Chapter 1: Paragon
Chaos raged through the Paragon laboratory and the city around it. Camp Terror was burning to the ground, warfare and bloodshed running rampant through the streets. Two rebellions had been sparked on this fateful night, the cause of all the chaos. Everything Paragon had built in the last 6 months was now burning to ash.
One group of rebels consisted of enraged citizens, who claimed Paragon was exploiting them. These people maintained the safety of the territory, they guarded all the walls, they did walks around the perimeter, usually performing all these tasks with little or no Paragon assistance. It was a group of citizens, not Paragon officials, who went out every two weeks on supply runs, risking their lives, sustaining heavy casualties. Meanwhile Paragon remained holed up in their giant laboratory and office facility, rationing the food off as they saw fit. They did little to support the community after getting it started 6 months ago.
In Paragon's mind these folks were ungrateful. These usurpers were all living under the umbrella of safety Paragon provided. Paragon made it possible to survive in the post-Apocalyptic Dawn wasteland comfortably, and none of these peasants appreciated their efforts. Everyone must do their part. Loyalty to industry brings stability to society.
The other uprising was a much more unexpected scenario....
In the wake of the apocalypse, Paragon refocused the efforts of their entire organization in launching their long hidden project – a militarized cyborg police force known as Meganet. And now the Meganet cybernetic system had gone online – without Paragon initiating the launch sequence. The cyborgs had gained a sentience of their own, and started lashing out violently against humanity. What were the odds, two rebellions in one night! An uprising of angry citizens and the awakening of the cybernetic sentience, nearly one year after the Apocalyptic Dawn, all the while the planet Scythe still plagued by the undead....the planets were not aligning for Paragon.
Camp Terror was, indeed a farce. It was a ploy to get citizens doing the bulk of the work to keep the Paragon research facility powered up, all so Paragon could finalize and launch the Meganet project. Paragon had started to the form a safe-zone just 6 months after the Apocalyptic Dawn. Their location was around the perimeter of their biggest research facility, located in Donovan City. This laboratory housed the bulk of their cybernetic technology, 70% of their chemical and biological weapons cache, and even the technology to travel space – all projects they kept hidden from the Scythian government and public. Which is exactly why they chose to start the safe-zone there. Now they could hide in plain sight, inviting survivors to help them retake Donovan City and develop it into a livable safe-zone, which in turn enabled them to continue research in a powered laboratory unimpeded by the Impaled. To Paragon it was a win-win situation – safety for labor. And having the citizens do the bulk of the work allowed them to procure the necessary resources needed to launch the Meganet system without putting their own employees and scientists at risk. The citizens of the safe-zone would unknowingly fuel the rest of their research. But the greatest irony of it all was the fact Paragon had caused the Impaled apocalypse themselves – with the 8X-13 gas.
Paragon's hidden project 8X-13 was just one of many botched experiments. They had been conducting years of research to invent a substance that could greatly extend the human lifespan. Many tests were run, and they all failed in their own ways. 8X-01, for example, caused the test subjects to vomit out their organs violently within a half hour of ingestion. 8X-02 caused the test subjects to bleed profusely out of their eyes, ears, and noses. 8X-03 caused almost immediate heart failure. Each new iteration of the project bore horrible consequences.
8X-13 was arguably the most dangerous gas of the bunch. 8X-13 caused the death of the test subject, followed later by reanimation. When reanimated, these mobile corpses were driven by pure motorized instinct to consume the flesh of the living. These creatures would pass their sickness on to anyone they scratched or bit. All 8X-13 test subjects were gunned down and burned, their ashes scattered to the wind. Yet Paragon were undeterred by all these heinous results, and continued making more and more chemicals unimpeded.
With each botched serum, Paragon would make shipments of the dangerous chemicals to their warehouse facility on the outskirts of Specter City. 8X-13 was the final shipment to Paragon's Specter City warehouse and was the cause of the apocalypse. Members of the extremist group Euphoric Damnation broke into the laboratory the day of the 8X-13 shipment, inadvertently releasing the gas whilst attacking the facility. 8X-13 quickly spread throughout Specter City, and within a week the undead outnumbered the humans 100 to 1. At the peak of the 8X-13 apocalypse, the Apocalyptic Dawn, the undead numbered 10,000 to every 1 human.
Now, a year later, the walls of Donovan City, the infamous “Camp Terror,” had been breached. Swarms of the Impaled had begun to pour into the safe-zone, ironically returning to the birthplace of 8X-13, the very substance that allowed the existence of these vile creatures. The Impaled clawed at the fences surrounding the Paragon facility. Amidst the chaos, the remaining scientists and faculty of these facilities scrambled about, filling their convoy trucks with as much weaponry, resources, and research as possible. While the organization sustained hundreds of casualties, the majority were able to file into their trucks and crash through the fences just as the Meganet cyborgs emerged to attack. And now as the Impaled poured through the fences of, the human and cyborg rebels alike rained bullets throughout Donovan City. Paragon had been forced to donate their most important facility on the entire planet to the monsters they created....the cyborgs, the Impaled, and the impoverished.
Chapter 2: Over the Desert Plains of Zu-Rakeen
Decades before the apocalypse, the deserts of Zu-Rakeen were already a chaotic wasteland. Criminals, murderers, drug dealers...all the scum of society were banished to the desert to fend for themselves. The giant Wall of Rot blocked the deserts of Zu-Rakeen off from the free lands of Scythe. Paragon were also rumored to have been sending political dissenters into the deserts – anyone who publicly questioned the power and influence of the corporate giant seemed to disappear mysteriously. All conspiracy theorists who spread the rumor of the corporation puppeteering the Scythian government seemed to conveniently vanish.
The Paragon convoy was headed for the Wall of Rot, to travel into the deserts of Zu-Rakeen and escape the wrath of the Meganet Cyborgs and Camp Terror rebels. Many enemies of Paragon lurked in the deserts, criminals and innocents alike THEY had banished into the wasteland. Cannibal tribes roamed the sands, all the murderers and thieves and criminals now forced to feast on the flesh of the innocents. The convoy was well armed and prepared for conflict, knowing fell well they would likely be assaulted by enemies with personal vendettas.
The convoy drove three days upon the one paved road of the desert – the Neon Highway that led to Death Canyon. Beyond the Canyon lied ports that would take Paragon to their one remaining outpost – the facilities and living stations located on the Islands of Dar-Keen. But before they could reach the Island of Dar-Keen, they would have to brave the most dangerous stretch of road on all of Scythe – the infamous Blood Run.
Chapter 3: Blood Run
The Blood Run was the final 15 mile stretch of the Neon Highway before it descended into the underground tunnel system that would lead to the ports of Dar-Keen. Despite the dangers of the desert and the dark history of the Blood Run, it was the most common trade route on the entire planet. Paragon used it frequently in times of both peace and war. They generally spent weeks planning these convoys to limit casualties and conflict. This time, however, there were no plans in place to ensure safe passage through the Deserts of Zu-Rakeen. There was no strategy to make it through the Blood Run whole. And they had the bulk of their biological and chemical weaponry loaded in these trucks. One truck even carried all 8X-14 through 8X-17....
Gunners atop the trucks stood poised, alert, and anxious. Any signs of life they would disintegrate with the plasma cannons and machine gun turrets. The cannibal tribes would need powerful weaponry and a brilliant strategy to successfully overtake the well-armed and heavily guarded convoy. Despite the odds being stacked, the crazy bastards would attack regardless of their weaponry disadvantage.
The convoy finally reached the foot of the canyon, the craggy peaks and rocks towered ahead, casting menacing shadows across the desert plains. Surprisingly they had dealt with no conflict in the three days it took to traverse the desert. The air still stood thick with electric tension. Not a single Paragon member spoke a word, the only sounds being the rumbling of engines, the humming of the Neon Highway, and the sounds of scant wildlife scattered throughout the desert.
The vehicles continued to barrel onwards as they entered Blood Run, picking up speed rather than slowing down. The sun set above in a vibrant display, the sky red as if with the blood of the countless deaths at Camp Terror. Or perhaps it was a premonition of things to come on the Blood Run....
A mile in, still no signs of danger. A few of the truck gunners saw it immediately though - a flare gun. The Cannibals began to pour in from the sides of the canyon on motorcycles and ATVs brandishing all the weapons they had managed to steal from other convoys in the past. Up ahead, the bulk of the Cannibals vehicles lied in wait. The chase had begun....
Chapter 4: The Chase Begins
The convoy barreled forwards, never hastening in speed. The cannibal's stolen trucks and cars up ahead all peeled out in unison. Bullets and plasma beams dotted the evening sky. The first two vehicles collided, neither the cannibal nor Paragon official attempting to avoid it. The explosion rocked the canyon. Shrapnel rained down, raining from the sky. One shard of metal found itself buried deep with the neck of a cannibal on a motorcycle. Another cut the arm off of an unlucky gunner.
Despite the size of the ambush, the Paragon convoy managed to break through the road block with ease, only two of their trucks being taken down in the process. The final 14 miles would now be a deadly chase. The Cannibals were picking up speed, many of the motorcycle, dirt bike, and ATV riders catching up to the last car. One of the cannibals chucked a spear at the gunner on the final truck of the convoy, and nailed a lucky shot. The gunner toppled over the side of the truck.
The cannibals on bikes and ATVs managed to surround the last track of the convoy. The gunner in the truck just ahead picked two of them off with well-aimed shots, but was quickly neutralized with a bullet to the skull. The cannibals trucks and cars were now catching up as well. After a well timed jump, a cannibal managed to smash his fist through the Paragon trucks window. His hand quickly found the driver, ripping the drivers throat out. The cannibal pulled the body through the window and dropped it to the gravel below, the corpse immediately rolling and twisting in sick ways. Seconds later a cannibal on a bike lands a bullet in the passenger of the trucks skull, and the cannibal atop the truck jumps in and takes control of the truck, swerving off to the side but coming out clean.
Now that the cannibals had grabbed a fresh Paragon truck, they had considerable more fire power. Another cannibal managed to jump aboard and man the plasma laser, and began firing rounds into the trucks ahead. The cannibal's goal is to steal these trucks and consume the flesh of those inside, not to destroy them. For this reason they take out the tires of the trucks, and manage to get three more in their possession.
The chase has spilled out of the canyon, onto the final mile and a half stretch before the Neon Highway descends into the tunnel system. The cannibals manage to take out the tires of one last truck, their fifth victory of the day, just before the convoy dips into the tunnel and the metallic gate slams shut behind them. A few of the cannibal's vehicles smash into the gate, the vehicles exploding in fireballs. Casualties were to be expected, and it only means more food.
5 trucks with loaded plasma turrets, with several human casualties to feast on...this was a decent victory for the cannibal army. But little did they know just how much weaponry and chemicals each of these trucks housed...
Chapter 5: Mutant Devolution
The cannibals never looked inside the trucks, instead they drove them immediately back through the 15 miles of the Blood Run, picking up all salvageable corpses along the way. They were headed for the Rotting Keep, their base of operations. Their leader, simply known as Slasher, would decide what is to be done with the goods and provisions found within the trucks.
The giant makeshift gates opened to the Rotting Keep, and in poured the 5 stolen trucks. Slasher was already waiting by the gate. Speaking quickly with the commanding cannibal of the assault team, Slasher gives the order for the assualt team to take the haul to the cargo hold – each would get first pick on the new gear for procuring the goods. Unfortunately for the assault team, the very first truck they inspected happened to house 8X-14 – 8X-17...
Upon opening the trucks and seeing the barrels and canisters, the cannibals made the deadly mistake of thinking they contained Entity. In the deserts of Zu-Rakeen, the drug was a luxury – very rare and even more coveted than alcohol. They struck a deal immediately to take the Entity as their haul, and distribute it to the community without letting Slasher in on it.
To celebrate their new business venture, the assault team immediately cracked open one of the barrels. They'd catch a quick high, then cart all the Entity back to their living quarters within the keep, hide it and secure it well, make sure it was under guarded watch at all times....only this wasn't Entity. The liquid inside had a sickly greenish hue, much darker than the drug. But the cannibals mistook this as a sign of greater potency, and immediately filled up several shot glasses to kick off their high.
What they had really opened was a batch of 8X-17. Within a minute of drinking the 8X-17, the first round of cannibals were vomiting violently. In yet another lapse of all remaining cannibals who hadn't ingested the 8X-17 immediately became even more curious, desperate to get high. Only two of the cannibals refrained from indulging, backing away from the group and questioning the decision to hastily ingest this substance.
At the 3 minute mark, the first set of unwitting test subjects began to scream in agony. They fell to the floor, some curling up into the fetal position and others writhing about in their own vomit. They clasped at their faces and thrashed about. The two cannibals to refrain from trying the substance started to back away, heading slowly towards the alarm button at the back of the room.
Then with a sickening tearing sound, one of the cannibals chest ripped in half, a new fleshy appendage bursting through. His face twisted counter clockwise, the skin stretched in a sickly fashion, then started to melt. The other cannibals started reacting in similar fashion, all sorts of sickly mutations ravaging their bodies. The two cannibals at the back of the cargo hold quickly hit the alarm button and sprinted out of the room.
Chapter 6: Sieging the Wall of Rot
The 8X-17 had mutated the cannibals into sickly, grotesque monsters. Complete abominations. They lived in a state of constant agony, still semi-conscious but driven by the instinct to dull their pain by lashing out violently. Their horrific screams and wails were nearly constant, and sounded anything but human. The surviving cannibals rushed about the Rotting Keep, gathering as much supplies as they could. Their plan was to escape the Rotting Keep and the wrath of the mutants.
Slasher had decided it was time to scale the Wall of Rot, to attack Paragon and bring the organization down. They would feast on the flesh of the Paragon scientists, make them pay for their misdeeds and twisted scientific experiments, then roam the countryside – plenty of food for the lot of them. They could take back the cities from the Impaled, forge a new Rotting Keep in Donovan or Specter City.
The cannibals that escaped did not have time on their side, however. The mutated victims of 8X-17 began pouring out of the Rotting Keep, chasing the Cannibals as they headed towards the Wall of Rot. Slasher lead his convoy towards a tower that had been out of commission since the Apocalyptic Dawn. This would be the best place to scale the Wall of Rot – less resistance from Scythian guards.
The cannibals arrived at the wall and began preparing their equipment for the climb. They only had enough equipment to send a half dozen cannibals at a time, and the climb was a lengthy process. The cannibals had been malnourished and underfed since the start of the apocalypse. Even animals were scarce these days. It would take all of them some time to scale the giant fortification.
All the while, the mutants remained in hot pursuit. They were faster than the Impaled- they could sprint at decent speeds. But the day and a half drive to arrive at the Wall of Rot had put some distance between them and the cannibals. The mutants emerged on the skyline just as the first round of cannibals started climbing the wall.
Little by little, more cannibals reached the top of the Wall of Rot. Many began to take up sniping positions, picking off the distant mutants. Some of the mutants had begun to breach the line, quickly downed by the cannibals stolen weaponry, but so many more were approaching. Mutated animal life had begun to emerge as well...mutated wildcats, wolves, coyotes and more begun attacking the cannibals.
With the consistent wave of mutants bearing down on them, Slasher finally decided the only way to minimize casualties would be to blow up a section of the wall. The cannibals had found explosives within one of the trucks they had stolen. After the explosions were set, the four vehicles took off in opposite directions as pairs, driving along the side of the Wall. When they were each a mile out, Slasher detonated the explosives. The Wall of Rot had finally been breached. Perhaps the mutants were nothing more than a necessary agent to facilitate the cannibals return to the free lands of Scythe....
Chapter 7: Legacy
Just one year after the Apocalyptic Dawn, and Scythe was in even worse conditions. The Impaled set into motion a seemingly never-ending cycle of chaos and cataclysm. No problems were solved, and more seemed to arise every day. The innocents suffered and evil prevailed.
The Meganet Cyborgs gaining sentience and lashing out at humans, driving Paragon from their home base and the nomadic Frozen Soldiers out of their home in the North.
The mutant devolution of various creatures, both man and beast, ravaging the deserts of Zu-Rakeen.
The cannibals conquering the Wall of Rot, now once again roaming the free lands of Scythe they were banished from to feast on the flesh of the innocents. A war between the Wasterider gang and Euphoric Damnation extremist group. Deadly chemicals exposed into the world – 8X-17 mutants, 8X-13 undead, and a weaponized form of Entity.
The armies of the Lone Musician and Maverick consolidating into one, the only formidable force of justice left on the planet.
But the one thing all of these groups had in common...was a hatred for Paragon. And it was more than deserved, as this Legacy of chaos and destruction throughout the planet...was all caused by Paragon.
Rock the full Mutation Devolution experience on Jon Of The Shred's Bandcamp here and be sure to check out all the other scintillating Scythe chapters right here on Synthetix.FM!