Disclaimer: nothing you recognize belongs to me.

Characters belong to Bruckheimer Films, premise belongs to me, but there's influences from half a dozen post apocalyptic films in there; I'll put my own spin on things though. This will not follow the film's plot for obvious reasons!

There were several dozen religious cults that predicted the end of the world in the years before TXzero swept through its population, but none of them got it right. There wasn't any rain of fire, nor were groups of believers suddenly whisked away by a heavenly elevator, beamed up by spaceships or obliterated by rogue meteors. As T.S. Eliot had written with uncanny prescience; the world, or at least the world as everyone knew it, died "not with a bang but a whimper."

The virus spread in a matter of weeks. First as a strange illness afflicting a couple of fishermen in the Galapogas islands - more of a curiosity to the science community than any real threat - before it rampaged out of control. There was no established pattern that it adhered to: it was airborne, that at least the few scientists who lived long enough to record and share their data agreed on, but as to what it was or where it had come from, they had no idea. By the time the first investigators had started to show symptoms their colleagues were already on planes back to America and Switzerland. When they started to show signs of illness, dying within days of internal bleeding and respiratory failure that refused to respond to anything even the most cutting edge medical advancements had to offer, it was clear that there was a problem. Their respective governments did their best to contain the risk, but by then it was already far too late.

The cabin crew ferrying the unfortunate scientists had infected other planes within twenty four hours, unwittingly spreading the contagion. A simple sneeze in a crowded airport infected two dozen other people who in turn infected a hundred others boarding different planes, and more worried about plummeting to their deaths than something microscopic whirling around the recycled air they shared with their fellow passengers. Within two weeks hospitals were unable to cope with the sheer numbers of dead and dying, within three chaos reigned and the hastily assembled military forces were as decimated as the rest of the population.

One accusation that could not be levelled at whatever God had struck down his children was the lack of a sense of humour. While perhaps two percent of the general population seemed to be naturally immune to the virus, the figure rose much higher; as much as ninety percent, when it came to the high security prison population. The few scientists that survived the virus speculated that it might have had something to do with practice of "tagging" criminals with a small chip that emitted a very low amount of radiation, but there was no conclusive proof either way. Whatever the reasons, it was not long before most of the prisoners turned on their guards, freeing themselves and others, and forming gangs that rampaged through what was left of Britain. Terrified and starving, the remaining population moved north and huddled in small communities, protected by a military that operated in small cells, commanded by the Prime Minister and his cabinet. But as the year went on, communication of any kind faltered, and as the military found themselves growing short of supplies and ammunition, the gangs to the south strengthened and united under the banner of a man who was known only as Saxon.

The Theta Base, Hadrian's Wall. March 3rd 2014

It had been eleven months, eighteen days and.. Commander Castus looked at his watch, shook it and sighed. A measure of hours less than an a dozen but more than six since the world had officially gone to hell. The battered Rolex that had served him since his graduation from military academy had chosen this of all times to give up the ghost, and he unfastened it from his wrist and let it drop to ground with a pang of regret.

It had been worth something, less than a year ago, but now it was nothing more than a useless reminder that everything had an expiration date that invariably came too soon. Leaving it glittering prettily in the rough grass, Arthur ground the embers of his cigarette into the ground and looked around warily. All seemed quiet. The turrets that punctuated the double barbed wire fence were silent, and beyond the safety of the "Wall", nothing stirred.

Not that it didn't mean anything was watching of course.

Running a hand through his dark hair, Castus headed towards the barracks; utilitarian in their neat concrete uniformity and illuminated in the darkness: little boxes holding little pockets of humanity in what was still called "Great Britain" by those who had a sense of irony. A couple of guards nodded to him as he passed. Mostly younger soldiers, either sullen or over eager to please. Arthur didn't pay them much mind beyond a brief nod of acknowledgement. His rank and reputation made him a hero of sorts to some of the more easily led lads at the base, but the admiration in their eyes chafed at him sometimes. His victories had come at a cost, and while he had tried to lead the men under his command as best he could, in the early days of the war they had all been ill prepared and ill informed of the risks they faced. There were almost three dozen graves in the cemetery at the top of the hill that bore witness to that particular fact. The latest, a man by the name of Ford; a good, solid soldier who had been known for his calmness under fire, had been laid to rest only a couple of days ago. They were learning, he and the rest of his comrades, but too slowly, and though they were struggling to understand their enemies, their enemies seemed to have an almost psychic ability when it came to understanding them.

Pushing open the door to the central building, Arthur automatically kicked the mud from his boots and refastened the top buttons of his camouflage shirt. General Germanius might be a royal prick, but getting in and out of the meeting he had been summoned to would go a lot more smoothly if he looked presentable while he was nodding politely and planning to ignore most of his orders. Squaring his shoulders, he rapped sharply on the heavy door at the end of the hallway and entered the fort's inner sanctum.

The general made no attempt to rise when his commander entered, merely leaning over the wide expanse of his desk (mahogany, seventeenth century, Arthur thought distractedly) and giving the younger man a tight smile.

"Sit." He nodded towards a well stuffed chair. "Would you like a drink? Whisky? Brandy?"

Arthur was sorely tempted, but didn't let his eyes flicker over to the well stocked drinks cabinet. Half the population out there were living in poverty and the man charged with protecting them was acting as though he were a member of a country club. All he wanted was to get out of there as soon as possible and perhaps join what was left of his men in a game of cards.

"I must congratulate you on your last mission," Germanius said approvingly. "Seventeen of the north Saxon mob dead, and only one fatality; truly you train your men well."

"It was one fatality too many," Arthur snapped before thinking. Noting the brief flash of satisfaction in the General's eyes, he had a sudden uneasy feeling that he'd walked into a trap. Moderating his tone, he continued more calmly. "The men fought well, they'd fight even better if they were better supplied, Sir. At close range the automatics don't.."

"Arthur, Arthur." Germanius waved his arguments away with no little condescension. "If we but only had the resources. But that was not what I wished to speak to you about. Given your talent for leadership I cannot help but feel that you are underused in the position you are now. Therefore I am transferring you."

Arthur felt his heart sink, but held his tongue. It was obvious that the older man was looking for some sort of reaction and he was determined not to give him the satisfaction.

"We have a new group of men fresh in today. Not particularly well trained but skilled. I'm going to give you three months to see what you can do with them - there are some particularly delicate assignments that I've ear marked for them provided that you can whip them into shape." He gave a small smile, little sharp incisors gleaming white behind his fleshy lower lip. "And I'm sure that you can. I would hate to be disappointed in you Commander, especially given your pedigree."

I'm not a fucking show dog and I know exactly what you are doing, Arthur thought, forcing the burn of anger down while keeping his expression impassive.

"And what of my men?" He asked. "Are they to be incorporated into this troop?"

"Your men?" The General's voice was tinged with a faint surprise that belied the watchfulness of his eyes. "They're on their way to Manchester. You should be proud of them - General Harrison was quite adamant that they alone were good enough."

"They've already left?" Castus phrased it as a question, but he already knew the answer. To ask about the men he had led, fought beside and cared about would be used as another excuse for a lecture on how the very few "elite"( private school, military academy, dusty medals grandad got out when he was pissed at Christmas and raved about past glories) left should stick together. Caring about the men you led to death was sentimental nonsense. Protect your position and damn the rest for the greater good.

"Half an hour ago." The General waited for a moment, obviously hoping for a protest, but Arthur remained silent. Focussing on the heavy paperweight that sat upon the desk, he noticed the preserved form of a butterfly trapped in the green glass, and wondered if it would fly free if he smashed the object into his superior's face.

Obviously disappointed by the commander's lack of response, the General rose to his feet and edged around the desk.

"Well then, I think it's time you met your new troop, don't you?"

Arthur merely nodded, following the portly General out of the room and down the corridor. Instead of moving towards the usual briefing rooms that were used for new arrivals and meetings, Germanius walked down the hall and started down the service stairs that led to the dining hall in the bunker below. The noise escalated as they descended the stairs; the low hum of chatter interspersed with laughter and the occasional voice raised in anger. A typical mealtime at the fort, but one that Arthur wasn't sure why they were interrupting. Expecting the General to make his presence known and make a big announcement, he was surprised when he stopped before entering the hall, both of them still concealed in the shadows of the stairwell.

"Well, commander," Germanius said with a hint of amusement. "First table on the left, what do you think?"

Five men were sat around a long table and although the wariness of their eyes and the stiffness of their postures indicated that they were ill at ease and had recognized the new arrivals, none of them looked up.

Samartians, Arthur thought automatically. He didn't need to look at the smile, so polite and yet so eloquent, that Germanius gave to realize that he had been royally screwed over.

His new assignment wasn't training inexperienced soldiers and leading them into strategic attacks against the enemy, nor even the less showy but no less necessary reconnaissance missions he'd been anticipating. Every one of the men had a number tattooed across the back of their neck.


Convicts from Samartia prison, the only penitentiary left that had thought it necessary to not only chip but tattoo the men locked behind its gates. Men that made up a significant portion of the Saxon gangs.

Mentally grabbing hold of his panic and squashing it down, Arthur ran the appraising eyes of a soldier over the five men. One sat on the edge of the bench, dark hair long enough to conceal his expression but not the fact that he had obviously realized that they were being watched. Beside him two stocky men in their forties ate. The shorter of the two traded what must have been an insult with the blond man sat opposite, before being interrupted by a lad who looked far too young to have earned his place in one of the UK's more notorious prisons . The group were mismatched by age, build, and most likely combat experience, and the regulation boots and generic cammo attire did nothing to disguise them amongst the two hundred or so men around them wearing the exact same clothing. The men might eat with soldiers but they held themselves with a defiance and a wariness that was wholly at odds with the pack like solidarity of those around them.

"Were they captured or are they volunteers?" Arthur asked quietly. "Sir," he added with as little anger as he could.

"Volunteers, would you believe it." Germanius's voice echoed the amusement that flashed within his eyes as he watched the small group. "Believe me, if they were spies they would have talked by now. Vulpine was more than persuasive when he interviewed them."

I'll bet, the commander thought to himself. What the little red haired interrogator lacked in height he more than made up for in imagination when it came to prising secrets from those deemed untrustworthy. And now he would have to gain some of that trust back and pretend that, as convicts, they wouldn't be offered up as cannon fodder without hesitation by the people they had switched allegiances to help save.

"Five isn't many sir," he said quietly.

"Six." There was an expression on the General's face that made every muscle in Arthur's body tense as though waiting for a blow. Following the older man's gaze at first all he noticed was the back of the man's head. The tattoo on the neck marked him as a Samartian convict, but the dark hair curling over the nape would cover it in a few short months if left untrimmed. It always did grow too fast, Arthur thought illogically. The man turned away from the poker game he'd been participating in and for a moment their eyes met. Pausing for barely a second, the man's dark eyes skittered away and he rejoined the rest of the prisoners, pointedly ignoring the watchers.

"Lancelot." Arthur's voice came out as barely more than a croak.

General Germanius gave a smile of quiet satisfaction.

"He came in with three of the others a week ago, I thought it only fair that you be the one to train him. Brothers in arms and all that? With a little discipline he might yet follow in his big brother's footsteps." When the young commander didn't answer him, he gave a huff of irritation. Castus had resolutely refused to rise to any bait he had given, much to his chagrin. Nor had he shown the proper deference that should be shown to a man of his rank. Cocky bastard doesn't know his place, Germanius thought irritably. He'd thought acquiring the commander's black sheep of a brother might provide a little entertainment, but it seemed that the man was determined to deny him that as well.

"Are there any further orders, Sir?" Arthur's words were calm and controlled; he could have been talking about the weather, and irritated and eager to escape the lower echelons of the camp, the General merely turned to ascend the stairs.

"The paperwork is with Jols - he's sorted their barracks out, have your men ready for combat in four days." He paused halfway up the stairs. "And don't give them any live ammunition until you know which side they'll be using it on."

The insults registered, but Arthur was too preoccupied to be angry. Waiting until Germanius was out of sight, he descended the last few stairs and approached his new platoon.

A/N: Lol, I'm quite possibly going to get hate mail for this story, but never mind, I wanted to do something a bit different. Yup, Lancelot is Arthur's brother and I'll be tweaking a few of the connections between the "knights" too. No slash though - nothing against it, just can't write it. Guinevere will be making an appearance as will Merlin. I'll try and keep everyone in character as far as I can though.