Devastation. That's what most of the world had come to. A group of scavengers, starving people weak from hunger and hardship, climbed a low slope of dirt outside the broken remnants of what had once been a city, trying to ascertain if there was any worth to going inside. The group broke apart to screams and howls of terror, though, as a group of hunters, those who banded together to prey on the weak through strength of arms and gain them as a precious food source, tore from the city limits after the people.
This was the life those people had to suffer, had to deal with every day in the harsh struggle to survive in the desolate and barren landscape known as The Wasteland, a harsh reality where putting one foot in front of the other came to take too much effort at a point, a point where most simply collapsed, giving in to the death that would surely come anyway and was at least an escape from this accursed existence.
One of the men fell to the sand, barely feeling the shot that had entered his back, unable to even feel too much as he watched his family being captured by the hunters. His dying eyes slowly trailed upwards in death, and above this broken scene a military helicopter soared, the people inside hardly feeling the heat, riding in comfort, chatting to each other about something else entirely. The helicopter started slowing on the other side of the town, coming down on the roof of a building.
Two men in combat gear and outfitted with assault rifles jumped out, flanking a woman with shoulder-length black hair, sunglasses and a nice suit. She held a pistol, but she held it low, talking to the other two with her. None paid much attention to the scene around them.
The woman directed two of the soldiers into the building they were standing on, and waited. Gunfire broke out soon, but it didn't last long, the sounds of a struggle following.
The woman adjusted her suit, a smile coming to her lips as the soldiers came back up, dragging a dirty and disheveled man up the stairs. "Mr. Sien… We've been looking for you."
The man's eyes widened upon seeing the woman, and he spoke with a stutter, barely audible over the helicopter's still-spinning blades. "G… G-Genesis…"
"I'm so pleased you remember…" The woman purred, stepping up to look down at him. She lifted a slender hand, removing her shades so that violet eyes could stare into his, which started his body shaking. "You're a hard man to find, Professor…"
"I… I… Please, let me go, I can-"
"Professor, I'm surprised at you…" Genesis chuckled. "You know bargaining doesn't work." She smirked as he hung his head in defeat.
"No… Not back there… Please…"
She shook her head, looking at the soldiers. "Get him in the chopper." They dragged the man into the vehicle.
The woman took a look around The Wasteland for a long moment before replacing her sunglasses and climbing in. The helicopter took off, soaring once again over the desolate land with no concern for the suffering below.
The Wasteland… That was the name for what used to be the United States of America. State lines were fading from people's memories, as were the memories of what the world had been before.
It was 2035. The war, the one everyone had feared, had started in 2026. But it hadn't gone like anyone had expected.
In 2028, biological weapons were used. But these weren't anything like what had been used before.
Known as "Morbus", simply the Latin word for "disease", the virus these weapons spread had effects far worse than simple death. Morbus corrupted a host's body, eating away nerves in the brain that made a person who they were, and finally bringing them down in death.
But that wasn't the end of it. Morbus had another, darker effect. Designed by a team of Chinese scientists to bring their enemies down quickly, Morbus forced the bodies of the infected fallen to rise, using their basic neurons and nerves.
It twisted the body to have more physical ability than it could have had in life. More speed, more strength, the ability to climb virtually any surface. Worse than that, a bite from one of these risen infected would infect the victim.
Other countries, America, Europe, Russia, all copied the disease and unleashed it on each other in a desperate bid to be the last ones standing.
But… this was a mistake. In five years, 2033, the world realized its mistake. The disease was too powerful, and since it was airborne, transmitted through water or food, or through bites of the infected, it traveled quickly.
There was no cure. There wasn't supposed to be. The world had doomed itself. It was estimated that it would take another eight to twelve months before the last living human was infected and destroyed.
So the world made the one choice it could… Self-destruction in hopes that some could survive. Bombs were deployed, and every nation targeted itself. The result was the nuclear fallout that history books had warned of for years. Even though the disease was killed except for that in the actual infected, the price was high. Society, civilization, and order were annihilated.
But humanity survived.
A young man crept slowly into the Ruins of Chicago, making his way as silently as he could. On his back he wore a dirty blanket that, used as a cloak, could hide him from other things of The Wasteland, along with a rifle.
He'd heard from a nearby 'town' in Springfield that the Chicago Ruins would be a great place to scavenge, but that it was also one of the most dangerous places in the current world.
This boy didn't care, though. Somewhere between his 16th and 17th birthdays, he was growing up in this hell, and he had learned a lot about it.
However, he was still a little disinclined to listen to others. So here he was, entering the ruins he'd been warned away from.
A gunshot in the distance… More… An explosion… Something else was happening here. The boy moved through the rubble, keeping his eyes open for any manner of things to pop up.
But he didn't expect what did.
A giant creature, tan and gray in color, stumbled into view. It was eight or ten stories tall at least, having a sort of crab-like appearance. Its body was sort of flat, with four great crab-like legs stretching from its sides to the ground.
The boy dropped to the ground, letting his blanket camouflage him, watching as a rocket streamed out to slam into the creature, seemingly fired from one of the skyscrapers.
The monster let loose an echoing, terrifying screeching roar that couldn't be described. It charged at a building, and another rocket streaked out to hit it, eliciting another shriek.
"Yaaaahoooooo!" The boy blinked rapidly as a woman leapt from one of the skyscraper's floors, falling through the air to land on the massive monster.
The thing jerked and stumbled, but the woman sprinted across its back, pulling something from her pack and leaping to jam the thing into the center of its back. She took off again, leaping off the other side to catch the edge of a building as the item in the creature's back exploded, tearing a giant hole in its back and causing it to let out a wail more terrible than the last.
The woman let go and caught onto one of the creature's legs, climbing back up and running back across its body. She dropped something into the hole, turned, and leapt.
An explosion lit the area, blinding the watching boy for a moment. When his vision returned he saw a massive cloud of dust and ash rushing up, and he covered his face, letting it blow over.
He threw the blanket off, looking at the fallen monster, its massive bulk laying still. A group of people came running from the cloud, rushing past the spot where the boy was hiding to get out of the city.
One figure stayed, though, walking slowly to lean against one of the buildings and sit there.
The boy stood slowly, wiping himself off. He started walking, intent on examining both the strange creature, and its possibly stranger killer.
He arrived to see a woman sitting against the building, smoking a rare cigarette. She was pretty, but it was a little difficult to see with the dust and dirt covering her.
Her hair was brown, cut to about shoulder length, tangled and matted. Her body was covered in sweat and soot, which was visible due to her lack of clothing.
She had some, but it'd definitely seen better days. It was old red armor it looked like, but it'd been worn so badly there wasn't much left. The main body of it was reduced to what was basically a bikini, enough to protect her modesty, but barely.
Her gloves were lacking fingers, but went about halfway up her wrists. Her boots were worn to mid-shin, and that was it.
The armor looked like old red plate, every edge frayed and worn away, the face scarred and marked from what had to be a thousand fights or more.
The woman's tanned body didn't have many scars itself, but seemed to make up for it with dirt and sweat. But that wasn't all she had.
All over her body was weaponry. A hunting rifle and a sniper rifle crossing on her back, two SMGs also crossed, on her lower back. Two pistols on her belt, two on her thighs. Even a missile launcher strapped on her back, straight up and down.
All kinds of ammunition was strapped to her as well. She raised an eyebrow, looking at the boy.
The boy looked up at the monster. "Impressive kill…"
"Heh… Thanks kid… Why didn't you run off with the others?"
The boy looked down at her. "I wasn't with the others… I just got here."
The woman raised an eyebrow again. "Just got here? You came here by yourself?" At his nod, she shook her head. "You're either stupid, or… No, just stupid."
"Well I'm looking for supplies…" He frowned a bit. It was kind of annoying she automatically assumed he couldn't take care of himself. "I heard this place might be good for that."
"Oh, yeah, aye, good for scavenge, yeah. Better for dyin' though. Sure you 'eard that, didn't you?"
"Maybe." He shrugged. "I'll be okay…"
"Oh, will y'now? Well, that's good… Especially if you're plannin' on goin' deeper."
"Yep… I'm goin' all the way through the city."
"Can I come with you?"
"You're kiddin'…" She sighed. "What makes you think you can survive?"
The boy paused for a moment. "I have… gifts…"
He nodded, slowly pulling back his hood. His face was a pale, pale white, almost as to be translucent, with his eyes, by contrast, a startlingly strong yellow.
The woman studied him. "Huh… Mutant then?"
He nodded again. "In a way… Yeah…"
"Well… What can you do?"
"It's… complicated… Mind stuff…"
"…Show me. But not on me."
He smirked a bit, his gifts always made people nervous. He closed his eyes, extending his mind. He found what he was looking for, a group of raiders holed up in a building less than a block away. "Alright… Come on."
The woman pushed herself up, intrigued, following him. It wasn't often radiation gave someone something actually useful, and this sounded interesting. They stopped at the corner of a building, peering around. About a hundred-fifty yards away, they could see the raiders' home, inside a skyscraper with a large hole blown in the side.
"Aye, I see 'em… What're you gonna do?"
"Just watch… Be patient." The body closed his eyes, moving his mind to the raiders.
He took over one raider's mind with a quick contest of wills, making him stand. His companions, about twelve in all, didn't give him much notice for his actions, until he pulled the pin from one grenade, then two.
There were quick shouts of surprise before the explosions went off. The boy moved to the next living mind, making him open fire and killing two more before he was brought down.
The boy winced at his death, but switched again, continuing until they were all dead, whereupon he opened his eyes.
The woman whistled. "Not bad… Means you're gonna try to steal a lot of my kills, though." She smirked, patting the boy's head and moving past him. "C'mon, kid, let's see what you got me."
"Got you? Alright, you can have it all… Except the shells for my rifle, I need any of those."
"Fine, whatever you say." She reached the building and climbed up, looking around. "Damn, kid… Made a mess, you did…" She started going around, collecting weapons and ammunition, and sticking things in the black bag she carried at her side.
The boy picked out the ammo he needed, watching the woman. He pointed at her bag. "What's in there?"
"Oh, just, you know… Stuff. Supplies and stuff like that."
"Good. Let's get goin'."
She dropped out of the building, starting to walk off, the boy dropping out and following after her.
"Better not get me killed, boy."