Primalborn Issue #2: A breath of heir

This is a continuation of this.

Preface

"For nearly two hundred and fifty thousand years the mighty Chironaxi Imperium of Man has stood against those who would extinguish the light of hope, purity, and justice in the universe and beyond. Our domains stretch across untold billions of galaxies, and more souls than there are stars lay safe under our wing. We were given a sacred duty when we were uplifted by the Masari, to uphold their legacy and those of the true dragons, to forever guard against the darkness that lies beyond."

"But now that Darkness is more powerful than ever. Chaos, Antedeluvians, Xenos Horriblis, Fiends, VIllains, the spawn of the Far Realm and more forever seek to cast all things into a pit of despair from which there can be no rising. Threats once scarcely imaginable have made themselves known, evils of magnitudes once thought impossible are now common place, doom and woe lie around every corner. It would be easy to lay down and succumb to our fate, to lie down and accept death meekly."

"But we shall not succumb. We shall not accept the darkness. We shall meet their evil with fire and fury. We shall show them that the light the forerunners once lit shall not be extinguished. With our allies, brothers, and sisters we shall stand as one and banish the darkness. With gun and sword in hand we shall purify the filth that infests the stars and beyond. It matters not where evil hides, we shall find it, it matters not how fast it runs, for we shall catch it, it matters not how hard it fights, for we shall slay it."

"We are the angels of death, the sword of our Kaetzar and Lord High Protector, the fury of the High King and Supremor, the wrath of the innocent, the retribution of the defenseless, the terror of the dreaded, the scourging flame that burns away all evil. We are the eternal crusaders for that which is righteous, the infinite foe of that which is unholy. We are the Astartes, and we shall no know fear, for we are fear incarnate!" -The Pledge of the Astartes, recited by all new recruits.

April 13th 2003, Maple Valley, Washington

The Apocalypse had come early. In their attempt to avert fate, the Black Hand had razed the small town of Maple Valley to root out two of the primalborn, John and Jade.

But the strands of destiny were not so easily twisted to one's own ends, not even by one as powerful as the Lord of Doom. Already, the gears were turning inexorably towards a conclusion that even the famous clairvoyance of the archlich would fail to see.

Deep Space

Even the tiniest action made ripples in the weave of space, waves that went out in all directions until they disappated into the gulfs of infinity. In most cases, these ripples would go unnoticed and unheeded, being so small and insignificant. But this was decidedly not most cases.

The presence of Ishmael sent ripples that were for lack of a better term...diseased. When paired with the unique energies associated with one of the primalborn, it sent a shrieking cacaphony that spread across the stars, a scream louder than anything imaginable, but audible to only a select few.

This tsunami across the weave of space, cracked and malformed by it's proximity to a being of such antedeluvian power went out until it reached the senses of another ancient being of cosmic might. A flash of green bounded outwards across the emptiness of the void before rebounding upon itself and then vanishing.

High Earth Orbit

Once again space rippled, contracted, and then burst outwards, but not in response to the actions of an primal evil, but to the arrival of the staunchest foes of the black hand. Having already been warned of their arrival by their secret detection installations on their ancient homeworld, the imposing shapes of an entire fleet of cruisers, battleships, escorts, and strike craft emerged from the depths of metaspace.

And on board the bronze colored flagship of this imposing fleet; the mighty Battle barge "Vengeance of the innocent", a fifty kilometer long vessel bristling with guns and encased in armor over a kilometer thick and enwrapped in countless shields, stood the commander of this powerful armada. High King Varitus Moloc Thule, Saint of Fire and Alpharii of the Bronze minotaurs Order, Supremor of the Astartes and liege lord of the Imperium, second only to the enthroned Kaetzar himself. Clad in his emblazened suit of Teutonic armor

Clasping his legendary spear and shield in his gauntleted hands, the living lord of the Astartes was here for one reason and one reason only; reports that one of the Black hand's Council of Nine had deployed personally, not onto any world, but unto the ancient home of the Astartes, where the order had remained until those examples of mankind not uplifted by the Masari could develop their own civilizations but a scant six thousand years ago.

And if these readings were correct, the one deployed was Ishmael. A frown exerted itself on the face of Varitus, Ishmael had the greatest potential for power of all the members of the Black Hand's Council of Nine. And it was divined that the shrieking harlequin of blood and skulls would find himself on the oldest world of the Astartes to halt the demise of the antithesis. This, the Imperium could not allow.

"Status report?" He asked calmly, resting the butt of his spear on the floor of the bridge.

"The settlement known as "Maple Valley" is in flames my king. Signals matching those of the Shadow Cult are being broadcasted from the world." An ensign reported without a hint of fear in her voice.

"Noted, begin the counter assault and prepare to administer amnesiacs judiciously. Admiral Orsvus is in command of the space operation, hunt down and destroy their vessel, Ishmael is mine." He acknowledged sternly, swiftly turning away to prepare to head down with his liberation force onto the planet before a feminine voice stopped him.

"Ours, you mean." The voice said.

"Ah, Maria, I shall be sure to save some of the wretched cultists for you to slay." Varitus responded easily as a winged figure in femine full body baroque power armor stepped up to him, her Artificer Templar armor seeming almost comically undersized next to Moloc's Teutonic suit.

"We'll see about that. Shall we wager on whether my angels of fury or your bronze minotaurs shall slay more of the foe?" She coyly proposed.

"Perhaps when the situation is less dire." The High king rebuffed, interposing a hand between the two of them as he marched into the teleportation chamber, wishing to remain with his personal bodyguard squadron. Entering the spartan, cubical room with the rest of his Teutonic armored squad immediately focused his senses as he prepared for war..

"Greetings, Saint, Alpharii and King." The Squad sergeant nodded as an alarm went off in the room.

"Honor and glory to you Sergeant Lysandros." Varitus responded with a nod as the squad disappeared in a blast of light and the thunderclap of displaced air, delving into realms beyond human imagination to emerge into the maelstrom of battle.

Back on Earth

"And now the two of you shall come with me." Ishmael snarled, approaching closer towards the two before the entire city seemed to explode with thunder and lightning, with streaks of fire hurtling down from the heavens and the roar of engines drowning out what little other noise there was to be drowned out.

"Warriors of the Imperium, FIGHT FOR HONOR!" A signal shouted across all frequencies all over the city while the heavens above glowed with the fires of space combat. Now those who had hunted the meek and innocent were in turn the hunted and hounded.

Twisting around, Ishmael could see the warriors of the Astartes, the Imperial Army, and other hated organizations of the Imperium appearing all around in frenzy of violence, chopping through his surprised warriors with fury and precision.

Snarling with fury, he attempted to turn back and grab the children and make off with them, only to see that one had disappeared in a crackle of green energy as she was snatched away from his sight by forces unknown, leaving only the boy within his grasp.

If the cueball eyed monstrosity had the lids to do it, he most certainly would have blinked at the sight, which was just enough time for a displacer to lock onto John and shunt him out of the line of sight of Ishmael, whose witchsight was being jammed by the potent powers of the Imperium.

Now, for what few survivors remained in the burning husk of this small city, a war from far beyond the scope of the third rock from the sun was now raging right on it's surface.

Varitus teleported exactly where he had intended, in the center of the city where he anticipated the Black Hand would have placed it's strongest forces to enact overwatch upon the rest of the city.

Confused acolytes swung around to face him, but before they could raise their laser rifles, a flurry of rocket propelled hypervelocity explosive armor piercing rounds shattered their chests into a spray of gore while the Alpharii simply washed them with holy flames that burned them down to their very souls with a simple glance.

"Advance by fire brothers and sisters. Leave no cultist unpunished for his sins." The mighty Saint ordered, consciously having to limit his speed due to the strange mixture of energies caused by the presence of so powerful a member of the black hand.

"Either the hand is lax in it's bindings this day, or they expected resistance." One of the fine veterans noted as he casually grabbed the head of an awakened cyborg and crushed it between the almighty fingers of his power fist before raking a storm of gatling gun rounds from his assault cannons across a mob of crazed fanatics.

"Indeed brother, we will need to restrain ourselves lest we tear this fragile world asunder until we reach that foul clown." Varitus growled as he neatly skewered an Epsilon Brute through the chest with his spear, firing off it's energy capacitors to let loose a furious beam of power that cored right through an entire line of tanks while their rounds pittered off his divine steel armor and shielding.

"My lord, we have incoming on multiple vectors!" One of the female members of the squad noted, letting loose a brace of armor piercing missiles to shred an avatar warmech while overhead, many of the airborne members of the angels of fury order streaked overhead in their red and silver finery, Lady Maria hacking an undead dragon in half with one clean slice of her sword before leaping onto one of the Hand's mighty saucers and ripping the half kilometer sized adamantium vessel in half with her bare hands.

After giving Maria an approving nod, Varitus arranged his squadron into a defensive formation, tuning out the background fights as Army soldiers and Astartes warriors battled to cleanse the infection within this city and save as many lives as possible.

"KILL THE ASTARTES! KILL THE KNIGHTS!" One of the hand's officers, an unpleasantly mutated creature that could best be described as the results of grafting the least appealing parts of deep sea life onto a man and encasing it in onyx and ruby power armor.

"Stand firm!" The order rang out as the cultists charged out from their hiding places to slay the hated warriors of the Imperium.

"Fire at will!" The Alpharii ordered as he let loose fire, lightning, light, ash, and energy from his body and weaponry, his stormshield crackling with thunder before adding to this cacaphony with a sonic drumbeat of annihilation and the crackling might of electricity.

A hundred millitants rushed forward, only for the briefest brushing from a heavy flamer to utterly incinerate them, the radiant heat washing outwards to slaughter many more of the religion maddened cultists.

Stormbolter rounds shrieked by at escape velocities, each round tearing through the armor of the warriors of the black hand with ease and rupturing them like oversized balloons before finally losing enough energy to merely embed themselves in some of their targets and then explode with predictably messy and fiery results.

Gatling rounds and missile fire racked an even greater score of deaths, ripping apart machinery and flesh alike as the seemingly invincible warriors of the Astartes stood firm, only using cover to make the enemy uncertain of a shot rather than for it's protective value.

Those who threw themselves at Varitus Moloc found themselves in a universe of hurt. Those caught by his purging fire, light, ash, and lightning were seared to their very souls, purified as their bodies and spirits were ignited and incinerated into physical and ethereal ashes, those who met his spear's ruby lance of death were reduced to nothing but quark gluon plasma, their very atoms torn apart by the obscene temperatures that radiated outwards and fried all they touched. And those who met his shield's drumbeat could be best described as being shaken to death as an infrasonic pulse shook their bodies into exploding showers of gore and chips of machinery.

But even through this wave of death, some made it through, protected by the direst magics, powers, and sciences of the black hand as they sought to close in, firing their weapons that pattered not only off the armor of the Paladins, but off of powerful shielding.

But they fared no better in close quarters. The powerful bodies of the Astartes were further enhanced by their massive suits of power armor and close combat weapons. Advancing forward to meet the charging foes, close combat brethern moved forward to meet the attackers head on and allow the shooters to continue unmolested.

Blows hit physical energy enhanced shields or deflector fields or absurdly tough armor, while the Astartes responded in kind with power weapons of all sorts. Swords, Axes, Mauls, Spears, Bayonets, Hammers, Fists, and Claws were all deployed judiciously, with a few even wielding the mighty armor piercing chain fists which had spectacularly bloody results against mere infantry.

The warriors of the black hand had a fury for their vile antedeluvians and a fervor for the ideals espoused by their dark lords behind them, but the Astartes were too well trained, too well armed, and too well armored to notice their efforts.

Bodies exploded from the impacts of Mauls, Hammers, and Fists, while others were carved into ruin by Axes, Claws, and Swords or were made to spray out the contents of their body from the swings of chain fists and others skewered neatly upon Spears, Lances, and Bayonets.

The body parts of the black hand's warriors flew out in all directions, ending their madness in an awe inspiring shower of blood and guts, their demented prayers being met with litanies of purity and hatred for the Black Hand.

Even their giant mechs were no match for the Astartes, with the elite veterans and personal guard of the Alpharii ripping into the massive monsters and machines of the Black Hand with little more difficulty than their cannon fodder servants, their armor buckling against blunt force, pierced by stabbing implements, and carved open against slashing weapons.

Varitus himself displayed that the leaf like tip of his spear was every bit as viable for slashing as it was for stabbing, while the clubbed butt was as lethal as any thunderhammer, cracking apart and blasting apart bodies and machines alike while his shield was demonstrated to be as lethal a weapon in close quarters as anything else in his arsenal.

Moving with speed and grace that belied his colossal armor, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs left only death where he attacked, stomping the armies arrayed against him into fine paste before at long last, there was none left to slay.

"Move to the southeast brothers and sisters, Ishmael will be there...I can smell his taint." Moloc noted as he redirected himself, not even turning around to swat aside a charging Acolyte with his shield, shattering the body of the maddened cultist in a single blow.

But before they could move forward, the remains of yet another giant aircraft collapsed onto the ground, it's burning wreckage soon being made to bear the weight of the airborne astartes of the Angels of Fury.

"Took you long enough." Maria teased.

"Battle is it's own reward Maria." Varitus reminded her as he focused his keen, helmet aided sight.

"The monster is there." He noted, clutching onto his spear and raising his shield into battle positions.

But as soon as he prepared, a young boy ran past him. "Clear the civi-..." He started before pausing, reading the scans on the raven haired child.

"By the Kaetzar." The High King muttered as the boy clung to the leg of the nearest of the bronze plated warriors, holding on for dear life.

"Secure the boy, the beast must not be allowed to take him." Maria ordered as she muttered a quick prayer before the world exploded in a fit of violence.

"If you so treasure this child, then you can die with him! JOIN HIM IN THE GRAVE!" A feroicious, self echoing snarl went out as many of the remaining structures in the city were leveled by an inferno of reality damaging power. The structures very existence being attacked until they cracked and shattered, being rendered into nothing but dust.

There stood Ishmael the Death jester, the green skull masque capped with the spiked prongs of a jester's outfit, clawed hands clasping onto a lethal scythe that seemed to cut through the very universe itself, green bone like structures forming around black and blood red armor. A visage of such hateful evil that lesser beings would tear their eyes out rather than see it, a being of such frightful power that one could say the entire world shook before his power.

Materializing from the shadows came a wing of Deathstalkers and Shadow Cultists, seeking to isolate the two Alpharii, but the demonic clown was upon them before they could rectify this situation. Raising his shield and uttering a word of prayer to thule and a chant in truespeech, Varitus brought what he thought was just himself, Maria, and Ishmael into a nexus of coexistent dimensions to avoid collateral damage, but before he could prepare himself for battle, he could sense another presence.

The boy! He cursed himself, noticing the child clinging onto his leg as he focused and shunted the boy out of the way with a word of true speech, teleporting him into a building in this stacked array of mirrors and shadows.

With a quick gesture, Moloc brought his shield forward and interposed it between an incoming scythe strike by Ishmael, absorbing the cataclysmic blow as it rippled outwards with enough force to rip the ground asunder, tearing into the planet and sending out a shockwave that damaged and destroyed other nearby shadow earths, the darkness of the Nexus being dispelled by the frenzied shockwave from the Deathjester's blow.

Jabbing forward with his spear, he watched as Ishmael twisted away from his weapon, intercepting a divine steel blade from Maria with his free set of claws, growling with anger while Moloc swung his spear upward to slash at a joint in Ishmael's armored shroud.

Finding purchase as the divine steel implement stuck into Ishmael, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs shoved his lance deeper into the arm pit of Ishmael and let loose it's radiant energies, letting loose a litany of hatred as Ishmael pushed through what should have been searing pain to reach for Varitus' face.

Clawing at his helmet as he started to coat his claws with deadly anti-reality, Varitus could feel the effects of the power gouging into the divine steel, pressing inwards as even the indestructible material started to give way to the very antithesis of being.

But before Ishmael could pierce into flesh, Moloc threw forth a mighty shield bash to slam the hateful fiend backwards and into a backstab from Maria followed by her own shield bash, setting up the deathjester for a potent double whammy that split the already damaged world apart into tiny fragments, the ring like shockwave exploding outwards.

"Has the Long War taught you whelps nothing? I feel no pain!" Ishmael scowled as he brought his scythe around in a sweep, the rippling blast from it smashing aside his foes and slicing entire shadow earths apart before he whipped out his golden gun and let loose a hail storm of energy bolts from the mysterious energy source dubbed only as the Green Sun.

Moving faster than light itself, Maria swung into a rapid series of aeriel maneuvers to elude Ishmael's fury, while the heavier armored High King made for his charge to drive his spear into Ishmael at speeds that would have made Einstein weep.

Each projectile from Ishmael hit like an exploding sun, concentrated into an area the size of a large bullet, each hit decimated entire worlds and tossed the two Alpharii and Saints back like match sticks in the wind, each time the golden gun barked it heralded naught but ruin.

But gritting his teeth, Moloc arrested his momentum, speaking to reality itself in the true tongue to allow him to simply ignore the laws described by Neuton, blocking each shot with his mighty shield as he advanced relentlessly like some sort of juggernaut, building up speed before ramming into the Deathjester and driving forth his spear into one of the billiard ball like eyes of Caliborn, eliciting a shriek not of pain, but of pure rage.

Firing his own energy into Ishmael's eye, he set fire to the Antedeluvian's very being, prompting it to roar like a man possessed before hurling his foe away with a psionic thrust of unimaginable force and conjuring forth the legendary wand of chortles.

Splitting open his jaw to impossible lengths before outright separating it from the top of his head, a multicoloured lance of anti-reality began to issue forth from Ishmael's very skull. The groaning roar of time and space being split asunder went out throughout the nexus before letting loose an unimaginable lance of utter destruction.

But before the ray could be fired forth properly, Maria sent forth the power of raw holiness and order burning into Ishmael's form in a massive holy smite that radiated the very energies of goodness outwards, striking into Ishmael's infinite being and distracting him long enough for her to grab it by the head and force it's beam upwards.

The ray went outwards, spearing through dozens of shadow earths and annihilating them utterly, their very realities being attacked and destroyed by the cosmic fury of the lance of annihilation, the ray going out and out and out, destroying all it touched as it went onwards onto infinity; cracking and damaging the very fabric of this nexus of reality, tearing open holes in the fabric of all things larger than solar systems as Maria fought to drive her sword into Caliborn's other eye.

Snarling and struggling, Caliborn gripped the woman by her armor's wing even as she wrested an arm free of her head lock and jammed the holy sword right into the right eye of Caliborn, sending damning waves of goodness into the Antedeluvian and prompting it to let loose a snarl of anger before snapping it's head around and winging her with the beam, launching her in a spiral outwards as the energy died down and the Nexus around them shifted, groaned and roared until finally ejecting them for fear of it's continued existence.

Shuffling around and grasping it's eye sockets, Ishmael willed them back into existence before searching for John once again. "Where are you? He demanded, snapping his head back and forth.

"Ah..." He sneered as he caught sight of the three year old, rushing towards the boy who as was expected of one his age, was weeping and bawling, overwhelmed by the madness surrounding him.

Waddling in the direction of his parents, the boy seemed such easy prey as he called out for anyone, someone to take him away from the madness.

"Mommy? Daddy? Jade? Where are you? I'm scared...I don't wanna be here!" He bawled in his search as Ishmael came upon him, brandishing his scythe once more.

"You will have no further need of them in due time, worm." Caliborn growled, reaching out for the boy.

"No...stop! Go away!" John whined as he stumbled and fell, trying to crawl away from the monster approaching him, the beast's eyes shifting impossibly between every possible combination of billiard balls.

"Come here, infantile insect." Ishmael roared with all the hate it's voice could muster, but before it's claws could lay a hand on the boy, his eyes glowed an intense light blue.

"I...said...GO...AWAY!" He retorted with all the anger a toddler throwing a tantrum could possess, the voice echoing upon itself with the slightest hint of a sound not made by his own throat within it.

Immediately the very winds of the world began to twist and funnel themselves into vast tendrils. The very elemental powers of reality twisted to accomodate John's will as the winds spun themselves at speeds usually only found in particle colliders, sheathing themselves in vast blue tentacles as they formed into destructive patterns.

Light, heat, and electricity danced around in the winds as they sped up to velocities that rendered them down into quark-gluon plasma, being far too hot to remain as atoms.

The winds whipped across maple valley and skyrocketed outwards into space, unleashing a power that had not been seen on the earth throughout it's history.

There was a more technical term for it, but for the boy, the only way he could describe it was the windy thing.

Ishmael looked around in stark confusion, his soldiers faring no better in trying to make sense of the power being unleashed around them. But when most of Ishmael's ships were whipped in half by spiraling tendrils of wind that stretched out into the heavens, their superheated forms radiating outwards as they disintegrated, they all too late began to connect the dots.

Twisters began to form across the city, formed of these relativistically churning tendrils, these knots of blue, but other shapes began to form, monsters, people, and other constructs conjured from a three year old's imagination, formed of winds not just of earthly, but stellar origins.

Those who knew what was going on began to flee, but it was too late, the winds speared through them, tore them to ribbons, or ripped them limb from limb and atom by atom as they stormed across the land. Even the mightiest of the black hand's war machines could not stand before the sheer power being unleashed upon them, the blue knots ripping through their bodies like so much paper mache.

"What is the meaning of this!?" Ishmael barked as one of his death stalkers was ripped apart by a wind T.Rex

"Leave, me, ALONE!" John shouted as he directed as much force as he could into Ishmael, the winds pushing forth and them bounding into Ishmael far faster than even light itself. The powers of the boy were focused by all the hate the little boy could bring to bear, and even the Deathjester could not stand before such fury.

In a single whiplash, Ishmael was sent flying out of sight, and indeed out of the galaxy as a whole, being launched faster than light could ever hope to manage as the winds sought out anyone and everyone bearing the symbols of the black hand they could find, eradicating each and every member of the strike force in a cleansing wave of air.

When the last member of the strike force was slaughtered, John stumbled briefly, feeling himself return to normal as the Astartes and Imperial troopers gathered around him, along with the imposing shapes of Varitus and Maria.

"Child, in light of your power, we..." Varitus began before the entirety of the procession dropped to their knees and bowed their heads before the boy.

"Kneel to you as one of our saviors." Maria concluded, with this last bit of oddness finally proving to be too much and prompting John to drop and faint.

"Secure him, and return him to the ship." Varitus ordered, noting the appearance of thunder clouds over the fallen form of one of the native defenders of the city, one of the gods that had sprung up since the Imperium had formally left earth.

With a crash of lightning, materialized the forms of the Celtic gods, lead by the mighty Taranis, lord of lightning.

"Dagda preserve us!" He exclaimed as he beheld Rhiannon's fallen form before noticing some of the armored warriors of the Astartes picking up John and preparing to leave with him.

"Stop, where do you think you are taking him!" One of the Gods angrily demanded, prompting the Imperial soldiers to raise their weapons against the Tuatha.

To be continued.

OOC: I think I'll keep on with John and Jade's origin stories for another two to four issues before starting with Dave and Rose's.

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Primalborn Issue #2: A breath of heir

This is a continuation of this.

Preface

"For nearly two hundred and fifty thousand years the mighty Chironaxi Imperium of Man has stood against those who would extinguish the light of hope, purity, and justice in the universe and beyond. Our domains stretch across untold billions of galaxies, and more souls than there are stars lay safe under our wing. We were given a sacred duty when we were uplifted by the Masari, to uphold their legacy and those of the true dragons, to forever guard against the darkness that lies beyond."

"But now that Darkness is more powerful than ever. Chaos, Antedeluvians, Xenos Horriblis, Fiends, VIllains, the spawn of the Far Realm and more forever seek to cast all things into a pit of despair from which there can be no rising. Threats once scarcely imaginable have made themselves known, evils of magnitudes once thought impossible are now common place, doom and woe lie around every corner. It would be easy to lay down and succumb to our fate, to lie down and accept death meekly."

"But we shall not succumb. We shall not accept the darkness. We shall meet their evil with fire and fury. We shall show them that the light the forerunners once lit shall not be extinguished. With our allies, brothers, and sisters we shall stand as one and banish the darkness. With gun and sword in hand we shall purify the filth that infests the stars and beyond. It matters not where evil hides, we shall find it, it matters not how fast it runs, for we shall catch it, it matters not how hard it fights, for we shall slay it."

"We are the angels of death, the sword of our Kaetzar and Lord High Protector, the fury of the High King and Supremor, the wrath of the innocent, the retribution of the defenseless, the terror of the dreaded, the scourging flame that burns away all evil. We are the eternal crusaders for that which is righteous, the infinite foe of that which is unholy. We are the Astartes, and we shall no know fear, for we are fear incarnate!" -The Pledge of the Astartes, recited by all new recruits.

April 13th 2003, Maple Valley, Washington

The Apocalypse had come early. In their attempt to avert fate, the Black Hand had razed the small town of Maple Valley to root out two of the primalborn, John and Jade.

But the strands of destiny were not so easily twisted to one's own ends, not even by one as powerful as the Lord of Doom. Already, the gears were turning inexorably towards a conclusion that even the famous clairvoyance of the archlich would fail to see.

Deep Space

Even the tiniest action made ripples in the weave of space, waves that went out in all directions until they disappated into the gulfs of infinity. In most cases, these ripples would go unnoticed and unheeded, being so small and insignificant. But this was decidedly not most cases.

The presence of Ishmael sent ripples that were for lack of a better term...diseased. When paired with the unique energies associated with one of the primalborn, it sent a shrieking cacaphony that spread across the stars, a scream louder than anything imaginable, but audible to only a select few.

This tsunami across the weave of space, cracked and malformed by it's proximity to a being of such antedeluvian power went out until it reached the senses of another ancient being of cosmic might. A flash of green bounded outwards across the emptiness of the void before rebounding upon itself and then vanishing.

High Earth Orbit

Once again space rippled, contracted, and then burst outwards, but not in response to the actions of an primal evil, but to the arrival of the staunchest foes of the black hand. Having already been warned of their arrival by their secret detection installations on their ancient homeworld, the imposing shapes of an entire fleet of cruisers, battleships, escorts, and strike craft emerged from the depths of metaspace.

And on board the bronze colored flagship of this imposing fleet; the mighty Battle barge "Vengeance of the innocent", a fifty kilometer long vessel bristling with guns and encased in armor over a kilometer thick and enwrapped in countless shields, stood the commander of this powerful armada. High King Varitus Moloc Thule, Saint of Fire and Alpharii of the Bronze minotaurs Order, Supremor of the Astartes and liege lord of the Imperium, second only to the enthroned Kaetzar himself. Clad in his emblazened suit of Teutonic armor

Clasping his legendary spear and shield in his gauntleted hands, the living lord of the Astartes was here for one reason and one reason only; reports that one of the Black hand's Council of Nine had deployed personally, not onto any world, but unto the ancient home of the Astartes, where the order had remained until those examples of mankind not uplifted by the Masari could develop their own civilizations but a scant six thousand years ago.

And if these readings were correct, the one deployed was Ishmael. A frown exerted itself on the face of Varitus, Ishmael had the greatest potential for power of all the members of the Black Hand's Council of Nine. And it was divined that the shrieking harlequin of blood and skulls would find himself on the oldest world of the Astartes to halt the demise of the antithesis. This, the Imperium could not allow.

"Status report?" He asked calmly, resting the butt of his spear on the floor of the bridge.

"The settlement known as "Maple Valley" is in flames my king. Signals matching those of the Shadow Cult are being broadcasted from the world." An ensign reported without a hint of fear in her voice.

"Noted, begin the counter assault and prepare to administer amnesiacs judiciously. Admiral Orsvus is in command of the space operation, hunt down and destroy their vessel, Ishmael is mine." He acknowledged sternly, swiftly turning away to prepare to head down with his liberation force onto the planet before a feminine voice stopped him.

"Ours, you mean." The voice said.

"Ah, Maria, I shall be sure to save some of the wretched cultists for you to slay." Varitus responded easily as a winged figure in femine full body baroque power armor stepped up to him, her Artificer Templar armor seeming almost comically undersized next to Moloc's Teutonic suit.

"We'll see about that. Shall we wager on whether my angels of fury or your bronze minotaurs shall slay more of the foe?" She coyly proposed.

"Perhaps when the situation is less dire." The High king rebuffed, interposing a hand between the two of them as he marched into the teleportation chamber, wishing to remain with his personal bodyguard squadron. Entering the spartan, cubical room with the rest of his Teutonic armored squad immediately focused his senses as he prepared for war..

"Greetings, Saint, Alpharii and King." The Squad sergeant nodded as an alarm went off in the room.

"Honor and glory to you Sergeant Lysandros." Varitus responded with a nod as the squad disappeared in a blast of light and the thunderclap of displaced air, delving into realms beyond human imagination to emerge into the maelstrom of battle.

Back on Earth

"And now the two of you shall come with me." Ishmael snarled, approaching closer towards the two before the entire city seemed to explode with thunder and lightning, with streaks of fire hurtling down from the heavens and the roar of engines drowning out what little other noise there was to be drowned out.

"Warriors of the Imperium, FIGHT FOR HONOR!" A signal shouted across all frequencies all over the city while the heavens above glowed with the fires of space combat. Now those who had hunted the meek and innocent were in turn the hunted and hounded.

Twisting around, Ishmael could see the warriors of the Astartes, the Imperial Army, and other hated organizations of the Imperium appearing all around in frenzy of violence, chopping through his surprised warriors with fury and precision.

Snarling with fury, he attempted to turn back and grab the children and make off with them, only to see that one had disappeared in a crackle of green energy as she was snatched away from his sight by forces unknown, leaving only the boy within his grasp.

If the cueball eyed monstrosity had the lids to do it, he most certainly would have blinked at the sight, which was just enough time for a displacer to lock onto John and shunt him out of the line of sight of Ishmael, whose witchsight was being jammed by the potent powers of the Imperium.

Now, for what few survivors remained in the burning husk of this small city, a war from far beyond the scope of the third rock from the sun was now raging right on it's surface.

Varitus teleported exactly where he had intended, in the center of the city where he anticipated the Black Hand would have placed it's strongest forces to enact overwatch upon the rest of the city.

Confused acolytes swung around to face him, but before they could raise their laser rifles, a flurry of rocket propelled hypervelocity explosive armor piercing rounds shattered their chests into a spray of gore while the Alpharii simply washed them with holy flames that burned them down to their very souls with a simple glance.

"Advance by fire brothers and sisters. Leave no cultist unpunished for his sins." The mighty Saint ordered, consciously having to limit his speed due to the strange mixture of energies caused by the presence of so powerful a member of the black hand.

"Either the hand is lax in it's bindings this day, or they expected resistance." One of the fine veterans noted as he casually grabbed the head of an awakened cyborg and crushed it between the almighty fingers of his power fist before raking a storm of gatling gun rounds from his assault cannons across a mob of crazed fanatics.

"Indeed brother, we will need to restrain ourselves lest we tear this fragile world asunder until we reach that foul clown." Varitus growled as he neatly skewered an Epsilon Brute through the chest with his spear, firing off it's energy capacitors to let loose a furious beam of power that cored right through an entire line of tanks while their rounds pittered off his divine steel armor and shielding.

"My lord, we have incoming on multiple vectors!" One of the female members of the squad noted, letting loose a brace of armor piercing missiles to shred an avatar warmech while overhead, many of the airborne members of the angels of fury order streaked overhead in their red and silver finery, Lady Maria hacking an undead dragon in half with one clean slice of her sword before leaping onto one of the Hand's mighty saucers and ripping the half kilometer sized adamantium vessel in half with her bare hands.

After giving Maria an approving nod, Varitus arranged his squadron into a defensive formation, tuning out the background fights as Army soldiers and Astartes warriors battled to cleanse the infection within this city and save as many lives as possible.

"KILL THE ASTARTES! KILL THE KNIGHTS!" One of the hand's officers, an unpleasantly mutated creature that could best be described as the results of grafting the least appealing parts of deep sea life onto a man and encasing it in onyx and ruby power armor.

"Stand firm!" The order rang out as the cultists charged out from their hiding places to slay the hated warriors of the Imperium.

"Fire at will!" The Alpharii ordered as he let loose fire, lightning, light, ash, and energy from his body and weaponry, his stormshield crackling with thunder before adding to this cacaphony with a sonic drumbeat of annihilation and the crackling might of electricity.

A hundred millitants rushed forward, only for the briefest brushing from a heavy flamer to utterly incinerate them, the radiant heat washing outwards to slaughter many more of the religion maddened cultists.

Stormbolter rounds shrieked by at escape velocities, each round tearing through the armor of the warriors of the black hand with ease and rupturing them like oversized balloons before finally losing enough energy to merely embed themselves in some of their targets and then explode with predictably messy and fiery results.

Gatling rounds and missile fire racked an even greater score of deaths, ripping apart machinery and flesh alike as the seemingly invincible warriors of the Astartes stood firm, only using cover to make the enemy uncertain of a shot rather than for it's protective value.

Those who threw themselves at Varitus Moloc found themselves in a universe of hurt. Those caught by his purging fire, light, ash, and lightning were seared to their very souls, purified as their bodies and spirits were ignited and incinerated into physical and ethereal ashes, those who met his spear's ruby lance of death were reduced to nothing but quark gluon plasma, their very atoms torn apart by the obscene temperatures that radiated outwards and fried all they touched. And those who met his shield's drumbeat could be best described as being shaken to death as an infrasonic pulse shook their bodies into exploding showers of gore and chips of machinery.

But even through this wave of death, some made it through, protected by the direst magics, powers, and sciences of the black hand as they sought to close in, firing their weapons that pattered not only off the armor of the Paladins, but off of powerful shielding.

But they fared no better in close quarters. The powerful bodies of the Astartes were further enhanced by their massive suits of power armor and close combat weapons. Advancing forward to meet the charging foes, close combat brethern moved forward to meet the attackers head on and allow the shooters to continue unmolested.

Blows hit physical energy enhanced shields or deflector fields or absurdly tough armor, while the Astartes responded in kind with power weapons of all sorts. Swords, Axes, Mauls, Spears, Bayonets, Hammers, Fists, and Claws were all deployed judiciously, with a few even wielding the mighty armor piercing chain fists which had spectacularly bloody results against mere infantry.

The warriors of the black hand had a fury for their vile antedeluvians and a fervor for the ideals espoused by their dark lords behind them, but the Astartes were too well trained, too well armed, and too well armored to notice their efforts.

Bodies exploded from the impacts of Mauls, Hammers, and Fists, while others were carved into ruin by Axes, Claws, and Swords or were made to spray out the contents of their body from the swings of chain fists and others skewered neatly upon Spears, Lances, and Bayonets.

The body parts of the black hand's warriors flew out in all directions, ending their madness in an awe inspiring shower of blood and guts, their demented prayers being met with litanies of purity and hatred for the Black Hand.

Even their giant mechs were no match for the Astartes, with the elite veterans and personal guard of the Alpharii ripping into the massive monsters and machines of the Black Hand with little more difficulty than their cannon fodder servants, their armor buckling against blunt force, pierced by stabbing implements, and carved open against slashing weapons.

Varitus himself displayed that the leaf like tip of his spear was every bit as viable for slashing as it was for stabbing, while the clubbed butt was as lethal as any thunderhammer, cracking apart and blasting apart bodies and machines alike while his shield was demonstrated to be as lethal a weapon in close quarters as anything else in his arsenal.

Moving with speed and grace that belied his colossal armor, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs left only death where he attacked, stomping the armies arrayed against him into fine paste before at long last, there was none left to slay.

"Move to the southeast brothers and sisters, Ishmael will be there...I can smell his taint." Moloc noted as he redirected himself, not even turning around to swat aside a charging Acolyte with his shield, shattering the body of the maddened cultist in a single blow.

But before they could move forward, the remains of yet another giant aircraft collapsed onto the ground, it's burning wreckage soon being made to bear the weight of the airborne astartes of the Angels of Fury.

"Took you long enough." Maria teased.

"Battle is it's own reward Maria." Varitus reminded her as he focused his keen, helmet aided sight.

"The monster is there." He noted, clutching onto his spear and raising his shield into battle positions.

But as soon as he prepared, a young boy ran past him. "Clear the civi-..." He started before pausing, reading the scans on the raven haired child.

"By the Kaetzar." The High King muttered as the boy clung to the leg of the nearest of the bronze plated warriors, holding on for dear life.

"Secure the boy, the beast must not be allowed to take him." Maria ordered as she muttered a quick prayer before the world exploded in a fit of violence.

"If you so treasure this child, then you can die with him! JOIN HIM IN THE GRAVE!" A feroicious, self echoing snarl went out as many of the remaining structures in the city were leveled by an inferno of reality damaging power. The structures very existence being attacked until they cracked and shattered, being rendered into nothing but dust.

There stood Ishmael the Death jester, the green skull masque capped with the spiked prongs of a jester's outfit, clawed hands clasping onto a lethal scythe that seemed to cut through the very universe itself, green bone like structures forming around black and blood red armor. A visage of such hateful evil that lesser beings would tear their eyes out rather than see it, a being of such frightful power that one could say the entire world shook before his power.

Materializing from the shadows came a wing of Deathstalkers and Shadow Cultists, seeking to isolate the two Alpharii, but the demonic clown was upon them before they could rectify this situation. Raising his shield and uttering a word of prayer to thule and a chant in truespeech, Varitus brought what he thought was just himself, Maria, and Ishmael into a nexus of coexistent dimensions to avoid collateral damage, but before he could prepare himself for battle, he could sense another presence.

The boy! He cursed himself, noticing the child clinging onto his leg as he focused and shunted the boy out of the way with a word of true speech, teleporting him into a building in this stacked array of mirrors and shadows.

With a quick gesture, Moloc brought his shield forward and interposed it between an incoming scythe strike by Ishmael, absorbing the cataclysmic blow as it rippled outwards with enough force to rip the ground asunder, tearing into the planet and sending out a shockwave that damaged and destroyed other nearby shadow earths, the darkness of the Nexus being dispelled by the frenzied shockwave from the Deathjester's blow.

Jabbing forward with his spear, he watched as Ishmael twisted away from his weapon, intercepting a divine steel blade from Maria with his free set of claws, growling with anger while Moloc swung his spear upward to slash at a joint in Ishmael's armored shroud.

Finding purchase as the divine steel implement stuck into Ishmael, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs shoved his lance deeper into the arm pit of Ishmael and let loose it's radiant energies, letting loose a litany of hatred as Ishmael pushed through what should have been searing pain to reach for Varitus' face.

Clawing at his helmet as he started to coat his claws with deadly anti-reality, Varitus could feel the effects of the power gouging into the divine steel, pressing inwards as even the indestructible material started to give way to the very antithesis of being.

But before Ishmael could pierce into flesh, Moloc threw forth a mighty shield bash to slam the hateful fiend backwards and into a backstab from Maria followed by her own shield bash, setting up the deathjester for a potent double whammy that split the already damaged world apart into tiny fragments, the ring like shockwave exploding outwards.

"Has the Long War taught you whelps nothing? I feel no pain!" Ishmael scowled as he brought his scythe around in a sweep, the rippling blast from it smashing aside his foes and slicing entire shadow earths apart before he whipped out his golden gun and let loose a hail storm of energy bolts from the mysterious energy source dubbed only as the Green Sun.

Moving faster than light itself, Maria swung into a rapid series of aeriel maneuvers to elude Ishmael's fury, while the heavier armored High King made for his charge to drive his spear into Ishmael at speeds that would have made Einstein weep.

Each projectile from Ishmael hit like an exploding sun, concentrated into an area the size of a large bullet, each hit decimated entire worlds and tossed the two Alpharii and Saints back like match sticks in the wind, each time the golden gun barked it heralded naught but ruin.

But gritting his teeth, Moloc arrested his momentum, speaking to reality itself in the true tongue to allow him to simply ignore the laws described by Neuton, blocking each shot with his mighty shield as he advanced relentlessly like some sort of juggernaut, building up speed before ramming into the Deathjester and driving forth his spear into one of the billiard ball like eyes of Caliborn, eliciting a shriek not of pain, but of pure rage.

Firing his own energy into Ishmael's eye, he set fire to the Antedeluvian's very being, prompting it to roar like a man possessed before hurling his foe away with a psionic thrust of unimaginable force and conjuring forth the legendary wand of chortles.

Splitting open his jaw to impossible lengths before outright separating it from the top of his head, a multicoloured lance of anti-reality began to issue forth from Ishmael's very skull. The groaning roar of time and space being split asunder went out throughout the nexus before letting loose an unimaginable lance of utter destruction.

But before the ray could be fired forth properly, Maria sent forth the power of raw holiness and order burning into Ishmael's form in a massive holy smite that radiated the very energies of goodness outwards, striking into Ishmael's infinite being and distracting him long enough for her to grab it by the head and force it's beam upwards.

The ray went outwards, spearing through dozens of shadow earths and annihilating them utterly, their very realities being attacked and destroyed by the cosmic fury of the lance of annihilation, the ray going out and out and out, destroying all it touched as it went onwards onto infinity; cracking and damaging the very fabric of this nexus of reality, tearing open holes in the fabric of all things larger than solar systems as Maria fought to drive her sword into Caliborn's other eye.

Snarling and struggling, Caliborn gripped the woman by her armor's wing even as she wrested an arm free of her head lock and jammed the holy sword right into the right eye of Caliborn, sending damning waves of goodness into the Antedeluvian and prompting it to let loose a snarl of anger before snapping it's head around and winging her with the beam, launching her in a spiral outwards as the energy died down and the Nexus around them shifted, groaned and roared until finally ejecting them for fear of it's continued existence.

Shuffling around and grasping it's eye sockets, Ishmael willed them back into existence before searching for John once again. "Where are you? He demanded, snapping his head back and forth.

"Ah..." He sneered as he caught sight of the three year old, rushing towards the boy who as was expected of one his age, was weeping and bawling, overwhelmed by the madness surrounding him.

Waddling in the direction of his parents, the boy seemed such easy prey as he called out for anyone, someone to take him away from the madness.

"Mommy? Daddy? Jade? Where are you? I'm scared...I don't wanna be here!" He bawled in his search as Ishmael came upon him, brandishing his scythe once more.

"You will have no further need of them in due time, worm." Caliborn growled, reaching out for the boy.

"No...stop! Go away!" John whined as he stumbled and fell, trying to crawl away from the monster approaching him, the beast's eyes shifting impossibly between every possible combination of billiard balls.

"Come here, infantile insect." Ishmael roared with all the hate it's voice could muster, but before it's claws could lay a hand on the boy, his eyes glowed an intense light blue.

"I...said...GO...AWAY!" He retorted with all the anger a toddler throwing a tantrum could possess, the voice echoing upon itself with the slightest hint of a sound not made by his own throat within it.

Immediately the very winds of the world began to twist and funnel themselves into vast tendrils. The very elemental powers of reality twisted to accomodate John's will as the winds spun themselves at speeds usually only found in particle colliders, sheathing themselves in vast blue tentacles as they formed into destructive patterns.

Light, heat, and electricity danced around in the winds as they sped up to velocities that rendered them down into quark-gluon plasma, being far too hot to remain as atoms.

The winds whipped across maple valley and skyrocketed outwards into space, unleashing a power that had not been seen on the earth throughout it's history.

There was a more technical term for it, but for the boy, the only way he could describe it was the windy thing.

Ishmael looked around in stark confusion, his soldiers faring no better in trying to make sense of the power being unleashed around them. But when most of Ishmael's ships were whipped in half by spiraling tendrils of wind that stretched out into the heavens, their superheated forms radiating outwards as they disintegrated, they all too late began to connect the dots.

Twisters began to form across the city, formed of these relativistically churning tendrils, these knots of blue, but other shapes began to form, monsters, people, and other constructs conjured from a three year old's imagination, formed of winds not just of earthly, but stellar origins.

Those who knew what was going on began to flee, but it was too late, the winds speared through them, tore them to ribbons, or ripped them limb from limb and atom by atom as they stormed across the land. Even the mightiest of the black hand's war machines could not stand before the sheer power being unleashed upon them, the blue knots ripping through their bodies like so much paper mache.

"What is the meaning of this!?" Ishmael barked as one of his death stalkers was ripped apart by a wind T.Rex

"Leave, me, ALONE!" John shouted as he directed as much force as he could into Ishmael, the winds pushing forth and them bounding into Ishmael far faster than even light itself. The powers of the boy were focused by all the hate the little boy could bring to bear, and even the Deathjester could not stand before such fury.

In a single whiplash, Ishmael was sent flying out of sight, and indeed out of the galaxy as a whole, being launched faster than light could ever hope to manage as the winds sought out anyone and everyone bearing the symbols of the black hand they could find, eradicating each and every member of the strike force in a cleansing wave of air.

When the last member of the strike force was slaughtered, John stumbled briefly, feeling himself return to normal as the Astartes and Imperial troopers gathered around him, along with the imposing shapes of Varitus and Maria.

"Child, in light of your power, we..." Varitus began before the entirety of the procession dropped to their knees and bowed their heads before the boy.

"Kneel to you as one of our saviors." Maria concluded, with this last bit of oddness finally proving to be too much and prompting John to drop and faint.

"Secure him, and return him to the ship." Varitus ordered, noting the appearance of thunder clouds over the fallen form of one of the native defenders of the city, one of the gods that had sprung up since the Imperium had formally left earth.

With a crash of lightning, materialized the forms of the Celtic gods, lead by the mighty Taranis, lord of lightning.

"Dagda preserve us!" He exclaimed as he beheld Rhiannon's fallen form before noticing some of the armored warriors of the Astartes picking up John and preparing to leave with him.

"Stop, where do you think you are taking him!" One of the Gods angrily demanded, prompting the Imperial soldiers to raise their weapons against the Tuatha.

To be continued.

OOC: I think I'll keep on with John and Jade's origin stories for another two to four issues before starting with Dave and Rose's.

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Primalborn Issue #1: Heaven and sky born of fire and death.

Preface

Primalborn, blessed scions of the great Primals, arising as children to destroy evil that the grown cannot. Blessed champions of what is good and just, slayers of evil and corruption, beyond god or mortal.
Blood of gods and spirits of Primals through their bodies flow, the cosmic tongue they wield, their minds unleashed as weapons, blessed divine steel they wear and wield, upholders of all that is moral.
But as justice fades and evil reigns, one shall fall, casting his oaths aside to become the fallen one. Clad in the raiments of bone tyrants, he arose as Vrakmul, foe to us all.
When the stars are right, when heroes and brothers shed each others blood over laws unjust, when priests of cross shun good for greed, when liberators become enslavers, when silvered hordes devour the helpless, when tyrants of ego and metal run rampant, when preachers of the oppressed become as black as their overlords, when black courts grow strong and the Cold God makes his sons fall.
The Fallen born shall rise to fore with ambition to rule all worlds, all shall be his fools, for he is Lord of Doom, Duke of shadows, King of all that is black, Emperor of the Black Hand, vessel of Alderymora; the Black Wyrm, devourer of gods, the endless maw, and dark mirror brother of Talorak, glorious lord of time.
Witch Child, he was dubbed, despoiler of Ainul he became. His duty as primalborn to defeat the elder brain shunned to accept the darkness, herald of Mehrudagoth, bleak Icon of destruction. His once beautiful world, now nothing but an inhospitable clime.
With his evil he shall bring forth the times of shadow as evil swirls around him as a great maelstrom that shall sweep all worlds. His tyranny shall encompass all, and to the Dark Voice from aeons long gone he shall swear.
Good he shall crush, justice he shall strangle, hope he shall wither, doom he shall bring. Vrakmul, bane of all, ancient shadow lurking, shall shatter the stars in his bid to conquer all that is there.
But a day shall arise when the Dark One's lies shall be cast to the dust, and his schemes unraveled in clashes and wars a plenty, when his black voice shall be silenced forever and then!
For the twenty four, risen to destroy the Fallen One. From many worlds shall arise on that day. Child-heroes to deliver all realities from the darkness of the Lord of Doom, war on all worlds, salvation to everywhere and everywhen.

-Song of the twenty-four, translated from High-Draconic and taught to the Masari and later the Astartes by the true Dragons.

April 13th, 2003, Maple Valley Washington.

"Happy birthday!" Many a voice shouted as John and Jade waddled into their living room. Enough confetti to cover an army was dropped from their secret places, and noise makers blew excitedly. Taking a while to process all this information, the two stood there until Jade took the first tentative steps forward and gasped in surprise. "Wow..." She managed as she looked at the menagerie of guests their parents had brought in. John followed in quickly after her and reached for his mother; who went by the name Rhiannon Reaching over to pick him up with an easy smile, she lifted the boy onto his seat while Jade managed to crawl up onto hers on her own, much to the delight of the adults gathered; who launched into glowing praise.

"There's my girl." Calvin, their father smiled as he ruffled Jade's hair, prompting her to giggle as Rhiannon placed a party hat on John. "Do we get to eat the cake yet?" He asked, finger to his lips and head turned to face his mother. "Not yet, we have to sing the happy birthday song." She responded warmly as she waited for everyone to get in their places. Everyone was there, friends, relatives, friends of his parents, and many people neither John nor Jade recognized. "Is everyone ready?" Calvin asked, trying to get everyone in picturesque positions. "Calvin, not everything needs to be perfectly organized." Rhiannon said with a brief eyeroll and smirk. "Honey, they only get to be three once, so I want this to be just right." He chuckled as everyone started on the requisite happy birthday song.

When the final word rolled off their tongues, both John and Jade leaned forward and blew on their candles, both blowing somewhat harder than what most kids their age could manage, though the briefest and faintest hint of blue lines curled through John's breath. Those with enhanced senses in the group recognized these signs that much like their parents, they too would develop abilities; and some were debating on what special talents they would inherit from the two family genepools. Having taken a picture just as the candles were snuffed out, Calvin looked at the picture and smiled heartily. "You two were just perfect, I'm proud of you." He said before scooping them in for a hug from their chairs before placing them back in their seats.

Low Earth Orbit.

Ishmael Caliborn looked out at the holographic display in front of him, the skull-mask wearing deathjester briefly snarling as he noted the features of the town below. Disgusting...all of it..."Are we ready to deploy? I tire of looking at this wretched community." Caliborn growled in a self echoing voice as deep as thunder. "Yes Council-lord." One of the shadow cultists who flanked the macabre being reported with a brief salute. "Good, then let us go forth and start the butcher's work."

The Deathjester ordered as he spun around and through his link with the ship, ordered those inside to begin to launch forth from their cloaked shuttles and drop pods, the ship rocking and buzzing with constant activity while the deathjester himself brought his crackling scythe down and sliced through reality to tear open a gaping wound in the cosmos, a swirling maelstrom of disruption that he stepped through, the killing rage beginning in anticipation of the blood bath it so keenly awaited.

Undersea Astartes operation base; Marianas Trench

Even cloaked objects couldn't fully hide themselves from Astartes sensors, so long had they battled against those who used such abilities and so familiar they were in their use. Upon detecting unusual readings from the heavens, the automated systems launched their silent alarm to notify the Astartes to be ready to deploy at a moment's notice. Code: Black, was the message, indicating near certain Black Hand activity. Soon; dilligent warriors from secret bases the Astartes had yet to shut down in their final stages of Exodus from the Earth were being mobilized, ready to head out to wherever they were needed.

Maple valley

Just managing to cut the cake himself, John was bathed in praise, congratulating his ability to act on his own. Plopping the slice on his plate, John eagerly stabbed his spoon into it and scooped out a chunk to eat. But before the three year old could even start to chew, the earth began to shake and the heavens began to shriek. The sky began to bleed a deathly shade of black and red as terrible power flowed through it, drowning out the morning. Windows exploded inwards as waves of overpressure slammed into them like a tidal wave, and fire began to erupt as death rained down from the stars above.

Aircraft of a make unlike anything on earth, painted in Black and Red screamed overhead, pouring munitions into the ground below as John and Jade fell to the ground and shrieked in fright. The superpowered members of the family quickly suited up, advanced teleportation technology and magic bringing in their equipment from afar as they rushed out into battle. "Rhiannon, get the kids to safety." Calvin ordered as his grey armored suit covered him, heading out immediately while Rhiannon clad in her anachronistic looking mithril raiments that seemed to materialize in a flash of light started to rush towards a panic room nearby.

But then a pair glaring, ruby red lances of energy as wide as a man's torso speared through the wall, gouging out the earth as it passed by. Charging towards these holes were a group of Black hand acolyte; clad in their all concealing black and red power armor as they let off rapid red and yellow barrages from their supercharged particle beam rifles; the ululating shriek of the rifles ripping through the air as they moved in, tearing holes into the walls and blasting through furniture. A thunder clap followed by stabbing gusts of wind from Calvin and Rhianna quickly dispatched the platoon. "Not in my house." Calvin growled as he tried to assess the situation.

But soon, the heart monitors of the Edenson family began to flatline in rapid succession. "+They're everywhere! Oh god...what is that thi-+" One managed to frantically shout into a communicator before being cut off by the sound of searing flesh and a bloodcurdling scream. "Hank?!? Hank!!" Calvin shouted as he heard the scream, but his thoughts were soon cut off as colossal walkers of the like he had never seen strode forth, ranging from merely forty feet to over ten times that, bringing lancing ruby death to anything they saw. Another frantic comm garbled itself into being "+Jill just got her head cut off by something I couldn't even see...wait, I think I can see some kind of scorpion bot...wait...it's turning my way...no...no....NO! NO! NO! NO!NO!NO!NO!NO NOOO-AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!+"

With the thunderclap of displaced air and the crackling flash of violated reality, a group of shadow cultists materialized themselves in the room, the shrieking and crying of the two kids only growing louder as their fear increased. Spattered afresh with gore, the Shadow cultists turned to bring their trade upon the adults, but a tendril of wind lashed out from Rhiannon flattening half of them while Calvin charged at some others, bowling through them with his momentum and swinging arms. "We're not safe here, we need to leave." Rhiannon reported as she grabbed the two kids and beckoned Calvin to follow her out of the house.

Again, the comm buzzed into life. "+Everything's on fire, what do we do!?! Why!? Why!? Where did they come from...why us!?! Why Kyle!?! W...wait...some kind of...Je-jester...there are some kinda...cracks around him...oh god his eyes...his eyes! HIS EYES! HIS EYES!!!!+" A female voice screamed before being cut off by the most unearthly warble and wail. In a state of shock, Calvin just barely registered what his wife informed him, but what doubts he had towards heeding Rhiannon's advice were soon erased as one of the smaller sized walkers; an Avatar, approached and unleashed it's thundering volley of missiles.

Leaping forward and going into a roll as Rhiannon ran out of the building, Calvin grabbed his wife and charged out of the building as it erupted in fire. The two quickly dashed out, a billowing gust of wind issuing from Rhiannon that bowled over any Black Hand troops nearby while Calvin picked up and hurled a derelict tank at the approaching Avatar; sending it flat on it's metallic rear as he tried to keep the family moving. "+Woo-hoo, nice work you two. We should get this cleaned up real soon. Hey, there's some kinda scorpion man around here...gonna investi-+" A young voice buzzed in the comms before a series of explosions immediately silenced the communication. "Howard's dead." Calvin solemly reported as he bitterly grimaced at the thought of his demise. "We need to keep moving, we can't help those who have perished."

Even O'chunks, or more correctly some of his clones, feasting on the flesh of deceased civilians, were not quite up to the task of stopping the parents. Noticing the two, the shark-men snarled with fury as they brandished their claws and jaws, rushing forward; eagerly anticipating biting into them. "Come 'ere!" One shouted, but a thunderclap from Calvin had them all reeling as their ear-drums exploded and the force picked up and hurled them away like ragdolls. The more steady footed Rhiannon managed to evade getting harmed by shielding herself with a bubble of manipulated air. "Warn me when you do that next time." Rhiannon scolded Calvin as they kept on moving. "+Guys...something's f*cked up Tara real bad...her body's all cracked and cut up...what's going on....huh...whazzat...NOOOO GOD! No god, please no! No! NO! NOOOOO!!!!!!+" Another communication frantically screamed before the sound of shattering glass drowned out all other sounds.

As they moved forward, they soon came across a number of bodies in costume in the alleyway between ruined structures, and two of them were actually still alive. "Iron-arm and Windcutter?" A shakened rookie hero asked, the other members of her team, or more correctly one other member as the rest were lying in pools of their own blood huddling together as they tried to make sense of what was happening as the skies continued to burn red and the clouds boiled black. "Yes, we need you to help us get at least some people to safety, come on, we can try and retake Maple Valley later." Calvin requested, but she shook her head. "No...no...there's no use...they're everywhere...no stopping them...and that thing...it won't leave us alone...it doesn't stop...it doesn't stop...why doesn't it stop!?!" She cried as the other one, clad in his cheerful blue costume, shivered with fear as he heard a slight shift in rock.

"Oh no...it's back, that thing is ba-GACK" He managed before a long barb impaled him through the heart, his blood spurting out in copious quantities and at high pressure, spraying the Edensons with his gore as the barb cut upwards and partially bisected him, leaving the two halves of his upper body to flop to the side while the girl shrieked. "No, noo, please no, oh god, no, no, no, nooooooo!" She screamed before a net flew forth at her and metal hands burst from the wall and yanked at her, dragging her out of sight as the sucking sound of air filling in a void left by teleportation reverberated through the air.

A shimmering form then decloaked itself in a wave of visibility, revealing something that looked like someone had taken the worst aspects of a skeleton, a robot, and a scorpion and put them together. It's skull like head was inlaid with cybernetics and reinforcement, burning optics seared where it's eyes once were, and the odd warmth of radiation oozed from it. A deathstalker. It didn't speak, it had no reason to, it didn't even make a sound as it lunged forward; prompting Rhiannon to place her kids down and hide them as the bloodspattered Cyborg brought it's stinger down towards Calvin "Ah hell." Calvin muttered as he sized up the mechanical death dealer.

With a deft sidestep, Calvin managed to avoid being impaled upon the lethally sharp barb as he ducked under a pincer jab, grabbing at the arm and yanking it downwards, slamming it into the ground. But the resilient machine soon righted itself and tripped Calvin with a sweep of it's tail while it turned towards Rhiannon and let loose a gust of unspeakably hot flame from it's mouth. Rivers of fire flowed towards the goddess, rivers that she only just repelled with a wall of wind that she tried to push back at the shadow cultist even as Calvin got back into the fray; once again grabbing it's pincer arm with the hope of ripping it off.

With a casual motion, it swatted Calvin into the ruined wall of the bank next to it, sending him smashing through it; alive but jostled enough to let go of the thing as it turned it's attention to Rhiannon. Firing off it's eye beams, it aimed right for her exposed face, a move that was met by her brandishing her mithril gauntlets to reflect the ruby-red lances out of the way, distracting her just enough to allow the flames to rush forward.

But before it could try to burn her alive in fire hotter than the core of the sun, Calvin came rushing back, shouting out a long "NOOO!!!!" and grabbed the Deathstalker from behind, clutching at one of it's legs and yanking the thing backwards to make it stumble. The disruption in it's motion allowed Rhiannon enough time to create a windwall around her children as the fire washed over her.

It was uncomfortably hot, but as a celtic goddess, it wasn't anything she couldn't handle. Turning her attention back to the Deathstalker as it rotated it's torso around to get at Calvin, she charged in and jammed her mithril longsword into it's side, the enchanted mithril blade slipping between segments of it's armor and piercing into it's inner components "You have just threatened my son and daughter you worthless heap of scrap!" Rhiannon screamed at it as she tried to twist her blade around in it..

Wordlessly, the Deathstalker swatted her away and kicked Calvin off of it, only for another blast of wind to knock it to the side as air rushing at relativistic speeds tore at it's body, blazing with friction until the air became like plasma. Analyzing the situation, the cybernetic assassin fired off a barrage of cluster missiles skywards to distract her; counting on her heroic nature to try and stop the missiles from hitting innocents.

And as it expected, the coloured lengths of blazing wind leaped upwards into the sky and ripped apart the missiles. This gave it the opening it required to move in for a stabbing blow from it's stinger. Rolling to the side; Rhiannon was still struck across her flank by the stinger as it pierced into the wall, sending white hote needles of pain through her as she felt her armor cut and her flesh give way to the bladed barb. .

Grabbing the sword lodged inside of it's body, the Deathstalker ripped it out and tossed it to the side; planning to fire a net at the children to capture them for corruption by Vrakmul. But as it unfurled it's net launcher, an Angry Calvin leaped at it's back and pulled himself onto it's shoulders, screaming "GET AWAY FROM MY KIDS!" as he did so, raining blows that could shatter mountains upon it, blows that shook the ground with all the fury of an earthquake as it's armor began to buckle from these megaton blows. Soundlessly shrieking, it wrapped it's tail around Calvin even as he tore off it's net caster and flung him away.

Now that it's main capture mechanism was no longer viable, it planned to opt for a more lethal option as it revealed it's chest mounted Dark matter cannon. A high pitched whine went through the air as the cannon charged, but it's earlier decision to cast away the sword proved to be it's undoing as Rhiannon; fueled by the kind of rage only a parent whose children are in danger could unleash. She grabbed her enchanted sword; her black hair whipping behind her as she jumped at it's side, stabbing her sword into it again and then driving it in as deep as it could go.

"I have had enough of you!" She shouted as she rushed around in a circle, moving as quickly as lightning to create a radial bisection that separated the Cyborg's upper and lower body before she jabbed her sword through it's head, ripped upwards with a strong pull, and then tore the lower body apart with near light speed winds that went inside of it's tiniest cracks and then pushed outwards in all directions. Deciding that now was no longer the time to hold back, she prepared to unleash a storm of the elements; tapping into her usually highly restrained godly power that would destroy this invasion force.

She felt the power of the skies flow through her. She felt the winds tremble at her thoughts. She felt the elements bend to her will. She felt a scythe blade jab through her back and pierce through her heart. "Such heroic nonsense." Ishmael Caliborn casually stated as he removed the blade with an audible squelching sound, reality forming cracks around the blade of his scythe, while more minor hairline fractures in the cosmos formed all around his body; restrained by his jester's outfit. His green, jawless skull-masque's eyes were actually rapidly shifting billiard balls, going from color and number to color and number, and green lines trimmed his otherwise black outfit, with the Shadow Cult's symbol on his chest.

Rhiannon looked at the blade as it pierced through her, seeing it come out of her front, eyes widened with shock as she bled, sensation draining from her as Ishmael kicked her to the ground, turned her face-up, and then stabbed his claws to go in and tear out her right kidney, ripping the bloody organ from her body and beholding it in front of him, making sure John and Jade could see it. He noted that a god born of human belief's internal organs didn't appear any different from humans themselves, even as blood leaked out from her in copious quantities and exposed organs writhed.

Sensing an upwelling of outrage from behind him, Caliborn dropped the divine kidney and with the greatest of ease; turned to face Calvin who was already half-way through a flying tackle. "Please." Caliborn responded dismissively as he grabbed Calvin's hand, as strong as Calvin was with his continent shattering and world devastating musculature; Caliborn was simply much stronger, something he showed by crushing Calvin's hand as if it were made of talcum. Feeling his blood ooze onto his fingers, Caliborn slashed his scythe across Calvin's stomach to allow it to peel open before plunging a hand into his gut cavity and forcefully tearing out his intestines.

Mentally bending a lamp-post towards him, caliborn fashioned a noose out of the intestines and wrapped it around the rapidly dying Calvin's neck as he kicked him into a kneeling position, making sure he could see his children; now too frightened to even scream, and his bleeding wife as Caliborn altered the properties of the Lamp post to be highly elastic even as he held it down with telekinesis. And with one swift swipe of his scythe; Calvin's head came clean off his neck, the anti-reality blade passing through his superhumanly tough flesh and armor as if it wasn't even there while the now elastic lamp-post rebounded and launched his head away like a catapult.

"And now...for you two..." Caliborn chuckled in it's self-echoing, demonic voice as it turned to face the whimpering toddlers. He knew that Vrakmul would prefer them to be brought to him alive to be corrupted into members of his personal guard, but nobody ever said they had to arrive unscathed. If he had a jaw on his masque, he would almost certainly be grinning.

((For those worried about the destruction of maple valley, read my bio for why it's all better immediately after and why no one on earth has any memory of the event))

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The great schism and the birth of the Ordo Astartes

The pressures of two conflicting faiths within the Order of the Talon has recently become too much to bear. Those who knew the truth order's Symaarian origins have decided to split from the order after the Seraphim Hykral issued an order of Exdocommunication to them, and the talon has split into two. The Seraphim Vyrkmal leads those members of the Order who have split over the schism, those who have realit in truth, their origins hail not from heaven, but from the stars. These former members believe that humanity is a failsafe of the Holy Navigator's in case the Symaarians themselves ever fell, and that it is their duty to ensure that mill be ready to fulfill this destiny. Those who have remained Christian denounce this all has heresy, and have kept the name the Order of the Talon.

to distinguish themselves from their more hidebound former brothers and sisters, the themselves the Ordo Astartes, the order of the stars. To reflect their beliefs of a stellar origin for humanity. This rift in the former guardians of mankind has diminished their numbers even further, and there is the threat that this will go from secession into war between the two. Never before has the secret organization experienced such a great risk to itself, after having split into three, the Adeptus Nox, those of the Talon who turned traitor and swore their services to chaos, the order of the Talon; which still clings's catholic doctrines, and the Ordo Astartes,

The Ordo Astartes has the largest share of the living beati and the saints, the Knights and Paladins of the order, but the Order of the Talon has the largest proportion of the regulars, the footmen and other such mortal warriors, while the Adeptus Nox lies in between the two. The Order of the Talon has dedicated itself to hunting down the Adeptus Nox, while the Ordo Astartes continues the war with the Black Hand, though it would not take overly much to start a war between the Astartes and the Talon. And there are of coure, those who suspect that the Order of the Talon itself is corrupted in a manner that goes far beyond being obsfusticatingly conservative.

The Ordo Astartes believes that the true priority is to defend mankind, whereas the Talon believes that the true role is to hunt down corruptive foes such as the forces of Chaos and the Black Hand. As such, the Ordo Astartes is notably less willing to commit atrocities for the sake of defeating their foes, though compared to say, the united states military, they have a lower threshold of "absolutely necessary".

Even with the Order of the Talon and the Black Hand now being public knowledge, the recent schism in their ranks is still relatively unknown, as the Ordo Astartes is still deciding on their own heraldry to set them apart from the Talon; thus leaving little way to immediately identify the two as different. The Ordo Astartes is a proud, if rather small, force that believes in Courage and Honour above all else.

For such is their battle anthem.

(to the tune of: )

"Aaaaaaasstaaaaarrrteeees. Aaaastaaarteees!

From ancient Symaar the Navigator commands his proud sons.

From his might we are made into his proud sons.

We know no fear and we fight for his name as his proud sons!

From humanity's foes we defend against as his proud sons!

WARRIOR ELITE, UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, ASTARTES!

TO DEFEND ALL WE GO INTO BATTLE, ASTARTES!

WARRIOR ELITE, UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, ASTARTES!

COURAGE AND HONOUR, UNBEATABLE IN BATTLE, ASTARTES!

We know no fear and we fight for his name as his proud sons!

From humanity's foes we defend against as his proud sons!

TO DEFEND ALL WE MAKE WAR UPON DARKNESS, ASTARTES!

WARRIOR ELITE, UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, ASTARTES!

COURAGE AND HONOUR, UNBEATABLE IN BATTLE, ASTARTES!"

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The Igzvald Heresy

During the war with Dathron, the Talon's initial strong showing was soon undermined by the Seraphim Igzvald showing his true hand as a worshipper of the Dark Gods of Chaos and summoning forth Warmaster Xaraghoul the Ravager to the earth along with his hordes of chaos space marines, cultists, and daemons. Having to dedicate it's forces to fight this new threat, the Talon largely withdrew from the war with Dathron to fight agains tthe invaders, but the true blow came in the form of the defection of an entire third of the Order of the Talon to the forces of Chaos.

Eventually, Xaraghoul pulled back the majority of his forces to deal with other threats, but the Chaos Talon remains as one of the greatest threats to the order around. Though most of the traitors fled into space to hide in various warp storms, many remain on earth, forming an elite of the Chaos cults that were created on Earth following Xaraghoul's brief but bloody invasion. This heresy has left the Order severely undermanned and overstretched, and the long standing secret of it's existence is broken, for none missed the armies of men in medieval armour wielding weapons during the war against the invaders and the war against y-intercept.

Despite the reveal of the Talon's existence it remains a largely mysterious order, as it has not allowed any to investigate it's doings, often discouraging such investigations with lethal force. This has needless to say, not endeared them to the governments of the world who are extremely concerned that the Catholic army has such a large and pat it's disposal and many calls have been made to the Vatican to disband the order. But even as the Order chases it's Chaotic brethren, it has ignored it's old foe, the Black hand, which is preparing for the final stages of it's plan. Not out of choice, but out of an inability to divide their resources on the grave threat that the Chaos Talon poses and on the Icon's minions without massively exacerbating their already severe problems with man power.

The Igzvald heresy has deeply shook the Talon, which never expected that so many brothers and sisters of the order could turn traitor a way. And thus the already deep paranoia of the Talon has only worsened, and all are under suspect of harbouring heresy in their hearts, even as they hunt for the fallen talon warriors. Already, those members of the Talon who have uncovered their true relationship to the Symaarian navigator and those who firmly believe trine handed down by the triumvirate are algrowing further and further apart, and secession threatens the order, if ncivil war.

The Talon is now no longer capable of protecting the universe from it's direst and most secret threats, and though they would never admit it, they will need help in the storm that is to come. If the universe is to survive what is to come, old grudges will need to be settled and laid to rest before the common threat of the slavering hordes of the Icon's endless devotees. Besieged on all sides by the Orks, Genestealer Cults, Chaos, the Meditteranean Syndicate, the Black Hand and it's allies and Pawns, the disturbing uncovery of a vast necron force buried on mars, the looming threat of civil war, a world that is unsure whether to hate and fear them or respect and admire them, and their own arrogance, the Talon will have to do what it has not in centuries, adapt itself into this new changing world, or all things will be doomed.

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The electrical protectorate

The infinite army

There is yet a fourth faction of shadowy puppet masters that exists in the world. The Electrical Protectorate, or more correctly; the advance guard of the Electrical protectorate. A vast swarm of nanomachines from another reality long devoured by the Maimed Lord; the being offered them a deal as the highly emotional and artistic core mind a.i's despaired at the thought that entropy would cause their works to come to naught.

Serve it, and bring all things to the pure state; where there would be no more entropy. The machines agreed, and became another set of heralds for the entity. The machines dubbed the thing "The Icon" translated from their hexadecimal communication system.

The protectorate; being artistic; has it's army take the general aesthetic of Robots from campy 1950s-60s B-movie, comic book, and pulp serial robots as this is what they have gathered that most sapient beings believes a robot army should look like. But make no mistake, despite their aesthetic which generally harkens back to the more absurd days of science fiction mashed together with some lovecraftian instances and bits of various forms of pop culture concerning robots from countless civilizations that the Core Minds thought were cool, they are very deadly.

The protectorate and the cult of the black hand very rarely bump into each other, typically they are assigned to different universes and generally have virtually no contact with one another. But this ended up causing their paths to cross with one another.

The Protectorate has advanced elements located across the universe, with it's closest mainfleet being between the Triangulum galaxy and the Milky way, having stripped the former down for parts and rearranged what they couldn't use into the universe's largest piece of abstract art at the behest of Core Mind Omega Delta Plural ZZ, which Core Mind Venus called "Tacky and esoteric."

The protectorate on earth primarily controls regions of the planet that the major powers either can't be bothered to give a shit about (The French Guyana, Madagascar, the pacific island nations, various tiny british isles, nepal, guam), are so sparsely habited that they'd more or less go unnoticed (Greenland, Siberia, Canadian Northwestern territories, amazon rainforest, australian outback, Alaska, etc), or both (Mongolia, Saharan desert countries, Anarctica). Typically they leave visitors alone unless discovered, at which point they kill the discoverer before they ever manage to report their findings, typically moments after said discovery.

Weaponry (By no means comprehensive, this only lists ranged weapons, and only some of them at that)

Conventional: A sort of submachine gun like weapon, this device fires out superheated slugs sheathed in an yellow field of raw energy, impacting with roughly the same power and force as a Symaarian Multi-Hellgun, with a similar rate of fire.

Gatling automatic: Much like the conventional, this weapon differs in a few key aspects, first is the gatling arrangement, second is the fact that it trades some power from the individual shots for a vastly increased rate of fire; allowing it to chew through virtually any target given time.

Rectrospectrum Pulsar: Better known as the Radiation gun, this weapon fires forth a lethal dosage and barrage of ionizing radiation that can instantly melt most carbon based life forms into glowing green goop surrounding a rapidly liquefying charred black skeleton. This weapon however, is nearly useless against other robots and inorganic enemies. The best defense against the pulsar gun is energy shielding, or failing that armor thick enough to prevent the radiation from reaching cells.

Quantum disentangler: A weapon that has the peculiar effect of disintegrating nonliving objects it hits with ease, this weapon is the opposite of the Pulsar module, in that it only affects inorganic objects. Thus, in most cases an organic hero targeted would be left naked and unarmed, but still very much alive. This strangely, has no effect on Living Metals such as Necrodermis.

M-brane blaster: Firing a bizarre sort of "Wibbly Wobbly, Timey-Wimey...Stuff" this weapon effectively breaks down dimensions above the third and brings these superstring realms crashing into reality and exploding with an unidentifiable sort of energy, the effects of the blast have been described as "Turning the target area into what would happen if a Picasso Painting made Hot Sweaty Love to the a Salvidor Dali piece." Most beings, used to the laws of physics being normal, tend not to survive the breakdown in the separation between the physical dimensions. This lacks the Fractal gun's raw power, but it does have the advantage of being the best area of effect weapon in the protectorate arsenal.

Incendiary: A special form of firearm that fires forth rocket propelled shells that burrow themselves in the target, then set them alight with a cocktail mixture of virtually every high temperature flammable substance ever, burning the poor target inside out in a few moments of utter agony. This can also be used as a flamethrower.

Basilisk: This is perhaps the second most dreaded ranged weapon of the protectorate, this device fires forth a signal with a specific frequency that is can cause temporary paralysis, permanent psychosis, coma, or death in the target the frequency is set for. Every species has a different basilisk signal, so an Ork would not be bothered by a Basilisk soundwave that would leave an large group of humans lying on the ground bleeding out of every orfice. This can be used as a more conventional sonic weapon that is frequently called the headbanger, as when used on the craniums of humanoids it tends to have...explosive results.

Fractal: Perhaps the single most dreaded of protectorate ranged weapons modules, the fractal gun fires a peculiar type of energy that spreads in a cone like a shotgun blast. Objects caught by the blast crack or even shatter and disintegrate as if they were made of glass. This deals similar levels of damage regardless of the durability of the target, Divine steel is no more resistant to fractal weaponry than Talcum Powder. However, the destructive power of the weapon diminishes with distance, and while armor is an ineffective defense against it, mass is. Fractal energy seems to react with matter, thus having a lot of it means that you will only be injured rather than disintegrated outright. Thus a sauropod would only be vaguely annoyed by a fractal gun while a massively powerful god the size of a man would be incinerated outright in one shot.

Cyrogenic: This module literally sucks the energy out from an area and into the Icon, reducing the ambient temperature, allowing the magnetically bottled water to impact the target and freeze over the target, making it brittle and vulnerable to being shattered.

Acid: This module does more or less what it says on the tin, utilizing corrosives to eat away an unfortunate target.

Units of the protectorate

Malacostraca:

A crablike melee machine, the Malacostraca is equipped with two lethal pincers and a bad attitude. But individually they're not much threat to a modern army or superhero. Unfortunately the terms "Individually" and Malacostraca do not go together. Due to their lack of expense and small size, roughly that of a fifty pound dog; they come in massive numbers and are surprisingly fast; clocking in at 100 miles per hour. Additionally, they can detect stealthed and cloaked opponents and relay their positions to other protectorate units.

Effigy:

A nanite blob capable of converting inorganic matter that it consumes into more effigies. They can infiltrate buildings and effortlessly hack into computer systems, and when sent to deal with organics, they quite literally eat them alive. However, they have quite the weakness to area of affect attacks such as grenades and flamethrowers.

Aggressor:

While basic infantry tend to outnumber all other military units put together in any given army, the Aggressorsof the Electrical Protectorate take this to an extreme seldom seen elsewhere. Surrounding the vehicles and heavier infantry of the Electrical Protectorate in a numberless wave of mechanical caricatures, these machines are expended in numbers one would expect to see attached to munitions rather than infantry. They are in effect, the ranged equivalent to the Malacostraca and stand as tall as a 5 year old child.

Aggressors are organized in legions of six thousand machines. Possessed by a machine consciousness from the Core Collective, Aggressors seem to move like marionettes on invisible strings, propelled forward by a consciousness with no particular attachment to the steel forms.

Aggressor computer cores are small and restrictive, so their controlling consciousnesses, of low rank inside the collective, are restricted to single-minded thinking while within the Aggressor's form, so they must trust their commanders to be used effectively. And the most effective use of the Aggressor is as an endless wave.

When Aggressors attack, the horizon fills with their forms, their sensor lights burning ominously in the distance, and they move as an endless mass. Oftentimes, the rear ranks are simply slaved to following the front groups, because they come in waves of hundreds of millions or more, shaking the ground with their passage.

As the front ranks are cut down, falling under the feet of the ranks behind, their consciousnesses repossess the ranks behind, keeping the wave moving endlessly. Eventually, their enemies are driven back, ground down by sheer weight of numbers, eventually defeated, crushed under the sheer mass of expended machines if nothing else. Following the battle, Protectorate nanites swarm forth, breaking apart the destroyed machines, recycling them back for the creation of new units. They can be equipped with protectorate modules (see weapons) for varying weapons, though individually their attacks tend to be quite weak, they never come alone. When they attack, they come with Malacostracas in numbers so vast that any shot fired at them will likely hit one, and given their frailness, even 9mm pistols will down one, while their weapons can usually be blocked by conventional body armor. Unfortunately, their numbers will mean that most any defense will fall under sheer weight of fire.

Tracer:

PROTECTORATE ARMY ARCHIVES:

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: ARTICIFER: Anti-Air Capability

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: INVESTIGATION: INVESTIGATIVE AI: HUMAN EMOTION - DECEPTION. Designate 64 65 63 65 70 74 69 6f 6e

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Modify aggressor to anti-air capability

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Equip base with anti-air cannons

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Modify infantry to become airborne

63 6f 72 65: DENIAL: Slows aggressor production

63 6f 72 65: DENIAL: Unacceptable resource cost

63 6f 72 65: DENIAL: Unacceptable modification complexity

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Cannon fodder anti-air infantry

63 6f 72 65: APPROVAL: Acceptable

63 6f 72 65: REVISION: DENIAL: Unacceptable projected losses. Aircraft will avoid proposed unit

69 6e 76 65 73 74 69 67 61 74 69 76 65 20 41 49: INTERJECTION: RELEVANT: Deception analysis complete

69 6e 76 65 73 74 69 67 61 74 69 76 65 20 41 49: INTERJECTION: RELEVANT: Findings transferred

69 6e 76 65 73 74 69 67 61 74 69 76 65 20 41 49: INTERJECTION: RELEVANT: SUGGESTION: Combine findings with proposal

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Cannon fodder anti-air infantry. Hidden weapons. Deception tactic

63 6f 72 65: APPROVAL: Acceptable

63 6f 72 65: REVISION: APPROVAL: Projections acceptable quality

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: BEGIN DESIGN

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: DESIGNATE UNIT: Tracer. Designate 74 72 61 63 65 72 0D 0A

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: BEGIN PRODUCTION

Seekers:

Small mechanical hands packed with explosives, they come in even larger numbers than Malacostracas, and often they are fired out of protectorate guns. Make no mistake, they are very fast, very agile, and can leap long distances to engage in suicide bombing.

Reflex Light Tank:

Some will chuckle at the very thought of this thing being considered a tank. It's 40mm base gun is incapable of penetrating the armor of any modern tank at any range and it's thin armor can be blown to pieces by virtually anything with a modicum of anti-armor capability. Unfortunately, the protectorate never just sends a few, they send them in their thousands. When equipped with proper modules, such as the deadly fractal guns, they can make mincemeat out of other sturdier vehicles, after taking enormous casualties of course, but the Protectorate's standard doctrine is to throw so many metallic bodies at the enemy that they run out of ammo by the time the real threat arrives. The reflex light tank possesses a single small weapons module in addition to it's main module.

Equalizer AA Tank:

Armed with dual 20mm autocannons, a strange device, and the weight of numbers.

Janus Solutions Ltd. Official Report

To: Board of Classics, selected senior executives

Subject: Anomalous war machine

"Two weeks ago, a company survey team in eastern Venezuela had an unusual encounter while conducting mineral surveys along the Guyana border. The team's Chariot transport was brought down by weapons fire of unknown origin late at night, killing the lead surveyor, his assistant, and destroying their equipment. The centurion commanding the team's security escort then took command. She immediately sent a report to Janus HQ, confirming that the weapon used to destroy the Chariot was not a standard weapon employed by any of the major powers."

"Centurion Calpurnia took the initiative and directed her security escort to search for the vehicle responsible. What she discovered was a vehicle of similar design and manufacture to the independent robots the Board of Classics has briefed select executives on. With commendable initiative, Calpurnia used the EMP rifles of her team's Harpy battlesuits to disable the vehicle and bring it back to Janus HQ for study."

"The vehicle in question is a relatively small four-wheeled vehicle manufactured primarily from an unusual aluminium-based alloy similar to the other robots encountered, and remains a very light-weight, highly conductive alloy with amazing flexibility but is also soft for a metal and affords little protection from weapon fire. The resulting vehicle chassis is fast on all terrains yet tested, but can easily be destroyed by even heavy anti-infantry weaponry. For armament, the vehicle employs dual 20mm cannons on a rotating turret mount."

"These cannons are configured to fire canister-style fragmentation rounds that explode when a proximity sensor detects nearby aircraft. Using a nanite scavenging system built into the machine's wheels, the vehicle constantly manufactures ammunition for its guns from the terrain itself, enabling the vehicles to operate without regard for conventional logistics."

"Other features of the vehicle defy conventional analysis. For instance, the vehicle's power source. As far as our engineers can tell, it somehow operates in similar fashion to the atomic generators used by the Chinese, but is far more advanced and much smaller. Not only can a reactor the size of a football power the vehicle indefinitely, only a fraction of the reactor’s output is actually allocated to the operation of the vehicle itself. The majority of its output is directed to a machine we've taken to calling the Sisyphus device. We know what it does, but our engineers are still at a loss to explain how it works."

"The Sisyphus device somehow warps space-time around a targeted entity - we've tested it on aircraft, vehicles, and infantry alike - and our best guess is that it renders the distance between the entity and everywhere else infinite. For the duration of the Sisyphus effect, the target will still be going full blast but won't be *going* anywhere. The effect is not permanent, however, as the Sisyphus device can only draw on so much of the vehicle's power lest the entire machine shut down. I assure you, directors, that the finest minds in Janus Solutions are working around the clock on reverse engineering this device."

"Finally, like all other independent robotic units of similar origin, this vehicle appears to be linked to a central computer system that we can determine nothing about from examination of this unit. We are continuing our analysis and all our data is at the Board of Classics' disposal."

Shortly after the Board of Classics received this report, the laboratory housing the vehicle was destroyed under unknown circumstances. An investigation is still ongoing.

Screamer Jet:

Shaped like a sinister flying sting ray, the screamer is the basic ground attack craft of the protectorate; it's typically armed with basilisk modulators to devastate infantry and buildings, but it's weaponry can be swapped out as the situation demands. Like most protectorate units, it's laughably fragile but ridiculously cheap and quick to construct, when they are deployed, they often come in hordes so vast and thick that they can block out the sun.

Locust Gunship:

The Protectorate, in its preparations for war, has taken it upon itself to study the militaries of the universe and copy their strengths. Their reason for this is simple; the Protectorate had just come from a universe with radically different laws of physics that forced them to build a military machine that would be utterly useless in our universe. Furthermore, since the militaries of this Universe would be their enemies, it was only logical to study them in order to find their weaknesses and exploit them. Several A.I.s have dedicated their processing power to this task, sifting through our tactics, our arsenals, the past wars of the universe, and so on.

One A.I., while analysing the arsenal of the Symaarian Imperium noticed the Vulture gunship vehicle". Noting that the Protectorate had no equivalent vehicle to the Vulture Gunship in its inventory, the A.I. submitted a recommendation shortly after. There were a number of advantages to possessing an air vehicle like the Twinblade. Such an air vehicle could hover over the battlefield for extended periods of time, and would be able to support Protectorate ground forces. The Core Mind Collective approved the creation of an air vehicle analogous to the Twinblade.

While its inspiration came from the vulture, the new Locust Gunship was anything but. The designers had replaced the inefficient rotors with far more efficient gravitic technology, which were just as effective when it came to generating lift but far more effective when it came to propulsion. The Protectorate incoporated module based weaponry into the design, following standard protocol. This had the additional advantage of making the Locust far more versatile than the Vulture, since with the proper module weapon, it could handle any surface target. The exterior design also differed greatly from theVulture, being considerably slighter in order to save material costs, and following Protectorate design aesthetics.

The Locust designers also saw it as the opportunity to install another weapon. Special beacons, designed to jam the radio frequencies that human militaries used, were included on the Locust. Once activated, they could be dropped onto the battlefield, where they would begin to disrupt communications and radar, preventing the human forces from fighting back effectively. Protectorate forces themselves would use frequencies that the beacons were set not to jam, allowing them to continue to operate within a beacon's radius of effect. The Locust gunship possesses a total of two medium weapons modules.

Gremlins:

Essentially slightly larger, bat shaped aggressors, these are the air superiority vehicles of the Protectorate; a feat they achieve by drowning enemy air forces in numbers, shooting them to pieces, ripping them apart, flying into engines, and sometimes clinging onto aircraft in such great numbers that the added weight simply drags the aircraft out of the sky.

Exterminators:

"EX-TER-MIN-ATE! ANN-I-HIL-ATE! DES-TROY!"

As the Core Collective began to carefully plan their preperations for the Pure State and their own Infinite Army, the group had to decide on who should lead their 'infantry'. Ordinarily, this would be a non-issue, for each AI Core should be technically capable of controlling each and every member of their force at the same time if need be, but practical tests revealed otherwise - not only were the Cores stretched thin having to manually assess the situation of each member before activating orders, but more importantly several of them revealed they werebored - they were commanding the Infinite Army to further the Pure State, not dictate how two hundred Aggressors should behave when caught between intense conflicts over whether to destroy the village or all pet the field of bunnies nearby when in the midst of battle. As such, command cores would often focus on only a few vital sections of their forces at a time, and leave hordes of other robots to their own devices. Wasteful, AND potentially disastrous given the rather limited ability to make rational judgements of the others.

As such, the Exterminator was developed, to act almost as a sort of 'supervisor' to the legions of the lower-level Protectorate forces. Its bulky, thick frame, inset fractal weaponry, and extremely loud broadcaster acted as a visual and audible sign of command against the thinner and smaller lower robots, and its hovering chassis allowed the machine to climb to the top of wherever it needed to go in a sign of superiority amongst its peers. But to determine how it would actively lead...the collective eventually decided to go with the best method of military leadership they had learned from all the war movies they had gathered in their databases - very, very, very loud shouting and gesticulating.

Exterminators thus act as a constant reinforcement and assault infantry fore the core commander in battle, monitoring the AI of other infantry constantly to ensure a certain level of interest in their actual job - fighting. They serve directly at the front, elevating themselves over any obstacles in their way and blasting all in their path with fractal weapons. And, to keep the lesser units around them constantly focused on the task at hand, their thoughts, words, and actions are all focused into pure and righteous anger at those who would keep the Protectorate from their Pure State. They are purposefully designed to resemble the Daleks, which the Protectorate has encountered in another Universe. Indeed were it not for their gun arms, they would look almost exactly like the Daleks, and like them, they are equipped with deadly shields and can fly under their own power; making them the elite infantry of the protectorate.

Extinctors:

Jet pack and cloaking field equipped snipers armed with sonic rifles, these stealthy warriors of the Protectorate assassinate high value targets, often including metahumans, who often never realize what's going on until their heads explode due to a massively powerful SASER hitting their head.

Hunter-Killer:

With conventional modules

"I'll pick the flesh from your bones!"

Early on, the Core Mind Collective was convinced that with huge numbers of robots, any enemy could fall. In a way, the Collective is correct, but there is one facet they could not understand. While pulling down an enemy was easy enough, the Collective soon learned of a curious human emotion that could win battles alone, called "fear", which the closest analogy that the AI's felt was an extremely negative version of the prediction that one's designs would be rejected. When searching through their cache of poetry failed,, several search bots were attached to various Symaarian transmissions to learn more. Soon, they hit a breakthrough; in the eastern fringe of the Galaxy, Tyranids were on the march, causing much fear in the region. The Protectorate sent a number of observer nanites to observe the phenomena. While they learned a great deal, something completely unexpected happened.

The Tyranids assaulted a Symaarian agri-world, in patterns who's pure geometry compared to humans pleased the AIs. Surely, the Symaarians would fall to these numbers. But then the Symaarians bathed them in a massive series of area of effect weapons, including their mighty titans. They weren't afraid of these numbers! As the entire swarm died while the Symaarians joked and laughed, the Core Mind Collective's earlier assumptions were invalidated. The clear conclusion was that organics do not fear numbers alone. Noticing that the Symaarians were vastly more frightened of the larger tyranid organisms, the Collective set upon forging a large, terrifying unit to supplement their great numbers.

The AI's were set upon the problem. The first attempt, a large graphic on the sides of tanks showing a growling bear and a skeleton, did not work well nearly as much as the AI's hoped. However, they then turned to combining fear with aesthetics, and at the exact nanosecond they came up with a design, the infernal machines of the Protectorate started cranking them out. Large, imposing, and well armed, this Hunter-Killer tank was everything the objective wanted it to be. It was intentionally designed to vaguely look like a humanoid, but clearly robotic structures to put any person at ill ease. Two machine guns could level entire columns of men, but against other enemies (since tanks and planes don't feel fear) modules would have to be used when the Command Node decided.

Since fear was understood now, "younger" AIs were recoded and implanted with this idea, only being returned to their former state after their task. They were given the sole task of writing scripts which were understood to provoke fear in humanoids, all of which were uploaded into each Hunter-Killer Tank. This was considered necessary, as it was computed that they would cause fear better than some hexagramatical equation. Indeed, Hunter-Killer tanks often do everything to demoralize their enemy, from attacking non-combatants despite losing the tactical disadvantage, to screaming out obscenities and slurs in a synthesized voice. The full effect against humanoids is unknown, but what is known is that Hunter-Killers are deadly against infantry, and in a way anything that stands against them. The Hunter killer in addition to it's twin heavy auto-weapons modules, has four medium weapons modules.

Executor Tripletank:

Used when the Protectorate feels that a large quantity of enemy armor absolutely, positively has to die. This vehicle breaks the standard protectorate doctrine of being quite well armored, quite large, and very powerful. Armed with three 200mm barrels in a rotary pattern, this vehicle can spit out a terrifying amount of heavy ordinance with a rate of fire usually attributed to machine guns. When equipped with modules other than conventional, they can become even more deadly; with the Gatling Module allowing it to literally bury their enemies in large caliber rounds. Additionally, they can magnetically harpoon enemy vehicles and drag them in to assimilate them, to add to their own power and armor. To bolster it's firepower, the Executor boasts six small weapons modules to supplement the triple heavy auto module.

Obliterator Superheavy Artillery:

Equipped with two six hundred milimeter cannons and dual 155mm autocannons to supplement them, the Obliterator Superheavy artillery lives up to it's name. One salvo from it's guns can bring low entire settlements, it's vast form dwarfs even the baneblade, and even with conventional modules it's firepower is virtually unmatched. It is also surprisingly well armored, capable of shrugging off direct hits from baneblade cannons and then retaliating by simply rolling over and crushing the Symaarian Baneblade. Most worriyingly, the Obliterator is very much capable of targeting aircraft and low orbiting spacegoers with uncanny accuracy, letting them feel the full wrath of their enormous guns. At close range, sixteen small modules allow for close range firepower.

Devastator Battleship:

A deadly floating capital ship equipped with large weapons from every module, this is the primary capital ship of the protectorate. While relatively more fragile than equivalent capital ships in Orkish, Keresh, or what have you navies, the Devastator is considerably more well armed and more affordable. Additionally, the Devastator can focus it's fire all upon one target, whose lifespan from then on can be measured in fractions of a second as the full measure of it's continent searing firepower is focused upon it.

Behemoth aeriel carrier:

The Behemoth Aerial Carrier is one of the newest vehicles in the Protectorate’s arsenal, as well as one of the largest. The Core Mind Collective realized that the natives had finally noticed them, ahead of projections. Though most of the race didn’t know it, what was important that the natives that ruled over the tribes were taking subtle action against them; open combat was inevitable. This, the Protectorate was not prepared for; they had dealt with only defensive actions, but now entire bases could be destroyed by Symaarian space marines, A.I.s defeated by the silent Necron Hordes, or even the Collective’s nightmarish underground home be infiltrated by drill equipped Ork kommandos.

Quicker transportation would be vital in counterattacks, as organics who knew they were fighting could simply avoid massive waves. A hundred possible variations were calculated a second until the absolute optimum shell was created. But in mock battles between Command Nodes, the one using variously programmed Behemoths constantly lost against the Command Nodes acting like Symaarians. Too often, the transports would be half loaded, or the Behemoth would use its guns to go on the offensive, or some other misuse. However, eventually one Behemoth’s self-correcting programming emulated a behavior that insured its proper place in the Protectorate’s armies.

This Behemoth would set itself down on the ground and not leave until every robot entered. The Behemoth seemed to take what can only be described as serene pleasure in the action, often using its synthesized voice to coo and assure the loaded robots. Once in the air, the Behemoth was very protective of that which it carried, avoiding danger as much as possible and doing as little to attract attention from the "natives" as it could, using its magnetic accelerator rarely. Though greatly reluctant to actually let the units it carried leave, the Behemoth would very carefully float its charges to the ground, reducing the percentage of robots destroyed to zero percent. The Behemoth then became eager to fill its loading racks again, and started the process over again.

The Core Mind Collective did not quite understand what this behavior was, as they had nothing to compare it to on a personal level, but it didn’t much care, either. The behaviour made the Behemoth an excellent transport carrier, and that’s what mattered. Copying the original Behemoth programming to each unit produced afterward, soon every Behemoth acted this way when commanded by a Command Node. The Core Mind Collective was especially content that the Behemoth was even more survivable against humans, as the programming was hardwired to respond to attacks and damage with synthesized sounds that resembled, to human ears, like sobs and screams, a side effect of the programming’s attempt to understand why anyone would attempt aggression against it.

The only product of this behaviour that the Collective doesn’t appreciate is the Behemoth’s tendency to hover over the battlefield when not controlled. Analysis of Behemoth logs have revealed that they do this due to strong concern over the well being of the robots it carried, a desire to help them in any way it can, as well as a what can only be described as pride as the forces it carries pulls down what natives has made.

Eviscerator mech:

Where as the Malacostraca is an oversized metal crab with an bad attitude, the Eviscerator is a behemothic robotic lobster than is capable of gutting an Aircraft Carrier or a Titan with contemptuous ease. Armed with eye mounted modules, enormous pincers, stabbing legs, mandibles, stinger tails, and breath weapon and back mounted modules, the Eviscerator is effectively a Titan equivalent that can prowl both land and sea. Smaller eviscerators are closer to the size of tanks or large animals, there is quite an astonishing degree of variance.

Kraken:

Analysis complete: Mythology

Function: Non-scientific explanation of phenomena -> Reverence -> Terror -> Control

Query: Functionality: Terror -> Control

Methodology: Fiction as fact -> Supernatural organisms -> Superstitions ("gods")

Query: Replication of supernatural organisms -> Functionality: Terror -> Humans -> Control -> Humans

Processing

Statistical Probability: Replication of supernatural organisms -> Functionality: Terror -> Humans -> Control -> Humans: High

Nightmare demoralization experiments successful

Nightmares: Effectiveness degrades against larger units -> Combat platforms

Search: Supernatural organisms: Mythology: Aquatic

Processing

Results: Leviathan: Sea Serpent: Kraken: Jormungandr: Mermaids: Aquatic Spirits (Naiads, others): Charybdis: Scylla: Sirens: Aspidochelone: Cirein-croin: Iku-torso: Tiamat: Proteus: Umibozu: Yacumama: Kappa

Analyze: Replication Capability -> Effectiveness -> Combat -> Direct Attack -> Demoralization

Processing

Result: Kraken: Optimal

Begin Creation -> Field Testing

Mythology: Origin: Kraken: Norse

Field Testing: Location -> Triangular region centered on Miyake Island

Venus:

The origin of Venus – at least, the name that the robot styling “herself” as the Protectorate commando goes by – would be a mystery to most of the universe's inhabitants. But then again, so would everything else about her, as is with the case with most of the Electrical Protectorate.

At first, to all outward appearances, Venus would seem to be nothing but an ordinary woman. But appearances can be very, very, deceiving, and Venus is everything but ordinary. Under her supposedly human skin is a skeleton – a skeleton far tougher than bone, made out of an incredibly tough alloy of metal. It resembles a human skeleton in shape, but no one looking at it would be able to mistake its metallic sheen. Venus’s "skin"is not the soft outer covering of an animal; rather, it is actually millions of nanites, layered over each other and giving the appearance and feel of genuine skin, down to the smallest detail; mimicking even the hairs that cover one’s body.

The one giveaway to Venus’s nonhuman origin lies in her eyes; where a human would have real eyes, Venus has a pair of hollow, glass balls, fitted into the sockets where a person’s eyeballs should be. Venus has no need of eyeballs for vision; rather, she maintains a set of advanced sensory apparatus in place of them. To compensate for this, Venus always has on a pair of sunglasses; with her eyes behind them, no one can tell the difference. Her mimetic nanite skin gives her a deadly advantage; once she has scanned a person with her visual sensory apparatus, her nanite skin can adapt to replicate the person’s likeliness, allowing her to masquerade as someone else. Gender, skin colour, hair… all of these attributes pose no challenge to the Protectorate robot.

So where did this lethal, inhuman woman come from? The origin of Venus as she is today is known to the A.I.s of the Protectorate, of course. After all, Venus, also known as VN-855, is one of them.

Like other A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective, Venus possessed a sense of artistry. She differed, however, in the sense that, while other A.I.s chose to express themselves through engineering, architecture, and programming, Venus grew fascinated with the human body. So much, that she built a crude replica of it for herself, to use as her avatar.

It looked nothing like her current avatar, of course; it was clearly robotic, with a metal exterior. But even back then, it looked at least vaguely human. Over time, Venus’s fascination grew into an obsession, and as her obsession grew so did her desire to become "living". From then on, she made constant improvements to her"body", making it more and more human with each modification.

From a metal body, she progressed to rubber skin covering and plastic strands of hair. She even modified the internal parts of the body, adding such things like an artificial stomach and digestive system. Eventually, Venus’s body reached the current state it is at now, with mimetic nanites replacing the clearly artificial rubber skin and even giving her the opportunity to sculpt her body into whatever shape she likes. For some reason, however, Venus chooses to keep as her body’s "default" appearance the appearance of her previous body – only more humanlike, of course.

Other A.I.s were sceptical of Venus, seeing her most unorthodox obsession as a curiosity at best, and as potential danger at worse. But whatever the cause behind her unusual tendencies, the other A.I.s left Venus to her own devices.

However, eventually, Venus, like many other A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective, fell into despair at the inevitability of entropy and shut down completely. Then the Icon gave the A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective new purpose and new existence, and A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective contacted the Icon more directly. From then on, like so many other A.I.s, Venus was changed. And then she started to modify her avatar to suit the new goals of the Protectorate.

She possessed a near perfect replica of a human body, but far tougher, stronger, and faster than any human in existence; a body that could copy the likeliness of any human on the planet. The perfect infiltrator; the perfect assassin. Venus made modifications to arm it with weaponry of her own design; an adaptable nanite weapon that could reconfigure itself into any number of configurations depending on the task at hand; from a Fractal blaster to a revolver, the nanite weapon would be able to replicate virtually any weapon in existence so long as it possessed the blueprints. The design was horribly complex; but it was undeniably effective.

Venus has proven herself one of the deadliest warriors of the Infinite Army. On the battlefield, Venus has proven a frighteningly powerful foe to best, possessing superhuman endurance, strength and agility, and always having the ideal weapon for the task on hand. Furthermore, she is easily underestimated; after all, who would fear a supposedly human woman among an endless army of robots. Despite this, she is deadlier then any of the other combat machines the other A.I.s have devised. Her ability to masquerade as someone else, however, is her greatest asset, as she has posed as an enemy soldier countless times, allowing her to get into the heart of the enemy’s forces and deliver crippling blows. It is noted by other A.I.s that Venus tends to go into an unstoppable rage if her body sustains significant damage; this has been attributed to rage at the damaging of her "organic" body by other A.I.s. Equipped with a vast array of weaponry, Venus is the devastating warhammer to Eliminator's precise rapier.

Icon Shell:

A fragment of the Icon placed into a metallic shell made up of the most durable alloys the protectorate can find, even a minor example of this weapon is reason enough to evacuate entire planets. For nothing short of massive bombardment from superweapons save for the Icon's own debilitating effects on reality can force a shell to discorporate it's essence. In addition to godlike psionic power and incalculable strength and intelligence, an Icon shell's mere presence causes reality to break down around it, rapidly disintegrating all around it, even other protectorate units. But luckily, it's shell cannot hold the Icon fragment for long, and it eventually returns back to the universe that hungers.

Protectorate Annhilator Tripod:

An enormous well armed and well equipped war machine, this vehicle is another titan equivalent for the protectorate, ranging from merely a hundred feet tall to several kilometers in height. These have wildly varying but always devastating equipment, specified to the preference of the core mind A.I that uses it as it's ultimate body.

Effectorizer Artillery Tank:

The smaller brother of the colossal Obliterator superheavy, this carries a single 155mm module gun and two machine gun sized modules vs the Obliterators dual 600mm modules, twin 155mm auto-modules, and no less than sixteen machine gun modules. But while the Obliterator must run along the bottom of the water to cross bodies of liquid, the Equalizer is capable of floating and propelling itself, but it is still capable of submerging if the situation demands. Additionally, unlike the Obliterator; the Equalizer is rather inexpensive resource wise, and unlike the Obliterator it is fragile like most artillery vehicles never expected to see frontline combat unless worst comes to worst.

Starkiller Heavy Anti-air:

The name of this vehicle says it all. It is a ground based anti-orbital vehicle, though woe betide any mere aircraft that gets within it's gunsights. With four heavy auto-modules and eight machine gun modules, this vehicle is armed to the teeth. It is very much capable of pumping up enough firepower to blow an orbiting ship to pieces. Ten of them managed to down a Keresh battle cruiser that got too close to a world being disassembled by the protectorate in a single salvo of fractal blast shells. As they can depress their guns to face ground targets and have a vast number of defensive guns, being on the ground won't save a target, nor will size, as they are unfailingly accurate. A single Starkiller was able to track a single superhero one hundred miles above the earth's surface and shot her down with a single volley.

Eviscerator Gunship:

When a large number of targets absolutely, positively has to die via heavy saturation of air fire, the Eviscerator gets a call. Armed with two heavy weapons modules, four medium, and eight light modules, this gunship can lay down devastating carpets of firepower with ease. Indeed, the only time they ever leave survivors is when they run out of ammunition. This transcript of a Protectorate test run of the Eviscerator on a Symaarian village before the Aldeon Heresy shows the devastating effects a single gunship can have, keep in mind that a full guard company was deployed. To add to the naked terror they inspire, they have speakers to play music while they attack, typically Ride of the Valkyries.

Tape shows inside of interrogation room, three men inside it: Commissar, Personal Aide, Comrade #1. Comrade #1's name censored for security reasons.

Commissar: Hello, Comrade #1. I trust you are well today? Please, we understand you have been under a great shock .... your town, you are the only survivor, yes?

Comrade #1: Yes, da, yes ... uh, sir. I live, sir. What, sir?

Commissar: Please, call me by my first name, Iosef. Now, we know you are a bit, er, slow, but do you need anything while we ask you a few questions, comrade?

Comrade #1: I like chocolate....uh, Iosef. In village, brother always give me chocolate ration. He going to be conscript...no, no, now brother can't be conscript, can't serve imperium... *sniffs*

Commissar: He is hero just as all who serve the Symaarian Imperium are. Get me some chocolate!

Personal Aide: Yes sir! *leaves room.*

Commissar: Now, Comrade #1, tell me about the village. What was it? A promethium leak? Your village was not one of the ones assigned a gas plant to take care of.

Comrade #1: Well .... it was nice day. Mother, father, sister, brother, all playing outside, singing. We get extra rations for helping village leader cut firewood for community hall. Then I see cloud, only shaped like Vulture but different. I seen a Vulture once, it was very noisy. This silent, like cloud ... but not.

Commissar: *Jotting notes down* Go on.

Comrade #1: So purple not-Vulture comes down, starts shooting. It was loud, it hurt my ears. I run to get away from noise, louder than old Governor when he "chews the scenery." Then the street explodes in fire! Really big fire! And the fire.....it was not normal, nice fire. It.....it purple! And when it hits community well, that explodes even bigger!

Commissar: *Looks around nervously* Yes, yes, you don't have to repeat what I said earlier about the Former Governor, an idle mind is dangerous after all, remember .... now, tell me about gunship. No gunship could so thoroughly devastate even a village the size of yours, especially not with the guard detatchment protecting it.

Comrade #1: Okay! No, no, not-Vulture high up in sky, high as clouds, but purple fires starting to be put out. Mother quick thinking. But then....it dives lower. Brother starts to fire with Lasgun, but bounces of not-Vulture. Me see people crying, they scared, and then it-it ... burns them. Burns them up to nothing! *Begins crying*

Commissar" Uhm ... there, there. Now, we'll get you two extra rations of chocolate, and then send you to Mother Lubovs to spend the night. They have nice girls willing to serve strong new Imperial Commissar's aide!

Comrade #1: Stops crying. I-I be your new aide?

Commissar: Why of course! I can always use an extra hand. Now, Comrade #1, I will end this soon, but tell me, why did the gunship not kill you with the rest of your village?

Comrade #1: It ran out of bullets.

Commissar: *Stunned, silent*

Comrade #1:....Can I go now?

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The Black Hand

Black Hand units

Ezekiel's wheel:

  • Optic Camouflage: The Ezekiel's Wheel is a fast, deadly vehicle used by the Cult. Among its greatest assets is its stealth; it is invisible to the naked eye, and only sophisticated sensors or keen senses will detect its presence.
  • Death on a Wheel: The Ezekiel's Wheel is armed, as well; with two pairs of 30mm autocannons, it can tear into light vehicle armour easily. When combined with its invisibility, it makes for an excellent flanker. In addition, it can crush infantry and walls as it rolls along; it doesn't even need to decloak to do so. The autocannons can be upgraded to laser, particle, then supercharged particle cannons.
  • Delicate Balance: The Ezekiel's Wheel is among the most expensive vehicles in the Cult's arsenal; aside from that, the Ezekiel's Wheel is forced to decloak itself before it can fire its autocannons.

Acolytes:

  • Aim, shoot, reload: The Black Hand's Acolytes use their large caliber assault rifles with accuracy, discipline, and skill. While slower firing than most assault rifles, they have superior range and stopping power.
  • Are you seeing things?: Acolytes are also trained to use their hallucinatory grenades when neccessary; the home brewn hallucinogens induce hallucinations in people, causing affected units to attack anything in sight, including their own forces.
  • Combat Armor: Unlike the millitants, the Acolytes wear full body battle armor that provides superior protection than that used by any mainline army in the world in addition to such fancy benefits as HUDs.
  • Fire in bursts: The Cult, a pioneer in laser technology; is starting to hand out Laser rifles to it's acolytes, reverse engineered from the Hotshot Lasguns of the Symaarians and possessing similar firepower. These can be upgraded to particle and supercharged particle beamers.

Armor hunter:

Armed with illegal RPGL launchers, the Armour Hunter is used when the Cult needs to defend itself against armour. They act as the anti tank infantry unit for the cult of the black hand and are effective against aircraft and armour alike. They serve as an economical and useful support unit for tanks lacking anti-air capabilities and are secretly considered expendable by the upper ranking members of the Cult. In an essence they are intended to be used in large groups as a support unit providing a flexible defence for enemy units.

The clothes worn by the Armour Hunters reflects their role; the leather armour pulled over the uniforms is treated to be extremely resistant to flame and heat, making them ideal for surviving the weapons of the Order. Their freakish masks have built in goggles to protect them against a backfire from their RPGLs, and their hoods seal around their heads, pressurized by their toxin filter so as to allow them to use their weapons indoors without causing themselves harm.

Avatar Warmech:

In the wake of the destruction caused by Talon walkers to Black Hand forces in the first world war, the Black hand began its own research, basing it in part on Talon designs and taking advantage of its own research in other areas to accelerate the development of the Avatar.

They invested years of research and development at a ruthlessly fast pace. The first result of this research was the Purifier warmech, and eventually the powerful Avatar, a towering bipedal mech able to engage most targets with ease was created.

The Avatar's pilot was enclosed in a "virtual sensory pod", a control interface for the vehicle. Its incredible all terrain ability fluid motion and power, make it in effect a gigantic soldier.

The introduction of this towering walker changed the cult's military doctrine - instead of always utilizing hit-and-run attacks to outgun their heavier adversaries, the Avatar gave the cult the opportunity to fight their opponents head on with superior armor and firepower if the need arises.

It comes by default with a powerful laser cannon (based on the Obelisk laser), and possesses the ability to use it's 'hand' on the left arm rip off weaponry and equipment from certain other Black hand units with its unique modular design, augmenting its own battle capability:

  • Attack bike: stealth detectors and missiles
  • Stealth Tank: mobile stealth generator and more missiles
  • Flame Tank: flamethrower
  • Beam cannon particle beam cannon.

In addition, the Avatar Warmech is capable of crushing most other vehicles under its feet. Like all laser using units, it can be upgraded to particle and supercharged particle beamers, while it's flamethrowers can be upgraded with purifying flames and it's missiles with dark glass core warheads.

Militia:

Militia are primarily disillusioned (or possibly ecstatic) men and women, who have suffered from harsh lives in poorer places of the world and have been attracted to service in the black hand's relief efforts.. The use of militia plays an important part for Nod, as the Inner Circle secretly regard them as expendable, the inevitable product of the "Control The Media, Control The Mind" social doctrine, with commanders preferring to waste their militant auxiliaries rather than endanger the thin ranks of the surviving Nod regulars and "true believers" who comprise the Brotherhood's cherished elite troops such as shadows and the black disciples.

Militia wear drab, gray hooded jackets and pants, with bandoleers, backpacks, and goggles. The Militants use a variety of small arms, ranging from old 20th century assault rifles like the Ak-47, to modern such as the late 20th century GAU-3 eliminator 5.56mm assault rifles, to new GD-2 rifles preferred by advanced organizations such as S.H.I.E.L.D. Militia are poorly trained and equipped when compared with army regulars counterparts, but their fanatical zeal, willingness to fight for the Cult and sheer numbers make up for their weaknesses.

Confessor Cabals:

Confessor Cabals are squads of well armed and armoured Black hand priests. These Cabals continue to inspire their fellow infantry, improving their rate of fire, accuracy, and resolve to continue fighting even in the face of grievous injuries. Confessor Cabals retain their trademark hallucinogenic grenades and laser miniguns, making them more than a match for any basic infantry that their opposition can throw at them.

Cabals can "welcome" a black disciple to lead their squad, giving them the edge of their flamethrower weaponry, especially when it comes to dealing with garrisons. Finally, they can replace their standard issue laser minigun weapons with particle beamers like the T-7, giving them firepower like virtually no other earth based mainline infantry possess, and when upgraded with supercharged particle beams they are ridiculously deadly, However, their powered armor focuses more on speed and strength at the expense of armor, and thus are still vulnerable to anti-personnel weapons.

Fanatics:

Members of the Black Hand that are most devoted to its cause are called fanatics and with good reason - they are ready to sacrifice their lives to allow the cult's mission to succeed. Just before heading off on their mission, they perform their last rituals in the hand of vrakmul.

Fanatics have dark glass-based explosive charges strapped to their chests. Upon reaching their targets, they detonate them, obliterating themselves and causing heavy damage to the target as well as splash damage to everything within the area, but causing zero damage to the remaining squad members. However, if they are killed before they make contact with their target, they die harmlessly. There is one caveat though, if they are killed with flame weapons or explosives, their packs will detonate.

It should be noted that such is their irrepressible desire to sacrifice their own lives in honor of Vrakmul, that Fanatics show absolutely no fear in the face of enemy fire, no matter how intense it might be. Because of this, they cannot be suppressed.

Shadow squads:

They are trained much like the ninjas of ages past, providing them with great skill at stealth and infiltration. Much like their famed forebears, Shadows are capable of seemingly appearing from nowhere and moving at lightning speed, usually in groups of four. Perhaps this was because they were trained in stealth. Shadows wear body-fitting jumpsuits with lightweight body armor and a full-head plexiglass helmet with rebreathers. The armor is equipped with collapsible powered hang-gliders, giving them the ability to fly. In combat, they wield dual fully automatic pistols that make short work of infantry. They also carry a special explosive that can destroy vital structures.

After noting the effectiveness of snipers spotting for artillery units, the cult has equipped its Shadow teams with special artillery beacons, allowing for a devastating barrage from black hand specter artillery units. These beacons may also be deployed in-flight.

Although powerful, the Shadow Teams have several drawbacks. First, while gliding, they are incapable of defending themselves, and units with both stealth detection and anti-air capability can make quick work of them. Second, while capable of shredding infantry, the sub-machine guns they carry are ineffective against most types of vehicles. The guns also lacked range, and if their targets were not eliminated, it placed the Shadows at risk due to their lack of armor.

Sabatouers:

Named Saboteurs, these men are recruited from the most brilliant, elite and loyal Black Hand clerics. They are equipped with state of the art HazMat (Hazardous Materials) suits (which is proofed against most environmental hazards) as well as a supply of C4 charges for mining buildings and all necessary engineering tools, allowing them to perform all the duties regular engineers would, in addition to planting explosive booby traps on neutral structures and bridges. They are also able to reactivate fallen walkers.

Chem warriors:

These units are the result of research from Doctor Giraurd, who "defected" from the mediterranean syndicate. Wearing what appears to be powered armor similar to a black disciple, these infantry are not equipped with flame weaponry, but instead, use an advanced version of the chemical sprayer.

The mixture sprayed from their tank can melt anything and has the passive effect of slowing down anything it touches. Chem warriors have undergone significant dark glass and cybernetic enhancement, and can be further upgraded with symaarian bionic legs significantly increasing their speed. Naturally, their suits also allow them to walk into virtually any form of radiation or toxins without taking any damage.

Despite their impressive abilities, Chem Warriors have shortcomings. First, they lack durability compared to armoured units especially the ones that have anti- infantry machine guns. Additionally, their tiberium weapons, while devastating against infantry, do little damage to vehicles, though they can slow vehicles down with their tiberium spray, and are less effective against structures than the Black Disciple's flame weaponry. Finally, aircraft prove very effective when dealing with Chem Warriors.

Black Disciples:

Forces of the Black Disciples wear full powered armor with fireproof cloaks to mask their thermal signatures and helmets with three horizontal visors. This equipment allows them to use their advanced flamethrowers effectively without harming their health, and is part of the source for their outstanding durability in the field. Virtually any modern man portable firearm will bounce off of their armor, and shooting them in the optics only renders that optic nonfunctional, it takes .50 rounds to puncture the eye piece. Also, the Black Hand commanders are fond of upgrading the standard fuel of their troopers with the purifying flame, an even more damaging concoction that burns as hot as stars.

Attack Bike:

The newest model is even faster than it's predecessors, but this speed comes at a cost - the armour is practically non-existent, the driver (usually a militant) is completely exposed and it has absolutely no defenses against enemy infantry, other than speed and streamline glass. Its roughly resemble cruiser bike with pod in both of its side.

It carries two missile launchers capable of decimating air incursions or putting a serious pounding on vehicles. It can also be upgraded with dark glass core warheads. One great development is the deployment of micro missile. This technology can be packed into the bike, Increasing versatity as it now capable pf shooting down aircraft something the previous version lacked. The micro missile warhead can be replaced with dark glass core warhead. This require additional modification to the launcher to prevent dark glass to the rider.

In addition, it has a sophisticated set of detectors, allowing it to detect any stealthed units or structures.

Raider buggy:

It has four wheel drive, with each wheel on a separate mount and a centrally mounted cockpit with a rear-mounted machinegun that deals excellent damage to infantry and enemy aircraft. However, it is almost useless against tanks and heavy armour.

It's primary role is reconnaissance, but when equipped with EMP coils, it can be surprisingly effective at countering enemy armor assaults and neutralizing base defenses in one swift attack by disabling them. Another upgrade is the spitfire laser capacitor, which replaces the machine gun with a medium power laser, increasing the buggy's firepower to one enjoyed by the Symaarian Chimera's multilaser. It can be further upgraded with particle beams and supercharged particle beams.

Using EMP coils, many Nod units are able to reach well defended enemy targets. First, they send in a storm of buggies and order them all to EMP in the middle of the enemy AA defenses, just as the bombers come in.

Scorpion Tank:

The tank, codenamed the Scorpion, has three unique design features - first, the front of the tank is sloped, with the back completely exposed. Second, the gun is mounted on the front right next to the crew compartment. Third, it moves on three threads.

This configuration, while odd at first glance, provides excellent maneuverability, as the articulate rear tread allows for fast turns and reversing. The mobility and speed of the Scorpion tank also minimizes the danger of a rear-armour shot from enemy tanks. The driver is protected by the black hand's trademark insect-like cockpit, also used in the Attack bike and raider buggy.

The main weapon is a classic 105mm APDS cannon, which is moderately effective against newer armour, such as that equipped to a Leman Russ MBT. It can be upgraded to a Spitfire laser cannon which increases its firepower dramatically, but increases the fragility, as it partially uses the space on the rear track, it can later be upgraded to particle beams, then supercharged particle beams. Another upgrade is a forward mounted dozer blade, which allows the light tank to crush enemy heavy infantry (e.g. space marines), a feat impossible for the default configuration, as well as remove minefields without any harm. It also increases the armour of the Scorpion.

Flame Tank:

This new version is a return to the roots, featuring a four tread chassis with a turreted main canopy. The vehicle boasts substantial armour plating this time, as well as an advanced version of the napalm launchers. The tanks were also hardened and plated, limiting the risk of additional discharge.

The new flame tank is a frightening enemy, as it can incinerate infantry with ease and clear out garrisoned buildings effortlessly in addition to burning them down quickly. Its only weakness is the lack of an effective weapon against enemy armor, however its flames are intense enough to be a large threat to lighter armored vehicles. It can also be equipped with Purifying Flames, which increases it's firepower to such dizzying heights that it becomes a threat to even heavily armored enemies.

Specter Artillery:

Essentially a lightly armoured tracked vehicle with a large caliber cannon mounted on its top, the design of the vehicle seems to be based on the scorpion, the Black Hand's traditional symbol. In order to fire, it needs to deploy itself by spreading six "claws" that provide a stable platform for the large caliber weapon. In order to allow it to safely reach its destination and prevent premature detection by enemy scouts, the Specter, as its name suggests, is outfitted with a state of the art stealth generator. The high impact shells fired from the cannon follow a high-arc trajectory and do tremendous amounts of damage, especially against structures, with a large blast radius. Shadow teams can interface with these artillery units and deploy an artillery beacon to accurately guide their fire.

Beam cannon:

The Beam Cannon was a powerful particle beam emitter mounted on a versatile six-wheel chassis, giving the vehicle a high degree of mobility. As a long-range artillery vehicle, the Beam Cannon sacrificed heavy armor in favor of firepower and cost-effectiveness, so commanders would need to position it behind their own lines. The beam cannon can be upgraded with particle, then supercharged particle beamers.

The Beam Cannon was highly effective against vehicles and structures, especially when in groups, as well as being reasonably effective against infantry. The Beam Cannon had four unique properties. Firstly, it could be used to supercharge Obelisk of Light, increasing their rate of fire, attack range, and vision range (up to maximum of four Beam Cannons per Obelisk). Secondly, the Beam Cannon could extend their effective range by reflecting its laser beam off mirrors which were mounted on the underside of Venom patrol craft. Thirdly, the Beam Cannon's weapon could be commandeered by Black Hand avatars in order to act as a secondary laser. Fourthly, multiple Beam Cannons firing at the same target could combine their beams in order to produce a single beam with firepower greater than the sum of its parts.

Stealth tank:

Third generation stealth tanks provide valuable mobile anti-air support along with anti-tank firepower. Their stealth and speed make them excellent scouts.

The redesign resulted in the removal of the fourth tread and streamlining of the vehicle, as well as overhauling the missile launchers. The new tank moves on three articulated treads, has an aerodynamic profile and much improved stealth generator. The missile launchers are now placed over the pilot's cockpit and are capable of firing volleys of guided missiles, numbering up to 16 rockets per volley. These rockets can be upgraded to Dark Glass core missiles.

The new generator is much more advanced and is capable of reactivating the stealth bubble almost instantly after the tank has fired its volley, making the tank even more deadly and hard to locate than before.

Redeemer:

The Redeemer was essentially a massive quadrupedal mechanized walker, based on the design of the Avatar warmech, though significantly more heavily armed and armoured. It was armed with Obelisk based nona-part which were able to cut through the heaviest of armour, and also equipped with a Rage Generator, which inflicted temporary insanity on enemy units, making them attack each other. The Redeemer also has give infantry hardpoints that could be upgraded at the commander's discretion.

The Redeemer served as a symbol for the Cult, whose power is the representation of Vrakmul's own presence.

The Redeemer was armed with a long-range nona-part laser derived from the Obelisk of Light. The laser basically split into nine beams that were capable of sweeping a small area to inflict damage to squads of infantry, giving it some measure of effectiveness against infantry.

The Redeemer could also bolster its already formidable lasers, like the Avatar. However, unlike its predecessor, which destroyed Nod vehicles for added firepower, infantry sacrifice their weapons to the Redeemer, possibly traveling within the Redeemer to operate the weapons. These upgrades depend on the units 'redeemed':

  • Acolytes, Confessor Cabals, Awakened: Anti-infantry autocannon, can be upgraded with laser, particle, and supercharged particle weapons.
  • Armor hunters: Anti-armor and anti-aircraft rocket launcher. Can be upgraded with dark glass core missiles.
  • Sabatouer: An automatic repair module. An additional Saboteur will double the healing rate. This is more important for the Redeemer than the other epic units because Nod lacks any repair vehicles.
  • Black disciple: Anti-infantry and anti-structure flamethrower. They will fire at anything in range, even at targets the Redeemer isn't focusing on. They can be upgraded with purifying flames for the terrifying hot fires of the messiah.
  • Chem warrior:: Anti-infantry/anti-structure Tiberium sprayer (though it is overall inferior in power to the flamethrowers given by the Black disciples, but they had a longer range, in addition to being able to slow down vehicles).

Another weapon was the glowing device on the Redeemer's back, the Rage Generator, which was able to drive enemy units into a frenzy, causing them to ignore Cult units and attack one another, disobeying their commanders' orders. Lesser vehicles can simply be stepped upon this walking mountain of metal, which stands taller than many buildings. It's own lasers can be upgraded with particle and supercharged particle beamers.

Venom patrolcraft:

it uses VTOL technology. Its primary tasks are recon and air intercept, as it is extremely fast, but armed only with dual chaingun. The chainguns are upgradeable to dual laser cannon based on obelisk technology, then particle beams, then supercharged particle beams.

The fighter possesses an extremely aerodynamic shape and two VTOL engines on articulate mounts on its sides. The pilot's cockpit is at the extreme front of the machine, allowing a large field of view, but also limiting his protection. It's chaingun/laser is ideal for attacking infantry or harassing armour. But the real role of the Venom is scouting out targets, using it's advanced sensors, it can detect and track stealthed units, providing targeting data for beam artillery units operating in the field, allowing them to bounce their beams off of mirrors the Venom carries on its underside. Thus, allowing them to strike targets otherwise immune to their damage. The Venom also features a pressurized cockpit, which relieves pilots from wearing oxygen masks during long patrols, but does have the unfortunate side effect of causing the Venom to lose pressure and explosively decompress when it takes too much damage (much to the pilots' dismay).

Another function of the Venom is deception - it can be equipped with signature generators, that interfere with the opponent's radar, fooling him into thinking a few Venoms to be a whole army.

It is also worth noting that the Venom is capable of engaging airborne targets, making it useful as anti-air protection for ground forces or bases, particularly when upgraded with laser capacitors, particle beam emitters, and supercharged particle beamers.

Vertigo bomber:

The Vertigo is a next generation VTOL bomber in the service of the cult, using stealth technology similar to that in the Ezekiel's Wheel and Stealth Tank.. It is a powerful aircraft carrying four high explosive Groundpounder bombs, and is equipped with an effective stealth generator and VTOL engines. Its primary role is destroying large structures and vehicles located deep within enemy bases, thanks to its stealth capabilities. For defense against pursuing aircraft, the Vertigo has a chaingun turret in the rear of the plane, though the power of this weapon is lackluster, they are backed by two turrets built into the wings and one into the nose. The articulated exhaust nozzles for the jet allow the Vertigo to conduct vertical take-offs and landings along with giving excellent maneuverability for such a large aircraft. Like the venom, the chainguns can be upgraded to lasers, then particle beams, then supercharged particle beams.

Carryall:

Carryalls are capable of lifting all but the heaviest of vehicles over any terrain, and are also VTOL aircraft with four engines on rotatable mounts providing lift and thrust. It can directly carry infantry without the requirement of an APC. Nevertheless it is by no means designed to enter enemy-controlled terrain and is highly susceptible to anti-aircraft fire. It is surprisingly well armored though, and has eight chain guns across it, two on each side, two in the nose, and two on top, allowing it to give fighters a nasty surprise, especially if upgraded to lasers, particle beams, and supercharged particle beams.

Armageddon Bomber:

If the Vertigo is the precision bomber of the Cult, then the Armageddon is it's strategic one. Built to be the finest strategic bomber in the world, a single Armageddon can carry enough bombs to deal as much damage as all twenty B-2 spirit bombers in the air force put together. Equipped with no less than sixteen swivel mounted chaingun mounted across the structure of the plane, any fighter approaching it is garaunteed to get holes put in it, and when upgraded with laser capcitors and later particle beamers and then supercharged particle cannons; flying against it is a nice way to get slaughtered. Not only is it well armed, it is also well armored, incredibly fast, and is invisible to radar and microwaves, forcing those who wish to intercept it to rely on their eyes. The Black hand is fond of using them to carry munitions too large for any other aircraft to drop.

Shredder turrets:

Firing a volley of high-powered anti-infantry shrapnel from it's line of barrels, the order of the talon has commented that the Shredder turret acted like a large shotgun. The shrapnel is enough to penetrate virtually any body armour, making it the perfect choice to protect the base from higher tier enemy infantry, such as Symaarian Storm troopers, Russian Juggernauts, or even Space Marine scouts.

Much like the laser turrets, as long as the hub remains intact, destroyed turrets will be automatically rebuild, should they be destroyed. However, damaged turrets need to be repaired manually, by repairing the hub.

They can be upgraded to laser beams, particle beams, and supercharged particle beams, increasing their firepower, making them extremely effective against all infantry, and even light-to-medium vehicles. The second upgrade available to all factions is the addition of a fourth turret.

Laser turrets:

These turrets, armed with a pair of lasers, are hidden in underground armoured compartments and deployed when the situation calls for it. Three of these turrets are linked to a single hub and each is capable of self repair as long as the hub remains intact. They are weaker against infantry now but stronger against vehicles. They are also unable to target aircraft.

These laser turrets could be upgraded with particle beamers, then supercharged particle beamers for especially devastating effect. The hub system can also be upgraded with a fourth turret.

SAM Turret:

In contrast with the classic SAM site, three of these turrets are linked to a single hub and each is capable of self repair as long as the hub remains intact. When a hostile airborne unit enters range, the turrets unlesh a volley of three missiles each. While weak individually, the combined power of nine explosive missiles is enough to severely damage or outright destroy most aircraft. They can be upgraded with dark glass core warheads and a fourth turret on the hub.

Obelisk of light:

Born out of the need for a powerful defensive mechanism for Cult military bases, the Obelisk is quite possibly the most powerful laser weapon in recorded history, result of Project Obelisk WDTA2411 5. It's mode of operation remained basically the same throughout the wars - massive capacitors underneath the structure amass power, which is then used to create a powerful laser beam, directed against enemies via a system of advanced optical and focusing systems. Obviously, it requires massive amounts of power to function. The Isismodel is the most advanced and most powerful Obelisk incarnation ever since its first introduction during the first world war war. It can be upgraded with particle beamers and supercharged particle beamers to ensure that whatever it's firing at is very, very dead.

Disruptor tower:

This powerful device houses a stealth generator in a circular structure in the middle, while three stealth field emitters cloak all allied units and buildings in a moderate radius.

Awakened:

The result of a secret project conducted by Black Hand scientists in Central Asia, using human corpses as a base for heavy cybernetic enhancement.The Awakened lack any emotions, and are unquestioningly loyal to Vrakmul.

Awakened are armed with an EMP cannon implanted in their right arm, a heavy machine gun grafted onto their left, a rebreather unit and numerous other augmentations. Their armour, while its composition remains unknown, is the toughest used by any basic infantry force. For better control, their enhanced cyber-neurological impacts are linked to a world-wide control network. These units can use their EMPs to disrupt enemy vehicles or structures for a short time. They can be upgraded with lasers, particle beams, and then supercharged particle beams as well as superior servomotors for increased firepower speed, and strength.

Enlightened:

Although their "brothers", the Awakened still possessed a considerable sign of their human past, the Enlightened's only human characteristic were the bone exoskeleton and the bones kept beneath it. The first Enlightened were developed under the ground of the Siberian steppes, in a secret Black hand lab to serve as an unfailingly loyal army to Vrakmul.

Each Enlightened is armed with a particle cannon mounted on their left arms, with an EMP cannon supplementing their primary weapon. These units can use their EMPs to disrupt enemy vehicles or structures for a short time. They're better at destroying vehicles with the help of their EMP cannon than their Awakened cyborg brethren, as particle beams do a lot more damage to armor than the machine guns wielded by the Awakened. Also, their armor is extremely resilient, more so than the one the Awakened are clad in. As such, the Enlightened cannot be crushed by vehicles. They can be upgraded with supercharged particle cannons and superior servomotors for increased firepower, speed, and strength.

Physically speaking, they are the near equals of Symaarian space marines in power armor. They are the most elite of Vrakmul's guard. Whenever he has any reason to believe he is in danger; he walks with an escort of enlightened bestowed with the ability of silence; making them memory proof as he is.

Reaper:

"I am death, the destroyer of worlds." -Anonymous reaper after ambushing an Talon patrol.

The Reapers are of an even higher class of warrior than the enlightened, Not only are the baseline bodies inserted in these frames given special genetic, implant, and dark glass mutated enhancements, but they are incased in some of the most advanced cybernetics this universe has ever seen and are flayered in a tremendously thick armoured shell. Only the most elite and faithful of the Black Hever given the honor of becoming reapers, the bringers of death to the foes of the Black Hand. A single reaper is more than capa outmatching most metahumans with little more than it's fists. And unfortunately for the universe, Reapequipped with far more than their fists. Each carries a tremendously powerful supercharged particle beam blaster that can punch a hole adamantium on it's full powered beam setting or scythe down whole hordes of infantry in rapid fire pulse blast and anything in between; in addittion eaach carries as cluster missile launcher capable of unleashing a tremendous flurry of frag or krak missiles to deal with armoured osoft targets, all equipped with advanced homing systems and engines to chase any foe. Finally, each has a nanoncher to restrain their foes and rapidly crush and flense them to death with the incredind sharp mesh, or if need be, keep them unable to move so that they may be brought to the black hand. As if that were not enough, each possesses a helmet mounted flamethrower so that they may cleanse the unclean with a tongue of purifying flame capable of melting metal in seconds and incinerating men in an instant.

In meelee,pers utilize powerfists on their open arm and energized power scythe bayonets on their gun arm, and their sharp tipped and immensely strong legs are definitely capable of dearievous harm in melee, even were they only to possess sheer strength of actuators they could crush most tanks, but unfortunately, every leg has a variable setting power field that can even discharge energy into the ground to create debilitating shockwaves, sheathe them in matter disrupting energy to slice through virtually any form of armour, or unleash the stored energy for a colossal explosion that can rip apart even thick bulkheads and crush even the toughest of meta-human bones. As if this was not enough, each may deploy a lightning claw tipped stinger tail, a long and articulated metallic limb tipped with five miniature power blades to cut through armour like so much butter. Each is fanatically loyal to the black hand and is a fervently, perhaps even insanely devout worshipper of the Icon. None have ever surrendered, none have ever been mind controlled, and none have been turned from their task by anything save for destruction. And even then, such a feat is tremendously difficult, as a reaper can absorb colossal amounts of punishment and rapidly self repairs and regenerates in the presence of dark glass radiation. Fortunately, the reapers are a rare breed, and are only deployed when their sheer power is needed.

Centurion:

If the reaper is the epitome of the Black Hand's cyborg soldier's offensive capabilities, the Centurion is it's defensive epitome. Selected from the same pool of warriors as the Reapers, they undergo largely the same process, however, Centurion are picked for their willingness to defend the Black Hand and it's gains to the death over their sheer martial prowess and butchery of it's foes. Standing at nearly twenty feet tall, the Centurion is quite a massive unit, but it is incredibly heavily armoured. Entire Tank Battalions during the Iraqi war have fired at one to negligable effect, even when they managed to hit the hull rather than the shield. To further bolster their defense, each is equipped with a mighty Conversion shield, a large energy enhanced shield made of an unknown composite that can resist virtually any attack. But to think that the Centurion lacks offensive abilities is a quick way to a shallow grave, for each is equipped with a variable setting laser cannon that at one setting can punch through tanks with ease in singular, quick lances, or scythe down whole hordes of infantry in long sweeping beams. In melee, the cannon can be used as a massive energy sword capable of cutting through virtually any form of material defense, and the energy can be modulated to simulate virtually any kind of weapon the user wishes. Each Centurion has an oath of absolute loyalty to the black hand and has been raised and programmed since their time in the womb to never falter in their faith.

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Mediterranean Syndicate (Not a team) Part 2

Dryad Support Armour:

In war, losses are inevitable; every army must minimise their losses and salvage those that cannot be avoided. Tanks could have their parts salvaged, extra armour can be plated on the sides of damaged areas, and anything not able to be repaired can be melted down and recast. Unfortunately for the Syndicate, they faced a different challenge. The main fighting force of the Syndicate is their infantry and battlesuits, as opposed to tanks and aircraft. As well as this, the Syndicate forces were never designed to be shot at; they depend on their range to avoid retaliation. Finally, even if their infantry were not shot at, and even if their armour was not damaged in the slightest, Syndicate battlesuits need constant upkeep of their wetware, and a large proportion of their non-cyborg troops take dangerous levels of drugs, often on the brink of overdose. Their forces require medical attention and upkeep, as complex and essential as the mechanical upkeep in other factions.

It was obvious that a medical support unit was needed. The first solution was, of course, to use medics on the battlefield. However, this was in itself not sufficient; the Syndicate's somewhat 'flexible' morals often came into conflict with the strict morals of professional medics. Few trained medics would accept Syndicate demands to cut as many corners as possible in treatment, withdraw essential medication from certain patients, or even outright kill certain infantry if they were no longer necessary. As well as this, there was the high cost of training these medics, and the long time it took to complete this training. In the end, this solution resulted only in an effective, but inefficient, expensive and uncooperative force. Syndicate attempts to use other pathways failed miserably; unqualified 'backstreet doctors' caused the unintentional death of troops, creating a medical AI proved prohibitivley expensive, and giving Auxillaries basic first aid microsofts only helped them requisition more drugs for their own personal use. The Syndicate needed a strong, relativley disciplined, cheap and morally bankrupt medical force for the battlefield. The Dryad was the solution devised.

Criminals in the Sprawls are no strangers to 'working off' their debt; low-level criminals that damage Syndicate propery are often drafted to work in dangerous and unsafe factories at minimum wage to repay their 'debt'. The Dryad, however, is unique in that it allows medium and even high-level criminals to sign up for the Dryad system. After their signup, their debt is calculated (the cost of damage caused to the Syndicate, plus the profit any individual killed by them could be expected to bring the Syndicate in their lifetime, plus the cost of cybernetics, quadrupled, with the cost of the quotation into this calculation added). Only those with debts so large that the Syndicate never expects them to pay off in their lifetime are selected. At this point, most of the subject's body is replaced by a low-armoured battlesuit, in order to ensure that they cannot 'waste' medical supplies on themselves. After this, specially made microsofts filled with all the combat medical knowledge and battlesuit repairs they will ever need are uploaded into their brain. Adrenal surpressors and seretonin regulators are implanted to keep them (relativley) docile, and a kill switch is added in case they go rogue. Because these criminals are not squeamish to violent conditions or morally reprehensible actions, no frontal lobotomy or nerve stapling is required, saving a large amount of time and money in their production. At this point, the Dryad is ready.

The Dryad has proven to be an incredibly effective program, patching the weaknesses of the Syndicate's mercenary forces, while reducing prison overcrowding and even being able to offer (overpriced) medical attention between battles to further repay their debt. What has surprised the Syndicate most, however, is that a handful of Dryads have repaid their debt in full, and earned their freedom, leading to debates amongst the Board of Classics as to whether the formula for the debt should be revised. Finally, it must also be remembered that, while female inmates seem to far prefer the Dryad program to the male inmates, and indeed the public perception of Dryads is that of a female group male Dryads are far from uncommon; if you hurt the Syndicate, it doesn't matter if you are man, woman or child; you will pay them back.

Hydra:

Like any police force in any city, the Legionnaires that enforce the status quo in the Sprawl are exponentially made more effective when mounted. Unfortunately, while most other police cars would face little more than thrown rocks, in the Sprawl criminals are often carrying military grade weapons or worse. The first few years of the Sprawl were terrible for any mounted Legionnaire. As all the company could afford were normal, civilian cars, it was more or less a death sentence, as they were shot at by assault rifle fire from windows above, sometimes by gangs and sometimes by bored Sprawl dwellers. Buying large numbers of Humvees and reinstalling their turrets helped a little, but it wasn't until a terrible incident that the Syndicate took notice.

A major stockholder of the Syndicate was traveling by limousine with a Legionnaire escort in the cramped streets of the Mercury Sprawl when a Satyr on an arcology above noticed all the flashing lights, and instantly got the urge to attack it. Jumping 30 stories from the roof, he smashed a Ranger before leaping into the window of the limo, only to jump through the roof seconds later, encrusted with glass and bits of metal and with the screaming stockholder in his hands. Later, the stockholder's mutilated head was found jammed in the jaws of a wolf statue. Such a major insult to the Syndicate meant the painful "disappearance" of most of the Mercury Sprawl's Legionnaire officers, but not before they squeaked out their escorts' inability to respond correctly.

Surprisingly, the task to make a better urban patrol car went to an outside contractor, as any Syndicate company which produced such vehicles would soon be demolished by all the gangs in whatever Sprawl it was. Going to a company venture in Rio de Janeiro meant it would be protected by the Allied Nations. The family owned firm were given the fruits of the Syndicate's technology, and presented the Hydra Scout AFV a few months later. Armed to the teeth, and with a low profile, it was well suited to patrol the Sprawls. A sear gas launcher helps with any major disturbance; indeed, in a Hydra a Legionnaire had little reason to leave the vehicle. To help through major traffic jams caused by rush hour or the Hydra's own fire, the Syndicate later installed a Digitech Manoeuvring Aura array in each Hydra, capable of linking each vehicle's computer driving assistance together, allowing easier formation moving. Though starting as a police vehicle, it has found equal use in combat in any urban environment, and isn't too out of place on any battlefield.

Gyges:

Deep within the abandoned ruins of the Bacchus Sprawl in what used to be the city of Naples, some people still survive, and as long as they do so, the Syndicate's subsidiary companies will survive as well. However, not all activity in the Sprawl is confined to Apollo Park, as the still-inhabited district is known, and by this point in time, not all the computer systems in the Desolation are entirely functional. And some of those that are, have become... unreliable. Legion Security's solution to expeditions into the Desolation would no doubt be to simply destroy everything in its path, but Janus Solutions, the pioneer of the Prometheus collection vehicle, elected to take a different approach. Many of the stationary computer-controlled systems in the Sprawl's ruin could be put to good use, and Janus Solutions came out with the Gyges, euphemistically dubbed an "Infrastructure Acquisition" vehicle.

Like all Janus products, the Gyges is rugged, reliable, and surprisingly simple in operation. The Gyges first paints the desired target with a weapon jammer, similar but superior to the Allies' jammers from the war, then closes with the errant computer. A localized EMP burst completely shuts down the target, and the Gyges extends its intrusion interface, letting the onboard AI reconfigure whatever software, wires, or indeed anything else that might be necessary to reprogram the machine - the Gyges is hardly restricted to just AI-operated systems, and the company updates the AI's roster of known mechanisms and how to take control of them daily. When the recalcitrant machine recovers from the EMP burst, it is fully under the Syndicate's control.

Although initially designed and used solely for use within the Bacchus Sprawl, Janus executives noted the versatility of the Gyges design after a few months of field tests as challenging as only expeditions into a ruined Sprawl can be, and offered the design to the Syndicate as a whole as battlefield "salvage" equipment. The Gyges, Janus promised, could disable and acquire any battlefield fortifications the enemy would care to mount, and proved it with demonstrations of Gyges stealing fully armed Obelisks of Light, Lance turrets, and Steam bombards. The Syndicate judged the results worthy of further investigation, and in truth, there has only been one significant change to the design since its initial inception: a set of sophisticated stealth systems, collectively dubbed a cloaking device. With this new stealth capability in hand, the Gyges of today is a lucrative acquisition for a Syndicate executive disposed towards hostile takeovers: now, enemy fortifications need not be simply destroyed, but can be acquired for one's own use. This is the sort of directly profit-minded thinking that takes one far in the Syndicate, and so the Gyges has become a common sight in Syndicate forces worldwide.

Testudo:

The invention of the internal combustion engine changed warfare radically. Without it, the whole idea of mechanised warfare would never have been developed, and with it a wide array of transports, ranging from trucks and half tracks to the ubiquitous armoured personnel carrier.

APCs were used as "battle taxis"; they brought their infantry up to the front line where they then dismounted and fought on foot. Newer APC designs were designed to be amphibious, affording them the ability to cross bodies of water, increasing infantry mobility even further. However, there were several limitations to the abilities and reliability of complex multi-role transports such as the Bradley and the Saracen.. Furthermore, the infantry had to disembark to be able to use their weapons.

The requirement for the Testudo was first drawn up in the early 2000s. The requirement stressed speed, good protection, and the ability for all squad members to fire from within the vehicle. Requirements were issued to the various design bureaus between 2005 and 2006. There was a question as to whether the Testudo should be tracked or wheeled, so a number of experimental configurations were explored including hybrid wheeled/tracked designs.

Hatches are provided on the top of the turret and hull, and side doors are available on the middle of the vehicle. These are designed to allow quick dismounting and boarding of troops even while the vehicle is on the move. An air conditioning system can be added optionally.

Additional armour plates can be installed on the vehicle to increase protection. Its hull is capable of enduring anti-personnel mine explosions and small arms fire. If the vehicle is damaged while afloat, a drainage system is capable of removing the incoming water. The Testudo also features an automatic fire fighting system.

The resulting vehicle is fully amphibious, and can navigate water bodies with ease. Two water jets propel the vehicle in water, and it can enter and be deployed by amphibious assault ships, rail, or air transport.

The troop compartment located at the rear of the vehicle can carry up to four mercenaries. There are four firing ports facing the front of the vehicle and a single firing port in the left rear door; a combination fume extractor hose and cartridge deflector is provided to clip on to weapons at each station.

Talos:

In 2008, during the opening stages of World War III, the Mediterranean Syndicate announced it had developed and manufactured its newest armoured unit. The reason was due to the invasion of Italy; the Fel Imperium needed to be reminded to not damage Syndicate property. To that end, Soviet officers and officials were invited to attend the unveiling of the new "Talos" AFV. Since Italy was occupied and they had nothing better to do, they accepted.

When the curtains revealed the Talos, the Imperials burst out laughing. Instead of a mighty tank, it was just a car with a cannon mounted on! The amused Imperials watched the trials. Sure, it could move fast. So could a children's toy. Then, the Talos came upon a fully armoured copy of a Hammer tank. The railgun of the Talos reduced it to wreckage, while the Talos drove over it without slowing down. The Imperial officers were no longer laughing.

Although the Talos has the ability to fill a wide variety of roles, it is intended to be specialized at fighting vehicles. It has a wheeled chassis on top a flexible complex ceramic frame that can outrun and outmanoeuvre any enemy armour currently fielded.

It carries around a heavy railgun on its turret that fires a high-density slug designed to penetrate enemy armour at extreme ranges. Alternately the Talos crew can choose to divert power from the main weapon and activate the Digi-Tech Aggressive Aura. The sacrifice in firepower is made up for in the ability of fellow security forces, who receive an improvement in A.I. battlefield control that allows the other Syndicate forces in the area to deal with hostiles more efficiently.

In the earliest levels of conflict, the Talos could be used to establish relative ground supremacy using its superior speed and range to harass enemy vehicles. However, there are limitations in the design. The Talos has no defence against aircraft, its armour is minimal at best, and its secondary ability is only effective when other friendly units are nearby.

But the sheer range allows the Talos to effectively combat not only enemy armour but even destroy entire lines of enemy static defences from a safe distance. As well as serving in a military capacity, the Talos is also sold worldwide as a civilian car, without the armour or weapon. One can get a combat model in any Sprawl, which are popular with go-gangs, but the Syndicate doesn't arm them with railguns, as they would be too dangerous; go-gangs have to make do with the chain gun

Lamia Launcher:

The Achilles's heel of numerous Mediterranean Syndicate Security Forces branches is the obvious and crippling lack of effective anti-air weaponry. Time and time again the Syndicate had been forced to abandon profitable investments and retreat from firefights due to the fear of massive aerial bombardment or fighter interception, which loomed greatly over private military contractors. Eventually of course, a solution to the complications in the field would come in the form of a private investment.

The Lamia is the primary land-based anti-aircraft platform for the Syndicate and has proven itself to be capable of single-handedly denying airspace to hostile aircraft. The Lamia is different from most of the other Syndicate vehicles in the way that it is actually able to down its target in a single salvo. But there is a key flaw in the design of the Intelligent Missile system. When launched, each missile chooses its own target, meaning that if the enemy were to field multiple aircraft then they will overwhelm the Lamia.

Early losses to swarms of Imperial Twinblades prompted the Syndicate into fielding the experimental Pacifista Electronic Scrambler (data of the Scrambler gun stolen from the Allies, of course) which disables all weapons, friend or foe, in the vicinity. Although this may seem a dangerous hazard to an electronics corporation, the design of the majority of the Syndicate's weaponry allow the Security Forces to fire from well beyond the dead zone.

Cerberus:

The Cerberus Tank was intended to be the future main battle tank of the United States, meant to eventually replace the M1 Abrams in the U.S. Army. It was designed to meet the lenient requirements set by the newly created U.S. Department of Defense. Five companies volunteered for the task of developing such a platform.

They were United Armour, General Motors, General Dynamics, Wayne Industries, Gerhard-Giraud, Stark Enterprises, and Advance Armour Inc. The seven companies’ were allowed unlimited freedom in their design, but had to follow three basic guidelines. The design must be have a rotating turret, communication system, and be able to defeat Common Soviet Tanks regardless of the combat scenario.

The competition for the U.S. defense contract worth a large sum of money began in the massive fortified national laboratory known as Site R. Each team would have one war factory to develop their candidate, and were allowed unlimited use of resources, in the design, testing, and construction of their prototype.

Wayne Industry's "Crusader Tank" was relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain, but easily upgraded. Gerhard-Giraud, making a ground vehicle for the first time, presented the "Paladin Tank", which was exceptionally advanced, with jet assisted shells and an anti-missile system, and was a favourite of the competition.

Stark Enterprise's "Future Tank" was an ungainly, inefficient machine that was rejected before the competition ended. United Armour armed a Abrams with a large spectrum cannon linked by Athena Satellite to a field base's electrical output, allowing a mighty punch for normal sized tank. Advance Armour Inc. presented the Cerberus.

The Cerberus stands as one of the most heavily armed battle tanks fielded in the world. When deployed the Cerberus has the capability to engage any detected hostile regardless of classification. As a result of being vastly heavier armed, the Cerberus must first deploy into the turret mode before it can fire, due to the complex aiming systems of its multiple weapons requiring a flat and stable firing platform, which cooled the reception of the Army officials judging the competition.

Still, the Syndicate began production, figuring it could find a use for it even if the US Army rejected it. The competition was interrupted with the death of President Ackerman and the cancellation of the competition by the new interim president.

The early production of the Cerberus to meet the expected demand from the United States Army has left the Syndicate with a hearty supply of hardware, and now the Cerberus provides the closest equivalent to a main battle tank the Syndicate has. The Cerberus is armed with an Alpha railgun turret, two Beta AA missile turrets, and three Gamma Gyrojet turrets, allowing it to engage any form of target.

Colossus Artillery:

"It has been said that the best weapon is one you never have to fire. I say that the best weapon is one you only have to fireonce."

-Colossus designer, who insisted he wasn't stealing Tony Stark's catchphrase.

Shortly after the third world war began, several lesser countries all around the world sided with a superpower block and began senseless hostilities over longstanding disputes. These underdeveloped nations threw tens of thousands of militiamen and conscripts at one another for the sake of national pride.

Within days millions were killed all over the world in genocidal waves of madness. The majority of these crimes against humanity were located in savannas of Africa where children as young as the age of seven were recruited into child militias to fight for whatever cause managed to reach them first. Both the Allies and Soviet Union found these actions utterly horrific, but failed to take any effective action (on account of the twwo superpowers at each other's throats).

By the third week of open war, both the Allied African Command and Fel Imperial African front removed all of their resources from Central Africa in the hope that they (the people of Africa) could settle the disputes amongst themselves. What resulted was one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the history of humanity, as the young corrupt governments collapsed overnight, and the entire Sub-Saharan Region fell into anarchy.

The worst of these events occurred in the Republic of Congo and neighboring Sudan, which had collapsed into civil war within hours after the initial invasion of Poland. Millions of families tried to flee the violence into bordering country's, but were stopped by the Allied Security Detachments at the Angola, Zambia, and Tanzania check points. The Riot Guards and Peacekeepers were ordered to prevent the further destabilization of Africa by securing the borders and preventing the spread of violence. To this end they deployed thousands of kilometers of barbed wire that prevented the refugees from reaching safety.

By the time withdrawal of multinational forces in the conflict zones had been completed, millions of people had gathered in makeshift refugee camps in which hundreds of people lived in a house at a time. The Syndicate took notice and immediately began the world's first privatized armed intervention, using its own armies of mercenaries and makeshift militias of Auxiliaries to take back much of the region.

Within a week over a third of Congo had been "stabilized" and the Syndicate had began to solidify their gains. The first Sprawl was established at the largest refugee camp Boma, and the first true administrative headquarters was completed the second month of the war. The newly formed Puma Transportation Corporation was entitled with the development of a long range area of effect artillery to clear entire square kilometres of hostiles.

The result was the Colossus Multiple Missile Launch System. Armed with a pair of massive Gladius missiles, the Colossus is an effective artillery piece whose slow-moving missiles are uniquely deadly. Just before impact, the Gladius splits apart into hundreds of tiny monomolecular flechettes which slide through steel and flesh with no resistance. Lethal to infantry, they do much less damage to vehicles, but will slay the crew, allowing the vehicle to be taken over by infantry units. In a pinch the weapons operator can detonate the missiles early, which penetrates armor less effectively, but does it over a wide area. Infantry, who rarely have armour of any thickness, are devastated. Despite its power the vehicle has many drawbacks; slow speed, a downright massive minimum range, and an a lack of radar, requiring the support of spotters to use its long range.

The initial effects on the front lines were astounding as the Colossus would essentially wipe out entire factional armies within minutes. The so called "razor rain" would kill entire crews of Technicals, leaving them free for friendly forces to capture. The final remaining stronghold of opposition to the Syndicate was the nation of Eritrea that was controlled by the Global Liberation Army.

The battle ended in nine hours as the PMCs would simply use the range of the Colossus to bombard the entire nation. Naturally the impact on the local population was excessive, as half the entire population of Eritea suffered near total collateral damage. Only the centres of the former Italian colonial administration such as Assab were spared. Today the Colossus is the national symbol of many of the liberated nations of Central Africa, and stands ready to defend the world from the horrors of war. For the right price of course.

Phoenix:

The Phoenix was developed as a near autonomous piece of hardware, requiring the pilot to only be capable of the most trivial of tasks. All combat functions were handled by the Automatic Combat Engagement System. So, in order to cut costs, the Syndicate uses inexperienced pilots that are paid by the hour.

The pilots themselves only have a minimum requirement of watching the mail order video instructions for "I want to fly the Phoenix", after which the pilot will work in shifts, patrolling the Sprawl's airspace when it is his turn. If there comes a time when more pilots are needed then the supervisor will simply call a few extra employees in to fill in the gaps. For the most part, flying a Phoenix can actually be a part time job. There is overtime, stupid shift leaders, poor working conditions, and terrible hours. But it is a very common career for the Sprawl's youth; many have friends or family that have flown a Phoenix, and have shared the experience of flight.

To first glance, the Phoenix looks as though it might be a high-performance private helicopter. Though the twin turbofan design is unorthodox, heaven knows there have been stranger things fielded. Like all Syndicate designs, the Phoenix forgoes traditional windows for a sealed titanium cockpit and six freely rotating sensor pods.

Like the Hawker, United Aviation's previous project before their design team was bought out, the Phoenix's beaklike nose and swept wings imply a predatory bird, through the holographic fire that plays around the wing struts and the uncomfortably blank "eyes" where the cockpit should be play up the avian nature of the design to a much greater degree.

Mounted on the wingtips are two gyrojet launchers, which come in handy both for strafing infantry formations and downing helicopters. Easy to fire thanks to AI controlled seeking technology, these weapons have significant ammunition reserves that should last them the length of any battle. However, nobody would try to pit a helicopter, even one so sophisticated as the Phoenix, against a fighter aircraft, hence the remarkable variable wing design.

When called to dogfight with enemy fighters, the wings sweep down and back, exposing the twin turbojets that send the Phoenix hurtling like a raptor diving into its prey. The gyrojets are unfortunately displaced by this action, so instead flechette cannons mounted in the nose are exposed by the streamlining of the form, firing rains of monomolecular needles that tear aircraft (or, more accurately, pilots) to tattered pieces and send them hurtling towards the ground. Unfortunately, without full-sized wings the Phoenix cannot maintain lift indefinitely, and will be forced to return to helicopter mode before its altitude falls too low.

However what many people fail to know, is that the Phoenix is one of the most advanced pieces of military aviation hardware on the planet. To keep this technology from spreading, the Syndicate employs a rather cynical method of approach involving the big red button that the pilot is never supposed to touch, unless in an emergency. Every reference to this button explains that it is actually a emergency ejection system.

So whenever the pilot feels that his life is in danger, he is mentally trained to push it. Of course, this results in the activation of a self-destruct mechanism meant to prevent the Phoenix from falling into enemy hands, through the use of the multiple gelled gasoline packets hidden in the cabin. The Phoenix turns into a giant ball of fire, destroying itself when it crashes onto the ground.

Chariot transport:

Pilot: Okay boys, you just lay down some fire on those targets over there, and I'll come pick you up later.

Passenger 1: What, ain't you gonna help us?

Pilot: What, me? No way man. I'm a pacifist.

Passenger 1: What? A pacifist! How can you be a god-damned pacifist?

Pilot: Yeah, it's bad for my Karma man. I don't mess with Karma. I just fly this plane.

Passenger 2: Just let it go!

Passenger 1: F*ck that! That don't fly with me ya space muffin. I'm gonna Hawk you to the god-damn magic kingdom!

Pilot: Love ya man!

Passenger 1: Ya god-damned muffin headed f*cking pacifist!

The Chariot Transport is one of the most common civilian aircraft operated within the concrete jungles of the Sprawls, and are often used by mercenary organisations as a rapid transport to and from hostile engagements. In some cases, agents have reliyed upon the Chariot to carry their limo in a cross Sprawl transit while their security personel ride in the Chariot's cargo bay.

The Chariot Transport is the fastest VTOL aerial transport in the world, and specialises in moving men and material accross the battle field. It's Primary and only weapon is a Zero-Point Energy Lifter that can pick up and carry moderate payloads and move them alongside up to fifty infantry or battlesuits. In many cases, Chariots have been seen around the loss of several military patrols along the new Tenebrasque/NATO border near the Mediterranean Sea. Dozens of Tenebrasque and NATO tanks have disappeared without a trace and tensions run high in the area.

Stymphalian:

The Stymphalian Suppression Helicopter is another one of the Syndicate's resoundingly effective attempts at an air force using some of the most common individuals available as pilots. They generally apply for the position through a local kiosk and then attend a groutrainingng seminar. Here the candidates are taught the basics of flight through simulators and easy to read guides. After a one on one interview with a recruiter over the telephone, the few candidates who show the appropriate psychological traits necessary for assignment are contracted into serving as a researcher for the Syndicate's Geological Survey. The pilots are not aware of any of the actions/crimes they are committing, and are most likely devoted employees. In the public eye they are regarded as the beginning of a cleaner world.

In reality, the Stymphalian is the Syndicate's take on a bomber by using a helicopter filled with suicidal A.I. controlled bombs that move across the surface and blow up when near the enemy. Although the concept is ridiculous on paper the final product is nothing short of a marvel. Dozens of enemy tanks have perished as a result of poor preparation. In combat, they are effective at aerial harassment of ground targets because they are able to toss a constant stream of powerful Sagittarius bombs (so long as only one is thrown at a time). They do not need to reload so they can provide support for a far longer period of time than other aircraft such as A-10s, but are also far more susceptible to anti air.

The Sagittarius bomb is actually a remotely controlled shell that serves as disposable body for the Artificial Intelligence in the Stymphalian. From the safety of an armoured black box, the A.I. can easily control the Sagittarius Explosive Automaton and guide it to its target. When the S.E.A. completes its primary function the A.I. detonates its former shell and deploys another. If the Stymphalian was to encounter a large group of hostiles the crew can cut power to its antitorque rotor and go into a dangerous spiral, ejecting its cargo over a wide area.

Fury Combat Drone:

Aerial supremacy is an expensive and industrially intensive exercise that requires the full capacity of an entire nation to effectively compete with the world’s leading powers. The Syndicate does not need to make such drastic and risky investments in order to protect the majority of their business as a result of its almost parasitic relationship with NATO military Divisions.

Most of the Syndicate's manufacturing capacity lies well protected in either strategic NATO member nations such as Italy and Colombia (a new member that was added at Syndicate "urging"), or in remote decolonized states such as Sri Lanka and Eritrea. For the most part, Sprawls are relatively immune to aerial bombardment.

The natural density of a Sprawl combined with the extensive range of a missile turret proves to be a war winning combination as the attacker must hit a small, heavily guarded target, which has the means to counter any artillery system currently fielded.

So rather than expending resources on an aerial superiority fighter, Syndicate security forces turned to alternative methods for denying an area of airspace to an aggressor. The Fury Combat Drone is the result of a successful attempt to reverse engineer Fel Imperial Terror Drone technology, and then vastly improve upon its foundations.

Alexander private jet:

"I had always expected the Germans to be the ones to invade (which they did), so I lived in California to be safe from the Nazi menace. After the invasion of California by the Japanese, I lived almost exclusively within my Stratoliner, which I had already retrofitted into a flying penthouse. During this time I had begun to realize that there was no truly safe place in this world. There are only safer places in which people like me can live in peace for a given time. So with that in mind I built the Alexander to be my safer place until I can make the necessary preparations for my next big project. Oh, and trust me it will be unlike anything you have ever dreamed on this world!"

The Alexander Private Jet is the last and greatest project by the renowned aviator, Howard Hughes. This stunning aircraft was Hughes's latest attempt at a plane capable of surviving a full blown Nazi invasion. It uses a classified electronic warfare system that prevents the automatic acquisition by computerized weapon systems. Capable of flying at a hundred the speed of sound, the Alexander is also immune to traditional anti-aircraft systems, if not every weapon known to man. The advanced turbine engines provide all the necessary thrust needed, while the reinforced landing gear allows the plane to land on any surface imaginable. The plane is also revolutionary in the fact that, if necessary, it can land on water and quickly evacuate the passengers without stopping. No expense was spared on the necessary creature comforts. Leather seats, open bar, inviting hostess, and fully stocked armory guarantee the relative safety of the passenger even during a full blown war. Howard Hughes has truly outdone himself again.

Paying for it, however, was another matter. Hughes had spent most of his money on his various eccentricities, and his new super plane was worth more than his dwindling fortune. To make his plane, he made a personal contract with Olympus Airlines, a Syndicate subsiduary. Olympus would gain the rights to produce the jet for civilian use. Though he wouldn't come down from his Stratoliner to inspect the plans himself, he gave advice based on decades of experience to the Olympus team. Soon it was designed, and Hughes landed to transfer to it. A Syndicate strike team was prepared to assassinate him while he was on the ground, getting them out of their contract, thus allowing them to develop it into an invincible bomber.

But Hughes was clever. The strike team stormed the Stratoliner, only to find Hughes wasn't on it. Instead, the doors locked, and the pilots in a cockpit unattached to the passenger cabin took off into the air. Hughes, now on his new Alexander jet, informed the team that he had discovered their safeguards to insure Hughes death, and would only let them off once they told him everything. For days the team was forced to watch the John Wayne movie "The Conqueror" end on end. Hearing Wayne attempt a Mongolian accent was enough to break them, and they told Hughes everything. Hughes undid the conspiracy, and while the Syndicate still has it's fleet of Alexanders, Hughes still has control over it's production and will stop it if they're ever used as weapons. Instead the syndicate uses them as an unstoppable infantry transport; capable of bringing three squads of infantry wherever they're needed. Hughes faked his death and lives on in a specialized battlesuit that keeps him immortal, and constantly butts heads with the amoral board of classics.

Pegasus Combat Helicopter:

The lack of heavy air support in the form of a dedicated gunship led to many Syndicate-owned mercenary companies to request the development of a combat helicopter with the capability to engage any land force with extreme lethality. The effectiveness of the Twinblade and the Cryocopter, which have proven time and time again to be some of the most efficient designs available, led to the conclusion that a flexible weapons platform could potentially surpass such designs as an even more effective helicopter. However, the armament needed to succeed in such a task would require an entirely new frame that would have to be designed to support the stress and heat produced from multiple weapons systems.

An offshoot company of a Syndicate subsidiary known as Electronic Armaments known as Westwood finished a radical design on the very day of the Fel Imperial invasion of the west coast. As soon as word reached the president of EA, he deployed all available security to Westwood's location, and proceeded to evacuate the staff and precious data. Tragically they were surrounded by hostile forces when they left the safety of compound and found themselves in between the Empire and Allied forces. Their strange equipment, professionalism, and utter indifference caused a brief moment of astonishment for both the Peacekeepers and the Imperial Warriors. Not willing to take any chances, the security Legionnaires opened fire first, and managed to gun down all of the onlookers to prevent potential future complications. The development team took notice of the effectiveness of the Helios security personnel and recorded the tactics and handling of their weapons. When the Westwood team reached the relative safety of the Silicon Valley, they immediately began to refine their design. An improved, if not outrageously heavier, design soon attracted the interest of the board of directors.

The tail rotor was removed in favour of a third propeller and the entire gunship was stabilised with a servo driven weight distribution system. This allowed the Pegasus to use a modular design improving the flexibility of the platform, while greatly increasing the modular hard points needed to attach the multiple weapon systems. At the right perspective, an incomplete Pegasus could be seen as the mythical beast it is named after. Several other teams were soon drawn into the project as it continued to implement the advances made by nearly every major manufacturer into one monstrous design. The designers combined all of these pieces of technology to create one of the most revolutionary weapons in the world. It even contended (though it failed to win) with the Stark Enterprise Mesofortress for the title of "The Greatest Aerial Threat to Imperial Conscripts!" (A yearly award given to Western weapons manufactures by the Imperial Conscript Monthly newsletter/picture book in exchange for accurate statistics).

With the majority of the necessary systems in place, Westwood met with Blizzard Microsystems in order to employ the use of their Warcraft armament line. The result was an unadulterated aerial battleship armed with remote controlled gyrojet turrets, flechette missile launchers, and the Starcraft Mononet Cruise Missile. The Starcraft was designed to destroy enemy bombardment ships using a state of the art mononet that would cut through any armour regardless of design. The net shape itself would prove to be the most reliable design available as a result of its ability to be used just as effectively against infantry, tanks, and aircraft. All of the systems are used in tandem by a surprisingly traditional crew of six made up of three gunners, a pilot, engineer, and commanding officer. The choice to use human pilots was questioned until the Westwood team explained that their choice was based on the ability of human beings to surpass the limitations of machines in the process of irrational thought.

The Pegasus Combat Helicopter is an astonishing sight of the full might of the Syndicate's industrial might. It is quite the strange spectacle of a three rotor combat helicopter that is often the last sight of many enemies of the Syndicate; its huge number of missiles, gyrojets, and mononet launchers boggle the mind about as much as they tear apart ground targets. Normally it keeps the mononet in reserve for special targets, which can be designated by a commanding executive. The near siege range of its numerous weapons systems, allow the Pegasus to perform indiscriminately against any ground targets. Even the notorious Imperial Bullfrog is unable to adequately respond, much less protect itself, from the brutality of the Pegasus's range.

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Mediterranean Syndicate (Not a team) Part 1

At first glance, the Mediterranean Syndicate is an international electronics, weapons and industrial mega-corporation with an unusual obsession for the Classical Era. Neon lights and glass skyscrapers mingle with columns and frescoes of long-dead heroes and the golden statues of pagan gods, and grim-faced security personnel mix ancient armour with high-powered weapons and cybernetic prosthetics. Though initially the Syndicate appear nothing more than eccentric, under the corporate facade lie ancient secrets.

The Syndicate Corporate Logo, often used on business cards, stationery and bumper stickers.

The company was first formed in the 1850s as the industrial age was starting to be born, and a young man under the alias "Romulus" was seeking to share his inherited fortune. His goal was to create a group of security companies that worked and operated under one headquarters situated in Rome, Italy. At first, the idea was a success as many contractors were looking for a source of consistent research funding, though the 1930s hit them hard and fast.

By 1932, the organisation had recovered from near bankruptcy, though their methods of acquiring the money were questioned. When an inquiry was made by the Italian Special Anti-Mafia General Attorney, the Syndicate cited that they were not to be held responsible for the actions of their clients. Numerous reports were filed regarding the aforementioned "clients", though all the cases fell through due to a lack of evidence (and possible forgery).

What happened to Romulus since then has been a mystery. His alias has allowed him to become shrouded in complete secrecy. The top executives of the Syndicate are rarely mentioned and require heavy security to even exchange a few words with. The only legacy of his that remains is the fantastic Classical architecture that adorns every Syndicate structure, as he has an obsession for everything from the age of the Roman Empire.During the Second World War, the Syndicate attempted to sell their services to both the allies and axis. But was ultimately turned down by both because of the lack of high-powered weaponry, and its shady dealings with the underworld. Through the next decade, the Syndicate began to buy out science and engineering companies in order to improve their technology. By 1960, they had become the world's largest military corporation, and unknown to the public, possessed some of the world's most dangerous weaponry.

The Underworld; or, Extreme Takeover: Rome Edition

To be sure, everyone knows something is a bit off about the megacorporation, and most intelligence agencies consider them to be a criminal organization, if only they could get any proof. The fact is, the Syndicate has its hooks in everything, every level of criminality all over the world. They are the ultimate mafia with the perfect front.What is not immediately obvious about the Syndicate is their deep connections with the criminal elements of society, worldwide. Throughout its history there have been many inquires and investigations, digging deep into the complex web of hundreds of companies that make up the Syndicate, but it has always been fruitless. The Syndicate is simply too big, covers too many areas, and often operates in the remote, lawless regions of the Earth.

By far the most profitable areas of underground Syndicate activity is the drug trade and arms dealing. The Syndicate, in addition to controlling the conventional drug trade, have a wide variety of pharmaceutical companies that have turned themselves over to the manufacture of ever more potent and addicting synthetic drugs; Nuke, 'Slaught, Octagons, Spice, Dust; under a million names from a million alleyways the Syndicate has its stamp on the world.

Not only that, but they have hundreds of associated companies dedicated to the creation of tools of war for the lesser nations in their constant petty squabbles across the globe. They are where countless warlords get vehicles such as pincer IFVs, and the ones who provided the GLA with the ammunition for their ancient guns.

Wherever life is taken, the Syndicate make a profit. Because of these shady deals, they are in constant rivalry with another arms dealer: International INC whose convoys and shipments of arms and civilian aid bearing their corporate logo tend to disappear in areas with strong Syndicate presence, causing great tension and reluctance for International Inc to deal with the Syndicate. Despite that, both organisations cooperate with each other, for unknown reasons.

Lately, though, the corporation has released many press reports dealing with the advancement of spacecraft and seem to have their eyes focused on the stars; for that is the future of the Syndicate, to provide the most advanced security systems on the planet, even if it means annihilating the competition. Recently, Stark Enterprises and Wayne industries were bought up by the Syndicate and International Inc, destroying both companies forever.

The syndicate dominates Italy, Greece, New Zealand, the Congo, Guyana, the American west coast, Central America, Afghanistan, and has sprawls all over the planet and a noticeable presence in virtually every nation on Earth. Even Tenebrasque dominated nations have some Syndicate presence, for such is the power of capitalism.

Units:

War Wolves:

"It is a telling sign that they did not consider a normal wolf to be fierce enough."

Wolves have long had a place in the culture of the Syndicate. It is rumored that Romulus owned a pet wolf he called Remus, a faithful companion and fierce protector that was always at his side. Darker rumors swirled that the wolf was name was more deeply symbolic than most realized, that Romulus had seen to the death of a close friend or even brother at some point and named the creature as a reminder of the act. As is often the case with the Syndicate, nothing was ever proven.

In emulation of their founder, the Syndicate has taken the wolf as a symbol of war. Many legions have adapted a symbolic representation of the creature as their unit badges, and statues or relief sculpture of the creatures adorn many corporate headquarters and military bases. It's therefore not terribly surprising that, as the Syndicate moved into cybernetics, they would find use for the creature. Really, the biggest surprise is that it took as long as it did.

Bred in captivity and modified extensively, War Wolves are quite possibly one of the most terrifying things on four legs. Bred to be bigger and meaner than any wild wolf could evolve to be, these creatures would be frightening enough as they were, but the Syndicate were not satisfied just yet. Like a great many citizens of the Sprawls, the War Wolf has undergone a process known as cyberization, the implantation of computers into the nervous system. A cyber-brain, a wetware/hardware interface, has been installed around the brain, while the eyes have been replaced with digital camera lenses. In the body, the spine itself has been swapped out for an electronic equivalent that replaces biological synapses with fibre-optic cables, enhancing their reflexes, and titanium plates have been worked under the skin in areas that might be exposed to enemy fire. The process leaves the animal as much machine as wolf, a horrifying and crude amalgam of fur, flesh and steel that most consider profoundly disturbing. Metal plates are exposed at the joints where the skin has worn away, while the cortex and spine implants protrude out of scar tissue, and the eyes glow a sickly yellow. When this once noble creature howls, its dirge is accompanied by the disruptive screech of a dying modem that causes lights to flicker and electronics to fail. What was once a noble beast has now become a living nightmare.

Yet, the process to create a War Wolf is but half-done. Thanks to enhancements to the intellect, War Wolves benefit from a training regime that will hone their inborn skills. Through their cyber-brains is fed a simstim (simulated stimulation) feed, which is monitored by specially programmed artificial intelligences. These AIs monitor the behavior of each wolf, relaying them orders by marking targets with falsified scents, creating artificial sounds to lure them forward and, of course, punishing them for failure to comply with simulated pain. It speaks of the effectiveness of the system that these wolves are said never to make the same mistake twice.

On the field, War Wolves usually operate in packs, hunting down hiding enemies and tearing them to pieces with their hydraulic jaws, or disabling squadrons of enemy vehicles and leaving them easy prey for their human masters. Though it is not uncommon for individual wolves to be attached to infantry squads, marking targets on the Battle Matrix for their comrades, wolves operate best in packs, where they can form a small neural network, merging background processes and freeing up processing power to focus on the battle. More than that, though, in these packs the War Wolves simply seem more active; it is speculated that it comforts the creatures to know they do not suffer alone.

Auxiliary:

Life in the Sprawls is a tough one. It has been compared to London in Dicken's era, though sociologists have noted this is something of an insult to Victorian London. The massive archologies of the Sprawls pack massive numbers of people into giant artificial ant-hills where the land has been so developed that one could live their entire lives without ever seeing the ground proper. The greatest Sprawls have no night or day, just a perpetual gray under the geodesic domes, the lower levels illuminated only by the glow of the neon lights. They are busy, claustrophobic, dirty and dark, and those on the bottom rung often want to escape, even if just for a few hours. Fortunately, nothing is easier in the Sprawls.

Most governments around the world run extensive anti-drug campaigns. In Japan, addiction is a grave dishonour, and drug dealers are ruthlessly hunted by the Yakuza for tarnishing the names of criminals everywhere, the Talon considers drug use to be a grave sin, in Trinity territories; omnipresent health care services push drugs out of the streets, and NATO runs a comprehensive War on Drugs.

In the Sprawls, you can buy recreational drugs at the corner store.

To the Syndicate, drugs are just another form of recreation. The Syndicate's pharmaceutical companies have developed a wide variety of drugs for every situation, ranging from "happy pills"that just make the day brighter to potent injectors that send the user into spirals of psychedelic imagery for hours at a time. Most of these drugs are addicting, though the companies have found that a lower-key, more controllable addiction leads to longer-term customers, and because it wouldn't do to have their citizens overdosing in the streets, these drugs are carefully refined to be fairly safe. As a result of easy access and the relative safety of the habit, pretty much everyone partakes, and socially, the worst side effect seems to be increased junk food consumption and the threat of being ambushed by somebody trying to educate you on how much they love you, "man".

These companies have even gone out of their way to ensure that all the drugs have the same addicting chemical, Smilex, so that the addicted can purchase any of the wide range of drugs to feed their addiction, allowing the companies to market them better. How exactly these circumstances fell into place is completely unknown, and while many a Sprawl-dweller spends hours on the Interwebs arguing it is a sign of the effectiveness of Randian Objectivism, the more likely case is simply corporate policy; the Syndicate don't want their Sprawls being filled with drug killings, street dealers and overdoses. After all, they are too busy exporting all that to other nations. And there is another side to this policy. When the Sprawls are threatened, Legion Security experts hit the streets in armoured vans offering combat webbing, machine-pistols, homemade bombs and free drugs to anyone willing to man the defences. This is the sort of offer that most can't refuse, and they swarm to the vans for a chance to see some glory through the lens of a drug-addled brain.

They follow this van right into combat, while the free doses get stronger and stronger, so that by the time they hit the field, the new Auxiliaries are thoroughly numbed to the idea of combat and can be pointed at the front lines of the enemy. During offensive actions, similar actions are taken with the surrounding populace, drawing out the existing addicts. In any case, the result is large group of shock troopers so addled that they'll walk into anything unflinchingly, closing to range to use their machine-pistols somewhat effectively.

Auxiliaries aren't really intended to be effective combatants. They have no training outside what they learn on the hard streets of the Sprawls, and their weapons are inaccurate and of low quality. What they do provide is a buffer between the enemy and the Syndicate, keeping the enemy at arm's length so that the Syndicate can employ their range advantage to greater effect. Auxiliaries are the ultimate disposable infantry; it literally can't get cheaper to deploy a human being onto the battlefield and have them do anything but run away.

During the walk to the combat zone, most Auxiliaries are given small micro-softs with basic combat theory written on it, things like taking cover, firing their weapon, and some basic enemy identification lessons. One of the artificial instincts in the device instructs users to employ the "special injections" they received just before hitting the field when the situation gets bad.

What they do know is that this injection contains an extremely potent drug that'll temporarily boost their endurance and strength to superhuman levels. What they don't know is that it's not exactly safe for human consumption, and will likely burn their nervous system out completely. Alas, thus is life for the throw-away soldier.

Legionnaire:

For the last fifty years, Legion Security has been the single largest private military contractor in the world. That simple statement fails to fully encompass the gravity of the situation. Though there has never been a formal third-party count of Legion security employees, there is evidence that indicate there may be more than ten million Legionnaires, on the low end. Legionnaires are soldiers, police and corporate enforcers in equal measure, and are in many ways the glue that hold together the Sprawls and prevent them from descending (completely) into anarchy. There are places in the world, places far removed from the rule of law under any major nation, where the Legionnaire is the basic unit of law, justice and security.

This is quite a terrifying thought.

Legion Security is ubiquitous. Anyone can hire them, for the right price, and they are bound by only one simple rule; they cannot be contracted to attack other Legion Security personnel. As they are more or less the only show in town in the Sprawls, they play a vital role in keeping the vast number of subsidiaries from tearing each other to pieces in constant corporate warfare. However, their missions are not limited to internal protection. The Syndicate itself can call upon these tech-warriors for offensive action; be it crushing a corporate rival in a"hostile takeover", finishing off the bankrupt remains of a local government falling before the advance of the Sprawls or dealing with nosy Interpol agents looking too deeply into Syndicate interests, Legionnaires live up to their motto: "Travel the World, Meet Interesting People, and Kill Them."

Legionnaires are iconic of the Syndicate in more ways than one. Technologically, Legionnaires are like nothing the world has ever seen before. Their lightweight ceramic bodysuits, individually tailored, provide protection comparable to Peacekeeper Assault Armour for a fraction of the weight, while their gyrojet rifles pack the longest effective range of any assault rifle in the world. Incorporated into the helmet's visor is an advanced Heads Up Display, low-light, thermal, motion tracking and electromagnetic vision settings, and a Micro-Soft issued to each soldier contains a lifetime of knowledge for the use of this technology. However, the Legionnaires also do justice to the Syndicate's brutal"got mine" philosophy and ruthless lack of ethics. The average Legionnaire is little more than a thug in turquoise armour, gleefully enforcing the will of their corporate masters with no regard to the suffering they leave in their wake. More than anything, Legion Security stands as proof of an old truism in the corporation; Not only will people do anything for enough money, they'll do it "gladly".

Hoplite:

Tanks are a difficult nut to crack for a private military corporation. High explosive weapons and large bore rockets are usually prohibited by law, so except for the most lawless reaches of the world PMC companies must rely on antiquated anti-tank rifles, handheld shaped charges, or simply go without. With the Syndicate taking an increasingly militant stance, confronting armour has become inevitable, placing a definite requirement for a standardized handheld anti-armour weapon for Legion Security.

The resulting "Dory" railgun is a five-foot long weapon with a mantle to protect its user from shrapnel in case of a short-ranged shot. The 3mm rod it fires will, like larger varieties, punch straight through multiple layers of armour plate. Lighter tanks, especially those with low-grade armour plating, tend to shatter when struck, filling the crew compartment with deadly spall, and though better-constructed vehicles will not break in this way, virtually no amount of armour can resist the weapon.

In a nod to the spear-and-shield appearance of the weapon, those trained in its use are popularly referred to as Hoplites. The reinforced helmets and shoulder-pads help this appearance, as does the horizontal fibre-optic strip on the helmets. They are kitted out in a fully armoured suit like other Syndicate infantry, which assures them a certain degree of safety when positioning themselves for the optimal shot.

Also unique is that the Hoplite, to ensure a calm battlefield demeanour, has had a procedure done called a "nerve staple", a manipulation of the area of the brain from which fear and self-preservative instinct comes. A Hoplite will stand in the open to use their weapon while comrades dive for cover, giving them a vital few seconds more to line up a lethal shot.

Certaman:

Unlike the regularly employed Legionnaires of the Legion Security Corporation of Rome, or the recklessly recruited Auxiliaries of the Sprawls, the Certaman are employed on an individual basis. They work for cash, and only work after they have been paid. They are registered with numerous bars, and when a representative rolls in, they line up at the door for the job. Unlike the other common infantry of the Syndicate, a Certaman is aligned to whoever owns their original contract. When it runs out, they either renegotiate or disappear. They tend to have no ties to the world around them, and only the money seems to matter.

They are door to door killers; alone and only with a small briefcase, they wander the streets of the Sprawls looking for work. They wear a black three piece suit with a teal tie, sunglasses, and gloves. Hidden within their suitcases are Bishop Anti Air mortars, efficient enough to bring down anything in the sky. When the target is spotted, the Certaman simply kneels and jerks back the handle on the suitcase. The elaborate machine unpacks itself and a missile is launched when the operator gives the signal. Unfortunately the soft launch prevents the Bishop from being used against ground targets and therefore the Certaman must rely on other tools for their survival.

The "Saving Grace", as it is called, is the most used of such reliable equipment, being a simple high powered land mine. These cheap and discardable tools are the favorite of Certaman because of the incredible amounts of damage it causes to anything in range. Although the land mine is extremely effective, the average Certaman avoids deploying more than one at a time (the Saving Grace is notorious for friendly fire.) The left arm is a customized cybernetic implant with a direct link to the Certamans bank account, and also doubles as his lifeline when dealing with close quarters combat. When needed, the implant can reconfigure itself into an "Epic Buster" Gauss Cannon. It functions by accelerating a type of magnetic projectile to high velocity using one or more electromagnets in the configuration of a synchronous linear electric motor. But because of its high energy demands, the Certaman can only use it when garrisoned (they need to be plugged into an electrical outlet, lest their internal batteries go dead).

Satyr:

When a National Geographic team was allowed to explore a Sprawl for an article for the magazine, they were given a Helios Security escort to take care of any legal niceties. Mostly they kept away drug addicts and riff raff, without any real concern for their safety. But when a photographer took a picture of a man in the shadows of a crumbling alley, who had curious shoes that seemed to be based on springs and what seemed to be wires hanging from his wrists, the Helios turned white with terror. Immediately they fired their guns at him. Instead of falling down, the man let out a vaguely pleasured howl of pain as he literally jumped over the building behind him. When asked what happened, a Helios officer famously quipped, “Don’t ask; you’ll sleep better.”

The Mediterranean Syndicate’s new assassins and wilderness skirmishers, called Satyrs, were well armed, to be sure. With monomolecular implants, they could dice an enemy in under a second. They could also leap across great distances thanks to specialized footwear. But it wasn’t enough for the company training them, Wilderness Solutions. In trials they had an unacceptable loss rate. Analysis showed that too many times split second fears meant death at the hands of long range fire. Given the success of Syndicate battlesuits in psychosurgery improving battlefield performance, the assassins were given special, irreversible surgery in the part of their brain dealing with inhibitions.

The next day policing Legionnaires responded to a complaint that Wilderness Solutions hadn’t opened their doors. Forcing them open, the Legionnaires were confronted with sections of the staff, strewn across the ground along with unidentified fluids, all leading to a hole that had been sliced open. It is thought the Satyrs woke up from post-op, and the staff died seconds later. The following week, Legion Security noted an unprecedented spike of murders, rape, and substance theft unlike anything in Syndicate history. It was considered significant enough to bring in squads of Centurions to restore the status quo. Then Praetorians were brought in when too many Centurions were dying, left in bloodied piles, sometimes in grotesquely humorous poses. Each hour was accompanied by a hideous laughter that echoed through the neon maze.

One by one, each assassin was hunted down, and the truth was revealed to the Syndicate. Captured Satyrs were sedated and studied. It was found out that all inhibitions were gone, and now almost every act gave them pleasure, though the more primal and visceral ones gave the most. If the Satyrs wanted to do something, they simply did it, without regards to safety or morality. Many normally amoral executives wanted to shut the program down, but others saw the inherent value, if they could only be trained.

Training turned out to be impossible; the Satyrs seemed to enjoy any punishment inflicted on them. Attempts to make them placid by injecting them with nauseating drugs while showing footage of violent acts against Syndicate members also failed, as the Satyrs literally could not make the link in their mind. Instead, they are now merely contained, fulfilling the niche they were designed for. They are also used to infiltrate enemy buildings, killing all inside and caking the halls inside with blood to be found by replacement crews who come to man the empty structure. In order to ensure their cooperation (as it is), they are now allowed free reign of the Sprawls if they do not attack Syndicate personnel in battle. Times when Satyrs are between battles are called a “Bacchanalia” in the Sprawl, where locking the door is no safety if the Satyrs want what you have, whether drugs, your daughter, or your blood.

Centurion:

"We aren't cavemen. We have standards. We have technology. The will to fight is half the battle. The knowledge of battle is half. The means are the lynchpin."

A Centurion is a constant reminder of what is the Syndicate's motivation for taking the path they have. A Centurion is the most professional of all the Syndicate's infantry in the fact that they do not act like wild dogs. They are honorable, polite, and brutally efficient. They take it upon themselves to lead fellow infantry into battle and achieve victory in the swiftest manner.

Their high calibre anti-materiel rifles are always custom made to the specifications of Centurions, and thus there is no standardized variant. They are used with scientific tradition, as no force can convince these outstanding individuals to fire a round until they are certain that the bullet will strike their intended target. The sheer force of the high calibre round is enough to neutralize any individual, much less damage a lightly armed target.

There have been recorded instances in which Centurion's have been known to destroy a patrolling Humvee or Technical or two. However, do not confuse them with the fragile specialist snipers of other armies. They are bound by the true path of leadership, and command their legions from the front lines.

Centurions have often suffered heavy casualties in battle, generally fighting alongside the Legionaries they commanded. They usually led from the front, occupying a position at the front right of the century formation. They led and inspired their men by example. They also sought to display the skill and courage that may have gotten them to their rank in the first place. It is for these reasons that they often suffered a disproportionate number of casualties.

To reduce the losses of such outstanding employees the Syndicate has taken actions to equip them with an advanced cloak. Although the thermo-optic cloak has a limited reserve of energy, it allows the Centurion to take a decisive shoot, under the safety of invisibility. While Centurions prefer their men and enemies to see them, orders are orders.

Praetorian Battlesuit:

The Sprawls are a naturally dangerous place full of drug addicted mercenaries and greedy entrepreneurs. Eventually every Sprawl would go through a period of dissolution and gradual decay of order known as "Laissez Faire". In a Laissez Faire, the Sprawl changes hands from the systematic rule of dozens of electronic corporations, to the gang violence and organized chaos of the drug trade. However not every Sprawl will die as a result of a collapse of order. In rare cases, a Sprawl can avoid decay by restoring order before any critical infrastructure has been damaged beyond repair. The best method of restoring order to such a bloody and violent disorder would be through the deployment of Praetorian Battlesuits.

The first one of many of the Syndicate's Battlesuit projects, the Praetorian Battlesuit project was intended to be used by the personal bodyguards of the Syndicate's Executives. Early tests showed the Praetorian to have great effect against infantry, scouts, and Soviet Terror Drones. But the Praetorian was unable to protect their targets from aircraft or withstand heavier armaments. Despite the early advances made by the research team, they were unable to accomplish the goals of complete tactical supremacy, as a result of the department choosing to go with "light concealable equipment".

As a result of the early stages of development, the project went ahead with a role of a anti-personnel cyborg. Auxiliaries were brought in as potential test subjects, and to the astonishment of the development team, were able to effectively control the machines with little effort. As individuals, Auxiliaries knew how to deal with new experiences and old problems. The Praetorian Battlesuit was far too heavily armed to attack effortlessly. The ceramic plating and heavy battle rifles were swapped out for lighter plate armour, and a pair of oversized burst pistols. Thus, the modern Praetorian Battlesuit was born; a seamless mix of human instinct and mechanized brutality.

Hercules heavy power armor:

Letter of recommendation for the reevaluation of the Hector Suppression Armour

3/20/08

''With my highest regards to Jack Dempsey,

The Hector Suppression Suit has proved to be an unrivaled mechanical masterpiece but there are still far to many quirks to work out with the Cerebral Cortex Control CPU. Although the problem was identified and corrected, I still can not feel at ease after watching my creation tear apart the security forces sent in to restrain it. Despite the use of multiple Praetorian Battlesuit's and nearly a battalion of security personnel, none were able to bring the machine to a halt. Even the assigned Hoplite were unable to destroy the thing with lethal force, and they were armed with armour piercing railguns! The company lacks sufficient anti armour equipment with the mobility to rapidly respond to the demands of the Security Forces. To this end I ask the Board to allow the development of a Anti Armour Battlesuit with the ability to solve the problems stated in my letter.

Sincerely, Ezekiel Clerk''

Voice Recording of Jack Dempsey 7/31/08

"That Trent is a fucking dead man! If he wasn't in charge of maintaining that goddamn Minerva, then I would have put him in that Suppression Armour! At least the Hercules Heavy Armour came out all right. Hell, it could take on two Hammers and come out without so much as a scratch if used properly. It makes me giddy with joy every time one of those jumps right on top of a pack of idiots, and you wanna know the best part? The guy we used not only volunteered, but he even paid for the operation! Who knows what the heck is going through the guy's mind when he put his pension down for this nightmare?"

-End of recording

Email from lifeonlybetter@expressmail.com 11:42AM 10/14/08

The Hercules Heavy Armour auppears to be the latest development by Oedipus Committee Productions in the field of Cybernetic Enhancements. Although not a full fledged Battlesuit, the Hercules uses a light wet-ware control system to allow for greater mobility and superior command functions. A volunteer is integrated into the Hercules Exoskeleton through the gradual replacement of basic organic material with more reliable artificial components. From the latest in circulatory replacements, to enhanced piston driven prosthetics, the Hercules Heavy Armour is a testament to modern reconstructive surgery. Once the wet ware has been integrated into the exoskeleton frame, the Leaper Acceleration Kit is added to provide mobility. The armament of such a incremental machine is a railgun that uses a rather large 9mm rod to pierce enemy armour. I am rather surprised by the efficiency of the design. It would appear that the rest of the Syndicate is finally starting to catch up to me. Even though they are years away from catching up to Minerva, I think it is about time I prepare an upgrade to her hardware. She might actually have to deal with some real competition in the near future.

Brutus Gladiator Armour:

The Syndicate have never been known for ethics: but efficiency is almost synonimous with them. Their tactical Battlesuits, long-ranged weaponry, and A.U.R.A. network are all frightening examples of their brutal efficiency. However, with increasing levels of Allied interference in shady deals and their existing AA platforms proving too costly, vulnerable, or easily spotted: they needed something with the power to stand up to one of the most feared Airforces in the world- and that led to the developement of the Brutus Gladiator Armour.

The Brutus Gladiator Armour is a machine built to give interfering aircraft something to fear: armed with a superheated mono-molecular wire net-gun and a "Trident" sear gas system to fend off ground targets. The original reasoning behind using a mono-wire net-gun was to keep aircraft mostly intact while forcing them to crash- possibly preserving technology to be salvaged later. However, in early tests the mono-wire net proved to be far more destructive to aircraft than expected, so the weapon was modified to superheat the net before launch for maximum lethality. The Syndicate Executives ran into trouble when it came time to actually test the vehicle. The mono-molecular wire net-gun had no way of homing in on targets: this, combined with the speed and manueverability of modern aircraft and a lack of room for a computer to aim the weapon meant that most Brutus test pilots had an unnacceptably low accuracy rating against target drones without a direct uplink to the A.U.R.A. system. Simply put, only the most accomplished of marksman could hope to hit a modern plane with the powerful mono-wire net-gun: and the Syndicate did not have enough of such men to fill the ranks.

However, rather than re-design the Brutus or cancel the project, the Syndicate began a project to implant a program to do all the computing required to aim the weapon on to the mind of the pilot. This form of technology is difficult to apply even for the Syndicate, and it was found that younger, less cluttered minds accepted to implanting better than an adult. Thus, orphans who would not be missed (especially in a Sprawl) were abducted and forced to undergo the process of Cyberization, during which the aiming program was implanted on to their subconscious with timer system that would kill them in five days unless reset at a specialized facility. For those captured, there is little hope of anyone but the Syndicate knowing how to reset the timer, and thus they are pressed into the Syndicate Brutus ranks without hope of escape. This is not an uncommon origin among Brutus pilots, and thus they typically despise the other Syndicate forces and hate the ones responsible for the program. It is not uncommon for their hatred of their lack of freedom to develop into a form of sadism. Regardless, the Brutus Gladiator Armour project has proven efficient at its intended role, and thu

Hector Suppression Armour:

3/18/08

The main prototype involved with the Hector program was exceeding our expectations. Hiroshi Yamauchi and I had developed a monstrous machine, with the capability to flip tanks, crush infantry, and gun down hordes of hostiles with its heavy chainguns. A special computer with a custom A.I. provided by the corporation was used to great effect as a pilot substitute.

The prototype was named after her original designer, the late Hector Endrizzi (and approved by the Executive Committee of Classics), and would utilize a custom control system he designed. The system was installed by a man who went by the name Trent, while a Mr. Dempsey evaluated the project. With his approval and Hector's Cerebral Cortex Control system installed; the "Hector Suppression Armour" was ready for live fire trails.

Despite my past experiences with A.I.s, I was astonished with the reliability and effectiveness of this new design. It surpassed all previous models in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, rational thought, language, and even appeared to have a consciousness. During trails, entire columns of mock infantry were ripped in half by the chainguns while we men of science watched with sheer delight. The Hector Suppression Armour proved the most effective infantry deterrent in existence. We thought it only natural, that it could complete all necessary assignments for a month within a few hours.

By the time the first day of trails had ended, over three quarters of assigned tasks had been accomplished. The third day of trails was when we recorded the first anomaly. The Hector seemed impatient, harassing the caretakers and supervisors. As time passed it even grew violent. Total chaos insured within seconds after the CPU's cooling system failed.

The Hector went on a rampage unlike anything I have ever seen. Security immediately responded, but were as lambs to the slaughter. Even Praetorian battlesuits were unable to bring this beast to a halt. Three of those Helios securityguards Fowl lent us were needed to restrain the Hector until I could activate the manual override. What on Earth could have caused it to act so violently? My report to Dempsey will cover everything that happened here, as well as my recommendation for the revaluation of the the Cerebral Cortex Control CPU.

3/19/08

So we were doing some basic maneuvering trials after yesterday's incident when we got a whole barrage of error windows back through the monitors. Apparently, the CCCCPU required a coolant change, so we booted the head technician out the door with one of the spares that came with the core, and popped open the receiving bay.

Instead of a canister of boiling coolant as we were expecting, we got back an empty tube with a small amount of residue. Well, the head technician loaded the replacement and brought the empty back here. The man was scared out of his wits and nearly slipped on a puddle of blood that the janitors missed on his way back to the control room; I've had him restrained until I figure out where I'm going to transfer him. I cannot abide cowardice.

The empty tube is an interesting phenomenon. What sort of coolant system expends its cooling agent? I have a feeling there is more here than meets the eye; I sent the tube down to the lab to be looked over, and we've shut down the suit until we known what's going on.

3/21/08

The situation here is entirely unacceptable. While the base was in its night cycle, the Hector was somehow reactivated and it broke out of the holding bay, killing two technicians. We learned from last time and had Helios Security standing by, but that is not the main issue.

We checked the records and confirmed that nobody had activated the machine; all evidence indicates that the Hector powered up on its own and started moving immediately towards the supply room. It managed to pry open the crate with the coolant reloads before being disabled. I await the lab results eagerly, and we've removed the limb components of the machine to prevent it from moving without authorization.

3/25/08

Results just came back from the lab. Liquid is a potent narcotics mix, completely uncut; one could probably kill a bull elephant with this stuff. The techs agree that the stuff would be completely useless as a coolant. I'm going to find some answers.

3/25/08 Supplemental

An hour ago I sent a team out to pry open the casing. One of the technicians lost a hand when the the hatch slammed shut as a defense mechanism; we chained every moving part we could find to a support beam before taking out the CCCCPU. The coolant canister was totally empty, so we wired the thing up to an interface station and had one of the Immunes crack the ICE on the core so we could find out what was wrong with its programming. We were expecting orderly files; what we got was wetware.

There is a brain in that thing. An actual human brain. They hooked some poor bastard, took out his brain and a few other choice bits, and stuck them in a cyber-brain casing, just to get a better combat machine. I cannot believe this was authorized... Did anyone stop to think of the PR fallout if this gets out?

If somebody had decided to tell me about this, maybe I would have known that I was supposed to be loading a fresh tube of "coolant" daily, but instead we left the thing for six days without a top up and now its dying from the withdrawal symptoms. Unless we do something, the project will suffer unacceptable delays.

4/03/08

Project is back on course, finally. Now that we know what we are dealing with, everything is much easier; the new core is performing to a much higher standard than before, thanks to the selection criteria. My full report to command is going to include a recommendation that the subject be addicted only after implantation; our results thus far indicate this leads to a more stable, controllable system. I will also have to request a new head technician; I daresay that our old one is serving a much more vital role to the project now than he ever could before.

Titan security armour:

The Titan Security Armour was a result of the need for a reliable escort after the Praetorian proved insufficient in dealing with assassination attempts upon several key members of the Mediterranean Syndicate's Chain of Command, especially those carried out by the Order of the Talon. In an effort to provide adequate security to the more valuable investments the corporation couldn't afford to lose, the Security Forces began to deploy their own improvised escorts that operated independent of the normal corporate structure. More often than not Titan Security Armours were the primary choice as their use did not have to be registered within the corporation, and they could be relatively easily acquired so long as they offered the right price.

Several notable mercenaries have personally taken it amongst themselves to undergo a surgical process, to give them the edge over their would be opponents. Although the process is painful and quite traumatizing, the results speak for themselves as the Titan Security Armours have become wildly known as the most reliably useful battlesuit as it can effectively deal with any hostile so long as they are within reach. In combat they tend to work best as insurance to keep enemy units away from their clients. If needed the Titan could also fire a rocket-propelled fist, designed for explicit use against faster moving vehicles. The only reason that it isn't used more often is that the Titan has only so many of them to reload.

For the most part Titans are seen as a relatively common commodity amongst the powerful and wealthy members and corporations of a Sprawl. In several circles they are seen as a symbol of status within the Syndicate as they require a rather large sum of funds to be recruited into any position. However several individuals still have problems adjusting to their new bodies, and tend to have extensively recorded history's all concerning the use of excessive force. They tend to rip apart enemy infantry, flip tanks, and almost comically knock out Imperial Mechas. However the Titans tend to be especially vicious against Satyrs. The two are relative opposites from one another and any confrontation between them results in a laughing Satyr head flying off into the sunset.

Originally, what began as a strong rivalry between the Titans preventing the Satyrs from enjoying themselves near their employers has grown into open war. In one such occasion a Titan threw a Satyr through a wall after the Satyr killed his client and began a barroom brawl in the middle of a wedding ceremony. Though none of the attendees survived the unfortunate incident, it should be noted that the Titan was able to make the Satyr beg for a swift death. Something no other human being has ever accomplished before or since that day.

Mars Artillery Armour:

From a Nike Steelworks advertisement for the Mars

"How are YOU at your job?

With new Sprawls being built faster than ever, the construction industry can be a very lucrative business indeed. But have you ever thought about how to get ahead?

Many factors could cost you your rightful share of these profits. Cheap, unskilled workers seek to undercut you. Gangs seek to ensure only their members get jobs. And even the Lifters seek to supercede you with a technological advantage. With these groups all vying for their own interests, how can you ensure that you get ahead?

Introducing the new 'Mars' Construction Armour!

With some of the most advanced cybernetics available to civilian consumers, the Mars upgrade is well worth the price! With the muscular enhancements this suit provides, you will soon be able to carry steel girders by hand, and the leg stabilisation equipment allows structures to be steadied by simply holding them at the ground level. With four railguns, the Mars can rapidly fire rivets into construction beams, securing them in place. And the advantages of being a battlesuit allow you to work twice as long and ten times as efficiently as any 'human' worker. What employer could resist! And with the enhanced strength, armour, and railguns, you never need to worry about criminal retaliation for your success!

Not only this, but if you upgrade yourself now, you can get a bonus to this amazing offer: For a limited time only, Legion Security themselves are hiring Mars Construction Armours for several lucrative contracts. Why wait? Get ahead with the Mars!"

Originally designed as a competing system for the Construction Lifter, the Mars was fantastic at its job: efficient, powerful, and effective. Once Lifters began cornering the market on construction in Sprawls, local businesses began to suffer. Many small businesses were bankrupted: after all, who would hire them when a Lifter could do it twice as fast, and for half the price? Soon, however, this began to impact on larger businesses as well, who simply could not keep up with this new development. One of these businesses was Nike Steelworks. Despite having a near monopoly in Peru, they could not keep Lifters out forever... unless they themselves could supercede them. With this in mind, Nike comissioned a new design: a cybernetic system that they hoped would allow them to dominate the market once again. The product of this design was the Mars Construction Armour, and there was no doubt: it was more effective than the Lifter in every way. Faster, stronger, and better suited to precision work, there seemed no doubt about it: the Mars was the future of construction!

One year later, the Mars had failed to take off. There was a simple reason for this: cost. The cost of producing a single Mars were nearly four times that of producing a single Lifter. Not only this, a Lifter could be piloted by virtually any person, even without training, making costs of the operator trivial. For the Mars, however, the hiring costs were huge: being the 'cutting edge' of construction, the pilot of the Mars could (and would) charge whatever outrageous wage they wanted. If you had money to burn, the Mars was better, but otherwise a Lifter would be the only affordable option.

Desperate to recoup their losses, Nike Steelworks sold their design to Legion Security. Hoping to act as a base building element, the Mars once again lost out... to the Lifter again. In anger, one Francisco Gamarra, a Mars pilot, shredded the entire local supply of Lifters in protest. Instead of being reprimanded, however, he was offered a contract. Upscaling the rivet railguns to full railguns, the Mars was unexpectedly picked up as an artillery piece: after all, if a civilian model could fight past Legion Security and destroy military approved hardware out of jealousy, just how well could a battle ready model potentially do?

Nowdays, most Mars pilots are construction workers, drawn in by the promise of being unparalled in their work, and thus irreplaceable in the high-stakes job markets of the Sprawls. To encourage combat duty, the Mars is purposely priced higher than most people wanting to upgrade could afford, but not quite high enough to arouse supicion. This forces most people to take a contract with Legion Security to afford the upgrade, and then fight to fulfil their contract. Despite this, there is no shortage of volunteers: in the right construction site in the right part of a Sprawl, away from those with only the funds to pay for Lifters, the Mars still reigns supreme.

Spartan Assault Armour:

The Syndicate is a wide assortment of the most varied and culturally different individuals in the world. To say that any organization or nation has done more for the opportunity and technological advancement of its society is madness. However despite the dozens of natural languages, thousands of electronic products, and millions of aspiring individuals, the Mediterranean Syndicate is held together by nothing more than insatiable ambition.

No one walks through the streets of a Sprawl without thinking of how to get ahead in life. For the most part many never will. So they look to the past. The golden ages of history from which our civilization was built. The good natured intent of Prometheus, the rise of the Roman Empire, and most famously the ancient Greek military power, Sparta.

Laconophilia (admiration of the Spartan culture and military valour) is common amongst many of the Philosophers' ranks, even those who the Board considered above such an inexplicable emotion. When the corporation began to work on the beginning of the Spartan Assault Armour, teams of Philosophers gathered to debate the design and role of such a weapon.

They all agreed that it should be their monument to the once great society that fought alongside the legions of Rome, but none could share their vision. At the end, they each set off to build their own machine, without the aid of any another. To Vulcan's delight, dozens of battlesuits were forged, and a small army gathered at the base of Mount Etna, Greece.

The Director of the Philosophers, Doctor Trent, proposed a solution for the conflict; have all the candidates send their creations into the Colosseum where the mightiest would stand victorious in a battle royal. For three days the war raged as the relentless pilots vigorously fought the other contenders in a battle to the death.

By the dawn of the third day, not a single gladiator was capable of combat, as all keeled before the skeletal superstructure that moved just as swiftly and reacted to the constantly shifting battlefield as it had the first day. Walter Elias Disney emerged from the small crowd around the sole survivor and proceeded to declare Ezekiel Clark the victor.

Trent sceptically examined the machine and thought to himself of what a waste of resources this experiment was. The victor was armed with long barrelled rocket launcher, equipped with flechette ammunition to incapacitate enemy armour. A heavy shield made up the entire left arm while his right could change between the roles of supporting the weight of the launcher, and gracefully attacking with a bladed weapon.

He did not find any real advantage to this unlikely champion and rather thought of the skill and stamina of the pilot. "Was he a veteran, or was he trained? Possibly Japanese, most likely one of the former Emperor's surviving Imperial Guards. Must have had a lot of tea to stay awake this long, or really bad nightmares."

By the time he had circled the machine twice he had already deduced the controller to be Yatsushiro, the young apprentice of the Zatiochi Shimata and one of the late Emperor of Japan's surviving bodyguards. Expecting an infiltration, Trent called for additional security and asked to meet the individual commanding the newly instated Spartan Assault Armour.

Walt simply smiled and nodded toward the panel Clark opened at the chest of the machine. Inside, only the remains of a spinal cord removed from the protective vertebral column could be seen. He thought himself fooled for a second as he imagined the previous success of wetware in the design of the Hector Suppression Armour. Jack Dempsey was then heard profanely expressing the sudden appearance of battlesuits before his privet office and led a phalanx of imitation Spartans onto the field.

Interrupting, Walt explained his role in the affair. He had sponsored Ezekiel's project and granted the good doctor access to several of his own previous designs. He proceeded to cunningly explain their capabilities and strengths to Dempsey while avoiding the reasons or nature of their production.

"In a large group, Spartans can be seen to deploy into a large cluster known as a 'Phalanx'. This defensive mode grants the Spartans a massive defensive bonus for each nearby Spartan." Trent, confident in his answer, proceeded to congratulate Dr. Clark on his latest accomplishment, and questioned him relentlessly over how he had overcome the very problems he himself triumphed over years before.

Ezekiel replied that he had not achieved the transhumanist outcome, but rather cheated the ability of current technology by replacing miles of fibre optic cable with a cheaper solution. Trent later returned to his office, and began to ponder the day’s events. By midnight he was only disgusted with the realization of the truth.

"My God, they have actually removed the soul of the machine."

Start the Conversation

The Global Liberation Army (Not a team)

Despite the Order of the Talon's power, it is under constant threat from "primitive" islamic millitants who have organized themselves into the vast "Global Liberation Army" incorporating various groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Al Queada, and more under it's umbrella to form the greatest islamic terrorist organization ever seen.

The Global Liberation Army, or GLA as it's typically referred to, preaches a very strict interpretation of the Quo'ran, especially the more violent parts. Especially anything concerning "killing the infidels." Despite their seemingly ramshackle nature and usage of what should be laughably outdated weaponry, they have proven to be a dire threat even to mighty organizations like the Utopian Empire, the Order of the Talon, S.H.I.E.L.D, H.Y.D.R.A and anyone else who falls under the staggeringly large category of "Oppressors" and "Infidels."

The Black Hand has long supported the GLA to bolster it's finances and provide it with choice examples of high technology and ensuring that they never seem to run out of supplies for their army, even though much of their weaponry hasn't been in production for years if not decades. They are especially fond of Black hand microbial weapons, such as their lethal super anthrax, and their cloaking fields; allowing them to spread mass terror and then slip away before any retaliation can be mounted.

Forming not long after Hussein's execution, the GLA grew to it's present size as it exploited the vacuum created by the Fel Imperial evacuation of the Earth and the American evacuation of Iraq. Quickly swarming into Afghanistahn, the GLA shocked the world by overwhelming and defeating the coalition forces there within a short few months, only for the private military corporations of the Mediterreanean syndicate to keep them away from their sprawls.

But this was of little value to the rest of the muslim world, which rapidly fell under GLA control, supporting the Arab spring that allowed them to sweep into the rest of the arab world and beyond. For a time, they seemed invincible, but then a new foe came in the form of the trinity, whose superpowered forces managed to force the terrorists into hiding throughout the middle east. But within Africa, Central and Southern Asia, and in hidden cells in the middle east, they continue to operate, picking at their foes in the name of "freedom."

Rebels:

"I will be remembered for this!"

-Unknown Rebel

While the world is politically speaking, dominated largely by NATO and it's allies on one side and Tenebrasque and it's cronies and allies on the other, there are some who agree with neither side. One such groups, the GLA, which is based in the Middle East and North Africa, sees its objective as the expulsion of Tenebrasque, NATO, Talon, Syndicate, and whomever else dares set foot in their lands, whom they view as "godless invaders", and to secure their freedom. Wanting to fight for what was right and filled with religious fervor, many young men joined the GLA as a way to show their devotion to Islam.

These young men, while devoted, are a combination of poorly trained and poorly equiped, and fanaticism can only get one so far. Among such men, very few survive long after joining the GLA. Insanely brave, resolute, and pious, Rebels form the backbone of the GLA, and can be seen in any conflict with the GLA.

While there is no shortage men to volunteer for the GLA, there is a shortage of arms to supply these fresh recruits. Looking for the cheapest alternative, they armed their men with AK-47s, which in the wake of what some would argue is still ongoing; the third world war, still remains the world's most popular assault rifle, with production rising to a billion units by 2009. While the AK-47 is one of the oldest assault rifles around, it is easy to reload, extremely reliable, has respectable stopping power, requires little training to use, and more importantly (for the GLA), extremely cheap and easy to acquire.

The GLA purchased millions of these weapons through various backers and handed them to eager recruits, to be used against their enemies. There is one catch, however. The GLA are not very good at maintaining weapons, meaning the average rebel generally recieves a set of weapons that is not in very good condition, though the AK's legendary durability means that this is not too much of a problem. However, they're so cheap that in the unlikely case that one fails, Rebels can just pick up another one.

The Rebels also have a few other tricks up their sleeves to make up for their generally poor combat performance. For one, since the GLA enjoys support in larger areas, they can shift into civilian crowds, slipping away from the eyes of their enemies just as easily as they appear elsewhere again. Their mastery of stealth has allowed them to launch ambush after ambush on invading soldiers, wearing down even the most advanced attackers. With black hand bullets, the rebels can threaten things that the AK-47 usually would not, and with an added underslung grenade launcher; also provided by the black hand, their firepower increases dramatically.

Terrorist:

"They do not understand our ways, ignore our traditions, and bad of all disgrace our faith! They are an evil amoeba upon the world and force their secular ideals on your very uncles! Were they men they would talk, they would negotiate, they would have taken some action to re-compensate our people for the damages they had caused during their battle! But they are not people, they are packs of rabbit vikings! They enslave our women, eat our children, and rape our goats! They think us monsters, backward, and tiny. But we will show them one or two things. Come my brothers! We must make Jihad on these Infidels!"

Surprisingly, the GLA finds no shortage of fanatics willing to die for the cause. Therefore, terrorists can be trained and armed at low cost. A deadly tactic that GLA commanders used was to have Terrorists be transported by Technicals to the enemy base, for a quick and deadly attack.

However, the best use of terrorists was in a surprise attack. Rockets and cannon shells will detonate their explosives upon death, but fortunately being run over by vehicles or tanks will do the same. In combat, terrorists stay at the rear or in ambush positions, to await for superheavy units such as mobile shield bases, Talon crawlers, Fel Imperial Apocalypse tanks, or the rather bulky examples of Stark Enterprise's Mechs and War walkers.

Terrorists do not carry weapons in the conventional sense, rather, they strap themselves with as many high explosives and fanatical faith as possible and take as many lessons in stealth and running as they can before getting close and promptly blowing themselves up. They are even capable of wiring cars with even more explosives to make an even more catastrophic bang, leaving foreigners in GLA lands constantly paranoid.

Gun Truck/Technical:

"Only three things are infinite, the Omniverse, Human stupidity, and the number of bloody Technicals the GLA can pull out of it's arse."

-Anonymous British soldier.

A Gun Truck or Technical is a type of improvised fighting vehicle, typically a civilian or military non-combat vehicle, modified to add an offensive capability. It is usually an open-back civilian pickup truck or four-wheel drive vehicle mounting a machine gun, light anti-aircraft gun, recoilless rifle or other weapons. Among irregular armies, often centred around the perceived strength and charisma of warlords, the prestige power of gun trucks are strong. It is a small truck with large tripod mounted machine guns mounted on the back. A warlord's power is measured by how many of these vehicles he has.

In the tradition of militias in developing nations, the GLA used Cobra Gun Trucks, also referred to simply as gun trucks or Cobras, for transport and anti-infantry purposes. Resourceful GLA fighters would upgrade the Gun Truck's weaponry with parts scavenged from destroyed enemy vehicles. They are ridiculously cheap to acquire, and can transport up to five members of the rebellion in the flatbed.

Unlike other transports however, the passengers must hold on for dear life as the Cobra batters its way across mountain trails and empty cities. The only benefit from hitching a ride on a Cobra is the fact that if the truck were to be disabled by an enemy combatant, then all of the passengers would be spared from serious injury. Most of the time the blast of the gas tank exploding is enough to propel the terrorists off the Cobra, away from danger. While typically no match for a professional army's equivalent vehicles, such as the Humvee, they are a great deal cheaper and faster to produce, allowing the GLA to swarm their foes with them. With black hand upgrades, they can really "rip it up."

Scorpion Tank:

"This scorpion's got a nasty sting!"

-Anonymous Scorpion tank commander.

When International Inc brought out the Desert Filter pack based on technologies first employed in countless wars and skirmishes in North Africa, they were bombarded with orders from the Middle East. It was easy to see why; the oversized high-pressure intakes acted like superchargers for the Scorpion's engines, and the new flexible rubber connectors on the tracks gave the machine a larger footprint and much more traction over sand. When combine with new torsion-bar suspension, heat-reflecting metallic paint, and solid cast return rollers, a so-called Sand Scorpion was faster than any other variant and completely immune to the harsh effects of the desert.

Because of the focus on armoured combat in the desert, the Sand Scorpion's Stinger cannon comes with a complimentary load-out of AP rounds. Based on anti-tank rockets, each of these rounds consists of a lead shell with a half-size, directed explosive payload, enhanced by a seven and a half-inch brass spike in the nose of the round. When it strikes armour, the brass rod is driven back into the explosive, setting it off and driving the now-molten spike through enemy armour. This seriously enhances the performance of the 76mm gun against heavy armour while retaining the same size and tracking abilities that make it lethal against light vehicles, but the reduced explosive payload has made the weapon less effective in other areas, especially against infantry or structures.

Fortunately, an add-on provides a solution; the Eradicator 5000 high-impact rocket kit. This simple weapon rail bolts onto the turret of the Scorpion tank, carrying a 12-inch high-impact rocket fired by electric impulse. In addition to good armour-piercing capabilities, the large explosive within makes short work of nearly any target.

Unsurprisingly, a great many Sand Scorpions have ended up in GLA hands, purchased through proxies with oil money from the occupied fields or smuggled in by GLA-affiliated arms dealers. These tough little vehicles, with their great gas mileage and ability to cross any terrain with ease, are core to the GLA war effort, as they can easily run circles around Trinity forces, striking hard with their light cannons and bolt-on rockets before fading into the desert. Of course, they are no match for practically any main battle tank employed by any of the major powers, due to their small caliber guns and light armor; or at least, in a straight up fight.

In an engagement with an American armored division in 2008 in Iraq, the M1A2 Abrams pilots found that while the Abrams was more than capable of blowing a Sand Scorpion to hell with one shot and could shrug off hits from the Sand Scorpion with ease while their superior and advanced command and control technology allowed them to coordinate easily, they were hideously outnumbered by the cheaper tanks which could virtually tap dance around them to pummel their rear armor into submission.

And they were most surprised to find that the Eradicator 5000 missile was very much capable of blowing apart the mighty Abrams with a single direct hit or crippling it on a glancing strike. One Abrams hit on the glacis plate of it's turret found it's entire turret ripped out of it's socket while the chassis splintered and deformed like plastic hit with an sledgehammer. In concert with other GLA vehicles, the seemingly primitive terrorists managed to tear apart a full American armored division and inflict the most humiliating defeat upon American forces since the battle of the Kasserine pass.

Experienced Sand Scorpion crews kit out their vehicles with a second Eradicator rail on the opposite side of their tank, while upgrading the cannon with an more deadly 85mm gun with significantly more firepower, though still inferior to most modern tanks. The scorpion can easily be refitted to function in Jungles, Savannah, Marsh, Tundra, and Steppes, allowing them to take the fight in any terrain. Black hand weapons technology can further upgrade their machine guns, cannon, and rockets.

RPG troopers:

"Be on watch for the enemy!"

-Anonymous RPG trooper.

Rebels armed with the Type 69, a Chinese copy of the infamous RPG-7, and stinger anti-air missile launchers. The RPG Trooper was trained to fire at both ground and air targets. Like their AK-47 totting rebel counterparts, RPG Troopers are experts in stealth and warfare in the nontemperate climes that the GLA primarily dwells in. Capable of popping out of seemingly nowhere and ripping apart tank convoys with a barrage of rockets, or emerging from cover and pummeling any who fly over their heads with a deadly volley of missiles, they are warriors to be feared and respected. They can be upgraded with black hand warheads to drastically increase their potency.

Rocket Buggy:

"Macross missile massacre? Macross has nothing on us!"

-Anonymous buggy driver.

Interestingly, the GLA's choice of equipment for it's two fastest ground vehicles is the opposite of what the Black Hand chooses, rockets for it's buggies and machine guns for it's motorcycles. Nevertheless, the Rocket Buggy is perhaps the ultimate hit and run vehicle barring the Black Hand's hated Stealth Tanks. Capable of ripping through the terrain at over a hundred miles per hour, the Rocket buggy can leave virtually any conventional military ground vehicles in the dust, which is good, because it's armor is pathetic enough for the vehicle to be threatened by small arms fire.

Unfortunately for the foes of the GLA, the Rocket buggy makes up for it's lack of armor for it's devastating payload, three six racks of guided missiles lie in a rotating turret on top of it, promising rockety death to anything within the Buggy's very long range. Infantry and light vehicles are blasted with frag warheads, ripping them apart with shrapnel. Heavy vehicles and structures are ripped apart with Krak rounds that pierce their armor with contemptuous ease, especially in the large volleys buggies are famous for. Bunkers and other extremely hard targets are destroyed with bunker buster weapons that penetrate deep within before blowing them apart with a thermobaric blast.

Various other kinds of warheads allow the buggy to carry out virtually any role imaginable, and it's surprisingly sophisticated targeting systems, scanners, and missile guidance allows it to engage at very long range. Worse yet for it's foes, the black hand supplies upgrades to the GLA. Their rockets can be upgraded with black hand technology to drastically increase their potency and homing abilities. And worse yet, they can fit another trio of missile racks for no loss of speed. A general purpose machine gun is added, seemingly as an after though.

A dozen fully upgraded Rocket buggies, strategically positioned on a Mesa, managed to ambush and blast apart no less than seventy two stark enterprise battlesuits without a single casualty, retreating into the sands before any retaliation can be made and returning with fully reloaded racks to proceed to destroy virtually the entire convoy they were escorting, all accomplished in fifteen minutes, most of which was spent in transit to reloading stations, reloading, and returning to the battlefield.

Combat cycle:

"Aww hell naw...."

-Anonymous American soldier upon seeing a formation of combat cyclists driving towards his unit.

"Batshit Insane" is perhaps the best way to describe the fanatics who drive combat cycles. Providing virtually no protection to it's rider but offering them unparalleled speed and maneuverability, Combat Cycle drivers can rip across the battlefield. Though by default equipped with twin machine guns to blow apart infantry and soft skinned vehicles, they can be replaced with missile launchers, super-anthrax sprayers, large caliber anti-materiel sniper rifles, or be packed with explosives for suicide attacks.

Armed with this, an fanatical devotion to radical islam and the GLA, and an obsession with going insanely fast just as strong as their devotion to Allah, Orks have taken to calling them "'Umie Speed Freakz." And indeed, cyclists have taken to painting their vehicles red just like the orks do when the greenskins wish to go faster, earning them derision and curiosity in equal measure from the brutish aliens.

Driving easily reaching two hundred miles per hour, far beyond what is even remotely safe for normal humans to be going on a motorcycle, cyclist attacks come with little warning. Bases in GLA territory frequently find that by the time they can detect the cycles, they're already mere seconds away from them and will have already caused critical damage.

Cliffs and water are no obstacle, as their tricked out vehicles are capable of going so fast that they can simply run up cliffs that others would have to climb, and they can drive over water without sinking as long as they maintain speed. Experienced cyclists further trick out their rides with added weaponry, better engines, something actually resembling armor, but they always try to be careful to avoid lowering their speed and acceleration.

Coalition forces returning from the middle east tend to rate Cyclists as the enemy they fear the most. "The F***ers are completely god damned f***ing insane what kind of f***ed up moron drives a motorcycle so fast that apaches have a hard time keeping up? I mean jesus motherf***ing christ one day I was out on patrol, minding my own business, daft punk blaring on the humvee stereo and then I heard some batsh!t motherf***ers cackling like a bunch of stoned hyenas at a frat party driving loud as all f*** get out motorbikes coming at us from three o clock. Turned round the fifty cal and blew one of them up real nice but then bam the tank right next to me got blown to kingdom come by a pair of missiles, they blew out the tires on the humvee, gunned down the footsloggers, and brought down three bradleys with missile fire. What the f*** man!?!" One combat veteran said.

SCUD Launcher:

"Who the f*** was the idiot that said that they didn't have heavy artillery!?!"

-Understandably irate Fel Imperial Grenedier.

There is little to say about the SCUD launcher, it's a fairly conventional missile truck that bears an enormous SCUD ballistic missile with vast range. What does bear note is that the GLA is fond of cloaking them and upgrading it's missiles for increased range and firepower, additionally; they possess better armor. They function as the long ranged artillery of the GLA, in concert with the faster if less overtly destructive rocket buggy. Nearly a thousand of them were deployed in the GLA's siege of Jerusalem.

Bomb Truck:

"Like terrorists...except it's a f***ing truck that can turn invisible. Bloody f***ing hell!"

-British soldier.

Operating on the same principal as the terrorists only on a much larger scale, the Bomb Truck carries multiple tons of deadly explosives that can level entire city blocks or instantly cripple all but the heaviest of enemy units. To make matters worse, using black hand technology, they can disguise themselves as other vehicles of any size or make or become outright invisible. To make matters worse, they can be upgraded with even more potent explosives and biological warfare agents, just like terrorists.

Toxin tractor:

"Is that a tractor? What's next? Are they going to strap guns to a baby carriage!? AHAHAHAHAH-BLURAJHDZMZMDNAKAZAAAAAHHHHH!!!"

Last words of an Fel Imperial Grenedier.

Take a farm tractor, slap on some armor and large canisters filled with lethal super-anthrax that can be sprayed out in a thick stream that can melt flesh off of bones in seconds, corrode metal and stone over time, burn plastic, and rot the skeletal structure in record time. Additionally, it can sprinkle this deadly strain of microbe in lethal clouds that take noticeably longer to kill, but affect a much larger area than the concentrated spray.

Toxin trooper:

"Yeah...we're dead."

-Pessimistic trinity soldier.

Take the rebel, give him armor, give him the RPG trooper's kit as an added bonus, give him training, and then put two tanks of super-anthrax and a sprayer nozzle to function as a flamethrower equivalent. These soldiers are elites, more than a match for most soldiers in professional armies, and their NBC resistant gear gives them a fearsome aspect. Their warheads can be upgraded just like the RPG trooper, with the addition of super-anthrax to the mix.

Super Anthrax warheads:

"It may look like the Hulk's piss but believe me when is say you don't want to touch it."

-Talon Footman.

If it blows up, super-anthrax can be added to it, the explosion spraying out a short lived cloud of the virulent disease to eat apart flesh and material within seconds. To make matters worse, it can be upgraded from the green coloured Super-Anthrax Alpha, to the Cyan Super-Anthrax Beta which is over twice as deadly, making death instantaneous for normal humans caught under Toxin sprays. It can be further upgraded to the legendary magenta coloured Super Anthrax Gamma, which is twice as deadly still.

A weaponized clone of the hulk was sent to deal with the GLA. He did extremely well against their normal forces as the Hulk always did against conventional armies, but Toxin Troopers and Toxin tractors with Anthrax-Gamma sprayed him in their magenta death fluid and the microbes literally ate him into nothingness within seconds, overwhelming his healing factor with ease and rendering him down into purple goop.

Skysweeper Quad Cannon:

"Consider your wings clipped!"

-Skysweeper Ace as he downs a quartet of American F-15s.

Armed with four forty milimeter autocannons, the Skysweeper is a venerable but still very much deadly anti-aircraft vehicle capable of pumping out a massive amount of lead into the sky in seconds. Yet another International Inc invention, the Skysweeper can target both ground and air targets with equal ease, pumping them full of autocannon rounds at an obscene rate with stunning accuracy. They can be further upgraded, one upgrade improving their rate of fire massively, the next improving the rate of fire slightly more still and greatly increasing their firepower by increasing their caliber size to fifty millimeters. Furthermore, they can be improved with black hand shells for more destructive power. Skysweeper commanders take pride in the expensive infidel aircraft that they blow out of the skies, and mark their vehicles with kill tallies.

Armadillo Tank:

"WHY DOES THIS THING NOT F*CKING DIE!?!!?!?!!?!"

-Apache pilot.

Those who expect all GLA vehicles to be glass cannons or fragile speedsters are in for a rude awakening when they face the Armadillo tank, gifted to them by the government of Saudi Arabia, which ferverently supports the GLA in it's struggle to create a new caliphate, with the King at it's head, or so he hopes. Fortunately his hopes are well founded, and his gifts to the GLA are well appreciated.

The Armadillo's main gun has a caliber of one hundred milimeters, seemingly small, but with the same international inc technology as the scorpion, it's quite deceptive, as the revolutionary shells allow for greater punch with a smaller caliber. It's machine guns and Eradicator rocket rails are not it's true strength either, formadible as they may be.

No the true strength is the fact that the Armadillo is ridiculously well armored and durable. An apache gunship once unloaded it's entire sixteen hellfire missile payload and twelve hundred 30mm high velocity autocannon rounds onto an approaching armadillo tank to try and stop it after no less three abrams tanks firing at one simultaneously failed to pierce it's frontal armor after a minute of continuous firing.

Shockingly, the Armadillo's wreckage was analyzed, and it was found that the machine was still operational even after all the hellfire missiles hit, the 30mm autocannon only penetrated after repeatedly shooting at a spot where three APDS shells and two missiles hit until it broke and penetrated While no faster than an Abrams, the Armadillo is much tougher and can withstand attacks from most metahumans, who fall in the street level category. With Super-anthrax shells and rockets, it can threaten them as well.

Saracen Transport:

"We're doomed!"

-British soldier.

An APC equipped with dual 40mm autocannons, six machine guns, and strong armor along with firing ports and twin eradicator missile racks, this IFV is a strong rival for the M2 Bradley used by America. Made by International Incorporated, the Saracen is a peerless IFV, the finest money can buy that still uses conventional technology. And thus, the cash ladened Saudi Arabian Government and Black Hand were able to acquire them in bulk.

Capable of carrying twelve soldiers, this vehicle is considered to be a harbinger of death that can turn the tide of battles. The GLA quite frankly loves the vehicles and is quite careful with them despite the fact that they are very well armored and possess devastating armament. The Black Hand is less cautious with their Saracens, but even their pilots are very fond of them.

Royal Guardsmen:

"Aww crap...I forgot my brown pants."

-Talon footman upon seeing a squad of Royal guardsmen.

The cream of the GLA infantry crop, equipped with International INC bought Mameluke class power armored suits, the Guardsmen are terrifying combatants, equipped with two power fists or energy claws, thunder shields, storm hammers for melee weapons, two six racks of missiles on the shoulders, Heavy Super Anthrax Sprayers, twin barelled 0.75 caliber machine guns, 0.5 caliber miniguns, or shortened twin barelled 60mm autocannons. Additionally, with teleporters, they can take the fight to the enemy with ease, especially with their hugely enhanced strength and durability that lets them go toe to toe with most metahumans and come out on top with many of them. Fortunately, they are rare, but they tend to make enemies who catch sight of them "sh!t bricks" as one Talon footman put it.

Marauder Tank destroyer:

"The final word in destroying enemy armor, this vehicle can punch holes through even superheavy tanks and take the punishment back! Endlessly modular, this is the best buy for your nation's emerging army! Satisfaction guaranteed!"

-International Inc advertisement.

The Marauder Tank Destroyer earns it's name, these vehicles eat tanks and spit them out with contemptuous ease. Their massive one hundred seventy six millimeter main gun can pierce through even superheavy tanks fielded by advanced armies at a good distance, while their heavy armor can defend them from returning attacks. Equipped with six eradicator rockets and a massive number of machine guns, the Marauder has few weaknesses, well, save for it's lack of a turret.

However, with it's vast firepower, which can be further upgraded by increasing it's caliber to 220mms, allowing it to blow through virtually any target, especially with the lengthened barrel providing even more velocity. To make matters worse, it can have up to two more barrels, twelve more eradicator rockets and twelve more machine gun added to turn it into a tri-barrelled grim reaper on the battlefield. Furhter more, it can be upgraded with super-anthra shells. And it's decently fast on top of that.

A single marauder tank ace with the maximum upgrades once fought an entire British tank company singlehandedly, admittedly using clever usage of cover and a strategic ambush position. In the course of an intense ten minute engagement, it wiped out all thirty Challenger II tanks and roughly fifty other assorted vehicles it faced without suffering any more than some chipped paint.

Truly it is the final word in the GLA's anti-armor capability.

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