The Carbon combine
Smithson 'Crusher' H.A.C.
As the mining industry developed over the course of the 21st Century it soon became clear that the ubiquitous Pickman was no longer equal to some of the more extreme challenges humanity faced when extracting precious fossil fuels from the earth. Rising manfully to this challenge, Smithson Industries unveiled the ultimate in destructive robotic power - the Crusher H.A.C. Their patented, diamond tipped, 'Tempest' twin rotary drill-head cut through the toughest rock formations with ease and soon the Crusher could be found in dig sites across mainland Europe. As the Combine marshalled its forces after The Collapse, search teams were sent far and wide to reclaim dormant Crushers. Any machine that can reduce a mountain to rubble was welcome in a Combine Array and this Wrecker has proved itself time and again on the battlefield.
If ever there was ever an award created for reliability and endurance the ACB Pickman would feature on the poster promoting the event. A staple for every mineshaft, land clearance and building site for over 80 years, the Pickman is the first and last word in heavy industry robotics. Cheap to produce, efficient to run and with breakdowns a rare occurence, the Pickman was every foreman's dream. Today the Pickman forms the backbone of many a Combine Array; valued by Machinists and Pit Crews alike for its survivabilty and ease of repair, this Wrecker simply never gives up. Many a match has ended with only a Pickman left functioning, the complex circuit boards of trashed Wreckers flattening beneath its roller as it trundles back to the repair bay.
More military than mining, the NitroBlaster is one of a handful of Wreckers produced after The Collapse. Working in secret a handful of ACB engineers managed to restore power to a disused factory and performed a remarkable feat of robotics manufacturing. Working with rusted tools, stolen parts and a limited power supply they managed to turn the most generic of all-terrain earthmovers into a rocket spewing masterpiece of devastation. Military grade launcher racks were cannibalised from abandoned mobile artillery, stranded in the belief that all the ordnance in the world had been spent. Using long hoarded industrial explosives they fabricated their own short range rockets and the NitroBlaster was born.
Smithson V12 'SmartRig'
In dangerous environments machinery takes damage and breaks down. Falling rubble, gas explosions, sink holes and simply the grime and muck of working underground are all common problems. The V12 SmartRig has patched up many a Pickman that has ground to a halt at the rock face and now it plies its trade on the wrecking grounds of the World After. The Carbon Combine can credit the SmartRig with a host of last gasp victories as it is able to keep the front line Crushers and WarDozers running well beyond the tolerances of other factions.
The SawDevil is a perfect illustration of how robotic power quickly came to supersede human endeavour within the mining industry. With shafts reaching ever deeper into the earth collapses were frequent, despite the advances made in support structures and buttressing. Often, autonomous SmartRigs were able to reach downed machines and repair them where they lay, restarting the digging process. At times the rock falls and cave-ins were simply too destructive and more extensive rescue efforts were required. When a Crusher or WarDozer was crippled underground the SawDevils were sent in; working in teams they could swiftly deconstruct their giant counterparts, rendering them down into transportable pieces for return to the surface. Frequently operating in swarms, a pack of SawDevils was able to remove salvageable parts with surgical precision and drag them back to engineering pits on the surface. Anything that could not be reused was swiftly rendered into chunks ready for the smelters.
Arthur is older than any Machinist has a right to be. In the World After, surviving beyond the age of 50 is rare; humans may have been prevented from acts of murder but disease, exposure, accidents, all of these have thinned the remaining population at an alarming rate. Whilst Machinists are protected from the large majority of these threats due to their elevated status, they risk much worse from The Grid. Only Arthur knows his precise age and he ain’t telling; he has survived The Collapse, witnessed the ascent of Empyria and emerged successful from countless matches for the Carbon Combine; in Shaft 62, he is living legend. He would be the first to admit he isn’t the most skilled Machinist operating in the world, nor the most inventive, but he is certainly one of the toughest. Arthur has lost his fair share of battles down the years and has seen the roof of the infirmary more times that he would care to remember. However, no matter how many times he shorts out, blood streaming from his nose and ears, he always wakes up and he always learns. He is a gifted engineer, a capable driver and a patient teacher but his main advantage is his longevity. No Machinist in the world can rival his experience and Arthur has no intention of allowing any of them to catch up.
Food, warmth, shelter. For years we had taken these things for granted; we abdicated responsibility for them to robots, we huddled in our homes, we turned on, tuned in and zoned out. The Robot Revolution was just another gateway drug; we retreated from the world and took for granted the indentured servitude of the metal automatons we had created to ease our lives. All luxuries must be paid for however, and ours were paid for in oil and gas and coal. In the far reaches of the earth, men and then robots toiled, ripping from the earth and the seabed the fuels that enabled our apathy. When the fall came it wasn’t political, we did not scorch the earth with nuclear devastation, the power simply ran out.
It is no surprise that The Carbon Combine has risen to prominence in the ashes of civilization. In a world where fuel is scarce they hold the keys to many a kingdom. Able to power their own teams of fully retooled industrial robots, they hold dominion over the majority of the last remaining mines and wells. Heavy industry has a long established history of unionism and in the poorest districts, in the shantytowns and the hovels; working for The Carbon Combine has a powerful appeal. Too valuable to risk in the depths of the earth, the Crushers, 'Blasters and 'Dozers now guard the black gold that lies in the very depths of the earth and once again it is man that disappears into the furthest recesses of the planet. The Carbon Combine has become a powerful player indeed and its intimate familiarity with the tools of industry has led to remarkable success on the wrecking grounds. It is often joked that Combine children are born with two umbilical cords, one to the mother and one to a robot. It is certainly true that foolhardy rivals have taken the Combine’s lack of political scheming for weakness; a notion they have been firmly disabused of as they watch their Wreckers claw ineffectually at the thick steel plating of a WarDozer. If man can build machines to chew through mountains is should come as no surprise that they are equally as effective at crushing the more elegant robots of their rivals