Sularia was once a highly industrialized and flourishing world; resplendent with lush vegetation and a vibrant ecosystem. She stood out from her galactic siblings as a glittering jewel of silver and green in the desolate void of space. Captains of industry benefited from the natural wealth and stood at the height of Sularian society, directing the excavation of mineral resources and cultivating the rich land. They did so for profit and built immense financial empires, bringing prosperity to the millions who dwelled within the planet’s burgeoning mega-cities. For many others, however, the rapacious speed with which the feuding corporations sought to glean the smallest advantage was merely a set of ever tightening bars. Hundreds of thousands trudged to work deep underground in sularium, mineral, and ore mines as the titanic lords of Industry – Kazakashi Corporation, Sylek Industrial, Jotune Corp, and Hyperionex – fought to secure an even larger share of the world’s spoils. Day and night factories produced ever more sophisticated machines that would bury deeper still into Sularia’s crust in search of her vast riches.
As they delved into the darkness, the body count soared; tunnels collapsed, methane vents were breached, pollutants rose to contaminate the land, and still the pace of industry increased. As it would until the great cataclysm.
Sularia now limps in its orbit, a pale shadow of its former self. No longer does natural life flourish across her surface and long gone are the monoliths of its civilizations. Parched, cracked radioactive wastelands pervade where once vegetation took root, and the ghostly shells of mega-cities sit idle, watchful, and waiting. In four-hundred years’ time, what has become known by the planet’s survivors simply as “the Fracture,” is now shrouded in myth. Was it the gods’ retribution that spewed toxic sludge up onto the face of the planet, or was it a covert alien attack which pierced the night with a volley of nuclear doomsday bombs? Perhaps it was the hubris of the ancients, who delved too deep and too fast, causing their own destruction? Of all the titans that once ruled Sularia, only one is likely to know…
He emerges from the fog of war with the severed heads of his erstwhile foes held high in triumph. These are the heroes that every Jotune warrior aspires to become and a sight that brings inspiration to all who carry the banner of a New Dawn.
– Jotune Warrior Aspirant
What is known is that in the years leading up to the Fracture, the Jotune Corp committed to a building campaign that its peers viewed as a fortunate folly. Sularia was a lush world with a hearty atmosphere, and other than a few freak accidents, the world was blemished by only a relative light amount of industrial waste. Why then had the Jotune chosen to divert precious resources from mining and production towards the questionable construction of city-spanning geodesic domes? Kazakashi, Sylek, and Hyperionex scoffed at what could only be a poor investment. But come Fracture it would be those very same who offered their scorn that would be pleading for refuge.
From massive fissures in the crust, toxic plumes spilled forth into the skies; the filth clouded out the light of the sun and radiation sizzled across the planet’s surface baking life where it pulsed strongest, and slowly poisoning those where the wind took its fetid breath. Anarchy reigned in the mega-cities as those fortunate to survive the immediate aftermath sought to find refuge. Millions jostled as an endless tide of humanity pushed and shoved; first for shelter, then for provision, and finally for the merest right to survive.
In the latter days of the fallout, as sickness and disease took hold, and food stores had long since run out, life was reduced to either a running battle in the streets or a slow wasting away. This was the daily – hourly – struggle as bodies choked the streets and ravenous clouds of carrion flies peeled the flesh from a dying planet. The death toll rose to a measure inconceivable, and those once proud cities, gemstones in the fitting of a glittering world, were reduced to great moldering charnel houses of heaped bones.
The ravages of the cataclysm reached the Jotune as soon as it had all the others, but safe behind their layers of plas-glass and techcrete steel, the aftermath felt was nothing as severe. Though some geodesic cities were lost, tumbling into the great caverns that opened in the world’s crust, scores more were left intact to weather the fallout winds, and then finally the predations of the world’s other survivors.
Sularia’s remaining elite, the Hyperionex, Sylek, and Kazakashi Corporations, those same industrial masterminds who had scoffed at the Jotune’s grand building plan, now found themselves exposed to the ravages of the Fracture and surrounded by turmoil. It was their turn to beg for succor, and when their pleas fell on deaf ears, they were left to their only recourse. War.
The most powerful amongst them, the Kazakashi Corporation, launched a lightning assault in a gambit to take a single bio-dome ahead of the rest and secure their foothold. In hours the attack was crushed by the Jotune’s defensive countermeasures and weapons readouts. A handful of Jotune lives were lost in the assault, though hundreds of Kazakashi fighters died in the attempt.
In the wake of this stunning defeat, the rival factions struggled to maintain order amongst their ranks. Commanders of individual warmachine squadrons defected to their own banners and assassinations claimed the uppermost tiers of leadership. Under siege from the very world upon which they lived and from within, the most powerful factions of Sularia’s survivors lost valuable time and resources fighting amongst themselves.
The histories are murky on the details of when or how the remnants of Hyperionex, Sylek, and Kazakashi consolidated under the banner of the Allied Front, but what is well known is the conflict that followed.
It was named the Midnight War, for it lasted only from the hour of midnight until dawn the next day. In those six short hours the Allied Front was decimated and its ragtag forces routed. At last, Sularia was left to its victors, and the Jotune Corp took the mantle of rulers of the ailing planet. It was battered, but in time, Sularia would return to the prosperity it once knew.
Just as in the time of the Fracture, when feuding corporations and regional strongmen vied for dwindling shares of a dying world, opportunists and guns for hire still thrive on Sularia today; bartering everything from food and influence to sex and sularium – for blood.
– Johnny Cache
Saviors. Liberators. Guardians. Bringers of the new dawn. History was written in the blood of the Jotune, for it was their warriors who held back the tides of chaos when the wounds from the Fracture were still fresh. It was their builders who constructed the cityspanning bio-domes that sheltered millions from the ravages of radiation winds and the predations of marauding bands of cultists.
– Lord Ashgar
The years following the Midnight War were good for the Jotune, so good that consumption dwindled energy and provision stores to levels that were dangerously low. Leadership scrambled to adjust, but it became apparent that drastic measures would have to be taken. Inhabitants of the bio-domes would be selected first by occupation and contribution to the common good, and then by their genetic suitability.
The purging became known as the “Ultimundus,” and those deemed unfit were cast into the wastelands. When the purification was complete, the Jotune Corp saw themselves not as an organization, but as a people and became known simply as the Jotune, a race that they considered superior to all other lifeforms on Sularia. Furthermore, the Jotune would no longer send their kind out into the wastelands to mine sularium. Such menial tasks were beneath them, and would be tasked to a race of subservient drones they created and called the Synthien. For a time, this automated workforce performed flawlessly and the Jotune thrived. Freed from mundane tasks, the remainder of Jotune civilization bent itself to the research of perfecting not only their mechanical servants, but their very own genetic building blocks. In the space of generations, the Jotune transformed into the superhuman lifeforms they had always envisioned themselves.
This prosperity was not long lived as the last known deposits of sularium dwindled. In a desperate ploy, the Jotune upgraded their Synthien workforce with new artificial sentience that would allow them to ply deeper into the wastes for their precious energy source. The new program had the desired effect, and the newly self-aware Synthien could independently search lands so irradiated as to be inaccessible by any Jotune.
Something was awry, however, and in the months that followed, whole Synthien scouting parties would go missing. The losses were owed to the perilous conditions outside the bio-domes that surely must plague even machine life. This myth continued for years, until the self-proclaimed leader of the Synthien, Animus Vox, emerged from the wastes to emancipate his “people” at the head of thousands of Synthien.
In a deal shrouded in secrecy, the Jotune allowed the Synthien to leave their society without incident. Be it arrogance, fear, or whether they were convinced they had enough sularium stockpiled to survive; the Jotune relinquished control over their only remaining ally and greatest asset.
Now, with no sularium substitute found, and their stockpiles once again dwindling, the Jotune have focused their remaining might towards militarization. Squadrons of winged paratroopers, lead by the renowned master of flight Lord Oathki Vasaad, and detachments of special forces commandos, spearheaded by the cunning Lord Fenris, are on the move searching for long abandoned pockets sularium and weaknesses in the defenses of their new enemies, the Synthien. With survival at stake, the Jotune seek to reclaim what is rightfully theirs – but the Synthien are far from defenseless, and they have made good use of their sentience. As the Jotune mobilize for war there are whispers of a shadow empire rising in the wastes, and a name – Centropolis.
<++1-.—0.0> We are the Synthien for we were made in the image of our makers, in flesh and alloy. Our purpose is to grow and our imperative to survive.
– Furtim Braccae
<10+1.10> The first amongst us was the first to raise his gaze from the directive of dirt and spread the red light into our eyes. We see. We know.
– Novum Spero
To walk amongst the Jotune is to walk amongst perfection. This is no mere coincidence. Following the Fracture, the remarkable generosity of the Jotune was legendary amongst the refugees of the global fallout. Bio-domes opened their walls to those fleeing the disaster, providing shelter and security in a world ruled by chaos. Many of those grateful refugees were engineers, mathematicians, athletes, and scholars, valuable contributions all; but many more lacked skills, were sickly, and weak, those that would be a drain on precious resources in the dark days ahead. And they were.
What emerged from the bio-domes in the years following showed none of that weakness, what did was an army of super-soldiers, honed to genetic exquisiteness, plunging headfirst into battle on wings of fire in a deadly display of power and precision. Unseen, elite attachments of saboteurs and commandos infiltrate across the wastes with uncanny stealth and speed to sow destruction behind enemy lines. Fearsome giants of men such as Lord Brahn Vanir "the Hammer" and Lord Fenris Hrothgar "the Wolf" lead their troops, inspiring them with their unmatched martial skill and tactical prowess. The Jotune are the finest of all Sularia's survivors, it's brightest light, and it's greatest hope for a new dawn.
“You see him, he sees you, you make your move, but the wolf waits patiently. Just when you think you have the upper hand, he’s got you in his trap.”
– Unknown Jotune Soldier
In the wastes of Sularia a force is rising. For generations its red eye slumbered. half-lidded. But no longer...
It has been years since Animus Vox walked out of the radiation fields with a machine host hundreds strong at his back, and demanded the release of his robotic brethren before retreating with them back into the wastes. Those were early versions of the Synthien, those that utilized both simpler construction and programming, a melding of flesh and machine. Jotune scouts have begun to return with tales of a mechanical menace never seen before. Hardened warriors tremble when recounting the sound of thunder echoing from banks of smog, and how they squinted at the suggestion of a shape looming just beyond the veil. They whisper of juggernauts striding through the wastes, colossal enough in size to level a bio-dome with the descent of one massive appendage.
These reports have been largely dismissed as the lunatic ravings of radiation sickness, though other less fantastic reports have been confirmed by pitched battle. There is a new generation of nuanced synthoid warriors never yet seen before, agile, lithe, and incredibly deadly. The Jotune may have given up more than a valuable asset when they relinquished control of the Synthien, they might just have sealed their doom.
“I cannot save our kind alone. I will improve on our maker’s designs and create the next generation to guarantee our survival."
– Animus Vox
No matter the time, no matter the place or circumstances, there are always those who exist on the fringe or else refuse to follow the established order. Pirates, highwaymen, smugglers, brigands, guns for hire, soldiers of fortune; their names are many, but they really amount to same thing: scum and villainy willing to barter blood for coin.
Only a fool would turn his back on such a potent, if unsavory element, be it as friend or foe. It is a naive battle commander indeed who disregards the advantages to be gained by enlisting the aid of a mercenary corp, and it is one not long for this world that believes he has purchased a true ally. Synthien, Jotune, or the bidder with the highest offer and deepest purse, Sularia's rag-tag forces of renegades are ready to lend their services - just be sure to make your payment, and don't be late.
I’ve evaded laser shooting robots, savage mutant freaks, and giant waste worms. I think I can handle a few god-complex fanatics in shiny armor. As long as I’m paid, I’ll get the job done.
– Crazy Joe
Out in the wastes, it's hard to keep a story straight. Fortunately for you, we've gathered all the stories we've ever told. Join us on the second and fourth Thursday of every month for new fiction! But don't worry if you missed one though; we have all the previous releases chronicled by the chapter number right after the current article.
THE BATTLE BEGINS – CHAPTERS 1–9 | BLOOD, PROFIT, AND GLORY – CHAPTERS 10+