Ascension is a novella which details Clay Danvers life from the age of ten to twenty which includes Jeremy Danvers rise to Alpha. The novella was originally part of Kelley Armstrong's early e-serials and was later published in the anthology novel Men of the Otherworld. It is a direct sequel and continuation of the previous novella Savage.
Plot Summary Edit
It is 1972 and Clay Danvers is roughly ten years old. The North American Werewolf Pack are running together, hunting a deer in wolf form. Dominic Sorrentino, the Alpha, takes the deer down and feeds first, Malcolm Danvers fights for Pack hierarchy and the right to feed second with Jeremy Danvers diffusing the situation before Malcolm tries to fight Antonio Sorrentino. Clay realises there won't be enough of the deer left when it comes to his turn so he goes off to hunt his own meal.
Clay catches a rabbit but is forced to fight Stephen Santos for it, he outsmarts the older Werewolf and attracts the attention of Malcolm who allows Clay to pass him without surrendering the rabbit. Once everyone has Changed back Jeremy and Clay discover that Dominic has gotten rid of their old car and replaced it with a brand new black pick up truck. Jeremy tries to refuse the gift but Dominic insists he takes it, telling him he needs it for his duties as the Pack's medic and that he's impressed with Jeremy for showing 'iniative'. Jeremy tries to resist and other Pack members who follow Malcolm are displeased but Jeremy is ultimately forced to accept. This marks the time when Malcolm begins to consider that Jeremy will challenge him for Alpha.
Malcolm has been spending more time at Stonehaven with his cronies, when Jeremy returns from tending to Gregory Sorrentino in the spring Malcolm makes it clear that he believes Gregory should be euthanized. Malcolm also makes it clear that if Jeremy's 'initiative' means he's looking to 'initiate' a claim to Alpha, Malcolm won't allow it.
Malcolm's next extended stay at Stonehaven is in December, a month before Clay's given eleventh birthday. Jeremy's Kitsunegari powers are bothering him, telling him something is wrong and that he should be expecting to hear from someone who needs help. Malcolm notices how anxious Jeremy is and that he's awaiting a phone call, he's suspicious and watches Jeremy closely. When the call comes Malcolm has made sure he's within hearing distance, the call is from Peter Myers a former Pack member who needs Jeremy's help in Los Angeles. There's no one Jeremy can safely leave Clay with so he's forced to take him with him.
After leaving the Pack Peter worked as a roadie and eventually began using drugs to keep up with his work. The drugs interfered with his Changes and he accidentally killed a woman, when he was discovered by the woman's friend he also killed her and left the bodies in their apartment. Jeremy agrees to help him clear everything up if Peter returns to the Pack, he agrees and they clean the apartment and bury the bodies. Jeremy has Peter Change and go for a run and when they come back for him they Change also to join him.
While in the forest Malcolm attacks peter in wolf form, Jeremy fights his father but is no match for him physically. Eventually Malcolm gives in as killing or permanently incapacitating his son will loose him Stonehaven and his inheritance according to Edward Danvers will, as well as releasing a letter to Dominic or his successor detailing Malcolm's crimes which would result in his execution. Clay protects Peter, putting himself in front of him, Malcolm tests his resolve but Clay doesn't give in, causing Malcolm to retreat.
Malcolm has been angling for years to be the next Alpha and now that he mistakenly believes Jeremy is ingratiating himself to the Pack he's begun his own campaign. Killing humans in the way that Peter did is against Pack law and would result in his execution but being a former Pack member it would be a difficult decision for Dominic to make, Malcolm hoped to spare him the hassle by killing Peter and proving his worth and efficiency to the Pack.
Malcolm approaches them in human form, trying to get them to hand Peter over. Jeremy tells him that Dominic already knows that they're returning Peter to the Pack to negotiate his return. Malcolm can't tell if he's bluffing but tells Jeremy what he believes about his son trying to prove himself to Dominic to be named the Alpha's choice of successor. Malcolm tells them that Dominic will only string him along, the majority of the Pack won't support Jeremy so no one will expect Dominic to step down quickly, securing his place as Alpha for another ten years.
Malcolm tells Jeremy that he wants to train Clay, he believes that Clay shows promise, that he has everything Jeremy is missing. Clay agrees as the best way to learn to protect Jeremy from Malcolm and eventually take Malcolm down is to learn from him directly. Jeremy also agrees as long as everything that happened with Peter is forgotten, Malcolm agrees and allows them to leave. They all keep to the bargain and Peter returns to the Pack, Malcolm begins training Clay under Jeremy's supervision which Antonio doesn't approve of.
The novella jumps forward several times, first to 1975 when Clay is thirteen and starting high school after undergoing two IQ tests to prove he's ready for it. In 1976 Gregory Sorrentino dies peacefully in his sleep. In the spring of 1977 when Clay is fifteen he kills a trespassing elderly mutt who sneaks onto their territory in wolf form and howls a challenge at midnight when Clay is the only one home. Clay Changes, kills him and buries the body without telling anyone. A second mutt arrives in the winter, challenging Jeremy before Clay can intercede, Clay kills him also and allows Jeremy to believe he left of his own volition. A third mutt arrives but takes Jeremy's advice to leave. Three mutts in one year isn't normal and alerts Clay that something is wrong.
Clay turns sixteen in 1978 and enters puberty. He struggles with and when the school year begins in September he has a hard time at school also. The football coach wants Clay to join the team, he doesn't take Clay's no for answer and after Clay trounces his team in a skirmish and still refuses to join Clay becomes something of a social pariah. Clay is due to graduate the following June and Jeremy's gift of a car and insistence he attend a good school for college drives a wedge between as Clay insists on staying at home and attending Syracuse University.
When Jeremy fills out forms for information from Chicago University Clay hits the roof, breaking things and storming out. When he returns Jeremy has packed him a bag, informing him he'll be staying with Dominic for the weekend while Jeremy handles business in New York. Clay jumps to the conclusion that he's grown too troublesome for Jeremy and that he's being got rid of.
That weekend Nick insist's on taking Clay with him to a party where Clay gets in a fight after a boys girlfriend hits on him and he rejects herself as absolutely as he possibly can. As Clay and Nick back off from the other party goers a somewhat drunk Nick argues with and insults Clay who walks away from him, leaving the party. While walking home Clay is approached by Malcolm who drives up and talks with him, telling Clay that he's found the dead mutts he buried and that he knows why they keep coming round, he offers to tell Clay if he comes with him and as its a problem that's been weighing on him Clay agrees.
Malcolm takes Clay to a shady bar, telling the doorman Clay is his son. After dismissing a woman who knows Malcolm and offers to sleep with Clay, Malcolm congratulates Clay on having killed assuming it makes him feel powerful, Clay goes along with it to get information. Malcolm suggests Clay can figure out why the mutts are coming by himself, Clay assumes Malcolm is sending them to train him. Malcolm tells him that he isn't and helps Clay to work it out. The mutts are coming because they know Jeremy is a potential Alpha, they can't risk challenging the actual Alpha but a potential one is close enough for the glory.
Malcolm tells Clay that the mutts will stop coming if Jeremy tells Dominic he doesn't want to be Alpha and the word spreads. Clay can see that Malcolm is just trying to prey on Clay's fear for Jeremy's safety to further his own goal and decides that instead, he needs to come up with a way to keep mutts from coming to Stonehaven, as he'd discussed as a boy with Jeremy during Savage. Clay realises that he doesn't have the time to fight all the challenges he would need to fight to incur a reputation formidable enough to keep mutts away, instead he needs to do something that will spread through the mutt rumour mill quickly. This is something that takes Clay time to devise.
In the meanwhile the rough patch in Clay's life clears, Jeremy tells him he overreacted to staying with the Sorrentinos and Clay agrees to go to a better college for his post grad work but plans on attending Syracuse for his undergraduate degree. Clay devises a plan but needs very specific circumstances for it work, the mutts who come to Stonehaven don't fit and in the meantime Clay starts college in September of 1979. Clay goes out to the woods one night and finds a mutt looking to challenge him, Malcolm has been bragging about his prowess, Clay tells the mutt he'll fight him if he returns with a friend for Nick to challenge also.
Clay sets up a cabin and brings supplies when he and Nick go to meet the mutts. They ambush the mutts and gag, tie and sedate them, tying the one Nick was supposed to fight to a tree Clay takes the other into the cabin and sedates him heavily. What happens next is how Clay makes himself a legend, while keeping the mutt alive he takes- what is claimed in other works to have been a chainsaw but which is not mentioned in the novella itself- to the mutt, slicing him up and cauterising the wounds. Nick remains outside and unaware of exactly what Clay is doing.
Clay brings the other mutt in and shows him that the man is still alive before killing him with an axe. Clay tells him that from now on this is what happens to mutts who come to Stonehaven, he gives the man pictures of what he done and tells him to take his story to the other mutts, show them the polaroids and if he does Clay won't hunt him down and kill him too.
The following year Jeremy turns thirty two at the end of May, Clay gets him art supplies and learns that Jeremy sold his first two paintings, making enough to buy Clay a new mustang. Malcolm is proven right about his opinion on Dominic's plan to stay Alpha by moving Jeremy into a role of power but still keeping that power for himself. Clay turns twenty in 1982 and mutts now all avoid all Pack territory. Clay finishes his undergrad degree in three years and plans to go to Columbia starting in 1982
During that time a Pack member, Cliff Ward, dies in a mutt fight the summer before Clay goes to Columbia. The fall of the year when Clay starts at Columbia (1982) Dominic dies of a stroke without having declared a successor. The same day as the funeral, as soon as the Pack has returned to the Sorrentino estate Malcolm announces they have to choose the next Alpha right away and nominates himself, offering to challenge anyone for it. Jeremy points out that Pack law does not state a fight to the death is actually necessary and they agree upon a vote instead. Malcolm also tries to rush the vote but Jeremy knows the law and anyone is allowed two days to decide.
The Stillwell's and Ross Werner both need time to think and the vote sits five to five. Clay believes the Stillwells will vote for Jeremy and that Ross is a fence sitter who might be swayed either way. Eventually Clay goes to speak to Joey Stillwell who was planning to vote for Jeremy before his father stopped him and learns they're leaving the Pack and the country. They both want to vote for Jeremy, knowing he's the best choice, but are too afraid of retribution from Malcolm if they do. The next morning Ross Werner is found to have also run away in the night.
Things become tense as neither side are going to change their votes and they're all sticking together to keep one another safe. Clay has to tell the University he needs time off in 1983, planning to resume his studies the following year. In April of 1983 Malcolm's side launch an attack, during a run Nick is shot in wolf form. Malcolm is staying in Syracuse so Clay goes to confront him, Malcolm claims not to know what Clay is talking about but Clay can see he's lying. Stephen's shoes have Stonehaven's mud on them and he owns a rifle, Malcolm continues to pretend he had nothing to do with it and a fight ensues. Antonio arrives and pulls Clay away, telling him that he and Clay are the best fighters, the ones most likely to come for Malcolm if Nick was hurt and they've left Jeremy unguarded.
Clay realises that was likely the plan but Antonio assures him that Jeremy is safe in the car with the others. The next day Jeremy and the others try to come up with a plan, Jeremy can't risk fighting Malcolm and if anyone else takes him down they'd either end up Alpha or destabilise things further. They come up with a proposal of splitting the Pack in two which Malcolm turns down. Clay and Antonio suggest killing Wally or Raymond Santos to swing the vote as well as killing Malcolm, finding a way to kill one of the Santos' without it seeming that Jeremy has ordered their death is difficult.
A few nights later and Jeremy and Clay are alone at Stonehaven, Jeremy discovers that their meal is laced with the sedatives he uses as the Pack's medic. A woman cooks their meals for them and her son delivers them, her son didn't see her that day and found the cooler inside the front door ready to be picked up. There isn't enough sedative to kill them in the food, just enough to knock them out so they decide to turn the plan against their enemies. Wally Santos and his eldest nephews Stephen and Andrew arrive that night and believe Clay is unconscious and discuss their plan. Malcolm wants Clay left alive so Andrew is left to guard to Clay while the other two take on Jeremy, Wally promises that once Malcolm is Alpha they'll take care of Clay.
Once Andrew has let his guard down Clay jumps him and cuts off his air until he passes out, Jeremy has criss crossed the house to make tracking his scent difficult and begins stumbling around pretending to be drugged, luring Wally and Stephen in. Clay arrives in time to find Wally attacking, he stops Stephen before he can join in and takes him down easily before snapping his neck. Jeremy takes longer to subdue Wally but also kills him by snapping his neck, lamenting the fact that the Pack has got to the point where they're killing each other. Clay tells him he can change that as the vote is now three to five in Jeremy's favor but he doesn't want to become Alpha that way and suggests another plan.
The following morning they call Malcolm and the remaining Santos' to Stonehaven and tell them what has happened. Malcolm lies once again but they've found his scent at the housekeeper's home where Malcolm made her murder look like a heart attack and also tell him that Clay overheard the conversation they had before trying to kill Jeremy. Malcolm continues to lie so they tell him that Andrew, who is still alive, will have to be executed if he acted alone or alongside his family but would be spared if his order came from someone acting in the position of Alpha, such as Malcolm.
Malcolm asks Jeremy if he'll enforce Pack law and kill Andrew himself, if he's willing to go that far, Jeremy asks instead how far Malcolm is willing to go. Malcolm breaks Andrew's neck and tells him that's how far he'll go, Raymond and Daniel Santos get up and leave Malcolm alone with Clay and Jeremy. Malcolm fights but is pinned by Clay as he's misconstrued their relationship, thinking they have a bond and Clay would never kill Malcolm he doesn't properly struggle in time. Jeremy tells Clay to let Malcolm go as he has nothing left and Malcolm leaves without ever looking back.
The novella ends with details of what happened to the Pack afterwards. Ross Werner returned to the Pack a few months later but Dennis and Joey Stillwell had moved to Alaska and never returned. Jeremy institutes changes, they no longer hunt mutts and instead py closer attention to them and keep track of their movements and actions with Clay becoming Jeremy's enforcer alongside Antonio for when they need to deal with a mutt. After awhile they hear a rumour that Malcolm was killed by a mutt, before Antonio can confirm it the mutt who supposedly killed Malcolm has been killed himself. When there are no sightings of Malcolm for years they begin to treat the rumour as truth although the ghost of memory continues to haunt Stonehaven.
- Clayton Danvers
- Malcolm Danvers
- Jeremy Danvers
- Antonio Sorrentino
- Dominic Sorrentino
- Wally Santos
- Raymond Santos
- Dennis Stillwell
- Jorge Sorrentino
- Stephen Santos
- Ross Werner
- Cliff Ward
- Peter Myers
- Nicholas Sorrentino
- Joey Stillwell
- Andrew Santos
- Given the dates provided in this novella it would seem that Jeremy Danvers became Alpha in April or May of 1983. Despite this Jeremy is listed as having been Pack Alpha since 1985 in The Legacy circa Becoming 1989 printed in the graphic novel of the same name.