In June of the year 2006, Set, with the assistance of the Black Spiral Dancers, Technomancer barabbi, quite a lot of vampires, and the Shadow Lords, magically captured the Sun and conquered the world. The first week of his reign was marked by a rampage of his subject vampires across the globe. During this extended massacre, hundreds of thousands of humans died. Thousands of Garou and other Shifters threw themselves into what they perceived as the Last Battle, and many of them perished as well. The world fell under the feudalistic dominion of Set and his
lieutenants: the Antediluvians of the Tremere, Toreador, and Ventrue clans; the leading council of the Shadow Lords; and the leaders of the most powerful Black Spiral and Nephandi groups in the world.
In return for supporting Set, Toreador received control of Europe and western Russia, as well as any art objects found elsewhere; Ventrue received control of North America, Japan, and Hong Kong; and Tremere was given most of Asia, and parts of South America. Set retained Africa, the Middle East, Australia, parts of India, and the remainder of South America for himself. Each Antediluvian parceled their trophies out to the control of lackeys, and those lackeys gave power to their lackeys, and so on.
Shortly after the initial battles died down, a number of Technocrats lashed back, realizing that in a world run by supernaturals, the Gauntlet and Paradox would soon fail. Unfortunately, they discovered that the most powerful Nephandic group dedicated to the cause of Set was the New World Order, backed up by the Syndicate and a few other Technocrats. The uncorrupted Technocrats found that their labs and normal means of attack had mostly been turned against them. The Void Engineers detonated the Umbral transport system that they had created mainly for the use of the Syndicate and NWO,and then the Machine prematurely activated and attempted to destroy the Tremere's Palace in Vienna, destroying itself in the process. With that, much of the Technocracy infrastructure crumbled, taking much of the remaining "real" world infrastructure with it.
The Technocrats also found that a group known as "The Alliance for a Future" had secretly deactivated every nuclear weapon in existence, as well as many of the more dangerous nuclear sources of power. The Alliance was unable to pin down chemical and biological weapons, and thousands of humans died when some of those were released in the Technocrats' war. Some of the biological agents remained a problem in the regions where they were released.
At the Fall Equinox Grand Moot of 2006, the remaining Garou discovered the reason that their plans and battles in the first week of Set's reign had gone so badly. The treachery of the Shadow Lords was unveiled, and the Moot dissolved into mass-murder as outraged Fangs and Get elders declared a Purge. It tore through the ranks of Garou and Kin alike, spreading nearly worldwide and destroying anyone who claimed any sort of kinship with the Lords. As the dust settled, the Wendigo, Uktena, Red Talons, and their sympathizers left in disgust for the deep wilderness. They passed judgment upon the remaining Garou, saying that they were fools and Wyrm-tainted and unredeemable.
With the two supernatural groups most able to battle the vampires taken down to minimal levels of power, the vampires settled in for a long stay. Humans in rural areas that were not directly working in the support of cities -- factory workers, farmers, etc. -- were moved into cities, where they'd be under more direct control. The severe overcrowding in some cities fostered epidemics and starvation, and many cities suffered difficulties in dealing with the by-products of plague and famine until the vampires relaxed their grips somewhat and opened up more remote suburban regions that they were formerly reluctant to try to control.
Rural humans were summarily turned into serfs of country barons, and all produce or manufactured goods became the property of the local lord or lady. The serfs generally lived quite a lot better than the urban-dwellers, since they were less likely to be considered useless cattle, and they were much closer to the source of the food and luxury items.
There were, of course, those rulers in either rural or urban country who decided that breeding programs were necessary evils to propagate the best blood and workers.
Toreador's underlings seemed to have the most immediate fun with their acquisitions. The vampire given control of England and Scotland claimed to be Edward V of the House of York (supposed died in 1583), and he summarily marched the Royal Family to the Tower of London and engaged in a campaign to eliminate all "rivals for the throne" over the next several years. Inevitably, rumors and stories arose that the "true king" was in exile and that he would return to overthrow the despot, who ruled under the name "Edward Rex V and IX."
Elsewhere in Europe, the French monarchy was restored, a new "Holy Roman Emperor" arose, and Toreador removed the "true Pope" to Avignon, at which point his fellow game-players promptly created a new Pope in Rome, another in the newly-dubbed Constantinople, and another in Vienna. The "Ghoul Popes" remained a game of much amusement for Toreador and his minions throughout the Long Night.
Humans slowly emerged as the movers and shakers of the Resistance. Shifter Kinfolk became the necessary liaisons between the humans and the supernaturals, and a group of Child of Gaia and Black Fury Kin midwifed the agreement that opened Harmony Haven, a valley in Tennessee possessed of a very powerful caern, to the Resistance as a whole, forming the first organizational nexus for rebellion.
Life for the next decade settled into a comfortable rut for the vampires. The Resistance made guerilla raids for supplies, but made no major strikes, and minor uprisings were put down brutally. Many humans were willing to work for the vampires in order to keep themselves and their loved ones free of the threat of death, and often worked very hard in order to become ghouls, not knowing that doing so sealed their obedience to their undead lords and removed any option of free will they might have had.
In fact, the most problems came from the vampires' allies: the Black Spiral Dancers were so numerous and random that their ranks were unwieldy and completely unmanageable. With a bit of outside manipulation, the tribe splintered. The Howling Picts formed from the former White Howler core of the BSDs, utterly corrupt, insane, and chaotic. The Seekers and Bane Riders formed out of the numerous remnants of the BSDs: the Seekers quested for greater and more powerful
servants of the Wyrm, and the Bane Riders "tamed" banes and other corrupted spirits. The remains of the former Shadow Lords became the Urge Lords and were elevated by Set as the leaders of the corrupt Garou and other Shifters, and their tsar, Jan Ivanov Fomor-Tooth, became Set's right hand among the living.
Set's left hand, the New World Order, soon had their hands full: the so-called "vampire AIDS" plague appeared first in 2015, and escalated to a full-scale epidemic within three months, spreading from humans to younger vampires to their elders and beginning to threaten the Great Elders. Quarantines were put in place. Infected vampires were staked and examined by Progenitor barabbi, infected humans were vivisected. The NWO's control measures, after the sampling for the Progenitors was completed, comprised the wholesale slaughter and incineration of infected human "cattle" herds. The younger the vampire, the less curable he or she was, and Set decreed that any vampires below the 8th generation found to be infected would join the human herds in the furnaces. After two years of these methods, VAIDS faded away, taking AIDS and many other incurable diseases with it. The VAIDS measures remained in force for the rest of Set's reign, and there were occasional outbreaks that were the stuff of horror to local vampires and humans alike.
While the enemies of Gaia were numerous to bursting, the allies of Gaia were dwindling. The urban Garou finally decided to cast off the old ways and old names and unite completely: Gnawers and Walkers abandoned their tribal identities and became "Silicon Blaze." SB included any Garou who had a preference for the urban life, not just the remnants of those two tribes, and very often other urban Shifters joined the tribe as well. They worked together to share and develop Gifts and Rites that the tribe could use to great advantage. Their example paid off, as technologically oriented Mages decided it might be a good time to work together as well, and the Virtual Adepts and Children of Ether joined forces with the remains of the Technocracy again, creating the Guild of Technology. The Guild and Silicon Blaze became close associates in the battle to preserve technology and use it against the vampires.
Possibly because of this unprecedented alliance, the next decade saw the "Technoia Purge" among the vampires, where the elders became concerned about the preoccupation of their underlings with technology. Perhaps they saw it as working with the enemy, or just as a weak point that the enemy could exploit, but those young vampires who would not forsake their 20th century luxury technology found themselves on the wrong end of a stake or an elder's fangs more often than not. At this point, many of the younger generations realize abruptly that Gehenna is at hand, and the young are losing.
The first of the great misfortunes for vampires came when the water system in the southwest of North America broke down: dams broken, river courses altered, and the end result of little or no water coming to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and the surrounding cities. Thousands of humans perished before the lords of the region begin an orderly evacuation to lusher climates within their dominions, and the cities became ghost towns. Similar breakdowns of irrigation systems began to plague all of North America and then, all over the world. Drought and famine resulted, further slimming vampiric control in many regions and causing another wave of deaths in the cities. No one is sure if the Ferals were behind it, if the Tech Alliance perpetrated it, or if some of the vampires' less-controllable allies were helping chaos along, and no one ever claimed responsibility.
Forty years after the urban Garou led the way in realizing that the old ways of the Garou were finished, Deirdre Flute's-Song-Slays of the Fianna and Gareth Falcon's-Eye of the Silver Fangs each received a vision. Drawn together, they contacted the waning totems of their own tribes, and then consulted with the elders of the Get. Shortly thereafter, the pair began gathering members of the three tribes for another Grand Moot. At the Winter Solstice of 2061, the Fianna, Get, and Fangs officially dissolved their tribes and all tribal boundaries, releasing their totems. Deirdre and Gareth then led a new Rite which created a new tribe, Gaia's Sentinels, and summoned the new tribe's totem, Eagle.
Realizing that the Gaia's Sentinels were rather exclusive, and that the remaining Garou needed a unifying influence, Medea WitchBearer of the Black Furies and Jane Walks-the-Edge of the Children of Gaia spent the next four years gathering together as many Garou as they could find, under the guidance of a mysterious Garou known only as Granny Screech Owl. At the resulting gathering, the Garou formed into the formidible tribe of the Spiral Dancers, reclaiming the name of the ancient ritual from the corruption of the Wyrm and dedicating themselves to the defeat of the vampires and the rebuilding of the world. To this end, they sent word out to the mystics of Silicon Blaze and Gaia's Sentinels: they were starting to quest for a new celestine to help in the war.
Not long after, Horus -- Set's greatest enemy throughout the ages -- reappeared and began to make war on the vampires in the Balkan countries. As wars in the Balkans often do, the war spread out, lighting fires under Resistance cells and uniting them all. What was left or reconstructed of world infrastructure shattered utterly, leaving all regions isolated and stranded. Unfortunately, while modern humans and supers were unfamiliar with conducting wars this way, the vampires remembered the days of horse and chariot and managed just fine.
The saving graces of the Resistance were the Corax and the Silent Striders. While the Moon Bridges were somewhat passable, they were also extremely dangerous. These two groups, and the emergent Nuwisha, served as the most reliable messengers and errand-runners available. Only the networks formed with the help of these Shifters saved the majority of the Resistance when Set himself took a hand in the fighting and destroyed Horus and his lieutenants. Only after the Resistance had retreated to nurse its wounds did anyone have the luxury time to wonder where the Striders had come from; they had been believed extinct since the Shadow Purge.
Regions under vampiric control slowly transformed into city-states, paying homage to Set and a series of lords beneath him, but primarily self-centered and self-sufficient. The Great Civil War completed this transformation by weeding out the weaker monarchs, consolidating the power of the tyrants, and trimming the human populations down to a really manageable level. The serenity of this arrangement for the order- and status-quo-loving vampires was marred only by the presence of their less reliable mortal allies: the corrupted Shifters and the wilder Nephandi. The breaking point of this tension was the emergence of a powerful, Incarna-level bane which took control of the entire population of Cincinnati. Set again took a personal hand by deploying his pride and joy: the Eyes of Set, two monstrous, airborne weapon ships with enough firepower to obliterate the city and surrounding countryside. After he reduced Cincinnati to a smoking crater, Set and his lieutenants turned their gazes upon the Wyrm-folk.
The purge that followed spanned five years of "witch-hunts." The humans breathed a sigh of relief as attention was taken off them, and the Resistance took the opportunity to help Silicon Blaze and the Guild set up their own infrastructure to maintain contact between cities and create spy networks on the surface. As the vampires wiped out, or at least decimated, local Hives and Pits, the Spiral Dancers and Sentinels were brought in to help finish them off and clean things out, broadening Silicon Blaze's control of the subterranean networks once dominated by the Wyrm's minions. Supply networks between Resistance cells were set up, and the Guild worked with the non-tech Mages to create Horizon Realms as arms depots and safe houses. By the time the vampires and Wyrm-minions established an uneasy truce, the Resistance was growing and prospering slowly, under their feet.
The following century was a time of stability of rule for the vampires, growth for the Resistance, and blossoming for Gaia. Strangely enough, the vampires' rule was good for the planet as a whole: it destroyed heavy industry and greedy corporations, cut down the population burden, and gave Gaia a chance to recover from the damage. The air became cleaner, the water freshened, and magic burst the fetters of the Technocracy.
This last was the most important key to the end of the Long Night: at Midsummer's Eve of 2182, an unprecedented gathering of mystics of the Changing Breeds, Mages, and humans succeeded in summoning a new celestine: the second moon, Lilith, coalesced in the sky. Granny Screech Owl was the only casualty of this taxing Rite, and the world changed that night.
The vampires attempted to destroy Lilith with the Eyes of Set and a fleet of warships, terrified by this new sight in the skies. The attack was repelled by the Void Engineers, other Spirit Mages, and an army of spirits. At a crucial turning point, Grandfather Thunder, disgraced totem of the Shadow Lords, sacrificed himself and destroyed one of the Eyes. The vampires' fleet retreated in disarray.
The blame for this failure landed squarely in the lap of the Ventrue Antediluvian. Stories say that he was persona non grata among his peers because of political problems and his own differences with Set's policies.
Beginning soon thereafter, peaking after a year, and slowing down over the following several years, natural disasters spread across the world. Volcanoes and earthquakes, hurricanes and blizzards, battered the already bedraggled empire. Urban centers were particularly damaged in what the Shifters and Mages began to call "Gaia's Awakening," destroying some elder vampires and weakening the control of others. The subterranean network suffered somewhat in the turmoil, but the creators were prepared for most of it and it survived.
The Resistance took advantage of these conditions to start taking back control of one city-state at a time. A progressive wave of rebellion started to spread over Asia and the Americas, diverting Set's attention to faraway realms. Particularly problematic was North America, and the Ventrue Antediluvian could not divert Set's wrath this time. Some stories say that he voluntarily bared his neck, others that Set himself held him down, but three of Ventrue's underlings -- loyal to Set -- were allowed to attempt Diablerie. One succeeded, but immediately fell into Torpor. No stories claim to tell who this powerful entity was, nor whether he survived the doom that walked into Set's citadel.
No one is sure which heroes were responsible for the End and Return -- at least ten different groups are credited with penetrating Tremere's stronghold, and no witnesses lived through the destruction. Stories claim that before the End, an army of Garou appeared out of a swirling nexus and began to lay waste to the army of vampires and Wyrm-minions who guarded the palace. Rumors suggest that this was as much a diversion as the rest of the Resistance activities were, and meanwhile, someone was striking at the heart of the stronghold. The facts remain: certain heroes were never heard from again; the Nuwisha vanished without a trace; and the Sun returned, blasting Vienna and the surrounding countryside utterly in both the Realm and Umbra before returning to his rightful place in the sky.
Uncounted vampires perished in the Sun's Return: every place where the Sun's rays touched at high noon in Vienna lost most of their vampires. The most powerful vampire left active was the Toreador Antediluvian, who was hidden from the Sun by his palace in Paris. The Americas had a more difficult time freeing themselves, since the vampires there had warning of the Sun's arrival, and vampires are still more numerous in the Americas than in the eastern hemisphere.
A few months after the Return, a powerful group of vampires, Mages, and Shifters cornered Toreador in his haven at Notre Dame after a long, arduous chase. The prey mounted to the highest tower of the cathedral and turned to face his pursuers, of whom only a fraction remained, and most of those being powerful vampires who had helped the Resistance all along. He said, "You shall not Diablerize me." The leader of his enemies, an English Brujah, said, "We'll see about that, you foppish bastard." Toreador turned a sour look upon the leader, flipped his lace cuffs in irritation, muttered, "Everyone is a critic," and turned, executing a perfect swan dive off the highest tower of Notre Dame into the first beams of sunrise, thus retaining his power to the end and passing it on to no one. So ended the Long Night.
Less than a year after the Return, the Guild and Silicon Blaze announced to the other supernaturals what many of them had feared: the Sun's Rage was melting the icecaps and blasting the climate of the world. Powerful storms and unpredictable weather became the rule rather than the exception, deserts sprawled out, and coastlines began to recede. For a decade, this was progressive and devastating, but the humans and others who lived on Gaia had been toughened and honed by two centuries of horror and survival, and they adapted. At last, the water line and climate stabilized. Most of the original coastlines were obliterated and new beaches and watersheds had appeared. Deserts had spread, most increasing their area by at least half again. Powerful storms were still more frequent than before Gaia's Awakening and the Return, but people had adapted to them and were capable of coping with their aftermaths.
The Silent Striders gathered as many allies as they might and scoured their homeland of all Wyrm-taint. In this Wyrm-free center, they gathered all Shifters (even the Ferals), Mages, Kinfolk, and humans that they could in what became known as the Assembly of Lilith. They revealed that the Long Night was a source of purification for all the forces of good, and held up as evidence the fact that no metis had been born among any of the Changing Breeds since the arrival of Lilith. The Changers had suspected this before, but the taboo against Charaching and metis was too great to accuse those who had borne perfectly normal children.
The Striders revealed the depth of their visions of changes wrought by Lilith's coming, including the new Auspices, the cleansing of the Changing Breeds, the rise in power of the Kinfolk, and, more than anything else, the potential for a new age of magic. With all present in agreement, the Striders led them in a great Rite to create a new caern there, from which all Moon Bridges would branch out. The Moon Bridges reached out and touched the caerns of the world, and all were filled with power from both Luna and Lilith. Some in the Rite were spoken to by the celestines of the moons, others spoke with more personal totems, but none left the Assembly unchanged.
Most dramatic was the understanding that the Long Night had been instrumental in altering matters on a cosmological level. The Wyrm had been destroyed and replaced with a sane, balanced entity. Shreds of the old Wyrm, which became known as the Corrupted Wyrm, remained in pockets around the world, and part of rebuilding would be to hunt these down and cleanse them. The Weaver had been freed from her web and was more sane; neurotic, but sane and self-aware. The Wyld had grown back into balance with the other two, and Gaia, while not unscarred, was mostly healed.