Chapter One – Muddy

“For Gods sake”

Roaring sirens in the tiny security room deafened The Commander, who lay down his copy of 'Der Spiegel'. Clearing his throat he spun on his chair and glanced at the radar monitor. Blinking red dots on the black screen revealed the enemies intrusion.

“Fuck”

Herr Hauptzerstörer stood up, straightening his jacket as he strode towards the exit. He had installed a small mirror in the cramped security office so he could ensure his visage before attending matters. Pristine, of course. Despite the slow strobe of the red security alarm he could see that his uniform was pristine. The medals presented on his breast proudly shone in the dim light. With a gloved hand he touched his Iron Cross for good luck.

“Perfect.”

Pushing out his chest and with a click of his heels, The Commander threw open the door and stormed down the corridor to the main atrium with long, confident strides. His jackboots hammering, echoing on the metal floor and walls. He knew his Master preferred to be left undisturbed in the days following a reaving, and was well aware that he would be furious with any interruptions. However leisure could wait, this situation could not and required both of their immediate attention. Upon reaching the wrought iron door of his Masters inner keep he stopped, removed his glove and without hesitation pounded furiously upon the door. He could hear the booming knocks echoing within, loud enough to cover the vulgarities and screaming coming from inside.

The door opened slowly and the Commander stepped over the threshold into the large black atrium. High steel pillars supported the clear glass walls and domed glass ceiling of the massive dark hall. Soft moonlight cascaded in from the crisp cloudless night sky above in stark contrast to the abhorrent sight below. In the middle of the room lay a wide, flat stone alter carved with ornate symbols and faces now barely distinguishable from years of acid rain and wear. Towering above was an intricately patterned iron crucifix formed of interwoven metal rods, ten feet in diameter and twenty foot high. Soft, elegant lunar luminescence traced an outline of the three people present.

In the darkness, Commander Hauptzerstörer could barely make out the features of a young peasant woman suspended on the cross. She was naked, and emaciated, filthy black hair hung in clumps over her face and shoulders. Her sunken eyes were deeply bloodshot and wide with panic. Her arms outstretched and ruined, her wrists had been crudely lashed to the cross with barbed wire. She was also bound tightly by her throat. Black, dry blood covered her olive, sun darkened skin from where the weight of her body had forced the barbs up into her throat and jaw revealing the white sinew of her gullet. Her feet dangled and swayed with the rhythm of her choking, retching sobs. She had soiled herself. The poor soul clearly didn't have the energy left to struggle or support her weight and so instead hung, gagging on the spittle and bile hissing from her mouth as she wept. Below her, the Master was working.

Herr Hauptzerstörer cleared his throat. “My Master…. can you not hear the sirens? a moment of your time, bitte?”

“Just a minute” his Masters voice rolled with a lazy Texan drawl. “I'm almost finished with this purdy fine little birdie”

The Commander knew better than to interrupt. He waited. Standing ridged he placed both hands behind his back, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He watched as the moonlight eclipsed his masters buttocks rhythmically rising and lowering against the alter. Robotic pistons and synthetic muscles heaved the great body effortlessly. Hermetically sealed, his Masters ancient, haggard form existed agelessly as it had done for centuries. Only during moments like this was he ever exposed to the world outside of his suit. The Commander could see blood running from the orbits of the young woman underneath his Masters hulking form. He had removed her eyelids. Her once tanned, sun blessed skin was now ashen and mottled. Her ruined, bleached face was a matt of gore and dried blood. Large chunks of hair were missing from scalp. Wordlessly, her body convulsed with every thrust of his Masters hips. With a fierce, jarring smack the Master brought a hydraulic powered fist crashing against the side of her head, sending blood and teeth scattering across the alter. The young woman choked on blood and bone as her convulsions became more violent. Her dry, cracked eyes rolling into the back of her head as her mouth opened and closed spasmodically. The Masters pace increased as her body convulsed harder, he brought his fist crashing down for a second and third time against the woman's face. Crying out with dominant, animalistic ecstasy The Master reared up and brought his fist crashing down one last time, caving in the young girls skull, casting brain and bone and gore over the alter. Snapping quickly upright, and re-holstering his cock the Master pushed himself off the body, breathing heavily and re-attaching his groin plate, sealing his suit with a hiss. The woman's ruined naked body carried on seizing, her heels skittering and drumming against the stone surface.

The Master cracked his neck, stretched his back and turned his attention to the woman hanging from the cross. Maybe she was the dead woman's sister or mother or whatever. Neither man cared. The Master easily cleared eight foot in his mechanical exo-suit. Black synthetic muscles and pneumatics softly clicked and hissed as crimson plates of armor adjusted and settled, giving a hulking appearance to this machination of death. The Master removed his black skull-shaped helmet, gas escaping with a hiss. His face was ancient, a skull in itself. Tanned, thin skin pulled taut over sun bleached bone. His cheeks were tight, his jaw bone thin and brittle. Only a few teeth remained in his wet, seedy smile. Black, cruel, intelligent eyes were sunk deep in shadowy sockets.

“Glad you enjoyed the show there, darlin'” he purred, caressing the hanging woman's face with a boulder sized gauntlet. The Commander couldn't tell if the woman was trying to scream, cry, or puke. Her eyes were wide and darting, screaming silently. The Master moved his hand from her cheek and crudely dug at her eye socket. The woman bucked and jolted as he forced her eye from the orbit, pulling the optic nerve tight between his fingers until it snapped. She watched as the man before her placed her ruined eye into his mouth and bit down with one of his few remaining teeth. Relishing the delicious morsel he offered a crooked smile. The Commander heard the eye pop softly in his Masters mouth. The woman stopped moving.

The Master turned to The Commander. Replacing his helmet and flicking blood from his fingers he asked “Just what in that Sam-Hell can be so darn important to interrupt my… private recuperation?”

Herr Hauptzerstörer cleared his throat. “There has been another breach of our defensive perimeter”

The Master visibly stiffened. “Boom.”

“I am afraid so. A methane detector picked up a human signature on the outskirts of the ToxicGlass Forest, there was visual confirmation from a spydrone in the area. He could be here at any minute, and if our estimations are correct he might not be alone.”

The Masters visor lit up. A glowing green cross-hair shone brightly from behind the onyx lacquer.

“Well now my ol' friend, why don't lets the both of us go see if we can't make this piggy squeeeal real nice.” The Master cooed with delight, wringing his hands.

“As you will, Sir.” and with that The Commander clicked his heels, turned, and made towards the door with The Master in tow. Herr Hauptzerstörer was by no means a tall or physically imposing man. Standing at five and three quarter feet tall, slim and toned. Blonde haired and blue eyed, he took pride in his appearance. His attire was a proud family heirloom from a great time gone past – an antiquated Schutzstaffel officers uniform. The black of his jacket had faded to a mottled gray after generations of service, however love and care had ensured the ensemble was as pristine and imposing as the history Herr Hauptzerstörer upheld. The old way. He stormed with a quick pace, his boots shining in the dim moonlight as they drummed out a cadence on the metal floor. For every three steps he took, The Master took one. Swinging open the glass postern and stepping out into the cool, crisp evening The Commander took in a deep lung full of the night air. Burning coke, tallow and sulphur couldn't mask the familiar, unmistakable smell of the ToxicGlass forest in full bloom. Acrid and bitter, catching in the throat and lingering like solvent. The beautiful scent of industry and war.

The Master mounted the back of the nearest Kettenkrad, drawing back the slider on his power gauntlet mounted machine pistol and inspecting the breach. The Commander hopped on the front of the vehicle, turned the ignition and settled himself as the ancient machine roared to life, coughing soot and fumes from its exhaust. Signaling at the guard tower overlooking the courtyard, automated sentries opened the gate in the chain-link fence surrounding the compound. With a whoop and a cheer the Kettinkrad roared forward slicing a trail through the slick, wet mud.

In the near distance a man in a trench coat loaded a gun.

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