The Age Of Steel And Thunder
- The Age Of Steel And Thunder
- Towards the end of the 21st century warfare on the planet earth took a sudden and decisive turn, orbital weapons platforms became commonplace and expanded a new frontier of fighting, space, suddenly we had the capacity to strike at any corner of the globe with terrifying speed, no one and nowhere was safe. This ended when the war in heaven came, a flurry of orbital bombardments and surface to orbit attacks that in the space of a day razed entire continents, blackened the skies and ushered in a thousand years of darkness. Oceans boiled away; opening great bridges that connected the remaining land masses in a series of super highways. Now, massive electrical storms constantly rake the atmosphere, blinding those few remaining orbital platforms and grounding all aircraft, space, once a new frontier and the best hope for the continued survival of the species was taken from us by our greed and sealed us here upon the barren earth., with the possibility of aircraft and space bound weapons gone a new era of warfare commenced, the second age of the armoured fighting vehicles. Such monstrous engines of war as had never before shaken the earth, mobile fortresses dominate the landscape as far as the eye can see, forming the constantly shifting front lines of the new nomadic nations. Scurrying across the ruined earth, fighting amongst themselves for the few remaining resources, cannibalising one another in an endless death and rebirth of steel and thunder...It is across these blighted wastelands that Rook captains the mighty Acharon, a machine like none other, conceived by himself long before the war in heaven and constructed in secret deep in the bowels of the earth. She was his magnum opus, his great work. Faithfully she lay waiting, ready to emerge once the radioactive dust had finally settled, to wage war for the glory of his nation, his warrior tribe.
- Chapter 1
- The war in heaven
- Rook was already running before the first klaxon sounded, one of the lucky few to have received advanced warning of the looming disaster. Not that this gave him much comfort as he sprinted down the bare concrete passageways of the silo, breath coming in ragged heaving gasps; legs flailing wildly without rhythm, almost stumbling as he reached the far end, hopping over the blast frame Rook swung his eyes back momentarily to see if anyone else would make it, a few specs in the distance pouring through the outer doors....too slow...grimacing Rook punched the door control from the other side and the blast door slammed down sealing them to their fate, turning Rook took the concrete steps a flight at a time, leaping down and catching himself on the opposite wall before repeating the movement, four spectacular leaps later he jumped into the brushed steel box that awaited him, jamming the release without hesitation. Jerking as heavy anchors released the box began to free fall most of the kilometre deep shaft, heart thudding in his chest Rook squeezed his eyes shut and for the first time in his life, he prayed, 'come on...come on...come on' finally the hydraulics engaged and he was thrown down, bashing his elbow painfully against the hard floor, gritting his teeth through the pain he was up in a flash and levered his body through the still parting doors.
- He emerged into yet another bare concrete hallway stretching away to his left and right, directly ahead a large hanger sized opening, along the length of the hallway sets of brushed steel doors indicated the other escape shafts leading down from the surface facility. Whipping the radio from his belt, between ragged gasps 'Report....are you in?'...for a moment nothing but static greeted him and fearing the worst Rook began to scan the indicators above the lift doors, moving from one to other, a blurt of static issued from the device 'Rook!? Thank fuck for that we made it to #7, descending now', checking his watch Rook gritted his teeth, it would be close.
- Sprinting over to the seventh set of doors, the indicator announced less than ten seconds before the box would touch down, a quick glance either side showed a handful of the lifts had started to descend, glancing back down at his watch he knew none of them would make it, before he had even finished this thought the doors ahead pinged open and out burst Bishop, closely followed by knight. Turning on the spot Rook sprinted through the gaping maw of the hanger, the others following close behind, as soon as they had cleared the threshold Rook checked his watch again, hand hovering over the blast door release, silently he counted down from twenty...
- Bishop nudged him urgently, at the same the doors to the escape shaft directly in front of them pinged open, disgorging it's panicked cargo, '8...7...6' glancing between the rapidly approaching figures and his watch Rook realised what was about to happen at roughly the same time as the lead sprinter did, who proceeded to draw his side-arm and discharge it at Rook standing by the door control, throwing himself to the side his hand jammed down the release and the heavy doors fell, no slow hydraulically controlled descent like the lifts, just gravity and hundreds of tons of raw steel. Knight dragged him back and away from the doors as they fell, fearing for his prone form lying so close to the descending mountain of metal. He need not have worried, the back blast of the displaced air threw them clear, landing in a heap on the concrete.
- A low groan escaped Rooks lips as he rolled over clutching his side, 'shit....I'm hit', Bishop knelt, ripping open his overalls, the small puckered wound disgorging a steady stream of blood, pulling the trauma pack from his belt Bishop ripped open the sterile pack of a pair of surgical tweezers with his teeth, 'hold him still!' he barked, a pair of rough hands gripped Rook by the shoulders and held him down, Bishop made eye contact with Rook 'I have to get the bullet out, it didn't pass through', Rook grimaced and nodded rapidly. Probing the wound now Bishop suddenly withdrew as the chamber about them juddered, dust streaming down from far above, 'shit!' Bishop tried to cover the wound as much as he could from the dust, waiting for the shaking to abate before inserting the tweezers once more, Rook thrashed his head wildly as the implement searched, 'I said hold him still!' bishop all but screamed at Knight, who redoubled his efforts, 'Fuck!' Bishop fumbled in his haste, loosing his grip on the bullet, with steady breathes he took a better grip on the mushroomed fragment of metal and with a swift action jerked it from the wound, holding the tweezers up Bishop drained water over it from his canteen before inspecting it closely in the flickering strip lighting, 'got it all, it didn't fragment' he said to no one in particular, with the embedded object removed the flow of blood increased noticeably, 'I am sorry...this is going to hurt' he gazed at Rook briefly with pity before tearing open the packet of a coagulant agent and pouring it into the entry wound, Rook gnashed his teeth but the worst was yet to come...peeling away the backing from the red pad of material Bishop pressed it to the wound, in seconds feeling the rising heat on his palm, a chemical reaction was taking place and on the side of the material against Rooks flesh a flash of intense heat scorched the wound shut, Bishop was certain that blood curdling scream would stay with him always.
- Eyes flickered briefly from their workstations as the long scream echoed down from above, Bishop grimaced as always before returning to his work, a petty officer grumbling 'every bloody morning...' rolled from his cot, eyes blurred with sleep. Although the scream was no doubt one of utter agony and of the truest essence none seemed perturbed, each morning it came as sure as the sun would rise, signalling the awakening of their lord and commander, Nathanial Rook. For the more keen among the staff it was the signal to straighten up, dust down and look busy, Knight eye balled these keen pups from the gunners deck, 'amatuers..', Knight was an old school sort, gruff of demeanor but tough as they came, finest gunner this side of the wastelands and the polar opposite of Bishop who stood tall and lanky, with that unmistakable air of nobility that marked him out as a book keeper or a clerk perhaps, certainly the aged half moon spectacles could give such an impression, in truth Bishop was all of these things and more, tailor, quarter master, navigation officer and so on in that order, he truly was the very essence of the stately consigulary.
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