About Way out Waste
The steaming blood coated Walker’s forearms as his encrusted fingers found the grooves between the rows of matted dreadlocks. He drew his thick knuckled hands through a head of hair that would be half white had years of heretic viscera not dyed his very scalp ochre. He turned his masked face upon the chaotic scene in the natural bowl created by the shifting sands. His mask darkened an already obscure scene, the night lit only by the fires of burning tents and roasting bodies. He claimed his sword from where he had plunged it through a fallen Outsider mother and her bairn. He had caught them trying to flee, and had ended their pointless, pathetic lives with a single stroke of his blade.
He whistled for his Quei-Quei and grunted as the tall, lithe bird leapt over the top of the closest dune, flapping its vestigial wings behind sheets of carapace armor. The bird landed running and arrived at his master’s side with a harsh squawk and a rattling of the myriad charms that protected it from weakness and bad footing. Walker patted his mount on the beak and heaved himself into the saddle, steering the Quei-Quei toward the melee with a squeeze of his knees. His avian companion trundled down the slope, chuffing at the smell of blood but not spooking. Walker patted its neck and whispered thanks to Atawe for providing him such a spirited mount to do the bidding of Blooded Horn, and through him, Atawe himself.
Walker took his time making his way into camp and by the time he reined in next to the central bonfire, the carnage was complete. He stood in the center of a circle of blazing tents and semi-permanent dwellings, the still to his right being relieved of its precious water and any future duty it may have been asked to perform. The smell of blood, feces, and entrails floated on the passing breeze, and Walker drank heavily of its vintage. To his left, away from the water, his men were already beginning to line up the dead: men and women in one line, children in another at their feet. Honoring the adults was a nod to their tenacity; anything that survived in the Wastes for long enough to have their own offspring deserved respect. The offspring, however, merited nothing. They were non-beings, untried and untested by the sands, protected by those stronger than they. The children reeked of weakness and died first.
The sounds of battle died down and Walker let the bullroar he held in one hand drop to his feet. With a quick swing back over his head, he whirled the beacon once, twice, three times over his head. Its resonant voice howled across the decimated warren, sounding for regroup. His concentrated band issued from the darkness and congealed around him, dragging with them an elder Scavenger garbed in the robes of the Shaman. Walker’s gaze rested on the solid blue cataracts that covered the heretic’s eyes.
“Their shaman, Walks-in-blood. Do you wish to speak to it?” Crimson Moon stepped forward, gesturing toward the blind creature.
“I’ll palaver with this one. Are the dead arranged?”
“As you have ordered, so it has been done.”
Walker grunted again and removed his mask, adorned with the totem of the Devourer, a most powerful protector. He turned his attention to the Shaman. “Do you have any mortal words you wish to be rid of before you are sent to speak with Atawe, old one?”
The shaman straightened himself and squinted. “Old one? You call me old, when a map of the Wastes lines your face, written with the sharpened ribs of your enemies and inked in the blood of your fathers? Me, old? I hope I shall never be as old as you.”
“And your wish will be granted, along with the wishes of Atawe.”
“Atawe? Who are you to speak familiarly of Atawe?”
“I am naught but His Right Hand, charged by His Mouth, directed by His Eyes, and led by His Voice to wipe the unworthy from these sands. Be not afraid, for His Left Hand will shelter you in the oasis beyond the sand. Be instead honored, for you now are part of His legacy, as are we all.” Walker raised his sword, long, sharp, cold-forged by a hundred thousand hammer blows. He directed the blade downward and snarled as it bit into the Shaman’s shoulder and ate its way through his body. The light left the blue eyes as the upper half of the body slid free of the lower half and both collapsed to the sand.
Walker ran his hand along one side of the blade and slid the weapon into its home, leaving the rest of the blood to sate the hungry steel. He ran his dripping fingers through his already sticky hair and turned to face the smoke-choked moon. One more piece of Blooded Horn’s vision had come to pass.
Some believe the Wastelands are nothing more than barren lands, sun scorched and uninhabitable. Their eyes see a scarred territory of sand and rock, existing because of the devastation wrought by a long forgotten war. These people say the desert lies fallow and useless, but such assertions are nervous rantings born of fear or of hope. They seldom look deeper and, if they did, they would see far more than they would expect. While it may be a wasteland, it is far from a waste.
Welcome to the Wastelands.
What was once the Pacific coastline has been marred by earthquakes, shattered by the futile fighting of ancient peoples, and eroded by the ebb and tide of the world’s largest body of water as it rises, falls, rises, and falls again through a cycle that has left the world staring into the face of another imminent Ice Age. All political borders that once carved an area called North America into parceled plots have been wiped clean by the years, and now only a few divisions remain. The Wastelands themselves occupy the center of those divisions, dominating an area that stretches from the Pacific, home of the underwater megatropolis Atlan, to what was once a state called Texas. They share a southern border with an area known as the Industry, which dominates all of South and Central America as well as most of Mexico. To the north, the Wastes collide with a band of lush greenery, the Northwest Corridor, and beyond that, the oncoming ice which has maintained the name The Yukon. The Wastelands’ eastern border disappears under the baked adobe structures of the city-state of Metro. This gang-choked sprawl in turn evolves into the idyllic city of Golgotha, home of the ruling Corporate houses that strive to put the world and all its inhabitants under their thumb.
The Wastelands itself consists of three distinct parts, each encircling the others: Atawe’s Belt, the Barrens, the Arid Sea. Each of the outer rings is a few hundred kilometers in width, while the Arid Sea which nestles in the center could swallow the two rings whole. Each section of the Wastes possesses its own series of obstacles and difficulties, ranging from roving bands of bandits, bloodthirsty military units, swarms of football-sized insects, and huge, shambling beasts. All areas contain lethal levels of post-holocaustic radiation which increase in intensity the further into the Wastes one travels; a normal human individual must intake constant doses of potassium iodine in the form of red-papered cigarettes to combat this radiation. Any one of these elements are enough to keep most out of the area, but all them and more combined with the harsh, unyielding reality of the desert make the Wastelands a haven for only the most hearty or foolhardy.
Many would be happy to believe the Wastelands house only the uncivilized: the criminals of higher-tech territories like Metro, the frontiersmen who forge onward for the sheer challenge of it, the genetic throwbacks of a post-holocaustic society. To imagine cultures living and thriving among the burning sands requires an element of imagination that even those who live in the outer Wastes lack, at least until they see their first caravan of desert dwellers emerging from the shimmering heat.
A land of intrigue, cruelty and death, the Wastelands have but one rule:Survival of the fittest.
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Regardless of our vintages, we also do a lot of stuff. We’re writers, artists, and graphic designers. We’re professionals, all in our own specific fields. We’re all gamers, and that’s all that matters.
We have all gotten together, added our own spice to the recipe, and this is what we cooked up. It’s a bit rare, a bit salty, a bit spicy, but so is most food, if you think about it. Good food is the kind that makes you want to go back for more. The desert is going to leave you dry, and we have water in our gear.
To whet your appetite, we’ve dredged the mine of our gaming mojo to bring you something you’ve always wanted; something the same, but different. A bit of curry tossed into your tortilla, if you will. Skin that six shooter and see what happens, sonny.
We’re going for a ride.
content copyright 2007 House Woelf Productions