"Do you forswear your weak, human origin? Do you freely chose to embrace the superiority of mutant-kind?"
Slarth, High Consul to Kaiser Oblivion, addresses you from across his ornate desk. He is a hideous fellow. Even in this casual setting, Slarth wears the steel breastplate of his life-armor. A clear tube snakes up from the armor and connects to a respirator on the mutant's face. As you watch, Slarth inhales venomous green mutagenic mist from the life-armor.
You suck up some of the sweet toxic mist from your own life-armor. Oh yeah, you can feel the it coursing through your system. Tastes like strength, with a hint of cherry and a pinch of madness.
The High Consul focuses all nine of his eyes on you:
"Do you accept that we mutants are the superior race, the successors to humanity?"
1. [[Yes.->The Pledge, pt. 2]]
2. [[Duh, obviously.->The Pledge, pt. 2]]
"Since the Gene Wars, the world has become an inhospitable and unforgiving place. A place where baseline humans are doomed to extinction. For they are weak and soft. We, the mutants, are the future. A stronger people, for a harsher age.
Do you know what the baseline humans call our lands? The 'Contaminated Zones.' Ha! We have taken these poisonous wastelands and made them our home! Leave the few unpolluted valleys to the baselines- we are free to expand as we please.
And expand we shall. Are you prepared to serve the Steelchest Empire? To extend our reach to the horizon, and then beyond?"
1. [[Yes!->The Pledge, pt. 3]]
2. [[Preaching to the choir here, buddy.->The Pledge, pt. 3]]
"Finally, do you pledge your loyalty to Kaiser Oblivion, above all else? For he is the steel fist which will crush this world. The one who will bring order to this chaos, by sword and fire.
The Kaiser would see a world in which the strong take their rightful place atop a mountain of skulls. He is harsh as the toxic wilds, but these are the end of days. A hard ruler brings stability and peace, in a time when security and safety are but distant dreams.
So, do you pledge yourself?"
1. [[For Kaiser Oblivion!]]
2. God, are you done already? I am in, all the way. [[Let's do this thing.]]
"Ok, you actually seem a little too gung-ho. Like maybe you're trying too hard. But whatever. For Kaiser Oblivion!"
"I feel like you are being a little flip about all this. But whatever, let's do this thing!"
"Congratulations then, General, on your promotion. We expect great things from you. Do not let the Kaiser down."
Slarth steeples his scaled hands.
"The Steelchest Empire is scattered, fragmented. And we are not the only mutants with ambitions to rule the wastes. Rival mutant gangs roam the land. From their sheltered cities and villages the humans assemble armies. The mad robots spread tirelessly from their dens, a deadly threat to all life. You have much work to do.
But first, your forces have assembled in the courtyard below. You should address them." Slarth gestures to the balcony behind him.
1. [[Review your army]].
You step onto the balcony, and survey your assembled army.
Below you are ranks upon ranks of Steelchest troopers. They are wearing their fully assembled life-armor and crimson cloaks. Each trooper grips a plasma rifle. The rifles are slow to fire, but their deadly bolts of energy can rip through most anything. Plasma rifles are also highly radioactive and have been known to overheat and explode. But Kaiser Oblivion does not really go in for this whole 'safety' thing.
Then there are the Reaver bike gangs. The Reavers ride heavily modified motorcycles and wield handheld rocket launchers. They hit hard and fast.
At the far end of the parade grounds is your artillery, nicknamed The Thumpers. The massive cannons are covered in graffiti, barbed wire, spikes, and skulls. A bold fashion statement that says, "Hey, I may be in the back ranks, but I can still kill with the best of them."
You say some basic inspirational leadery stuff. This kind of motivational junk comes easy to a natural born commander like yourself.
From behind you comes a polite cough. You turn and reenter the Consul's office.
"Let us discuss your [[first assignment]]..."
"You have been charged with building up our forces and territory. The badlands to the south are controlled by a rowdy gang of thugs known as the Gun-lads. They are but baseline humans, but fierce enough to thrive in wastes.
The Gun-lads love a brawl and only respect strength. They are reputed to never back down from a fight, never surrender, and always have at least three guns on their person at all times. Not the smartest or toughtest warriors in the world. But ideal recruits for bulking up our military. Bring them into the fold, whatever way possible."
1. If I possess an army, I should wield it! We [[march]] on the badlands. If the Gun-lads want a fight, we should oblige. I will conquer these puny humans.
2. I shall [[challenge]] their leader to a fight. One on one! Superpowered mutant to scruffy wanna-be warlord.
The Gun-lads are only too happy to engage your forces. It quickly becomes apparent that your army possesses an insurmountable technological advantage. But the Gun-lads never back down, and fight to the last man. To their credit, they inflict moderate casualties on your troops through the sheer ferocity of their attacks.
Silver lining: you now possess a ton of guns, if not the Lads to wield them.
Challenge accepted! And so, you eventually find yourself surrounded by a howling mob of Gun-lads, facing off against their chieftain. He is a massive man, easily six feet tall and covered in muscles and tattoos. He slips into a boxing stance and flips you the bird.
The chieftain may look intimidating, but you are a Steelchest. The mutagenic mists pump through your body, supercharging and warping every fiber of your being. You are stronger and tougher than any baseline can ever achieve. Laughing, you step forward and throw the first punch.
The fight doesn't last even five minutes. The chieftain falls to his knees. You begin to move to finish him off, but he waves you away. Looking up, the cheiftain smiles and says something, but you can't understand his thick cockney accent. However, he smiles and gives a thumbs up.
The Gun-lads agree to join the [[Empire!->suceed]]
"Oops? That's all you have to say about that?"
Slarth does not seem pleased.
"Still, the massacre of the Gun-lads has increased the empire's already fearsome reputation. Some independent territories have voluntarily joined us after such a display of strength.
Unfortunately, our [[manpower]] shortage goes beyond the military."
"Our Manufactorum (the vast city-sized factory at the center of the capital) supplies the army with artillery and weaponry. It is not... a pleasant place to labor. What with all the open vats of acid, narrow catwalks with no railings, giant grinding machinery to crawl through, and giant terrorbats infesting the place.
Nevertheless, the Manufactorum is vital to the Empire's expansion. It is currently only half staffed. We do bring in a steady stream of new workers. But most of them are too weak and unworthy to withstand the rigors and dangers of the Manufactorum. All we ever get are complaints about 'everyone keeps starving to death' or 'oh, everyone collapses after the 78th hour of work.' Ridiculous!
I would like you to acquire involuntary laborers from the neighboring lands of Free Clans. The Free Clans may only be baseline humans, but they are plentiful. Their fertile lands have made them prosperous and weak. Easy prey."
1. [[Slave raids!]]
2. Why not add some [[safety]] measures to the Manufactorum?
3. [[Slavery is bad.]]
You soon find yourself summoned again to Slarth's office. He looks pleased.
"Well done bringing the Gun-lads into the fold. We have identified another potential asset. The Mutators of Vega Outpost are a proud people, holding themselves separate from even other mutants. This is because they have the unique ability to quickly adapt and evolve through any hardship. I do not need to explain how useful that ability would be in combat. The more prolonged a fight the stronger they become!
The Mutators squander this gift, however. They are peaceful and avoid fighting as much as possible. How such powerful mutants could be so weak willed I do not understand. But it should make your job easier.
The Mutators refusal to submit to our rule encourages others to defy us. They must join the Empire, by any means necessary. I will leave the details of how to you."
1. Mobilize the troops! We lay [[siege]] to Vega Outpost!
2. Let loose the [[Reaver Bike Gangs]]. They will blitz the mutates.
3. I will [[challenge->Challenge again]] the mutate leader again. I have a 100% success rate with this tactic. Statistics don't lie.
The siege of Vega Outpost takes months. The fighting is almost every day. The Thumpers shell the city near constantly. Finally, you give the word to move in, a final push. From the rubble of the outpost emerge the remaining Mutators. These survivors of constant warfare and hellish conditions have evolved into something magnificent and deadly. The super Mutators have become living weapons, perfect instruments of death dealing. They tear into your forces with claw and fang, poison spines, bone armor, and acid blood.
More than half your army lies dead at the end of the day. Vega Outpost is a smoking ruin and the mutates are dead.
You have [[failed->Failure]].
By the time the main army arrives at Vega Outpost the Reavers have already subdued the Mutators. Slarth wasn't kidding when he said they didn't like fighting! When you enter the city the Mutator councilors are waiting for you and immediately make a formal surrender.
You super get beaten down and die.
Well, the first ten minutes of the fight seem promising. The Mutator champion is weaker and slower than you. Nevvertheless, you can't seem to land that final blow, and the champion isn't slowing down. In fact, he is getting faster, stronger, better.
At the twenty-minute mark, you can tell you have lost this fight. It takes another ten minutes before the thing plays out to its terrible bloody inevitable conclusion.
"Perhaps you would be better suited for different work, General. Something with slightly less responsibilities." Slarth says.
You are sent to a quiet corner of the empire to oversee the Slime farms. It is a simple life, of quiet pleasures. The fortunes of the empire rise and fall but these events are distant things that have little effect on day-to-day life. Over the decades, you amass wealth, a half dozen mates, and uncountable children. You are a community leader and the small city that grows up around the Slime farms bears your name.
You die of old age at 43, surrounded by children and grandchildren.
"You continue to impress, General." Slarth says. The two of you sit in his office enjoying tea and biscuits.
"I have hit upon a way to bring the remaining city-states and independent mutant factions under our banner.
The Kaiser's message to mutant-kind has always been thus: it is better to suffer under the cruel boot of the Kaiser than risk annihilation. He offers safety and security in a world gone mad. All it costs is freedom. A bargain price, considering the terrible dangers loose in the wasteland."
You nod. Better the devil you know, than the one you don't.
"My spies have discovered one of those terrible dangers. Synthetics have been discovered in the Shattered Peaks. The scattered mutant tribes in the area will not stand a chance against the Synths. Already they lose ground to the Articial Intelligences.
You will save them, and all of mutantkind from the robot menace. We march in the morning for the [[Peaks!->Attack]]"
You meet with much success in your new career as a slaver. The isolated farms and homesteads of various Clans are ravaged. Even smaller towns fall. The peaceful valleys and vales of the Free Clans are now stained by smoke of blazing homes. The Manufactorum runeth over with workers now.
Good job, dude!
Months later, Slarth summons you to his office. The ever-dour Slarth looks particularly grim.
"We, ah, may have miscalculated. A single Clan of humans is no match for the might of the Empire. But, uh, your raiding of the Free Clans has united them as never before. So, if you think about it, this is all really your fault.
But there is no time to point fingers. [[We are under attack->Invasion]]!"
"Our core philosophy is survival of the fittest. Were you not paying attention during my whole big introductory speech? No, we absolutely cannot make the Manufactorum nicer. It would go against everything the Steelchest Empire is fighting for!
Safety precautions today, a lazy and useless workforce tomorrow. I'm dead serious."
1. Dammit Slarth, it's not that big a deal. A couple [[guardrails and lunch breaks]] won't lead directly into decadency and decay.
2. Welp, let's go on some [[Slave raids!]]
Slarth gives you a look.
"Have you noticed the skull motif the empire has going on? All the spikes decorating everything? Did you forget that we are hideous, poison huffing mutants? Our leaders name is Kaiser Oblivion.
I think you know what team you are playing for here."
1. Sooo, about that [[manpower]] shortage...
Slarth mutters on for a bit, but eventually gives in. Some basic common sense safety percautions are enacted.
In the following weeks, fatality rates in the Manufactorum plummet. Indeed, the Manufactorum becomes THE place to work. Mutant hicks travel to the city from all over to strike it rich and make something of themselves. Slarth spins it to the Kaiser as making jobs for mutants rather than importing cheap human labor.
So, success, I guess.
Months later, Slarth summons you to his office. The ever-dour Slarth looks particularly grim.
"The human Free Clans have heard rumors of our wealthy and content workforce and believe us to be weak and soft! This is all your fault, with your labor reforms.
You raise one eyebrow at Slarth.
"Fine, maybe they aren't invading because of your coddling of our citizens. Shutup. Regardless, [[We are under attack.->Invasion]]"
"The Free Clans swarm over our borders. These are not the ragtag scavengers you are used to battling. The Clans possess a professional army, well trained and equipped. True, they are but puny humans, but these puny humans out number us four to one.
It turns out, while we may have more land than the Clans, they have something called 'population density.' Maybe because 99% of our territory is blasted hellscape, while the Free Clans squat on the only green bits left on this planet.
Anyways, the Clans march directly for the capital. Your assignment is simple, if incredibly difficult to achieve: stall the Free Clan forces for as long as possible. The Kaiser has an ace in the hole, but it is not ready. We need more time!
It is not necessary to win this war on your own, General. Simply keep the human dogs at bay, till the Kaiser completes his secret project. I leave the strategy of how to acomplish such a feat to you."
1. You leave with your army the [[same day.]]
You quickly give the order to withdraw to more favorable terrain. There are several skirmishes with Clan scouts, but your army manages to fallback without being pursued. The Free Clans seem wary of the maneuver, regarding it as a trap, and fail to press their advantage.
The two armies dance about each other, a ponderous ballet. The vast Free Clan forces are too bulky to launch a rapid assault on your troops. However, within a couple days, the Clans army once again threatens you, this time outside the small town of Gore Gulch. Even as both armies prepare for the coming battle, skirmishes are breaking out with the vanguard of the Clans.
1. We can use the buildings as cover! Now is the time to [[strike->Last stand]].
2. The numbers have not changed. We must mount a [[fighting retreat]]. To directly engage the enemy is to invite defeat!
The fight is fierce, but futile. You exact a bloody toll on the Free Clans, but there are always more of them charging forward. The Clans general is no fool, and knows how to press a numerical advantage. By the end of the day, your army has been routed.
With your forces dispersed, nothing stands between the Clans and the capital. The city is burned, the Kaiser slain, and the Steelchest Empire crumbles.
Game over man.
For a moment, things look desperate. The battle becomes fierce, even as your forces slips away. Once again, the overly cautious Clans commander does not press the attack. This lack of commitment allows you to preserve most your forces.
The presence of your army limits the movement of the Free Clans. A march that should take them a day instead takes a week of careful advance. The armies again circle each other like quarrelling quilldawgs, snapping at each other and waiting for an opening.
Word comes from the capital. The Kaiser has finished some manner of secret weapon it seems. Orders state that you merely need to hold out another couple of days.
Easier said than done. Against the banks of the Sludge River, your army is cornered. There is a bridge across, but not one built for an entire army. Reaching the far bank would take time, and the Clans press close now, starving for action.
1. Hmm, time to take [[desperate rearguard action]]! Must preserve what I can, for as long as I can.
2. Hmm, time to take a frigging [[stand->Last stand]]! We have no where to run, and perhaps can even expect reinforcements.
Emphasis on desperate. You lose multiple companies of Steelchests holding back the tide of clean, well-dressed humanity. But by the end of the day the majority of your army is on one bank of the river, the Clans on the other.
It takes several days before the Free Clans work up the nerve to cross the Sludge River. Which is good, because there is nowhere left for your army to go. The capital is but one valley over.
The endless slogging retreat has sapped both your forces strength and morale. And now, facing the endless regiments of the Free Clans, the general sense is that the impending battle is already lost.
At that moment, with the final clash about to commence, a massive tank rolls into position at the front of your army. It is a veritable rolling fortress, said to be commanded by none other than the Kaiser himself. Slarth has hitched a ride with the reinforcements from the capital and quickly tracks you down.
"Isn't it glorious looking, General? The Kaiser's little pet project. And the thing that will win us this war. It's called the [[Inferno Engine]]."
Any further discussion with Slarth is cut short. The enemy is upon you.
The Steelchest army is immediately hard pressed. After so much dancing about, the Free Clans forces are eager to engage. They hit hard, a relentless assault backed by vast reserves. To their credit, your mutants fight fiercer than you have ever seen. They are protecting their home and know that their king is watching them.
The Inferno Engine is a terrifying spectacle to behold. A beam of light, red like a dying sun, emanates from the massive machine. The beam cuts across the enemy, enveloping their troops in a firestorm. Steel melts and men scream.
The demonic device seems impervious to the Free Clans attacks. It rolls ever forward, a juggernaut sprung from Hell itself.
It is a hard fought battle, but your forces are victorious. The Free Clans retreat, and it is clear that they will not trouble the Empire again for many a year. Of course, much of the glory goes to Kaiser Oblivion. However, your contribution is not forgotten.
With such an amazing display of power, the Steelchest Empire solidifies its hold on the wasteland. Few are willing to defy the Kaiser now.
Months later, Slarth calls you into his office.
"There is a [[new threat->Northern threat]]..."
Slarth is something of a Synthetics expert and travels with your army. He seems giddy about getting to see the objects of his scholarship up close.
The situation in the Shattered Peaks is worse than Slarth let on. Before you even arrive, your army passes a steady stream of refugees. It does not take long to find the Synths- they seem to be everywhere.
War against the robots is unlike anything you've encountered. Infinitely patient, unaffected by morale, and able to operate 24/7 indefinitely the Synths have perfected attrition warfare. It is not war so much as traveling through hostile terrain. Each ridge may contain a handful of Skeledroids, behind every rock may lurk a scuttle-mine, any stand of trees may conceal a gun drone nest.
There is no enemy to fight, only endless suicide attacks from disposable machines. Your army is being bled dry by little more than remote control guns and bombs.
You need to send out an advance force, to clear the way for the main army.
1. The [[Lads]] are always ready for action. They can go on ahead.
2. [[Mutators]] thrive in adversity. Send them forward! Environmental hazards only toughen them up!
The Gun-lads possess endless courage. But not much caution. Each and every Synthetic trap and ambush is sprung as the Lads blunder forward. Within a couple days, what remains of the Gun-lads are fed up, and quietly desert in the night.
Your army flounders as you march them into deathtrap after deathtrap. Days become weeks, with little forward progress and even lower morale. Finally, the risk of mutiny leaves you no choice: the campaign against the Synthetics is abandoned. Your battered army marches home with [[nothing to show.->Failure]]
The Mutators take heavy casualties... at first. Within a few days they have evolved all manner of enhanced senses, though. Soon Mutator scouts can spot all manner of Synth traps with a glance. Within a week, the Mutators have grown all manner of bone armor and have unnatural reaction speed. They now efficiently can clear wide swathes of the Shattered Peaks for your forces.
There seems to be no end to the robots though. You consult with Slarth.
"The Synthetics are a broad name for the robotic life that survived the Gene Wars. Some were humans who 'transcended' their physical bodies. Some are artificial intelligences- super computers whose thought processes are so alien to us that they appear insane. What we have encountered so far are merely simple automatons, no smarter than a dog. Just as a dog has a master, these drones are under the command of some Synth intelligence.
We cut the head off the snake and the body shall die."
You are about to chide Slarth for mixing metaphors, but are interrupted by a panicked scout. A hundreds of skeledroids has used the rough terrain to slip around and flank your army. The dastardly droids threaten to cut off the supply lines. They need to be dealt with immediately. This is the first time encountering such numbers. Whoever you deploy will be in for a real fight.
1. [[Send in the Gun-lads]].
2. [[Send in the Mutators]].
These are unlike the drones you encountered before. Under their masters control, the skeledroids fight with perfect precision and accuracy. They ruthlessly mow down the Reavers and all other forces you send against them. In addition, with a good portion of your army committed to out-flanking the robots, the deadly mechanical lords smash the center of your army.
Weeks later the tattered remains of your forces limp back into the capital.
You have [[failed->Failure]].
It is a close thing. There is a moment when the towering mechanical war-gods seem to shrug off everything thrown at them. The Synthetic masters levelled terrible weapons at your troops, beams and fire that scythed through them. However, under a hurricane of bombs and plasma directed the core of the Synth forces buckle and collapse. The massive scuttling tanks and walker robots writhe and flail in an uncomfortably life-like fashion.
Without their masters, the bulk of the Synthetic army becomes dumb, reverting to preset basic instructions. They are easily defeated.
You march onwards, to the secret base of the AIs. You order the Thumpers into position, in preparation to level the nest that has spawned these metallic vipers. Slarth speaks up though.
"Wait! We should send in the troops. Capture the Synthetic base. Think of the secrets we could uncover. Think of the weapons we could build. This is a prize to be savored!"
1. We came here to end the Synthetic [[threat->level base]]. They are to dangerous to be controlled!
2. You are right; we should [[loot the base->loot base]]. Imagine if we could wield the same deathless legions!
"Thank you for joining me General. I shall get straight to the point. The wastelands are vast, and we Steelchests have not been the only ones seeking to unite mutantkind. There are other warlords, other kingdoms.
We have just received a challenge from just one such rival. They call themselves the Doom Republic, and are led by one 'Lord Killa Helldeth.' My informants tell me the Doom Republic is nearly our equal in size and that their army is mobilizing.
I do not like this, General. Why this unprovoked attack now? The Empire has never been stronger. I suspect there may be other forces at work here...
I digress. As a reward for your recent successes, you have full command over the entire military. Take the combined might of the Steelchest Empire and crush this fool.
1. I shall [[deploy]] our forces at once!
2. OK, yeah, [[cool->deploy]] .
3. NO! I don't wanna! UUUUggghhhh, [[fine->deploy]].
The Thumper artillery calls out again and again- shells rain down upon the Synthetic facility. By the end of the day, it has been rendered nothing more than a smoking pit.
The threat of the Synthetics has been ended... for now anyways.
With such a powerful display of benevolence and power, the remaining independent mutant communities flock to the Steelchest banner. The Kaiser is only too happy to welcome them. The empire expands as never before.
Months later, Slarth calls you into his office.
"There is a [[new threat->Northern threat]]..."
The base proves to be an endless underground maze of death. The robots need neither light nor air, and it seems each room in the facility can be weaponized.
Eventually you receive reports that the computer core may have been located. However, you will never know for sure. The base's nuclear fusion plant is suddenly overloaded. The resulting explosion wipes out not just the base but also many of your troops, who were encamped around it.
The robots' final revenge means that you are widely regarded as a [[failure->Failure]].
You intercept the enemy army at the borders of the Empire. Slarth did not exaggerate- the Free Clans clearly outnumber you. They spend much of the day arranging their divisions across the valley in preparation of the coming battle.
You marvel at the diversity unfurling before you. Each Free Clan is its own separate entity, with its own specialization. There, on that hill you spy the acclaimed hunters of Karm, armed with sniper rifles large enough to slay a Ghast Wyrm. On the plains is a company of Bloodkin Berserkers, encased in exo-suits comparable to your own life-armor. Then there are the rocket launcher toting maniacs of Boom-Boom Mountain. The list goes on...
Truly a fearsome force, one that would be difficult to overcome with even numbers.
1. Hmm, discretion truly is the better part of valor. Perhaps a [[tactical withdrawal]] is in order.
2. [[I laugh at the odds!->Last stand]]
The Gun-lads quickly and enthusiastically assault the approaching skeledroids. The fight reportedly goes well, at least in the sense that the droids and lads mutually annihilate each other. The skeledroid sneaks no longer trouble you.
You have bigger concerns though.
Immediately after dispatching the Gun-lads, word comes that the main host of the Synths is approaching. The next several hours are a blur of shouted orders and hurried maneuvers. As the last troop moves into formation, the Synthetic army appears at the mouth of the valley.
It is a smaller force than yours is, but intimidating all the same. There is a moving forest of skeledroids and gun drones to the left and right, while the center of the army is comprised of a variety of larger and more exotic warmachines. Slarth calls them out like an excited birdwatcher: Spider Tanks, Immortal Kings, Deathstalkers, Hunter-Killers. Slarth is overjoyed- these are apparently all truly sentient robots- the puppetmasters. You find it hard to share his excitement given the variety of menacing weaponry pointed your way.
The flanks of the Synth army are merely remote control forces. You may be able to crush them with a swift attack and hit the center from three sides. Slarth warns that the minions will be more effective under direct command though. Alternatively, you could focus all your firepower on the center formation, and attempt to destroy the robot leaders.
1. [[Flank with bike gangs.]]
2. [[Concentrate everything on the center.]]
No sooner than you dispatch the Mutators, you receive new reports of the main Synthetic army approaching. It is a large force, and you have little time to prepare before the robots are upon you.
In the middle of hurried maneuvers to prepare for the coming battle, you come under attack by the flanking skeledroids. It seems the Mutators had difficulties dealing with the droids. The ultimate survivalists, the Mutators quit the field as soon as the fight turned against them. Cowards!
Chaos reigns, as the main Synth forces press forward into the already swirling combat. Somehow, you manage to rally the core of your army and mount a fighting retreat. But your forces are broken and scattered, and you return to the capital with less than [[half of your army.->Failure]]
You soon reach the northern border of the Empire. Sure enough, Lord Helldeth's army awaits you. Staring at the mutant horde before you is like looking into a strange mirror. Lord Helldeth’s force is equal in number to yours and just as varied. There are giant ape-men infantry, artillery that crackled with electricity, troops with pistols gripped in each of their ten tentacles.
You have been through much though. You have seen your proud Steelchests face down all matter of enemies, and prevail no matter the odds. A quiet confidence steals over you. This is but another battle to be one.
And then they arrived.
Beautiful and terrible by equal turns, giant robots glide into position behind the enemy mutants. These war machines unlike anything you have seen before. They bristle with laser spines and elegantly fluted plasma lances. Each is encased in brightly colored chitinous armor, giving the robots an insectile cast. Some of them heft massive glowing swords while others unfurl filigree wings studded with jet engines. As you stare, you can hear the cheers from Helldeth’s army on the wind.
"Those are Knights." comes a voice from behind you.
Turning you see a grim looking Slarth.
"What I am about to tell you is top secret. I need to tell you about [[Utopia-7]]."
The two-story tall titans may be intimidating but they are not invincible. As Knights are fast, difficult to pin down, and heavily armored so it takes an agonizing amount of time for one of the Knights to be taken out. Nevertheless, your forces hunt them across the battlefield and, one by one, the mechs are overwhelmed.
It almost seems like you may win.
There is a sudden change in tactics from the Utopians. The remaining Knights group up and charge as one, straight into the center of your army. To your horror, you watch the core of your battleline warp and begin to buckle. This calls for swift and decisive action.
The troops surrounding you shift nervously. They turn their eyes to you, beseeching you to pull off some miracle. You feel the weight of their gaze, it is enough to drive a lesser mutant to it's knees. The mutants believe you to be a legendary hero, they have faith that you can win any battle.
1. I [[charge into battle]]! Rally the troops!
2. I [[send in reinforcements]]. And call for my servants to bring more tea. No need to do anything crazy, right?
The Thumpers and Reaver Bike Gangs wreck terrible vengeance on Lord Helldeth's mutants. However, not as terrible as the damage the Utopian warbots inflict on your army. While they may only number a dozen, the Knights are overloaded with powerful weaponry. The Steelchest plasma rifles can only inflict minor damage on the metal giants. But a single sweep of a Knight's laser sword can destroy a whole squad of troopers.
And so your mutants die and the army looses ground, inch by inch. By the time realize that the Knights are the true threat on the field there is little you can do...
You've ran out of troops to command
By the end there is little left of Steelchest Empire's army. You manage to retreat, but this is the end, for the Kaiser and the Empire.
Evil, it seems, has triumphed over also evil.
Admit it, this is what you've been waiting for, reader. Winky face emoji.
You grab the Steelchest Banner, and bellow, “Follow me!”
The whole mob around you charges down the hill, straight towards the heart of the fight. As you run through your troops, you continue to urge them forward. Whenever you encounter a fleeing soldier, you turn them around. By the time you reach the frontline you have caused an unstoppable avalanche of Steel and also Chests. Directly ahead of you are the Knights, still slashing their way through your army as if they were hacking away at underbrush.
Then a wave of missiles and energy bolts sweeps over you and your men. You come to a stop directly underneath a Utopian Knight. Suddenly you realize that you are alone with the robotic knightmare.
1. [[Oh no.->fall back]]
2. [[Oh, YES!->climb]]
More troops run down the hill to confront the charging Knights.
More troops run to their doom.
The problem it seems lies more in fear than in numbers. There are enough Steelchest down there to overwhelm the robots. But faced with such intimidating enemies, even your brave mutants dare not engage the Utopians.
The center of the army breaks. It quickly becomes a general rout.
And then, like a bolt of lightning, the Knights are up the hill, looming above you and your command post. Startled, you drop your tea cup. "Damn, they are fast." is your last thought.
Laughing wildly, you jump onto the leg of the Knight. Pulling out your Shatter-pistol, you unload the entire clip into the mech's leg joint. Something vital in the limb cracks, and the titanic robot falls to its knees...
Allowing you to climb right onto its back.
You grab a plasma grenade from your belt. The Knight's back has exhaust vents for its jet engines. Deliciously exposed exhaust vents. You gleefully cram the grenade in one, instantly losing your hand in the process. Silver lining, the heat of the vented fumes instantly cauterizes the wound. Nice!
You leap off the back of the robot as it rocks from the internal explosion. Its armor ruptures from inside out, belching smoke. With a shudder, the Knight falls.
From a hidden cockpit, the mech's pilot emerges. The slender figure holds a flower shaped pistol in his hand. Slarth later informs you that this is a Petalspitter, an advanced weapon that fires an engineered poison so deadly that it will kill even a mutant in seconds.
The pilot shakily aims the Petalspitter at you. You step forward and backhand the Utopian man, instantly breaking his neck. Stooping, you take the strange pistol as a trophy.
Your charge marks the turning point of the battle. Seeing you in battle inspired the troops, who swarm over the Utopians, toppling them quickly. With the Utopians fallen, Lord Helldeth's army quickly loses the will to fight. With their 'invincible' allies gone, the enemy falls back. The battle is won!
And upon your return to the [[capital]]...
You begin to run back the way you came.
And are promptly stepped on by the giant mech.
You stand with Slarth before the doors to the throne room. Kaiser Oblivion has summoned you, to congratulate you in person. This will be your first time meeting your king.
The doors open and you walk inside the dim cavernous hall. There before you is the Kaiser. He is over seven feet tall and deformed by ropey muscles. Tubes snake through Oblivion's body, coursing with mutagenic mist. Red eyes stare out from underneath heavy curled horns.
The Kaiser strides forward to greet you. He carries with him a vast metal slab of a sword, which is said to never leave his grip. You can hear the murmurs of courtiers and officials in the shadows.
"Ah, my most loyal and popular General, we finally meet." Oblivion's voice is surprisingly soft and raspy. "You have made quite a name for yourself in my Empire. The people say you are the strongest mutant in the realm, perhaps the world." the Kaiser growls. "I am suitably impressed by your deeds and the Steelchests' love for you. Come, step forward."
1. Receive your [[reward]].
2. Before you even took your first step in this journey, betrayal was in your heart. [[Shoot]] the Kaiser with the Petalspitter.
You step forward. In a seemingly effortless, almost casual, move, Oblivion swings his sword round. You are cleft in two.
"Thus always to all who would threaten my rule. Your popularity outstrips your usefulness, weakling."
The Kaiser looks positively stunned.
"You.. you.." He staggers forward, fighting the poison bullet's effect. Then, with a sigh, Kaiser Oblivion slumps to the ground and dies.
Slarth comes approaches in the stunned silence that follows. There is a split second of tension, when it feels like anything could happen. Then the High Consul bows to you, and you know that you have pulled off the coup.
The Steelchest Empire's enemies have been beaten back. The wastelands are united under one banner. Wich is good, as the army is exhausted. All have had more than their fill of conquest. Peace breaks out across the continent.
Kaiser Oblivion had promise safety and security. However, it is under your rule that the promise is delivered. The decades that follow are a time of prosperity and progress. Once, there were a thousand independent tribes and gangs and communities- each scavenging whatever they could. Surviving, but little else. Now they strive together towards a common purpose.
If you look past all the skulls and spikes, it almost looks like civilization.
"Utopia-7 is a city that survived the Gene Wars, hidden and unscathed. It was and is a haven for the richest and most powerful people on the planet- an ark where they could ride out the apocalypse in safety and comfort. As the world burned, the Utopians sipped champagne and danced.
As a direct continuation of the civilization before the Wars, the Utopians have access to all the technology that we consider lost. This is the same civilization that produced such world altering marvels like the Synthetics and the mutagenic mists. Their technology is marvelous and baffling.
These Knights are their primary military force. Unstoppable mechs with devastating firepower, the pinnacle of robot suit technology."
1. How do you [[know]] so much?
2. I would [[know]] more!
3. Bored now! Me fight [[fight!->flip the table]]
"I will tell you how I came by this knowledge...
When the Kaiser was but a young ambitious warlord, Utopian agents approached him. They offered to lend him their might. In return, Oblivion would wear a control collar and become a minion of Utopia-7.
The Kaiser refused, of course. But it seems this Lord Helldeth took them up on their devil's bargain.
I was but a serving boy at the time. The Utopian guests ignored my existence, and spoke freely in front of me. They consider all this a game. To make a king, then throw them to the ground. To move armies about, set each and all against each other.
We are all pawns before their terrible power."
1. They may think this all a game, but I'm about to [[flip the table]]!
2. Terrible power hmm? The incomprehensible might of a civilization long dead? Well I for one welcome our new Utopian [[masters]].
With all your forces, the might of the Empire deployed across the landscape, the battle begins.
Most of the infantry units on both sides lock together in combat, vast tides of mutant vs. mutant crashing against each other. The Utopian Knights dash across the field of battle, loosing streams of missiles and gouts of plasma fire. The roar of war fills the valley and the sun is blotted out by black smoke. You are sure there has not been a conflict of this size since the Gene Wars.
You need to direct the guns of the artillery and the motorized elements of the army. Where shall you focus your firepower?
1. We should [[annihilate the mutant horde]]. They are the softer target and make up the bulk of the enemy.
2. We need to [[focus fire on the mechs]]. Those Knights are too deadly to leave standing.
You know in your hearts that there is no winning this battle. You surrender to Lord Helldeth and the Utopian representatives. Right there on the neutral ground, between the armies, the Utopian fits you with a control collar.
You return to your mutant horde and announce there has been a change in plans. You, Lord Helldeth, and the Utopians are now allies, and your target lies back the way you came. Dissent is quickly crushed. The common mutant marauder cares little who he is fighting, as long as there is loot involved.
The combined armies of the Steelchest, Helldeth's mutants, and the Utopian Knights march on the capital.
You do not stop with the fall of Kaiser Oblivion. Your armies are a plague, scouring all four corners of the globe. Cities are razed, populations are massacred. You do not have a choice in this result; you gave that up on that fateful field.
Both humanity and mutantkind are brought to the brink of extinction. The endless campaigns and wars eventually break your army, as you yourself have been broken. Finally, your invincible horde splinters into a hundred squabbling factions. By the end, you have little left.
So it is that by the end you are alone in your tent, on a freezing night. Encamped around you are a dozen mutants veterans, the last remnants of the mutant horde.
Brushing through the entrance flap of the tent, a Utopian appears. Looking up from your fungal rum, you stare blearily at the intruder. Like all Utopians, the agent is impossibly beautiful and young. He wears elegant white robes and has his luxurious blonde hair tied back in a ponytail.
You have only one question.
"I'm here to give you your reward, my dear General. You have served us long and faithfully. As to the greater question, well...
Utopia-7 is a single city of but 100,000 souls. We rely on anonymity and guile to keep her safe. The past thousand years of darkness have been good to us. And you, my precious General, have given us another thousand years of darkness. Another thousand years of watching you worms writhe in the dirt."
The agent smiles, but it is a cheap facade. You see a hatred behind his eyes greater than any you have ever known. The Utopian produces a pistol from his robe. You recognize its flower shape- a Petalspitter.
"Do you wish to know one more secret, General? Your control collar failed years ago. These last years, they have been all you. You have become our creature, through and through. But we cannot have any loose ends."
He fires the pistol, hitting you full on. As the deadly poison blurs your vision, the last thing you ever see is the agent activates his optic-camo, disappearing as if into thin air.
"Thank you for your service."