Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scythe - Entity: Harvest of Insanity

by Jon of the Shred

Chapter I: Alpha Centauri Sector

Camp Terror is burning, the casualties number well in the hundreds. Bodies litter the alleyways and smoke billows angrily towards the night sky. Gunfire and screams of the dying echo throughout the safe-zone, bouncing off the skyscrapers, barely audible over the growing moans of the hungry Impaled closing in on their prey. The bullets of the Meganet cyborgs rip through Paragon security members, who lie dying as the undead close in and relish in their easy meals. Innocents, rebels, and Paragon officials alike all lie dead.

The survivors of the rebel movement, dumbfounded by the chaos they helped unleashed, have gathered just outside the city walls. While they have have freed themselves from the dystopian reign of Paragon, many lives were lost in their uprising. They had not envisioned Meganet gaining sentience on the same night as their rebellion, or ever for that matter. This was a contingency unaccounted for. Now regrouped, they plan their next move outside the walls of Camp Terror, listening to the symphony of carnage they helped compose as it plays out from within.

“We've made it out alive, but we cannot forget those who have fallen!” The leader of the resistance, Maverick, is both congratulating and consoling his troops. They've fought a tough battle the last few hours, and they had lost many of their team in the raining gunfire. Another unaccounted contingency is about to beset this group of weary rebels...

“Freeze! Drop your weapons!” Through the veil of darkness and amidst the noisy confusion, a large group of unknown people has sneaked up the hill to the city walls, now surrounding the rebels, their weapons raised. “We don't want any trouble here! Who are you?!” The Lone Musician stands at the forefront of the group, surveying the scene, battle weary and hoping they don't need to end more lives after the last few months of torturous trials. Maverick steps to the edge of his group, meeting the Lone Musician.

“I am Maverick and this is my company. If you're Paragon scum you might as well riddle us with bullets now, we'd rather die than sacrifice our freedom.” The Lone Musician looks back to his army, and gives them the motion to lower their weapons. “If Paragon is your enemy, that makes us allies. Paragon murdered some friends of ours.” The Lone Musician and Maverick shake hands, to the relief of both of the tired armies. “What the fuck is going on in there, Maverick?” The Lone Musician looks up to the city walls, the sounds of warfare still slicing through the night air.

“We've been stuck in that hellhole since the Apocalyptic Dawn. Camp Terror was one of the first major safe-zones available during the panic. Paragon rounded everyone up and put them in the camps, this being the biggest one in all of Scythe. But their methods of control have proven cruel and self-serving. They've got people from as far as Specter City holed up in there. At first it was fine, we worked together to survive, kept the Impaled off the fences, foraged for food in abandoned towns nearby. But then it all changed. Paragon began to show it's true colors – they forced us to do all the heavy lifting, to collect substances for their research and experiments. They just sat in their labs, their cyborg security force murdering anyone who questioned their will. We were starving, tired, and was time for a change.”

“You still have good people in there? Sounds like the fight is still going.” The Lone Musician notes the continued sounds of gunfire and screams. “That's where shit gets crazy. The cyborg security seemed to gain a mind of its own. They turned against Paragon and started wiping them out – they were gunning for us, too. It's a wonder so many of my team made it out alive. Now we're just trying to figure out our next move.” The Lone Musician nods, and gives Maverick a little background.

“My company were all being held hostage by the Nekro Cult. Sick fucks worship the Impaled, they think they're some kind of cleansing entity sent by the Gods. They had us in chains at the old Scythian Arena. I managed to free these people...the sick bastards were going to feed them to the undead.” Maverick nodded and responded, “You freed ALL of these people? Good job, man.” “I couldn't just leave them there. We were headed to this very safe-zone, rumors had been circulating through the prison that it was one of the last vestiges of safety. Before we were able to get here Paragon ambushed one of our search companies, murdered them in cold blood. We heard it through our walkies. We came here to carry out vengeance, but it looks like you guys already started it for us.” Maverick nodded. “I think our best bet is to join our two companies, but we're at a loss on where to go.” The Lone Musician responded “I agree, we can wipe the Paragon and Nekro cult scum off the face of Scythe with our forces combined. We're headed to the Alpha Centauri Sector.” The armies of Maverick and the Lone Musician now became one entity, a giant force of justice on a planet on the brink of destruction.

Chapter  II: Entity

Deep within the Forest of the Impaled lies the Alpha Centauri Sector, a swamp many people considered cursed decades before the great Apocalyptic Dawn. Through the forest, strange plants emit an eerie, mist. This mist carries hallucinogenic properties. When inhaled, this psychoactive substance causes horrible and debilitating effects. While a small amount inhaled leads to a pleasurable, highly addictive euphoria, even the slightest misstep in dosage leads to violent overdoses. An Entity overdose has the capability of driving the user to immediate insanity, and even on the first come down off an Entity high, the user suffers viscous, potentially deadly withdrawals.

For this reason, the Forest of the Impaled was blocked off to the citizens of Scythe by the Scythian government and Paragon officials. Before the apocalypse, Paragon rangers sanctioned by the Scythian government patrolled the forests in hazmat gear to ensure no one smuggled the dangerous Entity drug outside of the forests borders. Rumors around the planet suggested trespassers within the forest were even shot on site. Other rumors claimed various, small societies existed throughout the forest, inhabited by those addicted to Entity. Their entire lives revolved around the consumption of the drug, their minds completely lost in the hallucinations – an addictive trip that never ends. Some of these rumors were true...

Chapter III: Euphoric Damnation

Euphoric Damnation had huge plans before the apocalypse. They planned to infiltrate Scythian military bases, government complexes, and Paragon laboratories alike and bring the entire countries political infrastructure to it's knees. They would re-raise society in a state of symbiotic anarchy. While their intentions were arguably just, the means with which they were willing to go to exact these goals were both immoral and dangerous. The amount of innocents who would die in the backlash of utilizing Entity as a biological weapon would number in the thousands, maybe even millions. Euphoric Damnation saw these potential casualties as necessary sacrifices – they would be unknowing martyrs for the Euphoric Damnation's cause.

Members of Euphoric Damnation were of the belief a conspiracy existed on Scythe. Paragon seemed to hold all the power, and the Scythian government seemed like the puppets of the corporate giant. Many members of the extremist group were, in fact, former Paragon workers themselves. They had their suspicions when employed by the corporation, and gladly joined the Euphoric Damnation cause. Some had narrowly escaped being banished into the Deserts of Zu-Rakeen for political dissent, but escaped into the Forest of the Impaled before being deported. All good intentions of these political dissenters were lost as they stumbled through the forest in their drug induced hazes. Entity in such constant doses warped their minds and fried their brains. Though their intent was once noble, their moral foundation crumbled, and they were but shells of their former selves.

Members of Euphoric Damnation were forced to wear modified hazmat suits stolen from the corpses of Paragon forest rangers at all times which served them a steady dosage of Entity. Breathing in the fumes of the forest would be too severe, they'd surely lose their minds. But they still necessitated a constant dose at increments throughout each day, otherwise the withdrawal symptoms would likely kill them. And so they lived in a state of Euphoric Damnation, giving their name an ironic twist.

Chapter IV: Harvest of Insanity

Right on the outskirts of the Alpha Centauri Sector marshes stands Euphoric Damnation's giant industrial complex. Further out, still, lie many huts and makeshift houses, all of which were occupied by the harvesters of insanity. Euphoric Damnation had learned the concentration of the Entity compound found throughout the forest was concentrated in the swamp. It was hear in the bog they took to the Harvest of Insanity.

Giant hydraulic pumps pumped the bog marshes. Later this swamp matter was strained many times over, eventually through the process of chemistry and technology stolen from Paragon laboratories, distilled into a pure, liquid form of Entity. A single drop of this would shatter the users consciousness, rendering them stuck on a permanent trip. The industrial complex manufactured hundreds of pounds of the drug on the daily. Even just 1% of the synthesized product available could drive the entire population of Specter City into violent overdoses.

Throughout the bogs and surrounding forest on this night, new sets of eyes watched the facility. From nearly every direction, members of a viscous gang, the Wasteriders, were sneaking through the foliage and marshes, closing in on the Euphoric Damnation base of operations. Their plans were to steal as much of the drug as they could handle, wiping out any Euphoric Damnation members that stood in their way. This heist had been a long time in the making.
While Euphoric Damnation were tormented with a perpetual trip, driven to insanity being so close to the marsh that produced the substance, the Wasteriders were still very much lucid. They differed from Euphoric Damnation in that they only wished to profit off the drug and use it recreationally. They had no plans other than to get high and get rich. And tonight they'd steal enough of the Entity drug to be high for the rest of their lives...

Chapter V: Disintegrate

 The casual users of Entity described the trip as “disintegrating” or “dissolving.” Every nerve in the body reeled in euphoric ecstasy from the substance. Trails followed any slight movement, and the world took on a glitched out, blurred, digital look as the pupils of the users became heavily dilated. Colors were brightened and intensified, sounds took on a new density, users would feel an increase in their creative thinking. Hallucinations only intensified with a higher dose, many claiming to see and talk to godlike entities. While many used the drug for the high, many also sought out its use for spiritual purposes.

The onset of an overdose would lead to panicked thinking, nausea, uncontrollable vomiting and shaking, seizures, and more. Some users would get caught into a loop, reliving the same moment millions of times in the space of a second. When they awoke from their drug daze, many found themselves covered in other people's blood, having been driven to violence through the drug. Communication for many became scrambled, the users ranting and raving incoherently, their psychotic babbling being both slightly humorous and rather frightening.

Some Entity users would gain an unprecedented increase in appetite and eat until their stomachs burst, while others would lose their appetite entirely, sometimes permanently, dying of starvation as they withdrew from the drug. Some users would sleep off the drug for days after a Entity high, while others would suffer weeks of insomnia afterwards. Needless to say, the negative effects of 'disintegration' far outweighed the pleasurable euphoria enjoyed at miniscule doses, especially considering how unpredictable the effects of disintegrating were.

Many folks were even driven to violent insanity on the smallest doses, as the substance is very unpredictable and very potent. While Entity could only be found in it's pure form within the Forest of the Impaled, a street drug did exist in the pre-apocalypse days. This drug was used by youths and gang members alike. Some even said the cannibals in the Zu-Rakeen desert had shipments sent out to them, but how this cargo was able to make it past the great Wall of Rot was anyone's guess.

Chapter VI: The Centaurian Heist

 The Wasteriders were closing in, all around the manufacturing facility. Throughout the hut village, sleeping members of Euphoric Damnation were murdered in their sleep. Many throats were slit, and much blood was spilled. The Wasteriders had managed to wipe out the entire community as it slept, and now crept along towards the factory, their blood lust peaking as they began to pull out grappling hooks.

First one grappling hook sank into the roof of the building, than two more, and dozens more after that. The Wasteriders began to scale the building on all sides. Nearly 200 of them now stood on the roof, poised and ready to make an unforgettable heist. Small explosions were set on one side of the roof, and detonated. The explosion rocked the facility, dozens of Euphoric Damnation members perplexed at the noise. Piercing alarms rang through the corridors, and Euphoric Damnation members quickly grabbed their assault rifles and plasma cannons.

Who was attacking them? Was it the Nekro cult, the sick bastards who idolized the Impaled? Was it the Scythian government, finally cracking down on their activist movement? Or was it the Paragon security force, the Meganet cyborgs? Regardless of who it was, they would soon be riddled with bullets.

A large company of the Wasteriders rappelled into the building through the hole, quickly drawing their weapons and moving with synchronicity and purpose. The first batch of Euphoric Damnation soldiers to arrive on the scene were immediately downed on bullets. Three lines of Wasteriders took turns shooting and reloading their weapons, an effective method. But Euphoric Damnation had methods of their own...

The first row in the Wasteriders line stepped through a doorway, only to hear the clang of metal behind them as the doors came to a close. As they sprinted forward to escape the corridor, the other set of doors on the far side of the hallway clanged shut as well. The hissing of gas clued them in on what was going on, as Entity was pumped through the vents in highly dangerous doses. They were quickly driven to insanity, some murdering each other and others vomiting torrents of blood. They were all dead within minutes.

The doors whirred back open, and the two other rows of Wasteriders surveyed the scene. The bodies of their comrades littered the room. Enraged, one member takes out a plasma grenade and throws it to the far side of the room. It explodes, shattering the metallic doors on the far side of the hall. They rushed through the corridor holding their breaths as more Wasteriders poured in through the roof.

In the manufacturing facility, Euphoric Damnation members scrambled about, some taking position in front of the Entity trays, others piling finished product onto carts, driving away in a frenzy to protect their livelihood. Explosions and gunfire echoed throughout the corridor, the sounds of battle escalating and growing louder every minute. And then the climax of the battle struck, as the majority of the Wasteriders poured into the manufacturing room. Bullets sprayed from either directions. Machines leaked fuel, sparks erupted from all over, gunfire rained on steel and flesh. The casualties on both sides continued to grow as the Centaurian Heist reached it's bloody peak.

Wasteriders grabbed trolleys loaded with the product, rushing towards the door. A few were gunned down by Euphoric Damnation members. The Wasteriders returned fire, bullets riddling the suits of the Euphoric Damnation members, Entity mist pouring out from the punctures to their suits. Neither Euphoric Damnation or the Wasteriders enjoyed victory on this day – they both suffered defeat. And the battle seemed to just be starting. While some Wasteriders escaped with pounds of the substance, many more lied dead in the facility. And while Euphoric Damnation managed to hold off the siege and maintain control of the factory, they too suffered heavy casualties. Their enterprise was set back years in just the first hour of fighting.


Just outside the facility, at the edge of the forest stands Maverick and the Lone Musician, faces covered with gas masks, watching the violent foray unfold below them. “What the fuck is this place?” Maverick asked. “I think I have an idea. A few months ago I had to run through this damned forest after escaping Specter City. As I ran through it I suffered from hallucinations. They were driving me mad. That's why I brought all these gas masks for us to wear. This swamp seems to be the source of that hallucinogenic mist that had me going crazy. If I had to guess, looks like this is a drug manufacturing plant that we've stumbled upon.” Maverick nodded. “Maybe we should head back to the edge of the forest. There's no need for us to join the party down there. Let the junkies fight it out and kill each other.” The Lone Musician agreed. “Yea, let's get the fuck outta here.” The two retreated back from the edge of the swamp and headed back towards their army to plan their next move, the deafening sounds of warfare and carnage fading as they sprinted away from the swamp.

Pick up a copy of this totally rockin chapter of the Scythe chronicles featuring Jon Of The Shred collaborating with Beatbox Machinery, Quantum, KFDDA, Hide & Sequence, Leonardo Rizzo and Cluster Buster on Bandcamp here.

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