The year is 2038, and the thin veneer of civility has been stripped from the world. Searching for an edge, the Isle of Dern plays host to a great experiment - or perhaps to a last throw of the dice, only time will tell which. The fearsome technologies wielded by The Capital permit its wandering drones to collect and resurrect the dead, allowing the island to serve as a strange new kind of training ground. Recruits for the Mavericks project are set loose upon a landscape littered with lethal weaponry, and given a single instruction: prove yourself.
The Capital believes its technology sufficient to control its wild recruits, but its analysis assumes it is the sole power on the island. But history cannot be waved aside so easily: the remnants of the island's original population still shelter in their hidden lairs, each pursuing its own obsessions in secret. The activation of the Mavericks project may snuff out their smouldering ambitions... or fan them into a raging inferno.
The Circle of Lazarus live "close to the ground", recruiting from the dispossessed and downtrodden of the island, and teaching them its every nook and cranny. Their creed promises salvation through duty, hard work and the acceptance of death as the final end - and for the truly worthy, as a new beginning. Their followers are weather-beaten survivalists who scour the island from end to end, picking over rubble and ruins that others overlook. Sometimes they find clothing or trophies that they wear with pride, and they are always alert for technological trinkets to use in their rituals, but it is the island's buried secrets that they value most highly and hoard most jealously.
The Institute of Technological Resistance is built upon the last remnants of pre-Capital technology on the island, supplemented by whatever Capital technology they can capture and repurpose. They believe in freedom, progress, and technological advancement - and, seeing the Capital as the antithesis of all these things, are committed to its downfall. Some whisper, though, that they plan to subvert it rather than destroy it, and to use its mechanisms of control to enforce the ITR's ideology on the island and its inhabitants. Whatever their true motives, though, their intellectual and technological superiority amongst the island's factions is unquestionable. The Capital itself possesses technologies that outclass anything the factions could create themselves, but the ITR has demonstrated boundless ingenuity in acquiring and repurposing Capital technology for its own ends.
Self-styled as the Last Special Forces, this group maintains a strict admissions criteria, expecting discipline and paramilitary competence from all its recruits. For those who meet these standards, though, no further questions are asked. So long as a soldier performs their duties well, no questions are asked about their background or training. Indeed, this culture of anonymity pervades the LSF, from the greenest recruit to the shadowy top brass. Two things are clear from the LSF's operations: firstly, that they are a disciplined, creative and audacious military force, and secondly that they are dead set against the Capital, degrading and destroying its capabilities with military precision at every opportunity. But if the occasional LSF captives taken by other factions are telling the truth, the LSF operates on a strictly need-to-know basis, and there are very few things that their soldiers need to know.
While other factions might fight for ideology or duty, the Syndicate fight for themselves, having long-ago decided that if they're trapped on this island, they might as well make the best of it. Recruits are screened for a combination of useful skills and general attitude: arrogance, amorality and a general preference for shooting first and asking questions later are the most consistent traits. Those on the inside are part of the family, treated with respect and camaraderie so long as they maintain the Syndicate's standards for behaviour (which are low) and style (which are high). Those on the outside, though, are seen as little better than sheep, to be sheared or slaughtered as required. The Syndicate believe in maximum comfort for minimum effort, and that they deserve whatever they can take.
"OK candidate, pay attention.
I'm fed up to here with Enclave brats who know arse-all about the real world complaining that recruiters have 'misrepresented' the Mavericks project to them, so here is the one and only time I'm going to explain this to you.
As most candidates are fully aware, the world is properly bollocksed up right now. Yes, if you're lucky enough to have lived in an Enclave you've probably had a pretty cushy life, but even if you're too stupid to realise it you've been relying on the Great Outdoors for food and water, and it's not pretty out there. For everyone else - you don't need telling what the 2020s did to everything, you've lived it for twenty years now. You know it's grim, and you know that we've gotta fight for our share of what's left.
Well, that's what you're here for. The last few wars have put a crimp on our military readiness and highlighted our shortcomings. We're not fighting conventional wars any more - even the big ones are messy scraps, house to house and hedge to hedge. You, fine people, have volunteered for the first wave of the Mavericks project, which is training the next generation of our military elite. If you make the cut, you'll be promoted out of the project and into real military operations. If you don't... then knuckle down and keep trying until you do. There are no take-backs here, you're signed up for the duration.
So, here's the deal. While you're on the island, you're immortal. Don't get me wrong, you can absolutely die. And you will, over and over and over again. But we can and will rebuild you, every time. If you're Mavericks material, you'll learn from each death, and if you die enough, one day you might be good enough for what we need.
What we need, see, is real mavericks: soldiers who can fight on their own initiative, who can fight dirty, who can rip bloody victories from the enemy. So you're not going to be drilled, or lectured, or told: "this is your gun". You're going to be sent out onto the island, and you're gonna fight. Your gun is the best gun you can lay your hands on, and if you take it off the body of another candidate, so much the better. You're going to learn by doing, and you are going to become the best because you will not enjoy being the worst on this island. To the victor, the spoils, candidate.
I hope this clears things up for anyone who still has 'misconceptions' about the programme here. You're going to fight and you're going to die and you're going to fight again, and the sooner you get used to that, the sooner you can start turning yourself into somebody useful.
Oh, and one final thing - I know some of the locals are trying to make contact with candidates, and I strongly suggest that you stay the hell away from them. The 'Circle of Lazarus' are a doomsday cult, the 'LSF' are deluded idiots still fighting their last war, the 'Institute for Technological Resistance' aren't half as smart as they think they are, and the 'Syndicate' are a pack of common criminals. Failure to report contact with any of the above will lead to unpleasant consequences.
Now get out there, candidate, and start dying."
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