He was born Drake Shixikwe Geoffrey in Lewes, Delaware in 1830.
His father was a trapper, a third-generation immigrant from northern England, and his mother was a Lenni Lenape Native American woman (1/4 Irish) and a seamstress. He and his early life would have gone entirely unremarked and Drake most likely would have perished in the rapidly-spreading Philadelphia typhus epidemic in 1837 – if it had not been for the prophecy.
Drake’s mother had lost most contact with her people when they were relocated to Wisconsin in 1819. She herself had passed as Irish with sympathetic local officials and escaped forcible removal. That made it very strange indeed when the Lenape priest knocked on their door in the midst of a winter storm, just as the birth pangs began.
During the course of the 14-hour labor, the priest spoke in low and urgent tones to the father, who left just before dawn, never to return. The priest spent the remainder of the time praying loudly in languages unfamiliar to Draco’s mother, slipping into Lenape occasionally, just enough for her to understand that her son would be someone very important. Someone not-quite human.
The mother did not survive Drake’s birth. As fortune would have it, neither did the father – who died mysteriously of poison only moments after the birth of his only son.
The priest took the newborn infant in a thick swaddling of wolf’s fur and ran out into the depths of the blizzard. They both disappeared from the United States.
The priest was a will-worker, an Adept of Spirit; what would today be called a Dreamspeaker. The priest took Drake from Native community to Native community and introduced him to a network of Theurges and Dreamspeakers. He announced the birth of the Avatar of Rattlesnake on Earth, and prophesied that this child would one day destroy the Great Evil from the East.
The priest was right, of course – without Draco, Set would never have been slain. The fact that the old Dreamspeaker’s contemporaries believed Drake was intended to drive out the Europeans was merely a predictable, but convenient, mistake. It was speculated that Draco’s rise as the Avatar of Rattlesnake was a direct response to the 1828 election of Andrew Jackson. Draco was born almost exactly nine months after Jackson’s inauguration. Drake’s life from 1830-1890 seemed to support this belief, as he was a passionate defender of “the Indian Way,” as he called it then.
For the first 20 years, Drake learned languages and customs, rituals, secret laws and hidden truths. By this time, he was widely accepted across the human and supernatural United States as a bringer of power and wisdom, and a deadly opponent. It also became clear that he was blessed with superhuman strength and vision, and did not age as other men do. He felt like a Dreamspeaker, but used the magic of the Garou – like an Elder, most said. He was no stranger to the Umbra, and could walk there as any Garou could.
From 1850 to 1890 Drake was one of the most significant (albeit secret) supernatural personages in the American West. He went through a series of pseudonyms to help him hide his identity, passing as both Native and European as it suited him.
In 1890, going by Henry Rattler, the growing threat of the Storm Eater led Draco into the desert Southwest, near Phoenix. “Henry,” acting as the mouthpiece of his totem during the Rite of Still Skies, was widely credited at the time with building the ritual that allowed success in binding the Storm Eater and preventing an early Apocalypse.
Draco, however, underestimated the cunning nature of the Wyrm, and did not expect to be assaulted that night by a powerful Elder of the Ventrue – a 7th generation European who had seen the fall of Charlemagne.
When Draco realized what had happened, he called upon the pure powers of Rattlesnake one more time and left his new Sire entombed in a rock formation just outside of the Phoenix Caern of Visions. Alas, it was too late. While a normal death would have merely weakened Rattlesnake and necessitated the rise of a new avatar, Draco’s Wyrm-tainted vampirism trapped the totem’s power in his dead body.
Reads Signs Clearly would later assert before the Uktena Tribal Council that the hidden, buried presence of Draco’s Ventrue Sire had drawn additional power to the Caern, and was something of a two-edged blade to the Wyrm; a deadly gamble by the forces of evil. In this interpretation of events, the Wyrm’s gamble in turning Draco was used by forces unknown (presumably Dana, or less likely Earth?) to turn dark events into hope again. This point is now treated as gospel truth by the Council, since the same Ventrue would later help Draco free himself, sacrificing himself in the process.
Henry Rattler took the name James Dragaman at this time, and fled his former allies, rightly fearing destruction at their hands. He fled for a long time. Believing himself cursed, he feared he would bring great harm to all he had worked to accomplish, and he already heard the insipid, idiotic murmurings of the Storm Eater calling to him. The doubly cruel irony of his Embrace by a Ventrue meant that was crippled in his feedings habits, able to only sustain himself from the blood of the first kind he sampled… Native American. Unable to take his own life, as he was sustained and compromised by the slumbering powers of Rattlesnake and the Storm Eater, he became an instant plague upon the people he had sworn to protect. His superhuman strength and vision were amplified beyond any previous measure – and unique among the Cursed of Caine, Draco retained the ability to pierce the Gauntlet and enter the Umbra.
For years, he tried to do no harm. He fled to Europe with a travelling show of Native Americans, refusing to kill – secretly hoping to be stranded there with nothing to feed on. No luck. He traveled in Asia and Africa, and dwelled for many years on the East Coast, returning to his native Delaware and surrounding environs. It was a testament to his enormous personal strength and resolve that he held out as long as he did. He avoided the company of other vampires. He attempted to find a willing herd and spare their lives. He stayed out of the Umbra (where he was rarely welcome). Yet all that time, all those decades, the gradual rise in the volume of the voice of the Storm Eater bedeviled his thoughts. By the 1970’s, “Draco Dragaman” (legally the son of “James Dragaman”), began to fall.
Throughout the late 70’s and 1980’s, Draco amassed a fortune in business ventures, and began to kill regularly. His businesses were particularly directed towards cruelly taking advantage of Native American peoples. At the time, no living Garou or Dreamspeaker remembered “Henry Rattler” from 1890, and so this seemed like pure sociopathic obsession with no root cause. Later, of course, it became clear that the Storm Eater had threaded its will into Draco, and made of him an instrument of genocide. With such directed and effective cruelty, it was not long before he attracted the attention of even larger predators.
The Pentex Corporation offered Draco a branch president position in 1989. He requested Phoenix, no longer able to resist the temptation to return. His empire rose rapidly. He had consolidated all Pentex operations in Arizona under his control by 1994, also accruing great prestige within the Camarilla vampire organization. (Around 1993, the Caern of Visions began to shift in outline, attracting attention from the Garou Nation). Draco was the Prince of Phoenix in all but name. In 1995, Draco made his final series of moves, assassinating the acting Prince, seizing power, driving out all Camarilla observers, capturing a huge supply of Akimel O’odham men and women to act as food, building facilities in the Umbra (including a train) and contaminating large sections of Phoenix with Wyrm-tainted power, Embracing a lieutenant (Alex), and inviting in a large number of Black Spiral Dancers. Only then did he open the cavern beneath the Pentex Building, wherein was buried the Throne that housed the Storm Eater – and around it, he built a Hellhole to house his allies.
This was when the Phoenix Caern of Visions expanded from small size to enormous, attracting hundreds of Garou to oppose Draco’s grand design – and when the four members of the Phoenix Pack honored in the Phoenix Chronicle arrived to join Indigo Sky
From 1995-1996, Draco was obsessed with breaking the Rite of Still Skies. He was aware, however, of this opposition, especially the destiny-touched actions of the five odd Cliath assembled by Reads Signs Clearly. He diverted what resources he had free to their elimination. By Garou standards, Draco’s campaign against the Caern was highly effective. His primary tactic was diversion. While this young, obsessed pack would never leave Draco alone, the rest of the Caern was constantly diverted by other threats – Umbral storms, misleading signs or visions, Umbral paths that led nowhere, great Banes freed in the desert, Banetenders assassinated (of course Draco knew where many of these were located because of his life before 1890), Fomori attacks, wizards falling into corruption and going on rampages (usually Dominated by Draco and set loose somewhere obvious), and many more.
This latter practice led to the horrifying purge of almost all of the active Awakened population in Phoenix and surrounding communities, and the murder of many innocents, at the hands of Garou believing themselves righteous. Draco surely laughed to see this chaos, and the many possible allies against him so swiftly eliminated. Except for a handful of mages enslaved to Draco’s will and rumors of Umbral-travelling Dreamspeakers, there were no mages to speak of in Phoenix by mid-1995.
Draco also attacked the Garou through legal routes, attempting to deny sovereign control of the Caern to the Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, Maricopa, and others that dwelt there. This was almost effective alone, but perhaps worse, the media became convinced that the ensuing violent standoff with the corrupt Phoenix police force meant that “these Indians had to go.” Popular sentiment throughout Arizona shifted even harder against Native rights.
Draco’s repeated successes in the face of the Garou army, expensive as they were, meant that Pentex shifted more and more resources to his research division. Draco was able to field some truly terrifying Fomori by the late phases of his plans, one of which, housing the spirit of Fights Forever, was the entity to slay Earth. Draco also began to reach beyond Phoenix to acquire more esoteric resources; at one point he manipulated the Sabbat leaders in Mexico City to send a powerful war party against him containing one of the last Antitribu Salubri – all of which he slew single-handed, using the awakening powers of the Storm Eater, and then Diablerized. In this way, Draco gained immediate access to the nearly-lost discipline of Obeah, opening his Third Eye, without any of the necessary Enlightenment. This was evidently part of the final steps of his plan, because almost immediately thereafter (and before he had to face further retribution from either the Sabbat or the Camarilla, whose rules he had just flagrantly violated) he began the process of freeing the Storm Eater.
Draco’s last seven years on Earth were a concerted effort to redeem himself for what he saw as a century of villainy (in reality, only about 15 years), and earn the right to be Rattlesnake’s avatar in earnest once again. In the words of Rattles the Sky, the only person whose opinion matters in this regard, he succeeded completely.
Draco was destroyed sacrificing himself to save the world.