Natural Ones - Shadows by Spotlight
The History of the Future
And So It Came To Pass… (A history of the future).
Today, in 2052, the world is radically different from that of our great-grandfathers time. Where once powerful nations dominated the globe, threatening each other with sudden nuclear annihilation, many smaller, autonomous nations exist, and corporations have taken over the superpowers’ once-immense authority. Our science and technology, too, set us apart, with current levels making previous advances look like a child’s experiments with a science kit.
But that is not all that divides our age irrevocably from the past, for magic has emerged again on earth and we live in an Awakened World.
Rise of the Megacorps
It all began in the late 1990’s as the civil unrest that marked the end of the millennium intensified. Alarmed at the state of social and political affairs, the corporations feared to trust their interests to indifferent or, in their eyes, incompetent governments. Beginning with their holdings in Third World countries, where they felt most immediately threatened, the corporations armed their security personnel with the finest available equipment and hired professional Mercenaries on both long- and short-term contracts. As the tide of civil disobedience and urban violence began to engulf every nation on the globe, the corporations began transferring their paramilitary assets wherever needed. The stage was set.
In 1999, food riots in New York City created the flashpoint. Frightened and angry about a three-month truckers strike that had stopped the flow of fresh foods into the city, the people took to the streets. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured as violence spread through the city.
At one point, a mob attacked a Seretech medical Research truck hauling wastes, including infectious materials. In what became a running gunfight, Seretech security came to the aid of the corporate truckers, withdrawing them to one of the firm’s medical research facilities. More violence followed as the maddened crowd stormed the building. By dawn, 20 Seretech employees were dead, and 200 rioters lay lifeless on the grounds and in the street.
In an attempt to crush the growing corporate armies, the city, then the state and federal governments charged Seretech with criminal negligence. Seretech asserted that in defending their truck from the mob, they had prevented its potentially lethal cargo from infecting the population at large. In a landmark decision (The United States vs Seretech Corporation (1999)), the Supreme Court upheld Seretech’s right to maintain an armed force for the protection of its own personnel and property, and commended the corporation for protecting innocent civilians and holding its trust to dispose of contaminated materials safely. The case set a precedent that led to the Shiawase Decision of 2001 (The Nuclear Registry Commission vs The Shiawase Corporation), firmly establishing the extraterritoriality of multinational corporations in international law by giving them the same rights and privileges as foreign governments.
More disasters followed. In 2004, Libya unleashed a chemical weapon attack against Israel. the Israelis responded with a nuclear strike that destroyed half of Libya’s cities. Then in 2005 a major earthquake hit New York City, killing more than 200,000 people and leaving more than $200,000,000,000 worth of damage in its wake. It would be more than 40 years before the city had rebuilt fully, with the help of corporate guidance and funds. In the meantime, the United Nations moved to Geneva and the East Coast Stock Exchange to Boston.
The following year, Japan asserted its position as a world power by announcing the creation of the new Japanese Imperial State and deploying the first of a fleet of solar-powered collector satellites to beam microwave energy to receptors on the Earth’s surface. With this relatively cheap method of distributing power to isolated regions, Japan began to make strong inroads into the Third World.
With their new freedom, the corporations of North America increased their exploitation of the continent’s resources with a vengeance. In what the media dubbed “the Resource Rush,” corporate coalitions demanded and were granted access to oil, mineral and land resources on Federal lands. In the years 2002-2008 the government invoked the right of eminent domain again and again, to bring property under its control, only to licence its exploitation to a corporate sponsor. Taking the brunt of this land-grab were the Indian reservations and Federal Parklands.
Conservationists and Indian-rights groups expressed their shock and disgust, though corporate influence and paramilitary power made it dangerous to object. Angry and frustrated, the more radical elements founded the Sovereign American Indian Movement (SAIM), whose roots traced back to the Indian-rights struggles of the 20th century.
The growing tensions and hatred finally erupted in 2009. On May 5th, United Oil Industries announced that it had acquired the right to exploit the petrochemical resources in one-quarter of the remaining Federal parks, and one-tenth the Indian lands which the government had just confiscated. The SAIM reacted immediately. A small band entered the US Air force’s Shiloh Launch Facility in northwest Montana, capturing a missile silo. to this day, no one knows how the raiders managed to bypass the security patrols, but once inside the silo, they met up with John Redbourne, a USAF major and full-blooded Dakota Sioux. After knocking his partner unconscious, Redbourne used the man’s keys and codes to unlock the launch fail-safes.
The Lone Eagle
Issuing a demand for the return of all Indian land, the Shiloh raiders threatened to launch the facility’s missiles. Ten days of tense negotiations ended when a black-garbed Delta Team invaded the silo. During the struggle, which resulted in the death of all the occupying Indians, a single Lone Eagle intercontinental ballistic missile, carrying four MIRVed five-megaton warheads, launched.
NORAD command in Cheyenne Mountain watched helplessly as the missile headed for the Russian Republic. All their auto-destruct signals went unheeded, and the military had no interceptors in position to down the bird. Although denying responsibility for the launch, President Jesse Garrety informed Moscow of the targets of each warhead, hoping to avert a full-scale retaliation by giving the Russians enough warning to use their semi-secret ballistic defences to stop the missile.
Moscow was understandably sceptical of Washingtons claims that the Lone Eagle launching was an isolated accident, and not a trick for making a surgical strike against selected Russian targets. They put their forces on full alert and ordered citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States to shelters. Meanwhile, in the United States, the public was unaware that it was perilously close to nuclear war.
President Garrety waited anxiously, and as later revealed in “back-room tapes,” he alternately wept, ranted and prayed. A short time later, Russian President Nikolai Chelenko tersely informed Garrety that the warheads had been stopped. A privately conducted voice-stress analysis of Chelenko’s voice later indicated only a 79% probability that he spoke the truth, but neither seismic nor space-based sensors recorded any nuclear explosions at that time. Explosion or not, there was definitely fallout from the incident.
The Blame Falls
When the American public learned of the Lone Eagle crisis, the outcry was enormous. Goaded by corporate propagandists, the people began to blame SAIM, and by implication, all Native Americans. This fit well with the larger plans of the Megacorporations, principally United Oil Industries, which was not satisfied with the pace of mineral-asset acquisition. By 2010, the corporations had pressured the government to pass the “Re-Education and Re-Location” Act, originally introduced late in 2009. This new law called for the confinement of anyone connected in any way with SAIM. Abuses of the law were rampant because of the general hatred of Indians. Thousands of innocent Native Americans were sent to concentration camps (euphemistically called “Re-Education Centres”). Among those shipped to the Abilene camp was a man named Daniel Coleman, future prophet of the Great Ghost Dance and the first War-Shaman of the Native American Nations. History remembers him as Daniel Howling-Coyote.
In a government economy measure, congress soon contracted out management of the Re-Education Centres to the corporations. As the camps gradually dropped out of the media spotlight, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and insufficient medical care began to plague the inmates. Was this a deliberate plan of genocide, as Coleman would one day claim? in one of the greatest ironies of history, however, the isolation of many tribes in the Re-Education Centres spared them from the scourge that hit the world in 2010.
Virally Induced Toxic Allergy Syndrome (VITAS) broke out first in New Dehli, but within weeks, cases were being reported all over the globe. In the worst epidemic since the Black Plague, a significant percentage of the world’s people were dead or dying by the end of 2010. Most fatalities were in outlying areas where medical care was unavailable or in high-population centres where supplies of medicines and interim vaccines were insufficient. China, India, many African nations and many densely populated Third World cities suffered disproportionately because of their medical delivery systems could not provide adequate symptomatic relief.
Tragic as the VITAS plague was, it was only the beginning of unprecedented chaos. Beginning with the violent dissolution of the Mexican government in January 2011, more governments fell in the next five years than in any similar span in human history. Famine stalked the world, adding to the already lengthy rolls of the dead. Massive civilian protests led to raids on European nuclear power plants, three of which suffered meltdowns. Radiation fallout was extensive and damaging.
On the heels of VITAS came the frightening phenomenon later named Unexplained Genetic Expression (UGE). All over the world, mutant and changeling children were being born to “normal” parents. Newsweek dubbed these UGE children “Elves and Dwarves”, and it seemed that the Apocalypse had finally arrived. The year 2011 is now remembered as the Year of Chaos.
With miracles and calamities being reported in every nation, religions rose and died. Prophets appeared, proclaiming the end of the world. One of these emerged from the despair of the Re-Education Centre on December 24, 2011, at the same moment that hundreds of Japanese witnessed the first (and only) appearance of the great dragon Ryumyo as they sped past Mount Fuji on a bullet train, the Prophet of the Great Ghost Dance, Daniel Howling-Coyote, led his followers out of the Abilene Re-Education Centre.
By then, there was no question: Magic had returned to the world.
The Sixth World
What is known as the Year of Chaos was actually the end of the old age and the beginning of the new, the dawn of the Awakened world. Some mystics point to the Mayan calendar as an authority, noting that it predicts the start of a new cycle of humanity on December 24, 2011. They also say the appearance of the dragon Ryumyo is the signpost marking what the Mayans called the emergence of the Sixth World.
Had they done better research, these dreamers would have discovered that the Mayans also predicted a world-destroying calamity that would herald the birth of a new, improved race of humans. Where were these signs and events? It is true that the world faced trials, disasters and great change, but it is not a new world. It’s still good, old Mother Earth, even if she has entered a new phase.
A better model of the change is the historical shift from BC to AD, no one alive at the time knew it had happened. Only hindsight revealed it. Even the calendar had to be backdated to take into account the change.
For years after Daniel Coleman led his cadre of believers out from the Abilene REC compound, he dropped from public view. Information on his activities during that period is minimal, but he was, most certainly proselytizing. Among Native Americans – those still free as well as those incarcerated in camps or to the ever-shrinking reservations – word spread of a new prophet, a great shaman to whom the spirits had taught a powerful dance.
This inspired the Native Americans to resist the tyranny of their existence. Many more escaped the camps, eluding the corporate and federal hunters by fleeing into the wilderness. Like their ancestors, they began a guerrilla war against an army that wanted to destroy them. Unlike their ancestors, they had access to the same technology as their enemy, and more.
In 2014, Daniel Coleman stepped out of the shadows. He now called himself Daniel Howling-Coyote, and declared he was a shaman of the Ghost Dance. Backed by an elite core of fanatics, he announced the formation of the Native American Nations (NAN), a coalition of tribes with the Sovereign Tribal Council at its head. They laid claim to all of North America, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of all persons of European, African, and Asian ancestry, threatening dire magical retribution if the demands were not met. Of course, the media tried to make a laughing stock of Coleman and his followers. Though magical phenomena had become increasingly commonplace, no one believed any group of persons could enforce such a threat. They were wrong.
Jokes of ridicule were still making the talk-show circuit when Howling-Coyote and his Ghost Dancers demonstrated their power. In 2014, Redondo Peak erupted without warning, burying Los Alamos, New Mexico under a cloud of ash. Howling-Coyote appeared in a vid-cast from a nearby Zuñi reservation. He claimed credit for invoking “our Mother Earth to punish the children who forsook Her”.
Surviving documentation indicates that the US government did not take the claim seriously, except to capitalise on an opportunity to capture the elusive resistance leader and smash his growing movement. Within an hour of Howling-Coyote’s broadcast, a federal reaction force, composed of the Sixth Air Cavalry Battalion from Fort Hood, Texas, was in the air. The helicopters and support aircraft never reached the Zuñi reservation, however. All were destroyed by the sudden appearance of violent tornadoes. When a second force arrived, the self-proclaimed shaman was long gone.
The guerrilla war went on, to the great embarrassment of the federal and corporate forces who seemed unable to see or touch their prey. While frustration mounted in the government, it became harder to enforce news blackouts, and official denials wore increasingly thin. Finally someone leaked the whole story, and it rocked the government with President Garrety forced to take the heat.
That same year, international turmoil and change continued as the Free Republic of Ireland was established and the white-controlled government of South Africa finally dissolved completely.
The Indian Question
Amid the storm of criticism, Garrety was assassinated in late 2016, followed shortly by the assassinations of Russian President Nikolai Chelenko, Prime Minister Lena Rodale of Great Britain, and Minister Chaim Schon of Israel. The assassins of Chelenko, Rodale and Schon were ultimately killed in violent confrontations. William Springer, the man identified as Garretys assassin was never captured.
William Jarman, the new US President, issued the now-infamous Executive Order 17-321 immediately upon taking office. One month later, congress ratified it with the Resolution Act of 2016. The corrupt government had sanctioned Jarman’s plan to resolve the “Indian Question”: the total extermination of the Native American tribes.
While the government huddled with the Megacorporations to plan their strategy, Howling-Coyote’s people had quietly begun their own solution to the “Indian Question”. It is now known that the Great Ghost Dance began in 2017, as men and women of the tribes all across the continent performed the ritual that Howling-Coyote had taught them. They sang his songs and chanted his chants. Their power grew.
When the government moved to implement the Resolution Action of 2016, several months of freak weather and other uncanny disturbances disrupted military bases and supply dumps assigned to the plan. With each new delay, the President sacked another general, but refused to commit his forces piecemeal. By August 17, 2017, the government had finally managed to assemble its troops and the operation began to roll.
That morning, at 10:32am, Pacific Standard Time, Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams all erupted in cataclysmic fury. Mother Earth had announced whose side she was on, and even the most sceptical became believers.
The Treaty of Denver
Chastened and wary, the federal governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico sent representatives to Denver to negotiate with the Ghost Dancers in 2018. Three months later, they had hammered out the Treaty of Denver.
In the Treaty, the three governments acknowledged the sovereignty of the Native American Nations (NAN) over most of north-western America. The document outlined a ten-year population adjustment plan that would relocate all non-Indians off lands belonging to the NAN. Provisions included the establishment of reservations for non-tribal peoples and corporations, the maintenance of certain cities (such as Seattle) as extraterritorial extensions of the governments that had formerly claimed them, and the retention of most of the State of California by the United States. Denver itself was set aside as “the Treaty City”, under the joint administration by all the signing parties.
No one was “happy” with the Treaty of Denver, but no one had a better solution. The magical capability of the NAN offset the nuclear capacity of the three North American nations, which is why they agreed to give away large portions of their land and wealth. Although the Native Americans had not achieved their goal of removing all others from their homelands, they had regained control over much of those lands.
Howling-Coyote was named the head of the Sovereign Tribal Council, the NAN governing body. Though he found it difficult to mediate among the bickering that now began to erupt among the various factions, Howling-Coyote was probably the only man who could still rally the loyalty of all sides.
While the Tribal Council struggled with internecine problems, the people of the United States experienced a new shock of horror, when the spaceplane America disintegrated in orbit. The wreckage landed in Austrailia, killing 300 citizens of the small town of Longreach.
Also in 2018, the first-generation ASIST (Artificial Sensory Induction Sytem) technology was created by Doctor Hosato Hikita of ESP Systems Incorporated, Chicago. While the entertainment industry went wild exploiting the commercial aspects of “SimSense”, other researchers saw the technology as a key to containing the data explosion.
On April 30th 2021, a totally inexplicable phenomenon began. All over the world, one out of every five men and women suddenly metamorphosed into hideous humanoid shapes. For some, the process was short and mild. Others spent days or weeks in the hospital. Some recovered, while others died, screaming in agony. In those horrible weeks, two new races of man were emerging like strange spring flowers under the awakened sun.
“Goblinization” was the name the media gave to this seemingly catastrophic process, which was but another threshold point in the re-emergence of Magic. Researchers had their own names for it, mostly polysyllabic mouthfuls or strings of consonants standing for seemingly unconnected words. Whatever the name, the result was the same. No race or ethnic group was spared as 20 percent of the world’s population became what were soon dubbed “Orks” and “Trolls”, projecting dark dreams of goblins onto the physical changes the victims suffered.
Most of these unfortunates were traumatised by the experience. And if they were not, their loved ones were. Some accepted the media’s name for them as licence to act like the ghouls and goblins of legend, with many incidents of violence.
Had it ended there, surely the psychological wounds would have healed in time. But some “normal” children also began to change as they grew older, joining the ranks of these so called Orks and Trolls. These either grouped with their own kind, or mated with great-hearted souls who could see past the physical shells. The offspring of such unions were sometimes ‘normal’ and sometimes produced new racial types. Not all the ‘normal’ children remained that way, however. Many suddenly underwent Goblinization at puberty, and the awful trauma and its associated maladjustments cycled again through the community.
UGE, Goblinization, and the violence it spawned consumed the peoples of Earth for much of the next year. Where the colour of a man’s skin had once been a great barrier, the peoples of the Earth now began to hate and fear the new ‘races’, the emerging Elves, Dwarves, Orks and Trolls. In the year 2022, race riots wracked the globe on a scale never before seen. In the turmoil, new nations emerged when states split from parent countries or coalesced out of two or more units. In North America, the most important of these were an Independent Quebec, and the newly formed Caribbean League.
The US government declared Martial Law for several months in a futile attempt at control, while reports trickling out of Russia and other countries in the commonwealth of Independent States told of death on a massive scale. In fear for their lives, many of the changed beings went into hiding, whether underground, into the wilderness, or in communities of their own kind.
As the year drew to a close, however, a new spectre more gruesome than any Ork or Troll raised it’s head, as a new wave of VITAS plagues swept the planet. While more of the worlds population fell before the onslaught, racial violence flickered out, leaving both human and Metahuman reunited in fear.
It was in this grim year, that Data, an electronic news magazine, first coined the term “Awakened” for the Metahumans and other life-forms recently come into being.
The Rise of Magic
Though humanity was suffering through another devastating crisis, science and technology marched on. In 2024, the first SimSense entertainment unit (a kind of sensory VCR) became available. The unit offered rudimentary sense impressions with full awareness that the experience was a simulation. Also in this year, the experimental “remote-vote” system was used in the US Presidential Election for the first time. President Jarman was re-elected by landslide victories in urban centres, though the opposition claimed fraud. Meanwhile, the NAN relocations continued in a relatively peaceful manner, despite continued provocation by the hostile Jarman White House.
In 2025, Magic joined the ranks of science at last, when UCLA gave it academic recognition by establishing the first undergraduate program in “occult studies”. Within two years, technical magic programs and magical research facilities were established at Texas A & M and MIT, with the latter adding “&M” to its name (for “And Magic”).
While the study of Magic was a breakthrough into the Astral Realm, secret government research was making explorations into another mysterious world: the electronic one. In 2026, the first cyberspace travellers were taking halting steps into what we now call the “Matrix”. The first CyberTerminal was a room-sized isolation chamber with multi-contact point jacks and multiple hook-ups for the operator. These were designed for Military Intelligence applications. The first volunteers went mad.
In 2027, science tapped another source of power, this time in the sunlit world. After years of pursuing the dream of table-top cold fusion power, the first power plant went online. Though the dream of tiny generators was not able to be fulfilled, the research led to breakthroughs that made possible the construction of large power plants.
The other breakthrough of the year was the refinement of CyberTerminals. As computer systems became increasingly complex during the late 20th century, many programs replaced lengthy strings of commands with simple pictures, or Icons, that symbolized the specific commands or programs. The user picked the Icon wanted, and the computer would do whatever the picture meant. By the late 1990’s, a typical user was dealing with so many thousands of Icons that data-processing systems were breaking down under their own complexity.
By 2029, Sony Cybersystems, Fuchi Industrial Electronics and RCA-Unisys had all developed prototype CyberTerminals that allowed a user to interface with the world data network via his or her nervous system, which translated the data and issued commands. Instead of typing in commands, or clicking a mouse at an Icon, operations were carried out literally at the speed of thought. These early CyberTerminals were massive, requiring the user be in a sensory-deprivation tank. Largely funded by various Intelligence Agencies, the goal of the research was to allow agents to raid data systems, creating strike teams of “super-hackers”.
In the United States, the CIA, NSA, and IRS pooled their resources to exploit this development. Under the Code Name of Echo Mirage, they recruited and trained a team of “Cyber-Commandos”. Fighting bulky equipment and the psychoses induced by the overwhelming sensory signals generated by the primitive CyberTerminals, Echo Mirage was advancing towards a workable technology when international disaster struck.
Crash Of ’29
On February 8th, 2029, computer systems across the world were attacked, apparently at random, by a Virus program of unprecedented power. Systems crashed, their data wiped clean and even their hardware burned out by the effects of the Virus. As the killer program spread, governments toppled and the world economy neared collapse.
During the first quarter of the year, the Virus shattered the Grid, the data network that held the world together. By presidential order, Echo Mirage was activated to counteract the Virus, but the “straight-arrow” agents of Echo Mirage were overwhelmed by the psychological demands of psycho-physiological combat in cyberspace.
Echo Mirage’s masters responded by recruiting the most brilliant, if erratic, data-processing mavericks from industry and the universities. Their choices were drafted under a presidential emergency order, and rammed through a brutal training program. A cadre of 32 men and women graduated with their sanity intact.
It was not until August 2029, however, that this new cadre, armed with improved cybertechnology, could mount a coordinated attack on the killer program.
Eighteen minutes after engaging the Virus, four members of Echo Mirage were dead. When the data logs were analysed, two things became apparent. First, the Virus could induce lethal biofeedback in humans accessing the Matrix. Second, no existing computer security could even slow down anyone using a CyberTerminal.
The corporations involved in the effort were horrified at the ease with which Echo Mirage penetrated their most secure data systems. In reaction, secret corporate research was begun to develop new security software that could repel intruders using a Matrix interface. This included research to duplicate the lethal effects generated by the Virus. The resulting software was the first generation of Intrusion Countermeasures, or IC, now known worldwide as “Ice”.
Echo Mirage learned techniques to isolate and contain the Virus. Equipped with new combat programs and beefed-up CyberTerminals, they began the lengthy task of purging the Grid of infection. By late 2031, they had wiped out the last known concentration of the Virus code.
These second-generation CyberTerminals used desk-sized hardware and needed no sensory deprivation tank. Shortly after the final purge of the Virus, four of the surviving seven members of Echo Mirage decamped into the private sector, taking with them the secrets of the new technology.
In May 2034, Matrix Systems of Boston came out with the first “gray-market” CyberTerminal. Six weeks later, Matrix Systems main computer crashed, and its two founders died in apparently unrelated accidents.
From the perspective of the military-Industrial complex, the damage was already done. Matrix technology was loose. Fuchi Industrial was the first major corporation to break ranks against the invasion of “Deckers” when in 2036, it marketed its own third-generation CyberDeck, the desktop CDT-1000.
The majority of CyberDecks sold today are licenced machines that inject a unique signature into the logs of any systems they access, thus recording all legitimate activity in the Matrix. for years, however, pirate users, also known as “Deckers”, have been acquiring decks and modifying them. Deckers suppress their systems signature, and add capabilities that are of little use to an honest CyberTerminal operator. That’s the way of the world in the 2050’s.
Amid all the chaos of the computer crash, another important event of 2029 went relatively unnoticed. In that year, the NAN declared the emerging Metahuman races to be welcome in tribal lands.
The Computer Crash was the death-knell of the world-dominator’s. Already weakened by the catastrophes of the first three decades of the century, and exhausted by the trials of the Awakened World, they reeled under the new assault.
For twelve years, beginning in 2030, the people of Europe and Asia fought a series of conflicts now known as the Euro-Wars. With their communication and surveillance systems disrupted, the dominant power of the Russian Republic found the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States making long-overdue bids for true independence. The conflict was difficult and prolonged as Eastern European powers like Germany and Poland were dragged into the war. Also during this period, the Awakened came to dominate the Western Siberian Lowlands, Yukut ASSR, and all other lands to the west of the lowlands. Like the US and Canada, the Soviets lost their wilderness areas to the newcomers.
The Crash was a gut-punch to the United States of America. In a country that was increasingly dependent on information technologies, the Virus was more devastating to the economy than VITAS had been to the population. Canada was even worse off. In 2030, what was left of the United States (minus the ceded NAN lands) merged with what was left of Canada, including her major industrial centres and important natural resource areas. The new government was called the United Canadian and American States (UCAS), though there were protests from both sides of the border.
Almost four years later, a coalition of ten southern states seceded from the union to form the Confederated American States (CAS). The CAS was instantly recognised by Aztlan (formerly Mexico) , itself recently separated from the NAN. Sentiment ran high, and fears of a second civil war were rampant. Nevertheless, the transition was relatively orderly. Military units, divided in loyalties, split up and moved to their preferred countries with few incidents of violence.
Europe was not so lucky. In 2031, a desperate Russian Republic steamrollered across Belorussia and launched an invasion of Europe to secure vital industrial and agricultural resources. Russia and her allied forces met unexpectedly tough opposition from Germany, Poland and NATO, even though the European forces fought without the help of their previous American allies. In a fit of isolationism, the CAS and UCAS had recalled all their American troops from Europe.
Within a year, the European conflict slowed to a deadlock as attrition took its toll. Though the losses in men and material had been high on both sides, little territory had actually changed hands. Then, in late 2032, Russian forces with a precarious hold on much of Poland renewed the war with a surprise attack on Berlin. Their airborne forces, carefully husbanded while other republics and their allies had taken the brunt of the fighting, initially made great gains. The allies were thrown into confusion, but still managed to slow the offensive. Previously uncommitted in the struggle, Great Britain stepped in by sending troops into the Low Countries “to protect British interests”. Further escalation seemed inevitable.
Then, on the frigid night of January 21st, 2033, Swedish airspace monitors detected several flights of what appeared to be British Aerospace FA-38 NightWraith Fighter-Bombers streaking across northern Europe. In short order, the aircraft obliterated key communications and command centres belonging to both sides. With their offensive plans crippled beyond recovery, the two sides announced a cease-fire the following day. No nation has to date claimed responsibility for the NightWraith strike.
Though the major fighting was over, the Euro-Wars continued to rage for many years as borders were re-established and occupying troops changed positions. The European Economic Community (EEC) collapsed. Italy, southern France, and South-Eastern Europe shattered into hundreds of tiny states and returned to their inefficient city-state politics that had plagued much of their earlier history. Lost in impotent dreams of Empire, the Russian Republic continued to fight to regain territory, but was repulsed on all fronts by neighbouring states, corporate pressure and Awakened activity.
As the fighting in Europe died out, the spectre of violence flared again in the Americas, when a force of Awakened beings and Metahumans, led by three Great Dragons, descended upon the Amazon basin. In a short, but extremely bloody conflict, Brazilian forces had to cede most of the Amazon basin to the invaders. The Brazilian government fell, and two days later, most of their territory was claimed by the newly declared nation of Amazonia, self-acclaimed saviour of the Eco-sphere.
Turmoil erupted north of the equator, too. When Aztlan, the NAN member that had taken over parts of Mexico and the South-Western portions of Texas as part of the Treaty of Denver, became independent and was no longer under the Sovereign Tribal Councils protection, the Texas State Legislature agitated for a military venture to recover those lost lands. In 2035, the CAS government refused, suspecting that the NAN would defend Aztlan, their former member. No one in Atlanta wished to risk the power of the Great ghost Dance. The angry Texans declared their own independence and launched an invasion. Four months later, a frustrated and embarrassed Texas applied for re-admittance to the CAS.
CAS fears of NAN retaliation were groundless. The Sovereign Tribal Council had its own problems. Having opened its arms to the various Metahuman races, NAN was finding that these new children of Mother Earth had their own agenda. A powerful group of Awakened beings and Metahumans, mostly Elves, were in the process of doing to NAN what the NAN had done to the United States. In an unprecedented interruption of worldwide broadcasting, the Elves of the Northwest announced the birth of Tir Tairngire (“The land of promise”) and seceded from the NAN in 2035.
Unwilling or unable to resist the move, the NAN did nothing to stop the formation of this new state in the region that was formerly Oregon. Emboldened, the Tsimshian also declared their separation from the NAN, In the wake of these defections and renewed internal dissent, Howling-Coyote resigned. The shaman of the Great Ghost Dance withdrew into isolation.
Independence fever was contagious. Long isolated from its UCAS parent, California declared itself the California Free State (CFS), and a sovereign nation in 2037. Immediately recognising CFS as a nation, the powerful Japanese Imperial State followed up by landing troops there to protect Imperial interests from any economic disruptions. Within five years, San Fransisco was almost totally controlled by the Japanese corporations.
In 2036, the napalm fire-bombing of a small community in rural Ohio announced the arrival of the New Terrorism. Twenty people, most of them Metahumans, died in the flames on that Sunday morning. A group calling itself Alamos 20,000 claimed responsibility. Over the next 15 years, this terrorist group was positively linked to the deaths of more than a thousand Metahumans and publicly sympathetic normals.
Three years later, Metahuman hatred peaked in the Night of Rage. Worldwide riots resulted in the deaths of thousands of Metahumans and others cosmetically altered to appear Metahuman. In New York City alone, 836 persons perished. Backlashes and incidents of counter-violence were widespread.
Retaliation apparently came in 2041, when EuroAir Flight 329, en route from London to Atlanta, was attacked over the Atlantic by a Dragon. A garbled last transmission from the doomed craft seems to indicate that one heroic passenger held the beast off for several minutes with sorcery before passengers and crew were destroyed by the terrorist’s fiery breath.
Another important development of 2041 was the birth of Policlubs in Europe. These youth-oriented associations were dedicated to promoting various political philosophies. Each policlub proclaimed its intention to impose its viewpoint on the general public, by taking the lead in the so-called European Restoration.
In 2044, Aztlan nationalised all foreign-owned businesses, under heavy pressure from the Aztechnology Corporation. Semi-open warfare broke out as some corporations attempted to hold on to their properties. Using the confusion as a screen, Aztlan annexed most of what was left of Mexico. The exception was the Yucatan, where Awakened forces foiled all takeover attempts.
By 2046, the Policlub idea had migrated to North America. The movement spread quickly, but violence followed in its wake. The Humanis Policlub, in particular, has built a major following that cuts across economic, social, and political divisions. Theresa (“Terry”) Smith, a Metahuman rights activist, and head of Mothers of Metahumans (MOM), has denounced Humanis as an arm of the shadowy Alamos 20,000, in a series of paid advertisements in major newspapers.
In 2048, the Aztlan government negotiated the Veracruz Settlement with several Megacorps, in the wake of a combined corporate military strike on Ensenada. In that same year, Alan Adams, former CEO of the Colbert Group, an Illinois-based multi-national corporation, was elected President of the UCAS. Edna Wallace, former governor of Louisiana, was elected President of the CAS. Both were re-elected in 2052.
The years following 2050 saw the development of Seventh-generation CyberDecks, now keyboard sized. In the same period, the humanitarian organisation known as the Universal Brotherhood enjoyed international growth. Cyber- and Bio- technology continued to advance as a significant percentage of mankind chose to distance themselves from the faults of natural flesh.
Now, in 2052, though the hatred between humans and Metahumans still simmers, the situation is relatively quiet. But in an Awakened world, how long can that last?