Roads blocked by broken mountains and shattered earth. Hidden by radioactive mist and clad in poisonous gas that seem to seep and rise from the very ground itself. Resting on a small island in a sea of lava. Or, perhaps, locked away for eternity in the calm eye of the wildest darkwind storm that has ever ravaged Evan.
You`ve heard the rumours. And you are not alone. The Darkwind Gazette has heard them too. Buth not until recently, did we believe for a second that there might be truth hidden away beneath the layers of lies, hearsay, tall tales and lava.
But after a new wave of reports of a place high up in the mountains, a town hidden away where no town should be, a haven for bandits, pirates, mutants and deviants, began to trickle back to the civilization of northern Evan, we decided it was time to stop leaving well enough alone. Just like any proud wastelands warrior would never leave a member of the Rudeboys to swagger back to his bandit camp alive, the Darkwind Gazette would not let those few wisps of information escape our grasp and flee back the way they came.
So, in a bold move unprecendented in the journalistic history of Evan [and possibly in the history of mankind], the Darkwind Gazette selected two of its finest cars, two of its equally fine drivers and reporters, hired members of the Forsaken, the most trusthworthy protection avaliable on this side of Sarsfield, and left known lands to set out on a journey with a single pursuit in mind:
To bring to you, our rabid readers, the first report in history of what transpires along the
<b>The Road to Firelight</b>
We left Badlands Truckstop a murky, dusk-clad afternoon. The convoys of traders and small bands of roaming bandits that usually inhabit and infest every turn of the road in the near vicinity of Badlands Truckstop were conspiciously absent, and the eerie silence that had settled across the land pressed in on our vehicles, and filled our hearts and minds with a fear-laden sensation of ominous foreboding.
That foreboding sooned turned to embarassed realisation as the first members of the Badlands Rudeboys came thundering out of the hills, just a few miles south of Badlands Truckstop. It`s entirely possible their interest in us can be ascribed to a healthy interest in things normal for any badlands bandit - the Forsaken tanker pickup riding in front, brimming with the black gold of the wastelands, the possibility of Gazette profits hidden away in our trunks, or simple the sheen of our brand new, and very desireable, Gazette vehicles.
Yes, it is entirely possible, and under most circumstances, it would have been probable. But none of us could disregard the looks shot our way when we walked into the Grainne Uaile and asked for a car brave enough to take us far to the south. So while it is possible the Badland Rudeboys came for us for the same reasons they attack just about anyone who attracts their attention [being alive is usually a good way to achieve this effect], it is just as likely one of those sideways looks from the Grainne Uaile travelled a long way, beyond the gates of Badlands Truckstop, and found itself accompanied by a sizeable sum of money, when someone payed hard cash to make sure that the prying eyes of the Darkwind Gazette would never reach the one place where criminals and misfits are still free to ply their awful trade - Firelight.
So, we did what any reporter faced with overwhelming odds in unfriendly territory would have done: pointed our cameras out the back window, waited for the enemy to get close enough for some good close-up shots, and ran like radioactive strains on the wind!
Of the unbearable days and desolate nights out in the wilds I need not speak to any of our readers who have ever been lost in the wastelands. Suffice to say that we travelled for days, through terrain more inhospitable than the most dangerous roads between Badlands and Morgan, on the run from an enemy as persistent as ever-present, under a sun determined to finish what the Solar Apocalypse once started, and with a constantly thinning supply of water and food. Not to mention photo reels. To this day, I believe that had it not been for the burning need to know that fuels any true journalist, the respect and neutral standing that the Gazette officials carry in the wastelands, and the selfless and ardent protection offered by the brave scouts, drivers and gunmen of the Forsaken, the Darkwind Gazette would never have been able to reveal to you what it is about to reveal.
Yes, of those unbearable days and desolate nights I need not tell you any more.
But I will show you, in high-resolution pictures, with descriptive captions:
This snaking road, christened the Serpentine Pass by early explorers, offered just as much protection from enemy fire as it was hazardous. I could not say if the blessing was greater than the curse.
The enemy that so doggedly kept on our heels seemed to always grow in number, in spite of the the countless of cars and lives contained within The Forsaken mercenaries bravely disposed of.
And then, just as the sun broke from the darkened clouds, we finally emerged onto flat ground.
And this is the sight that met our eyes...
Among broken buildings far too old to have been erected at any point during the last hundreds of years, we fought a final, bitter battle. When it was over, ten enemy vehicles littered the plateau we had emerged upon, in various states of disintegration. The four last remaining cars of our once proud convoy turned yet another bend.
And as cars of which like we had never seen emerged from the mists behind us, painted in dancing colors of black and smoke, their shapes as quick and shifting as the darkwinds themselves, the road beneath our wheels became straighet, and smoother. In what now seems like a fleeting and distant dream, we fled along that road, thundering past one broken building after the other, the wolves at our heels coming constantly closer, our goal just as distant and fleeting as the myths that surrounds it. The brave warriors of The Forsaken was between us and them, the night grew thick and solid, and time churned and slowed, until we could no longer remember a time when we had not raced along that distant and desolate higway, pursued by cars the color night and bone, lost in a rolling mass of bodies and souls, a stygian ocean of sliding dead, one being at one moment, a collection of dreams and memories the next.
And then, time returned.
They came in all around us. And they died all around us.
But two Forsaken cars, even piloted as they were by the finest warriors we have ever fought with, could not stand against the tidal wave of vehicular darkness that crashed down upon us. And as I felt the impact of the first two machine gun rounds striking the rear of my Gazette Sunrise, as I cursed myself, my burning need to know and my folly in ever believing in something so foolish as the myths of Firelight, the mist parted, and something rose from the darkness like the radiactive rays of the unforgiving sun burns away the night over the wastelands when morning comes.
It was a city.
Glenda Dickinson of the Edgerunners and Cheryl Thompson, still flanked by the proud and stalwart protectors of The Forsaken, finally reached the gates of Firelight. Inside its walls, they found shelter from the hordes of the Badlands Rudeboys and the far more mysterious and fearsome enemy they encountered on the final road to Firelight, but instead faced dangers far more subtle, and insidious, than any car canon-equipped mutant buzzer...
Our Firelight Feature continues in the next edition of the Gazette, in Firelight Feature pt. 2: Firelight, Firefight and Fireflight
- The Darkwind Gazette</i>
[If any of our readers desire the services of The Forsaken, you are welcome to visit the office of the Darkwind Gazette in either Somerset or Elmsfield, and we will put you in touch with the right people. Better yet, ask around for a man named Gubby, and you might just find yourself lucky enough to be riding side by side with some of the finest guardians the Darkwind Gazette has ever entrusted its people to.]
<i>Text, concept and screenshots by Ayjona</i>, in game graphics.