Orktober – The Dust Rats – 2. LockdownFiled under: Ere Be Stuff
Yesterday we provided the first part of the Dust Rat background, today we’ve got part two. For those of you more interested in the practical side of things, that’s coming too.
Within the command centre of Base Station Angelis the first sign that something was amiss came when the communications line spewed garbled static nonsense from the Eternal Vigilance. The comms officer on duty, Lieutenant Fielding, had sent a junior engineer outside to check the relays before the full magnitude of the problem hit him. Whilst there was silence from the heavens, sub-orbital sensors were going supernova. Saying a silent prayer to the Emperor, Fielding notified command.
The commander was faced with one of the hardest decisions of his career – attempt a rescue of the paleo-team with failing communications, a half trained platoon and the wrong equipment for the operation or institute a total lockdown, and watch the planet burn as the static turned to screams. Perhaps out of personal attachment to his own skin he ordered Protocol 8 to be initiated. As everyone headed to ground the Hulk broke the upper atmosphere, charring the sky a choking, toxic black. A bright blue fireball marked the heavens as a massive piece of the Eternal Vigilance tore a hole in the sky as it made its way earthward, leaving other pieces hanging limply in the sky. With the occupants safely inside, the deadbolts engaged, and the base was sealed.
Even in this secured state large sections of the base were reduced to wreckage as the force of the impact hit. Mountains shifted and buckled under the blast, penning the base in, although this was the least of the 534th’s problems. The Hulk brought with it millions of tons of chemical waste, much of it extremely radioactive, hurling it into the atmosphere and blighting the surface and sky alike. A planet that had been an arid wasteland had somehow become even more hostile.
It was expected that the dust would settle and thus the lockdown lifted quickly, but as the sensors slowly came back online it became clear that this would not be the case. Portions of the base had endured the cataclysm more or less intact but in other areas there was extensive damage, most critically in the communications centre, almost swallowed up the quaking terrain. The huge antenna array had been wrenched free of its supports and crushed the rest of the section, exposing it to the full horror of the planet’s elements. Isolated and lacking the facilities to rebuild or repair their uplink, the 534th were truly alone.
Having assessed the worst of the damage, attentions were turned to the situation outside. At first the readings seemed unbelievable; the surface was so contaminated that it would be generations before the outside would be habitable. High Command was incredulous, unwilling to accept the state of affairs and so probes were dispatched to provide definitive data.
The return of the probes was awaited with bated breath and once they were safely inside engineers pored over them. As it turned out, this was the last mistake they would make; the toxicity of the outside was such that the exterior of the probes were more radioactive than anyone could’ve thought, slowly killing all that came into contact with them over a period of several days.
Faced with such a bleak situation, command did what it could, maintaining discipline and routine to prevent a breakdown in morale. As the weeks passed into months it became clear that plans needed to be made for the long term and so construction work began. Larger spaces were excavated in the rock below the base; hot springs were discovered allowing farming and geothermal power. Isolated sections of the base rejoined the rest of it and brief respite was found from the despair. Months became years and years became decades and a new generation was born with a society growing around the base’s different communities according to their individual specialty.