Thursday, 28 April 2011

Atmosphere Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

Taking to the field

The mob dragged them back across the ruins of what was once The Bronx, back towards Macombs Dam Park beneath the baseball stadium. It's massive roof sealed shut long ago and all the exits and gaps in the building barricaded up in a haphazard fashion. A single bullet or even a well-placed kick could knock it all down and all the poisoned air would just spill in. Barricades and spikes lined the streets, attempts to stop the Armalities which they frequently fought around the Bronx, and a massive banner hung from the outside of the stadiums, a massive white NY in the middle.

Deep beneath one of the stadiums, in some cold desolate concrete place the tribals dragged their two prizes, tying their hands and leaving them in the corner of some room, what looked like it was once a locker room, a couple of dead bodies in the other corner – other prisoners they couldn't be bothered to feed-. Still unconscious and bloodied and bruised from the battle at the north of the Armalities' land.

The Yankee that had captured them making sure they weren't going to die on him before quickly leaving the room and informing the two guards outside to watch them with their lives. He hurried along the long corridors that ran beneath the thousands of seats where excited fans once sat during the baseball games above. The walls of the place adorned with the various memorabilia of the team from the old world as well as 'prizes' the tribe had collected, mostly just skulls of anyone foolish enough to venture into The Bronx. The man had his gas mask off again, the air in the stadium barely any better than that outside – the tribals only have the very basic knowledge of air filters and even less of water purifiers. They were lucky to live past the age of 30 before dying of any number of infections.

He reached a gap in the corridor, a stairwell going up. It led up to the bleachers and the field in the centre stadium where the returning tribal army was now resting and preparing a feast in their victory. He continued up further though, beyond the bleachers and to the observation room where premium ticket holders could sit – and now a throne room. The captain sat atop a large ornate chair which had been dragged there from some near by museum. All gold trimmings and velvet covers. Dressed in a white pin-striped shirt and pants that stopped half-way below the knee before long black socks covered the rest of his legs down to his cleated shoes. A black military cap atop his head with the NY badge where the US flag would be normally and a pair of aviator sunglasses covering his eyes, a black balaclava around his neck that he only wore up during combat. His two bodyguards standing either side, dressed similarly except for the heavy police riot vest over their chests and with catcher's masks on their heads.

The man that had lead the Yankee's assault entered through the door to the throne room, slowing down to a walk and standing before the captain, the other higher-ups of the tribe in the room all stopping to look to him.

“Sir. We have captured an Armalite minister, and the man they believe to be their God

The captain stood slowly from his throne, standing maybe a head-taller than the warrior, slowly walking towards him and drawing the ceremonial blade from the sheath at his hip and grabbed the warrior's shoulder and shoved the dagger into his gut.

“You know the price for being caught by them.” He whispered, drawing the blade out again and wiping it on the sheath. The warrior stood motionless, mouth agape as he stared at the captain, any hope of his failure being corrected by the victory immediately vanishing.

“The great Ruth and DiMaggio spit on you” He sheathed the dagger again and turned back to his throne as the man crumpled to the floor.

“Their God?” One of the other men in the room asked, the two bodyguards dragging the failed warrior out of the room.

“Yes. Some... Blackwell” The captain said retaking his seat over looking the stadium “They believe he is the one that made their oh so precious guns and was the one who made our world. Obviously he is not. He is just a man. But the Armalitie fools will give us anything for his safe return” He brought his hands together under his chin “Hell.. they would give us anything just for the minister. But him, we could bring them to their knees if 'Blackwell' is in our possession.”

“Then, was what you just did necessary? If that warrior had brought us so-” The man immediately stopped as the Captain turned his head sharply and looked to him, standing up and his hand hovering over the dagger.

“By Ruth! I am sorry sir!.. I did not mean to question your judgement”

Daniel groaned and opened his eyes as something shook him, feeling the most terrible head-ache he'd ever felt. He tried to work out just how many times he had fallen unconscious not of his own accord this week when he saw the other person beside him and jumped.

“Daniel? Are you okay?” Jennings asked, her nose bloodied and most probably broken from when the baseball smashed into her.

“Fine.. sort of. You?”

“Been better”

“Where are we Jennings?”

“Yankee Stadium. Last place on Earth you'd ever want to be.”

“Are they going to kill us?”

“But... Lord, can you die?”

“...Yes. This is... just my earthly body. It can still be destroyed” He lied, trying to remember anything he could about Christianity, not particularly the church going type back in 2050.

“They will not kill us. We are far too valuable. They can get too much in exchange for out return to the Armalities. That doesn't mean they can't take a finger or two. Or an arm one time... poor Thomas

“How do we get out?”

“...I don't know” The female soldier said quietly, exasperated and defeated.

“Elijah! We can't possibly. We barely even know how to use them” The Armalities lieutenant shouted down to him.

“Dammit, they have Blackwell and Jennings. We'll just have to learn quick” Looking up at the soldiers clambering over the M3A3 Bradley infantry-fighting vehicle. Behind him the entire Church of Armalities, let into the storage facility for the first time in their lives so they could get everything they'd need to assault the Yankee Stadium. The storage facility had been there for millennia, the last major additions were a few centuries ago, this would be the only generation of Armalities for possibly another millennium that would be allowed inside. They stared in awe at the millions of weapons and vehicles, their faith only growing stronger by seeing all this.

The lieutenant hopped from from the turret and snatched the thick operating manual from one of his comrades and flicked through it, stopping on a page and tapping at something.

“Larson! Bridges! Find us some 25mm autocannon ammunition. James, go find us some 7.62 mm M240 bullets, four or five hundred will do, and Preston-” He chucked the book back to the man he just snatched it from who barely caught it without falling over from the weight “-Learn to drive this thing. You got thirty minutes”

He walked up beside Minister Elijah who was watched over the other Armalities as they took weapons from the racks and looked them over, arming themselves and taking as much ammunition as they'd need.

“Do you really think we can get them back minister?”

“We've never had to assault the stadium before.” He let out a sigh and scratched his head “But then again, I've never seen the tribals attack the compound with such ferocity before “Every fight we've ever had with the Yankees was in the ruins of The Bronx. Maybe it is time we began fighting differently... began taking the offensive and stop hiding in our compound.”

“Lieutenant Danson!” Suddenly came from somewhere in the rows of shelves, one of the Armalities return with a huge chain of ammo draped round his shoulders “We found some 30mm autocannon bullets will those do?”

“No!” He slapped the man who somehow felt it even though his gas mask “Those are for the Apache! All this time reading the scriptures and you don't know that? We need tank ammunition not helicopter.” The man nodded, rubbing his cheek with a hand and running back off between the shelves.

“So uh, just who do the Yankees think they are exactly?” Daniel asked, trying to avoid looking at the two dead bodies in the room with them, captured Armalities.

“They believe that the Yankees were a team of warriors from the Old World. And this was their arena where they fought pitched battles against teams of other warriors from across the land. But they seemed to fight and hate some warriors from a place called Boston the most, 'Red Socks' I think they call them”

If his hands weren't tied behind his back he'd have buried his head in them at hearing that. The door to the cell opened up and Daniel and Jennings quickly went quiet and glanced over. A pale Yankee with a spear and shield across his back entered and looked to them “The Captain wants to see you” Two huge tribals appeared behind him, covered in armour and wearing helmets. They roughly grabbed the two prisoners and dragged them out the room and down a long corridor to the stairs. The oxygen tasted funny and the smell of blood hung in the air, the two huge guards constantly jabbed their backs with their fists the moment either two slowed just slightly. Up the stairs they got a brief glimpse of the field in the middle of the stadium, all the tribals jeering and shouting obscenities before they passed out of view and into the upper levels.

They stopped one level from the top, a pair of big fancy doors visible above, instead though heading through a wooden door with staff only on it, appearing in a long hall which had once been used by camera crews and commentators. It was split into two-levels, the right side they just entered on slightly raised and with a large window running along it, showing the field down below, the other side going down to a group of ancient computers, terminals and transmitting equipment which was in all manner of disarray. A few dozen of the tribals were stood in the room, highly equipped and probably the elites of the tribe if they had any. They all stopped and looked to the two prisoners being led in before walking to the long window and watching down at something.

“Captain will have his fun with you in a minute, so just sit tight” One of the brutes sneered before kicking Daniel in the ribs and walking off with the over huge armoured brute. Daniel picked himself off the floor as best he could without the use of his hands, sitting back up on his knees and glancing to Jennings before to all the Yankees who were watching out the window a few metres away. A loud voice could be heard from below in the field giving some sort of speech, inter cut with cheers from the tribals, including the ones in the room.

“I can get us out of here” The female Armalities suddenly whispered, nudging Daniel

“What? How?” He whispered back and looked to her, Jennings fiddling with her hands behind her back and making a face as she tried to concentrate.

“I can take 'em. I'll fight them and you run”

“There's gotta be twenty of them at least and your hands are behind y-” He trailed off as the soldier brought her untied hands forward, shaking them and trying to get the numbness out. She hopped up onto her legs, still in a crouching position and glanced across at the back of the Yankee warriors in front.

“Jennings, no!” He whispered as loud as he could without alerting the tribals.

She looked back and only nodded at what she had to do, sheer determination in her eyes, she pulled the hood of her cloak up over her head and slowly crept towards the nearest Yankee without making a sound. Just as the line of tribals raised their arms and cheered again Jennings pulled the sword from the nearest one's sheath and wrapped her other arm around his neck, pulling him close and burying the sword into his back up to the hilt as he let out a blood curdling sheik. The others jumped and turned towards her, going for their weapons but she had already thrown the dead tribal aside and grabbed the sword out another's hand, almost snapping his wrist off in the process as she slashed the blade across him. Daniel sat motionless and staring on -trying to figure out just what he was meant to do or where to go- diving to the side as a body flew down from the raised up area. The female Armalities soldier lost the sword as it jammed in between a Yankee's ribs and wouldn't budge, but quickly forgot about it, turning and grabbing a spear thrust at her with both hands, yanking it out of the warrior's hands and smashing his jaw with, spinning the weapon round the other way as he stumbled back and buried it through his neck. She moved almost effortlessly, dodging another sword slash and smashing her elbow into one's neck, shoving her whole body against him and sending him tumbling out the window, only to quickly grab his weapon and slash it across another tribal's body within seconds. A dagger cut across her hip but it looked as if she barely felt it, bringing the sword down on another Yankee then another, another with a spear lunging into the mass of flailing arms and weapons. She turned her body just in time, the front of the cloak ripping as the spear narrowly missed her stomach. Grabbing it with one hand she yanked the tribal towards her, making him land on the sword in her other. Another blade hit her across the back and she stumbled this time, falling to her knees as another Yankee in front raised his dagger to finish her. She raised her hand and stopped the warrior's hand, clenching her other and smashing it into his groin, the dagger dropping beside her as she wrapped her arms around his waist and stood back up, throwing him over her back and landing on the one who slashed her. Picking the dagger up she quickly spun on her heel and slammed it into the two flailing tribals, piercing straight through one's back and into the chest of the one below, pinning them both to the ground.

Daniel fiddled with the ropes binding his hands desperately, continuing to watch the Armalitie dispatch the elites with ease, probably not blinking once since she killed the first one. He opened his mouth to shout to her as a small javelin appeared arcing through the air but it was already too late – slamming into her and burying itself deep into her lower back. She let out a scream and stumbled to her knees before amazingly struggling back to her feet and turning to face the final Yankee, blood running from her mouth. The tribal picked a sword from one of his fallen brethren and lunged toward her with a loud shriek. Jennings grabbed his arm with both her hands, visibly straining and shaking to keep his arm from bearing down on her as she bled severely from her back, her cloak stained with her blood and that of everyone in the room except Daniel. She brought her knee up and slammed it between the warrior's legs, the Yankee flinching and gritting his teeth but still slowly edging closer with the sword, pushing the Armalitie backwards until she up against the wall, the javelin in her back pressed up against it and pushed further into her. The tribal pushed her further against the wall until she was pressed against it, the javelin bursting through her stomach, the Armalitie screaming out and coughing up blood, losing all her strength as the Yankee brought the sword down and sliced it into her shoulder until it got stuck against her collar bone. With her last shred of life she wrapped her arms shakingly around the tribal's back, pulling him close and impaling him on the weapon sticking out of her. The Yankee stumbled back again, his mouth agape and feeling at his chest as she crumpled to his knees and fell backwards, the Armalitie slowly sliding down the wall until she slumped at the bottom, moving her head towards Daniel slowly and panting heavily, opening her mouth and speaking with her last with breath as the last specks of adrenaline that kept her going faded away.

“It... was an honour.. to die for you.... Blackwell”

Daniel sat motionless, his eyes slowly scanning across the room where twenty-two people stood just a minute ago and now just one. And his hands were still tied! he never felt more useless more worthless in his entire life, watching the Armalitie give her life for him while he sat on his ass. He stood slowly, still glancing around at the aftermath of the fight, glancing to Jennings again, still barely believing she managed to take out all these tribals and began to wonder if all the Armalities were that ferocious when backed into a corner. He stepped over the bodies as carefully as he could, a dozen different weapons poking out of them which he could accidentally impale himself on. It was then he realised all these weapons sticking up could be used to his advantage, quickly crouching down next to a dead Yankee with a sword poking through his chest – the first one Jennings killed- and edged carefully back, trying to catch the rope on the blade but not his wrists. He eventually managed to get the rope against the sword and began moving his hands up and down in a sawing motion, feeling the rope getting weaker until the sword snapped through and he brought his hands forward again, letting out a sigh of relief. He stood back up and froze again immediately, a huge figure standing in the door. A behemoth of a man, dressed in the Yankees uniform and with shades on. He let out a wail and grabbed Daniel by his neck, lifting him with ease and smashing him against the nearest wall.

“Just who the fuck do you think you are?” The man -whom Daniel presumed was The Captain- shouted, covering him in spit in the process. Daniel fidgeted for only a moment in the man's grip before relaxing and glaring back at the man, narrowing his eyes and bringing his eyebrows together.

“I'm Daniel Blackwell.” He started, figuring if this was how he was going to die, at least he was going out with gusto “I am the Fire-Merhcant. The man that destroyed the world. Creator of the most horrific weapon that made whole cities slaughter each other in fear. That brought the whole world to it's knees and nearly killed every. Living. Thing. On this earth! I am the man that stood and watched from his tower as eight billion people burned to death, screaming and writhing in the fire I started! I am the destroyer of worlds. ...And I'm going to destroy yours here this day”

The Captain sneered in rage and brought his other hand back to bring into Daniels face as hard as he could. Daniel staring on unblinkingly and ready right there to die to this brute. The man brought his fist forward and screamed out, his hand centimetres from Daniel's face as the whole building suddenly shook and he stopped as debris fell from the ceiling. Another massive rumble shaking the building and the sound of unrest from down on the field.

“What was that?” The brute demanded

Daniel smirked widely, the smuggest face he had ever pulled, neither a clue what was happening either but never more relieved in his whole life.

“It has begun” He sneered back.

A massive thunderous explosion suddenly came from down below, one of the walls blocking off the stadium from the outside wall cracking and shaking, huge lines zigzagging up it as another explosion erupted. The whole wall crumpled into huge pieces and fell to the ground in a cloud of smoke as some massive metal beast burst into the stadium and ground to a halt across the muddy floor. The Captain let go of Daniel, slowly turning and walking, in a trance, back out of the room to a door on the opposite side of the entrance, leading out onto a metal walkway. He and the other tribals down beside the strange creature stared on at it in awe, all of them momentarily forgetting the fact there was a massive wall in their building and all the poisoned air was seeping in. Something atop the metal beast swung round, maybe it's head, a massive black horn in the middle which pointed straight to the nearest Yankee. The tribal slowly took a step forward, stretching his hand out and touching the horn, quickly retracting his hand as it was hot, a whirring sound followed by a loud click suddenly come from within it's head and he took a step back again.

The M3 Bradley fired a single shot at point-blank into the savage warrior who burst almost literately in to a cloud of red blood. The other Yankees screamed and dove for cover as the creature burst into life, the 25mm autocannon tearing tribals to pieces as it's co-axil 7.62 machine gun joined in, strafing across and sending searing hot lead into legs and chests. An instant later a hundred figures appeared through the smoke around the collapsed wall, a hundred Armalities in heavy United Arms armour and wielding machine guns and rifles, all firing in unison as the tribals scrabbled for cover and to get their masks on as the 'clean' air disappeared by the second. The Captain yelled in disbelief, turning to go back down stairs when he stopped in his tracks, Daniel standing right beside him, a sword in his hand which was now half buried in the brute's stomach. The man seemingly unfeeling it as he grabbed Daniel and chucked him over the side of the walkway to the bleachers four or five metres below.

Daniel landed on his back in a row of the plastic chairs and let out a groan, opening his eyes again and letting out a yelp as he saw The Captain volting over the walkway as well and about to land feet first onto him. He rolled off the seats onto the floor as the brute landed on them and they crumpled and bent inwards, the sword now out of his stomach and in his hands, his white Yankee's shirt stained with his blood. Daniel quickly rolled down below the next row of seats as the sword smashed down into the ground where he just lay a second ago. The seat above him groaned and suddenly ripped from it's support as The Captain tried fiercely to kill Daniel in his rage. Standing up again Daniel quickly ran down the isle to the stairs between the row seats, The Captain smashing chairs out of his way and quickly pursuing. Daniel quickly fled down the stairs towards the field as fast as his legs would take him, getting a full view of the battle between the Armalities and Yankees ahead, the APC sitting in the middle of it unscathed and firing off rounds in every direction.

It began getting hard to breathe as he continued running and the poison air flooded the stadium. He glanced over his shoulder quickly, seeing The Captain gaining on him, his waist downwards covered in his blood as he continued bleeding. Daniel came to an abrupt stop and let out a groan, looking forward and noticing the chest-high metal railing which separated the lower seating. He looked down quickly, maybe another five metre drop, he survived the last -just, he'll just have to survive this one too. Putting his hand on the railing he readied to jump over it as a hand suddenly grabbed him from behind, yanking him back and tossing him onto the floor. The Captain walked round so he stood between Daniel and the railing, looking down at him on his back and letting out a chuckle, gripping the sword tighter and bringing it up to stab him. Daniel closed his eyes and turned his head away in dead anticipation, the sword never came down though, the brute's chest suddenly exploding as a 25mm round punched through. Daniel peeked an eye open and jumped, looking up at the Captain standing over him and shaking, a visible hole straight through his chest, another loud shot rang out and everything above his waist suddenly erupting in a red cloud as the APC fired another 20mm round into him. His bodiless legs standing almost comically for a moment before falling to the floor.


Daniel turned his head to the side, seeing three soldiers in United Arms armour running towards him. It was the best armour in the world in 2050, similar to that the Militari wore but sleeker and with more features, and except for the chest-rigs draped over the top was completely white as it had adaptable camouflage which would change to its surroundings, but these three seemingly not knowing of it. They stopped beside him, one turning and firing off at some tribals below as the other two helped him back onto his feet.

“Sir! Here you are-” One of them shouted over the sounds of the battle, his voice distorted through his helmet, the soldier reaching into a large pouch and pulling out a gas mask, the same one Daniel had been given by Owen. Daniel quickly took the gas mask and nodded to the soldier, putting the mask over his face and taking a breath of fresh air.

“Let's get outta here Comrade Commisar” The other soldier shouted, before tapping the one who was firing “Spaniard, let's go!” The soldier brought his weapon down and nodded, the first one shielding Daniel as they quickly made their way back along the bleachers to the stairs down. Daniel stared at the three soldiers, thinking they couldn't possibly be who he thought they were.

Amigo, you hurt?” The third soldier asked, looking down to Daniel who only shook his head slowly in disbelief.

They get down to the field again where a squad of Armalities soldiers rushed past them and all began firing on the tribals that were coming out of every hole and door in the stadium. From the quick glimpse of the outside Daniel got it looked like the whole of The Bronx had erupted into a warzone as the Armalities made their assault here, hundreds of soldiers and tribals fighting in the streets.

“In the Bradley. Get him in the back”

They bundled into the back of the APC and sat Daniel down on one of the seats, other soldiers in United Arms armour surrounding it and banging on the side to signal them to go. The back hatch pulled up and sealed shut, the sounds of the battle becoming dull disant thuds and bangs. The three soldiers across taking off their helmets -the APC pocessing its own air filtration system (as well as full NBC protection amongst other things)- revealing Grant's, Powell's and Emanuel's faces.

“Hello again Comrade Daniel”

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Atmosphere Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

Guns for the gun god

“Is it really him?”

“Cannot be!”

“Quickly Alexander get the scriptures”

A hand shaking his shoulder suddenly interrupted Daniel from a distant dream of him waking in the cryo-chamber in 2150 and everything being fine. He opened his eyes and looked round quickly, laying on some tattered old hospital bed, a bright light above his head which two figures suddenly appeared before, leaning over him. They both wore long beige hooded cloaks, partially covering their middle-aged bearded faces, gas masks hanging from their necks and a rifle slung over each back.

“He's awake!” One exclaimed, excitement in his eyes like Daniel had never seen before

“Yes, I see that.” The other remarked, throwing a glance to his friend before looking down again “Are you. The Blackwell?”

“The.. what?” Daniel let out, blinking in the bright light and staring up at the two strangers

“The Daniel Blackwell?”

“Yes.. who are you?”

“It is him!” The first one exclaimed again. A third person appeared behind them, holding a thick bound of paper held together with old string. He flicked through the old pages and leaflets until stopping on one and moving it beside Daniel's face for comparison, all three gasping and grinning widely.

“What..? What's going on?” Daniel asked again, starting to get scared

The one with the 'scriptures' turned around and ran off again, shouting happily and throwing his arms up in the air, the two helping him in. He was sat in some infirmary, filled with more medical machinery than anyone would usually find in one hospital, never mind crammed into one room, and the walls were lined with a hundred United Arms propaganda posters.

“We've been waiting so long for this day”

“The day you would walk amongst us again!”

They helped him up onto his feet and walked him towards the door, an arm around him to keep up as he continued asking loudly for an explanation. Any explanation of just what was happening, but getting no response. The door let out into a large enclosed courtyard, floors with doors leading off to unseen areas going up for four or five storeys before meeting a massive metal blast-door which formed the ceiling. Forty or so people could have been in the courtyard, all dressed in the beige cloaks with a black cross stitched onto the front, from the elbow up and down their chest. They all stopped what they were and looked to Daniel, their eyes going wide and their mouths agape with shock. They all dropped to one knee and bowed their heads.

“Hear my call Church of United Armalities! The Blackwell has returned!” One of the men carrying him suddenly proclaimed loudly “God has returned!”

Daniel sat in his high chair over looking the long dining hall, two chairs either side where the other 'Armalities' figureheads sat, three rows of dinning tables stretching on to the end of the room, maybe a hundred of the beige cloaked figured either side of each row. All staring up at him and whispering to each other excitedly. Nothing that had transpired the past half an hour making the slightest bit of sense to Daniel who just nodded and went along with what ever was happening, assuming he was still dreaming and would wake up any moment.

“-And now you are with us once again M'lord I assume we will be begin soon?” A voice came from beside him.

“Begin?..” Daniel asked, slowly turning his head, missing whatever the man was talking about just a minute early.

“The reconstruction of course!” He said cheerily, everyone else nodding “Is that not why you have returned Lord? To rebuild the world just as has been professed”

Daniel just looked to the man with an open mouth and blank stare, bringing his hands up and shrugging slowly “...What?!”

“Hush Elijah.” A female voice came from the other side of the chair “He is obviously tired from his descent from the heavens and needs time to rest” She put her hands on his arm and leant closer, her fair face gleaming out from behind the hooded cloak “Tell us Lord, how did you descend? Was it via a C-180 Skycarrier or C-165 VTOL Liftmaster?”

“Okay!... okay, back up.. just a little bit here” Daniel said quickly, putting his hands out “Just.. who are you all? And.. just who do you think I am?”

“Why Lord... you are the creator, the destroyer. You watched over all of mankind, you gave us the means to fend for ourselves, to defend ourselves from the wild and from those who would mean us harm. The world looked to you, the leaders of the nations of man obeyed your every word, for without you they would be nothing. They would be left defenseless. And.. heaven forbid if any dared cross your path oh mighty one they were slain and cast aside. Nothing compared to the power you wielded.”

“You were weary of man though” Another suddenly continued from another seat down the line “We were corrupt. Unjust in your eyes. There had to be a cleansing!”

“A cleansing!” The entire room repeated at once

“The evils of man destroyed. The world wiped clean so there could be a clean state for your return. So with your chosen disciples you could rebuild the world! A perfect world!”

“A perfect world!” the entire room repeated again.

“And... you lot would be my disciples I take it?”

“Yes M'lord! If you would have us. We are, all of us, The Church of the United Armalities. Ever since the days when you turned the skies dark and wiped the corrupt cities of man from the planet we have been on this isle. While other men scurried and hid in the tunnel and sewers and subways we found beneath this isle the tunnels of your temple. The temple of United Arms. Filled with things we could not understand. Things that amazed us beyond all comprehension. We learnt from them, we learnt of you, M'lord. From the ancient scriptures which had been left for us by your loyal followers from the old world. And for more years than can be counted, we have waited here for you. Training. Preparing. Learning the ancient scriptures over and over. For we knew this day would come. The new era has began. The era of the United Armalities”

They had prepared a lavish room for him. A room that had been there for centuries waiting for him to arrive. A brightly lid and highly decorated room with pine furniture, a desk beside one wall with a working computer on it and beside a globe with a chunk missing where Asia should be. Beside two bookcases which were filled to the brim with various history books of every war that ma had ever fought in as well as operating manuals for near enough every gun made after 1960. A massive bed sat in the middle with probably the best mattress and pillows still intact in the world and the walls were decorated with massive posters of military hardware; tanks and planes in combat and weapons laid across cushions like they were porn models. And right in the middle a massive poster that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, United Arms in massive red letters in the middle, a dozen planes designed by UA flying up over the text and hundreds of UA tanks and other armoured vehicles below all driving forward and full speed with a massive dust cloud behind them.

Laying on his back and staring up at the ceiling Daniel wondered why he hadn't woken from this dream yet. A crazed cult that revered him as as God? Certainly one of the stranger dreams he had, but something that the old Blackwell, the one from the videos certainty would have liked. The images, the sights and sounds of what he saw of the past all he could think of. The thought of him attempting such a risky and inhumane thing as Operation Aeries seemed unthinkable to him. Even if the operation had gone perfectly and say after just two weeks the cure was released in return for miles and miles of Chinese coastline. Just how many millions of innocent people would have died just to allow another century for America to be at the top. Surely it would have been revealed to the world eventually that United Arms orchestrated the whole thing, nothing can stay secret forever. He couldn't understand how the old Blackwell was able to live with it, after killing the wanted the man the Justice soldiers were after he felt terrible -a man that had murdered 2 innocent people and 2 children.. But the old him had no problem ordering the mass bombardment of his entire country when the disease landed. Standing atop his ivory tower and watching the world burn without a single regret. Would he become that again? The jaded friendless man that stood at the top of the world, so disconnected from society and his fellow man that he'd feel no compassion for them even as they died by the billions?

A knock came at the door and Daniel quickly sat up. The door slowly opening and the lady that had sat beside him previously peering her head in.

“It is Minister Jennings, may I enter Lord?”

“..Sure, I guess. And please, just call me Daniel”

She nodded and pushed the door open, carrying with the a basket.

“I have brought for you fresh clothes. I trust everything so far has been to your liking M'lo- Daniel” She put the basket down on the desk and took out the clothes for him and laid them beside the desk.

“I must admit, we did not expect to find you dressed like a common soldier. All previous illustrations of you in the scriptures shows you in the black garments with which you conducted your business ceremonies.”

“Suits don't make for good combat clothing...” He stood from the bed and walked over to the desk, looking down at the clothes for him, a dark blue suit and white shirt with black tie.

“But just why was it that you needed to engage in combat? No previous exempts of the scriptures had ever mentioned you as a warrior. But a greater thinker, inventor, leader. But excuse my rudeness if the otherwise may be true.”

“Where exactly did you find these scriptures?”

“They filled the temple to United Arms, all beneath the city. The sacred ground that connects all the structures on the surface.”

“Earlier when.. Elijah was it? Mentioned 'this isle' he did mean Manhattan didn't he?”

“Hm, no. This is not The Manhattan, but we are close.”

“And what of the others who were with me?” He quickly asked, only just remembering the group he had traversed The North with. “What did you do with them?”

“They are safe. We were unsure if they were followers of yours or not. So they being held in the cells”

The holding cells were the other side of the compound, beyond the barracks and armouries. After changing clothes he followed Jennings through the compound, every person they came across bowing to him. They all wore the cloaks and all had rifles slung over their backs, they all also seemed to have had stunted growth, there wasn't a single person taller than Daniel's shoulder. Every wall had to have at least one piece United Arms propaganda of some sort plastered over it, and every so often they'd pass tables or display cabinets with a weapon stored inside.

Grant stared across to the opposite cell, a tribal in rags covered in scars and tattoos stared back. He crawled closer to the edge of his cell and grabbed the bars, smirking at the soldier.

“You ain't not used to seeing the bars from that side are you, Justice?” He hissed in his poor english.

“If these bars wouldn't here I'd kill you with my bare hands tvar'

“Your hands wouldn't even touch me by the time I killed you”

They both stopped as the door between the two cells unlocked and opened up, an Armalities soldier walking in followed by a suited man.

“Blackwell! Let us out of here!” Grant immediately exclaimed, standing up and glaring at Daniel. Daniel looked to the Justice soldier, now just in the white UABC overall usually beneath all his armour before looking back to Jennings.

“This is just one. Where are the others?”

“Further along. They kept on talking and planning.. of an escape. So we had to split them up”

“Let them all out. Give them anything they want and if they want to leave – let them”

“At once Lor-.. Daniel”

The Armalitie nodded and grabbed a key-chain from her pocket filled with a hundred keys, filing through them until getting to the cell key and unlocking Grant's cell before disappearing down the line of empty cells and round a corner to the others. Grant pushed the cell door open slowly and stood before Daniel, eyeing him up and down.

“I bet you're loving this aren't you? Just like old times...” Grant sneered

“You probably have more of an idea what's going on than I do!”

“We had only heard rumours of this group. Armalities. Crazy gun worshippers. But we thought they were tribals... they have some of the best equipment I've seen, rivalling even the Militari. ...And now they've just gone and found the god of all weapons himself.”

“I hated what I saw in those videos just as much as you. I do not want to be that man

“The god?” A voice suddenly came from behind, both of them looking back ans seeing it was the tribal in the other cell, he laughed and clapped his hands “They finally found their little Fire-Merchant?”

Grant brushed Daniel to one side and quickly reached through the bars, grabbing the tribal's rags and yanking him upto the bars, hitting his head on them with a loud donk and knocking him unconscious.

“Who is he?” Daniel asked, looking at the filthy man and not wanting to get any closer

“Yankee” Grant replied, cracking his knuckles and shaking his hands.

“As in.. Yankees and Confederates?”

“No...? as in the sports team.”

“That makes even less sense”

The others came into view at the other end of the corridor of cells, the Armalities behind with her rifle in her hands now – just in case.

Comrade Commissar” Powell said, nodding to Grant and avoiding eye contact with Daniel

“Are we being set free? Are we leaving this place?” Harper hastily added “.. Comrade Commissar”

Emanuel and Isaac stood behind, the robot still with one arm missing, the one that he still had was tied behind his back as he could have easily picked the locks otherwise.

“I would like to say yes.” Grant started “But we are on Randall's Island. The only bridge to Manhattan is stuck in the raised position and the only other ways back are either through Brooklyn or the Bronx”

“Bronx it is!” Emanuel quickly said, a stern look on his face

“Well we'd still need our weapons” Grant said, slowly turning his head to Daniel “Mister gun god” Daniel gazed back blinkingly before realising what he meant and turning to Jennings

“Give these people their weapons back and let them leave”

“I would Lord, But. Their weapons are filed away in the storage facility”

“So get them back”

“..That is easier said than done.”

“Well then take us there, let them find them”

Jennings went still, fidgeting with her rifle hesitatingly “But.. Lo.. Daniel. Only the highest ranking Armalities may enter”

“No longer matters. Let them enter and retake their equipment”

She closed her eyes and nodded, hurrying to the front and opening the door to the holding area again and letting them all out. “It is this way” she saftied her rifle and slung over her back again, leading them back across the courtyard at the centre of the underground complex.

“They will need gas masks. We keep the facility oxygen-less and in a vacuum, so the things inside may stay intact for all eternity – or until they are needed.” She stopped them at one of the small armouries that was build into a side-room and blocked off by a brick wall – save for the door and a tiny window, another Armalities sitting inside behind the grate window.

“Minister Jennings! My Lord! How may I help you?” He asked, his eyes creeping across and seeing the group of people they captured as well.

“Five gas masks”

He nodded and turned around on his swivel chair, opening one of the cabinets behind up, all kinds of masks and breathing equipment inside. He pulled five out, one at a time, and put them on the counter, the bottom half of the grate window tilting up and letting them push them through.

The group put the masks on and Jennings put hers on, an intricate oxygen mask usually worn by fighter pilots, a tube running from the end to some unseen oxygen tank beneath her cloak. She continued on across the courtyard and led them up a flight of stairs, an airlock at the top with two guards either side that bowed as Daniel approached. They passed through the airlock and were on the surface again in the middle of Randall's Island. It was a small island, around a mile long and half a mile wide, Interstate 278 and an elevated railroad ran overhead down the middle of the island, one side the NYC Department of Environmental Protection facility which the Armalities compound was now part of, the other side of the bridges were numerous residential tower blocks. All all over the island were dozens of old sports and athletics fields which had now been converted into farmland, acres of crops growing all across the island and tended to by Armalitie farmers. Along the edge of the island a four metre high wall made of scrap and concrete and dotted with guard towers, and at the south of the island was the Manhattan Psychiatric Centre. Which suddenly made everything that was going on make a lot more sense upon Daniel seeing it. The image of mentally unwell people trapped there during the apocalypse and seeking refuge underground only to come across the United Arms tunnels -which only a handful of people on Manhattan had learnt about when Protocol-U5 was initiated-. The explanation and purpose of said tunnels and of United Arms getting muddled as it was pasted down to the next generation then the next, eventually becoming its own relgion.

Further north up the island they trekked, down a narrow dirt path between two fields where the farmers all stopped to bow to Daniel, the novelty of which had worn off on him and was starting to get annoying. They headed to another area of the old NYC DEP facility where massive storage tanks were built into the ground, where every day over a billion gallons of water used to fill up from the reservoirs from around New York City and be used by the people of the city. The Armalities had sealed them up completely and covered the top with dirt where a couple of fields now grew from, the tanks no longer visible from above.

They filed down some stairs in a concrete dug-out to where a big iron gate stood, surrounded with ten massive machine-guns manned by heavily armoured Armalities. They sat up, looking to the group, the guard leader quickly standing and walking to Jennings.

“Minister.. why are-”

“The Blackwell has permitted it”

The guard leader hesitated for a moment then nodded, reaching into his cloak and taking out a key which hung from a chain around his neck, turning and unlocking a box on the wall, inside yet another lock. Jennings took out her key-chain again and and rummaged through for the right key and put it in the second lock and turned it. Behind the second lock a red button which she pressed, the large iron gate grinding open and revealing the bare metal framework of an elevator the other side. The guards all moved out of the way and backed up against either of the concrete walls leading to the elevator, saluting as Daniel passed by, Grant and Powell rolling their eyes in discontent. The group stood on the metal grill floor of the elevator, a view of the chasm of concrete stretching down below into the darkness, and the iron gate closed again, all the air getting sucked out by a large tube above.

“You should ready yourselves. There will be quite a few weapons down there” Jennings said, glancing to the others.

“No more than we've seen before I bet..” Power remarked.

The elevator lurched and descended down, lamps on the walls beside it lighting up at the right time as it passed by, only the elevator remaining illuminated as the rest of the shaft above and below remained dark. A minute later it reached the bottom again and Jennings opened the shutter at the front of the elevator, the group walking out into a massive cavern of darkness the other side, unable to see more than a few feet in front of them. Jennings opened a junction box on the wall beside the elevator opening, a light switch inside which she flicked.

Five seconds later a tiny light on the floor a few metres away flicked on, shining upwards and showing a small row of rifles on a rack.. Then another light and the next rack of weapons above that. Then another and another. The whole shelf of guns now illuminated. The group looked on at the small shelf of guns unimpressed, Powell about to open his mouth to say something sarcastic when suddenly lights running off from the left and right direction of the shelf flicked on one by one. Showing a row of maybe ten shelves, a cascade of lights hanging from the ceilings suddenly all bursting into life, another row shelves of guns beyond the first first, then another and another. 50 shelves. 60. 70. The lights continued shining on, stretching on further and further away from the group, thousands of weapons appearing before them, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. They stared on wide-eyed as suddenly massive floodlights way up in the ceiling in a similar row flicked on, showing a massive Abrams tank just to the side of the them. Then another tank beside it and another. Two long rows of armoured vehicles appeared either side of all the gun racks. And then another row of tanks and APCs behind them. Massive floodlights along the floor -in the mess of power cables and wires which powered all the lights- flicked on showing rows and rows of jets and helicopters hanging from the ceiling and held in place with hundreds of ropes, metal walkways running between them. Lights all along the very far wall of the former-water tank all flicked on in a row showing a massive series of white cylinders rising from the ground and almost touching the ceiling, the US flag adorning them beside a nuclear warning symbol - a dozen undetonated ICBMs standing at the far end of the tank and completing the little spectacle they just witnessed.

They all stood completely still, staring forward into the inconceivably large assortment of weapons and vehicles and missiles. Some horrible monument to all that was wrong with man. Every kind of rifle and SMG and pistol from before 2050 and some seen dating back to the 1800s lined the racks. There were even WW2 vehicles in the rows of vehicle, still kept in perfect condition. A quarter of the vehicles that stood around them couldn't even be found in this country so just how the Armalities had managed to gather them all into this space was unthinkable. And the nuclear missiles. They were as tall as an apartment building, there was no way to transport them other than foot, and the nearest missile silo was hundreds of miles away. Had they really ventured off to the old bases and dragged back dismantled bombs and missiles here?

Jennings walked beside the group who still hadn't moved or said a word, looking to them and waving her hand in front of their eyes. Daniel slowly looked to her his mouth still agape

“Is this... what you've all been doing for the past twenty thousand years?”

“All for you my Lord. Does it please the Blackwell?”

He looked back to the mass of military hardware then back to her, trying to form words but none wanting to leave his mouth, shaking his hands quickly in bemusment. Grant, Powell, Harper and Emanuel slowly walked towards the first row of guns, looking down at the weapons which were atleast fifty or sixty years old by 2050 and from parts of the world they had never heard of before. HK G3A3? Kalashnikov AK74? Isaac had slowly walked over to one of the tanks, walking beside the ancient war machine and wondering just how many hundreds this one machine could have killed.

“How did you.. get them all here?”

“Carried them of course. We search across the land for the old military bases, the old armouries from the Ancient One's armies and bring back all we can find. And this is just one of the rooms. There are two others.”

“I guess I'm both impressed and terrified”

Jennings immediately looked disheartened, bowing her head down and burying it in her hands

“We have displeased the Blackwell. Our life's work for nau-”

“No. No.. its just. This is all a bit much to take in.” He quickly added, putting his hands on the Armalities' shoulders “It's uh.. great!”

“Just great?”

“Amazing, even.”

Jennings lifted her head, slightly cheerier again. A walkie-talkie beneath her cloak suddenly barking into life

“Minister. We have a situation up here.”

Reaching in for the radio she brought it up to her face.

“What is it?”

“Yankee prisoner managed to escape. He's managed to amass more of them beyond the northern gate”

“How could he have escaped?!”

“We'll have to find out later. We need some help up here now”

She put the radio away again and let out a sigh.

“We gotta go up and deal with this... shouldn't be a problem. If you stay back you'll be-”

“I want to fight.” Daniel said, cutting her off. He turned round and looked to the million guns behind him, picking a random row and walking down it. He stopped at one of the shelves and picking a rifle at random – A EuroFabrik Aschtenne. A couple of the magazines for it in a small compartment behind, similar ones behind all the rifles along the racks. The others were slowly coming out from various rows of the shelves as well and carrying an assortment of weapons.

“We are fighting these tribals. And then we are leaving, Blackwell.” Grant said, walking past him and standing the elevator again “Whatever you do – we don't care. But if you're going back to Manhattan it won't be with us”

Daniel stood back in the elevator, feeling a little uneasy, the others filing in beside him, Jennings leaving all the lights on and closing the elevator shutter again and pressing the up button before unslinging the rifle from her back and loading it.

“Do Armalities always have their weapons on them? I have not seen a single unarmed one yet” Emanuel asked

“They are assigned one from the day they are born.” Jennings replied, still looking forward as the elevator ascended back up the shaft “They care for and look after their weapon as if it were a loved one. And must partake in at least one-hour target practice with it every day. If they lose their weapon, they lose a part of themselves.”

The elevator reached the top of the shaft and the massive iron gate began sliding open again, the group begin greeted with the sounds of gunfire and shouting. The guards that had stood around the gate previously were now up above the concrete dug-out firing their rifles at unseen targets. Jennings gripped her rifle tighter and ran out first, quickly climbing the short set of stairs three metres up to the ground and seeing the northern gate in the distance smashed in, a hundred or so Yankees piling in and cutting the few Armalities there to shreds. Daniel climbed the steps and froze, looking on in confusion as the tribals advanced, dressed in a dark blue and white and carrying improvised weapons; spears from street sign poles with knives or blades at the end or car bumpers filed one side to make swords and carrying car doors as shields.

The group ran forward and crouched down beside a small embankment, raising their rifles and firing at the advancing mob. It took a moment for Daniel to realise what was going on and get down behind the embankment as well. A spear flew over head thrown with some skill and landing just a few yards from them. The gate guards not bothering to take cover and slowly advancing past them and firing at the tribals as another spear landed straight into one's shoulder and brought him to the floor.

“Daniel! Get back inside” Jennings exclaimed as the group all began firing, sitting up and looking back to him. He shook his head and sat up slightly, bringing his bulky weapon up and aiming at the nearest tribal, who dropped to the ground before he could fire, aiming to the next one and squeezing the trigger a few times. Jennings glanced back and forth nervously, gazing back at the entrance to the compound, the airlock entrance opening two dozen Armalities rushing out with machine-guns and laying them down on the floor and beginning to fire off hundreds of rounds a minute into the advancing savage crowd.

The guards that originally stood at the iron gate to the storage facility were just a couple of yards from the tribals, and quickly back-stepping and desperately firing off their weapons. The nearest Yankees charged forward, unsheathing swords and daggers and lunging at the Armalities and bringing to them to the floor, hacking and tearing at their bodies as they screamed and squirmed futilely. Another spear appeared over head an arced down straight into Harper, falling to his back and dropping his rifle, flailing about in pain as it the five foot spear jutted out of his hip. Powell screamed out and stood up, firing his rifle on full auto in the crowd, a dozen dropping dead before he swung his gun around and started smashing it into the head of the near tribal. Emanuel had gone still as they were approaching, now slowly standing up as another spear shot down and narrowly missed him. He picked it up and lobbed it straight back, hitting the thrower in the head before lunging at the nearest tribal without even any weapons on himself and beginning to bring his hand down against the man's head as hard as it could until the tribal's jaw cracked loudly, the other tribals around them quickly stepping back and staring wide-eyed as Emanuel looked up and went for his next target.

Jennings quickly stood, grabbing Daniel's collar and lifting him, dragging him towards the under-ground entrance as fast as she could. More Armalities running out from inside and joining in the massive battle on the surface. He broke free of her grip and quickly turned, running back to the embankment with his rifle at his shoulder, firing at the tribals as they closed all around the group. Grant was beside Harper, one hand on the wound as blood gushed out and the other still gripping his weapon and firing as fast as he could, Harper managing to draw his pistol and firing back, but barely able to stay conscious never mind aim and fire well.

Something suddenly dropped down in front of Daniel's eyes and his rifle dropped from his hands, clattering to the floor and bent out of shape. He looked to his side and saw a Yankee right beside him, the same one from the cell now back in his normal clothing and wielding a metal baseball bat. Daniel quickly stepped back and brought his hands up to shield himself as the tribal swung the bat back, Jennings suddenly appearing in sight and tackling the man to the ground. She fumbled with her rifle and desperately tried to bring it up to fire as the tribal turned the bat round and smashed the end of it against her face, sending her sprawling against the ground. He stood up as Daniel turned to run to the compound entrance again, lobbing the bat and catching Daniel's legs and sending him crashing to the floor. Quickly turning on his back Daniel just caught glimpse of the Yankee as he landed atop of him, desperately flailing his arms and trying to keep the man off as a flurry of fists pounded against his head until he went still. His eyes dropping close and laying flat on the ground.

The Yankees disappeared out of the island as quickly as they appeared. Filing north back across the bridge to The Bronx and leaving their dead and dying behind, only worried about their captured prize. The entirety of the Church of United Armalities now on the surface and firing at the retreating tribals, and getting their wounded back inside, desperately looking for Blackwell but no where to be seen. They quickly retook the northern gate and brought up the replacement barricade, waiting for the other ministers to get up to the surface to decide their next move. The tribals had never attacked this ferociously before and rarely even approached the gates before, the few guards at the gate overwhelmed so quickly. Looking out at the now distant rabble of Yankees falling back to their buildings, knowing Blackwell and Jennings were somewhere in there.