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Earth, 2456 (Rory's Scribblings)

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Hey hey. Just got the urge to do some good ol' creative writing, and I figured the idea I had wouldn't fit in any of the current story categories we have here. This story (possibly multiple stories in the future) focuses on the Earth of the Aurora universe (assuming we stick with the "earth asploded but is still habitable" thing. Lorepeeps, don't ride on my ass, because this is some creative licence n' shit), and the trials / adventures of Arthur Dufort, a so called "Enforcer" who polices the wartorn Chicago Megacity Region (or CMR for short). I might also post some drawings of things from the story. Here goes!

Urban warfare. It's an old term, old as hell, what with the practice dating back to about 600 years ago- but back then, things were different. Wars were waged country to country, in cities far away, places with names you couldn't pronounce, with people you didn't really care about caught in the crossfire. People read stories on their phones and their computers and their tablets every day about how such-and-such-stan was bombed, or a city was taken, or retaken, or taken again. Happened so much that they skimmed it right over, right up until the day everything changed. Right up until the day where urban warfare was staring 'em right in the face. Then they couldn't skim over it, they couldn't not care, and they couldn't shy away. They had nowhere to go. And that's when they, when the entire human race, really started to understand the old adage: War is hell.

But if war is hell, urban warfare is the ninth fucking circle. When you fight in a field, hell, even a forest or the mountains, the situation is simplified. You can apply your ol' tried and true tactics, get the lay of the land, have a goddamn plan. Even if you're fighting in the jungle, knee deep in mud and blood, you can still just burn the fucking trees away with napalm and roast all the bastards in there. But urban warfare is different. The rules are changed, hell, the rules don't exist anymore. The enemy can be behind you, above you, under you, surrounding you on all sides. Every step you take could trigger a booby trap or bring you into a sniper's sights. When you fight in the streets, there is no confidence, no safety in tactics or numbers. You are a fly, a bug, constantly at risk of being squashed unless you keep moving. For every area you hope to take, you must secure the buildings. For every building you hope to take, you must secure the rooms. And to secure the rooms, you have to go in there, go through each one, and clear it out. There could be enemies. There could be a bomb. There could be a weak roof ready to collapse on you. When you participate in urban warfare, you become accustomed to that feeling that something's not right, that you're about to die, that bad, bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. And after a while it's just part of you.

Now imagine if a disproportionate amount of the Earth was covered by massive urban sprawls, still damaged by the Great War. Imagine if they were so big, that armed gangs could control areas the size of states, even small countries. Imagine if it was still someone's duty to try and make these massive swathes of blood, dirt, and shit at least somewhat lawful and safe.

Imagine if you were one of those people, one of the few remaining people who felt some goddamn obligation to the innocent people of this broken planet, an obligation to keep them safe, keep them alive to see another day, maybe another week. And imagine that what you had to do to fulfill that obligation was to participate in a war, an urban war, an un-winnable, ever-changing battle. Visualize that for about 5 minutes. And then you'll be a little closer to understanding what the term "urban warfare" means today.

- Art's Journal, entry #248, 11/18/56

I finished writing and snapped the journal shut, running my hands across the worn leather cover before depositing it into my jacket pocket. I rose from my seat on a somewhat comfortable chunk of rubble, stretching for a moment before checking my WristDeck. The small oval screen of the device was flashing red and blue, and when I tapped it, that same old message came up: "Crime Occuring in Assigned Sector". I sighed wearily, then tapped the screen again. A new message flashed: "Armed Robbery Occurring at: Corner of Henley and Maynard". I frowned. That was ten miles west of me, deep in Ax-Gang territory. Enforcers weren't welcome, and if you went in, you most likely weren't coming out, unless the 'bangers sent your mutilated corpse back to Enforcer HQ with poorly-spelled insults carved all over it.

But I wasn't some two-bit rookie. I'd been on the beat for 10 years, answered thousands of calls. Of the 10,000 Enforcers in the CMR, I was one of the best. So I uttered in to the WristDeck, "Call taken", donned my helmet, climbed on to my motorcycle, and zipped west down the cracked, empty streets. The rumbling vibration of the old Thunderdome '08 model always put me at ease, for some reason- the bike had seen me through some hard times, and never let me down. I patted the sawn-off strapped to the front of my jacket for assurance as I crossed the line in to AG territory, keeping an eye out for any 'banger activity. As I got deeper in to the neighborhood, the streets began to fill up more and more with citizens, until the sidewalks were completely full. Some civilians looked up from whatever they were doing as I passed, some staring apathetically, some shouting insults, and maybe one or two smiling a little bit.

Finally, I rounded the corner on to Henley and stopped the bike. Down the street, at the corner, I could see the robbery in progress- five Ax-Gangers were dragging entire crates of booze out of a GinCo liquor store, tossing the loot into their pickup truck. The manager stood at the doorway, his face pale, watching helplessly as his goods were pilfered by the hatchet-toting goons. I frowned a moment, then spoke in to my WristDeck: "Call answered. Five suspects spotted. Nonlethal force will be attempted." The device pinged, logging my report, and I tapped small button on the side- the loudspeaker function.

My voice rang out down the street. "Attention, suspects." The bangers stopped dead in their tracks, one dropping a crate of beer, and looked down the street to where I sat on my bike. "I am issuing you an order as a CMR Enforcer to stand down for processing. Resistance will be met with lethal force. You have ten seconds to comply." I drew the sawn-off with my free hand, and held it at my side, waiting for a response. They all stared me down, their tattooed, scarred faces growing more and more derisive as the usual Enforcer speech progressed. When I finished, one of them spat, screamed something in Gutter, and buried his hatchet in the manager's head. I narrowed my eyes as the man slumped to the ground lifelessly, and raised the Deck to my mouth again.

"Resistance noted. Engaging lethal force."

I revved up the engine and flew down the street towards the howling 'bangers, raising my shotgun and taking aim as they started to run towards me, hatchets held high. When I was within ten feet of the nearest suspect, I fired, and he flew black in a spray of blood. I ripped past his body, and spied a hatchet swinging through the air towards me. I ducked, hugging my body against the bike and narrowly dodging the attack. The rest of the gangers jumped out of my way, and I hit the breaks, skidding to a stop at the intersection. I raised my shotgun again as my assailants regrouped and spread out in a semicircle, shaking their hatchets and growling through their teeth. I picked out the biggest one, and fired again, tearing off his lower jaw and sending him flying back. I holstered the gun and jumped off my bike as the others charged, and drew my own special weapon- the length of chain coiled around my waist. I swung it out in an arc, the chain extending to full length and cracking the nearest attacker across the face, sending rotten teeth flying out of his mouth. I immediately swung it back around, smashing the already dazed man in the head and knocking him out for the count. I rolled towards his insensate body, snatching up his hatchet and burying the head in the stomach of the ganger charging towards me, before bringing his head down on my knee and crushing his skull. As his lifeless body hit the ground, the last one seemed to realize he was outmatched and dropped his hatchet, falling to his knees. He raised his hands, screaming something in Gutter. I looked down at him, my chain clutched in my hands- his eyes were full of fear, where only minutes before they'd been overflowing with bravado and cruelty.

Ten years ago I might have stopped there, detained him, and sent him to be processed. But now I knew better- he had his chance, and he threw it away. I raised my chain, spinning it faster and faster as he screamed louder and louder in his unintelligible street-speak. I could hear it cut through the air as I sent it on it's fatal arc...

Five minutes later, after the shakes had subsided, I climbed on to my bike and raised my Deck. "5 suspects neutralized after violating injuction 578B. Victim killed during the robbery. Cleanup crew requested." The Deck pinged, and I checked the time- it was getting on towards sunset, and the night streets of the CMR were no place for an Enforcer. I took one last look at the carnage, then revved up the Thunderdome and sped away towards HQ. Another street, another day- all I could do was keep trying.

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