This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross
"There were four of them, in the back of an Army Bedford. They'd taken the canvas covers off, so we could see them. Three men and one woman. She was just a slip of a lass and one of the men looked like he'd barely started shaving. We all had to watch. You don't get any choice, not unless you want to join the poor bastards in the back of the truck. They used the rugby goals as a gallows, threw the ropes over the crossbar then made them all stand up on chairs. Their hands were tied behind their back. I think the boy had wet himself. Then one of the Militia men just went down the line, kicking the chairs away one by one. The girl was last. God bless their souls. I found out later that she and the young lad had been a couple. They'd been caught hoarding food. Three cans of corned beef and a tin of Heinz Tomato soup. They called that hoarding."
Account of a public execution in the Lancaster area, June 2000.
The North West of England was utterly devastated in the second wave of nuclear strikes in the autumn of 1998, with more megatonnage falling on the region than anywhere else in the UK including London. The immediate aftermath saw a complete collapse of law and order as virtually all of the Territorial Army units in the region broke up, creating a power vacuum that was soon filled as large numbers of groups sprung up, numbering anything from a handful of individuals to several dozen or more, and often including former Territorial Army and Home Service Force soldiers and police officers in their ranks.
Over the last months of 1998 and the start of 1999 these groups fought numerous clashes with other over the region’s meagre resources. Gradually groups began to form impromptu alliances, with many of the smaller ones being absorbed into larger ones, whilst others left the area in search of easier pickings elsewhere and by the spring, several large groups had emerged. One of the largest had taken control of the town of Lancaster, the county town of Lancashire, and had begun calling itself the Red Rose Militia (the Red Rose having been a symbol of the County of Lancashire for hundreds of years). Under the leadership of a man named Jason Croft, the Red Rose Militia has grown steadily in size, drawing a large number of recruits from the refugees that continued to flood out of the north west's devastated urban areas and absorbing survivors of smaller marauder groups that it had bested in battle, and it currently dominates the area known as the Fylde, a peninsula with a number of coastal towns that is bounded by Morecambe Bay to the north, the Ribble Estuary to the south, and the M6 Motorway to the east.
Whilst it claims to be a defence militia, it is effectively a marauder group. taxing the communities it controls in exchange for so called protection. Taxes initially consisted of food, water, and other supplies, but over the past few months Croft has also demanded that the towns and villages within the Red Rose Militia's territory start providing "volunteers" to serve in the Militia's ranks, with each community given a levy that needs to be filled, generally by young men and women. The men and some of the women are conscripted into the Militia's ranks, whilst the remaining women provide the group with a number of services that include cooking, laundry, and prostitution. Conscripts are always sent to a different town from their own to reduce the risk of them deserting.
The group has also imposed a number of harsh laws, and any who break them risk being
brought to Lancaster for a show trial in front of a judge appointed by the Red Rose
Militia. These laws, and the taxation system, have been given a veneer of credibility
by the group's use of Martin Fielding as a figurehead. A Member of the Westminster
Parliament and a junior Government Minister before the War, Fielding was captured
by the group in 1999 and has cooperated with them to save his own life. There is
no Jury, and whilst a few who go before the judge are sentenced to hard labour, most
can expect only one sentence -
The Red Rose Militia currently numbers nearly twelve hundred effectives, including a small number of former soldiers and policemen (Croft is distrustful of these groups, hence the reason their numbers are limited). Approximately half of its members are armed with military and police small arms, generally a mix of L1A1 SLR’s and L2A3 Sterling SMG’s, many of which were originally intended for the Home Service Force, supplemented by a small number of L85A1’s, L98A1’s, (the single shot version of the L85 used by cadets before the war), and MP5 submachine guns. The remainder is armed with an ad hoc mix of civilian weapons and melee weapons. Ammunition is limited, and it is unusual to find a member of the group with more than a hundred rounds for his (or her) weapon. It has established its headquarters in Lancaster, ironically enough occupying the town's former police station, and the town is also home to the group's main strength, although it maintains smaller groups in the coastal towns, each of which has its own leader, and carries out regular patrols throughout the region using alcohol fuelled civilian vehicles and, increasingly, horse and bicycle patrols. These patrols usually consist of eight to twelve men, and will be reasonably well armed. Most members of the Militia wear normal civilian clothing although a few have items of British Army DPM, mostly jackets or trousers and Croft has recently ordered the manufacture of armbands bearing a red rose for his troops in an attempt to make them appear a more organised and legitimate military force.
Under Croft’s personal command are five civilian SUV’s and three military Land Rovers that have been fitted with improvised weapons mounts; equivalent to NATO heavy tripods, most are fitted with GPMG’s, although one Toyota Hilux sports a 0.50 calibre Heavy Machine Gun, whilst another has been fitted with an L6 Wombat recoilless rifle (rounds for which are extremely limited).
Born in 1965, Jason Croft grew in Chester. Highly intelligent, he left school in 1981 and went on to study Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at Homerton College, Cambridge. He was the first member of his family to go to any University, let alone one as prestigious as Cambridge, but chose to drop out after two years (the reasons behind this decision are something he has kept to himself) following which he drifted from job to job, rarely spending more than a few years in any one position, and at the outbreak of the Twilight War he was working at a call centre in Manchester City Centre. Whilst Manchester was not targeted in the first wave of nuclear strikes in 1997, it suffered widespread disorder and food rioting and Croft quickly learned that those who stood by and waited for the authorities to provide water, food, and other aid usually ended up going without whilst the strong took what they wanted.
He decided that he was going to be in the latter group. As the beleaguered authorities struggled to cope he found himself part of a motley group of local thugs and strongmen who helped themselves to whatever they wished. Ironically their group contained several police officers, men who had decided it was time to look after themselves. By the summer of 1998 through a combination of cunning, guile, and outright violence Croft had risen to be second in command of the group, which was led by a former car salesman named Norman Roberts. Following repeated clashes with the Army, who had placed Manchester under a dusk to dawn curfew, the group decided to leave Manchester and seek out fresh pickings in July 1998, a decision that would save them from the second wave of nuclear attacks that autumn.
By October they were just outside Lancaster, which stood largely undefended following
the withdrawal of the 4th Battalion, King's Own Royal Border Regiment to Carlisle.
The group moved into Lancaster, effectively taking the town over, killing those who
stood against them and absorbing a number of local thugs into their ranks. Roberts
was content to see their position in Lancaster secure however, and that soon brought
him into conflict with Croft, who advocated enlarging the area under their control.
Secretly Croft began to plot against Roberts, quietly gathering around him a group
of men loyal to him, and in March 1999 they made their move, overthrowing Roberts
in a violent and bloody coup. Croft murdered the older man himself, stabbing him
repeatedly whilst his henchmen dealt with Roberts' lieutenants. When the purge was
over Croft's position as leader was secure. Since then he has overseen the group’s
expansion via a combination of recruiting refugees -
Jason Croft is a persuasive individual, possessing not only a rare combination of charisma and intellect but also a raw lust for power. His immediate goal is to establish a force large and powerful enough to conquer all of north west England, however ultimately he sees no reason why he cannot rule a much larger swath of territory, although he knows he will have to build up his strength considerably before he is in a position to take on the Cumbrians so whilst the presence of a large organised force in Carlisle is a source of constant concern to him, for the moment he is concentrating his efforts on the area to the south of Carlisle, in particular the town of Preston. The capture of Jonathan Fielding in April 1999 was an unexpected stroke of good fortune as far as Croft was concerned. When the MP was brought before him Croft dismissed his henchmen, spoke to Fielding, spoke quietly, spoke rationally, spoke of how the Red Rose Militia would dominate the north west of England, explained to the politician what his options were, how he could agree to become the Red Rose Militia's figurehead, bestowing the group with a degree of legitimacy in its claim to govern the north west. Or he could refuse. Croft smiled, told Fielding there would be no hard feelings if he refused. Then he explained to the MP in quite specific detail how he would kill him, his voice low, never raising an octave, his quiet rationality chilling Fielding far more than if he had been screaming and shouting. When Croft had finished speaking there was not a shadow of doubt in Fielding's mind that his captor would carry out his threat. Unsurprisingly, he immediately agreed.
Croft has also issued standing orders to his patrols that any military personnel they encounter should be brought to him in Lancaster so he can interrogate them personally. Whilst he understands the benefit of having former military personnel serving in the Red Rose Militia, he will be wary of potential threats, whether from the authorities or from deserters who may wish to overthrow him, so whilst he may offer military personnel an opportunity to join the group he is equally likely to order them shot dependent on his instincts. The larger the group, the more distrustful he is likely to be.
Croft has taken over a house in the centre of Lancaster, which is guarded by a number of Militiamen, whilst others escort him when he moves around. These bodyguards are all fiercely loyal to Croft and are amongst the best armed of his fighters. Croft himself carries a 9mm automatic pistol and an L85A1 assault rifle which he took from a military police sergeant before he murdered her (a fact that he frequently mentions when talking to captured soldiers, particularly if he has made his mind up to have them executed). His inner circle consists of half a dozen of his most trusted lieutenants, most of whom he has known since before he left Manchester, and all of whom were by his side when he seized power from Roberts, and his lover, a twenty seven year old woman named Katie, who is never far from his side. He has known Katie since before the War started, although the nature of their previous relationship is unclear (one marauder once joked that Katie had been a prostitute and Croft one of her customers; when Croft heard of this he had the man hanged). What is clear is that Katie is probably the one person that he trusts fully; for her part she is in love with Croft and is utterly loyal to him, being rarely far from his side (she was the only other person he allowed to be in the room the night he first spoke with Fielding). His second in command is a man named Greg Anderson, a former constable in Greater Manchester Police.
Martin Fielding, MP (Labour, Manchester Central)
Born in London in 1962, Martin Fielding went from his local State comprehensive school to Trinity College, Oxford, where he studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, taking a Bachelor of Arts, followed by the London School of Economics, where he obtained a Masters in Economics. After a brief career in television journalism, in 1989 Fielding became a speechwriter and researcher for the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Black MP. This brought him to the attention of the New Labour hierarchy, leading to him entering Parliament at the 1992 General Election, when he won the safe Labour seat of Manchester Central, the previous incumbent having chosen to retire
Identified as a New Labour high-
future high office, and when Tony Blake’s New Labour won the 1996 General Election he was appointed to the Government, joining the Home Office as a Parliamentary Under Secretary. In the Summer of 1997 he was assigned to Operation PERIPHERAL, the British Government’s plan for Continuity of Government in the event of a nuclear attack on the United Kingdom, and he was one of a number of members of the Government who quietly slipped out of London in the days leading up to Black Thursday in November 1997, heading for Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) Site 10, just outside the village of Goosenargh in Cheshire, where he took on the role of Regional Commissioner.
Nuclear fire continued to rain down on the UK during the winter of 1997, with the 10 December strike on the EYEGLASS bunker at High Wycombe that destroyed most of Central Government effectively leaving the Regional Commissioners to govern their Regions on their own, Fielding remained underground at Goosenargh, proving to be an able enough administrator as he oversaw the authorities’ efforts to maintain order and provide disaster relief throughout the region. He remained underground for six weeks, finally emerging in early January 1998, when the RGHQ and its staff relocated to Fulwood Army Barracks in nearby Preston. He expected to be flown south when Parliament reformed in May, however the new Prime Minister, Douglas Montgomery, felt it was more important to maintain the appearance that the Government was in effective control of the whole country, so instructed Fielding to remain in place, something he reluctantly agreed to (Fielding would be heard in private afterwards complaining bitterly that Montgomery’s decision was based purely on Party politics – Montgomery was a member of the Conservative Party, whilst Fielding was closely identified with New Labour). Fielding would again ask to be evacuated to the South in September 1998 after the nuclear attack on Manchester, but by then it was too late. As the bombs continued to rain down on the North West Fielding once more took refuge at the Goosenargh bunker, accompanied by the remnants of the RGHQ staff, a handful of Territorial soldiers, and their families.
The group remained safely ensconced at Goosenargh over the winter, where they were totally isolated from the events unfolding above ground. However by February 1999 their supplies of food and water were totally exhausted and they had no option but to abandon the bunker. There was some disagreement about what to do next. Most of the soldiers were in favour of trying to reach Carlisle; Fielding and a mixed group of soldiers and civilians numbering a dozen or so tried to make it to the safety of the Army base at Catterick, but had gone only a few miles when they encountered a large marauder group. After a brief firefight most of the soldiers were killed and the civilians were captured. After being robbed of all of their valuables the marauders were about to kill their captives when one of them recognised Fielding. After some discussion the marauders decided that as a member of the Government Fielding might have some value, so, together with the three women in the group, they took him prisoner, murdering everyone else.
Unsure of exactly what to do with their captive but thinking that they might be able
to ransom him, the group held Fielding hostage for several months before they were
themselves overran by the Red Rose Militia. If he expected to be released Fielding
would be disappointed -
The Red Rose Militia, particularly the relationship between Jason Croft and Martin Fielding, is inspired by the marauder bands portrayed in the T2K V1 “Allegeheny Uprising” module.