Tiberian Ascension

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Samster, Mar 12, 2015.

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    A Command and Conquer alternate universe roleplay.


    Kars, Turkey, 2043 — or what's left of it, anyhow. They call these sort of areas yellow zones, and they have the kind of atmosphere that makes you wonder if things could be any worse. I mean, the answer's yes, of course, but there's really nobody alive to tell the story of those places.

    The city's in chaos; government's gone, the Global Defence Initiative isn't so global, and frankly this would be the perfect place to shoot a post-apocalyptic zombie flick. The power went out a decade ago, water's been contaminated since this all started, and frankly it's safer to hang in a warehouse with a couple trustworthy buddies than to stick around your house too long. Looters have been a big problem lately.

    I hear word that the Brotherhood's rolling through here again looking to pick up a few more initiates before the Peace Corps starts its patrols next week. Let's hope they're in and out before any fighting breaks out. I don't have to tell you what happens when those powerhouses go at it so close to each other.

    Watch yourself out there; don't walk in the grass. The storms may be dying out, but the horizon's hazy. Before you know it, some monster'll be running at you from the treeline, and you know better than I there's no stopping something that far gone.

    The warehouse was the same dull bronze it had been for as long as the sky was green; it had the usual little community one would expect in such a large place. Everyone was covered in that sharp odor that lingered as a reminder that tiberium didn't have to be on you to be dangerous. Miraculously, the inner city was largely untouched by the caustic stuff, but that didn't stop its corruption from floating around town.

    People mostly argued about the next drink of water or bite to eat, sometimes fantasizing about a shower or even a warm one, but sometimes there were lectures about the pros and cons of the big guys rolling around every once in a while. After CABAL's antics, some were hesitant to take Kane up on his offer of brotherhood, but the only thing GDI had done for them was to throw a few barrels of water to feel good about themselves, which were promptly confiscated by raiders and used for extortion anyway.

    Everybody knew who they'd get involved with if they had more initiative; whether or not breaking the status quo was the way to go, however, was the question.
    #1 Samster, Mar 12, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
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  2. One didn’t dare remove his rebreather in the open streets, for that was a sure way to get a lungful of the Tiberium gas spores that the so-called Blossum Trees belched into the air at an alarming frequency, slowly killing the planet one discharge at a time. It was impossible to remember a world before Tiberium, the late 20th century a bygone relic that none alive remembered, except for perhaps Kane, Nod’s figurehead who may or may not just be a succession of actors playing the role of megalomaniac messiah. It was unfortunate, really. Nod offered quite a bit to the populations of the world suffering a slowly dying existence in the Yellow Zones, but their zealots were terrifying. It only took one glimpse at one of the cyborgs, a cruel mash up of human and machine, to realize the lengths people would go after being indoctrinated by a cult that many considered terrorists. After the CABAL incident, however, there was a chance that maybe Nod would back off of the insane experiments.

    It wasn’t likely, but it would be nice to talk to someone who wasn’t insane the next time Nod rolled through town.

    Janek finally reached the warehouse, removing his rebreather when the door closed behind him and he breathed what was possibly his first breath of semi-clean air in over a day. Him and the other surviving member of Gunther’s Wolves had carried out a daring raid on a GDI outpost, some 30 miles outside of Kars. Their target was the Tiberium refinery, and two of the team who had come down with the Tiberium sickness set off on their suicide mission, crossing the radioactive Tiberium field and crawling under the GDI harvester while it worked, its operator unaware of their presence. The harvester driver continued to remain oblivious up until the refinery went up in a giant explosion. The second part of the plan was to ambush the search parties that would be sent out to look for signs of attack or to find the saboteurs and destroy as many of their transport vehicles as possible before skipping out of the area by retreating to the nearby and abandoned village and take the large water drainage sewer line down to the long-dried out lake and begin the long journey to safety.

    Things had gone according to plan, but nobody could have expected GDI to have called in Orca reinforcements from what had to have been a base that none of Gunther’s Wolves had any intel on. What had started as a brilliantly executed ambush that had destroyed three APCs and two Wolverines had ended up as a desperate attempt as escape when the hounding aircraft that had decimated their numbers returned to base to reload. Of the 36 Wolves, 17 made it out of the valley alive. It was agreed they’d lay low for a time until their leader set out the call for them with new targets and new recruits. The veterans, however, were given a chance to escape the carnage for a while and maybe try to live a normal life the best they could in the Yellow Zones.

    Janek sighed, finding himself in a line for rations and water, uncontaminated ones, that is. It was getting harder and harder to find clean food with the damn raiders taking what meager supplies either GDI or Nod provided, and the insurgent had it in his mind to apply his considerable talent for creating havoc on the scum that fed off the poorest of society. Despite his hatred for GDI and the fat, unconcerned people who occupied the Blue Zones, their crime was one of negligence, not actively targeting the weak. It was of his mind to find some volunteers and fix that problem, at least for a time, in Kars. Raiders would always come back, in the end. But at least if you killed a few of them, it made future ones a bit more hesitant to be bold.
    Now, why was he told to come here, he wondered. Word had it something was to happen in this warehouse, a recruitment drive of sorts that would ultimately make a difference and have more influence than he ever did with Gunther’s Wolves. And so, now in the food line with a questionably clean plate, he waited for the answer to emerge.
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  3. It hadn't been but a few hours past dawn, though the dark skies made it hard to tell when it was really noon or if it was about to be as black as the void. Soft eyes peered from behind a thick plastic lens that made up their rebreather at the sky, flecks of dust, ash, or something worse would collect if it lingered. Before they found themselves lost in their thoughts they looked to the digital watch on their wrist. That's right, just woke up, not time for a nap anytime soon, even if last night was hellish, more so than normal.

    The backpack felt so much heavier than normal, not like anything had been added to it recently. Weight of the world. They told themselves in some mediocre attempt at making themselves feel better. With the thought diminished they blamed the day before on their miserable mood..

    It wasn't far through the small outlying suburb that used to make up the ancient city of Kars that they heard it. Soft noises like something scraping by. With intent always less than pleasant they felt a bit more safety carrying the standard-issue firearm in their grip, firm, with only the slightest of shakes of fear.

    With all that worry it had only been a dog. Holed up beside a burnt out car and dying of acute Tiberium poisoning from the smallest of slivers in its front paw. Why God had let it still be wearing its collar she didn't know. It's yellow and brown tail, covered in mud and dirt, wagged furiously when it caught sight of them. Whimpering and rolling to its back as she knelt close by and gave it a pet, glancing at the name tag. Roofer. Such a kids name for a pet. There was no saving him.

    A gust of wind pushed her out of the flashback and she had to duck into a burned out house for cover to remove her mask and dry her eyes. Such a sap. Her mind told her. She had sobbed and cried with that dog in her lap for hours after she put it down. Made it quick too. Just one thrust between his ribs. Roofer even looked thankful. She prayed more than once before bed that his owner was long gone.

    Back to her thoughts the warehouse loomed. Inconspicuous, but this was her next stop on the green colored data-pad she carried. Quick to tuck it back into her clothes before she entered and pulled the rebreather off and shook her dark hair loose. Any cries of injured or groans of the sick would draw her next. No rest for the wicked. She felt her eyes water again.
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  4. It really was the end of the world. Of the couple dozen soulless pairs of eyes holed up in this place, only the youngest were healthy — and the youngest were never children. The food was decent enough; actual canned beans and corn today. No water, though. The chefs left the salty-sweet water the corn was bathing in with it and called it rationing. Probably for the best, since the latest shipment of water was overdue by a month. The sick and dying were quarantined, more or less, with the agonized moans of the too-far-gone audible from outside every once in a while. Fire was a plentiful comfort, keeping people warm and slowly burning away the spores that kept the rest of town so dry and acidic.

    The flock of visitors today included the usual merchant man and his escort, a few refugees from the suburbs, and an old man who claimed to be immune to tiberium; fat chance. Ultimately the day was bland — the usual mixture of depressing and boring that seemed to characterize the world these days. But some time in the evening, with people thinking about their heavy eyelids and sore throats, three men came through the warehouse's shutter doors.

    There was silence while their hard boots cli-clacked across the polished concrete floor; nobody really knew how to react to them. They wore the dark uniform of Brotherhood foot soldiers, each carrying their red-visor helmet in roughly the same manner. Their rifles hung off their hips, slung tight so they didn't clatter around obstructively. They made it about to the front of the kitchen line which had continued to shuffle along and came to an abrupt halt.

    One turned and announced himself as Gerard Winsomething-or-other. The other two seemed to be taking the moment to have a chat with the chefs. "It has been said that a GDI convoy came to town this morning. It has also been said that the Brotherhood has plans to cut it off. Both are half-truths." There was a long pause while he made a show of scanning the room for people's reactions. Again, the silence of doubt. "The convoy's still here. Lots of supplies — medical ones, especially. We intend to neutralize its escort and take all that we can. What the locals do with the rest, why, that's not any of our concern." A wide grin stretched across his face the more he went on.

    One of the chefs brought the visitor's companions into the kitchen; the orator didn't appear concerned. "You're each invited to come along. No spares, I'm afraid. Another order of business..." He took a look around before fixating in the direction of the infirm. "I suggest you avoid any further collaboration with them. Wouldn't want you being mistaken for one of GDI's photo ops. I hear they are often repurposed. Gives the blue pigs a reality check, I suppose."

    For the rest of the evening, the visitors remained, apparently having brought a few extra days' worth of water with them that they claimed to not need. The Brotherhood had a reputation to keep up, but according to one of them, it was no accident.
    #4 Samster, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  5. It was the damned Brotherhood. Janek tended to only deal with their kind when his group needed weapons and supplies and they were all too eager to accommodate a presence that was happy to cause havoc behind enemy lines where Nod presence would be far too obvious. The insurgent scowled at the commander as they pushed their way to the front of the line. Nod was always keen on taking what they could, often at the expense of the common folk. A part of the strategy for that was to make people desperate enough to join their damned outfit for more food and supplies by denying such necessities the suffering civilian population. There was rarely enough, and Nod was a big reason why. GDI’s sin was often outright neglect and not giving a shit where it dropped its bombs. People would go to that convoy for supplies, not out of gratitude, but because there was no way else to get what they needed. Both sides were equally dirty as far as Janek was concerned. He thought of his wife and daughter, taking refuge in a camp closer to the blue zone where the Tiberium wasn’t nearly as profilific. He frowned, realizing it has been over a month seen he’s seen them last. He knew he could stay there and be their guardian like he should, but it was impossible to explain that being stuck in a camp, inactive and relying on handouts was worse than death for him. Fighting for a better tomorrow was the only thing he knew, and no matter how many GDI bodies he put in the earth, it still wasn’t enough to avenge his daughter. He had to keep fighting, for her, and for his sanity.

    The Czech man approached the officer. “Word of advice, don’t tell the people not to take supplies they desperately need. You’re asking a population of sick and dying people to die so the raid is easier for you, and you’ll leave scraps for the survivors. Don’t do that, unless you want to see this entire city start to pass off information to GDI and fuck up your plans for the region. Take it from me; I’ve seen it happen more than once. You pretend you did a good thing by dropping off a crate of food and water and then you fuck off to who knows where and it’s never enough. Nobody’s going to join you out of gratitude if you keep doing this shit, these people are desperate but not dumb. Only take people capable of fighting and leave the supplies with the civilian population. If the people believe you’re here for them and not to exploit them, you’ll have better luck.” Janek said, staring into the red T visor with a scowl. “I’ve probably been killing GDI dogs longer than you have, so I’ll go. It’s obvious you don’t know how things work in the cities, so you need all the help you can get. Do right by me, and maybe I’ll make it worth your while later.”
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  6. A young man had run into the quarantine ward a few moments after the soldier's had made their presence known. "Nod is here! Nod is here!" He hissed with urgency that told Nie that she had best give it a look.

    Her words may have been sincere and genuine to any she tended but in the end all she could do for many in that barricaded off section of the building was to try and make their remaining days at least tolerable. Far too many asked her to just end them now. A dog was one thing. She didn't have it in her to do it for them. It'd take nearly a whole vial of muscle relaxant directly to the heart to stop it completely and another half vial to keep their body from going into cardiac arrest as it struggled to start it's beating engine again. "I am sorry.. This is all I can do.." Curses were slung by the middle-aged man, spitting at her as well, though missing as she backed away, asking for forgiveness that she could do any less.

    Out of the sad excuse for a medical area Nieves stepped just in time to hear the soldier's words as he talked of sabotage and spitting on GDI. Somehow she couldn't blame his words, even as a member of that unique and somewhat alien organization. She didn't have it in her to blame anyone for much of anything these days. That thought alone made her begin to fear for humanity slipping away.

    The bravado she knew was because they carried those rifles and wore armor that could stop most rounds. Helmets off was likely a sign of goodwill. Each side was struggling to look more appealing, most knew that. Somehow she knew they were looking especially at her for leaving the medical ward and looking healthy. There was no photo opportunity for her with blood on her knees and saliva on her shoulder.

    Before she could speak up about why they had to resort to such barbarism, instantly blaming them for the loss of the last outpost she needed to resupply from, another man spoke up, and spoke up he did. Nie found herself admiring his gall for standing up to the trio, but fearing he'd be her next patient after he was assaulted by them for being so ballsy.
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  7. The orator's reaction to Janek's words was one of confusion. "Worth my while?" He looked over to one of his peers and gestured for something hanging off their uniform. When he turned back to face the crowd, he held up a canteen. "Kane has made it worth my while. He has given me food and water and clean air; he has given me warmth and camaraderie; he has given me salvation. Most of all, he has given me the resources to bring these things to the people whom the GDI so swinishly spits down upon. Let me tell you what may be worth your while, hotshot."

    He returned the canteen and looked Janek in the eyes. "We do what we do because we must, just as you and yours and even the pigs in blue. What makes the Brotherhood different is that it doesn't ignore the new world's boons; we exploit them and all the things that come along with it that the UN would never admit to making use of. Tiberium isn't such a nemesis if you are willing to take the risk of trusting it."

    [ Kars Hospital Mission ]
    Packed into an alleyway, the convoy's designated command vehicle was abuzz with murmurs while the lead officers negotiated potential navigation plans through a known Brotherhood hotspot. With support over an hour out of town, the plan was to service the medical aid personnel and ditch out of Dodge. There were still a few more stops to make before evacuating their teams — in particular a warehouse which had been occupied by civilians for some time, now — but talk of abandonment was starting to pick up momentum given the approaching opposition's forces.

  8. “Yes, yes Kane gave your life purpose and took away your personality in the process. We all hear the same recruitment pitch every time you show up in civilian populations to pad your cannon fodder. What Kane can’t do is watch your back if you fuck over a bunch of starving, desperate people. The interesting part is you won’t even know you’ve crossed a line until that first shot goes off.” Janek made a gun gesture with his fingers towards the red visor. “Your numerous skirmishes with GDI have left a lot of unattended military equipment, and we’ll just say I’ve seen more than one GDI and Nod patrol go missing when they showed up in the wrong town.” He threw his hands up in front of his chest to show a lack of ill intent. “So, for it to be worth your while, you may want to consider leaving the bulk of these supplies for the people here, and you’ll find a more supportive populace and maybe a few more recruits to turn into cyborgs or whatever the hell you like to do to the desperate. It’s not my concern.” He rolled his eyes at the mention of Tiberium. “And sure, Tiberium’s just fantastic if you feel like murdering humanity, but that’s not my concern. Feel free to keep that all to yourselves, just do us all a favour and take the growths nearest to the cities first.” He smiled and stepped away, moving along to take a seat near the other volunteers for the mission.

    He caught a woman staring at him. She was a pretty thing, Mediterranean complexion contrasting with her coloured eyes. Janek readjusted the rifle sling on his shoulder, the old beat-up carbine sitting between a couple pouches on his webbing. “You’re looking at me like I have three heads.” He said with a smile, glancing back at the trio of Nod soldiers. “I wouldn’t worry so much about them. Word gets out they shot some civilian and their pool of recruits dry up faster than the water supplies do around here. What’s your name?”
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  9. The whole altercation didn't seem to last as long as she had imagined it would. Far less blood as well. It was enough to cause her to sigh in relief that this didn't end in more violence, between those four men she likely wouldn't have the painkillers to go around.

    Though she did begin to fancy taking up their offer. While her morals screamed at her for such thoughts as letting them steal the supplies when these people needed it. It was hard to turn down clean water and air, even a chance to work in an actual hospital again. The man she'd come to know as Janek talked of cyborgs, but hadn't that been rumors?

    Only when she saw him approach did her daze vanish suddenly. More surprised was he tried to crack a joke about her attentiveness. At least she took it as a joke, trying to break a smile that didn't make her look like a swooning teenager.

    "No, but you may as well had that many to pick a fight with those men." She replied idly, only catching a glimpse of people watching them both. "Please don't say things like that so loudly." Now concern streaked her voice like dye in water. "It'll cause more problems for all of us.. And that's how rumors start.."

    Perhaps she hoped to leave it at that. To let him walk off without a name. But the chance to converse with a person. It demanding her attention for a wound was too much. "It's Nieves." Her finger lifted a pocket over her left breast that was filled with slips of paper, revealing a fabric name badge beneath of her first and last.

    "Who're you then? Not NOD or GDI.. Mercenary?" Her head tilted slightly as she asked, appraising him now that he was much closer.
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  10. Janek smiled, pulling a carton of hand-rolled cigarettes he'd bought off a vendor a few days prior out of his pocket, placing one in between his lips as he patted himself down, trying to recall where he'd stuck his matchbook. "Janek. And none of the above, although mercenary's closer to the mark. Disgruntled citizen with more than a few reasons to hate GDI, they like to call people like me insurgents." he smiled as he located his prize, releasing the matches from their hiding place and striking one, bringing it up to the tip of the cigarette to light it. He offered the carton to Nieves.

    "You kind of learn quickly that Nod doesn't respond well to meek passiveness, and they're professional enough for the most part not to let a mouthy citizen in the yellow zone get under their skin. I scratch their backs, they give me equipment, and men like me kill GDI for them in areas they don't normally operate in. I wasn't kidding, either. I've seen a few Nod soldiers, and GDI, treat the locals like shit in various theaters and find themselves gunned down in the streets or stepping into an IED. It really goes to show how little people care about the consequences if they've got nothing to lose and that even powerful military forces aren't omnipotent." he gestured behind him with a thumb towards the Nod soldiers.

    "No doubt they'll keep an eye on me, but at least they know that people here aren't pissing themselves at the sight of them and might actually put up a good fight. We do our jobs right, and they might come back with better offers and more supplies." he chuckled. "I know it sounds backwards, but honestly, sometimes being a confrontational ass goes over better with the likes of them than manners. So, Nieves. What brought you here?"
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  11. The name took her as a bit out of place in this part of the world, figuring he just followed the fighting wherever it was. Though her face remained a simple mask of a smile she couldn't help herself but to seethe and grow more and more furious as he continued to speak. His offer of a cigarette was politely declined, a gloved hand with blood drying on the wrist was raised as she shook her head.

    "Is it so easy to kick a hornet's nest?" She replied calmly. Ignorant to his run-in with GDI's Orca squadrons. Somewhere in the rear of her mind she imagined the exact scenario when she'd come across the destroyed outpost. The tiny frequency chip embedded in her arm blipping out a civilian signal to avoid a nasty accident.

    Oh how she wanted to slap him, yet still she smiled. His boldness could have saved some other fool a severe beating and maybe a few lives. "I'm a doctor. Yes, yes, no red cross.. Got tore off early on and never bothered to be replaced. My route took me this far east, checking on groups of people where they hide from the two power-houses that duke it out all around them."

    A particularly loud cry drew her attention to the thin wall of sheet metal that separated the healthy from the sick. Black hair held in a ponytail fought to rip from the rubber band that held it in check. Within moments she appeared far more tired than before, bags under her eyes grew more visible as a nearby lantern caught her face. "I am sorry, Mr. Janek. You'll have to excuse me.." Already she had begun backing away. "Do find me later? I'd like to see about getting those medical supplies they talked about."

    As her body turned a silver cross bounced across her chest before she began jogging to the medical area, vials jingling in pouches along her person.
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  12. They don't use the word, but they know it. Eviction. The forced removal of one from their home. Summoning a power not so long ago they did not yet hold, they tell you how you'll serve the community, how you'll engage with the rot rather than a symptom of the infection. Their approach feigns sympathy and compassion. When they explain why, the words are calculated, as if reading from an imagined script, but without enough interest to enunciate the words.

    Damian Alighieri left Erzurum without looking back. As his duty, he was 'allowed' limited access to department gear for the mission. Their words, mission, Damian found his mind attracted to journey. When he told the supply sergeant about the mission, the hulking supply sergeant grimaced and pointed him directly toward the large calibre weapons. Damian settled on the McMillan M89, a sturdy revolver, and the machete, another suggestion from the sergeant. They equipped him well. When they the shut the gates on the junior detective, he wondered if their generosity would lighten their spirits. For the record, they forgot a mask.

    After a day's trek east Damian saw a Blossom Tree. A hill lie ahead, a lithe and peculiarly bulbous tree cutting the horizon. The junior detective thought the sight an evening beauty as he lulled himself to sleep. Morning came early and to a sharp screech. The long screech as glistening green spewed into the golden sky inspired an almost instinctual fear. Damian scrambled in the dirt, hastily grabbing his things and off northward. And so the trip continued, as if journeying the line cut along the teeth of a saw. Early on he stumbled upon a desperate passerby. The necessity of a purifier was obvious, and if unarmed and malnourished, this passerby seemed content with his air at least. They walked together a while with curious looks. With every passing hour the looks grew harder and hungrier, however. Soon the men passed another corrupted tree. The passerby faltered, attention broken, his neck with it. With the help of the mask Damian forged a straighter path.

    The dull bronze warehouse appeared several hills later. Damian reached the metal walls and signs of others, several others in fact. He watched as weathered man clearly in his element entered the place and a few well armoured shortly after. Damion only followed after recalling voices other than his own. Strained imagings of friends and family blurred into general tones. The real thing, the voices within the warehouse, seemed more pathetic than blurred. He saw many scattered about, organized into lines and some collected about in groups. Most worse masks, but bouncing about as they hung from their necks.

    Damian mirrored them immediately. He felt hair inches longer than he remembered rub smooth against his cheek and chin as he removed the mask. He walked toward the largest grouping of others -- people, rather, and noticed the well armoured among them.

    “And sure, Tiberium’s just fantastic if you feel like murdering humanity, but that’s not my concern. Feel free to keep that all to yourselves, just do us all a favour and take the growths nearest to the cities first," the weathered man he'd seen enter said with challenge in his voice.

    Watching them, Damian noticed the lines and the food. His own rations had run dry some time ago. Damian found himself drawn toward the armoured men, at first by the food, then by the mention of growths. The rest of them seemed to know the situation gripping the land far better than he. Even worse, those around looked starved, while these armoured few healthy and rather animated. So far Damian had travelled without any idea of what awaited him, nearly dying suffering whatever fate the bursting trees wrought along the way. These well to do men seemed aware, stable.

    Damian swallowed his pride and approached, "Hello there. Any chance you lot are looking to share the road?"
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  13. There was a scowl from the Brotherhood's preacher, but before he could reply his nearest peer redirected him toward Damian, whose approach initially alarmed the trio until he opened his mouth. The orator smiled, making a show with one hand at the rest of the occupants. "Why, we were just making such an offer, in fact. There's a convoy making a pass through here, supplying a nearby airbase. We intend to raid it; since there's plenty to go around, we figured a helping hand from the locals might earn them a share."

    A look over toward Janek alluded to his concerns. "Not that we particularly need the help — the convoy's escorted by fodder — but Kane is looking to reach out to bordertowns like Kars, here. For entirely selfish reasons, of course," he snarked. Talk started to pick back up. Between Janek's boldness and Damian's arrival, people were becoming less and less concerned about the three footmen.
  14. Janek watched Nieves go with a slight smirk. She clearly had the best intentions for helping people, and she was going to be in for a rude awakening if she got chummy with Nod. She wasn't the confrontational sort; hell, she couldn't even muster the will to call him an asshole. He decided to retreat for the time being, at least until the call to arms, and just relax until the time came. Truth be told, he was pretty tired, and he pondered if the other Wolves were having as much luck as he was. There was a chance they'd reform, but after years of operations and taking far too many unsustainable losses, it was impossible not to get the feeling that fighting was pointless. The enemy always seemed to replace their losses and come back, no worse for wear, and the ever-spreading Tiberium served as an unsettling reminder that things weren't getting better, and that there was a chance that the human race would see extinction.

    Then there was his wife and daughter, hidden away in a refugee camp far from the city, and the more Janek fought, the further away he got from them. Without a way to keep in contact with them, he knew he may never see them again, but his rage and need for vengeance burned too deeply to sit idly and do nothing. He left with the intention to make the world better for them, and instead he threw away the only thing in his life worth fighting for. He looked over at the Nod soldiers and took note that the people in the shelter seemed a bit more easy around them, which was a good thing for everyone involved. Why did he boldly approach Nod, challenging their authority? It was sobering to think that maybe he was challenging them to start something, like he was ready to die, but that wasn't it. Janek was a practical man, and things couldn't improve if you got yourself killed foolishly. Was he trying to impress them? Maybe. They represented some kind of order, and they were a hell of a lot more of an effective adversary against GDI than a few ragtag insurgents. Could he wear the uniform? Maybe, if they looked after his family and gave him an opportunity to see them again. That was worth killing a lot of eagle-crested bastards. especially if there was a chance of taking some of the Blue Zone from them. The people outside of their pristine sanctuaries suffered enough, and it was clear they all but condemned almost all of the world to die.

    Well, better make a good impression then. I can't get what I want unless I play nice with these assholes.
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  15. The reception felt that much cooler than the last time she went into the cordoned off area where the sick and the dying had been put. Accusing eyes drilled what felt like holes in her stomach to widen into engulfing pits. A hard swallow steeled her nerve to pick back up where she had left off, letting her hands do the work while her mind drifted elsewhere.

    "Do you pray a lot?" The voice took her by surprise, startling her with a sharp inhale. A boy no older than ten had come up beside her while her hands sorted empty vials in her backpack.

    When her nerves calmed enough to reply seconds later a gentle smile broke her dirty features. "All too often." The facade of strength had its fair share of cracks but held firm.

    "If there really was a merciful God here.. Shouldn't he have helped us by now?" A finger pointed almost accusingly at the silver cross dangling down as she leaned over her things.

    Sand grit her teeth as she licked her lips to respond. Before the sound of words could break the slight sticky seal of her lips the boy turned to leave. Unsatisfied with the hesitation he saw in another of the adults he'd tried to find answers from.

    The backpack went closed and the vials ceased clinking together when she cinched the pocket closed. Hot tears fought to break the surly bonds of her eyes, yet none fell like they had before. Over and over in her mind she demanded herself to not lose faith.

    Maybe it was another crack in her humanity that weakened Nieves walls enough to warrant the thought. Nod would leave and head to another settlement. Few would turn down trained medical personnel and it would let her travel further. At least that's what she had convinced herself as the bag slung her shoulder and once more she left the area with the constant sounds of moans brought on by pain and crying carried through the dry air.

    All she had to do was approach those soldiers and ask..
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  16. The traveler looked over the well armoured men with a dusty air above his boots. He knew enough about convoys and shipments of food, but never thought the risk serious. No reason for them to know that. No reason to let on a thing, really. Damian scanned the room full of the hungry and beleaguered. There didn't look to be a thing for him here, though his aching feet may say otherwise. Scarcely any food or water and little to do to help any of them. The man who left knew enough to realize he should stay and help; the man who stood now with dried blood-and-mud on his mask recognized the promise of comfort when witnessed. Damian met the footman's eye.

    "Safe bets, you lot," Damian grumbled, his voice a rasp from lack of use and a feigned grit. "I'd join you then. I trust an extra hand earns a worthy share despite those selfish reasons?"

    Erezum be damned. The rifle on slung on his shoulder and steel on his hip suddenly hung light. The Damian knew justice too, and working so deep in the dirt a badge looked but a stone, and he worked with justice in mind. Lending a gun to a raid might be what it took to survive. Who said he had fire? So he fires, who said he'd even hit? He could play this role. Damn, that kind of hunger and thirst, he could play any role. Damian glanced to the volunteers sat about the space.

    "When shall we be off then?"
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  17. "Naturally," the apparent leader replied. "But Kane's will is ours, not yours. Whether you choose to take the branch — now, that is what's yours." He shrugged, making a gesture that inspired his peers to don their helmets and start inching their way out of the warehouse. "We don't worry ourselves about what people say about us. What matters is that they can still have an opinion tomorrow."

    He raised his hand vaguely in the direction of the fields, where most of the city had already been overrun. "Those carcasses wouldn't know right from wrong after what they've gone through." The grin on his face at those words was strange, but not quite unkind. "Even we know that. But the apocalypse is only an upturning; those who survive will have a new world to start afresh." Now exiting, he raised a hand in farewell.

    "So we do what we can; see you at noon!" The orator's last note came off absurdly jubilant, almost daringly confident, but he left and that was enough for the crowd.

    [ Kars Forward Operations Garrison ]
    Oh, they were fodder, all right. With the UN outpost in ruins and their airbase digging in, the hospital mission was totally unsupported. The Brotherhood intended to occupy Kars in full force, and the GDI had hardly contained the tiberium threat, much less the opposition forces. A few stray wolverines won't hold back what Kane has in store.

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  18. It was just her luck to only catch the tail end of the man's talking. From behind a gathered line as though there was a tiny parade. The natives were taller than her and any attempt at squeezing through like one saw in the movies ended with an elbow catching her somewhere.

    One of them had caught her in the tit and she had taken it as the sign to retreat, cradling the tender flesh beneath. Asshole. She thought, but couldn't truly place the blame on anyone but herself for thinking it would be easy.

    Noon. A quick glance at the digital watch told her it was still a day away. Maybe luck would slip her way and sleep could be earned. It almost came out as a laugh as she moved away before the crowd dispersed.

    On the plus side the line for food was near empty, only those like her who couldn't get a view or stayed waiting for their turn. So there she stepped quickly to stand behind some man who gave her not a second glance. She didn't quite mind what it was they were eating. Only that the future prospect was a hot, maybe even fresh, meal awaited her when that convoy came back and moved along.

    While waiting she chanced to look for the man from earlier, Jane? She was poor at names, but knew it was close. Another caught attention with the rifle he was holding loose. Few men carried open arms, fewer still did it without friends who also has guns.
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  19. Noon, at the outskirts of town — not even a crow calling. Everybody knew something big was about to go down; be it war or meteor, man and mutant alike took to the basements, fields, wherever they could to stay out of the way. The Brotherhood made a point to keep their location obscured by a game of telephone, simultaneously weeding out the opportunistic from the determined and keeping the hospital mission from making a preemptive strike.

    This is Kane's front yard, and the UN messed up big time the second it planted its rich feet in front of the gate. Turkey had always been border fodder for the two, rich in tiberium and uncommitted manpower, but Kars was far too deep in for the GDI to make a move on it until now. The Brotherhood's recent hemorrhaging after CABAL's betrayal and the total disintegration of its command structure had left it in tatters, fresh and bloody for the kill; too good for Kinsburg to pass up. A shame she forgot one thing: Kane lives.

    Whether he truly was a miraculous demihuman or if the Brotherhood's messiah was merely a series of disposable pawns, his name alone dragged the ruined factions together. No longer were there Seth's men or Hassan's henchmen; only one vision, and one purpose. His apparent demise unified the Brotherhood, each acolyte reminding themselves of his legacy with the same phrase, time and time again: Kane lives.

    Of course, he was dead. For good. Never coming back. Absolutely not happening. Ever. But a martyr's voice is louder than a prophet's, and so his will be done.

    The cards were all set and the outpost sat too, ready to mobilize. Not much to look at but a few footsoldiers wandering around. But one officer stuck out like a sore thumb, for nobody dared to stand close to him. The piercing ice of Anton Slavik's eyes watched over the loyalists, projecting his intensity upon them. Unaccosted, the determined were filed in one by one.
  20. And so it began.

    Janek took a moment of running final checks of his gear to take a quick survey of the people who had volunteered to help Nod raid the GDI convoy and came up wanting. Not enough to really make victory certain, and most of the bodies weren't what one would consider able. He'd been somewhat of a middle-of-the-road man when he was with the Wolves, being held back by an approaching middle age and only a moderate standard of physical fitness compared to some of the others, but compared to some of the people he saw milling about, he was in the top percentile. There was a pretty good chance of the entire operation fucking up and him finding a fatal bullet. Well, at least I'd see my daughter again. he thought, turning back to the beat-up carbine he had field stripped in front of him.

    It was a beat up thing, dating back to the earlier days in the Tiberium Wars, an old reliable standby that was now starting to show its age and what happened when you couldn't properly service the damn thing. The stock was cracked, much of the metal frame rusted, and the rifling was starting to wear thin, but still it kept functioning near flawlessly, save for an occasion or two where the bolt stuck back and needed to be convinced to cycle with a savage palm strike. He'd have to retire the old girl soon, and if he could get away with it, maybe he'd loot one of the GDI rifles they'd no longer be using shortly. Finishing scrubbing down the bolt assembly with a wire brush, he reassembled the rifle with practiced hands and cycled the bolt a few times to make sure everything was fitted correctly, pointing it in a safe direction and pulling the trigger. The clack of a striker on an empty chamber was a good enough sign the rifle was good to go and shortly after a magazine was fitted and the weapon shouldered. Janek wrapped the bandana he had used to lay out the parts around his face to keep the dust out. He was as ready as he was ever going to be.

    One of the Nod officers - the Nod officer, if he heard some of the grunts correctly, stood commandingly, a sentinel alone amongst the motley crew. A Nod soldier paced nearby, patting his pockets down before cursing to himself. Janek approached, offering the man an extended cigarette butt from his nearly depleted carton. The soldier nodded thanks, removed his helmet, and took the offered cigarette, which Janek lit for the man.

    "Pre-battle nerves, I take it." The insurgent stated as a conversation starter.

    "Yeah, fuck. It doesn't matter how many times I fight, I still get nervous until the shooting starts. It's almost a mercy, like I can just let my training take over at that point, you know? Thanks, by the way." The soldier pointed at the carbine across Janek's shoulder, cigarette burning between two pointed fingers. "Ever use that thing?"

    "Naturally. You don't keep a weapon like this long unless you know how to operate it. There's been a few men in unmarked graves who thought I didn't need it anymore." He smiled. "I disagreed. It helps I ran with a militia of sorts, Gunther's Wolves. This is the longest I've gone without being with familiar faces in quite some time."

    "Ah, I heard of the Wolves once or twice. I owe you a drink, you saved me from having to do a few assaults because the objective was destroyed before Nod decided it to move against it. Between you and me, most of us troopers don't like you militia types, but you're alright in my books. More guns pointed at the GDI bastards, the better."

    Janek nodded towards the imposing blonde officer he noticed earlier. "Your boss, I take it?"

    "Not just my boss; the Boss." The trooper said, glancing at Slavik before turning back to Janek. "Man's a legend, fought against GDI as Serbian Freedom fighter before Nod found him, they used to call him 'The Serbian Wolf'. I guess you two have that in common, eh? You're looking at effectively the leader of Nod. Stay on his good side; he's fucking ruthless, but a brilliant leader." the soldier finished off his cigarette before flicking the butt into the dirt. "Thanks again... didn't catch your name."

    "Janek." he offered a hand to the trooper, who accepted and gave him a single firm shake. "Hogun. Look forward to fighting with you." he said before stepping away, slipping his helmet back on. Janek watched him go before his gaze returned to Slavik, and their eyes met. A deep, unsettling chill ran down his spine, forcing him to break eye contact. Hogun was right; the so-called Serbian Wolf was not a man to fuck with.
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