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Bounty of the Behemoth

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The Forsaken World of Purgatory.

It was said that somewhere in the vastness was of the cosmos, a world abandoned and forsaken. A blasted hellscape where the various gods and goddesses abandoned their followers and failures.A world that had many names in many cultures. Limbo. The Abyss. Gehenna, and the name by which it was most commonly known. Purgatory. It had another name, in aeons past, but it had been lost to history. A human world that destroyed itself in the chaos of nuclear fire, then chosen by God to be his wasteland. Where his Fallen Angels were banished, and where Lucifer sent those demons who threatened him. Where Charon guided the Styx and where Death had no dominion. Were the excess belief of those trapped upon its blasted, undying, surface led to the gestation of new gods. Father V8 and Mother V6. Worshipped by Gouge The Angeleye and his Fallen. Lord Combustion, worshipped by the Defiler Demons of the southern badlands. The Water Maiden, cruel and yet kind. Worshipped by what scraps of humanity still clung to the parody of life that was all Purgatory could offer them.

Purgatory was a cruel world. A world without law where the weak existed to be the prey of the great gangs in their Road Wars. Where death could not free people from the suffering. Where cars were not mere machines, but living beings that had to be tamed before they could be driven and where speed was a matter of life and death.

Through the ash-choked ground of the Burning Valley. a single train line ran. With tracks forged in hell itself by demon’s using their blood for the casting. The train carried the great bounties of purgatory. Water. Food. Parts and above all, the holy communion petrol. The lifeblood of Purgatory. The train herself was a steam-powered behemoth, armoured with the skin of countless vehicles that had tried to stop her like the macabre cape of some barbarian warlord. Crewed by Fallen Angels, Demons and Men alike. Bristling with arms and yet, despite her reputation as a fleet killer, she was hunted every time she dared to make her journey from the relative safety of The Nexus in the Northern Wastes, through the badlands and into the chaos of the Burning Valley. Flanked by gouts of hellfire and with a great volcano spreading ash and lava across the land, only the most fearless gangs roamed there and The Fallen were the most fearless of all.

As the train thundered through the dust and ash, she was observed from a nearby ridge. Two of Gouge’s Fallen stood by their ramshackle Gyrocopters, watching the train through old binoculars. One of them, Asli, raised her radio to her covered lips and spoke;

“My Driveking, the Iron Behemoth is loaded with the grandest of loot. Do you give the order?”

At his staging post, atop his beloved vehicle. The Jaguar, the Driveking of the Fallen smiled beneath his gas mask. He could feel the Father V8 watching him. He could hear Mother V6’s purr in his mind. He spoke into his radio, and his words thundered over the world.

“The Order is Given. Drive my Fallen! Halt the Train and bring its bounty unto me!”

A raucous cheer went up from his assembled followers. Each one masked. Each one stood around a customised war machine. Each one as unique as the DNA of their crews. Ranging in size from ATVs to huge 18 Wheeler trucks. As the order was bellowed, a chorus of throaty engines rose into the air, and after climbing into his seat and starting his own engine, Gouge led his Fallen to war.

They came upon the Behemoth in an ever-expanding cloud of ash. Her Defenders manned their stations and fired into the dust. The chatter of heavy machineguns filled the air, sparks and flame were spotted in the dust, screams carried on the winds and soon the first of Gouge’s Fallen emerged from the cloud. His Martyrs, chained and bolted to their ATV’s. Boosted by Nitros and sheer faith. They roared ahead of the pack, the oversized fuel tanks between their legs were not to keep the ATV’s going.

Coming upon a small rise the first of the Martyr’s fired the last of his Nitros and sent his ATV flying up into the air, and down toward the behemoth. With a scream of religious ecstasy, he smashed into an armoured gun nest, detonated his fuel tank, and ripped the gun to shreds in a brilliant yellow-white flash.

Two of the Martyrs were sliced apart by gunfire before they could detonate their tanks, a third slammed into the behemoth’s side and exploded uselessly against the thick plating. His still living head bounced off the bonnet of Gouge’s Jaguar as he led it from the smoke.

From the belly of the Behemoth, three of its guards emerged. Red-clad sentinels carrying grenade launchers. They moved to the lip of the carriage, took aim at the approaching fleet of cars and were about to fire when from above, a rain of glass bottles came down upon them. The stink of oil filled their nostrils as they watched a gyrocopter pass overhead.

Asil moved her Gyro in after the first. From her thigh, she drew her flare pistol and fired down onto the oil slick laid by per partner. Screams filled the air as the guards were caught in the rapidly expanding fireball atop the carriage, she flew wide to avoid the heat wash and fell in above the fleet, her partner wasn’t as lucky. One of the Guards, in a final act of burning defiance, fired a contact grenade up and blew Asil’s partner out of the sky, the wreckage of his Gyro smashing into a rocky outcrop with a metallic scream.

Gouge watched as the Gyro came down, then moved The Jaguar wide and smacked the roof with his fist. Behind him, where the boot had once been, his Drive Queen, Penance, swung her gun seat around and cranked the handle of her harpoon cannon. Looking down the sight, she aimed for the joining spot of two armoured sections and fired. As the harpoon struck, The Jaguar jolted and struggled, but Gouge soon had her back under control. Penance grinned wildly as he yanked the return lever, ripping the armoured plate clean from the carriage and sending it skidding along the ground.

On the right flank of the train, barreling through the ash and dust, a carrier truck came. Its horn blaring. If roof guns trading fire with one of the Behemoth’s flame sprayers. The Carrier’s driver, Slate, cursed as fire licked at his door. He radioed back to the crews of the technicals he carried;

“Top level. Releasing!” He growled out, yanking a lever and dropping the ramp for his top row of modified pickups, they reversed down the ramp and hit the dirt, their crews whooping and shrieking as their own guns spat at the Behemoth’s clattering iron wheels. Sparks danced in the air.

Slate let out a curse as a Bomb-Spear struck one of the Technicals in the engine block and flipped it, its burning wreckage tumbled his way and he had to pull a desperate swerve to avoid having his cabin crushed. The burning pickup smashed off the Carriers side, sending it scraping against the canyon wall. Slate corrected and smashed the accelerator with a booted foot. He’d lost his roof gunner, but he still had his second payload to drop.

“Bottom level. Releasing!” He yanked another lever, dropping the bottom ramp and releasing his last four technicals. Three had cleared the ramp when its driver was spayed by heavy machine gun fire. The technical’s flamer tanks ruptured and detonated just as the pick-up cleared the carrier trailer, lurching it off the ground, Slate didn’t have time to detach his trailer before he lost control. The carrier dug into the ash, smashed into the canyon wall and came to a crumpled halt, the fleet darted around as best they could, though two buggies were lost in the carnage of the crash.

As Slate came to his end, Pennance loaded a screaming spear of demon bone into her harpoon cannon. Cranking the handle she aimed, ducking to the side as two demons fired crossbow bolts from the exposed cabin section. Gouge stamped on the breaks as the bolts whizzed by. Penance let out an ecstatic cheer as she lined up and took her shot. The bone spear screamed in agony as it flew into the unarmoured flesh of the exposed cabin, and detonated. Penance shielded her face as a shower of white-hot shrapnel rained around her.

Gouge grinned and thumped the roof again as The Jaguar roared ahead. Behind him, riding atop more war machines, came his boarding force. Knife and gun-wielding Fallen who leapt into the exposed belly of the Behemoth. Beginning their battle with the crew within. The first one in was Straight-Razor A young Fallen yet to prove himself worthy of the right to drive. He had much to prove that day. Grinning behind his mask, he set to work with a machete and pistol-crossbow. Impaling, slicing, shooting as he led the other Fallen through the carriages of the train, as the road war raged outside.

As he burst into the next carriage, Straight-Razor hurled his first attacker back through the door and under the screaming wheels of the train. His second took a bolt through the throat and dropped gurgling to the floor. The third fired with an ancient Webley revolver and grazed his arm. The Fallen grunted and ducked low. Tacking the shooter and driving his machete into his side, taking his revolver as he stood. More Fallen followed him in, and he gestured them forward into the bowels of the train.

Asil weaved her Gyro in and out of the swarm of fire that rattled up at her from the train. Without her partner’s oil bottles, her flare pistol was next to useless, save for being able to temporarily blind the gunners. She hissed as she felt rounds flying inches from her face. One of her goggles had smashed and grit had rendered her blind in her left eye. She reached for her radio.

“Driveking, I am useless to you up here, allow me to land and restock, let me fly another day.” She pleaded as a contact grenade whistled just below her and was swallowed by a flame geyser.

“Land my phoenix. But I want you airborne again. I shall have munitions delivered.”

The radio cut out as Asil brought her Gyro into land on a flat outcropping. She watched as Jeep pulled off from the main fleet and began to head her way. It arrived as she washed the last of the grit from her eye and pulled her mask back on. The driver handed her a black case and shared a hidden grin with the pilot.

Gouge and the rest of his fastest had reached the main engine now. The constant thunderous roar of the Behemoth’s guns was deafening. Gouge saw a light buggy lose its front right wheel, skid across the sand and collide with a rock pillar. Another buggy opened up with its own cannon and mangled a gun nest, allowing Gouge to close in. He thumped the roof, and penance lined up another harpoon.

Straight-Razor led his men into the main munitions store for the train. Switching to his machete alone, he charged, vaulting an ammo crate and decapitating a masked demon with one swing. He kicked the screaming head clear and buried his blade in the guts of a human loader, spilling viscera across the cabin floor.

Asil brought the Gyro in directly above the connection two carriages. The opened crate at her feet containing ten black powder bombs. She lit the fuse of one, sealed the case, and dropped it. It tumbled down as she gunned the Gyro forward. Three. Two. One. The crate detonated with tremendous force, shearing through the connection and bringing four carriages to a screaming halt. Even above all that she could hear the victorious cheers of her fellows. as they began to stop and secure the wreckage.

Straight Razor was knocked to the ground by the explosion, but refused to stay down for long. He used the Webley’s last bullet to end an Angelic Stoker as they moved into the boiler room. As the Stokers were cut down by his men, he could feel the train beginning to slow. The Driveking would be pleased.

Penance’s Harpoon struck the engine door and almost tore her from her seat. Gouge stamped on the breaks and let The Jaguar be dragged so close to the train a less skilled driver would have lost control and been smashed against the metal monster.Penance held the line true as the came closer and closer. Gouge reached into the passenger footwell and retrieved his sawn down, pump action shotgun. He thumped the roof, Pennance let the line go, the door was wrenched from its hinges and sent careening over the top of her head. The Driver was exposed now, Gouge aimed, and fired one-handed. If he had been a human the shot would have shattered his wrist. The angelic rounds shone like platinum as they tore into the driver and knocked him from his controls. As the track narrowed Gouge watched as Penance dived from her perch and into the control room. His heart swelled. He had chosen his Queen well.

She watched her Driveking as he nimbly swung The Jaguar around a flame geyser and ahead of the train. She wrenched the brake lever down and winced as her ears were filled with the grinding shriek of metal on metal as the train came to a shuddering halt, stopping metres before Gouge, who now sat on the bonnet of his war machine.

Above, Asil fired a green flare, signalling a full stop for the fleet.

An hour later the wreckage was secured and the Fallen had made camp amongst the Behemoth’s remains. Wild, orgiastic jubilation spread through the camp. The Piston-Priests led the victorious fallen in payers to Mother V6 and Father V8. Asil danced naked, save for her mask, atop her Gyro. Straight-Razor slid into the driver’s seat of a two-man Dune Buggy, she was battered, slower than most, and armed with only a light machine gun, but she was his. He had become one of the Driveking’s chosen.

Gouge and Penance stood atop the engine. Glasses of the finest water in their hands. They drank deep of the rare liquid and watched their people celebrate. A great victory won. A road war concluded. The trains would run again, someday, but for months the railroad of the Burning Valley was silenced. Silenced by the Driveking and his knights, they had done what was thought to be impossible, though at a great cost. Slate would be missed. Though the oracles of the Piston-Priests had divined a new saint could be heard in the roar of the engines. That brought Gouge some comfort at least.

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