Canis Majoris

In the city of Greater Cascadia, a grizzled veteran reminisces about his origins before the hunt begins.

Sergeant Major Wesley Wolfe had faithfully served in the United States Army before, during, and after the UMDC. Most everyone remembered those tumultuous years as the Upheaval. Major Wolfe had to admit had the term definitely had a certain ring to it, one worthy of the history books.

The problem with the "Upheaval" was that it failed to express just how catastrophic and far-reaching the consequences of the UMDC had been. It had been well on twenty years since the UMDC and Major Wolfe still remembered what those four letters meant: Universal Metaphysical Destabilization Crisis.

Back in the height of the UMDC, it was just about all that the news would report on. Looking back, the early years hadn’t been all that tumultuous. The news just ended up reporting on a spike of supernatural events and sightings that no one really took seriously at the time.

Major Wolfe had been quite young, then. He had been in the prime of his life—fresh-faced and naïve in his early twenties. At that point, he had been deployed a couple of times overseas but hadn’t really seen much in the way of actual combat. He still remembered watching one of the first newscasts about a "Super-Hero" fighting crime in Chicago. He’d dismissed it as par for the course for the increasingly-sensationalist journalism of the day.

Everyone thought that the news cycle would get over their obsession with superheroes and supervillains eventually. That was how things went, after all. There would be a massive media panic, and then it would come out that everyone was getting their panties in a twist over nothing. Everyone, Major Wolfe included, thought that the supernatural shit would have its time in the spotlight and die away like every other fad that had taken the world by storm in the years previous—only, it didn’t.

People started hearing about strange things happening in a nearby major city. Then, the next town over. It was never long before the neighborhood was abuzz about something happening nearby.

In a country where racism and xenophobia hadn’t died, supers provided a breath of fresh air to the systemic prejudices that would have faded into nothing without them. Most minorities were able to breathe for a moment as the collective bigotry and fear of America was laser-focused on a brand new, but profoundly powerful, minority.

Relief from prejudice against minorities was short-lived. Major Wolfe remembered the first midterm election after the government finally acknowledged supers. The same people advocating for the country to step back into the 50’s never explicitly said so, but strongly suggested that certain kinds of supers were more likely to be evil than other more normal and good kinds.

Major Wolfe liked to think that these prejudices were the reason things went pear-shaped so quickly in the middle of the Upheaval. There was a lot of public unrest after that election, of course. People marched both in support of and in opposition to supers. Nobody was happy with the results. Everyone was afraid.

The shit didn’t really hit the fan until someone glassed almost everything between Texas and Kentucky. Just like that. In the span of days. Nearly a fifth of the country rendered uninhabitable. Houston, strangely enough, managed to escape the destruction. People looking to humor for a way to cope joked that the mastermind was a fan of NASA.

It wasn’t really much of a surprise at that point when the army was mobilized. What Major Wolfe would have given to have been one of the colonists on the moon at the time. It had been a total shit-show on the ground. To this day, Major Wolfe struggled to comprehend the utter chaos that had ensued.

The US’ allies had all expressed their deepest condolences and promised their aid. Even the enemies promised to help, though many couldn’t resist slyly slipping in words to the effect of "you had it coming."

None of it materialized, and not for lack of political will. While the US was eating itself from the inside, the rest of the world started having their own problems. People got lynched, and supers retaliated in kind. It was a bloodbath.

Humanity managed to survive the crisis by sheer force of will and an obscene numbers advantage. Major Wolfe had faithfully done his part in all of it. He had borne the grief of losing comrades, and of putting down supers just fighting for their own safety because orders were orders.

Major Wolfe trampled his humanity because he was told it was the only way the world would survive—the only way the world could survive. He did his job. He followed his orders. He sacrificed everything to the war effort, thinking every day would be his last until the day it all just stopped.

The weeks and months that followed the official end of the war on supers had been a dark time for Major Wolfe. He struggled to see any good in the world, having seen the worst of both humans and supers. He tried to drown himself in drink and failed.

Things only got worse for Major Wolfe when he realized that he had powers. He had been a super the whole time and been none the wiser to it. The guilt he felt nearly doubled overnight, because even though supers had almost nothing in common with one another, there was still a strange kinship there. Supers were his people, and he’d helped to mow them down for the benefit of humanity.

Guilt turned to bitterness when a new technology meant to sniff out supers was given to Major Wolfe’s CO to test. He knew nothing about it, as it was all super top-secret, but it just so happened that he was chosen for a random evaluation.

Despite all the years he’d spent fighting for his country, Major Wolfe was discharged from the force. He didn’t blame his CO for it. He had loved the guy, at some point. His CO was just doing his job, following his orders. The guy had been kind enough not to report him to the authorities as a super. Major Wolfe would always be grateful for that.

The army gave Major Wolfe nothing for all the pain he had endured, and considering the staggering cost of the war, there was no money left to help a veteran that had just lost everything. In the span of minutes, Major Wolfe had been tossed aside by his country like a piece of trash, and his bitterness hardened into cold resentment.

Major Wolfe couldn’t blame his CO for what happened to him. He could never do that to a man he’d personally fought beside through the years. But he could blame the system. He could blame the prejudices that he had helped to cement. And maybe, just maybe, with the help of his powers, he could bring it all down.

"Sir, all preparations have been finished!" reported one of Major Wolfe’s faithful followers. "We’re ready to depart at your word, Commander."

Major Wolfe looked away from the window and smirked. Outside, the sun was setting. As the offices closed their doors and the shops wound down for the evening, the alleys and undergrounds of Greater Cascadia were coming to life. Major Wolfe pulled his wolf hood over his face. He liked to think that at 47, he still managed to pull it off quite nicely. "Alright, pups!" said Major Wolfe. He picked up the rifle that had been leaning against the wall beside him. "Let’s show them what the Wild Hunt is made of."

In the twenty years since the UMDC, Major Wolfe had changed a lot, but he was still a soldier deep down. Well, maybe he’d embellished his rank a little, but who cared, anymore? It had been years since the United States was a thing. Major Wolfe’s fight was now with the United Earth Council and their sham super reparations program.

In the dim light of the setting sun, Major Wolfe’s eyes glowed with a faint reddish hue. His boys, his pack, had irises like gold. "Yes, sir, Commander Cain!" they said.

Major Wolfe smirked. Commander Cain. It was a nice name. A memorable name. But he did quite like the sound of Major Wolfe, too.

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