I’ve alluded to the Menace’s failures in Britain before, but I’ll go into them in detail because it draws a clearer picture of the minds of most wolves and will stop us from humanizing them. The French Menace purified their numbers a few times over on their rise to power; they gladly sacrificed their own kind so that the dreamers might see their vision of a vast human feast come to pass. That does not mean, however, that the more grounded of the Menace were less blood thirsty. They were either too short-sighted or could not control their hunger long enough to put off hunting humans even if it meant an easier time in the future.
As the French Menace fought their way to positions of power, their brethren in Britain did the same, though their path was a bit different. The British Empire and the British East India Company had been very busy in this century before the Great Attack; they had already been in ten more conflicts than the previous century and had roughly three decades to go. All those conflicts required soldiers, and the Menace saw the military pay and free transportation to less advanced countries as being salaried to travel for free meals. The Menace would fight the foreign enemy alongside their British human soldiers during the day, and then slip out at night to hunt the wounded and lost from both sides.
The British Army has strict rules about the proper education of officers, but (before it was disbanded) the British East India Company was more lackadaisical. It was common for soldiers who showed promise in battle and leadership to be promoted in the field. In time, some of the Menace found themselves in charge of entire units in India where, through clever troop movements and battlefield “accidents”, they formed brigades comprised solely of wolves. In this way they could act more freely, especially during practice maneuvers when they were alone in the field for weeks at a time.
As in France, some of the more forward thinking wolves could sense a breaking point coming between the indigenous Indian troops of the British East India Company and their European commanders. The Menace attempted to fan the fire of hostility, but could only play one side as all wolves are Caucasian in their human form. There was also another fundamental difference in India that the Menace hadn’t encountered in revolutionary France; most British were quite fond of the Indians. It was not nearly as easy to spread anti-Indian rhetoric as it was to spread anti-monarchical rhetoric. In addition, the Company’s investigative services treated missing villager cases almost as seriously as cases involving missing British citizens. Even when war remained the only course, the Menace thought, they would not be able to push for the complete subjugation of India. Instead, they began to seek transfers to the Far East where relations were much less amicable.
India became a place where inexperienced wolves could go to receive promotions and commendations, then leave the Company Army and transfer to the British Royal Army in China. The First Opium War between China and Britain resulted in numerous promotions to non-field positions for military commanders, leaving a power vacuum that was quickly filled by East India Company wolves. Those high ranking wolves pulled strings to get wolf-heavy units from India and England rotated in to replace the combat weary units that had fought the brunt of the War. In China, the wolves had ready access to tea (a habit they had picked up from living in England for generations), opium (which many soldiers, Menace and human alike, had developed a taste for in India), and a large population of villagers living in rural areas that wouldn’t be missed by the British Government in Hong Kong. Over a period of roughly two decades, the British Menace allowed their century-old goal of overthrowing the monarchy to exsanguinate and let hedonism fully dictate their actions.
Menace leadership in France saw their plans for Britain crumble. In a struggle to reassert leadership, the French Menace placed their own agent in China. Under the guise of a Catholic missionary, August Chapdelaine was a missionary for Hroovitnir’s Fenrisheim with the authority to assassinate the Menace leadership that had stalled the coup for the English Crown if he could not bring them back in line. As Chapdelaine crossed the sea, the British Menace in China began a plot to draw England and China into open conflict a second time in order to bring more land under British (and Menace) control. The British Menace had come to enjoy the military lifestyle and even thought of the human elements of the military as part of their pack, though they made no assumptions that they were safe in revealing themselves. Still, the Menace’s taste for human blood had caused an uproar in Guagnzhou, near a British military camp. The Menace needed to be able to travel farther to expand their hunting grounds and remain unnoticed by their human comrades in arms. The Guagnzhou murders were successfully played off as the work of a singular crazed soldier who had grown too accustom to killing; a young human artillery captain was publicly executed for the crime.
Two events happened nearly simultaneously that almost ended the Menace’s plans permanently. And would have prevented the Great Attack. A Menace hunting trio were stalking a group of Chinese youths on the outskirts of Canton. The wolves surrounded their prey and, believing the area to be deserted, advanced on them slowly – allowing them to shout for help. Midway through feeding, villagers who had been part of a silent funeral procession rushed to the cries of the attacked children. There were too many witnesses for the Menace to silence, so they fled into the forest and back to the British military camp. Word spread throughout Canton that a cannibal in the distinct red uniform of the British military had been seen feeding on children with two Nian.
I want to make a quick note about the Nian. These are creatures from Chinese mythology that live in the mountains and occasionally attack towns with seemingly no goal but to eat humans. According to the Chinese, these are lion-like creatures, but I have a suspicion that stories of the Nian may actually be referring to the Menace. Asia is contiguous to Europe and the Menace thrive in cold, mountainous areas. It isn’t much of a stretch to assume that a rogue pack of the Menace immigrated to China at some point during the beginning of the millennium. I’ve been corresponding with the Department of History in Topeka about this and they seem to think it’s worth looking into.
The Menace became very concerned that the Cantonese stories of cannibalism would reach Guangzhou, where the people were still not entirely convinced the mutilated bodies left in the gutters had all been the byproduct of one artilleryman with a bad case of bloodlust. Earlier in the month of the Canton sighting, Chinese port authority had seized a ship that claimed British affiliation. The prisoners were returned unharmed, but high ranking Menace military officials persuaded the British Governor of Hong Kong to retaliate for the affront with force and target the Chinese forts in Canton. Once the military operation was authorized, the Menace took care to completely annihilate the southwestern side of Canton and the outlying villages to contain the rumors.
Chapdelaine had arrived near the end of the Canton campaign and conferred endlessly with British Menace leadership. They played along for a time, but, after three months, began to realize that Chapdelaine would not be swayed from his position and began to worry that he may take action against them. During that time, numerous events unfolded that assured a war between China and Britain. The British had sent aid requests to France, Russia, and the United States, all of whom were wary to commit forces to the cause. The British Governor of Hong Kong had expressed concerns about the feasibility of a quick skirmish that would end in British favor without allied aid due to the ongoing hostilities in India. In an act of cunning on par with their French counterparts, the British Menace forged an arrest order for Catholics dissidents signed by the newly installed Chinese Mayor of Guangxi, obtained uniforms of the local police, and seized Chapdelaine and several other Catholics (both Chinese and French). The Menace agents dropped their prisoners off at the front gate of the Guangxi prison (in order to avoid being recognized as Westerners); all were unharmed save for Chapdelaine, who had been beaten to death. The testimony of the other prisoners served to polarize the local French authority and French public opinion against the Chinese (an opinion that the French Menace found they could not sway) and France joined the British siege on China.
To salvage their plan and punish the British Menace for nearly exposing themselves, the French Menace made sure that Menace-heavy units were sent to China. The Menace waged their wars in the mountains overlooking the human wars below. In the aftermath, the upper echelon of the British Menace had either been killed in direct battle or assassinated by French Menace agents. The surviving British Menace were allowed to retain their lives and military positions on the condition that they swear allegiance to the Fenrisheim. In the years directly after the Second Opium War, the French Menace covertly smuggled elements of the British Menace to France to run sorties against the growing Prussian state and its protectorate regions in order to keep the area destabilized and prime for Menace feeding grounds.