Marcus Solerno- Marco to his friends- comes from a wealthy family of industrialists. Intelligent but disaffected, after graduating college with a business degree, Marco decides to abandon his father’s attempts to turn him into a businessman upon realizing that the family business has been largely lost to boardrooms and shareholders who care for nothing more than profit margins. Trying to emulate his hero, Ragnar Danneskjold from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, he joins a pirate outfit hoping to effect some change in the business world through different means- namely, cutting into those profit margins and leaving a message.
However, his fellow pirates don’t exactly share his ideals. On board the Sweet Lady Genny, Marco gains some training in hand-to-hand combat and shooting, finding himself with a greater aptitude for the machete than the gun. He also learns to gamble- that being the preferred method of whiling away the long hours of inactivity between raids. Stopping in ports of call largely used by smugglers and the like, Marco meets a few practitioners of ‘magic’. At first believing these nothing more than parlor tricks and sleight-of-hand, he eventually finds in himself an ingrained talent and is soon practicing the few tricks he’s learned whenever time allows.
It is about this time that electrical systems on Sweet Lady Genny begin to fail with surprising regularity. Unhappy in his life of piracy and the crew beginning to see him as something of an albatross, the captain is more than happy to drop him at port in Norfolk. Marco knows his grandfather- also a black sheep in the family- lives in central Virginia and thinks to seek him out and look for a mentor to teach him more about his burgeoning magic skills.
It is here in Viginia that Marco finds out about the Brotherhood of Budek, an ‘enlightened’ group who intimates at being able to teach him secrets of the occult. Indoctrinated into their ranks, upon displaying his still meager skills with magic, Marco is quickly brought before their leader, Wade Krensky. Unbeknownst to Marco, he is the missing piece in the Brotherhood’s plans to resurrect an ancient Black Court vampire worshipped by the inner circle, that being the blood sacrifice of a human mage.
Brought to Charlottesville and left at a hotel while the inner circle finalizes their plans to gain possession of the vampire’s ashes, Marco is eventually overpowered and trussed up in a van. Seeking to stop the transfer of the ashes to the Brotherhood, Todd Franklin, Claire and their mercenary friend, Isaac MacDonald, stage a raid on the warehouse where the transfer is taking place. Failing to stop the ashes from falling into the hands of the Brotherhood, they nevertheless manage to save Marco, bringing him to Albert Braun’s estate to care for wounds inflicted by the overly enthusiastic Mr. Franklin. At first leery of all he hears, Marco agrees to stay on and try to be of assistance upon learning that Braun may be the mentor he has been looking for.