The Brotherhood has controlled New Washington for many years. Everybody knows the Boss; he's a ruthless mutant slug with a bad attitude. Nobody messes with them. There's an initiation if you want to join and it isn't easy; you could die just trying. The base is a well-kept secret, so don't talk about it unless you want to get yourself killed, or worse. If you want to join us then we know where to find you. Now beat it kid and don't waste any more of my time; I'm a busy mutant.
Chapter 1: Initiation
"The truth is that I never really wanted to join the Brotherhood of the Slug. However, life in this radioactive hellhole has driven me to some desperate decisions. It all started in the slums of New Washington when I was a mutant kid. Most of us were mutants by then, the resulting genetic repercussions of bio-weapons used by the ancients during the fifth world war. A few hundred years have passed since the planet was nearly destroyed. Nobody knows who started it and now it doesn't seem to matter. We cling desperately to a precarious existence. The world is brutal and a mutant needs to make some quick and sensible decisions to survive. Our ancestors answered the call to create a brave new world for us. Those are the kind of mutants we're looking to join the Brotherhood. So who's in?"
The crowd of assembled mutants shuffled nervously and looked away; none of them wanted to be involved with the Brotherhood, they were known to be responsible for unsavory things, but of course, there was no direct proof, with the disappearance of so many witnesses. The crowd in the central square of the town filtered away.
"Before you go my brothers, remember that your chance of survival with us is considerably higher. Membership is for life and this has certain advantages."
However, everybody knew the main disadvantage was that you might actually get killed working for them. It kind of cancelled the advantages out if you thought about it. Nobody was buying it and the crowd dispersed and went their separate ways. Scavenger stood by himself in the meeting square. The twisted ruins of New Washington seemed to be painted in shadows on the horizon, but it was just a trick of the light. Black radioactive clouds loomed overhead and the warning sounds activated.
The assembled crowds hurried underground into the safe depths of an old military base, which was situated in the middle of town. The place had been used by them for years and the community had grown around it over time. The giant blast doors of the imposing structure lumbered open and mutants looked nervously into the skies. Scavenger followed the others to the nearby place of safety. He joined the line filing into the wide opening at the front of the old base. His own mutation was based on a raccoon gene, although a further mutation had given him some of the properties of a badger as well. His paws had slender and dexterous fingers that could easily operate ancient weapons and were more like hands, with dirty claws; a strange combination of different creatures. The base was part of a construction force, which defended New Washington hundreds of years ago, but nobody alive today knew anything about that; it was history now. All they knew was that when it rained, it wasn't safe to remain above ground. The rain itself burned, it was radioactive and mutagenic, nasty stuff, but the plants loved it. Some species had learned to anticipate the bad weather and make curious excited noises before its arrival. It was part of survival lore to run for cover if you ever heard those sounds. In a world where plants had acquired a taste for mutant flesh and only a fool walked in the wilderness alone. It was also a place where ancient war technologies, still following automated programs, went about their endless business; running on efficient fusion reactors that kept them going almost indefinitely. A shattered world abandoned by the rest of the universe; littered by the remnants of an ancient war.
It was a few hours later, before he emerged with everyone else into the flickering sunlight; beaming down warmth from the heavens above. In the afternoon Scavenger returned to the base, by the usual secret route.
He double-checked that no one had followed him into the dead end gulley, in the rocks over-looking a field of violet radioactive snappers. The Boss insisted on planting them all around the base. They were aggressive plants and sneaky too. Scavenger was scared of them and his hearts sank, when he heard about the Boss's intention to plant them everywhere. Scavenger looked around again, just to be sure, before saying the secret code word. A hatch concealed in the ground opened. Scavenger jumped onto the circular turbo-lift and descended into the earth. The hatch closed automatically from above as he descended into the depths. The lift stopped in a large cavern lined with ancient air fliers parked in neat rows along designated parking bays. Scavenger walked across the cavern and made his way along the familiar route to the main assembly area, where he knew the Boss would be. Sure enough, the old slug was there on his floating levitation chair, looking overweight and grotesque as usual. His eyes stocks swiveled around to glare at Scavenger. He wasn't amused.
"What took you so long Scavenger?"
"I'm sorry Boss; nobody was interested in joining up with us today."
"Maybe you're not trying hard enough?"
"No, Boss, it's just that... Oh never mind."
"Out with it Scavenger, what's on your two minds? I can't be bothered reading your thoughts right now."
"Too many new recruits have been getting killed. Everybody in the town is too scared to join up."
The Boss became angry and Scavenger feared he would explode with rage at any moment.
"You never get anything right! I ask you to do one thing for me; solve one problem."
"But it's such a big problem, Boss."
"Now you're being negative Scavenger, you know I don't like to hear that kind of talk."
"Sorry, Boss, I'm just saying that's all."
"Just listen; find some more initiates. That's what I want you to do; have you got it? Now get the hell out of my sight."
The Boss glared at him and Scavenger looked away.
"Sure thing, Boss."