Skarrd

The Forsaken clergy have long spoken of “devils wearing the skin of men” and nowhere is this truer than in the ruined laboratories and outposts of the Great Expanse. From the degenerate tribes of the wasteland come the Skarrd, an army of cannibalistic madmen fueled by rage and death. Of these tribes come the sinister adherents of the Toxic Cult, merciless proctors of poisons and venom; the Blood Cult, zealous murders dedicated to bathing the sands in red; and the wicked experiments of the Fallen Saint Johann and his Cult of Metamorphosis.

Models

Blood Cult

Metamorphosis Cult

Toxic Cult

History

The Baniss

The Skarrd cannot be understood without first examining the catalyst for their creation. One fateful blip on the vast map of the northern wastes proved to be the difference between a desperate and hardy group of refugees, and the maniacal mutant mob known today as the “Skarrd”. Centuries ago, during the first exploitation of the planet designated 23A-Q4b, a corporation called Powergenics constructed one of the many illegal research compounds that littered the planet. In the distant hostile wasteland north of the spaceport then known as Port City, far from prying eyes, Powergenics constructed a facility devoted to researching the efficiency of chemical and biochemical stimulants for human metabolisms acting in stressful environments. They developed, tested, and produced a host of manipulative drugs, engineered viruses, chemical injections, and hormone enhancers that were designed to either destroy or enhance human physiology and psychology. The fields of usage for these stimulants were nearly endless, ranging from combat situations to working efficiency under desperate and often outright lethal environmental conditions.

Many of the subjects for these experiments were criminals purchased illegally from the United Worlds’ outlying penitentiary planets, others were pioneers kidnapped during slaving raids on terraforming planets, and some were even simply abducted from the back alleys and seedy sectors of Port City itself. None were volunteers, and Powergenics employed harsh measures to ensure that their test specimens didn’t leave. The survival rate for Powergenics test subjects was considerably low, for some of the examined stimulants as low as three and a half minutes.

The experimentation in the Powergenics facility irrevocably altered any subject, for good or ill. Many suffered insanity regardless of the physical effects, as the agony of forced mutations broke their minds. Others were rendered mentally useless when the chemicals and artificial bio-agents mutated their brains along with the rest of their bodies. Most, of course, simply died, their bodies twisted into non-viable physical condition by the horrific changes they underwent. It is no wonder the facility resembled nothing more than a fortified asylum at some point, where the inmates’ painful cries and inhuman howls echoed through the desolate surrounding landscape. The rate of attrition amongst the patients was enormous. Some astonishing successes occurred, but almost none without drastic side effects.

Very little marketable product was created in the short span of years before the collapse of the UW, at which point Powergenics quickly and summarily scooped up data and only the most valuable of resources and caught the first available transports off world. No cleanup or disposal was done on the facility. The planet was being abandoned, and it was deemed a waste of time, money, and an opportunity for early departure to remain simply in order to sterilize an isolated compound on a dead, abandoned world. Captives were left howling and wailing in their cells, test subjects strapped on the examination tables, chemical and biological agents frozen in their containers, and the compound in its lonely surroundings, a mute testament to the excess and moral bankruptcy of the Age of the UW.

The Exodus

The actual tale of the Skarrd begins centuries later, virtually at the same moment as the rebirth of the Church on Samaria and the spreading of the ‘Word of God’. Haggard and suspicious, eager to climb above their own station, the common folk of the city now known as New Ashkelon singled out and ostracized those who they felt were not up to the standards of their new faith. Often the crimes and heresies aimed at the accused were mere fabrications, conceived only as a means for their neighbors to loot their possessions after their banishment. The ruins of northern Port City were the remnants of the most violent of the riots during the Fall, and that wide district of the city was uninhabited and largely ignored. Gradually, the refugees and outcasts began to gather there, forming their own suspicious and desperate subculture in the slums and tenements. The unwanted and unwelcome began to flood the district, as fanaticism, fear, and greed drove more and more people from their jobs, homes, and lives. In short order, the ruins were overwhelmed with banished and disenfranchised individuals and families numbering in the thousands, and their new locale quickly became too small to support them all. Even worse, the witch hunters and fanatics of the city hadn’t forgotten them and more and more forays of torch bearing mobs made the new home more than just unsafe. It wasn't the first time in human history that cruelty and despair were the bitter harvest sowed by fanaticism and over eagerness.

The fugitives were far from giving in to their destiny. A loose coalition of the leaders amongst the group under the tutelage of a man calling himself Baphomet came to the conclusion that their chances of survival in one of the abandoned outposts on the outskirts of the Forsaken territories were much better than if they remained in the slums of Port City. The doomed beginnings of the ‘Exodus of the Baniss’, as it would come to be called, were born. A caravan of scavengers and pariahs collected every scrap of salvage and provision they could lay hands on, banded together despite mistrust and suspicion, and set off across the arid wastes to the north in search of a new home. The relieved authorities of New Ashkelon watched them leave, for they were too numerous to be fully controlled or contained in the northern ruins of the city, and they were very pleased by this problem solving itself. The convoy trickled northward for over a week, trekking across hostile terrain with the most meagre of supplies. The outlook appeared bleak, and frustration and fear turned into desperation and despair. It was always questioned how so many people were able to avoid the attention of the local Outcasts and Brigands, but the simple truth is they weren’t. Perhaps it was out of fear of their Forsaken witch hunters, perhaps it was because there was nothing valuable left to them, but those who noticed the caravan just observed it, staring and watching the Exodus as it happened without interfering and without remorse.

Among the fugitives tempers flared as starvation set in, and many died of exhaustion, heat stroke, or the result of vicious brawls and even murder. The leaders of the group were barely able to prevent all-out riot amongst the group, and most of the slain were eaten with only minor hesitation to prevent the entire band from perishing. Those who managed to continue on saw friends, parents, and children die along the way. They never forgot those who had cast them out to face such a harsh and brutal fate. Deep within them, their hatred burrowed itself into their hearts, festering and growing stronger. The refugees covered over 300 kilometers in thirteen long days, losing fully half of their numbers. Some say it was coincidence, others that it was destiny. A few others who are careful to remain unknown point towards an obscure source telling the leaders of the Baniss about it, but those are mostly speculation. What ever it was, before the remainder finally crested the hill that revealed a tainted promise - squat and ugly lay the abandoned Powergenics compound.

None of the outcasts noticed the significance of the number of days they spent on their painful march, though it may have been prophetic. Their new home was destined to destroy and remake them in its own image, but by the time they set foot upon the installation, the refugees were ignorant to this, indeed they had gained new energy and hope. They were already plotting vengeance upon those who had so callously banished them from their homes, leaving them no choice but to die in the wilderness. They named themselves the Baniss, and dubbed their new compound-cumvillage Fort Retribution. Upon entering the compound and finding a dusty and stale barracks awaiting them, they immediately fell into near-comas of exhaustion, taking to the rotted and withered cots and bunks as though they were eiderdown cushions, and plunged into sweet dreams of reprisal. That night the Baniss went to sleep comfortable and content for the last time.

After nearly a day of rest, the Baniss awoke famished and excited. They set out in groups to explore Fort Retribution, eager to see what remnants of technology or supplies might be scavenged from those who had abandoned her. The compound certainly seemed untouched by man for as long as they could imagine, and they held onto the hope that it had been left untouched since the Fall. Handfuls of frantic scavengers scattered into the furthest corners of the sprawling compound in an effort to pry into locked rooms and sealed cabinets, searching for anything they might find useful. They found much more than they had expected. The kitchens were easy to identify, and massive cupboards full of hermetically sealed foodstuffs had survived the ravages of time. Upon their discovery, most of the scavengers were called back, and the elated squatters feasted on dusty remnants of a civilization that had died centuries ago. After their meal, they set out again, their fervor renewed. One group, searching the eastern wing of the compound, came across a warehouse-sized room filled with lifeless computer equipment and massive canisters, sealed tanks and long-silent refrigeration cases. Unfamiliar with the symbols emblazoned on the various containers, they pried open nearly all of them in search of useful supplies. Nothing but foul-smelling chemicals awaited them in most cases, and airtight-sealed nothing in others, so they turned to abandon the wing for further exploration. None of them left that warehouse. Within three hours, all of the explorers inside the compound were clutched in the crushing grip of unspeakable agony as the viral and chemical contaminants assaulted them in concert. The unleashed poisons spread like wildfire through Fort Retribution, and it earned its name with sick irony. Like the experimental subjects of centuries ago, many of the Baniss died or lost their minds within the first minutes. Others survived nearly twelve hours. The initial sweep of the toxins and viruses killed nearly a quarter of the remaining population, slaughtering nearly half of those who had actually ventured into the compound to explore.

The cynicism of it all peaked in the failed experiments of the Powergenics corporation. It had invested millions in the scientific search for a Mutation Stabilizer, an experiment which brought forth the Mutagen Controller F64-29. Despite initial successes, especially when combining it with different endurance stimulants, this task lead to failure and was halted due to surpassing the economical margins. However, the scientists had been on the right track to find the stabilizer, all that they had needed was time. With the power generators switching off one by one F64-29 found over the centuries the time to complete its chemical reaction and turned into something the Powergenics scientists only dreamt of, creating what experts call a medium for ‘Mithridatization’. Released into the air the Mutation Stabilizer changed. the weird amalgam of biological agents and chemical mutagens in the air began to combine. The newly created concoctions spawned some incredible results. Some Baniss visibly devolved, reverting into a primal and animalistic state. Others saw their own bodies twisted, stretched, and re-sculpted into unnatural proportions, usually growing stronger or faster; many of the effects had been originally intended to improve physical performance, and they did exactly that after all those centuries passed. A few felt odd twinges flutter to life in their minds, the heralds of strange powers brewing deep within them as unused synapses were rejuvenated and opened up new portions of their brains. No matter whether a mutation was unique or reoccurred several times, the Mutation Stabilizer rapidly enforced their development and helped many of those affected to survive. One side effect of the combined chemical/biological cocktail was the alteration of their hormonal management. The direct result was a severe imbalance of their emotions,equalling and then surpassing their rational minds in a rush. Instead of being creatures of reason guided by their desires, they became beings of emotion restrained only by reason—and reason was definitely subordinate. Their fear, anger, and thickly bubbling hatred of the Forsaken who had cast them out came raging to the foreground of their minds. They found it very difficult to think of anything else.

After a short time, the remainder of the Baniss, stripped of options, began re-entering the compound’s interior. The intensity of the toxins had lessened, dissipating throughout the compound and out into the surrounding air, but some viruses had mutated further as they consumed their victims, and some of the chemical compounds had merged to form even more devastating combinations. Over the next several months, the Baniss established themselves in the broad atrium in the center of Fort Retribution. They built a camp from what materials they were able to scavenge, periodically venturing into the buildings for materials, tools, food, and any other supplies they could find. Each foray was a gamble, exposing themselves to the toxic interior, and each load of salvage was bought in mutation, agony, and a certain amount of death. Over a slow stretch of time, the toxicity of the air became less volatile and the environment less hazardous, but the damage had been done. The viral infestation had thoroughly penetrated the population, spreading from those who had ventured into the compound to the rest of the Baniss. The mutagenic chemicals had performed their work on the physiology of those who were contaminated, and the genetic alterations were complete. The mutations became predictable, dependent on which part of the compound the people entered, and the Baniss grew tougher, brutally callous, and accustomed to their lot.

Shortly into their tenure at Fort Retribution, a new mutation manifested itself. Whether as a part of an increased metabolism or some boosted physiological efficiency, or simply some anomalous side effect of massive contamination, the reproductive cycle of the Baniss increased by nearly double. Women began to gestate and bear children in increasingly rapid time frames, without any low birth weight or other premature symptoms. Infant mortality was high due to harsh conditions and mutation, but the time frame for childbirth dropped until it seemed to stabilize near five months. The Baniss were able to repopulate their dwindled numbers more quickly than would have normally been possible, thus healing the damage done to their “tribe” in astonishing speed. Unfortunately, with the good came the bad. Teratogenesis and new mutations, spawned by the genetic damage caused during the toxic explosion, were widespread amongst the newborns. Most were unusually large children, and incredibly difficult to please or control. The emotional weight that had affected the parents had been passed on to the children. Some of the boys manifested strange abilities when upset, and those around them found their own emotions manipulated, either bolstered or altered unconsciously by children trying to get what they wanted. In addition, the population quickly outgrew the confines of Fort Retribution. Violent and brutal battles for supremacy took place, as chieftains were raised amongst various groups of the Baniss and each thought himself more suitable than the others to decide their fates. Eventually, some were cast out to find other homes, banished from the Baniss and forced again to search for refuge elsewhere. Thus the Baniss became a savage and nomadic people. They spread into the east and the west of the Great Expanse, learning the skills of foraging and scavenging to the point of near-perfection and growing more rugged with each passing year. They learned mistrust and brutal survival instinct from birth, and as years passed they fought every conceivable challenge. They battled the environment, the strange wildlife around them, and of course other tribes.

As the younger generation grew, those with the strange manipulation powers grew even more unusual. Some were gifted with uncanny intelligence, and even greater grace. They seemed to be the pinnacle of the Baniss’ gene pool, nearly all following the same mold, being calm and cold, yet skilled warriors, and their unusual abilities, dubbed Psychogenics by those of advanced knowledge, were of the most insidious and powerful type. They were capable of reaching into one’s mind and twisting his or her emotions to suit a whim. These individuals quickly became the exclusive chieftains of the Baniss, assuming a patriarchal rule as naturally as if born to it. They all came to be given the title of Father, and the rule of their tribes was absolute. The rest of the boys who manifested these odd powers in their youth grew to be much different. Most of them grew to be thin and misshapen as adults, and psychologically bent even by the standards of their peers. They were capable of the same emotional manipulation powers as their Father brethren, but generally on a lesser scale. The Ability that they did gain over the Fathers was a power over the more physical types of manipulation. Sadistic and cruel, they were nearly all capable of causing elemental surges of pain in those that displeased them, or a physical twisting and breaking of bone and muscle. Theirs was a brutal power, without subtlety of any kind. They also had an odd sort of insight, whether through their psychic abilities or their madness. They learned to interpret strange omens from their surroundings and to judge people at a glance with frightening accuracy. These men grew to be the witch doctors of their tribes, each owing his allegiance to a Father and serving as an advisor and sometimes bodyguard. They came to be known as Bone Doctors, and no tribe was without at least one.

Survival

Over the ensuing years, the Baniss grew quickly, spreading throughout the northern wastes and far beyond. They became unparalleled scavengers, and new tribes tended to form most often around abandoned way stations and outlying installations rich with plunder. They learned to glean every bit of usefulness from their surroundings, and defended their territory fiercely against anything that came near it. Their victims learned to fear the Skarrd visiting them in the dead of the night, robbing from them all they had, feasting on their flesh and taking away their very skin. For the Skarrd had turned to cannibalism, whether it was to avoid starving in their hostile home grounds or a reminiscence of their very own Exodus no one can say. But dying at their hands wasn't the worst fate, as a measurement of survival and strength they took Outsiders, those willing and those not, erratically into their ranks when they saw the need for it, but only the toughest and fittest of them were able to survive the treatment at their hands, the rest becoming welcome meals.

This treatment differed from tribe to tribe but almost all methods of initiation included severe physical and psychological torturing as well as the usage of biochemical substances brought from Fort Retribution and hoarded by the tribes Bone Docs. This unique treasure, called the “Communion of Awareness”, became the focus of a tribes spiritual consciousness. The compound itself was the true hotbed of lingering and mutated contaminants, the one true source of what the Baniss revered the most. This made Father Retribution the most powerful of his kin, and those new captives that were brought for their initiation to the Fort and were forced to march through the entire complex proved to have the highest mortality rate but also the most exceptional changes. Those that survived such an initiation rarely emerged unchanged, and any who lived were allowed to join the mightiest of the tribes, the tribe Retribution. Many of these lost souls bore unique mutations that were far beyond or below human nature or even what was deemed “normal” by the Baniss.

Adaptation

Decades passed, and the Baniss honed their abilities, increasing the size and strength of their tribes, and they learned, adapted, and scraped by…but they never forgave or forgot. The mutations of their people continued to stabilize into recognizable trends, and they were able to form that which would serve as a society for them. With passing time the tribes learned to adapt to their specific home regions. Along with the differences wrought upon them by tribal dynamics and their given homelands another development changed their social evolution. The supernaturally gifted Bone Docs filled more and more the gap of religious counsels and advisors, turning naturally into tribal shamans at some point. As much as the environment coined the tribes, so did the mind set and emotional balance their beliefs and the type and mixture of the chemical compounds hosted by their religious leaders. The first shamanistic cults to emerge were the Blood and Toxic cults, two competing schools of sick obsession within the Baniss who show an incredible attraction to one or the other. Some tribesmen turned to one or the other, and with the passage of time even more Cults turned up, like the Cult of Madness or the Cult of Rot. Some rare tribes even dedicate their beliefs to one of those religious groupings, but like all things Baniss this causes intertribal rivalries and unrest. However, none of the younger Cults could ever reach the influence and power of the first. This went even so far as to those two Cults establishing their very own epicenters in the Great Expanse and their own hierarchy of power. Where the nomadic tribes press onwards through the wastelands and towards the more civilized areas promising rich booty and satiation of their hatred, the Cults remain stationary, spreading their own influence through the tribes and their people. Many pacts were forged between tribes and cults, and most saw the latter sending reinforcements and special warrior types to support the nomadic raiders in exchange for captives and rare treasures. Among those dedicated Cult warriors were the Blood Reign of the Blood Cult, a warrior group that focused on the spilling of as much of their favored substance as possible in battle, regardless of need or practicality. The Toxic cult gave birth to the Kaustic “officer” group, an assortment of individuals whose first members had braved the interior of Fort Retribution itself in order to collect samples of the vile toxins and chemicals that were responsible for their mutations. These sadists use combinations of these contaminants to cause the most painful deaths possible for their foe. The Baniss were cutthroat and merciless to a man, even amongst one another. The only time they showed any cooperation, even between families within the same tribe, was against outsiders (including another tribe), or at the outright command of their Father. Each individual or small family Unit had its own scavengers and warriors; indeed, they likely would not have tolerated the sheer proximity of so many others at all were it not for the tremendous charisma of the Fathers. Their society and ways of battle were simple and brutal, but sufficient. All the while they plotted, individually and as a race, planning for the time that they would be strong enough to take their revenge upon those who had cast them out, the despised Forsaken.

The Heretic

When Saint Johann the Heretic was driven into the north from the Battle for Salvation, roughly thirty years after the Baniss had established themselves, it was with the remainder of his loyal forces…and it was directly into the Baniss. When Johann had passed the Canonization he hadn’t been a young man and the eager studies had taken their toll even more on him. The Battle for Salvation had been exhaustive and like many of his followers, Johann bore deep wounds and gashes all over his body. Their flight was a desperate one, countless skirmishes with their pursuers slowed them down and one by one their makeshift vehicles broke down. When they crossed the northern border towards the Great Expanse the army was just a shadow of its former self, and this hopeless decision was their one hope of evading their enemies.

But the fugitives didn’t enter the desert unnoticed, the masters of the wasteland and sworn enemy to the Forsaken had watched with great interest the evolution of the Saints on the fringes of the Forsaken lands. They had captured a fair amount of would be pioneers and traders setting off from Port City, as well as more than just a few Outcasts; the torture of these captives had kept them informed on the progress of their ancestral foe. Despite the fact that in the beginning the Forsaken were totally unaware of their existence, the Baniss knew all about them. They were also prepared for the flight of a so-called Saint into their clutches.

As Johann’s battered and embittered remnants worked their way north, five tribes of Baniss under the leadership of Father Retribution himself encircled a blowout ridge and awaited their approach. The scouts had seen strange creatures amongst these Forsaken, ones that had never before been seen or even heard of, so the Fathers held their forces back with extreme caution. The treachery of the Forsaken was well remembered. As Johann’s troops marched across the open hardpan, the Baniss seized their opportunity and sprang from cover, scattering widely to surround the Forsaken. With a cacophony of shrieks, vicious looking winged creatures sprang to the sky, but most were caught by the fluttering grasp of a well-aimed hunting bola, falling to the ground in a tangle of snarls and clattering metal. A wide array of soldiers carrying swords and clubs of all descriptions quickly snapped into a circle around Johann, facing out towards their enemy. Their eyes blazed with a mad intensity, and their limbs quivered visibly with pent-up energy. Other troopers, augmented with massive robotic claws in place of their hands or even other, stranger devices attached to their bodies, stepped out closer towards the foe, forming a looser and wider ring outside the first. The handful of winged creations landed, each screeching as it did so, but they had been thinned and scattered.

One set down near a Blood Reign, snarling and brandishing its razored fingers. With a quick spin and a pair of well-placed slashes, the Blood Reign was two paces away from its enemy, and blood was fountaining into the air. The Baniss had slashed the carotid and femoral arteries in one smooth motion, and his foe collapsed in a growing pool of its own gushing blood. Another touched down next to a Kaustic, and as it slashed a wide rent in the Kaustic’s abdomen, it received a single stab in the shoulder with a cluster of needles. In seconds, the grafted creature was lying on the ground next to its opponent, twitching and frothing at the mouth as the poisons in its system ruptured its organs.

Saint Johann immediately recognized a number of things about his ambushers. Firstly, they outnumbered him by a considerable amount. Secondly, they possessed some strange combat techniques that he had never before seen. Thirdly, they had not yet launched a counterattack; they had only defended themselves when assaulted. He made his decision quickly and without reservation. He ordered his warriors to stand down. He ordered them, in fact, to drop their weapons. They looked at him as if he were mad, but he said nothing further, merely looking at each of his Squad leaders with a cold and unflinching stare that spoke volumes. He knew that their only chance of leaving that battle of their own free will was to bargain with these strange savages, and he intended to attempt just that. His men obeyed, if reluctantly.

After a tense and weighty silence, the ring of Baniss parted, and the obvious leader stepped from behind the warriors to approach Saint Johann and his troops. The leader was none other than Father Retribution, who had decided to attend this momentous ambush with an entourage of his elite troops. The Father of the Fort Retribution tribe was always regarded as the leader of leaders amongst the Baniss, and he had reinforced the power of his title by expanding his tribe to control an area that stretched for kilometers around the ancient compound. He was the coldest, cruelest, and most formidable Father the Baniss had ever seen. His only Bone Doctor followed in his wake, a good three paces behind him, and then stopped short a dozen paces from the ring of Saint Johann’s troops.

So awe-inspiring was the presence of Father Retribution that the ring of men parted as well, cowering from him. Saint Johann himself felt a sense of fear creeping in upon him, and clamped down on it immediately. He knew that to demonstrate this to his opponent would be sheer folly, and lose him any leverage he might have in the bargain. When he felt it try to squirm around his mental control, however, Johann knew that even the fear was some strange artificial technique of the other man. Momentarily, they stared at one another, each regarding his counterpart with keen scrutiny. After a seemingly interminable pause, the Baniss began. He told Saint Johann that he and his people were the descendants of those who had been driven from the Forsaken decades ago. He described in vague terms the hardships they had faced, and the grievous wounds done to them by the Forsaken. He explained how they intended to butcher every last man, woman, and child of them, and calmly informed him that they only wished him to know the circumstances of his doom before his life ended.

With a surge of hope, Saint Johann realized that, in fact, he and his foe had the same enemy. Praying that the enemy of his enemy might be his friend, he described how he had been persecuted by the Forsaken as well, how he and his followers had been driven from their home that very day, most of them slaughtered. He proclaimed with very real hatred how his pursuit of the secrets of grafting science had caused him to be ostracized and in fact condemned by “narrow-minded, archaic charlatans and witch hunters.” He proposed that they were in fact in pursuit of the same cause, and that they should pursue their vengeance together instead of fighting one another. The Father took one step closer to Johann, their faces mere inches apart now, and addressed him with utter scorn.

“You were not even strong enough to stand against the cowardly Forsaken, Saint,” he charged, pure disgust dripping from his words while he stared at the injured fallen Saint. “How do you propose to stand alongside the Baniss?” This exchange would be the climax of many retelling of this story to come.

Johann laughed bitterly when he heard this “There is not one of your men able to face me!” This caused massive laughter among the staring and waiting Baniss. But Johann just renewed his offering “Let me show you my true strength by choosing a champion out of your ranks!”

How could this wounded man utter such a daring declaration? For the Father Retribution it was a dangerous petition, for he couldn’t allow himself to act cowardly, nor was there something to be won by defeating this man single handed. He didn’t need long to find a solution, Zurishe, the Father of the Kasdeya had harboured ambitions for months to replace him as the ruling Father of the Baniss epicentre, and this duel was a good occasion to humiliate the rival. So he ordered Zurishe to face Johann.

Of those who were present that day most refuse to speak about what they saw. Rumours and legends woven around this encounter blur the truth even more, but most agree that when Zurishe charged the fallen Saint, the Forsaken changed. His wounds opened and mechanical limbs shot forth, while his shape altered into an nightmarish form no one could call human. Like a striking scorpion, Saint Johann flashed from statuesque stillness towards his opponent. Johann’s body warped even more and when his grotesque body met his enemy the fight was over before it begun. Saint Johann had not merely performed experimental grafting on his followers,the most sinister and profound versions of some of the most mysterious experiments had been performed on him as well. He used this moment to demonstrate the power he had to bear.

Like all Fathers, the leader of the Retribution tribe was almost devoid of all emotional expression, so he watched Zurish’s demise silent and unmoved. His grisly work done, Johann reverted back to his wounded human form, stained with the blood of his enemy, the Skarrd ruler watched him for long seconds. Father Retribution nodded faintly towards the fallen Saint and turned to leave. After a deliberate short pause Johann followed him. Very little negotiation was required after this demonstration, Johann’s people and the Baniss had found more than they were searching for.

Following the strange union of the Baniss and Johanns men the tribes renamed themselves, the Skarrd, after the wounds —both physical and otherwise—that they had all suffered at the hands of their enemies. Johann was content to be the spider at the center of a new web of influence; he retreated further into the north to another abandoned station, much smaller and less extensive than Fort Retribution. Any of Johann’s followers that wished to join the new order was required to take the fateful march through Fort Retribution. Most survived, a testament to Johann’s own rigid standards. He even insisted on passing the dangerous trial himself, knowing that the people he intended to lead respected strength above all else. The Fathers still control their tribes, but there are new additions to all of the Skarrd’s families. The addition of Johann’s extensive grafting knowledge and his myriad technicians have allowed for the expansion and improvement of many of the old weapons and practices of the Baniss, and some facet’s of Johann’s own previous forces have remained relatively unchanged in the Skarrd.

Half a year after Johann had joined the Baniss, many of the scattered tribes came towards Fort Retribution, some of them sending emissaries, others coming in full strength to their revered home grounds. It was not truly a reunion of all tribes, but even though they visited their epicenter occasionally it was an opportunity the double leaders, the Heretic and the Father Retribution, couldn't miss. Depending on their leaders and their own goals they supported the tribes with new technology and instructions, spanning a web of deceit and sinister plans over Samaria’s north. The time to take revenge against the Forsaken wasn't close, but they started working towards that goal and things looked promising. While some of the tribes were all too willingly to accept the newcomers and their gifts, others were reluctant and opposed them more or less openly. A revolution of technology has altered much about the people who once called themselves the Baniss, but they have embraced their new brethren and added potency almost without reservation. They are still the same people they once were; they are still brutal and savage, hell bent on revenge. The strange amalgam of barbarian scavenger lifestyle and forbidden levels of technology has produced an army that is as terrifying to behold as it is to battle. Towering mutants now wield not only inhuman strength, but also massive powered claws. Harpies with mechanical wings and implanted steel claws now burn with the same hatred that eats at the souls of all their tribesmen. The two forces of the Baniss and Saint Johann’s loyalists are truly a match made in Hell, and they are dedicated to taking the Forsaken home with them. The time is swiftly approaching where they will discover whether or not they are capable of realizing their dream of vengeance. Logically this new movement within the tribes has led to even more disunity of the Skarrd, causing tribes to fight tribes, and warrior against warrior. As strange as these people may seem, they fight each other for survival, for Cult membership or for opposing Johann’s newcomers or not. But one thing is certain, whenever external oppression is met, they unite and fight as a tight Unit, all infighting suddenly forgotten.


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