The Story behind Auto Assault
Prelude 1: The Wicked Sky
Sigma Epsilon Chi rarely needed an excuse to throw a kegger, so the impending meteor shower was incidental. Yet at sunset, there they were – Edna and her best friends Buffy, Fluffy and Winker, as Edna referred to them – painting a giant bull’s-eye on the roof of the sorority house, on the shores of the scenic Gross Reservoir, in preparation for the evening's festivities.
A German astronomer, Dr. Franklin Nachtman, had been the first to observe the unusual meteor shower speeding toward Earth. Around the globe, people excitedly prepared for what promised to be a spectacular night of star gazing - except the girls at Sigma Epsilon Chi. They were stocking up on beer and pretzels for what promised to be known as the university’s biggest and best party ever.
Edna carefully adjusted the supports on her trusty telescope, one of the few gifts she’d received in her childhood that she never seemed to outgrow. The view would be superb here, not only for watching the sky, but also for watching the drunken foolishness at a fraternity house down the street.
As Edna gazed through her telescope, the meteor streaks started to spin in the sky, which Edna found a little odd. She pulled her eye away and looked up, and realized that in fact, the entire sky was spinning... "Oh, wicked sky!" Edna thought to herself, as she spilled a half-full stein of cheap beer on an unlucky freshman, collapsed onto a nearby pool chair, and passed out.
From beginning to end, the meteor shower lasted an unprecedented twenty-four hours. Brilliant streaks of color and light decorated the night sky to the delight of all who watched in amazement. Later, worldwide reports stated that the intensity was no where near as violent as predicted, considering the velocity and mass of the colliding meteors. No major cities were hit and astronomers calculated that any surviving meteorites would mostly hit large bodies of water.
Edna had estimated that she had a better chance of winning the lottery than Sigma Epsilon Chi had of a meteor hitting the bull’s-eye, but she would have been equally happy for the attention either way. Unfortunately, neither came to pass, at least before Edna came to the next morning. She drank plenty of water in a futile effort to combat her hangover, but in the end resigned to sleeping the day away on the couch, the daily college newspaper covering her face.
Ironically, she never caught the headline...
Prelude 2: Mountains of Grassy Knoll Hills
As mutations in sections of the general population grew and became more profound, the various governments and governing bodies of the Earth grew only more confused and frustrated. Frustrated because they had a hard time grasping the mutation threat; confused because segments of the public had refused to believe that governments were on top of the problem. Civil disorder and chaos was on the rise.
This was the first problem. Some governments denied everything, others refused to speak, and still others declared doomsday scenarios. The growing evidence of various forms of mutation was nearly impossible to suppress. This obvious contradiction of what the governments wanted people to think, and what was evident to the public on global information networks fostered societal distrust.
Enter the conspiracists. Feeding off the public's fear and suspicion, the conspiracists pushed varied agendas – legitimate or otherwise – as far as they could go. Anything and everything was fair game. Governments were the problem; secret conspiracies lay behind the mutations; it was the punishing “Hand of God;” the results of mysterious cosmic rays; nature’s revenge; or even the prelude to an alien invasion force.
When the leading governments denied that the plainly visible mutations were occurring, Dr. Samson Templetus, PhD, led a respected vocal charge decrying governmental leadership. Though researchers later failed to verify his credentials, Templetus pelted the world with conspiracies layered within conspiracies, one after the other, like a peeling onion with no end. He claimed governments were hiding the facts, were unable to check the spread of the mutations and were failing to protect the public. Templetus' visibility did nothing to ease the public mind.
In the face of growing civil unrest, the governments finally shifted their public stance to acknowledge the problem, but remained firm that the mutations were probably harmless. Templetus and other conspiracy heads were convinced they were right and immediately began to shout even louder than before. However, one by one, various dissident figureheads began "quieting down". Some seemed to disappear almost overnight.
Templetus, perhaps out of a newfound paranoia, saw the invisible hand of the military establishment in motion. He went into exile, continuing to broadcast and add severity to his warning messages from hiding. Not only were the mutations caused by some biological weapons program gone horribly out of control, he claimed, they were now trying to cover it up by any means necessary. Templetus was on the verge of becoming a sort of living martyr, as more and more people saw the inaction of the government as justifying his claims.
The governments and their propaganda machines were initially caught off-guard by the wily doctor, but reacted deftly. They shifted stance again, and announced a global cooperative effort to utilize the cause of the mutations – a new type of energy previously undiscovered before 2030 – as a new type of power source to benefit humanity. The close cooperation between governments would also help unify the world as one people.
In conjunction with this announcement, some new "conspiracy theorists" came out of the woodwork to support or offer their own radical ideas as to the cause of the mutations. Many of these new theories had obvious logic holes, or they varied from day to day. The world governments did very little to silence these new dissidents, and often agreed to public debates with them. As a result, Templetus' signal to noise ratio weakened considerably and fewer people found his arguments relevant.
After all, what was more believable, the conspiracists and their ever-shifting wacky theories, or the leading governments that seemed to all agree on the problem and actually do something about it?
Prelude 3: For the Greater Good
Lieutenant General Micah Rogers' worldwide tour of the newly installed TemperNet Police System (TPS) facilities was code-named OPERATION SUPERFLUOUS HAMMER. The various national governments that funded, supported, and deployed the TPS units dubbed the visits an annoying but necessary nuisance. The rest of the world's population that still cared called it the "Grand Tour of 2054."
Rogers' orders regarding the tour were quite simple: determine the capabilities of the TPS units, analyze their construction and maintenance, discover their power source, and ascertain their role as an urban police presence. As far as the military could discern, countries with high mutant populations that suffered from containment issues would receive priority TPS deployments.
Beneath a very thin public front of compliance, the powerful militaries of the world were extremely nervous about the TPS deployments. World governments had already begun to use the powerful, well-armed, and very deadly TPS robots without military approval. While internal security matters are generally not a concern for the military, the artificial intelligence (AI) system that powered this new para-military force had been developed in secret, for over two decades, in hidden government labs. This, coupled with the fact that the TPS robots were going to be deployed to contain groups of people, made the military very nervous.
Throughout the Grand Tour, it became apparent to Rogers and his staff that the TPS deployments coincided with the opening of large mutant internment camps. Governments established these camps in areas where the population center consisted of a mutant majority. The TPS robots were used to guard these - but the mutants were not the only ones being watched. All of the other population centers received TPS units as well - to keep the peace. The governments thought that an incorruptible, constant law enforcement presence would help soothe the general population. The TPS units could handle any kind of urban problem thrown their way with deadly efficiency.
Perhaps more disturbing to the military, Rogers could not uncover many details about the construction or specification of the TPS robots. Multi-spectral imaging showed nothing out of the ordinary. They were never able to see any of the TPS units use deadly force, and the military could not see any weapons visually. Rogers got close to a few robots, but their sleek exteriors betrayed nothing. Disappointed and frustrated, Rogers finished the Grand Tour with more questions than answers, and after an official inquiry into the TPS, the world governments effectively ignored the military's questions regarding the deployment. The military internally regarded SUPERFLOUS HAMMER as a failure; Rogers, however, would keep digging.
Unfortunately, the militaries would become distracted with their own problems. Numerous destructive riots over the mutant issue dominated the information networks. While the world economy faltered, the intensity of the urban unrest intensified. While the governments decided on a universal deployment of the TPS robots, an interstellar incident distracted the military: they had shot down an alien scout ship.
In 2063, things were rapidly approaching a head. Major religious figures like Reverend Nathan Roberts were openly preaching against mutants. People depleted consumables and fossil fuels at an exponential rate, and shortages were common. TPS deployments were generally successful, but the military - bolstered by Rogers' (now a Major General) single-mindedness and the research on the alien ship - was very suspicious about the TPS robots and how they worked. Rogers officially asked (demanded is a better term) the government for exact specifications on the TPS robots as a matter of national security. The government refused.
Nonplussed, Rogers conspired to get the data anyway. Through a variety of covert "black" operations involving information warfare, electronic deception, and some old-fashioned bribes, Rogers learned what he needed to know: TPS robots used technology derived from alien energy (in fact they were powered by the alien energy itself), a technology that had been in development long before they had shot down the scout ship.
Indecision racked Rogers about what to do with this startling information. Unfortunately, the decision was ultimately not his to make. By early 2064, the mutants had generated a cohesive plan to gain equal footing against the "pure" humans and their TPS "slaves" - they would raid secret military facilities with overwhelming force and steal what they could. What they found was a veritable bonanza of secret weapons programs and undisclosed R&D projects. Then the mutants found out about the scout ship, alien energy, and what made the TPS robots tick - and everything changed.
Prelude 4: As Good As New
In spite of attempts to quarantine the Mutant Contamination, the Human race was losing the battle. The Mutants who had gathered in their self-founded Citadel had managed to deflect the air attacks even before the troops got within firing range. Mechanized units were hard-pressed to penetrate the desert terrain and concluded it could take a year just to reach their intended target. Infantry regiments, stealthily inserted into the perimeter, soon lost their strength to the oppressive heat before Mutant gangs appeared from nowhere and drove them out with heavy casualties.
By the mid-twenty-first century the continued destabilization of world countries had hit the third world nations the hardest, generating increased geopolitical conflict and dissolving borders at an ever increasing rate. Roving clans of Mutants - typically identified by the internment camps where they were imprisoned - were flocking to the area, driven by their exodus from all corners of the world. The arrival of so many Mutants only contributed to the destabilization.
The Mutants then formed The Citadel, a bastion of free Mutants on the outskirts of a southern city surrounded by hundreds of square miles of rugged desert. It is unknown how many Mutants eventually formed the general population of The Citadel - no census was ever found - and undoubtedly many Mutants never got that far before the military perimeter was established around the enclave. Eventually, the city - and The Citadel with it - seceded from the government, became a republic, and was the only government on record to recognize it's mutants as equal citizens The world governments and military leaders saw the establishment of The Citadel as a threat to world security and the purity of mankind. Unfortunately, with the opening failure of the military, they were at odds over what to do about it.
Military analysts, pouring through the after-action reports and battle damage assessments, determined that Mutant powers had been thwarting their attacks at every turn. The abilities of the Mutants had been growing at an exponential rate, and regular military technology was unable to keep up. Suddenly the military was unable to cope with the Mutant threat.
However, the unified world government (now known as the World Council) had an answer. For years the EVO (Encephalon Variable Operation) project was in secret development, a new weapons system that used a human brain and central nervous system to take the place of AI in various systems, developed in the private sector by a group known as the Hestia Corporation. Instead of the TemperNet robots' unpredictable and faulty AIs, this new system could effectively be controlled by a human.
The World Council formed the 1st Biomechanical Raider Battalion for use against the Mutants. Almost immediately they had an impact, pushing back the Mutant enclave with incredible speed. More units were brought to the areas around the Citadel while the regular military units either sat and waited or withdrew entirely. Soon, The Citadel itself would be besieged by the powerful units.
Despite the military success and amidst the collapse of many world economies, the WC had already decided on a radical next step, based on a proposal submitted by Hestia Corporation's Research and Development Division. The Earth, as it stood currently, was not worth saving. The Contamination was spreading, despite all their methods to control it. The military leadership could turn on them at any time. Their creations were slowly getting out of control. It was time to start anew.
For the pure Humans that were left, the rapidly evolving Mutants, and the mobile units - who would survive their baptism of fire and serve as the man-machine predecessor to the Biomeks - that decision would change everything.
Prelude 5: Fleeing The Night
Despite the World Council's more visible efforts, the chaos in the world continued unabated. Everything they had tried seemed to make things worse. However, the seeds of the future were being sown – behind closed doors, in encrypted communications, and even underneath the feet of the very people they were supposed to be serving.
In secret convoys, unmarked aircraft, twilight departures, and other mysterious disappearances, the cream of the human race withdrew from the Earth. To be more accurate, they withdrew into the Earth. For nearly a decade the unified world government, also known as the World Council, had been constructing the Arks under the auspices of the Hestia Corporation. The Arks were a series of underground impenetrable facilities intended to sustain tens of thousands of lives for an indefinite amount of time. From these Arks, humankind would begin anew.
Quietly and efficiently, the World Council chose relocation for world leaders, executive heads of the remaining powerful corporations, leading scientists, researchers, economists, and selected military commanders (and their families). They now had the best and brightest in the world to repopulate the human race.
Meanwhile, the World Council embarked on an ambitious plan to sanitize the Earth using a lethal mixture of weapons of mass destruction. Anything and everything was under consideration: low-yield tactical nuclear devices to destroy armies, massive fusion warheads for population centers, biological diseases, nerve agents like Soman and VX, or genetically tailored Contamination plagues for widespread use, and even kinetic energy weapons dropped from low orbit. Planners established various forms of delivery, utilizing “black” military units, robotic transportation systems, natural aquifers, and other supply systems.
Simply put, the World Council had given up. They had determined that the Contamination was of extraterrestrial origin, a form of widespread ecological transformation that had proven impossible to prevent. The Contamination had radically altered not only people but also the many sources of food that the world's population had depended on. Genetic crops couldn't be tailored fast enough to battle the effects of the Contamination, and those that seemed to work were shunned because the crops were genetically altered in the first place.
As a result, millions died from starvation and unrest in the Contaminated areas; those that remained frequently became Mutants or bore Mutant children. With the rapid decline in population and the reduction of the worldwide workforce, the global economy collapsed. The World Council stood on the precipice and saw an epic disaster unfold before them.
The Mutants themselves were the other major problem. Many had formed a united front against the oppressive policies of the World Council; their strange, inhuman capabilities and the idea of an independent, uncontrollable Mutant nation-state greatly frightened the Council. An attempt to decimate the Mutants with the military had resulted in a long, protracted campaign of attrition that sapped military strength at an appalling rate. The introduction of the 1st Biomechanical Raider Project had helped matters tremendously, was not fast enough to completely stop the uprising. The World Council also knew it could no longer fully trust the military.
The world had spiraled vastly out of the World Council's control. They had decided it was high time to end the vicious circle finally and start anew. One weekend in 2075, thousands of families received the code phrase, GENESIS SOLUTION. It was not entirely unexpected. All of a sudden, those that had been the important people in the world had vanished. Righteous Fire had begun.
Prelude 6: Tempered Steel
From: Janice Adelson, Hestia Corporation Executive Representative
I made these notes during today's Re-Emergence Emergency Meeting following the revelations made earlier this week, and should be stored in its entirety for future reference. It is my belief we should act on the recommendations in the appendices immediately. BEGIN EXCERPT.
MARLIN TRESGOTHICK: It has become very apparent that GENESIS SOLUTION was a colossal failure.
BRUCE WHEELER: I don't necessarily agree.
TRESGOTHICK: Instead of wiping the slate clean and starting over from scratch, everything is worse than what we know from a hundred years ago. The surface is barely recognizable from some strange alien world. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant, General.
RICHARD SANDERS: Before this committee degenerates into a pointless historical argument, let us examine the matters at hand. From what I understand we've sent up a few drones and the Engineering Board has taken preliminary surveys with some satellites still functioning in orbit.
TRESGOTHICK: The council member is correct – five reconnaissance drones have launched; a sixth should go up in a few days after we put some extra shielding on it. Two drones have been lost due to, uh, unknown hostile acts.
WHEELER: We've also managed to hard-link with the Pegasus Orbital Defense Station. The ion cannon is in working condition…
SANDERS: That's a topic for another discussion I trust. Through our reconnaissance efforts we've been able to determine the level of Contamination in this sector, yes? [Tresgothick nods.] Well?
TRESGOTHICK: This is a holographic representation of the Ark I sector above ground and surrounding environs. [see attached Appendix E.] Contaminated areas are in green. The average amount of Contaminated area is forty-two percent, and there are thousands of hectares that are one hundred percent Contaminated.
ADELSON: That's incredible!
SANDERS: What about the creatures that live in these areas? The Mutants?
TRESGOTHICK: Well there are mutants and then there are Mutants – we can't just all lump them in one category.
SANDERS: You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that stand upright.
WHEELER: My grandfather used to say, “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.”
AARON DAVIS: If only it were that easy. We've been able to determine that these Mutants are an organized, distributed society, with all of the trappings that entails – government, economy, religion, armed forces and everything in-between. It's as if you took a gaggle of pre-Ark Mutants, left them alone to fend for themselves, and came back in a hundred years to see how they're doing.
TRESGOTHICK: Their settlements appear to be built right in the middle or alongside severely Contaminated zones. They seem to embrace it. If they know how to use Contamination for their own uses – given the structure of their settlements and their predisposition to use vehicles, it seems like they do – then they could be unusually powerful.
WHEELER: Surely our shielding technology and superior weapons should be able to handle these genetic anomalies.
DAVIS: We won't really know until we examine these Mutants directly. My scout team is putting together an observation plan now.
SANDERS: They're not the only problem, are they?
TRESGOTHICK: As you can see these blue areas show where there is indication of various indigenous population centers – probably small, isolated tribes and other dregs of Old World civilization that survived all these years. They show varying degrees of Contamination, mutation, and level of technology. We've even seen newly minted TemperNet omni-directional beacons.
WHEELER: We can handle dregs like that. I don't understand what's--
DAVIS: That's not what we're concerned about. We've discovered something else.
TRESGOTHICK: This is a high-resolution holographic survey of a valley to the east. [See attached Appendix F.] Note the unusual structure and outlying area.
ADELSON: What is that?
WHEELER: A well-fortified position. Whose? There aren't any Arks anywhere near this area, and while I'm no engineer, I know a perfectly aligned and symmetrical layout when I see one. Seems too complex for some half-baked Mutants.
TRESGOTHICK: None of the other mutated species show this level of sophistication.
SANDERS: You don't think they are—
TRESGOTHICK: No, they seem to shun Contamination.
DAVIS: One of the recon drones, before it mysteriously went offline, sent some video footage near this area. Note the heavily armored vehicles, advanced weaponry… integrated technology. We've checked the archives and we've seen this particular pattern before.
WHEELER: You mean… biomechanized raiders?
TRESGOTHICK: Evolved biomechanical raiders.
WHEELER: [There was a noticeable pause.] How many?
DAVIS: Impossible to say. Tens of thousands at least. Why, General, you seem to be at a loss for words.
SANDERS: We are in an untenable position. The Board has already established we cannot remain in the Ark for much longer. Overcrowding, food, mental health… all will suffer if we continue in the Arks. However, the surface world we all thought we would have is simply not there. Instead, these… abominations populate the world. Co-existence with these sub-creatures is clearly not an option.
ADELSON: Anything that is Contaminated cannot be trusted or reckoned with. Our genetic purity would be in question.
WHEELER: These… “bio mechs,” given their defensive posture, are probably at continuous conflict with the others. We can use that to our advantage.
SANDERS: It's a possibility. If what we believe is true, however, they may not be inclined to help us. Our forefathers, after all, left them up there to die. We have to see to ourselves first.
DAVIS: Hundreds of years is a long time to harbor a grudge. For all we know, they may even welcome our return.
TRESGOTHICK: So.. RE-EMERGENCE is a go?
SANDERS: Yes, with some major adjustments, especially to our defenses – I will note this all in the proposal to the Board. Treat all non-genetically pure Humans as enemies unless otherwise noted. Reclamation projects should begin as soon as possible. Our shields and anti-Contamination technologies are ready for deployment I'm assuming?
DAVIS: My scouts and rangers will be the ultimate test subjects but it appears the Engineering Board has come through for us.
TRESGOTHICK: At least we're doing something right.
SANDERS: I don't have to remind everyone here that this is our world. We may not be re-emerging in an empty paradise for us to mold and manipulate as we see fit, but we as representatives of the Human race are here nonetheless. We won't let these lowly Mutants, “bio mechs,” or anyone else stand in our way. Now, on to the specific recommendations for construction… END EXCERPT.
Prelude 7: 189
00.00.00 BEGIN DAY 189 Logging Cycle.
02.28.22 Disturbance reported at Enhancement Facility 5.
03.44.59 Agent SubtleKnife reports traversal of Mutant-occupied Region 541, very low activity.
04.15.00 INC activity 4.99%
05.00.00 Normal work cycles begin.
06.01.02 Visual disturbances reported by Agent Odin in center of Region 589. Agent Danzig ordered to area.
07.15.00 INC activity 7.88%
08.00.00 Numerous transmissions continue from Region 589 basin.
09.02.32 Passive analysis continues.
10.00.00 Vehicles of unknown origin and type are reported to be emerging from Region 589 basin.
11.01.21 Unknown vehicles observed in Regions 450, 455, 461, 471, 476, 482, 487, 502, 520, and 550.
12.00.00 INC reports that airlift activity at 129.72%
13.00.00 INC reports airlift activity in conflicted regions at 244.32%
14.00.00 INC activity 68.05%
15.00.00 INC activity 72.91%
16.00.00 INC activity 45.43%
17.00.00 INC activity 71.83% 17.05.09 Enemy forces attacking Moat.
18.00.00 INC activity 144.07% 18.00.00 BROADCAST ANNOUNCEMENT: The Betrayers have returned. Designated: Humans.
19.00.00 INC activity 61.91%
20.00.00 INC activity 26.56%
21.00.00 INC activity 129.34%
22.00.00 INC activity 255.38%
23.00.00 INC activity 56.16%
00.00.00 BEGIN DAY 190 Logging Cycle.
Prelude 8: Journal of the Bear
Selections from the Bear Tribe Histories – For Internal Access Only
Despite the recent success against the Army of Man - the so-called Biomeks – near Route 42, we must also admit that the people of The Changed have suffered greatly in recent times; attempts at expansion for the pilgrims to the northeast, past the swamps and bayous, have met with very limited progress. The Earth Tribe maintains that the spirit of The Changed remains strong, though we must temper this with the fact that Biomek raiders have further restricted our access to physical resources for the expansion of our people. The Archons keep the census numbers secretive to those outside the Spirit Tribe, but we believe that attrition from the Biomeks and other factors has reduced the latest generation of The Changed by at least thirty percent in many towns. We believe our struggle will be more difficult than ever before, but with the Spirit we will prevail…
…forewarning to all Bear Tribesmen about excessive earth movement in the Razor's Fissure area. We have deemed the ground in this region to be very unstable – there are many rock falls and mighty cracks in the earth have opened up seemingly without warning. While we feel all Champions should brave the dangers facing The Changed at any time, we do not recommend venturing into this area and throwing away your lives for no reason unless your superiors have given you strict orders to do so…
…Avengers who have scouted the area tell us that the glow in the fissure is not of Spiritual origin and is widely different from anything we have seen. Avengers have also reported a disguised vehicle belonging to the Army of Man in this area…
…this expedition will first head to the Voice's Crag for replenishments and reinforcements, then to Razor's Fissure. The expedition will consist of members from all four Tribes and will carry a request for the population of Voice's Crag to muster to bolster the expedition, including the Prime Archon. Unfortunately, there has not been much contact with the pilgrims of Voice's Crag for some time now and we do not know how much they will be able to contribute. The Ominous Angels of INC oddly refuse to support any airlift into the area…
…has been destroyed utterly. Very little of the town is left, and even the children have been slaughtered. Even the Biomeks of the Army of Man are not this brutal – they often introduce the captured young into their Order and their machines, as the young are most susceptible to their “reprogramming.” This is a different kind of horror – the Spirit must give us strength. The expedition has sent runners to The Citadel and other outpost towns with the news. Expedition leaders will forego the funeral rites and procession for the time being; they are convinced that the disturbances in the Fissure are responsible…
…it is nearly indescribable. Many of the young warriors had never seen a battle such as this. There have been sightings of oddly glowing vehicles, beams of energy from the sky. Some warriors have even refused to fight or have become confused! Only our link to the Spirit has preserved the veterans of battle from these new demons. And demons they are – not just the warriors of mankind, but “pure” Man. We thought they had left or died, disappeared after the Night that Was Day brought Righteous Fire to the Land. Instead they fled to the earth like rodents, waiting for the right time to return and wrest our world away from us…
…in this terrible day, many of the outpost towns have been destroyed by Man – or Humans to use the common term. Many have been lost, many will be mourned – that is what is needed for today. For tomorrow, we will have our vengeance. The Spirit has given us a great boon – the struggle of The Changed against the Biomeks of the Army of Man had slowly sapped our purpose, our resolve. We see it now. The enemies of The Chosen have fully revealed themselves to us: the hated Biomeks of the Army of Man, the hated mechanical men and our perpetual enemies, and Humankind, men of old who sought to eradicate us fully from our chosen Earth. They have already begun to fight each other, which will give us time to build and strengthen. This will be our struggle, our conflict, our absolution – the elimination of man and preservation of The Chosen and the Spirit.
We will not fail.
Prelude 9: Emergence
In the weeks following the re-emergence of the Humans, the Central Wastelands were in a state of chaos and violence. The three races immediately encountered conflict, as each vied for the same land, resources, and right of existence in an area that barely sustained the Mutants and Biomeks – not to mention the various other factions. The races probed each other for weaknesses, vulnerabilities, deficiencies – and after many senseless and needless casualties they discovered that neither of their opposing races could be destroyed easily, even with the shift in the balance of power. Alliances were out of the question; the races unequivocally hated each other beyond the point of trust or even base diplomacy.
For the Humans, the shock of the discovery of the very things their ancestors thought they eradicated wore off quickly before Emergence even occurred. Unfortunately, life in Ark I was becoming untenable and the ascension process had already begun. The Humans resolved themselves to the fact that life after ascension on the surface would be harsh, that it would be a struggle for survival and dominance. The Mutants they saw as the immediate threat – they were the entire reason why the world had changed. As for the Biomeks, they were a worrisome unknown. Intelligence reports indicated that the Biomeks they encountered would likely be hostile to the people they believed left them behind.
For the Mutants, the arrival of the Humans was a signal. At times before re-emergence, the Mutants were apathetic, distant, disorganized, and their battles against the Biomeks had cost them many followers. The arrival of the Humans had revitalized the Mutant clans, however. The age-old repressors, the spiteful ones had returned. Lust for glory and the chance to settle the age old feud were the rallying calls for the Mutants; the Clan temples were overflowing to record levels. Now the Biomeks, who had hounded them since all could remember, had a new foe to fight, and the clan leaders all saw this as a grand opportunity. The hated Biomeks would be weakened by the Humans, just enough to gain an advantage and claim the Central Wastelands as their own for good. This was the time, and they all saw it.
For the Biomeks, the return of the Humans was a strong reminder of t he past. The residual Biomek forces were not warned about the Genesis solution. Over time, this omission was understood to be proof the Humans meant to destroy their biomechanized creations right along with the Mutants. It was this history that led the Biomeks to establish the Order: an entity independent of the political and military establishment which originally commanded them. Although the emerging humans represented the best biological specimens available, and their integration would be a great addition to the Order, the Humans would never be offered membership in the Order. Their betrayal could not be forgiven – they are forever anathema. And because they cannot participate in the Pax Bionicus (in which the world will be biomechanized), they must be eliminated. As for the Mutants… whatever they could not cull for themselves would be eliminated, as always.
Of course, for the three races, the initial battles following re-emergence were unsustainable. Too many men and women were killed, too much technology and material lost. Initial cease-fires brokered by the neutral INC were broken within minutes. Almost a month passed, and the three races exhausted themselves from mutual warfare and destruction nearly unprecedented after the Night that Became Day.
INC delivered an ultimatum, a calculated bluff to counsel all sides into a three-way truce: stop the war now or lose INC services for good. The three races knew it was a bluff – INC could not afford to lose its major business partners - but they each saw it as an opportunity to rest, regroup, and plan for the struggles to come. Through INC the three races settled on a cessation of major hostilities (they would not talk to one another directly). Initial borders would be set, rules of conflict governed, a mutual monetary system established across all races. A system of fighting one another in a monitored arena was even constructed. This would not be a peace treaty – there would be no peace between the three races – but it was a way of setting a system of balance where only chaos existed previously.
On paper, it looked like a good idea. The execution, of course, is another matter entirely.
Prelude 10: Lines of Departure
International Negotiables Consulting's (INC) goal since the emergence of the Humans was to create a stable environment amongst the three major races through which it could conduct its business deals on an equal basis. Chaos, lack of communication, and general abrasiveness towards everyone were all very bad for business, and INC would have none of it if possible. Fortunately, for INC, its attempts to mediate the immediate conflict and create a more stable environment in the Central Wastelands bore some fruit.
The composition and inner workings of INC were very much a mystery to the races. Throughout the years they had always existed as a neutral entity to the Biomeks and Mutants, discussing and negotiating business first and foremost, mixing a bit of politics behind the scenes. In ancient scriptures and nearly obsolete datamines, one could find reference to INC doing the exact same thing it does presently: conduct business on a global scale, providing general goods and services that benefit its partners. The upper levels of Hestia management were very familiar with the old INC, though they were surprised to find out that INC still existed; the creation of INC nearly predated Hestia in the pre-Apocalyptic world.
Of course, there were others to deal with. All sorts of people populated the Central Wastelands: cast-off dregs from the struggles between the Biomeks and Mutants, isolated groups of survivors from the original holocaust, religious fanatics, scavengers, and other miscellaneous peoples. These groups or factions were not just exclusive to humanoids; for instance, TemperNet managed to persevere through the Apocalypse and flourish, fulfilling its pacification programming with a draconian flair. Large areas filled with Contamination have created their own treacherous ecology, brimming with strange creatures and plant life that dominate their surroundings. Other mysteries and oddities await those that are brave enough to delve into the wastelands but have as of yet remain undocumented.
Exhausted from their previous struggles, the races instead settled to a war of attrition: probing defenses, establishing raids, and developing strategies for the struggles to come. New recruits and fledgling warriors would cut their teeth in the rear areas, honing their skills and gaining valuable experience before assignment to the front lines. At the same time, the cities would grow and expand at their own pace, providing the region with an economic foundation for continuing the campaign. There would be victory, but this would not be a lightning war – instead it would be a steady rain that would create a flood. Then the thunder would come soon enough.
The INC discovery of the Ground Zero site and its vacant Outposts, located near the conjunction of the three races, stepped up the attritional war to a new level of hostility. All three races had shown a vested interest in occupying the Outposts and the Ground Zero region, as it could be easily used to dominate the surrounding regions (and hence the other races). With increased tensions, INC saw a unique opportunity to profit from the localized struggle for Ground Zero while attempting to keep the general conflict and chaos confined. As the battles raged, INC would step up AirLift operations and other minor ventures, for the appropriate increased fees.
A new battle between the three races had begun. Metamergence was at hand.
Episode 1: Metamergence
Excerpts from Jen Kierce Private Recordings, Journal Entry #6a:0:16
"I often wonder how many years have actually passed since the first Meteor Storms hit. Humanity ruled the planet once... but the Earth is a much different place now. As my father used to say 'It's a strange beast in a cosmic freak show that no one remembers getting a ticket to.' These days, the world rules humanity... or rather, what's left of us."
"Of course... some things never change. People (if the term even applies) still fight over the same needs, the same ideals as always. The necessity of survival only magnifies the conflicts. Destiny... Supremacy... Evolution... Revenge... the ideological building blocks for causing wars."
"As for myself... I don't really need a cause. After all, war isn't about who's right... it's about who's left. Humanity will always remain."
...and so it begins!
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