Ray looked over at his time-piece: 5:14 AM. He groaned loudly and placed his pillow over his head, hoping to drown the sound of the Homesteads' rooster beckoning the arrival of the morning sun. Their latest business plan was herding chickens for their eggs and meat, but given how loud their rooster was, Ray wished they would all perish, even if it meant no more of their delicious cooked chicken meat.
Seconds after the rooster started crowing, the Homesteads’ guard dogs, the ones which watched over their hens, began barking loudly. The rooster racketing was normal – the dogs barking, however, was an oddity. Ray didn’t waste any time jumping out of bed, and barely a minute had gone by when he stepped out of his front door, ballistic automatic weapon in hand. Instinctively, he looked towards Tiberius’ home, and as expected, he was there, having taken the same steps as Ray. They both started running towards the Homesteads’ land, fearing the worst. Had they been attacked? Did some of the laborers turn on their employers in hopes of making out with some currency or livestock and running? Tiberius and Ray did their best trying to run this small settlement they had, keeping everyone safe and sound, but there was no telling what these relative strangers were thinking.
The dogs, however, were not barking at someone trying to steal some livestock – it was at sight of a slow rising dust in the distant. As they got closer to the outskirts of the settlement, it became visible to Ray and Tiberius, and there was no mistaking it – it was people, in a relatively large number, making their way to Wildbank. They were too far to make out, but the worst was already assumed; someone was coming in to attack the village. Tiberius had already contacted through the communication device the heads of almost all the household, and had told them to bring their weapons.
As the men gathered around Tiberius and Ray, the intruders were also getting closer. Ray estimated around 50 to 60 people approaching them, an army much larger than the ones defending the settlement. Well equipped, yes, but outnumbered by almost three to one. Tiberius had assumed they were riding on motorized vehicles, but after realizing the pace of their approach was too slow to be on motors, it was decided they were riding on horses, or perhaps bivans, stronger and faster indigenous animals that had six legs and were utilized much of the same way as their Earthen cousins. More concerning to the two, however, was what kind of weapons the intruders might be carrying. Tiberius had done a very good job of organizing and amassing solid and strong weaponry for exactly these types of events, but there was no telling if the enemies they were facing were going to be any less capable. Nerves were rattled, sweat was breaking, and the anxiousness was barely contained.
On Ray’s orders, the men took positions inside buildings, near trees, and behind large rocks, anticipating the attack and ready to fire the first hit. Their aims were locked directly on to the intruders, and at a single command, they would open fire. From the looks of it, they would commit a massacre, too. The intruders did not look like they had a single defensive unit around them, and this was starting to make Tiberius think. Who would attack any position head on without anything to take cover behind? It did not seem logical or right. Ray, however, overcome with rage at the mere idea of anyone coming in to take over his bastion of peace, was not willing to second guess their initial assumption. He had given the order for the men to take direct aim at them, and everyone was locked and loaded, waiting for the enemy to get close enough before unloading a barrage of bullets and rockets onto them. Shoot first, ask questions later. If they got close enough to return fire, their sheer number would overpower them, and Ray was not about to let that happen. His hand was raised, ready to be dropped and signal for the rest of the men to start shooting when he heard a scream from his side.
“STOP! DO NOT SHOOT! They have children!”
It was Tiberius. Ray looked to his right, and sure enough, Tiberius was signaling for the rest of them to stand down, running towards him.
Ray Black: Children? Are you sure?
Tiberius Driver: Yes, look for yourself. That isn’t some invading force, cowboy. Those look like refugees. And look close, too. They’re either carrying dead bodies or that’s their wounded. Somethin’ happened to them, cowboy.
War had come. Just when things were starting to get better, and hope was starting to revive in the human spirit all around Haven. Just when the planet itself had begun to show signs of healing from the atrocities committed on it by the Great War. And just when a shattered world was beginning to revitalize its economy and inventive spirit, war had come.
Perhaps the last point was the most crucial – power hungry throwbacks from a prosperous era now seeing an opportunity to regain the wealth they had lost. As Ray sat listening intently to the refugees, his mind drifted back to when he first saw the live feed of Hans Drake, “President” of the Haven Republic, in Boulder and how he hoped it would not come to this. He knew sooner or later he would roll his armies out of Janneh City and into the wilds of Haven to reclaim what he believed was rightfully he his. Sure, he did it in the name of the Haven Republic, but he knew the truth. It was for him, for his greed, and perhaps most importantly, for his sons.
He had 2 of them, Hans Drake the Second, and William Drake, the younger of the two. Hans Drake II was the next in line for the Presidency while William was known more to handle the financial aspect of things. Janneh City was under their tight control – nothing entered or left Haven’s largest city without their knowledge, and from what Ray had heard, you could not so much as earn a single currency with a cut of it going to the Drakes. Obviously, their greed was not being satisfied in the capital city, where financial institutes used to be plenty but resources are scarce, and these days, currency was in the raw resources, the basics.
Ray’s mind continued to drift until he heard something from the man speaking on behalf of the refugees that immediately caught his attention. He spoke up.
Ray Black: What did you say?
Brent Jinso (Man speaking on behalf of the refugees): We were caught in the crossfire between Drake’s forces…and the Eartheners.
Ray Black: You have to be mistaken. The Eartheners decimated this planet and left.
Brent Jinso (shaking his head): Ain’t no mistaken them, sir. They flew in with their jets and bombed the living hell out of Drake’s forces…and we were caught in the middle.
Tiberius Driver (intrigued and shocked): Where did you say you folks came from again?
Brent Jinso: A city called Port Serene, on the coast about four days ride northwest of here. Drake’s forces rolled up from the south just a few hours before the Eartheners attacked from the north.
Ray Black: What were they after? Why Port Serene?
Brent Jinso: A few months ago, a man claiming to be a scientist uncovered large reserves of Tilkan gas all around the city, and even on the islands just of the coast. He had come in with a team from Janneh City, and they left just a few days before the Haven Republic troops came in.
Tiberius Driver (confused): I thought it was announced that all traces of Tilkan gas was evaporated during the Great War. This is incredible.
Brent Jinso (sighing): Not for us. Port Serene was relatively large city…I’d say we numbered about hundred, maybe two hundred thousand people. After we were caught in the crossfire, everyone evacuated, but most didn’t make it. We’ve been on the road for a few days now, carrying our injured. About half of our wounded have perished, and none of the towns we passed through would receive. The last town we were in, Boulder I believe, there was an old innkeeper who told me that there was a settlement to the southeast that was a sanctuary to all refugees. And that’s how we’ve ended up here.
Tiberius (looking at Ray, nodding back as Ray nods at him): You and your people are welcome here. We’ll attend to the injured and help who we can.
It was happening all over again. The Great War, at its core, was fought over resources; the Haven Republic, led by Mercen Stormwind, father of the rebellion, fighting for its freedom while the Eartheners fighting to keep hold of the incredibly valuable resources. The end result was nothing for neither – no freedom and no resources. This time, however, the two sides were fighting to reclaim land they believe was rightfully theirs. It was like they were both waiting for the planet to heal before planning their next move, and they both struck at the same time. It was obvious the Haven Republic was capturing land, and it was also obvious that the Eartheners had their eyes fixed on Haven the entire time, and the two were set for a head on collision of epic proportions.
Bivan: The bivan is an indigenous animal of Haven, featuring two front legs and four powerful back legs. It is about thirty percent larger than a horse, and is utilized in much of the same way – for transport and heavy duty labor. It is a plan eater and a generally calm animal, even wild bivans, which made them ideal for early human colonists. They can travel at speeds of about sixty kilometers per hour for reasonably long distances. They mate once a year, and the female bivan is typically pregnant for about six months, commonly birthing one child per pregnancy. They tend to live for about twenty to thirty years, although they become very weak in the last few years of their lives. The bivan is not genetically modified in any way, and cannot breed with horses or other similar earthen animals.
Tilkan Gas: Tilkan gas was discovered by scientists on Haven roughly twenty years before the actual colonization by humans of the planet. It is a light gas that packs a very heavy punch, and it is used the same way that oil and natural gas are used on Earth. Although it is called a gas, its natural form is a very light, cream colored, liquid that still holds all its strength when evaporated to a certain level, although it loses all form of itself if it surpasses that said level. A barrel of Tilkan gas is equal to the same consumption of roughly 14 barrels of earthen oil, and omits almost untraceable amounts of pollution upon use. It is the primary reason Haven was colonized, and also the primary reason the Eartheners would not give the Haven Republic control over the planet.