Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Creepy Crawlies, Pt. 3: The Watch Dogs

To hear the longpaws tell it, Man "domesticated" wolves, who became dogs... loyal servants and friends of Man, because Man found them useful.
Evan Dorkin's & Jill Thompson's "Beasts Of Burden"; Dark Horse Comics

But that's not how the dogs tell it.  And it's not how the genes tell it, either.  Men like to brag that they tamed wolves somewhere around 11,000 years ago; but the genome shows us that the lines of wolf and dog began to diverge almost ten times farther back than that, during a time when longpaws were barely even human yet.

Something else was going on.

They'd migrated north, these strange mostly-hairless apes, and out of desperation and hunger started following the wolf packs who followed the herds.  Scavenging from them. Learning from them.  Mimicking them.

Man learned how to hunt by watching wolf.  He learned how to be a proper parent by following the wolf's example, eschewing his chest-thumping ancestors' ways and becoming more communal.

Wolves made longpaws human.

And some of these wolves took on a fondness for the silly longpaws, and began to mentor them.  Some even adopted orphaned longpaw children, raised them, and sent them back to their own kind with lessons and wisdom to share.

But something followed the longpaws out of Africa.  Something wanted them gone from the Earth forever.  For reasons unknown, the Winnower was hell-bent on destroying the longpaws. It sent some of its most vile minions to hunt them.  It tempted some of them to worship it and advance its desire from within their own species.

Seeing this, those wolves devoted to mentoring and protecting the longpaws made a mystic pact tying their fate to that of Man.  But not all wolves agreed.  Most saw the Winnower as no worse than the Progenitor, merely a force of nature whose will was to be honored.  They demanded the friends of Man renounce their pact. 

The friends of Man refused.

Thus, the great and forgotten War Of The Wolves began.  And in its crucible were born the first true dogs, devoted to defending their human charges from all threats, especially supernatural ones.

Over the long millennia, these Once-Wolves learned occult secrets and vowed to use all the means at their disposal to keep longpaws safe.  Known by many names across time, this network of canine monster-hunters now calls itself The Watch Dogs.

Their foes are any abominations that enter our plane from the Lingering World to wreak havoc and dismay.  And due to the Winnower's ancient animosity, these manifestations most often happen in or near places of human habitation.  So do the Neverspawn of the Progenitor, acting always against their god-thing's timeless rival.

So that is where The Watch Dogs act.  Among Men.

But they have learned they cannot do it alone.  The Neverspawn cults and the Winnower cults have both gleaned that dogs are not to be trusted, and so attract other animals to their ranks. And these animals -- bats, black cats, lizards, owls, rats, ravens, snakes, toads, and even wolves -- have come to be associated by longpaws with evil and darkness.

The wisest of the Watch Dogs, however, understand that these "children of the night" can -- if properly enticed or infiltrated -- form an effective early-warning system and pre-emptive strike force against the unnatural issue of Neverspawn and Winnowspore alike.

At first, it was not easy.  All animals fear the wrath of the great god-things of the Lingering World, and most simply did as they were bade by those who summoned them.

But a few could see beyond their own fear to the larger truth -- that the eternal war between Progenitor and Winnower had become a toxic, pointless conflagration that threatened all species, not just the longpaws.  And these few night-beasts, drawn from species long associated with dread and evil, allied with the Watch Dogs to save the world.

These brave animals were the first of the Creepy Crawlies.  And there were even a few wolves among them, bringing the tale full circle.

Today, every cell of Creepy Crawlies maintains ties to the Watch Dogs through a network of stray and feral animals who live on the outskirts of Man Places.  They operate more or less independently, trusted to investigate, identify, and neutralize occult threats on their own.  But every so often, word comes down from the highest-ranked dogs in the area -- usually an Alpha duo modeled on the Mated Pair hierarchy of ancient wolf society -- that certain missions and targets take priority, and in these instances, Creepy Crawly cells are expected to obey without question, no matter the risk.

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