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Vlad (Vladislav Olafson), Champion of Gaia


2001 December 30, 8:17 PM

The guys had all gathered at the table. I don't know why they always hang around, but they do. It seems comfortable somehow. Natural. Huh?

"Jesus Ronnie, I thought you were gonna kill that guy at the last match. What happened?" asks Luke. His morbid curiosity never dulled.

I shrugged and answered, "I dunno, I suppose I'm taking the matches too personal or something. These last couple of years, everything seems more...intense. Besides, the guy fouled me."

Luke laughs as he adds, "Yeah, well if his knee ever works again, we'll be sure to keep an eye on him, OK? Killer?"

There was something uncomfortable about being called "Killer" but at the same time it felt right. It is part of what I am. What?

I slap Luke's head, "Shut up, or I'll make you work out with me next week."

"Screw that. That would kill my ass. Friggin' psycho boy. You should get on one of those info...uh, informationals, or whatever the hell they call them. You can call it the Psycho Hick Athlete program." Luke adopts a very bad British accent, "Yes Penelope, with only eight short hours a day, you too can be a big crazy hick like Ronnie!." Luke switches to a shrill falsetto, "Oh wow, Nigel, do tell me more, Ronnie is so big and muscle-y and handsome and.."

I slap him on the head again. "Aw shut up. You're just pissed cause I drank you under the table...again."

"Speaking of drinkin', you fellas wanna go to that Rave thing they got going on near Houston?" Teddy was always looking for new and creative ways to make an ass out of himself in his quest to be as cool as his idea of big city folks.

"Hell yeah, I've had my fill of cow-tipping and shitty beer. Bring it on." Luke just wants a new thrill. That boy is going to end up a friggin' junkie if he doesn't slow down.

"I dunno, I ain't got nothing else going on. Might as well." That's Jack, as uncertain as ever.

"Count me in, I needs to get me a piece. Only five months left of high school and then I have to get a damn job. I need to sow some uh my WILD oats before I get tied to a plow, if ya know what I mean." Lenny says with a wink. Good old Lenny, as reliably randy as ever.

I know they won't go without me and they desperately want to go, so with a smile I say, "Sure, let's see what these so-phis-ti-ca-ted city folk do for fun." They respond with hoots and laughter. Ahh, it should fun.

2001 December 31, 2:23 P.M.

"No you will not go." The mixed stink of last night's drinking binge and this morning's beers vomited forth with his words.

I kept walking out the door. "Dipping your wick don't make you a father Joe. Being a father is not a part-time hobby Joe. You need to put in more than a few hours a week to get the job done. Maybe you could take some time out of your busy schedule of ripping people off so you can buy whores and booze."

"How dare you speak to your father like that!"

How dare he call himself MY father! It was finally too much. I had tolerated his crap for far too long. I spun on my heel. He slammed into me, so accustomed to the usual trailer tirade that I allowed him to play out. He steadied himself and backed up a step.

"I have had enough of your crap. You've talked down to me and mom all my life and now it's time to pay the piper you piece a shit." Before I finished the word, I had hit him. I could feel his nose crush flat under my fist and there were a few other cracks, probably teeth or maybe some other bones. He flew back into the trailer, his body ripping through the screen door and falling to the ground. Rage surged into me.

"I'm gonna tear your fucking arms off, you son of a bitch!" What the hell was happening? It's like I was only along for the ride and some other part of my brain had slipped into the driver's seat. Joe just lay there like a deer in the headlights and that just seemed to egg me on.

"Sweetie no!" Suddenly everything stopped. I had never seen such fear in my mother's eyes before. He is a worm, beneath my contempt. Where the hell did that come from?

"Screw it, I'm outta here."

2001 December 31, 2:28 AM

"Hey kid, wake up! You all right?" It's a cop. No wait, a paramedic. It's night time. The stink of drunk people mixes with the smell of blood and smoke. Tobacco-stained teeth explain his breath, and his gray thinning hair explain the weakness in his grip.

"Uh, yeah man. What the hell? Where am I?" My side burns like fire. There is a huge bandage over it.

"Happy New Year kid. Looks like this party got way outta hand."

"Oh, Christ, is someone dead?"

"What?" The paramedic looks at me funny.

A cop leans over. "Now why do you ask that son?"

"Well, I gotta big hole in me and the place stinks of blood."

"Stinks of blood? You must have a pretty good nose there son. Yeah, there's plenty of blood all right. Looks like a fuckin' mulcher got loose in here." The cop says with a grimace. He looks intensely at your side, his brow furrows, and he asks, "Hey son, is that your knife?"

"Uh, maybe." I never was good at lying. Yeah, that's my knife, and yeah, it's bloody. What the hell did I do?

2002, January 16, 3:00 PM

The courtroom is not what I had imagined. It's crowded, like a classroom, and the furniture smells of fiberboard and veneer. I feel like I'm getting justice "to go" at a fast food joint.

"Please rise for sentencing." Announces the bailiff. A chunky little excuse for an enforcer.

The judge looks sincerely sad and tired as he speaks, "Mr. Chomski. I can't begin to tell you how this case saddens me. Three weeks ago, my daughters were tittering on about how they hoped you might invite them to the prom. You've led our high school wrestling team to a state championship and I am told that you are one of the shining pupils at the local karate school. You were the poster child for the all-American boy. And now this. The only survivor of a massacre. All of your friends dead. Your knife found at the scene of the crime covered in blood."

The judge shakes his head and sighs. "You are unable or unwilling to testify. The doctors tell me it's trauma and you really can't remember. The Forensics experts claim that only a few of the wounds could have been made by your knife. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt cause I can't bring myself to believe the alternatives. However, the prosecution has made a convincing case that you must have killed or made an aggravated assault against at least one of the people in that bar, directly or indirectly. The jury has handed down a verdict of Guilty on two counts of manslaughter."

"Luckily for you son, you are not quite eighteen years of age, so the legal system gives me some leeway with you, but only so much. I sincerely hope that your lawyer's appeal succeeds son. I also sincerely hope you find yourself a better lawyer."

This last comment causes most people in the room to look at your professed advocate with derision. Cheap suit, greasy combover. Right to an attorney, my ass.

The judge sighs heavily, "In the case of Ronald Chomski vs. Texas, I sentence the defendant to one year in prison, to be carried out immediately. I'm sorry son."

The gavel slams down creating a more pathetic and hollow sound than I had hoped for such a momentous occasion. It sounds like a door closing, but feels like a door opening.

2002, January 27, 7:12 PM

The guard says nothing as he opens the door to the small dark cell and waits.

"This is bullshit! Why am I going to solitary? I didn't even touch the guy."

"Get in." He answers. His tone is firm but comforting. He adds, "Please just get in. It's just better this way. Trust me."

I have no reason to trust him, but I do. So I scowl and walk in.

The door closes behind me. Only thing is, the fella is in the room too.

"I am Ellis."

"Good for you. What they hell are you doing in here with me?"

"Teaching you a lesson."

Crack! A bright flash of pain erupts across my face and I taste blood.

"What the hell, I'll kick your ass!"

"Try boy, you'll fail."

Cocky sonnuva...there it is again, that burning rage I felt when I knocked down Joe. Oh man, I want to tear this Ellis guy to pieces!

"Are you just gonna stand there, you stupid hick?"

I grunt and heave a punch at him. He dodges to the side and cracks the club down on my head.

The rage builds further. I'm so pissed I can barely think. Hold on, stay focused, take him down.

I sweep his leg and he falls down to the floor, but he just lays there and kicks up into my crotch. Oww!

I'm gonna kill this...ahh! What the...pain! Heat! Ahhh!

"Hey boy, wake up." It is Ellis.

"I had the weirdest dream."

"It was no dream boy. I helped you to become Crinos and then lose the Wolf so you can stay calm for a few days. You are Garou, and there is much to tell you."

2002, March 30, 4:00 PM

Darkness. Cold. Water dripping. Concrete. Legs numb. Shift. Focus. Let go. Better. Breathe.

Water dripping. Breathe.

Cold. Breathe.




I hear footsteps. Ellis? Someone is at the door. The jingle of keys pierces the silence like metal raindrops. A heavy metal bolt slides back with a vain shriek of defiance. The door opens and sunlight spills in, with its attendant warmth.

"You 'bout ready to come out Ronnie?" It was Ellis. His voice was firm but gentle, a calming acoustic blanket. The man had a gift for calming people down.

"Y--" I tried to speak, but after three days my voice was still asleep. Coughing was painful. Right; when was the last time I drank water? I tried again, "You'd know better than I, old lady Luna doesn't shine her pretty face in here, does she?"

"No she doesn't, but that's for the best. We know how skittish she makes you."

"Yep, that she does." I stand up slowly, fighting stiffness.

"My, my Ronnie, you're a little ripe."

"Yeah well, the closest thing I've had to a shower in here was sweating while exercising."

"Crap Ronnie, don't you ever take a break?"

"When the world allows it, I will." That was a weird thing to say. I think I spent too much time meditating.

"Ease up there Signor Tragic."

"Are you going to let me out of this box, or is this just a social call?"

"Yeah, right". Ellis steps back. He's not that impressive to look at. Average height, lean, kinda light on the muscle from the other black fellas I know; oh wait, he's from Africa or something. Maybe they grow up skinny over there. I could probably take him if I had to. Luckily, he can hold his own against me when I'm not thinking clearly.

"You know Ellis, my conveniently being sent to solitary once every month is probably going to seem suspicious after a while."

"You're the one that decided to stay here."

"We will not speak of that again. I committed crimes and I will serve my time. My decision is final." Whoa crap, did I say that? Sounds like I was quoting some ruler guy from one of those King Arthur flicks. Ellis is looking at me weird again. What's up with that stupid smile of his? Why does he get such a kick out of it when I talk weird like that?

"Yes, m'lord." Ellis says with an exaggerated bow, stepping back and ushering me out of the cell.

"Shut the hell up Ellis, you know that crap weirds me out. I'm still dealing with all of that Garou crap you told me about. Give a fella a chance to think."

"Oh, forgive me. I thought that tiny little room gave you ample opportunity."

"Fuck off."

"Well, let's hope your new lawyer fights a little harder than the last for your rights. I suspect she will."



"Is she good looking?"

Ellis sighs.

2002, April 2, 3:09 PM

"What troubles you Vlad?" the concern in Ellis's voice was obvious.

"Your words about the Apocalypse. They have struck a chord in me. Since your recounting of the state of the conflict I have found it difficult at times to think about anything else. The sorrow for our lost comrades and the possibility that they may have died in vain. It is all too much for even the most noble brow. My heart weeps for Gaia and our lost Garou. Why fight on? The Wyrm spreads his disease and man laps it up like a hungry dog. The Weaver clothes man in her webs and he pulls her tight, like a perfumed whore whose moans drown out the cries of our dead. And the Wyld, dancing about to its own tune like some mad emperor fiddling as his city burns." I feel the crushing weight of the sorrow. I just want to lay down and sleep until it's all better.

"Snap out of it! What the hell is wrong with you? You, who would be a king! You must be stronger than this. We all have had to learn to deal with it and you must as well. Despair is one of the may paths to failure. Not all is lost. We may still win the day. Prophecy only tells us that we must strive that much harder. We must Rage against the Wyrm!" Ellis's eyes light with a fiery conviction that ignites something within me.

It is as if he has plucked me from the waters in which I was drowning. I take a deep breath.

"Man, what the hell. Sorry about that. All of this Garou talk is making we feel a little weird." And still, I felt the residual sorrow and knew its depths could swallow me. It was a battle I could not afford to lose.

2002, April 6, 4:12 PM

"How do you pass your time in the room Ronnie?"



"My name, it is Vladislav Olafson."

"Valley who the what the?"

"Vladislav Olafson."

"Where'd you get that from?"

"A voice."

"You hearing voices now Ron...Vlad?"

"Maybe it's one of those spirits you told me about?"

"Maybe, but I would have expected a more...I dunno... nature-like name, like Thinks-With-Dick or Smashes-Things."

"My name is Vladislav Olafson, I carry the blood of heroes and the destiny of a king." Oh crap, that is the first time that weird voice in my head bothered to use my mouth.

Ellis is a little creeped out. I've never seen him look so meek.

"All right, man, Vlad it is."



"You asked me what I do in solitary. I contemplate. About two years ago, I started having weird dreams and I started to get really intense in everything I did."

"You probably mean violent."

"Yes, violent. Martial arts had been my ticket out of my life. In the dojo, it didn't matter that I was living in a trailer in a town so small, that only a few hundred people in the world knew its name, and most of them would forget it soon enough. Sensei taught me about the oriental religions and such. I learned about meditation, Buddhism, all kinds of great stuff. But suddenly it wasn't enough."

"Too intense, as you say."

"Yeah, exactly. So I got religious in a big way. I hit pretty much every church in a hundred mile radius, looking for something to help explain things. I suppose maybe I thought that if I could make sense of it, the anger would go away."

"But it didn't."

"Naw, it just got worse. So I worked that much harder. I had always pushed myself really hard. Coach says I got a lot of spirit."

"Yeah, I'll say. You don't know the half of it."

"Whatever. Anyway, I was some kind of natural athlete. I didn't even have to try really hard to be good at sports. I enjoyed lifting weights and pushing myself to my limits. And fighting. Man, it was like breathing for me. Even now, it feels like life is what fills the gaps in time between fights."

"Spoken like a true Ahroun."

"A what? Oh right, that whole hospice thing."

Ellis chuckles, "Auspice."

"Right whatever. Anyway, if life has taught me anything, it's that doing the right thing is the only way to do it."

"So you insist on staying in this prison even though you have a higher calling?"

"Heck, Ellis. I ain't no bookworm or nothing, but I know what's right and I gotta say that right's kinda like a clean shirt. Once ya get a stain on it, it's dirty, and dirty is dirty."

Ellis smiles, "Yes, yes it is. Well, then I have good news. Your lawyer successfully appealed your case. You will be free of this place in two weeks."

"You sneaky sonnuva bitch!" I hugged Ellis hard. So much relief and so much anticipation.

"And finally, the battle will be joined and the Wyrm shall feel my fangs."

Ellis answered with quiet reverence, "Yes, brother."

A few moments pass, then I release Ellis.

He looks somber and says, "Once you leave here, we will part ways. I have others to find and others to teach."

"Wait, you said you would tell me what happened at the party."

"Yes...I did. Perhaps that was a foolish promise."


"Rogue Shadowlords had sought to steal you away to join their tribe."

"The dark ones, the usurpers."

"I prefer misguided, but yes, you will probably come to know them as usurpers. They got wind of the purity of your blood and sought to make you one of theirs. They showed up to the party in advance of the one dispatched to bring you to us. They drove him off, but before they could cull and abduct you, the Wyrm revealed itself. There were at least a dozen Leeches at the Rave and many of the others were servants or misguided cattle of the Leeches. A mighty battle ensued, perhaps one that you fought in. Flame came into play as a weapon in some way, and when the ashes settled, only corpses remained."

"How the hell did I survive?"

"I did not know then, but I think that a spirit taught this Gift to you and you just didn't realize it."

"What Gift?"

"The Gift of Mastery of Fire, a gift of Homids. Fire still hurts you, but no more so than being swatted about. Perhaps dreams of fire?"

"Hell yeah! I remember that! About a year ago, I had some really weird dreams where this big flaming fella was talking about accepting the kiss of fire, or some crazy crap like that. I woke up screaming the first time, on account of the fact that I was being burned alive in my dream. I had a similar dream a couple more nights in a row, and in the last one, I set myself on fire like that monk fella from Tibet, but I was OK. Crazy stuff."

Ellis smiles like a parent to a child, "No one has accused the spirits of being particularly sane, as we know it. So that is how I believe it happened. What supernatural beings remained were consumed by flame, but your Gift saved you."

"Well damn, this job's got some perks. Hey, give me your lighter for a second!"

December 27, 2002, 10:15 PM

An Elder calls out, "Who seeks membership in the tribe of the Silver Fangs?"

Another Elder stands and announces, "Hear the name of Vladislav Olafson. His name rings of power as does his blood. The Spirits have passed on their blessings to him, thus showing their approval. Fate has given him a potent lineage, thus showing his destiny. Gaia has helped protect him when we could not. Luna has given him a full allotment of Rage, showing her will. Falcon himself has called for his acceptance."

The first Eldar speaks again, "We accept these signs that Vladislav Olafson is a worthy candidate. Out of respect to the spirits, Gaia, Luna, and Falcon, we accept you, Vladislav Olafson, into the tribe of the Silver Fangs."

"May you take up the honorable mantle and carry it well."

Now this is where I stand quietly and look humble. Oh crap, here I go again "I accept this mantle noble Elders, and brothers. But I recognize that it is a gift and a responsibility. The path of Silver Fangs has meandered so erratically lo these many centuries. As the end times approach, we needs must stand to our duties. We must serve our Garou if we would have them serve us. We must take the fight to the Wyrm! We will fight them in their cities, we will fight them in their lairs, we will fight them in our cairns. We must not give in to despair nor must we be seduced by our arrogance. We are leaders, and a leader of man or Garou must lead from the front. For Gaia!"

A dead silence falls over the assembly. Great, now I've crapped in the soup.

A few members applaud, then more. Soon, they are standing and clapping. I suppose I did good.

"Welcome Vladislav! The tribe hungers for noble pups like yourself! Hurrah! Now, to the feast!"