Devouring Earth - Praetorian
The Hamidon Wars
Excerpt taken from Tyrant’s background info
A new global threat loomed over the world, a threat no super-powered being could defeat and no weapon could stop, except for the bomb. This threat was the Devouring Earth, dubbed so because the consumption of humankind was its agenda.
Cole’s return gave humankind its first glimmer of hope in years. If Cole had survived the atomic blast in Korea, then surely he was more powerful than the Devouring Earth creatures. Cole set his sights on this new enemy, an enemy that had driven humanity to the verge of self-annihilation at the hands of its own nuclear weapons. Cole was the only other solution.
The entire world was at war with the Devouring Earth. The Devouring Earth launched a surprise attack on Washington, DC, and NORAD. The attack destroyed the capital, killing President MacArthur, the vice president, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cole publicly vowed to avenge this attack, to discover what hateful intelligence had laid them low. It was now apparent that the creatures of the Devouring Earth were cunning, and Cole meant to destroy every one of them. He had no idea that this brief speech to America’s people would get him elected as the next president by a staggering 98% majority.
Cole cut a swath through the Devouring Earth creatures, driving them from city after city, restoring hope and rallying supers behind him. It was bitter, grisly work, but Cole had once again found his calling. In a year’s time, Cole and America’s Super Corps stopped the Devouring Earth dead in its tracks in America. At the same time, the rest of the world was fighting a losing war. The detonation of dozens of nuclear weapons killed off more of humanity and appeared only to enrage the enemy. Desperate, the world’s refugees flooded into America, hoping that Cole could protect them.
Cole addressed what was left of the United Nations Security Council. In that momentous speech, Cole spoke of the Roman Empire, and how in times of greatest peril, Rome would elect one man to lead its people and its armies against its enemy. “Divided,” said Cole, “humankind will fall, but united in this conflict, it will triumph.” To silence cries of “Dictator!,” Cole stated that he could not pursue this leadership role because he needed to be on the front lines. The Security Council exploded into conflict. No one could agree on who should become the consul. The members descended into petty bickering, distracting any of them from the looming threat.
Cole’s booming voice silenced the Security Council. At that moment, it became clear to everyone in the assembly that only Cole could truly lead humankind against this, its greatest threat. Cole’s appointment was immediately proposed, and he took the office grudgingly. Never one for details, Cole delegated many of his tasks to more capable commanders in the world’s combined Super Corps. He dubbed this new fighting force the Praetorian Guard. Cole’s mandate to this new force was that it was to cut off the head of whatever was leading the Devouring Earth monsters.
The Praetorian Guard attacked in a massive combined strike against the Devouring Earth, obliterating it. However, it was soon apparent that that the strike had not done the trick, as a giant monster appeared in South America. It began destroying every Praetorian Guard unit that it encountered. The monster leveled entire cities and was moving steadily north across Central America. When it crossed into Mexico, the Mexican government attacked with a small tactical stockpile of nuclear weapons it had purchased from America. The attack had no effect.
This challenge was what Cole was destined for. Not wishing to see more of his Praetorian Guard killed, he faced off alone against the beast. The battle was brief, and at first, indecisive. Cole’s attacks damaged the creature, but the same physiology that had rendered it immune to a half-dozen nuclear weapons was able to deal with Cole’s powers. Likewise, Cole was too tough for the flailing tentacles and claws of the monster to do much to him other than swat him around. Desperate to kill the beast, Cole called upon a reserve of energy he had not ever suspected lay within him and unleashed a devastating bolt of power that nearly laid the beast low. Now Cole had its undivided attention.
The creature quickly healed the injury and responded by projecting a tangible beam of psychic energy at Cole, rendering him limp and helpless. A battle of wills ensued, and the world held its collective breath.
Then with a clap of thunder, the energy field around Cole shattered, and the great beast shuddered, lumbered away, and collapsed. Cole had defeated the beast. He had also learned much from it with his brief commingling with its mind.
The effect of the monster’s death was immediately apparent to the world. Devouring Earth attacks decreased dramatically. In some places, they halted all together. The war had turned a corner. The people cried out for the creature to be killed, and Cole agreed. However, nothing anyone tried could kill the creature. It seemed to be tied to the Earth itself. The best anyone could do was contain it.
Attack on First Ward
Excerpt taken from the First Ward history
First Ward was to be the seed from which the city of Praetoria would blossom, the first of the new cities in Marcus Cole’s bright vision of the future. Built in the shadow of the bluff atop which sits the Mother of Mercy Psychiatric Hospital, First Ward was a picturesque city. From the towering Westerman Building and the surrounding skyscrapers that made up the city’s heart to the quiet neighborhoods of Eltentown and Mercyview, everything about First Ward said “home.” It was even surrounded by the newest technology developed to turn back the rampaging Devouring Earth: sonic fencing. But this technology was a prototype, and it had flaws.
When the Devouring Earth came, the sonic fencing worked as designed. The tidal wave of Devouring Earth creatures—accompanied by mammoth Seeds that floated lazily above them—was held back. Had that been the extent of the attack, the defenders could have dispatched the creatures at their leisure. But Hamidon was clever.
Hamidon’s true weapon had been lying in wait beneath First Ward, biding its time and testing the city’s new defenses. When the real attack came, this weapon didn’t thrash impotently against First Ward’s sonic fencing, it came up in the middle of the city. Great tentacles the width of jumbo jets erupted from the streets and tore into the buildings. The homes and business of the people of First Ward turned into a death trap as hundreds of tons of steel and concrete were pulled down upon the city’s residents. Their city became their tomb, and its defenders, deployed along First Ward’s perimeter, could only watch in horror as the city was destroyed from within.
The attack was Cole’s first no-win scenario as Emperor. Most of his aides informed him that nuclear weapons were the only answer. But one aide promised him another solution, one that would not kill everyone in the city and offered a chance for some to survive.
Praetor Keyes, inventor of the sonic fencing, had seen the flaw in his system and found a way to plug the hole. He would turn the sonic fencing in on the city, causing a catastrophic frequency loop. This solution would leave everything in the center of the city dead, but unlike nuclear weapons, it offered a chance of survival to those outside of the city’s center. Cole approved the operation.
No records remain of what happened next. What is known to the average Praetorian citizen is that the Devouring Earth attack was stopped and that, save for the Mother of Mercy Psychiatric Hospital, the rest of the city was categorized indefinitely as a disaster area. Although a few survivors were relocated to Neutropolis, tens of thousands were dead or missing. Others were quarantined due to exposure to Tellurian Plague, a fatal disease transmitted by close proximity to the Devouring Earth.