On September 28th, 2012, at 9:34pm GMT, the world was changed forever.
An asteroid the size of texas, composed primarily of nickel-iron ore, and an exotic matter previously unknown to science passed the Roche limit of Earth, and fragmented into several large pieces. The resulting pieces of asteroid debris impacted the Earth's surface across the Northern Hemisphere.
Following the impact, there was chaos. Violence broke out across the world, as economies collapsed, governments followed them into anarchy, and natural disasters bought on by the shock of impact shook the planet.
Millions died in the following months, through immediate causes, or through the resulting conflicts that erupted over resources, food, or land. Others still died from injuries caused or disease, unable to receive treatment and medicine that would have saved their lives.
The countries of the Southern Hemisphere that survived relatively intact were beseiged by refugees, becoming swamped with demands on their resources and economies for relief by their neighbours and allies to the north. Additionally, the lack of trade and stability from the worlds biggest economies and leading political influences lead to furter destabilization.
The escalating tensions and panicked reactions lead to armed conflicts, which develped into all-out war, causing further devastation, and more deaths as the wars went NBC.
The raise in global temperatures and environmental damage lead to increased flooding as the ice caps accelerated their melt, and ferocious storms began to be a regular occurence over the next few years. The seasons became more erratic, as summers began to last longer, and winters became more harsh, due to the axial tilt imparted to the planet by the Asteroidal impact event and the rising greenhouse effects caused by the huge clouds of ash and soot in the atmosphere.
Just as things began to stabilise and society began to re-assert itself almost twenty years later, a new horror reared its' head.
The exotic matter in the asteroid had turned out to be a virtual 'miracle material', capable of generating massive amounts of energy for little input.
Functional as a room-temperature superconductor, it made possible many advances that had previously been out of reach by contemporary thinking of the pre-impact time.
The few cities that survived, or had become strong, began to develop again, using the precious metal to further their development, increasing their stability and salvaging technology and manufacturing equipment from the ruins, managing to establish some level of society from the dark chaos that had been the norm for the last two decades.
A new, if tentative, age of science emerged, as the new materials and advanced technology made possible experiments and ideas that had been under secrecy before the impact. Genetic alterations and Cybernetics began to become more commonplace, even alongside the mutations, ruins, and violence of the post-impact world.
But the Asteroid Material had had other more exotic effects. Rumours began to come from remote areas of strange creatures with fantastic and terrifying abilities, of new armies or organisations in areas devastated either by war or the asteroid impact, and of strange places that were almost alien, compared what people knew of Earth. Rumours surfaced that the material, now known as 'Ilerium', after the professor Ileria who first experimented with it, was capable of twisting and warping reality, time, and space around it. People claimed things, and even places, from other worlds, realms or times had found their way to Earth, out in the middle of the 'hot zones' where radiation, chemical pollution, and Ilerium saturation all mingled into a cocktail of exotic energy and phenomena.
As well as these zones, there are the storms sweeping the planets' surface. The weather patterns mingled with lingering clouds of pollutants and NBC fallout, turning them into vicious events that could scour life from a landscape.
They became known as 'Hellstorms', and are to be feared. Many cities were abandoned as the storms raced around the planet, lost treasure troves of technology, knowledge and resources to be scavenged - if one was willing to brave the storms. In the heart of a Hellstorm, a summers day with bright sun can turn to an acid-rain monsoon in minutes, and then to a blizzard of toxic chemical snow.
Fortunately, the storm patterns are relatively predictable - relatively - making it possible to move around, and take shelter in the face of 'bad weather'.
New cities and countries formed in the wake of the chaos, drawing on the new technologies, and rebuilding on the ruins, knowledge and infrastructure of the old world, each competing to be the next big super-power. Their streets and homes were filled with those who had survived and endured, a melting-pot of nations and races, of the ‘pure’ humans, of those mutated by Ilerium and raditation exposure, and those altered genetically, either by choice or as unwilling experiments by the less charitable, fortunate, or merciful left in the world.
Some were founded by surviving governments and their staff, emerging from their bunkers and bringing back their old customs, morals, and ideals.
Others by corporations vying for their stake of the world and the chance to rule it their way, putting their corporate philosophies and charters into the fabric of a culture and society.
Others still were by survivors of the militaries, or by hardened survivalists, or by former criminal enterprises and gangs, all with their own ideas of perfect societies.
These new cities carry on much of the history of the old; shining beacons of hope and refuges for technology, science, manufacturing, culture and development. Places where society can continue and thrive, and where mankind attempts to take back it's world from the devastation wracking its' surface.
Others are the kingdoms and empires of people who only want power and control, taking it from those weaker to ensure their own superiority.
Others still are mysterious and aloof, with their own strange goals and aims in this new, uncertain world.
One place where hope and civilization reigns in this new world is Ark City.
A growing, thriving, hi-tech city built on the southern shores of what used to be North America.
Originally founded as an experimental arcology, it survived the waves, storms, and violence, and has become a beacon of hope for the surrounding area. The ruling council, a combination of scientific, government and military personnel have begun tentative efforts to explore and establish trade between their city and others, and to find out the truth about the rumours coming from across the ocean of a terrifying new power, growing somewhere in Europe. Envoys from Ark City are going missing as they head out to make contact with other cities, and refugees arriving either by sea or land are speaking of a rising darkness across the world in the north; an empire rising under a banner of Twilight, casting long shadows over the world, and heralding its' descent into the darkness of night.
The Ark City Expeditionary Squadron - ACES- a highly-trained, skilled, and uniquely gifted group of individuals, are chosen from the ranks of those in Ark City to undertake this task.
Their purpose: to go out into the world, find out as much as possible about the Twilight Empire, explore the world, make contact with its' people to find allies, discover anything they can that can help, recover its' valuable technology and knowledge to give an edge, and, if necessary, to combat the Twilight Empire directly.
To do so, they are equipped with the best weapons, equipment and vehicles Ark City has to offer, salvaged from the ruins of the old US and further afield.
They have been sent out to find the truth about the Twilight, and restore the light of hope to a world falling into darkness.