In 1991, the world changed. The Vortex opened. Magic and monsters came flooding into our world. In past articles, I have described a timeline of two other Southern African nations: the State of Good Hope and the Zulu Empire. All articles, including this one, should be read to get the full picture of South Africa’s history after the Cataclysm.
The Goldfield Magocracy
The tale of Goldfield starts on the 18th of November 1993, after 156 protesters were killed by occupying Zulu Empire forces after protesting the annexation of South Africa and the slaughter of not only the government, but the leaders of many liberation movements and political parties.
After the massacre of protesters, the surviving leadership of a collection of trade unions, political parties, business leaders and military officers formed an organisation known as Goldfield, named after the building where the leaders met in Johannesburg.
At this meeting, the Goldfield Movement was formed to combat Zulu occupation and reinstate the sovereign nation of South Africa back to its original borders. But as mass protest action had been shown to be too risky, Goldfield decided to take the war underground. The Goldfield insurgency began and undertook a campaign of sabotage against the Empire. Supply lines were bombed, key figures assassinated, weapons stolen, and insurgents planted throughout the Empire’s administration.
Goldfield made rapid gains, as the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the Cape distracted Zulu forces, allowing the Movement to grow considerably. This pressurised the Zulu Empire, culminating in the Zulu Emperor making a deal with the Izingane Zgazi vampire clan and a cabal of necromancers called Shaka’s Chosen.
Vampire assassins and undead death-squads were sent into Gauteng, slaughtering Goldfield insurgents and innocent civilians. Combined with facing Zulu sorcerers, Goldfield was losing the war.
With its agents being hunted by sorcerers and vampires, and civilians being hounded by demons, undead and other monsters, Goldfield’s council of activists, officers and leaders decided to setup two wings of the Movement: the Mage Corps and the Extermination Corps. The latter will be explained in detail in the next section.
With the role of combatting enemy mages and monsters, respectively, the two new wings helped turn the tide of the war, allowing the Movement to make huge gains and relieve pressure from the SADF.
Eventually, the State of Good Hope was founded and the SADF was disbanded and replaced by the Cape Defence Force (CDF), which cancelled its attempts to re-establish South Africa as a state. The Goldfield Movement on paper was still dedicated to a united South Africa, but the brutality of the rebellion had eliminated much of its idealism. What mattered was keeping the people of Gauteng alive while ousting the occupiers.
The years that followed were slow and violent. The Zulu Empire quashed uprisings while continuing to hunt down Goldfield agents. Vampires continued to ravage Gauteng, causing massive ghoul outbreaks that the Extermination Corps strived to end. While the Extermination Corps and Mage Corps were making huge gains in their wars, the majority of the Movement was flagging.
Seeing weakness in the Movement’s leadership, the Mage Corps took over the Goldfield Movement in 1999. While the coalition government of 1993 had rejected the Zulu King’s ultimatum, and died for it, the leaders of Goldfield now understood the power of magic. They accepted the coup without resistance.
The Goldfield Movement, in all but name, became the Magocracy – ruled by mages who believed themselves to be the only ones capable of winning freedom for their land.
To prove the effectiveness of their new leadership, the Mage Corps sent a crack team of mages and assassins to the Zulu capital in Ulundi, where the Zulu Emperor Ukuhleleka I was training with his elite bodyguard. The mage-assassins neutralised the guards and before the emperor knew he was under attack, he was decimated by a united attack made up of corruption, pyromancy, cryomancy, geomancy and bullets.
Ukuhleleka II took the throne, but his rule was weak. Taking advantage of the assassination, the CDF pushed past the Three Point Line, and the Goldfield Magocracy activated all of its rebel cells, taking the province of Gauteng and defeating its occupiers.
Split on two sides, and facing internal strife, the Zulu Emperor was unable to stop the Magocracy from not only securing Gauteng, but reaching out and taking the Free State, North-West Province and parts of the Northern Cape. When the CDF retreated in 2002, Goldfield had a secure bulwark and massive professional armed forces to sustain conflict until 2006, when the Zulu Empire recognised their sovereignty and peace was declared.
But just because the war ended didn’t mean that enmities stopped. Skirmishes still erupt between Goldfield and the Empire to this day. But the biggest conflict is within the Magocracy. There is a deep and seething resentment against the Empire and its allies, and this has manifested in pogroms against Zulus and non-human sentients.
The Magocracy maintains authority over its territory of the north of what was South Africa with the use of magic, corporatist relations and underground operations to eliminate malcontents and enemies. While life under the Magocracy isn’t overtly oppressive, it is not a democracy, and only those well-connected with the ruling mages will find any success in politics.
Life continues in the Magocracy, and it has grown since the peace of 2006. New frontiers are gained every day in the Cataclysm Badlands of Southern Africa, and the Magocracy promises peace and safety to those under its arcane authority. But is the cost worth it?
The Extermination Corps
In the shadow of the Cataclysm and the Empire, monsters ravaged the land. Entire cities were left defenceless as their police and military guardians were embroiled in a brutal civil war. This left all manner of undead, demons and beasts to run rampant. All this was exacerbated by the use of vampires and monsters by the Empire to crush the Goldfield Movement.
In response to this monstrous threat, the Extermination Corps was founded. It had a simple prerogative: Slay monsters. Protect humanity. Survive.
The Extermination Corps grew quickly, as war orphans and volunteers flocked to its blank banner. The Corps had no symbol. No emblem. No official insignia. All that denoted membership to its ranks was a tattoo on one’s arm. Two numbers. A division and one’s number in that division.
The Corps started with a skeleton crew of ex-soldiers and police but grew as volunteers were recruited. These volunteers came to be almost exclusively the survivors of monster attacks, and often orphans. Volunteers were often as young as 13 years old.
The modus operandi of the Corps was to recruit survivors at the scene of the attack, after exterminating the assailant. Desperate for revenge, most survivors would join the ranks of monster hunters.
But what they often found was more than revenge. They found a place they belonged. The only people who understood the loss they felt. And the only people they believed were doing something about it.
The Corps’ leadership and members ignored the affairs of the Magocracy, and the mages in charge allowed them to persist as they also felt a resentment towards the monsters and non-humans who had hunted them during the civil war. The Corps ignored the 1999 coup and the mages appreciated their abstention, as it served as passive support. As a result, the Extermination Corps was given increased funding and came to be more well-funded than the police force.
Until 2015, when the international community uncovered the Extermination Corps work in executing mass swathes of fae, elves, dryads, goblins, orcs, vampires, werewolves and other sentient non-humans. The international community was outraged and demanded that the Corps be disbanded.
It was – at least officially. While now illegal, the police and influential mages in the Magocracy still supported the cause, and continued funding the Corps. It now acted in the shadows. Without legal oversight or official authority, it was now unchained. During these years, it began to drift from being a military organisation to becoming part warrior order, part cult, part family.
“We sacrifice everything
To avenge the fallen
To purify the world
Of the monsters and the demons.
Earth is ours
And we will retake our world.
The darkness holds no terror
That the light cannot purify.
And the Corps will outlast the end of the world.” – Oath of the Extermination Corps
The Corps formulated its own doctrine, philosophy, moral system and unique hierarchy. Rather than being a special police force, the Corps became a body dedicated to vengeance and finding meaning in a world where all one had loved has been brutally killed.
The Corps used child soldiers, but it wasn’t simple exploitation. Every soldier consented. And the dangers of the Corps was not slavery, over-discipline or carnage – it was that the Corps became the only thing that many people had left. They grew a true dependency on the Corps. Every single person from soldier to leader relied on the Corps as their family and community.
For a Corpsman, there was only the Corps and their vendetta. And for many, this was the limits of their world. It was hard to escape the cycle of hatred. But there was also love. Corpsman were united, understanding, and loyal.
While the Corps was divided into specialist squads facing down different monsters (what they called ‘vendettas’), the Corps acted as a monolithic entity. Its members acted in accordance with that idea. All that mattered was the Corps, because the Corps was all they had left. And it would outlast the world.
But it didn’t.
In 2030, the Extermination Corps was shutdown after its key leaders were arrested and all its funding cut-off. The Magocracy police took over monster hunting duties, and the Extermination Corps was expunged from the national memory of the Magocracy – painted in the same brush as the SS in post-WW2 Germany.
But the members of the Corps live on, and they are dedicated to their oaths. While they now call themselves the Silver Brotherhood, or the Defangers, or any other monicker, the Extermination Corps lives on in the hearts and traumatised dreams of its surviving members. And it will outlast the Cataclysm, and the end of the world.