, and that was that. There hadn't been anything special to keep him from crumbling.
By then, Todd had been over the eating people part for a long time. It didn't even bother him when it was Arlo - or had been Arlo. But Arlo was gone the second he crumpled to the ground in a lifeless pile of meat. What had once been Arlo had been a big guy, and working through the meat and bones had given Todd time to think, to wonder if the "Phantom Ox" (horrible name, Todd had always hated it and told Arlo as much) would be missed. They'd actually become friends out of costume, with all the risks that had brought with it. Arlo's disappearance, and the disappearance of the Ox, would be a connection made by the police. Then again, so would Todd's and the disappearance of the Cryptid. He'd have to learn to be good at lying or good at vanishing. Either would work.
And he learned to be good at both, actually. He'd anonymously donated the information to the police station, then finished up his and Arlo's work. It felt odd to use Arlo the way he'd used crooks, but it had worked out. The only problem had been the difference in their body weight, but he eventually balanced that out. And finishing their work also felt like it balanced out any kind of cosmic justice scales crap that might exist. Not that he believed in that.