The Rodriguez Family
- Ambiguously Brown: Inverted. Nina Rodriguez is strongly Hispanic with brown skin, but her sister and mother both appear to have more strongly Asian features and much lighter skin.
- Emergency Transformation: Nina died in the Verdugo Earthquake when a piece of falling masonry from a freeway overpass struck her in the head. Her mother cut a deal with her own parents to bring her back to life in a partial version of the ritual that transforms an ordinary human being into a magic-wielding, invisible-to-normals, perfect-looking-at-all-times paragon. This partial version brought Nina back to life and gave her the ability to wield magic, while specifically NOT transforming her visually or giving her any control over the magic she might one day wield. However, that should not have been a problem, because...
- Screening the Call: Nina was made to forget it even happened, until a decade later...
- Jumped at the Call: Is utterly ecstatic when Carter offers to make her a full paragon- so much so that she instantly completely ignores both his and her mother's warnings about potential downsides of being a paragon, and even the fact (which terrified her an instant earlier) that he had previously agreed to magically lobotomize her on her mother's behalf (but fortunately was breaking the deal).
- Magical Girl: Purposefully invoked by Nina, who wishes to become one and ultimately succeeds in doing so, despite the hidden obstacles and costs. She is obsessed with magic, dyes her hair blue, has a pet cat that strongly resembles a magical familiar (and is eventually revealed to actually be one, complete with hidden third eye), and even invokes In the Name of the Moon word-for-word in a magical duel with her sister, Marisa. Unfortunately, in this universe being a magical girl has a downside, and Nina has yet to learn the hidden costs.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Nina is likely to become a tremendously strong paragon, indeed. Even before her transformation is completed, she can see through illusions and lies, resist attempts at mind control, and even cast powerful spells (albeit with poor control) using an outmoded cirque she finds on the ground. She defeats her newly-paragon sister in a magical duel largely through a combination of sheer luck and indignant rage.
- The Alcoholic: May not be one quite yet, but she is well on her way. Nina is a hard drinker, and drinks habitually to calm herself or get over her problems. Making matters worse, she works as a bartender. She also abuses pills and lies about it rather pathetically to her sister when caught.
- Kidnapped by the Call: Quite literally, and by her own mother, to boot. And she doesn't appear enthusiastic about it, either.
- Half-Hearted Henchman: Seems to have been drafted into this roll by her mother, who in a handful of days kidnapped her, murdered and immediately resurrected her without her consent to transform her into a paragon, and then just started giving her orders. Exactly what kind of conversation she had with her mother that got Marisa to see things her way is unclear, but she does appear to be obeying orders more or less of her own volition...
- More Than Mind Control: assuming her mother isn't using some form of memory modification or outright mind control on her- which Gloria can in fact do and has enlisted Marisa's assistance to attempt on Nina. Presumably the sheer joy of discovering that her beloved mother is alive has helped her put aside the fact that her own autonomy has been violated, and she will get to spend the rest of her life with her mother while her sister (who is desperately lonely and falling apart without Gloria or Marisa) will not be permitted to remember that she even existed.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The now-paragon Marisa had apparently planned for the magic-obsessed, desperately lonely and extremely determined Nina to simply give up on searching for her beloved sister and only friend (after which her memories could be safely altered to forget Marisa existed) after witnessing Marisa being carried away screaming by a magical lionlike spirit the size of a house. Instead, Nina burns down Iridium Cabal's crystal depository to draw her mother out.
- 0% Approval Rating: Completely dismissed by his entire family. At least Nina seems to care about him, but she clearly does not respect him and cannot rely upon him for help. Exactly how this guy won the love of a goddess like Gloria is not shown, but by the time of the Verdugo Earthquake, that love is fading fast. Afterward, she blamed him for failing to prevent Nina's death, and lost all affection for him. It is entirely possible that Gloriana of Iridium Cabal wishes he never even existed.
- Locked Out of the Loop: One can only imagine how the bitter, failed parent would feel if he ever discovered that his dead wife had in fact abandoned him and their children and spent the past ten years running the magical equivalent of an organized crime family as a beautiful, powerful wizard within walking distance of him. Perhaps it is better he doesn't know...
- The Cassandra: For all of his flaws, his insistance that there was something fundamentally wrong with Gloria's family- and specifically her parents- was spot on. When given the chance to save their granddaughter's life, Gloria's parents had the gall to condition it on irrevocably breaking apart their daughter's family.
- Jerkass Woobie: Despite being portrayed in an unsympathetic fashion, it is remarkably difficult not to feel sorry for this guy when you think of his situation. Right from the start, his wife's family held him in contempt through no fault of his own and for no reason he could understand (it probably never occurred to him to consider that they despised him for not being a member of a secret society of magical superbeings). It was, unfortunately, not the only thing that drove a wedge between him and Gloria. However, even if he had been a perfect husband and he and Gloria were on good terms on the night of the Verdugo Earthquake, Nina would still have died and Gloria would still have agreed to her parents' deal to resurrect her. Now, a decade after being saddled with the undeserved guilt of having caused Gloria's death, he has lost both of his daughters to that same secret world. And it is probably only a matter of time (assuming it has not happened already) before he gets a knock on his door and someone comes along to tell him his daughters are as dead as his wife... or to make him forget he ever even had a family to begin with. Not even having an affair (assuming he actually did have one) can justify the endless existential nightmare his life as become.
- The Alcoholic: Seems to have become one in the ten years after Gloria's "death". Nina refers to him as both "having gone crazy" since Gloria's accident, and, later, as being "drunk all the time". Whether the one led to the other or vice versa is academic. Either way, she cannot rely upon him.
Nina's beloved mother, who died in a car accident ten years earlier whilst driving away from their father, who was having an affair.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Heavily averted. Gloria's death shattered the family, ruining Nina's childhood, forcing her to rely on an increasingly resentful sister, and eroding Enrique's sanity with guilt. On the bright side, it turns out she wasn't really dead. On the down side, she is now a paragon, the head of the Iridium Cabal, and appears to have become the antithesis of the caring, warmhearted mother of Nina's cherished memory. Nina is hell-bent on learning why this is so, and Gloria is equally hell-bent on making Nina forget she ever found her.
The Cabal which Nina's mother abandoned to raise her family in the normal world, then to which she returned after making her deal to resurrect Nina from the dead. Now led by Gloriana of Iridium Cabal. Described with perfect accuracy by Detective Alexis as "startup culture, but somehow even more arrogant." It has a strongly Asian-Wuxia theme in both dress and architecture, with heavy emphasis on white, red, and gold color themes.
Gloriana of Iridium Cabal
- Ambiguously Asian: It is not entirely clear, but Gloriana is in all probability half Hispanic, half-Japanese or Chinese (or possibly Korean). In flashbacks her younger self has strongly Asian features, and Iridium Cabal's motiffs are unambiguously Asian/Wuxia influenced, with no obvious Hispanic motiffs. By contrast, Nina (daughter of Gloria and the entirely hispanic Enrique) is more visibly Latina with darker brown skin, while her sister Marisa leans more toward the Asian side.
- Deal with the Devil: The "devil", in this instance, being Gloria's own parents. Yes, Gloria's daughter would get to live again- as a lonely, isolated wreck who will never know her mother is still alive, with an elderly and senile grandmother, a sister who is getting sick of her, and a father who is unreliable at best. In return, Gloria would permanently abandon her children and her life, go back to Iridium Cabal, and become an exemplar of all the coldblooded ugliness and evil of paragon society that she gave up everything to leave in the first place. A major plot point of the first arc is Nina trying to figure out if there is anything even left of the old Gloria in the new "Gloriana of Iridium Cabal". There is, but Nina cannot make her change her conduct.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: And she has forgotten how to take it off. It takes a truth spell cast by Nina to break through her defenses and demonstrate that, yes, she still cares deeply for her daughter and is sincerely acting in what she believes to be Nina's best interests. Unfortunately, by then it is too late for any good advice to get through to Nina, and what she and Nina think of as Nina's "best interests" are wildly different. when the spell wears off she goes right back to trying to erase her memory.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Carter, the leader of Zon Cabal and presumably a powerful paragon in his own right, is utterly terrified of her and fully expects a war to break out if he doesn't handle the situation involving her daughter and his son immediately (said situation consisting of him protecting her, walking around with her, and at worst courting her). The two paragons at the crystal depository that Nina torches apparently expect that merely invoking her name will be enough to scare Nina off, not realizing that she is her daughter.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Gloriana describes her life growing up under her parents' Cabal as "hell", and directly refers to her parents as murderers- all but stating that she witnessed them murder another member of her family (presumably this was the more permanent variety of murder than the standard paragon initiation ceremony). Whatever happened, she could not get away from that life fast enough. Then, when she was forced to go back to the Cabals as a condition of having Nina resurrected, she was willing to abandon her children forever (including the resurrected Nina) by faking her own death, in the apparently absolutely sincere belief that this would be a better life for them than dragging them into the world she once left behind. The knowledge that she has failed, and that both Marisa and Nina are now paragons themselves, reduces her to tears.
- Dark Secret: Has acquired a whole laundry list of them. At the very least, she has
- Murdered and resurrected Marisa to make her into a paragon;
- As head of a cabal, she oversees production of the magical gems that fuel paragon society- which are explicitly compared to street drugs and which are harvested from some nefarious source she is responsible for maintaining and protecting.
- Presumably that also includes meting out punishments to those who threaten the supply, which are hinted to be brutal;
- She casually engages in attempts at mind control on at least one of her own children and possibly both;
- She engaged in (and won) at least one magical war at some time in the recent past;
- And as a cabal leader, she has to be responsible for at least some of those 400 mysterious deaths in the past year in the LA region.
- Tears of Remorse: When magically compelled to tell the truth about Nina's death and the decisions she was forced to make, Gloriana weeps copiously. It is the first clear indication that, yes, she still loves her daughter every bit as much as she used to, and that she believes she is acting in her best interests, even now. Alas, when the spell wears off the mask goes back on and she instantly dismisses Nina with yet another spell.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Gloriana's actions and plans for her daughter- abandoning her, depriving her of her sister, and erasing all memory of her sister's existence even as Nina slides into alcoholism, drug addiction, and a probable early death from either suicide or homelessness- seems unspeakably cruel and evil. But look at the alternative. For the apparently rather religious Gloriana, the existence of an afterlife- and by extension Heaven and Hell- is an absolute, verified fact. Since she herself died and was reborn into magic like all paragons, she knows this from direct personal experience. And she also believes- with good reason- that one cannot live the life of a paragon without inevitably becoming a murderer- i.e.- damned. It happened to her parents and it happened to herself despite her best efforts. She is attempting to save Nina from LITERAL DAMNATION. Quite simply, a short-lived, miserable-but-normal Nina will beyond a shadow of a doubt be better off in the long run than Nina the Paragon. Viewed in that light, treating her daughter so coldly when they are reunited makes perfect sense. Anything that increases the likelihood of Nina becoming a paragon- including displaying the slightest warmth or kindness to her at their accidental reunion- jeopardizes her beloved daughter's soul and must be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, she wrongly assumes that Nina herself has no agency in the matter, and that she can safely impose her will upon Nina through mind control instead of treating her daughter like an intelligent, free-willed adult.
- This also explains why she was so angry at Clint for romancing her daughter, yet apparently did not notice or care that her daughter had been in a relationship with- and cheated on by- a previous boyfriend who was not a paragon. From Gloriana's perspective, the boyfriend was just a boyfriend. Clint, on the other hand, was leading her daughter into damnation. She was right.
Iridium Cabal's not-quite-ally, not-entirely-rival. Headed by Carter James, a Machiavellian schemer who is- occasionally- willing to indulge his son Clint's idealistic streak. Has a vaguely Persian-Egyptian theme, centering on massive floating pyramids. Strongly associated with the color blue.
Carter of Zon Cabal
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Clint of Zon Cabal
Carter's idealistic son. Comes across as something of a jerkass at first, but quickly demonstrates more noble qualities.
Iridium Cabal's other rival. While most cabals have settled into a live-and-let-live attitude toward each other (or at least do not engage in open hostilities without some degree of provocation and warning), Polaris has openly schemed to seize control of the Hollywood Truce Zone through unprovoked violence against the children of Iridium and Zon's leaders- that is, against Nina and Clint. Both Gloria and Carter quite reasonably consider letting Polaris get its hands on Hollywood to be a really bad outcome, and seek to prevent it if at all possible. Theoretically has a visual theme of feathers, of all things, but in practice tends to lean toward dark/black coloring and form-fitting, vaguely bdsm-inspired clothing.
A "Vampire Diaries" wannabe who looks like a cross between an American Ninja Warrior competitor and a Cirque Du Soleil gymnast- and acts like a psychopathic bully. She appears out of nowhere and attacks Nina for what at the time appears to be no apparent reason, but turns out to be an attempt to drive a wedge between Iridium and Zon cabals. Was probably the one who left that decades-old cirque and gem in the alley for Nina to find.
- Dark Action Girl: A textbook example. Also technically a Dark Magical Girl, though the more sympathetic elements common to that trope are so far not in evidence.
- Knife Nut: Wields a pair as he standard arsenal. And they are of the magical, soul-draining variety, too.
- Scary Teeth: has filed the tops of her teeth to resemble shark teeth, as an intimidation tactic. Probably the result of her altering her paragon glamour field rather than actually having shark teeth, but paragons can also use spells to alter their physical forms.
- She-Fu: Her fighting style in a nutshell.
- Vampiric Draining: Tries this on Nina using a magical dagger. Unlike most examples, it is entirely dependent upon a device to carry out, but the effect is the same. Nina is forced to endure her most negative emotions of hopeless abandonment, which greatly fuels Adrian's powers. Could be a hint of where paragon gems come from.
One of the four main Cabals in the LA region. Referred to by Detective Alexis as a "hippie cult". Almost nothing is known about them. Fashion motiffs include pinks, purples, and third-eye headpieces.
Former occupant of what is now the Hollywood Truce Zone. Exactly what happened to it (or to its members) is not clear, but according to Detective Alexis "they crashed and burned"- which may mean that some internal (or possibly even external) conflict tore it apart. Cahuenga means "place of the hill", and was the actual place name of a former Native American settlement in the San Fernando Valley. One may surmise they had a Native American fashion theme.