Reconciling the Cataclysm
(Setting and Character creation info is in the Wiki)
The recording starts. An older gentleman in the room cut an imposing figure, hands crossed behind his back, silhouetted by the large monitor in front of him. Standing perfectly still, outside of a periodic deep breath that would escape as an almost inaudible sigh.
“You’re doing the right thing,” said another man far off the camera.
“That doesn’t make it any easier,” said the figure, a tinge of regret in his voice.
“You’ve seen the information. It’s a sure thing sir.”
“No,” he said, although the voice lacked any real conviction. “The only sure thing is what will happen if we don’t do anything. This is just… This is the only option, the only line of hope we have.”
“Billions of people would have died if said no.”
“Billions will still die.” He starts to sag, then stops, squaring his shoulders, keeping his head locked towards the screen. “The question was not how many would die, but instead how many can live afterwards. If society—” there’s a small chortle, somewhere in between a laugh and a sob. “If humanity, if life at all, will have a chance to live on afterwards.”
“You’ll be honored as a hero.”
“I’ll be forgotten,” he sighed. “Martyred to the gods of political morality. History will never know of my involvement, and my successor will be credited for taking down the ones responsible for the atrocity. Assuming the next administration, or anyone for that matter, ever manages to figure out what happened.”
“Then you’ll have the aftermath. You’ll be the one responsible for helping the world rebuild, once it’s all over.” The man took a step forward, away from the door, raising a hand, before remembering where he was and who he was talking to. His hand fell back to his side, and he returned to his post.
“That’s not the place of the martyr, my friend.” The figure’s voice seemed stronger, firmer; although the physical comfort wasn’t given, it was obvious that the other man’s tone still helped him. “I’ll be lucky if I survive at all; many people will blame me, regardless of my actual involvement, for letting this happen. No one can be responsible for this much death and expect to live a long, full life afterwards.”
Heartbeats passed. The large clock on the screen flicked down through the last few seconds.
“You’re doing the right thing,” said the voice one more time.
“I know,” the silhouette responded.
On February 17th, 20XX, the short scene played on repeat for an entire day on every screen at the Brands Mart on Motors Industrial Way in Atlanta. Neither the owner nor any of the employees knew how or why the clip had begun playing; there were dozen of different items that were supposed to be on the various computers, TVs and mobile devices, but each one was hijacked for the entire day. To be honest, no one was really interested in the time; it was impossible to make out the faces in the broadcast, but the voices were unmistakable.
Former President Thomas Walkerton and his Secretary of State, Reginald Eisenhower, Jr. He was last president before the Reformation. Assassinated within days after the evacuations, Walkerton wasn’t available to answer any questions; Eisenhower went missing shortly after and presumed dead, although no one has been able to find him.
The next day, the clip was gone; there was no record of it having been played in the store, nor any sign of tampering or traceable evidence in the area. That didn’t stop the word from spreading, however; many people got their own recordings as the clip played, over and over. It was quickly shared, appearing on the news, conspiracy blogs and remixed into music all within the next two days. The whole of the world knew of Walkerton-Eisenhower conspiracy before the end of the week; but nowhere did it turn quite as electric as it did in Atlanta.
Air travel to Washington, DC has been restricted for more than a decade at this point, thanks to the electromagnetic interference and storms plaguing the area. The roads, however, were still mostly intact, if of varying degrees of condition. Exploration and excavation teams have begun to form; a few exploratory groups had made it to Washington and back safely a few years after the Reformation, although just as many never returned. This time, though, it wasn’t just a few brave souls with a map and a compass; large teams in heavy gear were preparing for the worst.
Stern faces showed a fairly large number of people trying to pretend the trip was just going to be another hard hike. It’s not that they weren’t aware of the creatures that had taken over the old capital; the amount of firepower being stored and mounted made that pretty obvious. Still, no one was talking about it.
For your own reasons, each of you have attached yourselves to one particular caravan, a team of scientists lead by Melissa and Grant Praetor, who have become affluent over the last few years due to their early discoveries on how to harness the new electromagnetic energies in the atmosphere to supply electricity to what was a very overtaxed power system. Although you wonder at first why they in particular might be interested in such a trip, the rest of the team—consisting mostly of excavators, archaeologists and more than a few bodyguards—makes it fairly obvious that they are more of a benefactor whose curiosity has gotten the better of them.
As requested when you first signed up, you show up the day before the trip out. Arrangements have been made for everyone to stay at a motel just outside of Atlanta proper, as the last few big machines are loaded on the flatbeds of the powerful trucks holding most of the equipment that will be the center of the caravan. The large plows on the front of a number of vehicles when you arrive suggests that they fully expect some issues with what might be in the way on the trip.
Upon arrival, you’re assigned to one of the “wing scouts;” the outside patrol vehicles and mounts that is supposed to find, alert about and, if possible, destroy ambushes and traps. There is a small, all-terrain group vehicle assigned, but it’s generally encouraged at you should supply your own transportation if possible, whether it’s a mount, fourwheeler or large jeep. The person who informs you of your assignment gives you a yellow colored bandana, informing you that the rest of your team will be wearing the same color. Looking over the rest of your team, you feel concerned. None of them seem to be used to working with each other. At least you have one night to try to get to know each other, right?