World's End Chronicles: The Rising

Disclaimer: Werewolf: the Apocalypse, concept, terms, themes and so on © White Wolf.

Author's Note:

The tale of World's End Sept has been in the making in some corner of my mind since my first W:tA game, some few years back. I'm a great fan of modern fantasy, horror and roleplaying, and well-versed in many works; but never has any single one world appealed to me more than the World of Darkness. I always wanted my own sept to play in. "The Rising" is first in a series of stories I have outlined to be written on said sept; it is my hope that I can bring you all of them.

Your opinions and comments are very important to me. I would like to hear any thoughts about the story, the characters... I tried my best to make this stand out among the stories on this site, in quality as well as length and detail, but no continuing work can be complete without feedback. This is written for you, the readers, as much as for me. Reviews are highly appreciated.

I would like to thank Muse, my GM of a year now in Vegas Rage, probably the best W:tA campaign ever played. Without her inspiration, support and guidance, this story wouldn't have been half as good. Do us both a favor, visit her game's site at . No W:tA fan would regret it.

Some events referred to in the prologue actually happened in the tabletop campaign that spawned the character of Blaze "Eightball" Kiracheken – my first campaign. I felt it a courtesy to refer to these events and characters in thanks to my original GM and party, who introduced me to this best of all worlds.

Now, onwards to the story itself.

Prologue

"Nothing ever begins"

Clive Barker / "Weaveworld"

From the blog of Blaze "Eightball" Kiracheken, Cliath Theurge of the GlassWalkers:

The date is October fifth, two-thousand and two. The moon is a waxing crescent. Yesterday I got back from a tribal moot in Boston where my Rite of Passage was formally acknowledged at last. I am Garou, hear me roar.

I suppose the tale of how I got where I am today (with the clichיs, Blaze, pile 'em on!) should be told in full at some point, even if it is longer than is good for your Crinos-spliced health. It's not exactly been the best couple of months in my happy happy suburbs rich Polish kid life, but I digress, because once you grow fur, you've kinda got to. I'm a week or so away from actually being a Galliard, but a girl does her best. I give you, the Really Chopped Up and Shortened and Yet Not as Un-Boring as It Could Be Tale of Blaze Kiracheken, Unwilling Beanie Baby on Steroids.

To start it off, neither of my parents are Garou. That's none, zippo, nada, to say they didn't even think Furry Environmentalists Extreme existed, in the "I was a Teenage Werewolf" variant or otherwise. My dad is unknowing GlassWalker Kin, and that's where it ends. I didn't really bother to enlighten them – too Gay Pride, y'know? "Mom, I'm a Werewolf" "Have you tried... not being a Werewolf?" and here things become immensely sad. Instead of a Kin-Fetch spirit, I got a Fianna Kin for a school librarian, Laz McCormack – yeah, the one you heard about, the incredible "Walks-Many-Roads", known in my circles as "Gets-Overprotective". Not that he was so bloody all over me not-like-that-you-perverts before my First Change... but I digress.

I had my First Change on my seventeenth birthday, which is only less sad than having it on Christmas morning in the way of Gift from a Higher Freaking Power. I know the Charge of the Four Leg Brigade considers this the most meaningful event in my life since I discovered bleach, but they can all go deep-fry their own tails. Crowded dance floor, date to be, music out the whazooey, and before you can say "Teenage Hormones", I go Crinos. God may be a DJ, but Satan is a Garou gone clubbing.

It's been three months since then (my birthday is July third, and don't you forget it, buster), and I don't wake up in cold sweat and go toss my cookies every night anymore. Back then, though, you could say it was a bit of a rough time, and then I could tell you that you have no idea. Seven people dead, five more crippled, got later explained as a gang-bang, just as a note to the folder reading Why People Are Stupid. I never actually recalled anything that happened that night, but just knowing I did it – well – it's... but I digress.

Later turned up Laz was just waiting for trouble with yours truly, something along the lines of tracing down my family ancestry to a big-shot Iron Rider in the eighteenth century, only we GlassWalkers don't do pure-breed, so hey, who knew ol' Blaze would go killer Energizer Bunny? Had my second chance at growing fur almost kindly getting rid of his head for him (he really ought to lose that hairdo) once he told me he knew, so he got me drunk and brought me to New York's big-shot sept in Central Park. Yeah, there are Werewolves in Central Park; say it with me, all.

At the sept, I hooked up with Tape, that's Bone Gnawer Metis Tape, ubercool bitch all around, and her impromptu pack-o'-doom. We had Silver Fang Lupus Kat, known as "Are you gonna finish that?", and Jay the Uktena Theurge who hanged around us in a state of disembodiment most of the time, ultimate proof that you really shouldn't try to step sideways while looking into a purse-sized mirror and riding a Harley into a police barricade. No, really. And we had Suhn-A-Nur, Spectacular Silent Strider, and finally we had – drumroll! - Sharon.

We dug up Sharon out of Ground Zero in NY. Some whazooey in there got her fixed up, so she was kinda Garou only not, and if you think that's vague, wait till you hear the rest of it. To actually be Garou – bugger me sideways if I know why that was high on her priorities list – she had to go on this big quest-thingie and get the favor of all sorts of aspects of stuff. But that's not the Kinder Surprise yet. The cherry on the icing of the cake of out oh-shit-y-ness was that Sharon was now an avatar of Gaia, which means the wedgie Jay gave her widened up the Atlantic Ocean. The Wyoming oil fields explosion? Yup, that's us, the Lean Mean Furry Catastrophes.

So we ended up spending our summer in a Wyrm-infested version of Around the World in Eighty Days. We couldn't even sneeze without someone trying to kill us, especially if it was Sharon doing the sneezing. We faced up everyone from Black Spirals to bloody Clashing Boom-Boom (no, really), we even got an actual pack totem, but I'm not telling you what it is because you'll laugh. Sometime along the way I got lost in the Umbra and ended up cracking the Weaver's Database, that's the Weaver's-Freaking-Database for you, so in the next moot a few local GlassWalkers told me I had my Rite of Passage far as they were concerned, and gave me my outmost aspiration that summer – a Cool Garou Name. Me Eightball Kiracheken, supreme being, me freak you out.

We had to go all the way to the moon – no, really, we were like, the first people on the moon. Feel the camp! But Sharon is now Garou, I mean, Croatan, but we're not going to go there. Sufficient to say, we rock.

We got back to New York September tenth, waxing half-moon – I've been doing a lot of assimilating information on moon phases and spirits and shit, being Theurge and all, and having Uktena Jay for a teacher; dig me! – and that's kinda when the pack broke up. Tape had a lot of stuff to take care of, since her mom died while we were away, and besides she was Fostern now, Glory Hallelujah. Jay started teaching me, but then I joined the Umbral Pilots which is like, GlassWalker scholarship, especially if you happened to have cracked the Weaver's-Freaking-Database dude. Kat faded into Where Sane Garou Fear to Thread, a.k.a. AlbrechtLand, and Suhn got back to doing the Strider jig round the world. Sharon was delivered to higher authorities, and last I heard she's having the time of her life with the Silver Pack, which only goes to show that Gaia must be getting desperate.

Me? I had a life to put back together, remember. Laz got me in an on-line school and I'm starting to look at college options. This really cool GlassWalker chick, Pam "Outward Bound" Haller, tracked me down for the Umbral Pilots, what's with the scholarship again. I moved to her sept in Florida (Pam works at NASA, and if Garou In Space isn't cool, the world must be coming to an end) along with Laz, and had been really busy since. Pam and Laz are trying real hard to be parental – they do a good job of acting married, for sure! – and I keep in touch with Tape, and I'm studying two-leg stuff and four-leg stuff and bite the occasional Wyrm-y ass, and there's even this guy, Roland Wood, knowing GlassWalker Kin...

Well, it's a life.

Blaze Kiracheken sat for a little while, reading and rereading the journal entry that took her all too long to write, in her opinion. It'd have to be friends-only, she knew, like pretty much every entry in her blog would have to be from now on – and her friendlist could only include Garou and knowing Kinfolk, which to tell the truth, rather narrowed it down.

She puffed a long sigh out, clicked the submit button and leaned back in the chair until Laz's bloody ancient modem connection did its work, then cast a dismayed look around. A houseful of partying Garou tended to leave their mark on a place, which now became very apparent in the empty glasses, spilled food, puddles of soft drinks and booze and bits of ribbons and confetti scattered everywhere. And the overturned furniture, especially the overturned furniture. Her post Rite of Passage party was a blast...

She was awfully tired, she really didn't want to get up and put everything back in order before Laz got back...

"I guess I can't party as hearty as I partied when I partied at twenty-one..." she sang in a dismal voice under her breath as she got up and began rummaging through the room, creating the world of Laz's apartment from the senseless chaos. It was kind of silly, since she wasn't twenty-one yet, but was too tired to care.

Werewolves got to party for real so rarely that they went completely crazy when they got the chance. Pretty much every man, woman and cub in Blaze's sept came to have some fun with the excuse of celebrating the new Cliath's advancement, had it in earnest, and now she was left to do the clean-up job. She was in the opinion that it was worth it – next time the clean-up job might as well involve some dead bodies, so what did she care if there were a few broken bottles now? Life.

"Eightball to the rescue!" With a little yip, she threw a crumpled ball of wrapping paper that landed square in the nearest trash can. In lupus form there was no problem at all licking fudge stains off the walls. Pam forgot her Dedicated Palm Pilot under the couch, she'd be running on the ceiling the next morning looking for it. So she was officially Eightball now, it was just a wee bit scary.

She'd never actually get to graduate, with a prom and everything. This party was the best she got.

She kicked remains of confetti under the carpet and fell on the couch, draping an arm on her half-closed eyes. Nearly two AM, tomorrow she had to be at Sept trying a Rite of Talisman Dedication. Well, it was a good way to fill a morning... watching Pam mutter as she went over all the possible places her Palm Pilot could be... while her lupus half-brother Tam "Hopscotch" ran between Blaze's legs to trip her at crucial moments... and Laz watching with that smug smile of his...

Falling asleep...

So what if she'd never have a prom? She was Garou now, beyond such trivial matters. Surely she had at least a semblance of a greater calling. When the parties and Rites were over, and the house and slate clean and ready for a fresh start.

Any fresh start at all.

Blaze turned over restlessly in her half-slumber, quietly missing the smell of her own bed at her own home in New York. One of the quirks of being a Werewolf, the way all the scents were sharper, even and especially in memory. Home... odd, if only her parents knew, maybe they'd be proud of her.

She slept.

It was only thanks to the shock of the clammy, cold hand wrapping about her mouth that she woke up suddenly enough to remember her dream. Didn't have much time to do it, though, as soon it was lost in the feeling of rushing, shaking, to her feet, Laz's voice, urgent – frightened -

"Blaze, get up, take your laptop, we're going."

With a choked sound of terror and protest, she opened her eyes, wriggled against her mentor's grip. Out of the lingering haze of sleep she could see Laz's eyes wild, his face pale, his red hair unkempt. He locked gazes with her in a moment's plead, then hauled her to her feet – his hand still on her mouth – and cast a glance over his shoulder. Pam was hovering about the room, doing very basic packing; she cast him a glance of terror that easily rivaled Blaze's own.

"Tam can't hold them long," she breathed. "Come on, you two!"

"Laz, what's going on?" Blaze tried to ask, muffled under his firm grip. He shook his head and hushed her, she felt his hand tremble.

"Where's your Fetish?"

"U-under my bed. Are we running?"

The shuddering cry of a wounded wolf came through the window, a Call for Succor, its pitch and tone clear – young, frightened, almost human. Hopscotch's voice, with none of the Ragabash's normal cheer. Pam gave a little whimper as Laz thrust Eightball into her grip.

"The moon-bridge!"

"They don't have a moon-bridge where we're going," Laz answered quickly, in a tone so clipped it was clear even of regret.

Blaze's Laptop Fetish, bound with a little Weaver Spider connecting it to every network on Earth, was tucked away behind a rolled up carpet under her bed. She pulled it out with trembling fingers, gave a quick stroke to the smooth silvery surface of it, as Pam and Laz's voices rang over from the living room. The Theurge hugged her dearest possession, trying to find comfort in it. Her senses swayed. What was happening?

"You're taking her to World's End?" Pam's voice was full of shocked disbelief. Following it was a large crash – Laz was piling his own various talismans, most likely. Blaze heard the raw edge of panic in his answer.

"There's no choice, Pammy, it's the only place would offer us shelter, if what Jerichau said is true..."

World's End? Blaze scrambled to her feet, clutching the laptop. Her teeth were gritted and her body aching to transform – she couldn't keep her fangs and claws from lengthening. She'd never heard of a place by that name, but Outward Bound's voice promised nothing pleasant. Laz would guard her with his life, she knew, and still –

Tam's howl came again, more pain in it this time than fear. Blaze could clearly hear Pam gasp, her quick steps as she rushed, presumably, to the window. Somewhere below in the streets, Hopscotch was fighting some foes plainly beyond him.

She ran back into the living room. Laz was zipping shut a bag stuffed and full of strange bulges, hauling it over his shoulder. A good look at him made it clear that he'd gotten up in great haste, his long hair was tangled and there were dark half-circles under his eyes. He gave her a grim smile that might've meant to comfort, and she swore to be brave, if only not to disappoint him.

Pam was by the window, in her slender, gray Crinos form, and spun away from it to look to the younger GlassWalker the moment she stepped into the room. The distress in her gaze was so profound Blaze nearly dropped her Fetish and ran to her friend's aid then and there. From outside, Tam's howls were dissolving into whines, accompanied by loud noises, crashes and bangs, and an ear-splitting hum like the air itself was being rent.

Crossing the room swiftly, Outward Bound caught Eightball in a crushing hug, sobbing for a fleeting moment on her shoulder, then handed her to Laz, who was pulling out his car keys and opening the front door. She locked gaze with the Kinfolk, and nodded.

"Tam and I'll hold them back. Go! And Gaia keep you!"

And she bounded down the stairs with inhuman speed, soon gone. Laz caught Blaze's hand – she followed without him having to pull – and took her out the back door. Down at the parking lot he swung her into the car through an already open door, dropped his bag besides her unceremoniously, and cursed the engine that wouldn't start on the first try. The young Theurge felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise, her muscles stiffening in reaction to some sixth sense. There were things coming out of the Umbra... by the dozens, by the hundreds waiting for their turn, racing across the Gauntlet.

And she understood they wanted her.

Laz shouted in triumph as the car finally woke to life, and hit the gas, sending her sprawling against the seat. As they raced through the street, Blaze, who was staring out the window, caught the sight of shadows, skulking shadows everywhere, virtually laying siege on her mentor's house. Amid them, two bright forms – Pam and Tam Haller, fighting for their lives and hers.

Laz turned a corner before she could see any more, and she shouted, despite herself:

"Hopscotch! Outward Bound!"

And again, shouted, slamming her hands against the glass, fear bringing tears to her eyes. She saw humans on the streets turn to look after the car, puzzled, maybe also frightened, at her senseless cries. For them it was another chilly night, nothing special about it, no shadows in the city of neon and strong concrete. Couldn't they see? Gaia, couldn't they see?

Laz drove them to the edges of town and out of it before the last of her cries subsided. She slumped back against her seat, exhausted, her throat raw and her eyes brimming. She rubbed at them, sniffled and sobbed, blinking tears away until she could see clearly again. Looked over her mentor's shoulder on the empty, dark road ahead.

"Where are we going...?" She asked in a small voice.

Laz glanced back at her; his face was ashen, she saw, his hands were unstable on the wheel. He didn't look as if he had any words of reassurance about Pam and Tam's fate, nor did he scold her for her shouting or tears. Still, she knew, suddenly knew with a pang of terror deeper than all her anxiety and grief, that the things won't stay to fight the half-siblings. Oh no – they'd be coming after her.

"New York," Laz answered at last. "World's End Sept."

To Be continued...

Next: Strangers at World's End