Iwaku World - Dumpster Diving with Ryker in the Desert of Steel

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Arsenal XA4

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The portal opened atop a sand dune. Soldiers filed out, Moriarty closing the portal behind him.

"'Ere we are..." Ryker said as he walked ahead of the group. "The Desert o' Steel..."


"You're kidding me? This place is full of rusted hulks!" Topp exclaimed. "We're not gonna find anything of value here." Ryker turned to the First Sergeant, opening his book.

"'There will be many whit little faith in searchin' the great 'aystacks o' metal. Though their faith is weak their doubts will be put at ease by the end of the day.'"

"The hell does that mean?" Topp asked. Desolator pushed past him.

"It means shut up and dig, fleshbag." the sergeant snapped.

"Quiet, both o' yew. the last thin' Ah need is insubordination." Ryker said, stepping between the man and the mechalith. "Ye'll know whit we're lookin' fer when yew see it."

"Sir, I see lots of rusted hulks from here." another Minigunner chimed in. "Are you sure there's something we can use here?" Ryker turned away from the group and started into the giant scrapyard, leaving the Jilachi and entering the Desert of Steel.

"We must trek into the waste. We will find ae symbol oor compatriots kin rally be'ind." The soldiers started to follow Ryker, some straggling behind. A few had weapons in hand, watching the junk piles for possible hostiles.

"Hey, I recognize this place." one of the Minigunners said as they came upon a burnt out Assault Crusader hulk. "This is where we engaged those robot skeletons. The ones the Viper was churning out."

"Viper?" Topp asked the veteran.

"It was a sister ship of sorts to the Harbinger. They tried a suicide attack during the Admin War." the soldier explained. "I guess the hulk wound up here somehow." Desolator rapped his metal knuckle against the tank hulk. Rusted pieces fell away from the long charred armor plating.

"Sheeit... Musta been one helluva battle." the automaton noted as he climbed up and took hold of the equally charred fifty cal in the TC's cupola. The weapon would never fire again, that was for sure.

"You tellin' me. We kept telling Field Commander McCarthy to stay in the rear with the arty but he insisted on being part of the first wave. Brave son of a bitch."

"Sae Ah 'ear." Ryker said, picking a rusted, metal skull. The back of it had been blown away, possibly assisted by a full metal jacket from any number of high caliber weapons. "Bu' enough goldbrickin'... We've still ae lang way ta go." The soldiers carried on, passing more burned out vehicles and mountains of scrap metal. One of the Minigunners in the rear looked up at one mound.

"Hey, you wanna keep up?" a Marine snapped at the Minigunner.

"I thought I heard something up there." the grunt replied, shouldering his weapon and training it on the mound.

"You're crazy... C'mon... We're lagging behind..." the Marine said, falling back in line. The Minigunner turned to follow, looking over his shoulder every few steps. He turned around again, weapon shouldered.

"There it is again!" he shouted. Those in the rear of the column turned toward him.

"For fuck's sake, nothing is he-" the Marine was cut off as a bolt struck him his chest. His flack jacket had been opened, negating the protection it was supposed to offer.

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"HOSTILES!!!" a Minigunner shouted as he fired up at the top of a junk mound. More assault rifles joined the chatter, the grunts trying to pin down an unseen enemy as more bolts came down around them. Two more dropped, one from taking a bolt to his leg, the other getting his foot pinned to the ground by a bolt.

"Mechalith, seek an' destroy!" Ryker shouted to the Mechalith in the column. The automatons quickly scaled the mounds. More gunfire joined the battle but not that of the Dystopian weapons. It was a somewhat unfamiliar sound, one most of them had never heard before. A sound Ryker hadn't heard in years.

The chatter of a Kalashnikov rifle.

"GOT ONE!" a Mechalith shouted throwing a man over a junk mound. The man rolled down the side of the scrap pile, the Mechalith rounding up the other attackers. Topp restrained the man, pinning him to the floor.

"Who are you? What do you want from us?" he shouted. The man wore old fatigues, desert robes, and an old ammunition bandolier.

"You're... intruding..." the man managed. The Mechalith were coming down with more prisoners.

"Got all but two. They won't be bothering us any more." Desolator said, carrying his charge by the neck.

"Release them..." Ryker ordered.

"Sir, in case you didn't notice THEY ATTACKED US!" Topp shouted at the onetime Commandant.

"'At may be bu' we're in their home. We are intruders." Ryker said, pushing Topp aside and helping the man to a sitting position. "Ah do apologize fer me men. We've 'ad quite ae day."

"You must leave this place." the man said to Ryker. Ryker chuckled, shaking his head.

"Ah'm sorry bu' there's somethin' 'ere Ah need ta find."

"There is nothing here but death. Leave or you will be hunted and killed." the man replied. Ryker snapped his fingers at Desolator.

"Let 'im go, Sergeant."

"Sir, I cannot process why you want me to do that." the automaton replied.

"Do'it. Ae sign o' good faith. Now release 'im." Desolator nodded then released the man. "Let's move. Time is no' on oor side." The soldiers started moving away from the aggressors, a few Minigunners keeping their weapons trained on them.

"You carry on despite my warning? Do you not know what you have brought upon yourself?" the man shouted at Ryker. Ryker stopped and turned toward him, book in hand.

"'The Bedouin will insist his threat is viable when in fact 'e is in worse shape than those under Armageddon's Engineer. He will be told the error of 'is ways an' asked ta assist the wayward souls as they search for the symbol.'" the onetime Commandant said, closing the book. "Sae it is written in the book o' Ryker." The man brough his Kalashnikov to bear and pulled the trigger. The magazine fell apart, the spring popping the bottom plate off. 7.62X39 Soviet rounds spilled out onto the ground. Ryker opened his book again as Desolator stood between him and the Bedouin.

"'The Bedouin will be defiant, attemtping to carry out 'is threat. Ae weapons malfunction stops 'im, the steel knight placing 'imself between Armageddon's Engineer an' the nomad.'" he read. "Whit 'as no' been written canno' be done, friend. Ah'm no' yer enemy." Desolator cocked his right arm machine gun.

"I'm not as forgiving as the El-Tee, fleshbag. You wanna scrap, I'll make you bleed." the automaton threatened. The Bedouin looked from Ryker to Desolator then back.

"You... have safe passage... But I must guide you. We set traps throughout." he said, hanging his head. Ryker closed the book, smiling.

"We 'ave an understandin' friend. Yer 'elp will be rewarded. All who help Armageddon's Engineer will be rewarded." he said with a slasher smile.

"Sae it is written in the book o' Ryker..."


-Ryker's team arrives in the Desert of Steel. A group of Bedouin attack them and are summarily captured by the Mechalith. The leader offers to guide them through the traps they set.

"This is home..." Rashid, the man Desolator had roughed up earlier, said to Ryker as he led them past the final trap. There was an entire village in the shadow of a massive mountain of scrap. Ryker looked about, taking in the sights. The village resembled a cross between an Afghan village and a scrap yard, people making homes out of piecemeal chunks of armor from old armored fighting vehicles and tanks. He saw more than a few men wielding either crossbows or AKs, a weapon he hadn't hefted in years. These Bedouin were eking out a living amongst the scrap.

"Ah've always believed 'at 'ome is where yew make it." he said to Rashid. "Seems ta me like yew've really made it 'ere. Pretty well, Ah might add."

"Eight years ago Field Commander McCarthy provided us with the means to further eke out a living in the harsh, unforgiving wilderness of the Jilachi." Rashid explained as he led the soldiers further into the village. People gathered around, looking at the outsiders. "We use hydroponics to grow most of our perishables. Ah, here is our leader. Please do show respect."

"Any yin whit kin survive out 'ere deserves me respect." Ryker replied. The villagers gave their chieftan wide berth as he came to greet Ryker's force.

"I am Turabi." he said, extending his hand to Ryker. The soldier gave him a strong shake. "It is my understanding that you are searching for something in the Desert of Steel." Ryker started digging through his pockets.

"As ae matter o' fact Ah am..." he replied, taking a well worn photo out of his pocket. He handed it to Turabi.

"This is an old picture... What is this... thing?" the chieftan asked. The picture was of the ISAF's old space cruiser, the Abeline.

"The symbol Ah seek..." Ryker replied as he looked up at one of the mound surrounding the village. "The symbol right before me eyes..." Ryker stepped past Turabi.

The Abeline, rusted and unused, was here.
The nonskid of the weather decks crackled under the boots of the soldiers as they walked across it. The ship, the Independent Strategic Arms Foundation's pride, had lain dormant in the Desert of Steel since the end of the Admin War. Birds perched atop her main mast an radar arrays, watching the congregation with interest as they walked up to a watertight door.

"Open it." Ryker ordered. Two Mechalith stepped up, taking hold of the latch. One pulled and the other pushed, trying to force the door latch open. "Chainspike, motivate them." A third Mechalith stepped forward, a length of chain in hand. He raised his hand and whipped the other two with the chain. They finally broke the seal of rust, opening the door to an airlock. The inside was pristine and free of rust, the only sign of age being paint peeling from the bulkheads.

"Wait, don' force 'at yin open." Ryker ordered, stepping past the trio of automatons. He closed the outer door then opened the inner door easily enough. His ears popped in response to the sudden change of pressure. The ship's CPS (Chemical Protective System) had not been broken in years and preserved the interior spaces. He went back through the airlock, maintaining the internal air pressure.

"The ship's interior is intact..." he said, holding the outer door open. "Any yin go' NODs (Night Optical Devices)?" A few Minigunners took their packs off, digging out the devices. They acted as Ryker's pointmen, turning lights on as they found their respective switches. It took a little over two hours before all the lights were on, save for a few that blew out upon activation. One of the Minigunners had been sent topside to retrieve the rest of the unorthodox salvage crew.

"Ryker said to make for the flight deck. He'll let us in there." The gaggle proceeded aft to the ship's rusted flight deck. Even with deck preservation there was no way the steam catapault would work, not without a stop in a shipyard, of which Dystopia no longer had, not since the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that the Iwakuans could have the skies while Dystopia would rule the ground. Even if they could bust the rust and paint it over the only aircraft that would be taking off and landing would be helos.

"How much you wanna bet the hangar deck doors are rusted shut too?" a Marine asked of his compatriots. Before anyone could answer there was a loud groaning followed by the clanking of gears and links as the doors rolled up and open, revealing a wholly pristine hangar deck.

A storage space full of well preserved helicopters, Main Battle Tanks, artillery, and support vehicles.

"As was written, we will find whit we seek." Ryker started as he walked out from behind a Crusader tank, his book in hand. "An' sae we 'ave..."

"I don't mean to rain on your parade, bossman, but none of us can fly this thing... If it can still fly, that is." Topp mused. Ryker held up a flash drive.

"Yew need no' worry 'bout 'at. Oor predecessors left us ever'thin' we need ta' git the Abeline up an' about." Ryker replied as he stepped up to Turabi. "If there's nae problem we need volunteers from yer village. Mah present team is no' enough ta make up even ae skeleton crew." Turabi was silent as he looked at the Dystopians around him, particularly the Mechalith.

"I must confer with the tribal elders. You will have my response when they reach their consensus..."


-Although the exterior is in disrepair the interior is pristine and in working condition. The Abeline just needs a crew.-