Tuesday, June 1, 2010
All The Rage
As it is written in the ravergy of Saint John the Rotten, Anger is an energy. Indeed it is a most potent force, capable of toppling thrones and worlds alike. Many a wasteland has been made of a paradise by the concerted efforts of angry individuals. And there is the Mob, that faceless, amorphous, ambiguous memetic-contagion that infiltrates, intoxicates and dominates those large groups susceptible to its insidious control. There are those who would surrender themselves to a cleansing, cathartic eruption of long-suppressed or repressed urges. The Mob arises from the midst of groups of otherwise good and decent people, respectable and well intentioned. It twists and corrupts their deepest fears and their dormant hatreds, using them to arouse each member of the group into a frenzy of amoral violence, driving them onwards to loot, pillage and destroy wantonly and with no regard for consequences. All critical faculties shut down, all conscience is fled and all becomes bathed in the stark red hues of flame and blood. The Mob, like the Spectacle and a few other related phenomena are relics of long forgotten wars, the deprecated and massively downgraded psychic echoes of unexploded memetic ordinance lingering in the dismal places of Devukarsha like so much background radiation that no one pays any mind to until it is far, far too late. And occasionally the Mob is able to acquire the critical mass needed to become more than just a regrettable, involuntary, bloody baccanal. When the circumstances are right and there are Ragers in the midst of things, then the Mob Rules and all bets are off. Entire cities have been destroyed in one night's hyper-infectious paroxysm of terror and mayhem, all because a few Ragers were caught-up within the memeplex at that one crucial, oh-so-wrong moment.
Ragers are not quite a cult, nor are they strictly speaking legitimate in their doctrines, either. They arose centuries ago in the midst of a devastating war between three City-States. Devukarsha was one of those involved. The Ragers were militarized projective telempaths, the precursors to the Domnarchs who totally dominate all forms of thought in their immediate vicinity. The Ragers, however, do not dominate their victims, instead they stir-up all the negative emotions in those they are focused upon, even at a considerable distance, and in stirring these emotions into flux the Ragers are able to trigger all their pent-up anger and to drive their victims into violent rages. They can make people who are otherwise calm and well-adjusted explode into full-on berserker rage, some with only a few minutes effort at a distance, others with just the slightest contact in the midst of a crowd. They inflict psychoses upon their victims, and the damage done by their manipulations is sometimes so severe and extreme that even a Madonna would require years to overcome it, let alone heal it.
Originally, the Ragers were developed as specialist urban support troops. They would act as force multipliers and unit enhancers, often at a distance so as to remain undetected by the enemy until it was too late. Certain of them were better suited to this long-distance work, and others were more hands-on, their abilities more physically expressed through contact. The more kinesthetic Ragers were assigned to units of infantry who were likely to encounter intense ground-fighting where tried and true melee techniques still worked and the edge provided by the close combat Ragers often made a very real difference in the outcomes of such engagements. The casualties racked up by these brutal, clinically desensitized and deliberately psychotized mass murderers were astounding to say the least.
Eventually those wars ended. The Ragers were disbanded and quickly buried as a bad, bad dirty little secret. Most of the units they worked with were so chopped-up and heavily attrited that personnel rotated through them like crap through a goose. So it was easy for the general staff who were looking at potentially lucrative new positions within the incoming administration of the new regime to discretely re-shuffle various units, squelch certain reports, delete, erase or overwrite various records and quietly make the Ragers go away to distant outposts, collapsing colonies, fringe bastions or off on certain-suicide impossible-missions in order to clear up any potential lingering unpleasantness.
But not all the Ragers died on those missions. Some of those colonies didn't fail after all. Certain of the fortresses and other installations (military clinics affiliated with Jolille or the penal-chateaus of Angeif, for example) didn't get overrun by the enemy in the final days of the conflict. In more than one instance it was the prescence of the Ragers that turned the tide of what would have been almost certain slaughter into a contra-massacre instead. But victories rarely get questioned as atrocities, especially when the government in power has total authority over all combat-zone transmissions, records and memories. Intrepid journalists who parachute, paraglide or teleport into combat zones without clearance or official sanction tend to get killed or reduced to quivering masses of shrieking, nanopoxed goo that can't be recovered. Then there are the censors. No one wants a Red Mark.
The General Staff became very concerned about those Ragers who survived their various Alamo-scenarios and other career-ending set-ups that were supposed to tidily terminate them, and there were far too many of them to rest easily. It was all damned inconvenient and potentially a PR disaster. Especially for those with political ambitions and aspirations. Something had to be done.
Over the course of dozens of heated off-the-record covert communiques and discussions certain elements within the offices of some lower eschelon field commanders acting entirely on their own initiative and with no knowledge beforehand on the part of the General Staff took matters into their own hands, illegally and with total disregard for the chain of command. They quickly assessed the situation, saw a very real potential threat by Ragers turned rogue and initiated a threefold decapitation protocol as outlined in a eManual that has since never been re-discovered.
First they nuked Drisco.
Second, they targeted all known positions of the surviving (and a few suspected to be surviving) Ragers with Zembler swarms delivered under the guise of Extraction and Recovery Drones. Literally, the very means of the Rager's getting pulled-out from their mission-sites was weaponized and turned against them. Although more than half of them were eliminated by this means, it completely alienated all the remaining survivors who subsequently felt compelled to defend themselves at all costs against their own forces. This one act of betrayal, as brilliantly executed as it was, has been pointed to time and time again in every anaylsis and the subsequent hushed-up (now Blackwarded and officially sealed) investigation by the Ministry of Defense, as the one pivotal moment where it all went south in a bad, bad way. All recovered data points to the conclusion that all the Ragers were still loyal and potentially could have been disposed of through more effective means had their ERDrones functioned properly, or perhaps been re-routed to perform spontaneous HALO ejections sans appropriate equipment, or if they had just simply crashed. What could have been an unfortunate battlefield FUBAR-moment instead was turned into a dangerous fiasco by some clerk in a field commander's office. Most of those identified as being involved in this botched attack against the Ragers were summarily court martialed and remanded to the custody of the Ulzem facility. No one has heard anything from any of them since.
Third, they released an experimental viroplex in the immediate vicinity of both those locations targeted above and all acknowledged bases of operations currently (at that time) online and registered as active duty. These constellated viruxes and cocomittant militarized psychomemetic agents were supposed to be uniquely targeted and coded for Rager-only activation. Something glitched. That, or the Rager's own defense-systems which had been heavily stressed and hyper-adapted throughout their many re-deployments into the worst of the worst battle conditions were too far evolved and developed along non-spec lines that the viroplex was subverted. Instead of melting down into indecipherable and unrecoverable residue, the Ragers were infected and once the transition-fever broke, they were changed in terrible ways.
The Ragers became cold and quiet eyes of the storm of madness all around them. They were transformed into hyper-violent puppet-masters and the living vectors of a psychotic-contagion of unfathomable virulence; they literally became centers of pestilence that spread terror and mayhem, madness and destruction in their wake. And all of it -- All Of It -- was completely and totally under their immediate, direct, personal control.
In time, and after the apocalyptic destruction of three cities and a fringe-world no one really cared much about anyhow, the Ragers rode off to the Bad Lands in order to establish some sort of place for themselves, on their own terms. But the covert service staff attached to various members of Parliament and those surviving members of the conspiracy that had grown up within the former war-time General Staff could not let well enough alone. So long as these rogue elements persisted and existed, they were a threat and a disgrace and a challenge. So a number of classified, secret and completely deniable missions to exterminate the Ragers have taken place. All have failed, as can be evidenced by the notable continuation of the Rager's efforts at establishing a base of operations beyond the reach of conventional covert forces.
The Ragers have been driven farther and farther out into the Bad Land Worlds, past over a hundred gates and still the killer-clowns come after them. Eventually, once they have had a chance to regroup and sort themselves out, the Ragers may just stop riding out and start riding back in, bringing the old war back home, spreading plagues and worse in their wake.