The Menace has been around for at least the past thousand years, though American historians working in the field are fighting an entirely uphill battle. Most of the historical documentation on the Menace comes in the form of dusty volumes from rural libraries in Europe. To date, everything we know has been culled from those volumes brought to the States by emigrating families. The Sheriffs Bureau Intelligence Service in Topeka has recently started pushing European scouts to retrieve documents from both human and Menace sides of the fighting line in hopes that some miracle weapon will be rediscovered. So far, the scouts have not answered the call.
We do know, however, that the sinking of the Powhattan, the Lachine massacre, and the Great New Orleans Fire (all three are now known to have involved the Menace in some form) were all centered around French-descended settlers, trappers, traders, and logmen. In addition, many of the ancient tales featuring ravenous wolves and men who turned themselves into beasts originated in France, especially the Alsace region near Germany. This suggests that the Menace themselves may have originated in the forests of eastern France and the Black Forest region of Germany. At the very least, that has been their domain for a very long time and they have ingrained themselves into all aspects of life in several European countries.
I’ll clarify what I mean by that. In France, every political party and social class had been infiltrated by the Menace who worked together to put themselves into strategic positions to inflict maximal casualties and terror during the Great Attack. The Menace attempted the same sort of coup in Britain, though their hedonistic nature prevented them from doing so.
Until relatively recently, France was a kingdom. This didn’t impact the Menace when they were sparse in number, living in the wilderness and content to seize the odd lone traveler. As the population of both small, rural burgs and the Menace grew, attacks became more frequent and less hidden. This is the period in which most fictional and factual accounts of werewolves began. Interestingly, this is also the time that tales of vampires began circulating heavily in eastern Europe (though the beings described in those stories were more voracious and beastly than the chivalrous, well-dressed yellow bellies portrayed in modern penny blood novels). Some historians believe that the vampire is derived from accounts of the Menace as they migrated to the Balkans.
In France, villagers would form posses to hunt down and exterminate the Menace. Though more humans and regular canine wolves were killed than any werewolves, the Menace recognized that they were becoming much too visible. In the late 12th century, those of their number with greater foresight led a campaign to move into large cities. The rising population in small towns was detrimental to the Menace because of increased visibility and a high degree of interconnectedness between human inhabitants; in a city, the visibility is further increased, but the human inhabitants are socially removed from one another. The Menace would be able to prey on the lowest classes without anyone noticing. Those who would not move into the cities were assassinated for fear that they might endanger the safety of the entire species.
The Menace gradually moved into cities and often posed as homeless drifters. In that capacity they were free to feed on a steady diet of prostitutes, urchins, and beggars without needing to conform to human social system around them. The poor treatment of the bottom caste – especially in France – began to take its toll on the Menace’s psyche. They soon entered the workforce and, over generations, climbed as far up the social ladder as they could. The Menace Renaissance occurred in dark alleys, in forests near major cities, and in cellars right alongside the European Renaissance. In the early 15th century, a wolf who called himself Hroovitnir, a pseudonym of the Norse wolf god Fenrir, began preaching of the Menace’s superiority to humanity. If it’s not obvious from his name, Hroovitnir drew heavily from – and perverted – Norse mythology to suit his needs. In a collection of letters he named Fenrisheim (world of the wolf), he states that it is the duty of the Menace to bring about Ragnarok and interprets the event not as the end of the world (as it is commonly known), but as the end of only the human species. With humans out of the way, the Menace would be free to assert their dominance over the world.
Hroovitnir and his disciples devised a long-term plan to overtake France, a feat that could not be accomplished while the crown held supreme power. At this time, most wolves were still part of the proletariat. They became active in social rights, antimonarchical, and radical political groups to help coax the flame of unrest that had been building among the French lower class for centuries. The few wolves who had attained noble status or were part of the bourgeoisie also worked to this end by overreacting to any show of force by the proletariat and arguing to their peers that the lower classes were dangerous and needed more constraint. As the constant pressure of hatred the Menace exerted on both sides of class divide mounted, small groups of wolves were sent abroad to form sanctuaries for the French wolves if the coming uprising took an unfavorable turn. These wolves became entrenched in southeastern Canada, Louisiana (and surrounding parts of the South), western Africa, and various parts of the Ottoman Empire.
The French economy collapsed in the late 18th century (shortly after the Revolutionary War). This was exactly the sort of social stressor that Hroovitnir’s plan required; the political groups controlled by the Menace called for royal blood and a complete restructuring of France’s leadership. They pulled support from the bulk of the proletariat by advocating a republican government – no doubt seeing that election by the populace was the only way the Menace could seize power. Other political groups also called for restructuring to republicanism, but without the radical bloodlust of the Menace-led groups. Peasants who wanted to avoid an all-out war began to flock to these peaceful groups. This posed a problem for the Menace; the likely leaders of the new republic would be the figureheads of the group that overthrew the monarchy. The more peaceful groups were led by humans, but the radical group was led by Maximilien de Robespierre, who had been named by the Menace as Hroovitnir’s successor.
To further polarize humans on both sides of the conflict, the royalist wolves began to call for open warfare and wholesale slaughter of revolutionaries in areas of France where the enmity was less palpable (though they claimed it was to stop the rebellion before it could gain momentum). The deaths of revolutionaries at the hand of royalist armies did the trick and, with the human masses behind them, the Menace-led republicans eventually imprisoned royalty and rival revolutionary groups alike. The well-known prisoners (like the King and Queen of France) were publicly beheaded as an end to the revolution. Historically, this is known as the Reign of Terror, but the fate of the prisoners who were not publicly executed is far more terrible. Large groups of prisoners were set free from their cells inside the Bastille, but all exits to the prison were blocked. The Menace would then hunt them down and feed on them in full view of prisoners who had not yet been released.
Still riding on the high from their successful overthrow of the French monarchy, Menace leadership urged Robespierre to install himself as a lifelong leader of the French Republic. To sway the human attitudes to accept this, the Menace pushed the leadership of the Cult of the Supreme Being to deliver sermons speaking of a new great leader emerging from the tumult. Wolves among the people began to whisper that the Cult sermons were talking about Robespierre and, just as they had managed to stoke the fire of rebellion, public opinion began to accept the idea of life under Robespierre. The more intelligent human members of the Republic sensed what the Menace were doing (though they had no idea that Robespierre and his most vocal backers were anything other than human) and began to call for his arrest. Robespierre was guillotined for his treachery against the Republic.
Though they had failed to take complete control of France, the Republic leadership was still heavily populated with the Menace. To the Menace, the French Revolution was bittersweet. On one hand, they had infiltrated levels of society that were completely closed off to them under noble rule. On the other, France was not a haven for the Menace where they could act with impunity. The Revolution did show them, however, that Hroovitnir’s plan had worked. The shrewdest minds among the Menace began working in the shadows again, this time altering the France plan to suit the regions they had sent wolves to in case they needed to flee France.