The Holocene Pax - Chapter 2

Matt woke to Don moving walking into the room several hours after he had left. He was a bit surprised by how quietly the man moved: what had woken him was the click of the door latch when Don had opened it, otherwise Don made almost no sound.


"Hey. How are you feeling?" Don asked as he sat back down in his chair.

"Ok. My ears kinda ring, and everything is still too damned bright, but otherwise I feel ok."

"How are your feet? I can see that your horns are gone."

"They feel fine, hold on while I check." Matt reached down and massaged his foot for a second. "Feels like it's back to normal."

"Good. Let's go for a walk."

"What? Is that ok, I mean, I've been bedridden for three days and-"

"I never said you were bedridden. You were asleep or sleepwalking." Don extended his hand to Matt as he reluctantly put his feet over the edge. "We actually had a bit of trouble keeping you in the bed the first two days."

"Where are we walking to?"

"Just around the building. Walking might be a bit different than you remember, so I think it's best for your dignity if I help you now, and you can walk around normally later."

"What do you mean by differ- aagh!" Matt yelled as he suddenly launched himself backwards when he tried to stand up.

Don winced as Matt crashed into the fourth bed down. "Your legs are much more powerful than you're used to. When your brain sends the signal to straighten, it is executed with the force of a team of Clydesdales."

"Ouch ouch ouch... a little more warning would have been nice."

"Like you would have believed me."

"Ok, I believe you now." Matt pulled himself upright with his arms. "Any more advice?"

"Try just straightening out in my direction this time, and we'll work from there."

Matt immediately launched himself forwards again, by accident, yelling as he flew through the air. This was cut short when Don simply reached out an arm and stopped him midair with one hand.

"Ugh!" Matt wheezed as he folded over Don's arm. "How did you do that?"

"I have a bit of strength myself, and my feet are quite firmly in the ground."

"Huh?" Matt looked down and was surprised to see five massive claws curling out Don's shoes and into the tile. Looking around, he noticed that there were actually claw marks all over the floor.

"I'm going to put you down now, and we're going to practice you walking my direction until we get outside. Then we'll do a loop around the building side-by-side." Don explained, smiling a bit.

"Ok. Here goes nothing..."

For the next ten minutes they worked their way around the room to the door, Don catching Matt every time he nearly crashed into something other than a bed or wall. By the time they got out into the sun, Matt was utterly exhausted.

"Ugh. Are we still going to walk around the building?" Matt asked plaintively.

"Yes, I have a story for you." Don began slowly walking along the edge of the building, Matt staggering beside him. "Our story begins about 11 thousand years ago, in northern Europe.

"The ancient Neanderthals were on the rise, and their increasing population was driving the Dire Wolves extinct, despite the remarkable intelligence and insight the Dire Wolves possessed. In retaliation, the Dire Wolves did something unprecedented in all of history: they forged a pact with another species, now known as the ancient Smilodons.

"The two species agreed to attack the Neanderthal communities simultaneously, and otherwise avoid fighting with each other. It was a remarkable feat in interspecies communication, and worked incredibly well. Within a few years, the Neanderthals were all but extinct, and what few remained were absorbed into what would become modern man.

"Viewing their success with great satisfaction, the Dire Wolves and Smilodons maintained their agreement of nonaggression, and this made the other sentient species nervous. In particular, what your legends call Yeti became paranoid, fearing that the Dires and Smilodons would cross the Ural mountains and wipe them out. They dubbed the predators the "Blood Pact" and forged what they called the "Old Order" with the ice-dwellers of the extreme north.

"These ice-dwellers, sometimes called "naiads" in your myths, are the longest living mammals on the planet, and combining that experience with the sheer strength of the Yeti made the Old Order a force to be reckoned with. However, the Blood Pact was aptly named, for they discovered means of passing experience down through blood rituals, which ultimately made them the better warriors. The four species warred across Asia and even into the Americas.

"Upon entering the Americas, the Old Order discovered a new ally: Oreamnus Americanus, a kind of mountain goat. The goats were strong enough to take a beating from a Dire Wolf, and agile enough to take on the Smilodons. They became the frontline of the Old Order, and served it well for over a decade.

"However, the Naiads and Yeti did not treat the goats well. They were considered to be intelligent beasts, rather than people in their own right. After a point the goats became fed up, and held a revolution, culminating in a nearly complete change of alliance. The Blood Pact was smart enough to see that value of their remaining forces, and welcomed them with claws carefully sheathed.

"This was not the end of the war, however. The Naiads made contact with their Antarctic cousins, who joined the Old Order willingly. The war dragged on for years, until finally it was impossible for it to continue: there were too few survivors on each side to keep fighting, and the Ice Age was ending. The Old Order created elaborate sanctuaries for themselves under the mountains and at the tips of the earth, but the Blood Pact found a much safer way to survive.

"I mentioned blood rituals before. The Blood Pact realized that modern man, who had been mostly unharmed by the war, was on the rise. And they also realized that they could pass entire souls into humans, with some tweaking to their own souls. They worked it out and became what you know as werewolves, vampires, and satyrs."

"So... I'm some kind of host lifeform for the Blood Pact? Some kind of incubator?" Matt scratched his head. "I'm not too comfortable with that."

"Oh no, you're a full member of the Pact now. The old bodies are long gone, none of us have any delusions about returning to the old ways. You, my friend, are an adult satyr."

"And you're a what... werewolf?"

"Oh hell no, I'm too logical for that." Don smiled and suddenly two of his teeth curved past his lips and all the way down his chin. "I'm a vampire."

"But it's daylight. Shouldn't you be catching fire in the sunlight?"

Don sighed. "I hate those myths. Come on back inside, we have a lot of junk to clear out of your head."

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Ugh, so much backstory to cover.