Character Spotlight -- Nikki Holliday

by Doug Elder

With Artwork by Kyryn and Revel 
Name: Nikita-Holidae.

Birthdate: March 10, 1985 Earth time (due to the different speed of time progression that exists in her birthplace- 1 Earth year equals 300 Concordance ones- Nikki is approximately 1500 years old. In human form and identity she appears to be about twenty-eight).

Aliases: Nikki Holliday, reporter for ABC.

Background: Nikki is a powerful and benevolent, yet young and naive, silver dragon from the plane of Concordance. She came to Earth in late 1989 out of curiosity about what our place was really like. Her mother, a silver dragon named Nikaita, had visited Earth as an explorer in the Dark Ages and was involved with helping the Illuminati banish most of the Unseelie Court to the Lower Planes during her time here. She then went back to her home plane of Concordance, where she bore and raised Nikki by herself after her husband was killed in the ongoing wars between the dragons of Concordance and their cousins from the neighboring plane of Tarterus. Nikki originally was trained as a chronicler of her kind, a sociologist who when grown and fully trained would record the history of the dragon race and keep their archives of knowledge. However, Nikki soon felt the urge to have a more exciting lifestyle, craving to become an explorer like her mother. Both Nikaita and Nikki's friends did all they could to encourage her to follow the explorer path if she so desired, but Nikki felt too committed to her studies as a chronicler to abandon them. Still she continued to hear stories of the places her mother had visited, especially of Earth, and became more curious to see the places for herself as time went on. When her mother did of a wasting disease at the same time Nikki finished her studies and graduated, she reminded her daughter with her last words of Nikki's true desires and told her to follow her heart.
     After brief consideration, Nikki decided to comply with this directive, giving in to her long-dormant desires to seek new experiences and adventure. She then told the dragon king and queen of her choice, but they disagreed with it and strongly opposed her wish to change her career (or so she thought). Under advice from her friends, Nikki then decided to act on her own and leave Concordance for Earth through a magical portal that opened from a Concordance cave into a New York alleyway. Arriving on our planet, Nikki assumed human form and was surprised by how much everything had changed from her mother's stories. Fortunately, one of the first humans she met was Liz Traherne, a young security guard and fan of fantasy and science fiction who was well-equipped in terms of psychology and resources to teach Nikki about this world. The fact that Nikki saved Liz's life by turning into dragon form and defeating a group of thugs assaulting the other woman also quickly endeared them to one another. Nikki since acquired a false identity for herself with the aid of Chris Holt, a computer hacker Liz knew, and then got her GED and studied journalism at Empire University after learning much about the way the world had become since her mother left. Today, still maintaining her human disguise, she works for Manhattan's ABC station and has recently come into contact with the gargoyles on a few occasions during her work. She has also become friends with a few humans they know, especially Matt Bluestone, with whom she shares a barely concealed infatuation neither is willing to easily admit. While Nikki has not really met or encountered the gargoyles themselves yet, and the only living human who knows her true nature is Liz, either situation may soon be changed.

Description: In her true dragon form, Nikki is a large slim-built reptilian creature about seventy-five feet long from the tip of her snout to the base of her tail, with another thirty-five feet for the tail itself. Her body features four five-fingered limbs tipped with sharp claws, wings with a span of about forty feet, and a head on the end of a long neck with kindly somewhat catlike features dominated by shining blue eyes and surrounded by long silver-blonde hair from which protrude a pair of five-foot tall slightly curved hornes. A saillike ridge extends from her tail and all the way down her spine, the tail itself tapering to a point, while Nikki's entire body is covered with brightly gleaming silver scales that make her almost resemble a metal sculpture. Her natural dragon ablities allow her to shapechange into other forms as well, but the only other form in which she is currently comfortable is that of a human, which she uses to disguise himself and walk among us. In this form she is about 5'11" tall with pale white skin and a slim fit build. Her face is attractive, showing the emotions of kindness and curiosity as well as a beautiful smile to most with whom she speaks. Frustration, worry, and other emotions can easily be evidenced on it as well. Silver-blonde hair surrounds the face, flowing to about shoulder-length. The face itself is still dominated by Nikki's silver-blue eyes. Generally she likes to dress in dark denim jeans and a grat button-down shirt or blouse with a red or navy cardigan frequently draped over the latter. In either form she has the natural abilities of X-ray vision and strength (though not constitution) greater than that of a normal human her size. Only in her dragon form can Nikki fly or use the full extent of the special magical and breath weapon abilities she has inherited by virtue of being a dragon.
Personality: Nikki has three things dominating who she is- friendliness, curiousity, and fear. The first of these grows out of her upbringing, in which she was taught to use her powers to aid and protect others by all the dragons around her. Nikki was also taught to preserve things- life, knowledge, friendships, etc.- during her youth, and continues to live by these lessons even today. Kind and helpful, she will gladly assist anyone in need, as long as it does not involve needlessly injuring others or great danger to herself. Sometimes she'll help anyway even if the latter is present, due to her extremely high sense of honor and the needs of the situation, but generally such instances have not arose that often. This good nature has allowed Nikki to not only easily survive among humans, but also make deep and lasting friendships with many of our race, though only two have thus far learned of her true nature (and one of them died of a heroin overdose in 1992). Nikki is also very intelligent and wise, but due to her youth, she is naturally very curious and naive about the world. This is what motivated her to originally come to Earth, and it has served her well in learning about this planet and carrying out her duties as a reporter. It also helped motivate her to become a chronicler originally, but when Nikki realized she was more interested in the discovery part of being a historian, not the cataloguing one. The curiosity is also tempered by a stubborn streak a mile wide that frequently motivates Nikki to stick to a line of work for a long while, though her good nature keeps her from becoming too curious about some things. As a reporter, she is of the old school and cares more about honesty and truth in her stories than how much information she can find and what sort of story it will make. Honesty and integrity matter very much to Nikki, though she is not the type to sternly insist that others live by them. She is more interested in watching how people and relationships develop by themselves over time, holding out hopes for a good outcome even as she does so. This especially applies with people she considers her friends, who are many and varied. As a dragon, she is naturally inclined to hoard treasure for herself, but is much more interested in keeping what she earns than taking what she feels should belong to her (the same applies with making friends). To a small degree, she is also wistful and occasionally she makes a joke, though it never seems to get across quite right.
     The one main thing that has held Nikki back in life thus far is her fear. The same youth that gives her her curiousity has also made her very naive and frequently she encounters things that confuse, frighten, and frustrate her to various degrees. This has happened more and more frequently during her life in this world. Some examples of it include how she generally feels threatened whenever faced with a gun (she was shot shortly after arriving on Earth and this soured her view of guns in general, as have the many instances of people hurting each other with guns she's observed); despises drugs of sorts and refuses to even drink coffee (the fact that Chris Holt, one of her first human friends in this world, who helped her learn to survive in disguise here, died of a heroin overdose has contributed to this); and how she is frequently unable to understand such things as discrimination, religious fanatacism, or politics despite her frequently encountering them on her job (she's mostly frightened of such things because she can't relate to them, and because she's seen and read about many instances of them causing trouble for people, including those about whom she cares). Some things, such as technology, she's become able to overcome her confusion and fear towards. Thus she has learned to rudimentarily use computers, cars, and other devices in the way any normal human can, though her ability with them is not great by any means. About more things though, she continues to be fearful and confused, especially those that seem more often than not to cause some form of violence. Naturally peaceful and not inclined to hurt others, Nikki tries to avoid combat as much as possible unless she and her friends are faced with highly aggressive enemies. She is also only confident of her ability to fight and win when in her true form as a dragon, and even then if she meets up with a foe who is clearly a match for her or worse (like another dragon) she becomes increasingly fearful and needs the help of others to effectively defend herself. Thus she is concerned about violence in all its forms, and more afraid of it than anything else. People who indulge in violence easily she can befriend, but never will Nikki do the same herself. Overall, she does not easily overcome her fears in situations where they arise, and thus relies on the help of others at such times to get through. Fortunately, her natural curiousity keeps her from having a fear of the unknown.
     Throughout her life, Nikki's character has developed more in relation to how she responds to the things she encounters, not in terms of gradual changes in her own personality. Her extremely long natural lifespan and her upbringing as a developing person with much potential for learning and great works rather than someone who was naturally inclined for such things have helped her continually develop this way as well as become the person she is. Her friends have always been of varied natures, in both her life among her own race and the time she's spent living with humans. Currently her three best friends are Liz Traherne (who is perpetually bossy, flamboyant, mouthy, brash, disrespectful of authority, and sometimes bothersome, but nevertheless fiercely loyal to her friends and very resilient to the degree that no weirdness can stun her for long, especially when related to Nikki), Bob Page (a cameraman at her job who is very much the nice and quiet type), and Matt Bluestone, who she's only recently met and fallen in love with, though neither quite realizes it yet or would be that willing to admit it even if they did know. Her main nemeses are Gary Parker (the most sensationalist reporter at her TV station and a former tabloid junkie who frustrates Nikki almost every time they talk), and the evil dragon Jadriel (whom she has encountered only once but became very frightened of in the process). All have affected Nikki's response to humanity to some degree, though only Liz knows she's a dragon. Nikki will probably continue to keep what she is hidden from the other two and the rest of humanity for as long as she can, due to her knowledge of how most people would respond to the existence of dragons (this hasn't stopped her from going out in dragon form and assisting those in need in a way similar to the gargoyles a time or two while on Earth, but she only does it when she can easily keep herself from being seen). One of her greatest worries is how people might respond to her if they knew she was a dragon, and this has motivated her to keep herself hidden as well. Sooner or later, though, she may have to drop the disguise.
     Nikki has enjoyed love once in her life, with another dragon named Rialtos, though they did break up when she had to leave Concordance and he didn't think he should go with her. She has not gotten romantically involved with anyone since, though she has had many dates, and she and Matt Bluestone are becoming close friends.

Education and Abilities: As mentioned above, Nikki has been trained as a chronicler by her own kind and in journalism (to the master's degree level, her thesis being on the place of integrity in reporting) by the human college Empire University in New York City. Having been exposed to much of the things in this world through her friendships and her own curiosity, Nikki has studied much and learned many lessons. She is able to easily recall and quote most of what she knows chapter and verse due to the photographic memory she was forced to develop on Concordance when her teachers graded her through intense oral exams. As a reporter she is very skilled in interview, investigation, and other techniques that aid her in getting stories, and can easily use computer programs, notes, and cameras to help record information as well. Jobs she has held range from the student newspaper of her university to USA Today and currently ABC.
     As an immigrant to this world, Nikki has learned how to use most technology- VCRs, microwaves, showers, and cars all hold few puzzles in terms of operation for her to face. She is still learning to use computers, though her job and college have made her familiar with many forms of software and operating systems (the hacker Chris Holt did try to teach her more about computers, but she took to it like a fish to breathing air and both their frustration motivated Chris to give up). Because of magic spells she has cast on herself to better survive in this world, Nikki can speak and understand any language, and is completely immune to all forms of disease, poison, and elemental hazard (cold, lightning, hot lava, and the like) though the same does not apply to similar effects produced by other dragons' breath weapons or spells. She can also cast other forms of magic, though outside of dragon form she is limited to the simplest illusion and transformation cantrips. In her pocket she carries a magical pouch of infinite accessibility and capacity which holds a vast hoard of valuables, but she spends few of them so as not to attract too much attention to herself. Other magical items, including a crystal flask that is forever full of healing potion, are also concealed within.
     In combat, Nikki is not as powerful as she might seem considering her true nature. This is mostly due to her low self-confidence and fear of violence, though an overweening concern to protect herself and others above all else also plays a role. In human form she has been taught rudimentary methods of self-defense by Liz but like most women who learn never really had a need to use them. In dragon from she's not much more skilled in fighting, though she is a graceful and competent flyer and can breathe either a ray of freezing cold or a cloud of purple paralyzation gas at her enemies. She is also able to walk and climb on clouds or fog while in dragon from as though it were solid ground. Overall, Nikki can easily overwhelm most human opponents in dragon form, and knows it, but against another dragon she is all too easily defeated (she knows this too). In either form she is much physically stronger and faster than an ordinary being her size and enjoys natural X-ray vision as well as an ability to see any magically disguised being in their true form if she so wills (she does know about and sympathize with, but so far has not encountered, those of the Third Race).

“Inheritance” -- First appearance, where she is introduced simply as a reporter interviewing Richard Fisk and little more than that. No hints of her true identity or the importance her character would acquire later were given out.
“Captives" & "The Blackout” -- Her personality and response to her job were more fleshed out in these stories, as were the various influences on her life. First Nikki visited the Eyrie Building and got Gary Parker (who had tried to sneak in and spy on the clan) out of trouble, expressing her frustration with him for the first time. Then as she and her friends were traveling back home they were caught in the middle of a heavy fog simultaneous with a citywide power outage. Sensing that people could be in trouble and that she should go help them, Nikki was compelled by her sense of honor to change into her true form and leave the others behind. She managed to assist many people, but in the process incurred the wrath of the evil dragon Jadriel, who defeated her in a climactic aerial battle above Hudson Bay. She barely escaped from the battle alive and limped back to her friends to recuperate at home.
“The Hostage" and "Dragon's Game” -- Nikki's first major appearance, in which her true nature and past gets more detail than the minor synopsis it received in "The Blackout" as she reflects on it while undergoing several episodes in her life that bring back the memories. She also covers Halcyon Reynard's funeral in this story, is affected emotionally by the eulogies describing who he was, and while there meets Matt Bluestone for the first time, beginning their attraction and friendship. It undergoes further development when Nikki inadvertently sets off the bomb gang leader Daniel Jade is planning to use to blow up the bowling alley section of Doc's Funplex and Matt takes her statement after he responds to the call for police help.
“Innocence” -- Nikki is seen once again in her role as a reporter, this time covering a hostage situation at a day care center that the gargoyles avert. She interviews Matt, the victims, and the clan, for the first time meeting the latter face to face (though nothing immediately comes of it).
"Law Enforcement" -- Seen again in her reporter capacity, covering the activities of Jade's super-thugs on their Philadelphia training mission. Nikki's relationship with Matt is also explored further in this story, as it's revealed that he is choosing her over all other reporters to cover his cases and in fact has been leaking information about cases he isn't supposed to let the press know about to Nikki as well. This of course is frustrating Elisa and Captain Chavez, who both reprimand Matt for doing so. Lieutenant Slovak distrusts Matt as well because of it, though he still reluctantly gives him and Elisa the assignment to find a spy in the Rose Task Force. Matt ignores their advice and leaks the case to Nikki, though she does not act on the information until after the case is closed because she's been informed of the consequences of doing otherwise. Both of them reach an understanding and remain friends.
“Inner Demons” -- minor appearances, she is seen reporting on the murder of William Lord and the riots that follow. She also allows Diane Maza to go on the air with the speech that puts an end to those riots, gaining much hope for the eventual acceptance of her race by humanity after she's listened to the speech and viewed its effects.
"The Test" -- another minor appearance. Nikki receives flowers from Matt Bluestone as well an anonymous invitation to a dinner date. She goes, but unfortunately a large amount of paperwork prevents him from meeting her and (as will be revealed later) he is too embarrassed to call her and apologize, thus revealing that he sent the flowers. Nikki leaves the restaurant frustrated by the event.

"Elysium" -- minor appearance planned that will explore her reaction to being stood up in "The Test," and Matt's feelings of guilt over it. She will also report on the spread of the dangerous behavior-modifying drug Elysium among the people of New York.
“Night of the Symbiotes” -- A powerful megalomaniacal demon at the head of an army of robots and insane symbiotic aliens appears out of nowhere and starts doing his best to conquer Manhattan. As a citizen of the island who wants to help save it and yet has a need to remain hidden, Nikki must debate whether to assist the gargoyles in defeating the demon or not, and if she does so how much of her true nature she should reveal.
"Immigrants" -- Nikki will probably get another minor appearance herein, reporting on Bruce Wayne, Austin D. Powers*, and the Joker's visits to Manhattan as well as the events that result and the gargoyles' involvement in them. She may also be held hostage by the Joker in this story and learn of the existence of Quicklings, but I'm still debating it.
"Blind Date" -- Matt and Nikki are finally going out together. The problem is, city gang leader Daniel Jade wants Matt dead and sends a hit squad after him on the same night. To save herself from the assassins, Nikki must reveal to Matt her dragon form, giving him the greatest shock of his life. Relationships are never simple in the Gargoyles Universe. :)
"Sword of Prejudice" -- Dragons are about in the world, hiding among the human race and trying to live lives disguised as ordinary people. Gargoyles and mutants are trying to do the same, though not in disguise. Most of humanity has so far met this with grudging acceptance, but there are of course those who do not like it. And one of the more politically and financially resourceful of them is about to decide that he won't take the misguided fear and confusion brought on in his mind by the mere existence of supernaturals in the world anymore. Before his plans are put to rest, not only the Manhattan Clan but Nikki, Elisa, and many other friends of theirs are going to have to endure a lot of physical and emotional pain.
*= No, this is not who you think. I hate the character Austin Powers, and would never make him a character in my fanfic in a million years. However, corrupt evil businessmen with sons who will become radioactive skeletal Bat-villains in the future should not be spared the agonies and embarrassments associated with sharing the idiot's name. <grin>

Author’s Notes: Nikki has always been a fun and interesting character for me to write, even though she's developed more by herself than through what I think should be done with her. Most writers who are as involved in their work as I am should be all too familiar with the tendency of some characters to do this, Nikki's not the only one with whom it's happened in my work (I also didn't intend in the beginning for Zack and Kara to get together, for Demona to become an accountant, or for Seth to have the Gadgeteer advantage, but it all turned out that way and seemed right). She is the one on whom her own character's had the most influence rather than my conception of her, though. Originally she was just a name in my mind and no more, then I started fleshing out details as I brainstormed with my friends and slowly but surely the rest of Nikki appeared. Many things have had an influence on the process of conceiving and developing her, especially the various stories I've read of aliens hiding amongst humans and studying us out of curiousity or some other emotion. So have the tales of good and noble dragons I've been exposed to through AD&D, in which dragons are almost invariably great and powerful and willing to flaunt it (Nikki has the exact opposite of this attitude of course, since I found the idea of a dragon character like that fascinating once my friend Lisa thought it up). The popular fantasy stories of silver dragons falling in love with mortal men have been a particular influence, especially on writing Nikki's relationship with Matt (that happened on its own too, of course, and will definitely undergo more development in the future. Originally I'd concieved for Matt to get involved with a normal person, a Sara Jasper type, but having him end up with someone stranger, someone different and more magical, ended up feeling more right), even though I intend for their relationship to be widely different than the ones in all those stories have been (mostly because of the characters involved). Other writers' characters have influenced her personality as well- the various Ninas from the Breath of Fire games and Mieu Sedai's BOF fanfiction, Aerith from Final Fantasy 7, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (who Nikki is a lot like being a stranger in a strange land), Nelle Porter from Ally McBeal, Willow from Buffy, Lauren from the UPN show Deadly Games (Bob Page and Gary Parker are also much like that show's other two main characters), and of course Christine Morgan's character Aiden Ferguson (whose relationship with Birdie has greatly influenced Nikki's with Liz). Various fictional reporter characters have also played a role- Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, April O'Neil from Ninja Turtles (whose annoying partner became Nikki's anchorman :), Maya of Just Shoot Me, and Mary Tyler Moore's character from her old show. There's also a lot of my younger sister and two of my cousins in her, as well as a girl of similar personality who I was good friends with in high school. <shrugs> I guess all these influences combined into one in my imagination, and Nikki, a dragon character with a very human personality, was the result. So far I continue to enjoy telling her stories and this will probably keep being so as long as my readers also like them. Nikki's not a Mary Sue or a self-insertion character by any means (Rachel, Seth, and Zack are the ones I think of more when the question of who's such a character in my ficverse arises), but she does represent a part of all of us, I think. And as such, she will continue to be developed, for however long I can keep readers interested. :) And as most any writer of ability can tell from looking at a character with such infinite curiousity and ability to respond to new situations, much potential for further stories and development with Nikki definitely exists.