It’s hard to talk about times you only know from stories. Although wherever you go you can encounter traces of long lost glory of our civilization along with evidence of its fall, to us, the survivors, they give as much knowledge about the past as broken shells used to give to archeologists studying ancient cultures in the sands of forgotten lands.
It’s known that the apocalypse wasn’t caused by some lunatic with his finger over a red button, nor was it brought upon us by robots that reached self-awareness after decades of obedient servitude to humanity. We should blame for it our forefathers – billions of common people and those in power who governed them, tenure after tenure repeating the same mistakes. Their stupidity, short-sightedness and blind faith that next generations will carry the burden of their greed are the reasons why now we must struggle for each day of life with new inhabitants of the world.
We have no idea what happened on other continents – all memories of the Global Village faded long ago. Here, in Australia, people chose to blame for every imaginable evil an international megacorporation named Cerbero. It took advantage of bad policy of heavily indebted government and proposed a unique solution – the buy-out of the vast yet mostly barren, inner part of the country and serious financial help in the form of strategic infrastructure investments. Effectively, in a few years Cerbero took over key industrial sectors and left the government powerless. In the meantime, citizens started protesting against expenses on defense and police. This had direct connection with the introduction by Cerbero of a number of technological improvements that had been designed to protect Australians against the growing terrorist threat. Government-financed military and police became practically non-existent, replaced by Cerbero peacekeeping forces that were much better equipped and, most importantly, didn’t cost taxpayers even one dollar.
Cerbero knew how to make the most of the investments. The desert interior soon became a testing ground for various scientific and military projects. The desolate heart of Australia was covered with research labs, technological and production facilities standing both above and below ground. Experimental nuclear reactors and geothermal power plants pierced the Earth’s crust miles deep. In that time people used to gossip that the Company managed even maximum-security prisons in order to conduct bizarre genetic and biotechnological experiments on dangerous inmates turning them into something more…
Now we know that each and every rumor from good, old days rings true in innumerable, hideous spawns of the twisted imagination of Cerbero scientists, whose creations roam the Waste – as we call Australia – looking for easy prey. However, people could justify almost everything in the name of cheap energy, gadgets making life much easier and pretenses of safety in the world falling into chaos.
Yet, they say that nothing lasts forever. Cerbero fell and with it ceased to exist our hopes for a brighter future. What were the reasons? Who knows… Maybe the experimental, underground reactors powering the Company’s technological structures had simply failed? Maybe the central computer had been infected with some unknown virus? Or maybe Nature itself had decided to retaliate for millennia of plundering Her fruits? The bottom line is that one day earth trembled and long-dormant volcanoes erupted again. A series of tremors and underground explosions caused the continent to break in two as well as change its shape. Ocean waters flooded the rift creating the Great Down Under – a watery canyon dividing Australia into two separate lands. Tens of thousands died in the ensuing chaos.
And in that very moment, when we were most vulnerable, Cerbero’s business rivals struck. Secret bases in Eastern Asia and Africa launched ballistic missiles as if to test the protective canopy weaved over the continent by the Company. Damaged antimissile systems and partially malfunctioning, military A.I. managed to protect only some cities and technological facilities belonging to the corporation. All the ruin already brought upon Australia in the catastrophic earthquakes and eruptions was multiplied tenfold by nuclear blasts that within hours bereaved Australians of their livelihood.
And thus began the darkest of days that cannot even be compared to our fight for everyday survival. I guess it’s good that the generation remembering the Scourge is practically gone, while those greybeards who still remain don’t wish to share any stories about that bleak times. We know that the population became a fraction of its former self, yet the people were quickly tempered in flames of eternally burning factories and dying lights of abandoned metropolises. Our fathers and grandfathers taught us how to get by in the Waste. Our mothers and grandmothers made sure that we wouldn’t make any mistakes of the past. Thanks to them we can proudly walk among fading memories of the world that they’d helped destroy.
We are the children of new Australia, the outcasts from the technological Eden, willing to use any tool just to see another dawn. We do not fear beasts that escaped from ruined Cerbero laboratories, nor cybernetic constructs of the Company mindlessly patrolling the wasteland. We proudly stand against gangs and degenerates looking for easy prey and we do not believe false prophets promising a new paradise on Earth. We know that the only thing left for us is survival, because we are the Waste knights…