Meanwhile Elsewhere on Rifts Earth
Apok-alypse Now Part 1
The steely sky lightens up as the star rises over the horizon casting off the inky haze of night, and turning the dark lands to a raging red blaze. The land is coated in a veil of blood, painted by the star as it crawls up into the sky. Soon it dissipates as does the rage of flame. A ragged cheer raises from behind a hill, "Hooray. The dawn has come to free us."
A more distinctive voice, a voice sounding like more than one yet only one, rises above the rest, "Thanks be to Wormwood that we have survived another night of this holy war 'gainst the Host. Let us pray then go hunt for sustenance... Blessed be Wormwood, our protector, our...."
The people eek out their days existance, gathering food, washing clothes, and burying the dead. The priest stands atop a small knoll, "We gather here, a new day, and as with many other days, our nights unfortunate. (A second voice shouts: Down with the Host. Destroy the Unholy. We don't need to see more death, we gotta make a stand!!) <The priest waits then continues.> Join hands now as we pray, that we may pay hommage to the brave, who have given their lives that we may fight yet another day. Come now, join hands and raise your voices with me, and let's give ourselves to the valiant and lay them to rest."
The people gathered make a rough circle around the mound of dead of bodies. Both the dead, and the people gathered are dressed in rotting and shredded rags, stained in blood, and drying vomit. The only difference between the two types is the orientation... the living still stand, but looking into their eyes there is no difference. The people are dead inside, their eyes are dull, their souls shattered, their bodies falling apart before their eyes, and yet they live on. They hold hands, and bow their heads and pray, their words are clear and stand out against the silence. The words ring out, and echo. A soft diffuse light radiates out from every one of them, swirling into the centre of the circle like a vortex. The priests voice rises higher, the blood staining his white robes stands out stark as if not actually touching the cloth. The ground, a dark red clayish colour, stained with the blood of thousands before, and in anticipation of the thousands more to come. The ground quietly splits on either side of the pile of bodies and the crack extends under their weight. The people pray on, the light flowing from them turning from a pale yellow to a brilliant white lighting up the opening grave, fading the stains of blood to spots of darkness. Then the bodies are gone, the ground closes up, the praying stops and the light winks out and the pain reinstates itself with the normal colours of red and brown. The priest speaks in a solemn, broken voice, "Now they shall be free from these bonds of pain. We have given of ourselves as they did, and we honour them. Thanks be to Wormwood that we may see yet another day."
The people break apart and go on to finish their chores. Soon night will fall again, the days are short, the nights the same in time, but longer in feel. At night the demons roam, the parasites crawl, and the Host make their moves against humanity. Nothing happens the rest of the day, life goes on as normal, and the star begins to set. Darkness creeps along the land anhilating all traces of the blood, all traces of disaster, all traces of life. Then, one by one fires appear in sconces all over the sprawling village.
People huddle in their houses, structures grown right out of the ground. Night is slowly falling on the living planet. Leagues away a village slowly contiunes to sink back into the planet, within several months it will be totally swallowed away for all time. Ghost towns are few and far between and usually the haven of parasites and even worse unnamables. [GM Note: Parasites are a force to be reckoned with, they range from the size of golfballs to the size of houses. Some have magical powers and properties and are used by people as forms of augmentation, while others are vicious predators.]
A screech fills the night, followed by another, then a whole concert. "Serpents!" cries out a child staring intently out of a window.
Down from the sky sweeps a long sinuous reptilian form with long sweeping feathered wings, and a head like a hammer-head shark. It's rider turns and unlooses a kind of grappling hook rigged onto a rod and pulley. It reels out behind the creature. The streets are filling with people, armed with swords, and knives and pitchforks, some of them have handguns. The Serpent swoops down lower. The grappling hook plunges deep into one of the people gathered and drags her into the sky. She struggles, screaming, reaching almost spasmodically for the cable, as the creature swerves in the air and heads towards the nearest building. It swoops right over the roof. The woman smashes into the side of the house and stops moving. Blood drips down the wall, and the body continues to drip on the people below. The rider howls laughter and reels in the body to just below the belly of the Serpent.
Another serpent swoops down and spins through the air with its four arms extended and it's claws popped out. It spins lower and rakes it's terrible talons over the crowd. The people swing at it and their blades tear into the creatures scales but not deep enough to hurt it. One person with a gun fires on the creature, there's a resounding boom like a short crack of thunder, black ichor runs out of the ragged hole the projectile tore into the creature's hide. It screeches and lashes out with it's clawed tail and snatches up a man and whips him into a wall with a sickening thud.
The others snatch up people left and right, and dash them to the ground, or tear huge chunks out of their bodies and then discard them. They fly brilliant patterns in the sky, swooping and diving, spinning and looping, criss-crossing, and zig zagging. Two of them play what looks like a game of chicken, they fly straight for each other, then at the last second one of them turns upside down and passes right underneath the belly of the other.
Then from out of nowhere the ground opens up. A troop of Ram-rats scrambles out of the tunnel lead by a Dark Priest. They brandish their swords and axes, and pikes and spears, and begin wading through the throngs of people. They clash, and clash, but the people fall quicker than the demonic Rams. The town Priest begins to pray, shouting the words, "O Wormwood, hear my words, deliver us from this atrocity, help us with thy gifts and send thine angels to aid uuuuuss <A Ram-rat stabs the priest through the heart, only to be decapitated by a large man with a sythe.>"
The man drops to his knees and craddles the priest's head in his arms, "FATHER!!!" he cries.
"Fear not," says another voice, "I have heard your cries and come to help."