The Dawn of Hope

The Dawn of Hope
by Gingerspark

Story Notes

Author: Gingerspark (formerly known as niennaainur)

Contact: Gingerspark.Brassblade@gmail.com

Pairing: original non-canon characters

Rating: PG-13 –

Summary: In the beginning there was chaos, and from chaos emerged dreams and hope…

Warnings: none, this is a bit tame… and possibly mildly introspectively emo.

Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beta read by: bigunen & louiscypher2000

<<<~~~>>>

Human death came in quick flashes from the muzzle of the gun. The echoes continued to reverberate around the old garage for longer than it took for the bodies to fall; some gambles don’t pay off, we should have known we were pushing our luck.  We’d gambled and we’d lost.

Civilization had crumbled to the point of non-existence; civilization wasn’t very civil anymore.  The city was a burned out war zone; a shell.  Those humans with means or influence had fled to safe fortress-like gated communities and we, the lost and disenfranchised, found safety of sorts in gangs that fought for survival against other gangs of humans; and we all fought ‘Them’. We all feared ‘Them’ – they called themselves ‘Wraeththu’, but we had other names for them. They were strange terrifying beings: faster, stronger, wild and unpredictable, and far more deadly.   Sometimes they made their presence known, winning strategically impressive assaults against human strongholds and sometimes they appeared out of nowhere, silently dispatching their victims and then disappearing without a trace.

We’d lost this one; we’d fallen into a trap set by the group of these strange creatures that our gang had been harrying for a few months.

More shots rang out; one by one more bodies fell.  I felt nothing other than a hopeless sense of resignation. These were not my friends, these were my fellow gang members; humans thrown together as there was strength in numbers.  In this part of the city it is almost certain death on your own so membership is a gang was essential and I feared them as much as we all feared these strange creatures. I was last and being held firmly by two of them.  I hadn’t fought; it seemed pointless.

Their leader approached me, sneering. “Been watching? If you got anything to say – Better say it now.”

“Goodbye cruel world?” The insolence of my tone and words certainly didn’t match what I was feeling.

He threw his head back and laughed. “You’re a pretty thing.  You’d make a good little plaything.”

He grabbed my hair and kissed me roughly.  I fought then.  I know what happens when they “play”; I’d rather be shot.

There were a lot of them, kicking and punching, one of me – I lost, fast; balled in a fetal position, I prayed for a quick end.

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Racing in the Streets

Challenge SubmissionRacing in the Streets
by Lusa

Story Notes

Pairings: Seel/Cal

Rating: PG-13

Summary: A brief encounter between Seel and Cal shortly before Seel founds Saltrock.

Author’s Email: rhapsodyingreen@cox.net

Web page: http://www.geocities.com/lusa_thul/ecrirehome.html

Disclaimer: Storm Constantine is awesome. Also, so is Bruce Springsteen. I’m pathetically obsessed with both of them. But, yeah, her characters, his song – Racing in the Streets.

Racing in the Streets

I was 17 years old; I’d only been har for 4 years but it felt like a thousand lifetimes. I started out as Uigenna but I left them for the Unneah tribe not long after my Inception.

I might have a lot of anger and bitterness towards humans, but not that much. Not as much as Cal did. I wished I could blame what drove us apart on that but was far more complicated and most of the time I realized that.

We thought becoming Wraeththu together was the answer to all our problems, a way for us to be together without the condemnation and hatred that goes hand and hand with two adolescent boys being in love among humans. We didn’t really know what we were getting into, just that there was something different in the darkness on the edge of town, something that wasn’t human and that didn’t care who you were.

I remember being terrified of it, and looking back Cal probably was, too. He just hid it better than I did. But after the firestorm that broke when our parents figured out what we were doing in my room wasn’t homework, it was easy for him to convince me that they didn’t care, that I was better off leaving with him and finding a new future where none of this would matter. I believed him, like I always did, even though I knew how often he lied.

For a few weeks it was all worth it, too. But being Wraeththu gave him an excuse to finally unleash all that violent hatred I guess he always had bottled up inside him against humanity and life in general for having the nerve not live up to his expectations.

Two weeks after we’d been Incepted somehar gave us each a gun and told us we were attacking a human town in the morning. It was a chaotic mess of burning screams and rapid-fire shots. The humans didn’t stand a chance, and they knew it. Their fear was the worst part of it all. I killed that day, and I remember puking my guts out afterwards, feeling like it was the end of the world, or at least my world. Cal thought I was stupid and he didn’t really bother to hide it.

I left the next day for the Unneah, but it would be a lie to say I never looked back. Of course I did, and I spent a lot of time regretting leaving him like I did, ashamed and full of harsh words I couldn’t take back because that isn’t how life works.

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Reap the Wild Wind

Reap the Wild Wind
by Thevina

Story Notes

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Spoilers: None exactly; set pre-Enchantments, in the early, early years of Wraeththu

Canon Character: Cobweb (all others original characters)

Summary: Níl gach uile fhánaí caillte— Not all who wander are lost. (J.R.R. Tolkien) Kelp, a newly-incepted har and his companion, Blackspur, journey from an outer island of Alba Sulh to find others of their kind. Adult. Adventures, aruna, and an occasional warning for violence.

Author’s Notes: The title is from a song by Ultravox.

Reap the Wild Wind

Again and again, as powerful as the churning waves that hurl themselves against the frigid strand. Again and once again, an infinite dozen poundings of arunic tides that his lover had learned so deftly to navigate, the near-sole adventurer to chart a course in his grasping waters. The visions were blissfully vague, mere phantoms held at bay as they shared breath, filling Kelp to bursting with pewter dawn and thorns. Blackspur gripped his hands as he thrust deeply into Kelp; Kelp writhed, clenching his muscles to draw Blackspur in as deeply as possible. Kelp had liked boys before; he’d been out to the monument and fucked other men back when he was human, but now, this…

Blackspur was voracious, feeding on Kelp’s neck as though he were starving. He kissed and sucked at the skin before sharing breath again: he shared a torrent of thoughts and feelings, desire and lust and solidarity pouring into Kelp like water from a broken levee. Kelp throbbed; he could taste his completion, tingling at the base of his feet and roiling upward until it was a heavy, molten ache.

Blackspur, he begged via mind-touch, another new ability Kelp had discovered since shedding his human skin.

Then it happened — the flare snapping deep within Kelp’s body from Blackspur’s ouana-lim, tonguing the coal that insistently burned. Kelp cried out as jolts of pleasure wracked his body, spreading out in waves from deep within himself to his fingertips that tingled in his sated afterglow. Blackspur shouted, his stocattoed adulations punctuating the cold air, echoing in the room of their small cottage. He was buried in Kelp’s body, Kelp’s ankles locked together over the small of Blackspur’s narrow waist. Kelp let out a deep breath he’d not known he’d been holding, easing his legs apart and sliding them down the bed.

Blackspur seemed troubled, so Kelp rubbed his back and send him reassuring thoughts via mind-touch.

What’s the matter? he asked, smoothing away the tendrils plastered to his lover’s skin, his freckles gleaming despite the dim light.

Blackspur shrugged, then drew up his legs, hugging himself in a foetal position, his forehead pressed to his knees. “What are we?” he asked mournfully. “We’re so alone. D’you think we should try to go to the mainland? I’m sure there are boats,” he went on, raising his head and running slender fingers through his auburn hair. Olive eyes gazed at Kelp, begging him for reassurance.

“We’re Wraeththu now,” Kelp murmured  against Blackspur’s clammy skin, trying to pull him close. “And yes, we should row across and get off this island. Maybe we can find a boat with a motor and petrol; everyone left so quickly, or died, so I bet if we make a methodical search, we’ll find a motorboat. There are bound to be other hara over the waters.”

There had only ever been a few thousand people, out in what had been the outer islands of Scotland. Most humans had fled, or died from a plague, and then two Wraeththu had appeared, terrifying and compelling. Kelp and Blackspur had been incepted through tears and paralyzing walls of fear. The pain had been less than Kelp’s vivid imagination had promised, and then there was aruna, sealing his bond to Wraeththu-dom in a manner he could never before have contemplated. But they seemed to be alone, and Kelp knew that they needed to find others of their kind.

“Let’s go south,” Blackspur suggested, spooning next to him like a snake on a warmed rock. “We should find guns, too. We’ll be considered freaks, until we’re with our own kind. We may need to defend ourselves.”

Kelp took a deep breath, running his fingers along the angular planes of Blackspur’s back. “You’re right,” he said, massaging at the knots he found under his skin. “But I’ve never used a gun before.”

“Hopefully we won’t need them.”

“I wouldn’t count on that.”

With a last embrace, Kelp moved away from his lover. They reclothed themselves and began to pack their bags; they were canvas, army-issue looking things that Kelp had found; they would do the trick.

“Just the necessities,” he said, though it was a given. Both he and Blackspur knew they weren’t infallible; the world could reach out at any moment and snag them, hence the guns they needed to procure. Quietly they got their meagre belongings together and began walking to the southern part of the island, a tenacious drizzle and stormy clouds their relentless company, step after step.

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Exposure

Thevina Editor's Pick
Exposure
by Teapot (Camille_Sinensis)

Story Notes

Author’s email:  teapot@doramail.com

Summary:  Ashmael goes to Arahal for some lessons in self-examination, but learns more about Arahal, and the origins of Wraeththu, than he expects.

Characters: Arahal and Ashmael

Spoilers:  Nothing serious.  References to Ashmael’s history as revealed in “Enchantments”, and also draws heavily upon the short story “Paragenesis”.

Exposure

i Arahal

“I, too, killed someone once.”

Ashmael searched in vain for some nuance, some inflection of emotion, to tell him if Arahal was proud or ashamed of his admission. That he could find none did not surprise him – Arahal was a har who spurned the excesses of emotional incontinence; aloof and ascetic, he embodied the very essence of Gelaming philosophy.

To hear him announce that he was a murderer was almost like discovering that that world really was flat, after all, or that water flowed uphill, or the Tigrina was a modest, self-effacing individual who enjoyed a purely casual and offhand relationship with his looking-glass.

“It was a very many years ago.” Arahal picked up a long, ivory candle and set it in an ornate holder upon the altar. He encircled it with both his hands, not touching it, but seeming rather to caress it from a distance. A pulse of rainbow-coloured light arced across the space between his curled fingers, and a flame blossomed on the candle’s wick.

“Things were different. In the beginning.”

Ashmael stared into the heart of the flame, the pale blue centre where the light was in the process of being born before it rose to become the yellow corona above. The flame undulated in response to some small current of the air, moving in a way that suggested life. Ashmael knew it was simply an artifact; the complexity of numbers could explain it. Sometimes things were simpler than they appeared to be.

“It must have been difficult,” he said, not taking his eyes from the flame, “in the beginning.”

In the small halo of brightness, he could almost see the burning cities. The paroxysms of fear and destruction attending the collapse of human civilization. The violence and terror. A new type of creature arising from the ashes of the old, beautiful and deadly. Born in the heart of the flames. Wraeththu.

“No,” Arahal lit another candle by more conventional means, touching its unlit wick to the already burning one. “It wasn’t. At least, not until much later. In the beginning – in the very beginning, there was still order and civilization. There were still things of beauty.”

Ashmael wondered to himself how many were left who remembered those days. Very few, and fewer still who would speak of them. There was one har who would know and remember everything, but Thiede was a closed book, and even Ashmael’s legendary and reckless courage did not extend to demanding answers of The Aghama.

He was suddenly curious about Arahal. Curious to know why a har of his abilities so often seemed content play a supporting role. Not for him the glamour of Immanion, or a position on the Hegemony, although Ashmael knew he would have been a better choice than some of those currently serving on that august body.

“Tell me about it,” he demanded. “Tell me what it was like.”

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Still Waters Run the Deepest

Still Waters Run the Deepest
by niennaainur

Story Notes

Pairing: original non-canon characters and Tharmifex

Rating: PG-17

Summary: I love Tharmifex and I just know he is neither as bland nor as uptight as he seems in meetings and at public functions.  This story is recounted by somehar who has known Tharmifex Calvel for years.

Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement is intended, and I promise to wash them off and put them away neatly when I’m done.

Warnings: nothing spoilery – but with references to underwear.  While underwear (or lack thereof) already played a part in this story, their role was exaggerated precipitant to the serious academic discussions about the state of underwear in Wraeththudom which can be found in camile_sinensis‘s journal.

BETA’d by: bigunen!!!  (The patience of a saint…)

Part One

The afternoon sun was casting long shadows into the centre of the old stadium.  Most of the assembled people were down where, in the good old days, sports teams had done battle.  Now a would-be messiah was trying to whip the assembled group of ragtag humans into an ‘army of righteousness’ to do battle against the evil menace.  I sat in the stands, or what was left of them.  Trumble, I thought angrily was way more likely to lead these people to death than to victory. Trumble was feeding them false hopes of dispatching the Wraeththu menace, and while they were at it they’d deal with “The Others” – a new group of nomadic humans who were moving into our area and stealing what meager resources we still had. Trumble was an idiot, I repeated to myself, but he was turning out to be a very charismatic idiot.

I had travelled down to this gathering with my older brother Doug and a couple of our cousins – Doug had wanted a firsthand look at the so-called saviour of humanity.  Doug had tried to argue with Trumble – but no one wanted the truth; they wanted hope, even false hopes. Little Stevie, Doug’s oldest son, had arrived mid-morning accompanied by another young cousin with the news that Kari, Doug’s woman, was in labour and that Doug was to come immediately. I was chosen to stay for the remainder of the rally and return home in the morning with news.

I emerged from the stadium’s dark maze of corridors into what once had been a parking lot.  The pavement was now cracked and broken, with grass, weeds, and young saplings pushing their way through – nature was reclaiming her own.  The sun was setting and the shadows were long.  Across from the stadium were mostly deserted storefronts boarded up – looted long ago of anything of value.

My teeth were clenched and I felt like screaming.  Humanity was dying.  Those of us who were left had split into smaller family or neighbourhood tribes. We were scattered, we had no power – we were subsisting, barely existing.  And yet, a madman had convinced them that they could reclaim the past and they believed him.  Pure madness!  I let out a low growl in frustration.

“Russ, go outside and walk once around the block” – that’s what my Nana would have said to me; if you had a problem or you were going to lose your temper – a walk ‘once around the block’ would help put things into perspective.  So I adjusted my belt and set off.

I looked down the wide empty street, set the three tall apartment buildings in the distance as my target and began walking.  Human cities were now eerily quiet – no bustle, no cars, no music, and no people.

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