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In the years preceding the Great Winter, the nations of Europe jockeyed constantly for power. Alliances shifted and coalitions formed, creating schisms between not only geographical neighbours, but also families and former allies. 

As tensions grew, many of the nations prepared for what they considered to be an inevitable war. Some, such as Germany, Russia, France and Great Britain, had learnt the lessons of recent conflagrations in the Crimea and Africa, and began to investigate more experimental forms of warfare. They divided their resources, simultaneously preparing for what they anticipated to be a new and grinding form of conventional warfare, and the investigation of the more … fringe sciences.

In Great Britain, the Department for the Investigation of Experimental Sciences (DIES)—a  War Office initiative known only to those in the highest positions—had begun research into advanced technologies immediately after the debacle of the First Boer War. These investigations explored many avenues, including—in an attempt to circumnavigate the inefficiencies of internal combustion engines—alternative power sources for land ships and automata. In 1913 one such investigation, led by the British physicists Sir Ernest Rutherford and Henry Moseley, began on the Scottish island of Rona. Allocated state of the art facilities and a limitless budget, Rutherford and Moseley thus pursued the harnessing of atomic power as a reliable source of energy.

War Begins

In 1914 the discordant sirens of nationalism, imperialism and militarism lured the world into war. The British Empire—its military now powered by the fruits of DIES’ labour—entered the war with confidence and vigour. Predictions of ‘it’ll all be over by Christmas’ were soon silenced, however, as it became apparent Great Britain were not the only players in the atomic game. By this time the rest of the world’s imperial powers had also made advancements in the experimental sciences, and the combination of gifted scientists and skilled spies ensured none of these advancements remained the purview of the host nation for long. 

The Great Winter

By July 1917 the war to end all wars promised to be endless. The imperial powers—for all their atomic toys—remained deadlocked in their great game. Then came an event no one could have predicted. The island of Rona vanished. All attempts to communicate with the team on the island were met with silence. The island reappeared after three minutes, but still communications were dead. A DIES Extraordinary Operations team was promptly dispatched to the island to make contact and report their findings, and what they found could only be described as the stuff of nightmares. Half the team perished, and the survivors barely escaped the island alive. Of those survivors, half were then lost to insanity or suicide, unable to bear the memories of Rona. The other half were sworn to secrecy by the War Office.

The testimonies of those survivors told of a ‘hole in the air’ through which things ‘oozed’ and ‘crawled’. Experts—duly commissioned by the War Office to decipher the reports—reached a rapid conclusion: Rutherford and Moseley had torn the fabric between this world and another, and from this other realm came horrors unimaginable. Horrors that still plagued those who escaped Rona. Horrors that fed upon the fear and the flesh of those left behind. 

Immediately the neighbouring island of Raasay became a base of operations for DIES. From here they studied the now quarantined Rona. The research carried out there would lead to Great Britain bringing to bear horrific weapons in the ongoing war.

But the true horror was still to come. With a tear now pulsing between the two realities, the world became a hunting ground for the creatures DIES have since christened, ‘The Scourge’.

The year is 1926. War burns across the globe … and the Great Winter is upon us.