Thursday 12 December 2013

Machinas: Birth of the Infernals

The Light

A Wastelander offers praise to a statue
of The Oppenheimer.
In the time before history, the world was dark and desolate. The Oppenheimer, who lived high on the summit of Mount Losalamos gathered many metals from the plains below, and with them he created the first people.

The Oppenheimer also created other things to benefit his people, such as houses and animals and automobiles and grocery stores. But the people could not see in the darkness and stumbled around like blind ants and feared all of The Oppenheimer's other creations. So The Oppenheimer clapped his hands once, and there was light!

And the houses and grocery stores were destroyed, and the dusty land became the new home. And automobiles were made scarce so that people would not travel from the view of Mount Losalamos. And animals were transformed into fantastic new shapes so that they would not scare anyone. And The Oppenheimer said, "I am become Life, creator of worlds!"

The priests and the Tomes of Man

The Church and its priests run everything. War priests deal with war, Gene priests with science, and the Oak Street priest with culture (the Tomes of Man having been discovered in a buried temple in Seven Hills City known only as 7602 Oak Street.)

The Tomes of Man includes, among about a hundred other titles, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," a few issues of "Popular Mechanics," "Manage Your Office for Better Production," and "Roughing It" (by Mark Twain.) Everything is poorly translated. For example, the priests think it's actually titled "The Rise and Rebirth of the Roman Empire." But the Oak Street priests, through their (mis)interpretations of these and the other books, have managed to rebuild the Known Wasteland into a functioning and somewhat prosperous society.

The most glorious relic: The Infernal

The Church specializes in collecting and studying relics (such as the Tomes) and assumes every relic is a gift from their only god, The Oppenheimer. Among these was discovered a large metal cart with curvaceous lines, four wheels, doors, and seats made of metal springs. The cart was marked by a single name: Buick. Not knowing who Buick was, the priests of the Oak Street Church did what they always do; they said this "machinas" (Latin for "machine") was a gift from the Oppenheimer, blessed it and left it alone for the time being. The name Buick was canonized and his first gift named The Conception of Saint Buick.

The Conception of Saint Buick
Soon, more of these carts were being found around the Wasteland and were brought to the Church. Inside one of these carts was a small collection of books labeled Chilton’s. A few scholarly minds went to work and in 20 years, they had built a fully-functioning automobile out of the original machinas, The Conception of Saint Buick. Noting the fire required to operate the engine, the priests dubbed the new vehicles as the Infernals. In the years to come, scores of other Infernals were found and brought back to life by the Vestal Mechanics under the guidance of the Artifex Rex.

The fuel to run them was scarce, but the Church was able to decipher a time-consuming method to make its own. Since the Church possesses the only sources of fuel, it also has control over all the Infernals throughout the Wasteland. Crew chiefs, merchants, loners and others are allowed to have their own functioning Infernals, but they still must be registered with Oak Street. And it’s the Church that decides who gets an annual allowance of fuel and which Infernals may continue to run.

The Circus Acceleratus and Brother Pilot

The Church quickly found a new use for its metal relics: Testing the piety of its priests through Infernal Combat. And to do this, the Church created the Circus Acceleratus, a ½-mile gravel and dirt track with sweeping, banked turns in the heart of Seven Hills City. The Infernals were fitted with any and every weapon the priests could find or create – guns, cannon, mortars, rockets, flame throwers, spiked rams, wheel spikes and more. Fatalities were constant, but it was all in devotion to The Oppeneheimer.

Brother Pilot of Saint Chevy's Impala
Though the 100,000-seat Circus plays host to parades, markets and other events, its main purpose is to host the races of the Oak Street priests during the Festival of Saint Machinas. In later years, any driver or team who could drive an Infernal was invited to race in the festival. There are only a couple hundred known working Infernals throughout the Wasteland, and not all of them attend the Machinas. (Many teams must spend years searching for replacement parts to repair damage between races.) But the few that do attend provide a glorious experience for all involved.

Being sacred relics, not just anyone was allowed to drive the Infernals. Only ordained priests were allowed to operate the vehicles. Furthermore, the priests were required to give up their name and assume the simple moniker, "Brother Pilot." Many non-racers in the outer wastes did not need to meet the requirement, though many still sacrificed their name (mostly to improve their chances of earning precious rations of fuel from the Church.) Only those who have won the final race at the Festival of Saint Machinas are allowed to add to their Brother Pilot title. But they are only allowed to add the name of their vehicle. For example, one of the winners is Brother Pilot of Saint Plymouth's Fury.

And though the winner of the Machinas also earns a lifetime allowance of fuel from the Church and glory in the Known Wasteland, all Brother Pilots who have endured dirt, exhaust, and gunfire in the Circus Acceleratus are seen just as glorious.

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